The Botanic Gardens (Part 5)

Stamps a la Carte

Continued from Part 4…

Some may know that I am one who keeps at least a pen with me in my pocket, often complemented by a mechanical pencil. However, since it was the school holidays, my pen decided to take a break at home before it had to resume work again on the first day of school and to minimise contact with others to reduce the risk of contracting the Influenza A (H1N1-2009) virus. Furthermore, on this day, the number of cases in Singapore surged by a record high of 26 cases and shot past the 100 mark.

I tried asking around for a pen, and was very lucky that someone offered his fine marker, just the perfect instrument for autographs. After Mr Wong autographed the presentation pack and left, I proceeded with my initial mission of chopping. Similar to previous road shows, I will chop the first day cover with the S1 chop. It has already become a must for new stamp issues.

After the launch, I walked around the Botanic Gardens to breathe in some fresh air, and to take more photographs. Back at the Swiss Granite Fountain, the lady who was not a sculpture was still sitting still on a stool in the shade, sketching a scene of several kids splashing with water, although the kids are no longer there.

Signs

Waterfall

I proceeded to the famous Swan Lake, filled with beautiful white swans. This place does bring back memories. However, there are no black swans in the lake, as featured on the stamp below, even though I cannot remember if there were black swans back then.

Black Swans
Black Swans

Since it was getting late, I left the Botanic Gardens to catch a bus home. It was a satisfying day with lots of interesting encounters. I got the autographs, took the photographs, and had so much to put into paragraphs.

This reporter got the autograph too!

Straits Times Article

The End

The Botanic Gardens (Part 4)

Stamps a la Carte

Continued from Part 3… 

Half past eleven. The launch had probably ended. My eyes scanned the place for signs of life and spotted the Singapore Post booth located at a corner in the vicinity. I took out my two envelopes with stamps already affixed on it, ready to cancel it with the ‘S1’ postmark which is only available at launches and other stamp exhibitions. This stamp issue was launched to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Exhibits on Display
Exhibits on Display
Information panels on the stamp issue
Information panels on the stamp issue

‘Would you like to buy a presentation pack? It is cheaper here, only $5.35! If you buy outside it is a bit more expensive.’

‘Can I chop the envelope with the S1 chop?’

‘Sure, here is the chop. Do you want the presentation pack?’

‘Thank you! Well, but I seldom collect presentation packs.’

‘Designer is somewhere over there, faster go ask him for his autograph.’

‘Ok, I would like to buy a presentation pack. Later then continue to chop.’

‘How many presentation packs?’

‘One will do.’

I looked around to see where the designer was. Mr Eng Siak Loy sitting at the other corner at a table in front of a queue of people holding stacks of first day covers and presentation packs, waiting to get theirs autographed. The person in front of me brought a whole stack of previous stamp issues which were designed by Mr Eng. I should have brought my collection too! As I was queuing, I noticed Mr Clement Ng from the philatelic department of SingPost near the queue. He introduced me to Mr Wong Wui Kong, the designer for the flora and fauna definitive stamps.

I continued to wait in the queue.

After Mr Eng has patiently autographed on the presentation pack and first day covers, I went back to the SingPost booth, not to continue with chopping, but to ask, ‘Are there still any more presentation packs from the flora and fauna definitive issue?’

As quickly as possible, I turned around and walked towards Mr Wong to ask for his autograph as well, realising that I do not have a pen, a marker or any other autographing instrument with me. Neither does Mr Wong nor Mr Ng.

The quest of searching for a pen began.

To be continued…

The Botanic Gardens (Part 3)

Stamps a la Carte

Continued from Part 2…

Upon hearing that I was going for the stamp launch, the staff handed me a map of the Botanic Gardens which unfolded to an A2 sheet. ‘The stamp launch is at Green Pavilion. Just walk straight, turn left, turn right, turn left, blah, blah, blah, and you will arrive at the Green Pavilion.’

Wait, wasn’t that where I came from? Due to the massive size of the Botanic Gardens, it took me quite some time to reach my destination. While I was walking towards the Green Pavilion, I passed by various notable landmarks.

At Palm Valley, children were enjoying themselves in activities such as catching and bubble-blowing. Their parents were engaging in their own activities: viewing the scenery while sitting on benches and taking photographs of their children.

Palm Valley

Then, I arrived at a junction named Orchid Plaza. At this junction, there were a few food and beverage outlets selling burgers, chips and other finger food at touristy prices. Even though I was very thirsty, I did not get any drinks since the queue was quite long and I had to get to the Green Pavilion as quickly as possible. Forgetting that I had a map, I got distracted by the food and took the wrong path leading to a gate leading out of the Botanic Gardens.

Tembusu

I headed back to the junction. Luckily, the second path which I chose was the correct one. On the way there, I walked past a few sculptures with seemingly analogous names such as ‘Girl on Bicycle’, ‘Girl on a Swing’, and ‘Lady on Hammock’. There is also a ‘Swing Me Mama’ sculpture at another corner. Other attractions included the Vanda Miss Joaquim and the Bandstand.

Lady on Hammock

Girl on Bicycle

Two Men on Bicycles zoomed past me. They were not sculptures, but were ‘NParks Contractor on Duty’. Walking under the hot sun, I wished that I had a bicycle too! At the Swiss Granite Fountain, a lady (she’s not a sculpture either) was sitting still on a stool in the shade, sketching a scene of several kids splashing with water around.
After close to half an hour of walking (and taking photographs), I finally arrived at the launch, but wait.

Garden Map

Am I at the right place? Why is it so empty?

Stamp Launch

To be continued…

The Botanic Gardens (Part 2)

Stamps a la Carte

Continued from Part 1…

‘It is still early, let’s just wait,’ the father replied, as he continued to arrange the items. I took a look at the time on my mobile phone. That was when I realised that it was not early anymore. I should be heading towards the Botanic Gardens. The stamp launch starts in a few minutes. I started to make my way to bus stop.

After taking bus service 174 from a distant bus stop opposite Clarke Quay MRT station, I alighted at the bus stop in front of the Botanic Gardens. Since the Tanglin Gate was not open, although another gate right next to it is open, the stamp launch is probably held at the Visitor Centre.

Tanglin Gate appearing closed
Tanglin Gate appearing closed

I walked along Cluny Road, passing by a row of bungalows and the unknowingly, the location of the stamp launch. One of them even had six luxury cars parked in it. As it was quarter to eleven, heat from the sun became more intense. The pedestrian walkway was paved with leaves, not fallen ones, but those that are green in colour.

Leaves on the Walkway

Shortly after spotting this sign which assured me that I was on the right track, I arrived at Nassim Gate and headed towards the Visitor Centre.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

10:55 am.

I looked around the main entrance. There was a cafeteria called where my secondary school principal was enjoying a cup of coffee. There was a restaurant called Casa Verde Restaurant next to it. There was a souvenir shop called the Botanic Garden Shop which sells magnets with the word ‘Singapore’ on almost every piece. There was water feature with fishes swimming in it, probably there is no name for it. However, there was no stamp launch anywhere in my sight. I decided to walk into the souvenir shop, thinking that the stamp launch may be inside, which obviously was not. I started to panic, thinking that the stamp launch could be over, and started walking towards the visitor services counter for help.

Garden Map

To be continued…

The Botanic Gardens (Part 1)

Stamps a la Carte

It was a cold Friday morning. I woke up early in the morning to attend a stamp exhibition at China Square Central. This stamp exhibition was in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Kreta Ayer Stamp Society. Booths were set up almost everywhere in China Square Central spanning from the main atrium to the furthest end of the second storey. Items sold included stamps, old black-and-white postcards, old phone cards, banknotes, coins, paintings, toys, action figures and even marathon medals. Quite a few collector friends are there as well.

Top View

Exhibits

Booths

Out of curiosity, I walked around to find out what items are for sale. A limited edition collectors’ box consisting of five books of first day covers from the torch relay of the 2008 Beijing Olympics caught the eye of one friend. We proceeded to the booth and a conversation started.

Beijing Olympics

‘This is from the Beijing Olympic Games last year,’ the sales representative explained.

‘The entire set of stamps from the Beijing Olympics?’ my friend asked.

‘No, this set of stamps is only for the torch relay.

‘Only the torch relay? That is indeed a lot of stamps!’

‘As you can see, the stamps from various countries are all in this collection. ‘

Note that the humble sales representative did not mention anything about its price.

My friend asked, ‘How much is it?’

‘$19000,’ the sales representative replied.

‘Is it in Singapore dollars or Renminbi?’

‘It is in Singapore dollars.’

My friend was very surprised that he looked at me and repeated, ‘S$19000. Maybe even all the stamps in my collection cannot fetch this price.’

That must be the most expensive set of stamps I have ever seen. Also on display at the exhibition was a S$8000 Penny Black stamp (the first stamp in the world) found in mint condition. Imagine those stamp collectors willing to spend such a hefty sum!

Torch Relay

As you can see, there are no customers viewing the torch relay stamp set spread out on two tables, as opposed to the table-wide neighbouring booth, where one can get a nice set of stamps for perhaps 0.05% of the price.

When passing by a booth on the second storey, I saw a man arranging his items on the square table while his son asks him in Mandarin, ‘Dad, why isn’t there anybody coming to buy our stuff? Is it too expensive?’

To be continued…

200th Anniversary Celebration of Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen (2004)

Not long ago, I came by this miniature sheet issued in Singapore to celebrate the bicentennial of the renowned Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, who has written well-known fairy tales including Thumbelina and The Emperor’s New Clothes. This set of stamps was issued on 30 March 2005. On the 1st Local, 60 c, $1 and $2 stamps are Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Little Mermaid respectively.

Stories written by Hans Christian Anderson have been translated into over 150 languages and are enjoyed by children and even adults. His success has been captured on stamps and other philatelic material from different countries. This stamp issue was the first in Singapore to feature a foreign celebrity and his renowned fairy tales. The set of four stamps was designed by Mr Wong Wui Kong, who also designed the recent flora and fauna definitive stamps.

150 Years of Singapore Botanic Gardens

Today, SingPost released a se-tenant set-of-four stamps and one miniature sheet to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Singapore Botanic Gardens. This set of stamps ‘150 Years of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ is designed by Singapore designer Mr Eng Siak Loy, who has won awards including Asia’s Most Beautiful Stamps Award and second place in the Most Beautiful Stamp in the World Award in 2003. In 2007, Mr Eng has also won the Singapore President’s Design Award (Designer of the Year).

Botanic Gardens (2009) Stamp Sheet

The stamps depict favourite sites in the Botanic Gardens, including the Band Stand, Swan Lake, the Girl on the Swing sculpture, and the Visitor Centre. A stamp launch was held earlier today at the Green Pavilion in the Botany Centre. I was very lucky to catch Mr Eng Siak Loy for an autograph. Also there was Mr Wong Wui Kong, the designer for the Flora and Fauna definitives issue.

Autographs

Official Launch of Singapore Post

 Official Launch of Singapore Post Cover (1 April 1992)

I have just received a first day cover dated 1 April 1992 from a collector friend. This was the date when the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS) was divided into three entities: the new Telecommunication Authority of Singapore, Singapore Telecommunications Private Limited and Singapore Post Private Limited. As the first Public Postal Licensee, Singapore Post can operate postal services for a 15-year period, with an exclusive privilege of receiving, collecting and delivering mail until 31 March 2007.

This piece of history bears the postmark of the official launch of Singapore Post on a 1990 20c Tourism definitive.

SIMO Camp

I am currently on a 6D5N holiday at the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science to attend the Singapore International Mathematical Olympiad (SIMO) Camp. Basically, it is a training camp and a third of the time is spent in classrooms solving mathematics problems. Today, the AM and PM sessions were both on Graph Theory. The food is not bad either, except that it is on a while stocks lasts basis. We will be having icebreakers tonight, and before I go for dinner, here a picture taken from the 6th floor of the accommodation!

NUS High School of Math & Science

Adidas Sundown Marathon 2009

Start

Gun Time 5:29:05. Not very impressive but not bad for a first-timer either. If I calculated correctly, the Net Time should be 5:26:03. 

Running at night is quite different from running in the day. It is much quieter at night, and at some instances, it may be quite boring, as everything is shrouded in darkness. Also, it is much cooler at night, especially when running along the coastline (String of Lights) and enjoying the land breeze.

Bib Number 04459

The route was divided into four sections:  

String of Lights

This is the longest stretch of the entire route at 21 kilometres. Seemingly identical white lamps formed a never-ending line. Starting from Nicoll Drive, I started running at a comfortable pace, so that I would not be drained out for the entire route. The next stretch was a straight route, and the only attraction was watching a few planes land at Changi International Airport. The air was very humid, and we had to compete with the plants for oxygen. After running south for an hour or so, there was a turn towards East Coast Park. Part of the route was the same for the Saucony-100Plus Passion Run last Sunday, and at night, it is just a different view. Lights from boats out at sea formed a static pattern. However, it is really interesting to find that East Coast Park is also full of life at night. There were groups of people cycling, camping, playing card games and barbequing. Water was made available at regular 2- to 3-kilometre intervals. This part of the route ended after crossing an overhead bridge across the East Coast Parkway.
 
Heartland Twist

This route had three overhead bridges to scale. Running along the Park Connector next to the drain, we saw landmarks such as Kembangan MRT Station. At the 26-kilometre mark, my right leg started to ache, so I decided to take a short rest on the bench. However, I soon realised that it was not a very good idea, as the muscles began contracting within seconds, resulting in unbearable cramps. The next two kilometres was along a jogging trail in a residential estate. Energy gels of different flavours were supplied there.
 
Waterfront Trail

The first part of the trail required us to run on a sandy trail halfway around Bedok Reservoir. I had to stop twice along the way as the strain on my right ankle was getting worse. At the 30-kilometre mark, there was an aid station, with a supply of bananas. There was also Deep Heat cream to relieve the pain on the thighs. Realising that I should not stop moving my legs (otherwise there will be cramps), from that point on, I adopted a walk-run strategy, alternating between the two every 300 to 400 metres. My pace decreased to an average of 9 minutes per kilometre. There was also a suspension bridge which was oscillating while other runners zoomed past me.
 
Homerun

The last 7 kilometres was a painful one. After spotting the 5:30 pacer, David, I decided to follow him to the endpoint. Running and walking along Loyang Avenue, I tried to follow David’s pacing. This section also included a 300 metre upward slope, which was not as bad as I had expected. After seeing Changi Village Hotel, I was convinced that I was very near the endpoint. I kept pushing myself, determined to clear the 5 hour 30 minute mark. After a short sprint towards Nicoll Drive, I made a U-turn to the Finish Point. Pacers do make a big difference! 

Finish

After collecting the finisher medal and T-shirt, David also advised me to walk around for a few minutes before sitting down. The design for the finisher T-shirt was very attractive! Also at the marathon was Dr Adrian Loo and we managed to talk to each other for a while. 

Volunteers and other supporters cheered on along the way, and this had motivated me to continue running (and not walking so much). I have learnt that it is really important to keep a comfortable pace at the start so that there is sufficient energy to complete the entire marathon. A tip from the 5:00 pacer Sri, when the cramp about to take effect, do some quick stretching and continue running, otherwise it would be very hard to start running again. Also, the unlimited supply of water at the 21 aid stations was very thirst-quenching.

Adidas Sundown Marathon Banner