The colours of Singapore – Joo Chiat

The colours of Singapore – one of my favorite photography subjects.

It’s funny but from Europe I’ve imagined Singapore as a very modern (which comes in my mind with greyish-glassyish buildings), and while it’s partly true, the Red Little Dot is so much more.

I already talked about all the beautiful green places all around the island, but another charming trait of Singapore is all the traditional colourful Peranakan shophouses all around the city. Who can see them in Little India, Emerald Hill, Chinatown, …, and of course Joo Chiat.

Joo Chiat is a small and charming neighbourhood, toward the east coast, well worth a stroll.

I arrived there early in the morning, and was welcome by singing birds on a balcony.

Joo Chiat © Catherine Houston
Joo Chiat © Catherine Houston

And of course I admire many Peranakan shophouses. All with different facades, all colourful, all full of history and charm. Here is just a few sample.

I stopped a few minutes near a very small temple, between two condos.

 

And like I always do, I enjoyed walking around the back streets, taking pictures of bikes (another ones of my favorites subjects) and hunting colours in every corner.

and hunting colours in every corner.

 

What’s your favourite part of Singapore?

– To purchase images or see more of my work please check out my website and my Facebook Page:

https://www.mermozinefineart.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MermozinePhotography/

 

 

Green green Singapore – Thomson Nature Park

Thomson Nature Park - Singapore

From Europe, my first thoughts of Singapore were of lots of buildings, very high skyscrapers and a modern, urban jungle… for me, a green nature person, the thought of moving there was a little scary.

But just out of the airport, I was relieved to realise how wrong I had been. Yes, there is a lot of urbanisation, but the green is everywhere, and the jungle is far from being only an urban one.

You have giant parks like the Botanical Gardens, Gardens by the Bay and MacRitchie Reservoir, but there are also plenty of smaller ones.

Today, I went for a stroll (literally, since a stroller was involved!) in a newly opened park, Thomson Nature Park, just off of Upper Thomson Road. If you have not discovered it yet, it’s the perfect place for a quiet stroll in nature (we were alone almost the whole time).

To give you a little preview of what to expect there…

– nice clean trails, lots of gorgeous lavish nature,

Thomson Nature Park © Catherine Houston
Thomson Nature Park © Catherine Houston
Thomson Nature Park - Singapore
Thomson Nature Park © Catherine Houston
Thomson Nature Park - Singapore
Thomson Nature Park © Catherine Houston

… monkeys

Thomson Nature Park © Catherine Houston
Thomson Nature Park © Catherine Houston

… “ruins trails” (quite fun for kids)Thomson Nature Park - Singapore

… beware of random falling durians… 🙂

and spoiler alert… quite an handful of hungry mosquitoes (I guess it’s the price to pay to experience a “jungle-like” hike).

My Paris (in Black and White)

Paris in Black and White

 

Paris in Black and White
My Paris © Catherine Houston

 

Paris,

Just a name, just a city,

But which has made for a long time such an impression on people, even the ones who just dream about it…

It’s a tourist destination, symbol of romanticism and love.

It’s a concentrated of History, with not only museums but walls, houses, neighbourhoods filled with histories.

It’s a big city hosting millions of people studying, working, living.

For me it was first a big, loud (way too much in the North) city were I spent a summer a long time ago working as a research student in a lab in a well-known hospital. I felt crushed by the city at the time, feeling only the monotonous rythmes “metro-boulot-dodo” (train commute – job – bed time, and repeat).

Then years (a life time??) later I came back and spend a year with my family in the center of the city and I learned to love it. I discovered Paris by foot (I admit sometimes quite painful with a stroller!!).

My Paris, became my paradise for Street Photography.

 

“Orange” – or the Color of Buddhism

Orange is predominant in Buddhism.

From the saffron colour of the monks’ robes (mainly due to the available dye centuries ago ), to the golden of the statues, the yellow and the red of the decorations…

Between the powerful scents of incense and the bouquet of colours chances are that a visit inside a Buddhist Temple  will not leave your senses indifferent.

Buddhism-0035
Orange and Buddhism Ⓒ Catherine Houston
Buddhism-0072
Orange and Buddhism Ⓒ Catherine Houston
Buddhism-7522
Orange and Buddhism Ⓒ Catherine Houston
Buddhism-8078
Orange and Buddhism Ⓒ Catherine Houston
Buddhism-8082
Orange and Buddhism Ⓒ Catherine Houston
Buddhism-8086
Orange and Buddhism Ⓒ Catherine Houston
Buddhism-8099
Orange and Buddhism Ⓒ Catherine Houston

 

And yes, I can’t help it, even on a blog post focusing on colours I HAVE to put at least one Black and White ;-).

Chinatown-8093

  • All the pics were taken in Singapore.

Must Love Boats… (Manarola, Italy)

I confess I have many passions…ranging anywhere from my kids, chocolate, photography, travel, food…

For whatever reason since I was a little kid going to vacation in Corsica with my family I had a big thing for fishing boats. It became a tradition to hunt on the harbour for a yellow boat, anywhere we would go. I still do look for fishing boats anywhere I go. 

A few years ago my husband and I, while living in France for a while,  took a mini-trip to Italy and more precisely to the Cinque Terra. I’m in love with anything involving sea-landscape (with a huge preference for the Mediterranean sea – so so blue -but in occasions any ocean will do too…). ;-). So obviously I fell in love with these five villages. The landscape was amazing, the architecture was colorful, the food was tasty, the sea was very blue…. and here they were… the fishing boats.

Manarola-7285

We visited the five villages of the Cinque Terra: Monterosso, Vernaza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The villages were built up cliffs and overlook the sea. Although similar in many ways each one of them has a different personality.

Manarola-7196
Cinque Terra Ⓒ Catherine Houston

Manarola-7082

Today’s pictures are from Manarola. As you can see on the pics we went there in the winter and the weather was not exactly on our side. The fishing boats were therefore out of the water, in the streets leading to the sea.

Manarola-7292
Cinque Terra Ⓒ Catherine Houston

Manarola-7220Cinque Terra Ⓒ Catherine Houston Manarola-7204

 

 

 

Express Road Trip – Bali

Bali…

This short name alone brings dreams to a lot of people.

One may think island, exotic, Asia, flowers, colours, beach, diving, volcanoes, rice fields, yummy food …

The best way to discover this Indonesian island would probably involve staying at least a couple of weeks with a good pair of hiking shoes. Meeting people, discovering villages, hiking in the middle of rice fields away from the tourists’ paths, climbing a volcano, going all the way to the adjacent island of Lombok, scuba diving, …

But what if you had only a handful number of days to spend there? (and/or if like me you were traveling there with 3 little ones!!). Then your best bet is probably to hire a taxi-driver for a day on the road…

Well welcome to my express road-trip to Bali!!

There is a few things that you can expect to see in Bali even on a very short trip:

1- Temples

You are going to see lots of temples and sculptures. Big ones, small ones. You will see some even on the side of the road on your way from the airport to your hotel.

 

2- Offerings and Flowers

Offerings are everywhere: on the side walk, in your hotel, on the beach, and of course in the temples.

Bali temples-5304

Ubud 2015-5088

Bali-5061
Road Trip in Bali Ⓒ Catherine Houston

 

3- Small markets and yummy looking fruits

Bali-5214
Road Trip in Bali Ⓒ Catherine Houston
Bali-5056
Road Trip in Bali Ⓒ Catherine Houston

 

4- Rice fields (within a short driving distance from Ubud)

Bali-5289
Road Trip in Bali Ⓒ Catherine Houston
Bali-5275
Road Trip in Bali Ⓒ Catherine Houston
Bali-5233
Road Trip in Bali Ⓒ Catherine Houston

 

5- Hard working people

Bali-5295
Road Trip in Bali Ⓒ Catherine Houston
Bali-5294b
Road Trip in Bali Ⓒ Catherine Houston

6- Awesome gas stations

7- Dancers (in Ubud)

Bali-5148
Road Trip in Bali Ⓒ Catherine Houston
Bali-5122
Road Trip in Bali Ⓒ Catherine Houston

8- You may even come across a village’s celebration

9- And make sure to relax a little on the beach (a massage?) before catching you plane!

Enjoy!!!

The Lone Fishing Rod…

Let’s be clear…I don’t do fishing….

I love to eat fish, but fishing takes an amount of patience that I am (very) far from having. But I can photograph other people doing it right?

So anyway, a few months back I was walking in the Woodlands Waterfront area (very North end of Singapore, at the border with Malaysia) – and yes that’s Johor Bahru, Malaysia, in the background.

Woodlands-4648
Woodlands Waterfront Ⓒ Catherine Houston

Woodlands-4614

Woodlands Waterfront-4728

Woodlands Waterfront-4677

and I saw these quite lonely fishing rods…(and by the way my picture on the cover of this post was published recently in Being Published Matters!!! yeah!!!).

Woodlands-4636

Woodlands Waterfront-4642
Woodlands Waterfront Ⓒ Catherine Houston
Woodlands Waterfront-4639
Woodlands Waterfront Ⓒ Catherine Houston

Oh and super bonus… the fresh crabs/chili crabs at the local restaurant were pretty good too!! (and for a price more friendly than their counterparts on the more touristy part of town).

Woodlands-4622

Have a great week-end!!

Just a matter of scales…

Like many fellow photographers, I’m attracted to markets.

They are colorful, animated–it’s like “street photography central”!!

So, of course, one of my first photography targets in Singapore was the markets. Here they are called “wet markets”. They are indoor markets where you can find pretty much everything from fresh fruits, meat, fish, and flowers to lots of dry goodies.

Bugis-Bras Basah-0069
Scales Ⓒ Catherine Houston

Everything I like in a market was here (colors, people, cultural diversity, ….) but two things surprised me. First, to be very honest, my nose was caught by surprise when I walked by the durian stand…. (After one year here, I’m slowly getting acclimated to that very peculiar smell, but let’s say that it’s not something I’m used to…)

And the second thing was the scales.

I love those old fashion scales!!

Bugis-4494
Scales Ⓒ Catherine Houston
Bugis-0065
Scales Ⓒ Catherine Houston

And yes, I even bought my own… :-)Scale-8503

And then…came the rain…

Yesterday someone said to me “it’s hot today”… and that startled me…

He was right of course, but I was surprised because …well…I’ve been here almost a full year now, and it’s been hot every single day…

Welcome to steamy hot Singapore!!!

That’s probably the first thing we noticed as an expat family arriving in the middle of winter last year….the heat. I think we adapted pretty well to the cultural differences, the different food, but the steamy heat was harder on us. Our little ones even started to get worried this mid-december by the absence of winter “Mom, is it going to get cold soon?” “Is it going to snow?” (and the real concern) “Is Santa going be able to come anyway?” (not to worry Santa came, and they are getting some “winter-feel” by watching Frozen over and over and over…).

So, in steamy hot Singapore you have 2 seasons

1- the hot and steamy dry season (with occasional big thunderstorms in the evenings)

2- the hot and steamy rainy season.

Right now we are in the rainy season and I kind of love it! It’s hot but somehow easier to manage. (And I always loved walking under the rain anyway.)

I love watching the rainy clouds coming in…

I even find umbrellas to be quite photogenic too :-).

I love the smell of rain, the sound of it on the roof, …

And I love to get out with my macro lens just after the rain…

I love taking pictures of the city through it’s water reflections on the ground…

Chinatown-8148

Chinatown-8155
Rainy Singapore Ⓒ Catherine Houston

So let it rain!!! 🙂

WebsiteFacebook Page

Catherine 🙂

Botanic Gardens-8865
Rainy Singapore Ⓒ Catherine Houston

Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day
Valentine’s Day Ⓒ Catherine Houston

When I first decided to write a blog for Valentine’s Day (I know….how original!!) my plan was to found out some great “historical” facts about the origins of Valentine’s Day. I started “googling” and reading about the legends/history starting in the ancient Roman Empire and as I was naively expecting to read one story/legend about love and romance (although true to some extent) I was overwhelmed by the number of stories/mythologies starting with the imprisonment and execution of poor Saint Valentine in the ancient Roman Empire… So to make it very very short: Valentine’s Day became a symbol of love for different reasons in the Middle Ages (celebration of spring, of love, ..). (you can read more about it here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine%27s_Day).

As you most probably all noticed, it’s now a very over-commercialised day. It can represent something different for all of us: the declaration of a new love for some, a competition of romance for others, a dreadful day for the singles, …. (and for me really just the day before my birthday ;-)).

In any case I wanted to share with you pictures of Love.

“Un petit peu de douceur dans un monde de brutes”.

– Mothers’ Love –

Jade-4288
Valentine’s Day Ⓒ Catherine Houston

– Siblings’ Love –

Mars30 2014-9052
Valentine’s Day Ⓒ Catherine Houston

 

– Young Love –

25 Janvier 2016-9474
Valentine’s Day Ⓒ Catherine Houston

– and more Love (in Paris…of course) –

– and I will finish with one of my favorite quotes from my favorite author:

“Aimer, ce n’est pas se regarder l’un l’autre, c’est regarder ensemble dans la même direction.”(“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.)

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry –

Paris-2962
Valentine’s Day Ⓒ Catherine Houston

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

(and if you don’t know what to do on Valentine’s Day, read the “Petit Prince”- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, best book ever about Love).