Home sweet home

This picture was taken on April 19th on the shores of Helsinki. I had my short spring holiday then. At that time, it was quite cold, about +10°C, freezing in Singaporean standards. The nature had not awakened yet, the trees were pale with no leaves. Still, it was spring and all the hopes were high.

Now it is time to go back for a summer holiday. The summery bloom has already had its peak in June. I am bit sad I did not see full blossoming season. But there is something else. Usually August evenings are warm. It is nice to sit on a terrace in candle light with a glass of wine. I can not wait.


Mystery of Finlayson Green

I have been haunted by a mysterious riddle for some time now. On my daily route I always see this street sign, Finlayson Green. For most of the passing by people it is just another meaningless name. For a Finn like me there is something more to it.

Finlayson is one of Finland's best known brands - or at least it used to be. I believe almost every Finnish household has some Finlayson's textiles; bed linen, sheets, towels, etc. Although Finlayson sounds quite Finnish, the origin of the name leads to Scotland. Finlayson was found by James Finlayson, a Scottish Quaker, in 1820 in Tampere.

At my Finnish background I have been wondering if the Scottish Finlaysons have something to do with the Singaporean Finlayson Green.

I found out that the name Finlayson Green has its roots in John Finlayson. I did not find any information if he was British but I assume he was as he was working in Singapore in significant administrative positions in the end of 1800's as were many Britons at that time.

Interesting question is, were these men, James and John, related? Many sources, like this, say that the name Finlayson comes from Scotland. James Finlayson is often mentioned as a famous member of the Finlayson family. Unfortunately, there have been quite many John Finlaysons and quite a little information on them.

At this point, the mystery remains. I promise I will dig further.


Annie Leibovitz x Peninsula

Above images: Annie Leibovitz for Peninsula Hotels

Hotels are like micro worlds where dozens of people make their best to provide a pleasant stay for their guests. Often one forgets how much is done behind the smiles of the pageboys and closed doors.

Peninsula Hotels are often considered the best of the best when it comes to hotels. They do not merely have fancy facades, but they also let their staff shine. Peninsula started a collaboration with photographer Annie Leibovitz in 2004. Ms Leibovitz took delicate black and white pictures of the Peninsula staff in their every day tasks. The collaboration has continued for five years and this year's results are again amazing, as you can see above.

In Ms Leibovitz's pictures every hotel task is shown with dignity and pride. I like every one of the 17 pictures, but my favorite is the cleaning lady in the second picture above.

The best thing is, that these beautiful pictures are also true. I spent a week at the Peninsula Manila Hotel end of June. The eye for detail that is shown in the pictures, is there also in real life.


A man with a fan

The August 2009 issue of GQ Japan has an article about the traditional Japanese men's accessories. This proves that Karl Lagerfeld is not the only man using fans.

I like especially the wooden sandals. Sadly the Japanese footwear runs so small that it has been really difficult to find my size (EUR44/UK10) even in Tokyo. Maybe better luck on my next visit...

Somehow the pictured below Kris van Assche sandals from the SS10 men's collection remind me of the Japanese sandals, at least the soles are bit similar. A bit bulky, but beautiful.


Singapore x Monocle

Monocle, one of favorite magazines, is a great fan of Singapore. In its summer 2009 issue the magazine lists top 25 most liveable cities in the world. Singapore is number 18 on that list. The 18th position is probably not enough for the kiasu Singaporeans, but I think it is a great result. My home town Helsinki was ranked 5th on the same list.

Monocle also has published a Singapore city guide. But the best is yet to come. In the August 2009 issue Monocle will have a wide report on how Singapore became a success story of Southeast Asia. The issue will be out on August 20th.


On the edge of the roof

There are certain things I would not dare to do. One is cleaning the windows of a skyscraper. Although their techniques were state of the art like pictured here, I just would not have the guts to hop on the car. Would you?


Hindu fashion

Great details from Sri Krishnan Temple in Singapore. Especially the cherub on the right. It reminds me of the ones on top of Notre Dame.


Twist in My Sobriety

Quite unexpectedly a song from the old archives of my mind popped up. It was Tanita Tikaram's Twist in My Sobriety. Of course I had to find the video from Youtube.

Twist in My Sobriety was a huge hit in Europe in the 80's. I liked the song back then and I still do. It has not lost its magic as years have gone by. Maybe the dark sound of the song appeals to my Finnish soul.

I have not heard much about Tanita since the 80's. I googled to see what had happened to her. She is turning 40 next month and is still in making music. Tanita has a website and even a blog. She also makes podcasts. I was a bit surprised to learn that her mother is Malaysian and father Indo-Fijian. By that she has a sort of a contact to my Singaporean life :)


ION Orchard finally opens

ION Orchard facade with the MRT entrance in front.

Singapore's long anticipated shopping extravaganza ION Orchard opened it's doors to the public today. I went of course to check it out.

The architecture of the building is something different in Orchard road. The facade is formed of huge glass bubbles. The most prestigious labels like Louis Vuitton, Prada, Cartier, Dior and Giorgio Armani have shops on the Orchard road side. As far as I know Dior is a new comer in Singapore. They are going to house the women's line and some pieces from the Dior Homme line.

My first visit to ION Orchard was a bit of a let down. Many stores were still under construction. The official launch for the mall will be in October. Let's hope everything is ready by then.

I was a bit surprised of the scale of the ION Orchard. Although the mall looks huge outside, inside it doesn't feel so roomy. Compared to Pavilion in KL and IFC mall in Hong Kong which represent the same genre, ION Orchard feels a bit claustrofobic. Maybe it's the height of the floors.

There are also good things about ION Orchard. It has in addition to all the usual luxury brands a Dsquared2 store. I believe this is a debut for Dsquared2 in Singapore. It's quite a big start considered that Dsquared2 has only few stores of their own worldwide. The brand is often sold in department stores or at special retailers. I will definitely pay a visit soon.

I saved the best for the last. I read some time ago that ThreeSixty, a wide variety food store chain from Hong Kong will open an outlet at ION Orchard. And they did. Finally there is a premium grocery store in the heart of Singapore. I'm so happy!


Tropical shoes, part II

Another pair of my favorite shoes here in the Singaporean heat are these Dries van Noten brown slip on brogues. The design of the shoes is quite basic, but the perforated detailing and the colored straps add a perfect finishing touch. The shoes are also light weight and very comfy too.

The sound of my shoes:


Lost in translation

Being sick is never fun. When you're just lying fragile on the couch unable to do anything sensible, it is time to watch long lost DVDs. That is what I did yesterday.

I watched Lost in Translation. I have seen it when it first came out in 2003. It is a funny film. Actually nothing noteworthy happens in it, but still it is a very enjoyable film. Maybe because of Sofia Coppola's direction. A former movie star comes to Tokyo to make a scotch commercial and is totally lost in the strange language and culture. I had the exactly same feeling yesterday, lost in my own home. Fortunately feeling better today.

Another thing I like about Lost in Translation is Tokyo. It is one of my favorite cities. It is huge, crazy, organized, polite, clean and absolutely charming. I can not wait my next visit.


Tropical shoes, part I

I love my Pierre Hardy loafers in navy blue. They are sort of a combination of sneakers and loafers with a modern twist. These Hardys are perfect match for shorts and jeans. I like the intense color and the subtle design.

One of the practical part of these shoes is their thick rubber soles. I have had many loafers before and the problem always was the soles. They didn't last in normal city hiking at all.

I have always admired Tod's loafers but I never have bought a pair. I am too scared that the small rubber dots they use to protect the soles will not last for long. Any experiences?



Singapore is known for it's rules and tidiness. Last Sunday I walked somewhere north of Orchard road and spotted this gas bottle cabinet in a cafe's backyard. Although the cabinet is rusty and old, but still it does not look messy around it like it easily would in some other big city.

Dirt? Not in Singaporean backyard!


Sign language

As I wrote earlier, building sites are all over Singapore. Many of them have the above sign. I think this the most polite work in progress sign I have seen. Who could be annoyed when seeing the humble bowing construction site worker?


A semi-ancient payphone

Today a friend of mine took me for a Sunday lunch at a traditional Singaporean restaurant. I don't remember the name of the place or even the street, but it was behind Raffles Hotel on a small street.

While waiting to be seated I noticed the above 1970's style pay phone at the restaurant's entrance. As it had to be over 30 years old, it still was in superb shape and probably working. This could only happen in Singapore, where everything is well taken care off.

The phone reminds me of the shapes and colors that were used in toys when I was a child.


My Omega Seamaster 50 years jubilee

My grand father got this watch as a birthday present on July 11th 1959. He was 39 years old at the time. Today would be his 89th birthday. He passed away at the age of 59 in 1979. I never really knew him as I was only two years old at the time of his death.

A couple of years after his death, my grand mother gave me the watch. The strap was different and was fitted for my tiny wrist. I remember being proud wearing the watch as it was something special for a little boy.

As years went by I forgot the watch. One of the hands was broken, the glass was scratched, the strap was too small for my grown up wrist. I was told it would not be possible to repair the watch. I thought I would keep it as a memento.

Last December I found the watch by accident. I decided to take it to a watchmaker to find out if it could be repaired after all. The watchmaker told the manual winding movement worked well and the glass could be changed and the broken hand repaired. I decided to give it a go and all the necessary maintenance work was done, including changing the strap to an original Omega leather strap.

The watchmaker promised to call me once the watch would be ready. I waited and waited. After a month I called him and asked whether my watch would be ready. He told he had to order a new crown from Omega's factory and it could take a while. I was amazed. Do they really make spare parts for 50 years old watches?

When I finally saw my watch after the maintenance, I hardly recognized it. It was good as new. The new crown and leather strap made a great finishing touch. One thing was not changed. The watch still has my grand dad's initials U H and the date, 11.7.1959.


Globalization in micro level

I burn candles almost every day. For lighting the candles I do not like to use lighters. I associate them with smoking. I use matches.

I was a bit upset to found out that the only matches available in my daily grocery store Cold Storage were Swedish matches - säkerhets tändstickor. Are there not any Singaporean, Malaysian or even Chinese matchers available?


Did someone mention recession?

These vuittonistas haven't heard about it. There was at least a 50m long queue today to the new LV store in ION Orchard in Singapore.

Maybe Steven Meisel's campaign photos of Madonna are luring the people in. In the photos Madonna has gone through Pierre & Gilles style treatment.

Below Madonna's interpretation of one time fashion icon Eva Perón. Christian Dior me!


What happens at night

There are construction sites everywhere in Singapore. Actually whole of Singapore is a huge building site. New offices, condos, malls and public buildings are built. One could not tell there is a recession.

And they build day and night. Sometimes it seems they are more active in the night time. I don't know is it because there is no burning sun then.

I have taken a daily picture of the pictured building site for couple of months now. I am going to continue doing so the rest of the year. It will interesting to see how they have progressed.

ION Orchard MRT exit, Singapore

I have never been a beer fan, but these walls are quite tempting.