Picture by Antti Aimo-Koivisto, Lehtikuva
After a long SQ flight and a nice but rainy weekend in London, I am now in freezing cold Helsinki. My time here could not have started better. I went to see and feel a new version of the famous Swan Lake at Finnish National Ballet (FNB) today.
The performance was stunning. FNB's new Artistic director Kenneth Greve had made a modern interpretation of Ivanov's and Petipa's classic choreography. The lead dancers were great although the choreography seemed to be quite difficult for some male dancers. Tchaikovsky's music had gone through some modernization as well but it did not bother.
As a visual person I looked most critically the sets and the costumes. I was very impressed by the actual swan lake set. The lake was beautifully portrayed in a simple yet sophisticated and mysterious way. It was made using only lights and smoke. Costumes were great too, especially I liked von Rothbart's dark toned and a bit scary outfits. And his little helpers in black hoods - they were super cute!
There is only performance left this season, this Friday. Catch it if you can!
Picture from kittylab.com.sg
My favorite kitten has landed in Singapore! Hello Kitty is celebrating her 35th birthday in Singapore with Hello Kitty Lab for two weeks, starting from November 14th. I payed a visit this rainy day and it was worth the trip to the other side of the island.
As everyone knows, Hello Kitty is a famous scientist. She was doing one of her experiments and something went terribly wrong. There was a huge explosion in her laboratory and her head doubled its size turning Hello Kitty into Dr. Kitty, who is now giving Singaporeans a chance to make their own experiments in the Hello Kitty Lab.
Actually the lab is a small town where visitors play games designed by Dr. Kitty. If one wins, they can add features to their own Hello Kitty creation. The tasks vary and put the visitor on a good mood. The lab is extremely nicely designed and eye is given to the details. After finishing the lab, every visitor is given a Kitty ID card with a picture of their newly created Kitty character. If one finishes the lab tour in 35 minutes, he will be given a medal.
Behind this worn out but lively street stands the tallest building in Hong Kong, the International Commerce Center. It has now reached its peak and is 484m tall with 118 floors. The lower levels of the building are already in use although the higher floors are still under construction. The ICC is being built above the Kowloon MTR station next to The Arch where I once almost moved to.
I took a quick look at the direction of MarinaBay Sands building site today and I saw the three towers being connected finally. I can not wait to see the whole complex ready. I am especially interested in the SkyPark which is going to be 340m long connecting all the three pictured hotel towers. The roof top of MarinaBay Sands is going to host not only bars and restaurants, but huge garden and swimming pools too. They must have an amazing view up there!
Here is an illustration of how the SkyPark is being built.Picture from MarinaBay Sands. See it larger here.
I watched a very good documentary about haute couture fashion designer Valentino last Friday. Actually it was a documentary about two men, Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti. Almost everyone knows Valentino by name, but there could not be Valentino without Giancarlo, who his Valentino's lifelong business partner and lover. They have been together over 40 years and it is touching to see how they still work together every single day. As Valentino puts it, 'It was the best thing to me to make dresses, I am a disaster in everything else' and Giancarlo takes care of everything else. Valentino: The Last Emperor is now on dvd. Catch it while you can!
Although I am traveling during Christmas time, I decided to get a (plastic) Christmas tree. I found a perfect tree at OG department store in Orchard Road. I did not want to make it American style tree like all the Christmas trees in Singapore. I only put some white lights, silver and blue ornaments, cones and the most important part of all, Finnish flags, which I made by myself.
Here is a song about Christmas tree in German. It is recorded in a very special year, 1977.
It has been lately stormy in Singapore. Almost every day heavy showers with thunder and lightnings. I have been watching these nature's spectacles from a high floor and I have tried to capture lightnings on film. I can assure you it is not easy. Above you can see a few pictures of lightning striking above the sea and lighting the whole night sky.
Off Hollywood road in Hong Kong I found this graffiti which looks quite a lot like the crazy Plankton, who continuously tries to steal the secret recipe for Krabby Patty in SpongeBob Squarepants tv series. I miss those lazy Sunday mornings in New York watching SpongeBob's adventures in Bikini Bottom :) I have to revive this habit from this Sunday on!
Every I time I visit Hong Kong, I go to Metropol Restaurant in United Center next to newly refurbished Pacific Place shopping heaven (there was nothing wrong with the old one either). The restaurant has extremely good and traditional dim sum. You never know what comes from the waitresses' steamy vans. They do not speak English and I can not Mandarin. So it is international hand language one has to stick to.
My absolute favorites are their desserts. Pictured (colored) here are my three all time favorite buns they serve. Sometimes they have sold out them, but last weekend I managed to get them all. My only problem with these buns is that I have not found them in Singapore. I am sure they are served here as well, but where? And what should I call these buns? I know bun is 'bao' in Mandarin, but my Mandarin skills end there. Can you help?
Here are short descriptions of the buns:
Top: This bun has yellow egg(?) custard in it.
Right: This bun has also yellow custard inside it.
Left: This bun has sugar coating and and no custard inside.
Boat trip from Kowloon to Hong Kong island.
Bank of China building. I think it is one of the most beautiful modern buildings I have ever seen. It is like a huge sculpture. It should be seen in evening lights. Read more about the building here.
Department store SOGO in Causeway Bay.The Excelsior Hotel.
Finnish national airline Finnair made it to the headlines today in Finland. Their frequent flyer program Finnair Plus has started a collaboration with Nordstrom Hospital, which is one of the best known plastic surgery hospitals in Finland. Now it is possible to use Finnair Plus miles to have enhanced boobs or hair. But as everything has it's price, beauty does not come cheap. One needs to have millions of miles to enhance themselves. Breast augmentation with miles starts from 3.180.000,00.
If you have what it takes, click here to proceed.
Picture from The Swank's email newsletter
If you lack ideas for Christmas presents this year, here is one: Belvest mink fur coat from The Swank (Hong Kong), price only HKD399,995. I got this promotion email yesterday. In these times it sounds a bit ridiculous, but as quarterly results of top notch luxury brands show, they are doing very well.
So, Glitzy Christmas, as Singapore's this year's Christmas slogan says.
Picture from ikea.com.sg
Before ending up reading the latest edition of Monocle by the pool yesterday, I went to Japanese food store called Yamakawa Super in the basement of The Central shopping mall.
I have been searching for Japanese jelly drinks from Singaporean supermarkets for a long time without any luck. Until yesterday, Shoku-do food courts have been my only hope, but their take-away Asahi red grape jelly drinks are quite expensive.
Yamakawa Super turned out to be a jelly drink heaven. I found the pictured Sangaria tsubumi grape drink from their shelves. It tastes extremely good and is reasonably priced. I also found Meiji's Pucca salty and sweet fish shaped crackers. They make perfect snack accompanied by the Sangaria drink.