The History of Sentosa Island

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I love history.  I find that knowing the history of a place adds to its unique character and personality and makes it even more endearing and charming.  With that in mind, I thought I would share a bit about the history of Sentosa Island and Capella Singapore.

Did you know that Sentosa Island, where Capella Singapore, is located, is the largest of Singapore’s southern islands and an island with a rich history and heritage?  In the past it was an island fortress and military base for the British army and today it is an island of pure entertainment and recreation.

On the western side of the island was Fort Siloso which has underground passages, bunkers and gun emplacements dating back to the 1800s.  It was built in the 1880s to protect Singapore, which was a thriving port under Great Britain’s rule.  Fort Siloso was part of Singapore’s coastal defence with Fort Serapong and Fort Connaught.  The guns at Fort Siloso were used during World War II and are part of Singapore’s rich history.

Capella Singapore is home to four colonial buildings – the two blocks where the main lobby, Capella Library and Chinese restaurant, Cassia, are located are actually two Colonial Manors.  In fact, they received conservation status in 2000.  These colonial buildings were formerly the Royal Artillery Officers’ Mess.

 The Officers’ Mess was where the officers and their families had their meals and recreational activities such as dining, dancing and tennis. There was a tennis court beside the block.

Royal Artillery Officers Christmas Party 1951

Royal Artillery Officers Christmas Party 1951

Christmas and New Year parties were celebrated at the Officers’ Mess.  Formal table settings extended out to the wide corridors of the block and band performances were held in the room at the entrance. From the Officers’ Mess, there was a good view of the Singapore harbour and it was a practice for the officers and their families to welcome in the new year with the loud horning from the ships in the harbour.

After Singapore gained independence in 1965, the government decided that it was important for the emerging nation to have a place of recreation.  Soon after, Sentosa Island was chosen for this purpose.  Sentosa Island was then given the name Sentosa Island in 1970, which means “Isle of Tranquility” in Malay and developed by the Singapore government into a recreational area in 1972.  It has now become an island of fun, filled with amusement parks, beaches, museums, restaurants, aquariums and many more attractions.  It is truly amazing how in just a few decades it has transformed from a military base into an exciting playground.

If you are interested in the history of Sentosa, you may wish to go for a tour at Fort Siloso or visit Images of Singapore where you can learn about the colourful history of Sentosa and of Singapore and how we became the thriving and successful country that we are today.  Do speak with one of our Personal Assistants to organise a tour at +65 6591 5035 / pa.singapore@capellahotels.com.

Historical pictures of Capella Singapore’s past as the Royal Artillery Officers’ Mess are available for viewing in The Library.

Art Along the Banks of the Singapore River

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Singapore River is the lifeline of the country. It was on the very banks of Singapore River that the founder of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles, stood in 1819. Since then it has played an integral role in our country’s development serving as one of the busiest trading ports in Asia.

One of my favourite ways to unwind after a busy day at work is to spend time strolling the banks of the river. While it is no longer the busy trading port it was in the 19th century, the Singapore river is now an idyllic destination to eat, work and play. The shophouses along Boat Quay and Clarke Quay that used to be filled with spices, sugar, salt and other items of trade, have now been converted into trendy bars and restaurants – the watering hole of Singapore’s stylish and sophisticated crowd.

Today, during my usual walk down the banks of the river, two particular bronze sculptures caught my eye: A Great Emporium by Malcolm Koh and From Chettiars to Financiers by Sculptor Chern Lian Shan.

These sculptures depict life as it was along the banks of the Singapore River in the 19th century.

A Great Emporium by Malcolm Koh

A Great Emporium by Malcolm Koh

In A Great Emporium, there are four distinct characters represented in the sculpture, a British Trader, a Chinese Merchant, a Chinese Coolie and an Indian Coolie all engaged in trade. Coolie refers to manual labourer, the origins of the word has both Chinese and Indian derivations.

It really brought me back 200 years ago. When life was tough. Many of these coolies, liked the coolies in the sculpture, worked without a thread on their backs. They carried gunny sacks of rice, flour and spices from ship to shore for pittance.  These coolies were indeed the backbone of our society. They built up Singapore. Without them, we could not have developed as fast and as furious as we did.  The sculpture reminded me of how fast Singapore has developed and how grateful I am!

The sculpture to its left, From Chettiars to Financiers, is also a depiction of life along the banks of the river in the 19th century.  This sculpture shows the dramatic change of Singapore’s finance industry.  From simple Indian Chettiars who were most commonly moneylenders with the pig-tailed clerk to a female financier.  How times have changed.

From Chettiars to Financiers by Chern Lian Shan

From Chettiars to Financiers by Chern Lian Shan

The Indian Chettiars originated from Chettinad in Tamil Nadu.  Interestingly, the term “Chettiar” is actually a caste label, not another name for moneylender.  These moneylenders were private financiers who lent money to entrepreneurs and businessman.

I spent quite a while admiring these two sculptures. Indeed, life has changed for us here in Singapore. We have evolved from a small trading port to one of the most stable and secure economies in the world.  As we reap what our forefathers have sowed, we should never forget where we came from.  These bronze sculptures along the Singapore River serve as fitting reminders of our past.

Capella Singapore’s Personal Assistants will be able to share more information about Clarke Quay and Boat Quay and recommend restaurants and bars along the river. If you would like to organise a private tour or book a restaurant, please contact our Personal Assistants at +65 6591 5035 / pa.singapore@capellahotels.com.

 

Los Secretos De Cócteles De Osvaldo Vazquez De Capella Pedregal

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Hace poco estuve con el Mixólogo de Capella Pedregal, Osvaldo Vázquez, para poder descubrir los secretos de coctel detrás de sus bebidas deliciosamente elaboradas y para conseguir una primicia sobre, Sabor a Capella, Festival de Comida y Vino en Capella Pedregal que se llevará a cabo el mes que entra.
Osvaldo ha ganado reconocimiento nacional e internacional como un mixólogo premier y es conocido como un pionero en Cabo San Lucas por sus “vanguardistas” cócteles con ingredientes caseros y de temporada. Sus cócteles envejecidos en barricas y su ” amargos hechos en casa” no se puede perder.
CP - ¡Hola Osvaldo! ¡Me estoy convirtiendo en tu fan # 1! ¡¡No hay un solo cóctel que hayas hecho que no me ha gustado!! Por favor, dinos el secreto detrás de tus cócteles.
O – ¡Gracias! Para todos nuestros cócteles, utilizamos ingredientes locales y orgánicos, y bebidas de primera clase, pero lo que hace la diferencia es que los cócteles son elaborados verdaderamente a mano. El equipo y yo pasamos muchas horas creando amargos,infusionando el tequila, el mezcal y el bourbon con ingredientes únicos que posteriormente serán envejecido en nuestras barricas.

 

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CP - WOW! Cuéntame más sobre que el los amargo de Capella!
O-Bueno, primero hay que entender lo que es un amargo.. Un de un amargo es como el vinagre que el chef utiliza para agregar un poco de sabor a su comida. El sabor de un amargo hecho en casa es único y le da un toque especial a nuestros cócteles. Durante el último año y medio, hemos creado más de 15 sabores de amargos diferentes , como chocolate, lavanda, limón y naranja.
Para hacer los amargos, trabajamos con una destilería en Todos Santos que nos proporciona licores de maíz . Seleccionamos los “ingredientes” para infucionar con los licores, como la madera de cerezo, naranja, corteza de árbol, etc. Luego empezamos con nuestros procesos de filtrado y los resultados son fenomenales.
CP - Dinos, ¿qué podemos esperar en cuanto a cócteles en el próximo Sabor a Capella, Festival de Comida y Vino?
O – Este año, vamos a centrarnos mucho más en cócteles y gracias a la participación de Ulliyses Vidal de Employees Only en la ciudad de Nueva York, vamos a tener una nueva clase llamada Cócteles Artesanales. En su demostración se creara licores artesanales influenciados por los años 1920 y 1930. Durante el festival, los huéspedes podrán disfrutar de cervezas hechos a mano, tequila de nuestras barricas y, por supuesto, algunos cócteles especiales creados especialmente para el festival.

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CP - Osvalso, muchas gracias por tomarte el tiempo para compartir los secretos de tus creaciones con nosotros! Estoy seguro de que nuestros lectores están tan ansiosos como yo de ver lo que está por suceder!

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2014

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

47 years ago, the first Smithsonian Folklife Festival was initiated in Washington, D.C.  Today, the Festival has become a national and international living cultural heritage expedition, home to over 250 artists and over 1 million visitors from all around the world.  I am so ready for this year’s lineup, kicking off June 25 to 29 and July 2 to 6 on the National Mall.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The theme of the program this year will be China: Tradition and the Art of Living and Kenya: Mambo Poa!  The China program emphasizes the themes of BALANCE and REUNION, processes of more profound importance than ever in China.  The program will also feature seasonal festival traditions, emphasize the exuberance of public life, share the meaning and preparation of Chinese foodways, engage visitors in craft and performance workshops, and highlight the country’s cultural diversity.

The Kenya: Mambo Poa program will present the ways in which the people of Kenya are balancing protection of their valued cultural and natural heritage with the challenges and opportunities for change in the twenty-first century.  Festival visitors will be able to interact with exemplary craftspeople who work with everything from clay to soapstone to recycled materials, learn about important fossil discoveries and so much more!

Smithsonian Folklife Festival China

What I love most about the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is the opportunity to meet carriers of cultural traditions in a very personal way.  You will have the chance to ask questions and engage with participants to hear their unique insider stories and experiences.  It amazes me to think how Washington, D.C. has become the quintessential cultural center, home to so many diverse groups.  This Festival is a time to learn and appreciate our fellow Americans and their family sagas from generation to generation.

To get myself ready, I’ve been listening to the Smithsonian Music of China and Music of Kenya playlists.

There is no admission charge to the Festival.  I highly suggest dressing for hot and humid weather- summer will be in full effect!  Parking around the Mall is extremely limited, so you are advised to use Metrorail.  Your Capella Washington, D.C. Personal Assistant is of course on hand to arrange transportation services to and from the Festival as well.  I look forward to seeing you there!

A Day On The Docks: A Visit To Capella Marina

Capella Marina

If you are ever in Marigot Bay, you will discover that most of the fun and excitement happens at the Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina.  Many a time have I driven to the top of the Marigot Bay hill and looked down at this beautiful bay and always wondered what fun it would be if I could one day be a part of such spectacular scenery.  The towering hills, the peaceful sea, the birds chirping in the mangroves, there was just something about this magical bay that gave me a nostalgic feeling that I just wished to experience such beauty.

Today, I decided to speak to the Marina Consultant, Pete, and we arranged for a full day experience on the docks at the Capella Marina.  My dream was finally becoming a reality but little did I know what enjoyment I would feel, engaging with the Dock Master and the marina staff whilst completing the various tasks that the gentlemen at the docks did every day.

Capella Marina

My first challenge was to tie a bowline.  I was stunned that this was my first task but I carefully paid attention to the process and then successfully tied my first dinghy on to the dock.  After conquering that challenge, I felt like a champion but my next task was to steer the dinghy out in the bay and maneuver back to the docks.  I really thought that this would have been difficult because I have never steered a boat before.  However, Chedy, the dock assistant, explained the process and made it sound very easy.  “It is like driving a car” he said, and so again, I watched him start the engine and was amazed at how easily he was able to steer the dinghy.  It was my turn now and I was a bit resistant to pulling the cord that started the engine.  Chedy gently encouraged me and then I heard that loud roar and leaped with joy.

Steering out in the bay was one of the best experiences that I have ever had as far back as I could remember.  The dinghy made very little noise as I was able to breathe in the beauty of the bay and feel relaxed in my moment.  I continued towards the entrance of the Capella Resort and could not believe how beautiful the hotel looked from the water’s entrance.  I instantly felt envious of the boat Captains and Crew who constantly got to enjoy this beautiful scenery.

If you would like a similar experience to mine, do contact your personal assistant at res.marigotbay@capella.com to arrange your special day on the docks.

 

 

Ah Meng The Orangutan And Conservation In Singapore

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With Mother’s Day recently passed, I thought it fitting I talk about about Singapore’s most famous non-human mother, Ah Meng, the Sumatran Orangutan.

Ah Meng, the Orangutan on her walks

Ah Meng, the Orangutan on her walks

Ah Meng, was the poster girl for Singapore’s conservation efforts and tourism industry.  She starred in more than 30 documentaries, including one with the legendary Steve Irwin.  She also made the impression on many other famous visitors including Prince Philip, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Bo Derek- just to name a few!

Although she died in 2008, many still think of Ah Meng when they think of our Singapore Zoological Gardens.  She was the star attraction at the still hugely popular Breakfast with Ah Meng (now changed to Breakfast with Wildlife since her passing) at the Zoo.  Many tourists still flock to Singapore just for the experience of dining with one of these lovable creatures. 

In 1992, Ah Meng became the first and only non-human recipient of the Singapore Tourism Promotion Board’s (STB) Special Ambassador Award for her contributions.  A special sculpture now stands proudly at the zoo in her memory.

Ah Meng didn’t have an easy start in life.  She was born around 1960 and smuggled from Indonesia and illegally kept as a pet until she was rescued in 1971.  Despite her difficult start, her gentle nature attracted those she met, ultimately advancing the cause of conservation in her own way.  Beyond her public role, Ah Meng also had four children, two males and two females named Hsing Hsing, Satria, Medan and Sayang respectively, and six grandchildren and now one great-grandson, Bino. 

Ah Meng and her daughter

Ah Meng and her daughter

She was the epitome of a working mother.  With a strong cause, wit and charm she influenced many people and won them over to the side of conservation.

This May, we may be celebrating our real mothers, but let’s spare a thought for the millions of animal mothers out there who are working hard to look for food their babies and to keep their babies safe.  Deforestation is happening at an alarming rate destroying the homes of many animal families.  Orangutans are listed as endangered by the WWF with many asserting that numbers have fallen by more than 50% in the past 60 years.  It is important Ah Meng’s legacy live on and the message of conservation with it.`

If you are interested to learn more about Singapore’s conservation efforts and to have breakfast with the wildlife, our Personal Assistants at Capella Singapore will be more than happy to make arrangements for you.  The Zoo is an easy 25-minute drive from Capella Singapore.  Please contact them at +65 6591 5035/34 or email them at pa.singapore@capellahotels.com.  

 

Image via yesterday.sg