When Wonderboy and I first stayed at Loke Thye Kee Residences in October last year, charming little boutique hotel had just opened for business. It is not until recently that I found that the hotel was designed by Singapore’s Ministry of Design.
Located off the busy Penang Road, it was an unassuming find. On the outside, it exudes a quiet Straits charm of decorative swing doors, clean old school signages in gold letterings decked with Peranakan tiles along the five-foot way.
Once inside, it is a feast for the eye. The interior and exterior design are surrounded with a mix of old, modern and raw. Exposed earthy wall bricks cleverly lit with strips of LED lights from the ceiling and carpentry lend a raw and warm atmosphere to the interior. The beautiful Peranakan tiles from the five-foot way found its way into the interior, framing the reception area nicely. The lattice screen and door design leading to the suites remind me of the typical Asian vent blocks, sans heavy duty. The gentle colour (presumably a light shade of Emerald Green) and lattice design soften the harshness of bricks and tiles. Clever.
The theme of exposed brick walls are featured throughout the hotel on the exterior walkway leading to the rooms, and inside the rooms. Heritage preservation and restoration always present a dilemma and challenge; how much should we preserve without altering much of its original characteristics while making it fit for contemporary living.
The interior of the room is a designer’s geekfest (for me, at least). The interior of the suite has a gentle blend of colours and finishes in neutral tone of white and earthy brown, counterpoising the striking bricks.
I love a soft spot for mosaic tiles, which are used throughout the wet area. Every inch of the room is filled with pleasant furnishing and the essentials are there; bed, bathroom, kitchenette, lounge area & TV. There is no room for complaints.
Let’s move on the exceptional services at the residences. A few weeks prior to our stay, Wonderboy went to Penang for work and stayed at the Loke Thye Kee Residences. He wouldn’t stop ranting and raving about the place when he came home so it was a natural choice when we planned our October getaway. It also happens to be his birthday month. After checking in, we went to our room to find a lovely gift of a vintage red thermos flask. On his prior stay, he told one of the staff how he likes the thermos flask that they send up every morning with coffee for breakfast. They remembered and duly presented him with one. How thoughtful.
Breakfast with a choice local or continental was delightfully served to the room in the famous tingkat (tiffin carrier) and thermos flask. It’s a quaint affair that string the nostalgic heart.
With only 5 suites and each suite has a designated entrance up two flight of stairs, it is a haven of privacy. We do have to put up with the occasional traffic noise coming off the bustling Penang Road but that is just a momentarily distraction.
Loke Thye Kee Residences
2 Jalan Burma
10050 George Town
Some time in the last week before 2014 ended, I kept wanting to come up with new year resolutions. I didn’t get that far.
Plenty happened in 2014. I made some difficult choices that upset and hurt many people. But these choices also made me a happier person. Something’s got to give. The price of these choices give me an inevitable isolation. My thoughts and my hurts are neatly boxed up in suitcase, boxes, poetry and the frame of my mind. I’m perfectly alright with that. Ultimately, my happiness is my own. And I’m happy.
So this year, I will do a few things that make me happy.
1. Take up Yoga or Pilates
2. Learn French language – At the rate I’m going with work, I’ll have to settle with self-learning
3. Go on nature walks – Average of once a month
4. Go on heritage walks in Singapore
5. Read more books – Goodreads recorded that I read only three books last year. This is embarrassing. I’ll resolute to read at least two books a month.
6. Work on creative projects via Atelier Li Foret
7. Volunteer – With my uncertain, sometimes crazy schedule, this may be a tricky thing to do but if not now, then when? I have to try.
8. Travel – The leisure kind, at least twice this year. I hope.
9. Save more, spend less. The goal is to save $3000 in the bank. It’s not much but I’ve to start somewhere. At 35, I realise that being penniless is not an attractive option.
10. Being green-conscious – Singapore is a country that uses an unimaginable amount of plastic bag and packaging. Almost everything goes into one single bin or down the chute. It’s extremely difficult to find recycling bins or they are located miles away. I’ll carry a calico bag with me, regardless how unglamorous or cumbersome it might be. When I have recyclable items, I’ll have to make the effort to go downstairs for the green bin.
There are many things I would like to do but I have to be realistic about what I can do given the timeframe , money and ability.
Let’s hope this will be a better year. Happy 2015.
(credit: snow-capped, jason mrachina)
Thank you for another wonderful night. It has been such a wonderful, (re)educational evening. I enjoy exploring our neighbourhood with you. I see everything from a different light whenever you are with me. You tolerate my ignorance and downplay the occasional ditziness I displayed. I need not pretend and you never tell me otherwise. Sometimes, I see ourselves on an adventure. Life has to have an adventure. Life has to be an adventure, no matter how small it may be.
I enjoyed my first experience of Nando’s Chicken. Who would’ve thought that I’ve never touched Nando’s Chicken until tonight? You must’ve thought that I lived under the coconut shell. Maybe I had been. I also enjoy being a part of your thought process and your taste for style. I love that you are like me. We both have a thirst for knowledge for our own faculty and what’s beyond. What we are lacking as individuals, we strive to know more; sometimes you are far ahead than I am. I appreciate that.
I like The Giver we watched tonight despite the unfavourable reviews. Have you noticed the similarity between the two films, Lucy and The Giver we watched recently? Both films are about individuals who realised they have a distinct ability that allows them to shape the world differently and for the greater good. The similarity stops there. I love Lucy for being the unlikely heroine but The Giver has such a beautiful, structured setting akin to the Metabolism Movement and Structural Expressionism of the 1970s caught between Modernism and Classicism. They must’ve fought hard to harmonise. And succeeded. I wonder and imagine how I would feel if I was living in that society. It would be a haven for the fickle-minded removed from choices in life. Speaking of society, the film tonight was a wonderful walk down my memory lane. The context and narrative reminded me the times in university where I studied philosophy, theories, ideologies and essentially, politics. The apparent themes are of emotions and adequacy but it is the lack of and the subtlety (consciousness, choices and awareness) that speak the loudest. I have forgotten the terminology that best describes this world but I am certain it will come back to me soon enough. I think I could stay up all night bothering myself with the theories, if I want to.
I forgot to mention the soft launch of my design studio Atelier Li Foret’s website. Opps.
Following this is ALF’s first design, an elegant and simple clutch bag with stitch motif designed based on the study of Chinese screen patterns. More images at Atelier Li Foret’s Facebook page.
I haven’t been spending at much time as I like in the studio. Here are some snippets from the past few weeks.
1. A roll of paper
2. Screen printing
3. Speedball frame
4. Photo emulsion from screen printing
5. Sewing design
I don’t remember when I was first drawn to the elegance of terrarium but the fascination has never gone away. Unlike bonsai, which of course is an entirely patience-testing art form on its own, there is a million creative ways one can do for a terrarium. It’s like a mini-jungle of endless possibilities, combinations and of course, creative fun.
I’ve been trying to develop a daily creative routine for myself lately to ooze some brain juice to help develop the next design project. The routine hasn’t been very much a routine so far. So I’m in dire need to jump-start the under-performing brain.
Over the last few months, I’ve been so inspired by conversations with a few close friends about succulent plants. I have a few succulent plants which has been exposed to the elements, not watered frequently or replanted in any form since April this year. Yet, it’s thriving and flowering with the brightest of yellow petals. How baffling. It’s time to do something about it. Armed with two vases and very little knowledge of planting, I played around with what I have and came up with something simple. This is the something.
For all the legendary things I hear and know about coffee, it couldn’t keep me awake during those long nights of chasing assignments. You would think that a child born into a clan that is well-known for their coffee would have an intrinsic link to it by default. I’ll say that the smell of freshly grounded coffee is heavenly though. Long black or double macchiato is the only effective poison for the occasional late-nights.
So, I stopped drinking coffee for a few months now and switch to tea instead. I’ve taken a special liking to chai. Well, I’ve always drank chai latte anyway, much to the disappointment of all my barista-nespresso-coffee loving friends. There is nothing more soothing for a morning start than the whiff of spices, honey and milk.
Coming out shivering, fresh from the saltwater of Lifou, I said to the Melanesian man and woman at their makeshift ticket booth of a folded table and colourful umbrella, “Merci. C’est magnifique!“.
For a second of what seems like an eternity, he stared with amusement at the face of an Asian girl with snorkel and fins, dripping wet from head to toe. The place was crawling with tourists, mostly Anglo-saxon, white, polynesians and a sprinkle of Asians. French words spilling out from an Asian tourist on a remote island must be rare.
“Tu parle Français !??” He quizzed with a huge smile on his face. I love the Melanesian smile that I noticed throughout my short trip to New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Wide, genuine grin that flashes a set of white teeth. Never hesitant.
“Un peu…. a little,” I replied with a smile.
Amused, he laughed and I followed suit. I received similar reaction at a pâtisserie the day before so I could only guess that locals are glad to hear a foreigner uttering more than a few twisted syllables of bonjour and merci.
Beyond, it was a breathtaking view with no barrier between me and the Pacific Ocean of Lifou. It was clearer than turquoise, aqua, sapphire or any ocean colour that words could describe. I was in paradise. This is how I fall in love with Nouvelle-Calédonie.
A thought of a lasting seconds,
Crosses each other,
Launching a thousand
secrets of endless desires.
When I travelled to Singapore and Malaysia this year, I started writing poems again. It was an exercise that I’ve been doing over the years but not as extensively as I have done like this year. And I make it a habit to write on paper with a pen. When travelling on the road, it was easier and quicker to jot down a few lines with a pen than attempting with a tablet.
I’ve never fully appreciate the therapeutic importance of poetry until recently. Writing poetry is the quickest, shortest and cheapest therapy in replacement to a long journal entry. I still keep a private diary but find freedom in burying secrets in short sentences and stanzas because sometimes, that is all I can say; in secretive codes of diminutive chunks. I’ve written the occasional poems between the years but for a short few months this year, I fell into an affecting spell. The only effective antidote was literature. So I wrote and wrote and wrote to yield a large collection of poems that pours over the same sentiments told a hundred different ways. It was like a leaky tap that drips an endless stream of unresolved emotions.
A selected few will be published here over the next few weeks. Some are first and only draft, some will need to be expanded while some has been reworked. Many were written during a period of time circling around similar and connecting subjects.
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