Gardens by the Bay in Singapore!

Come with us to a floral storybook fantasy land that is Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. We’re going indoors, a nice respite from the heat of Southeast Asia, into the Flower Dome. The dome covers three acres replicating a mild, dry climate and features plants found in the Mediterranean and other semi-arid tropical regions such as parts of Australia, South America and South Africa). The dome is 125 feet high and maintains a temperature between 73 and 75 degrees, slightly lower at night. It’s a comfortable temperature for the Pooh characters and Alice in Wonderland denizens who are found in the special place. It is not your grandmother’s flower garden. Let’s go!

Fantasy Path


Tom is dwarfed by the towering trees in the Flower Dome

In the desert

Fantasy dragon looms high overhead


Pooh and Kanga talk things over

Random crazy guy with Queen of Hearts

Modern-day Adam and Eve in the Garden?

What time is it, White Rabbit?

The Cloud Dome is adjacent to the Flower Dome in Gardens by the Bay. The Cloud Dome is a world veiled in mist featuring a 115-foot tall mountain covered in lush vegetation shrouding the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. A cat walk spirals up around the mountain.

The world’s tallest indoor waterfall at 114 feet

After dark, light shows illuminate the outdoor areas of Gardens by the Bay

Blue Lights


On the Streets of Rangoon!

Rangoon, Burma, is a contrast between modern urban infrastructure and outlying impoverished areas lacking basic services. A motor coach tour through the city of more than six million people offered a narrow slice of this Southeast Asian city. As stated in other postings, the city has been renamed Yangon and the country Myanmar by the ruling military junta; however, it is still recognized as Rangoon, Burma, by the U.S. State Department, and we follow suit. We escaped the tropical monsoon season ( May through October) by visiting in February; however we didn’t escape the heat and humidity, as it is hot and humid year round. It was in the 90s, with 95 percent humidity. Here’s what my camera saw in our bus ride.

Rangoon from Rooftop

Rangoon over the rooftop of the gilded Shwedagon Pagoda

Leafy Street

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Man and Billboard



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Rangoon Courthouse Corner

A gilded stupa anchors one corner in downtown Rangoon while the big white courthouse dominates the other

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Truckload of boys on drums celebrating the novitiation of Buddhist monks

Peacock Ornament

Courthouse ornaments: a peacock and . . . snowflakes?

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Colorful architecture

Chinese Pagoda

Random Chinese pagoda


Condos for sale. We didn’t buy one.

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Typical cafe in Rangoon’s outskirts where basic infrastructure and services are limited

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Moon Bakery


Trishaws are a common mode of transportation


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Typical Burmese dress: longyis, rectangles of cotton wrapped around and tied at the waist


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This is about as high as buildings go in Rangoon. No high rises here.


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Malacca, Malaysia!

Malacca City is the capital city of the Malaysian state of Malacca. It is the oldest Malaysian city on the Straits of Malacca (also spelled Melaka), which we sailed through en route from Singapore to Rangoon. Malacca City, with a population of 500,000, contains an historical gem, a village within the city. Kampung Morten, nestled by the Melaka River, has 85 homes, including 52 Melaka traditional dwellings. The village homes adhere to the traditional Malay design, decor and landscaping, and in 1998 the village was preserved under Malacca’s Preservation and Conservation Enactment.

The government provides the villagers with funds and assistance to ensure the village remains in its natural form. It’s historical designation has made the village a tourist attraction, boosting the city’s main economy of tourism. Our local guide, a village resident who told us more about Malay construction techniques that we could ever want to know, paraded us through the village, stopping in homes where the residents took our intrusion in stride. I thought it odd, but I guess they’re used to it. As for us, it was a unique opportunity to see the interior of Malay homes.

Melaka Red Square

Once under Dutch rule, the influence remains in the architecture in Malacca’s Red Square, or Dutch Square, which attracts tourists and droves and boasts an ornate fountain erected in 1904 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee

LOVE Selfie





Baby in Stroller


Red Square, or Dutch Square, is teeming with colorful trishaws, many sporting  Hello Kitty themes.

Below, a tattered Malaysian flag flies at the jetty where we tendered in to Malacca from our ship, the Silver Shadow.


We crossed the footbridge over the Melaka River to enter the historic village within the city

Museum House

After taking off our shoes, we entered this historic home and were guided by its resident-owner whose ancestor built the house

Tablecloth Still Life


The entry is directly from the porch, where the table is, into the open-air atrium. Rain, and we’re talking monsoons, falls directly into the house and waters the plants! The atrium brings refreshing air into the house, helping to cool it in this tropical environment.



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Atrium plants benefit from the rainfall

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Pink seems to be the color here in the village. Curtains come in various shades of pink and frilliness.

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Tom sits on the front stoop of a historic home, colorfully decorated with frills and tiles.

House Interior

Kitchen Still Life

Little Girl in House

Sweet granddaughter of the home’s owner where we again took off our shoes and entered the house, below.  The open concept facilitates air flow. Ceiling fans and table fans help it along.

Inside a Melaka Home


Window Dressing

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Malay village houses rest in the shadow of the Malacca City, population 500,000

Sugar Cane in Pots

Who knew you could grow sugar cane in pots? This same house grows cans and bottles on tree branches, and has an herb garden.

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Bungalows in Kampung Morten, the village within the city of Malacca

Lavender Stairs


A Burmese Village

Every Burmese village has a monastery to house its Buddhist monks. When we visited the monastery in a Thanlyin village there was a wedding about to take place and the bridal party was happy to have their pictures taken by the visiting tourists. During our village visit we also got a peek at life in a tropical village, their modes of transport and their morning market. It appeared not to have rained in a long time, judging by the dusty foliage. The monsoon season, which will wash away the dust and dirt, is still a few months away. Such dryness in the tropics was unexpected, and judging by the steep ditches between the roads and houses and shops, the monsoons must be doozies.


Entering the Bon Pyam Monastery

Monastery Buddhist Temple in Village

Monastery Out Building

Monk Walking

Buddhist monk walks in the monastery complex

Monastery Building

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Tom and the ladies who seemed to be keeping an eye on our group as weentered the monastery grounds

Monastery Two Guys

Two characters in the monastery. The monastery appeared to also be a community center, as locals milled around.

Wedding Party

A Burmese wedding

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Wedding Party 3

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Wedding Car


Many modes of transportation can be seen on the streets, from small cars to motorcycles, to bicycles, horse carts and trishaws, bicycles with side cars. Motorcycles also act as taxis.

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This mother (grandmother?) and son (grandson?) chopped the wood and are taking it home, perhaps for fuel, perhaps to sell.

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There appears to be no garbage collection outside of the urban area, so locals burn their trash

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Corner cafe

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Local gathering spot

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Kids enjoying chocolate candy outside the temple below

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The bigger the Buddha the better in Burma and the rest of the Far East

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Burmese are not too young to protect their skin from darkening. A yellow paste is applied on the skin of boys and girls and men and women.

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Business transaction


Yes, we have clumps of bananas


New brooms sweep clean


Egg Vendor

Omelets, anyone?

Coffee Crates and Sacks

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Burmese wear flip flops and many are available at the morning market.

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Younbg man tames a flossy product of pastel colors. Notice the long skirts. They are the Burmese longyis sarong-like skirts worn by men and women. They are cotton rectangles wrapped around the lower half of the body and tied at the waist.

Fruit Vendor

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Artistically presented leaves for sale. I do not know what their use is.

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Anything you need can be found at the morning market

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Monk with Begging Bowl

Monks with their begging bowls getting their daily quota of donations, including food

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Tom videoing the locals. This pair enjoyed a betel nut buzz.


These orchids were growing in a front yard garden of a modest Burmese home


Rangoon Market and Village

There is nothing like a local market to get the flavor of a village, and the Thanlyian Morning Market near Rangoon was a feast for the eyes, beyond the fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and wares. The Burmese people, it seems, love to be photographed! And we gladly obliged! Here are some of my favorite images from our market visit, and from the village streets:

Burmese Woman Among Veggies

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Burmese Market Vendor

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Young Buddhist nun with her begging bowl. Filling the bowl is a daily task and the Burmese kindly oblige with food and other offerings placed in the bowl.

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Rangoon, Burma, the Shwedagon Pagoda

Our northernmost port on our Singapore-Singapore cruise up the Malacca Strait into the Andaman Sea in the eastern Indian Ocean was Rangoon, Burma, now called Yangon, Myanmar after the ruling military junta changed the name in 1989. In keeping with the U.S. State Department, I will stick with Rangoon, Burma.

Rangoon’s most iconic site is the enormous bejeweled Shwedagon Pagoda. The Pagoda  is a gilded stupa 326 feet tall, and the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, as it is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas of the present kalpa. These relics include the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and eight strands of hair from the head of Gautama.

Buddhist pilgrims come from all around the world to pray at the many altars in this marble-floored complex that shimmers all that is gold under the unforgiving tropical sun. Shoes and socks not allowed. Donations taken. We were fortunate on the day we visited to see processions of young ladies and another of children, all bearing offerings to bring to a novitiation ceremony of new Buddhist monks. Virtually all boys and some girls in Malaysia enter the monastery for a period of time ranging from a few days to a few weeks, months, years or a lifetime. The girl monks are only distinguishable from the boys by their pink robes. All have shaved heads. The enlightenment of Buddhism is being a peace having renounced all worldly material things. I have accepted that I cannot be a Buddhist. As you look at the photos, notice the young people, especially, whose faces are painted with a yellow paste to prevent the skin from tanning. Lighter skin is a desirable feature in Asia, and this is how they do it in Burma.

Tom and Liz at Pagoda

Pagoda Pilgrims

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All that glitters is gold


Stupas, stupas and more stupas

Monk at Altar

Buddhist monk prays at an altar


Lighting incense, making offerings

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Center left, female Buddhist nuns are recognizable by their pink robes

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Little Child in Yellow

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A procession of young ladies carry offerings to the novitiation ceremony to induct young Buddhists into monkhood. All Buddhist boys and some girls become monks for a time, from days to years.

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Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia!

Penang is a Malaysian island off the northwest coast of Malaysia, and the entire island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visited Penang’s capital, Georgetown, and some of its many offerings, including the Spice Tropical Garden, a Chinese Temple (the majority of Penang is Chinese), a batik factory and a house museum showcasing late 19th-century life here under British rule.

Doors to Herb Garden

On the trail in the Spice Garden, doors to the herb garden

Tom in Spice Garden

Tom in the Tropical Spice Garden built into the side of a hill

Guide in Spice Garden

The Spice Garden guide tells us about Ceylon Cinnamon

Temple of the Reclining Buddha 108 feet long Penyang copy

Wat Chayamangkalaram is a Thai Temple in Penang famous for its large gold plated Reclining Buddha, which at 108 feet, is one of the largest in the world

Reclining Budda

Budda with Hand Up

Little Buddas and Big Buddas

Batik Maker

Batik maker paints a floral design on a piece of cotton destined to be a tablecloth or large scarf

Batik Tools of the Trade

Batik tools of the trade

Yellow Dragon

Dragons were out for Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dog

Red Dragon Boys

Chinese New Year Street Lanterns copy

Penang Roundabout Sculpture copy

Bicyclist with Face Mask

Long sleeves in the hot afternoon sun prevent skin darkening, not a desirable feature in this part of the world.

Red Lanterns Green Walls

These Chinese lanterns decorated a museum house we visited showcasing life of yore under British rule

Museum Parlor

Tree in Museum House Courtyard copy

Penang Harbor Serene

Penang Harbor

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A Penang beach

Boat at Rest Under Tree


Kuala Lumpur!

Kuala Lumpur was our first stop along the Malaysian Peninsula as we made our way on the Silver Shadow through the Malacca Strait north toward the Andaman Sea. KL, as Kuala Lumpur is known locally, is the capital of Malaysia, a cultural mix of Malay, Chinese and Indians with European and Islamic influences. It is a young city, having been founded in 1857 as a mining camp (tin) along two murky rivers. Kuala means river and Lumpur means mud. Muddy River. Its 1.6 million inhabitants, the majority of whom are Muslim, live vertically, in dramatic high rises. Our intention here is not to unload a fountain of facts, but but show you what we saw in a foreign land you may or may not visit.

1 River Confluence KL

This is the confluence of the two rivers where Kuala Lumpur was founded as a tin mining camp in 1857. There have been a few changes since then.

2 KL Downtown 6

3 KL Downtown 84 KL Downtown 3

5 KL Downtown 1

6 KL Downtown 2

7 KL Downtown 4

8 KL Downtown 5

9 KL Downtown 7

10 Twin Towers vert

The Petronas Twin Towers were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world. They are a landmark of Kuala Lumpur.

11 Twin Towers Base

This is the base of the Petronas Twin Towers

12 Malaysian Flag

13 KL Street Scene 2

17 Street Lamp Hibiscus

Hibiscus, the flower of Kuala Lumpur, decorate the street lamps.

14 KL Street Scene

18 Street Lamp Lanterns

Chinese lanterns festooned the streets in observance of Chinese New Year. This is the Year of the Dog.

19 Temple

Masjid Jamek Mosque was built in 1907, making it the oldest Islamic place of worship in Kuala Lumpur. A combination of ancient Moorish, Islam and Mughal architectural styles
Malaysia is a multicultural country, whose official religion is Islam. 

20 White Domes

As of the 2010 Census, 61.3 percent of the population practices Islam; 19.8 percent Buddhism; 9.2 percent Christianity; 6.3 percent Hinduism; and 1.3 percent traditional Chinese religions.

American Embassy KL

American Embassy in Kuala Lumpur




We have come to Singapore with Dallas friends Felix and Jane to board a ship from Singapore to Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Rangoon, Burma) with several stops up the Malacca Strait, and back again. After 24 hours flight time, we are glad we came early to decompress and visit some of Singapore’s important sites. A must-see here is the National Orchid Garden section of the 202-acre Singapore Botanic Gardens. Where better to grow orchids than in the tropics, near the equator, with high humidity and annual rainfall measured in meters. It’s a thought had by modern Singapore founder Sir Stamford Raffles in 1822 and it came to fruition in 1859. Today it is the only tropical garden listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tom Liz Jane Felix

Tom and Liz and Jane and Felix at the National Orchid Garden of the Singapore Botanic Gardens

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White Orchids copy

Yellow Orchid Cluster

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Man and Baby

Pink Orchids


Felix (in hat) and Jane with our guide Bernard

Orchids white and orchid

Tom top of stairs

Tom in the Gardens

All the action in Singapore is at Maria Bay, a complex of hotels, amusement parks, a garden and more.

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The Merlion (half mermaid half lion) is a Singapore icon in Marina Bay



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The Marina Bay Sands hotel is a multi-billion-dollar hotel/casino complex that opened in 2010. With 2,561 hotel rooms, it is the largest hotel in Singapore. The resort includes an exhibition center, shopping mall, a museum, two large theaters, “celebrity chef” restaurants, two floating Crystal Pavilions, a skating rink, and the world’s largest atrium casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. The complex is topped by a 1,120-foot SkyPark with a capacity of 3,900 people and a 490 ft) infinity swimming pool, set on top of the world’s largest public cantilevered platform, which overhangs the north tower by 220 feet. caption


The lotus is the performing arts center that is part of the Sands Hotel complex

Muslim Selfie

Muslim women take selfies too

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No Singapore Slings for us. The world-famous Raffles Hotel is closed for renovations until next year

Street Scene Selfie

We strolled through Little India

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Little India Street Scene

Sari Shop copy

Purple Elephant


We wrapped up our day with a visit to a Chinese Temple

Temple Pagoda copy

Burning Incense

Temple Door copy

A Temple door

Red Lanterns


Merry Christmas 2017!

We take a look back on 2017 and marvel at how wild and woolly it all was. The White House occupant aside, we had a rough start. Our trip to Iran was cancelled when Tom underwent a triple cardiac bypass in February—Heart Month. Two weeks later our beloved Oreo died. We still miss Oreo, but a few months later Miss Coco entered our lives and has taken command of our home. We do what she wants when she wants. Tom bounced back, bought a gorgeous new car that was totaled a few weeks later by a woman turning into traffic. All air bags were deployed and he escaped with minor cuts and bruises. We like the new car even better. We had a European getaway and Havana, too, and were chased to Chattanooga by Hurricane Irma. Our house was fine. Please put your sound on and enjoy a three-minute trip through 2017 with us!

Merry Christmas 2017!