It’s strange how quickly it’s possible to settle back into familiar surroundings. All those memories which are relatively fresh feel like they’re being masked and covered very easily just by settling into a routine of mundane tasks. Below are a selection of photographs taken during my last few moments in SG, Apart from the selfies all photographs were taken by John And Ai Jia, thankfully I think between us we’ve taken enough photographs to rest easy about the concern of forgetting. Still miss these guys!
As it’s still fairly early on in our term here in Singapore, a few weekend trips to the coast are acceptable if you make up for the work during the week. Bintan is one of the Riau Islands, a lesser known Indonesian gem just underneath Singapore. Word has it that the government has big plans to transform it into the next Bali. The island already receives some form of tourist income, mainly from Singaporean locals searching for a decent beach. When boarding the ferry there were endless advertisements promoting the relatively new resort situated to the north of the island. Being students with a limited budget we headed further south into the part of the island actually inhabited by the locals.
We stayed in the modest but beautiful Mutiara Beach Guest-house which I can only recommend especially for a big group. They gave us a very good deal by renting out their largest room and allowing us extra mattresses. If we were still in the UK the cost of the mosquito nets and coils we were provided with would have cost more than the room for the duration we stayed. Breakfast was surprisingly included in the price. I thoroughly enjoyed waking up to complimentary Coconut and Lime pancakes by the beach.
Undoubtedly the best part of the trip was renting out some scooters and taking our time to pass through coconut plantations and untouched Indonesian countryside. We made various stops including a little seafood restaurant and had the most delicious marinated fresh fish (for £2 per person!) and by a little stretch of coast with a coral islet opposite. It was possible to walk across the sea from the beach and made for some great photo opportunities. Back at our guest house the beach was very beautiful by the time we arrived back, we had to share it with the presence of some local fishing villagers, whose floating houses became climbing frames and diving boards for our enjoyment. (No damage caused!) The following evening was spent drinking ridiculously cheap beer and relaxing on our porch to some tunes until the portable speakers ran out of battery. Simply a brilliant weekend!
As I boarded my flight to Singapore nearly 6 months ago from, I really didn’t consider the possibility I’d end up sitting at an indie music festival next to one of the world’s most futuristic looking hotels and a collection of solar powered man made ‘super trees’. A sensational lineup, ultramodern setting and Singapore’s warm breezy weather resulted in a very chilled yet vibrant break from the stresses of city life here.
This is the 4th year St Jerome’s Laneway Festival has returned to Singapore with acts from previous years including big names such as Bat for Lashes, Kings of Convenience, Gotye, Alt-J and many more. Aside from the usual UK, Aussie and American acts, this year took an interesting turn with the addition of some local talents. Vandetta, the Observatory and Gema undoubtedly brought a welcome twist to the lineup.
The Jezabels, a four piece band from Sydney unknown to me before, were one of the earlier acts which set the tone for the day ahead. Hayley Mary’s distinct rich vocals demanded attention from throughout the meadow and became a crowd favourite almost instantly. XXYYXX’s explosive set did not disappoint, preventing the daylight hindering the atmosphere by the cloud tent. Unfortunately UK act Mount Kimbie’s performance later in the day felt lacking in consistency and proved a little too experimental for me at times.
Due to an unfortunate injury Gabrial Winterfield of Jagwar Ma was unable to perform at the event, yet Jono Ma fulfilled the task of keeping the crowd entertained with his impressive DJ skills. As the night fell Haim’s stage presence was simply electrifying, especially during their rendition of their hit single ‘The Wire’. Having read so many positive reviews of Jamie xx live, I was worried I may had raised my expectations too high, thankfully my expectations were not only met but in fact exceeded. Jamie xx proved to be a true master of sound, opening with Motown inspired beats with the rest of the set continuing to be varied and infectious.
As the evening came to a close, the Mercury prize 2013 winner James Blake was the final act left to perform. Blake’s haunting vocals pierced through the crowd, readily complemented by a stirring selection of electric rhythms making for a memorable performance . Any doubts I had that songs such as ‘I Never Learnt To Share’ would not translate well onto stage were completely eradicated with all songs sounding as good, if not better on stage.
Although many continue to slate live music as being far from the quality of the recorded sounds we listen to everyday, the acts at laneway festival are another example of how the stage can bring another definition to their music. After being disheartened by various nights out in Singapore with questionable club music and uninspiring live events, the Laneway festival has restored my faith that good music can be appreciated anywhere, even to audiences as far as those in Southeast Asia.
Amidst the hell of exams earlier in December me and Ula decided we’d had enough of freezing in the study room air con and decided to live a little of the ‘exotic study life’ we’d been promised. We’d actually debated going to the beach for weeks on end, but every weekend one assignment or another got in our way. We saw reading week as an excuse because seriously who can study a whole week straight?
We only actually went for two hours then got back to studying but it was a really cracking two hours. Posing for the shot below was actually a lot scarier than you’d think, there was a very active wasps in the bush behind and I’d only realised half way down the trunk! Definitely made the week a little more bearable, Ula’s back in Poland now and we’ve said our goodbye’s but I’m pretty certain they won’t be final.