10 hyperlocal heroes to celebrate

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To commemorate the National Day, The Sunday Times celebrates 10 hyperlocal heroes – things, people, or places – who gained new relevance during the pandemic.


Rain or shine, Boo Chin Joo plays erhu at MacRitchie Reservoir every weekend

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Weekend mornings at MacRitchie Reservoir are never complete without a sunny accompaniment to the sonorous tunes of Maestro Erhu Boo Chin Joo. From 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., the 72-year-old retiree climbs onto his stage, a pavilion near the reservoir’s bandstand, cradling passers-by on his Chinese two-string violin. He says in Mandarin, “When I started playing here, I didn’t use a speaker. But as more and more people came to listen, I decided to use one so that everyone could enjoy the music. READ MORE HERE


A toast to Mr. Shi Pong Shu from the kopi Heap Seng Leong institution

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Dressed in his white tank top and striped pajama pants, Mr. Shi Pong Shu of historic cafe Heap Seng Leong is possibly Singapore’s hardest working kopi and toast hero. From 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, Mr. Shi – who is 80 years old (he can’t remember his year of birth) – cooks the quintessential local breakfast at his retro-chic kopi institution on North Bridge Road. He flips the bread over charcoal by hand, uses a hassle-free tin lid to scrape off pieces of burnt toast, and skillfully slides wads of glazed butter between the slices and into steaming cups of kopi guyou (coffee in butter). READ MORE HERE


Local horror tales have scared a new generation

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Among the genres of local literature, there is one that has received little critical attention, but is perhaps the most iconic of the local bestseller: Singapore Horror Story. Ask your average Singaporean about local literary icons, and there’s a good chance what comes to your mind will be the eerie red eyes that haunt the covers of Russell Lee’s True Singapore Ghost Stories anthologies, which scare people away. readers since 1989 and have sold over 1.5 million copies.

The pseudonym Lee, whose identity has never been revealed, published Volume 26 last year. It turned out to be a pandemic success, appearing on the Straits Times national bestseller list for 30 weeks.

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Indian classical flautist Niranjan Pandian connects souls through music

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Indian classical flautist Niranjan Pandian was in his final year of studying for an accounting degree when he decided to drop out to focus on his first love – music.

It wasn’t a decision the 28-year-old, who has been playing music since the age of 10, took lightly.

He juggled his studies at the University of Social Sciences in Singapore with a rising musical career, which included concerts abroad.

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Retired hawker YL Thien, 78, makes art with fallen twigs

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Take a stroll around Pek Kio and, if you’re lucky, you might spot an elderly man creating portraits from twigs that have fallen to the ground.

All it takes is a gust of wind to undo his artistic arrangements, but Mr. YL Thien, 78, doesn’t care. “If the wind drives it away, I can still create another,” he said in Mandarin, bending over a work in progress – a portrait of Hongniang, a maid from a Tang Dynasty tale.

Mr Thien, who lives in a rented apartment on the estate, has been making floor art near a parking lot at Owen Road since last year.

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Uncle Chia, 82, spreads joy with pet songbirds in lavish hotel

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Birdman Chia Eng Seng, 82, places her pet songbirds every morning in the leafy atrium of the Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay hotel.

Birdsong soon fills the sky-lit 21-story atrium, reinforcing the impression that this is an interior forest set in the refurbished Raffles Boulevard hotel.

The man behind this urban enchantment has been rushing to world-class hotels in his van for more than a quarter of a century, uplifting visitors with musical birds, especially during a protracted pandemic.

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Unsung S’pore Icons: Beyond The Vines Dumpling Bag Goes Places

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Never has a bag trapped the nation like the Dumpling Bag. And it was created by a local brand, nothing less.

With its distinct gathered closure, the water-resistant bag from Singapore-based design studio Beyond The Vines is now everywhere you turn.

He sits casually on a chair in a cafe (when meals were still allowed), in a corner of the gym, coming out of a grocery cart during a grocery store run.

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Little-known icons of S’pore: favorable winds for cruises to nowhere

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Once seen as a grandma’s vacation or a floating casino on the high seas, nowhere cruises have found new fans in the past six months.

Passing security checks and immigration formalities at the Marina Bay Cruise Center ignites the distant memory of the trip. What was once an obligation, even a chore, now looks new.

On board there are activities for all ages. On Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, queues wind around its FlowRider surf simulator and climbing walls. Guests spin and dodge on bumper cars in the Seaplex, an indoor activity zone.

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Unsung S’pore Icons: Straits Art Company, a one-stop shop for art supplies

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Straits Art Company, a small business that opened in 1947, has helped many pioneer artists from Singapore such as Cheong Soo Pieng, Basuki Abdullah, and Georgette Chen to source fine art materials imported from Europe and to find that perfect shade of red pepper.

Later, a second generation of artists such as Chua Ek Kay, Tan Swie Hian, and Ong Kim Seng also shopped here, not only for supplies but also for tips on how to get the most out of their stuff. materials.

Today, Singapore’s oldest art supply store continues its centuries-old tradition of providing oils, watercolor paints and easels – to families seeking art as a way to relax during the pandemic .

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Little-known icons of S’pore: the group is now buying a way of life in certain HDB areas

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Working from home has its advantages, but presents the perennial problem: what to eat for lunch?

Cooking takes too long, the cost of meal deliveries add up quickly, and who wants to go to the cafe in the relentless midday heat?

Group buying, which gained popularity over the past year, has become a practical solution. Hosts in a neighborhood group buy orders from their neighbors, who collect the items from their homes.

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