Tales of Asia V – Rangoon, Penang & Singapore, 14 Nov, Sat, 2 – 3 p.m., Library@Orchard, 313 Orchard Road

Supreme Court and Municipal Offices, Singapore.

Supreme Court and Municipal Offices, Singapore.

Part V of Tales of Asia – the final episode – features the British Empire in the Far East, and the cities of Rangoon (today’s Yangon), Penang and Singapore.

Join me as we travel back in time to:

  • Stroll through Old Town Rangoon, exploring the European Town with its monumental architecture reflecting the puissance of the British Raj, and the multi-cultural districts with their Chinese, Indian, Jewish, Muslim, Christian and other communities, living in harmony.
  • Discover how the British wrote TRADE and EMPIRE into the urban planning and the architecture of their showpiece cities in the East Indies.
  • Visit colonial George Town, Penang – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and explore what remains of the British colonial heritage today. Also take a walk down the city’s “Street of Harmony”, a single street where many religions co-exist.
  • Get a glimpse into the life of the British colonials in the cities in the Far East – including Rangoon, Penang and Singapore.
  • Dive in deep into colonial Singapore, uncovering what it used to look like in the 1800s and 1900s, and discovering how the urban landscape has changed dramatically in the 20th century.
  • Find out more about the lives of the Sarkies Brothers, and the history of their three most famous hotels – the Strand Hotel (Rangoon), the Eastern & Oriental Hotel (Penang) and the Raffles Hotel (Singapore).

…amongst other things.

Tales of Asia IV – Saigon (HCMC) and Hanoi HIGHLIGHTS

Highlights from the fourth Tales of Asia talk on Saigon and Hanoi, at the Marine Parade Public Library, Singapore on 8 November 2015 are here.

Full talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df5t70mbXaA&feature=youtu.be

Tales of Asia IV – Saigon (HCMC) & Hanoi, 8 Nov, Sunday, 2 – 3 pm, Marine Parade Public Library

Rue Catinat in the 1930s, with the Hotel Continental at right.

Rue Catinat in the 1930s, with the Hotel Continental at right.

Part IV of Tales of Asia features the cities of Saigon (today’s Ho Chi Minh City) and Hanoi, capitals of French Indochina in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the most dynamic cities in today’s Vietnam.

Join me as we travel back in time to:

  • Take a guided tour through the French colonial architecture of Old Town Saigon, uncovering what remains today from the French era, what remains unchanged and what has changed drastically.
  • Explore la Rue Catinat in Saigon – the Orchard Road and Champs Élysées of the 1900s – 1950s, with its fashionable cafés, boutiques and specialty delicatessen. Peer into the lives of the French in Saigon.
  • Learn of how the French brought their Culture and Civilisation Francaise to Hanoi, only to come up against a far older and more enduring influence – that of the Chinese.  [Spoiler: I reveal the strong link between quốc ngữ - 國語 - and Chinese Han characters.]
  • Explore the Sino-Vietnamese heritage of Old Town Hanoi (河內), including Hoan Kiem Lake (湖還劍) the former Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, the Temple of Literature (文廟), and the 36 Streets (三十六行).
  • Take a pleasant wander through the French quarter of Hanoi, ending off at la Terrasse of the splendid Hôtel Métropole.

…amongst other things.

Singapore Writer’s Festival 2015 – The Fluid Identities of Southeast Asia, 7 Nov, 4 – 5 pm

SWFI am delighted to update that I shall be featured at this year’s Singapore Writer’s Festival, which launched on Friday, 30th October 2015.

Join me and journalist, Elizabeth Pisani (author of the book, Indonesia, Etc – Exploring the Impossible Nation) at a panel on “The Fluid Identities of Southeast Asia” on Saturday, 7th November, 4 – 5 p.m. at The Arts House, Blue Kumon Room, Singapore.

We will be discussing this intriguing question of Southeast Asian identity, including the lingering impact of colonialism today, the historic links between the region’s major (port) cities, and how a heritage of trade and travel has created multi-cultural and mestizo (Peranakan) communities in cities like Batavia (Jakarta) and Singapore.

To get you tickets: https://www.singaporewritersfestival.com/nacswf/nacswf/programme-listing/festival-events/THE-FLUID-IDENTITIES-OF-SOUTH-EAST-ASIA.html.

Tales of Asia III – Bangkok & Phnom Penh HIGHLIGHTS

Highlights from the second Tales of Asia talk on Bangkok and Phnom Penh, at the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore on 30 October 2015 are here.

A link to the full talk is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCFaDv0gfBE

[The Romance of the Grand Tour – 100 Years of Travel in Southeast Asia is available now at all major bookstores in Singapore, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and London. Find it at: http://www.amazon.co.uk,http://www.amazon.com, http://www.waterstones.com and http://www.bookdepository.com.]   

Tales of Asia III – Bangkok and Phnom Penh, 30 Oct, Friday, 7 – 8 pm, Asian Civilisations Museum

Royal Barge on the Chao Phraya River, Thailand.

Royal Barge on the Chao Phraya River, Thailand.

Part III of Tales of Asia features the royal cities of Bangkok and Phnom Penh, capitals of the fairytale kingdoms of Siam and Cambodia respectively.

Join me as we travel back in time to discover:

  • How Siam managed to be the only kingdom in Southeast Asia to avoid being colonised by the European Powers.
  • The story of the Thai King Chulalongkorn and the English Governess Anna Leonowens.
  • How the Grand Palace in Bangkok was both built to recall the ancient city of Ayutthaya, and also featured mixed architectural styles of Siam, China and Europe.
  • How the Cambodian King Sisowath travelled to Paris, wowed the French and fought for the return of Cambodian territories occupied by Siam.
  • How the Hindu epic The Ramayana was adapted to Southeast Asia and became the Siamese and Cambodian national epics.

…amongst other things.

Tales of Asia II – Batavia (Jakarta) HIGHLIGHTS

Highlights from the second Tales of Asia talk on Old Jakarta, at the Toa Payoh Public Library, Singapore on 25 October 2015 are here. A link to entire talk to follow soon.

A link to the full talk is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oD81C_LExjo

[The Romance of the Grand Tour – 100 Years of Travel in Southeast Asia is available now at all major bookstores in Singapore, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and London. Find it also at http://www.amazon.co.ukhttp://www.amazon.com, http://www.waterstones.com and http://www.bookdepository.com.