The Dragon Kiln



It’s funny.  I was just looking at my last post and it too was about “dragons”.  Guess you know you’re in Asia when…

My mom would love this tour!  You can be assured when she comes to visit I will be bringing her here to Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle (home of the dragon kiln).  It is called the dragon kiln because it does resemble a dragon.  It is built on a slight incline with the mouth at the bottom and the tail at the top.  The belly is filled with local artist pottery and only fired 2-3 times a year.  There are only 2 remaining in Singapore with one being operational.

Thow Kwang Dragon Kiln was built in 1940 and is one of the oldest surviving brick-built kilns in Singapore for wood firing.  The pots are engulfed in a river of fire and the ashes reach with glaze to produce unpredictable colours and textures, producing unique pieces unlike firing by gas and electric kilns.

The big draw to this particular tour was that they were going to be firing up the dragon.  In typical Singaporean fashion, things don’t always happen the way we plan.  When we arrived we were told that the firing would be that evening (which would have made for some great photos) and not that morning as originally planned.  Oh well, life goes on and more time to SHOP!  This place was HUGE!!!  Pots, vases, bowls, statues, etc were everywhere.  I had one item in mind to purchase, an umbrella holder.  I searched through thousands of pots looking for just the right one.  In the end, I settled on a larger vase that is just going to have to double for an umbrella stand until I can find one that I like.

Although I didn’t witness the dragon awaken, I was fascinated by yet  another piece of Singapore’s historic art and culture.






Dragon Boat

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As  I peruse through the AWA tours for the upcoming month, Dragon Boating catches my eye.  I’ve watched these beautiful beasts out on the water as the crew row in perfect syncronicity.  What the heck?  I’ll give it a try.  If Emily can do crew 4 times a week, I must be able to handle this one day trial!  I successfully sold the idea to one of my friends, Frances, to accompany me. It was a beautiful sunny day and the pollution level was quite low.  We started out with some stretches and basic instruction of how to row.  Should I be this winded after stretches?  Geez, I’m really feeling my age these days.  Now, we have to walk the boats down to the water.  Luckily, they are on a trailer so it’s just a matter of not running them into anything.   Once the boats are in it’s time to get the show on the road (or water :).

I was the odd man out in the division of the boat crew so I didn’t have a partner.  Lucky me, I get to sit up front with the professional!  Well, I only felt lucky for about the first five minutes when the realisation that the rest of the boat follows the first two rowers set in.  We set the pace.  This fit young lady that I’m partnered up with is counting on me to keep up with her.   Ok, I got this.  The first two runs, not so bad.  Took a bit to figure out the oar placement, body form, and which muscles I should be using.  More rowing….and more rowing….my mind is going to its happy place. We reach this beautiful area right by the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Gardens By the Bay, and the Sports Arena.  We stopped to rest and enjoy the view.  Singapore has amazing architecture.  Getting to know my partner (Fabi I believe was her name) while we rest, I find that she is a fitness instructor at the Navy base.  Her husband is a Navy pilot that has just left for Hong Kong for a year.  Lovely young lady that is definitely making the most of her time here.  She is giving me praises on my technique as I’m apologising for slowing her pace down (I’m pretty sure the ladies behind me were grateful for the slower pace).

Ok, it’s race time!  We’ve waited for the second boat to come meet us and now we are going to row to the bridge to start the race.  I feel sufficiently rested and ready to “do this!”.  We row to the bridge to line up with the other boat.  Uh oh, that was a lot farther than I thought.  Now I’m tired again!  Taylor Swift’s song pops into my head, “shake it off, sh shake it off!”  I shake out my rubbery arms and get in ready position…GO!  My partner is yelling, “1, 2, 3, 4” I’m digging into the water like it’s a tub of Nutella!  Dig, dig, dig.  Arms… so… tired…. More yelling, “come on ladies, we’ve got this”.  I can’t tell who is ahead, but from the frantic yelling I’m thinking we are behind.  Finally, the words I need to hear, “hold!”.  I was so happy to stop the pain, that I didn’t care that we lost.  Well, not totally true, I am a pretty competitive person.

We did do a second race and I won’t go into detail, but we lost a second time.    Now it’s time to get the boats back to the boat house.  I thought the physical exhaustion was over…um no.  Getting the boats in the water was WAY easier than getting them out.  I honestly thought I was going to toss my cookies I was that physically drained.  It’s times like these I wish I had the mind of a 40 something and the body of a 20 something. It’s now three days later and my body is still cursing me.  Am I glad I did it?  Hell yes!  When am I ever going to do things like this again.   Emily is going to be doing dragon boating in the spring (insert evil laugh) and doesn’t know what she’s getting into!