The Life e-magazine: Coolie currency, mini spaceship watches, private island getaways and more

PHOTOS: LAUCALA ISLAND, DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES, MACA, ST FILE

Highlights from the August issue of The Straits Times e-publication

COOLIE CURRENCY

Ceramic coins with animal motifs, Chinese characters and gear-like appearances were commonplace in 19th-century Singapore.

Coolies, or indentured labourers, from China who sailed to the little red dot to escape poverty and support their families back home, were paid with such "coolie currency".

Retired couple Roger Loh Ah Keong, 69, and Patsy Lee, 66, developed a passion for collecting these nostalgic pieces in the 1980s and have amassed a collection of 50 tokens.

View the pieces' intricate designs and find out how the couple's collecting journey began.

Deborah Lee


BEST NEW RESTAURANT

It may be tough trying to classify the cooking at Maca Restaurant, but it does not matter. The food is good, with its original combination of ingredients that sometimes reminds one of Australian fare and sometimes of Japanese.

Go for the meats, especially the 12 Hour Slow Cooked Iberico Pork Collar ($36), which boasts a succulent texture, not the one-dimensional softness one expects from slow-cooked meat.

The place gets very noisy though when it fills up, as the dining room is tiny and there are no soft surfaces to absorb the noise.

Wong Ah Yoke


MAKING MINI-SPACESHIP

WATCHES

Watch maestro Max Busser turned the Swiss watch industry on its head when he launched his Horological Machines - luxury Swiss-made watches that resemble mini-spaceships or cars.

The industry veteran had grown weary of selling watches that the market demanded, so he began creating outrageous pieces.

He worked without a salary for two years to get his eponymous label off the ground, and he has never been happier.

This year, the brand marks its 10th anniversary.

We also take a peek into the lives of two other personalities in the watch industry: Raymond Weil scion Elie Bernheim and Sincere Watch managing director Kingston Chu.

Gladys Chung

  • HOW TO DOWNLOAD THE LIFE E-MAGAZINE

    1. Download The Straits Times Star E-books app from App Store for your iPad or Google Play for your Android tablet.

    2. Get The Life magazine inside the app. It's free, along with previous issues of the magazine. The Life is optimised for iPads and Android tablets, and is best downloaded when there is Wi-Fi.


PRIVATE ISLAND GETAWAYS

The ultimate escape, a private island hosts just one plush resort for privacy and a sense of privilege.

In the past, private islands were the domain of the rich and famous. These days, these isles are more affordable and many are near Singapore. Travellers are lured by their luxury and absence of crowds. One such resort is the Laucala Island resort in Fiji (left).

Private islands, owned by an individual or corporation, are the business-class version of beach resorts, though they are more affordable than we think.

Find out where such getaways are and what you can do there.

Benson Ang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2015, with the headline 'The Life e-magazine'. Print Edition | Subscribe