Discovering the Peranakan Culture: A Journey Through Singapore’s Peranakan Museum

Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2024

Introduction to the Peranakan Community

The term “Peranakan” in Singapore today often denotes individuals of mixed Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage, a legacy tracing back to the 15th century. The origins of the Peranakan people are deeply rooted in Malacca, where Chinese traders are believed to have married local women. This community has been known by various names, including the Straits Chinese, born in the Straits Settlements, and the King’s Chinese, reflecting their status as British subjects after 1867.

A Tapestry of Cultures

Interestingly, the term “Peranakan,” meaning “uterus” or “someone from a mixed marriage,” isn’t exclusive to the Chinese Peranakans. There were also non-Chinese Peranakans, including the Bugis, Arab, and Java Peranakans, as well as the Peranakan Indians (Chitty Melaka) and the Jawi Peranakans, who are of mixed Indian and Malay heritage. These communities highlight the diverse and rich tapestry of Peranakan culture.

Peranakan culture is usually described as a hybrid of Chinese, Malay and Western cultures. While specific cultural practices and customs may differ from generation to generation and family to family, there are a few elements common to Peranakan culture. One such element is the language. Besides English, the Peranakans speak baba Malay, a patois described as an adulteration of the Malay language with a liberal mix of Hokkien words and phrases.

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Exploring the Rich Tapestry of Asia at the Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore

Asian Civilization Museum (ACM), Singapore.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2024

The Easter weekend provided the perfect opportunity to take a few days off from Sweden and land in Singapore to spend time with my parents and catch up with good friends. All days in Singapore over the week of the Easter weekend were memorable, but the visits to the Asian Civilization Museum (ACM) and the Peranakan Museum stood out as highlights of our visit back to Singapore.

Singapore is known as the city that never sleeps. Yet, some of the more serene hours of the day can be found right at the heart of the central business district of Singapore, just before dawn when the sun begins to peek from the horizon.

In Singapore, visitors are genuinely spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation, with options to suit varying preferences for location and proximity to popular spots. If you prefer the heart of the business district, then The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia, situated in the bustling Marina Bay area, is one of many accommodations around the area. It’s conveniently close to major attractions like the Singapore Flyer and Marina Square Shopping Mall, both within a 5-minute stroll. The hotel is also just a short walk from iconic locations such as Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay. With the Promenade MRT station nearby, exploring the city is a breeze. The hotel’s location combines convenience with the luxury of being in one of the city’s most dynamic neighborhoods. And the morning quiet even on a busy Easter weekend at the Ritz Carlton? Absolutely perfect for this introvert.

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By the Motlawa River, the Old Town in Gdansk Poland

Old Town, Gdansk, Poland.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro 2024

My journey in Gdansk, Poland, began in the heart of the Old Town, where I stayed along the picturesque Motlawa River. The riverfront’s charm, with its historic buildings and serene waters, served as a perfect backdrop for my few days’ getaway. A walk along the riverside is a journey through the city’s heart, offering stunning views of Gdansk’s architecture. The tranquility of the river is a pleasant contrast to the bustling Old Town. If I thought the riverside was reminiscent of Boat Quay and Clarke Quay in Singapore, there was good reason. Continue reading “By the Motlawa River, the Old Town in Gdansk Poland”

Ahlströms Konditori: A Century-Old Tradition and the Allure of Semla Season

Variations of the semla at Ahlströms Konditori, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro, JE Nilsson 2024

In the vibrant heart of Gothenburg lies Ahlströms Konditori, a revered institution since 1901. Renowned for capturing the essence of Swedish baking traditions, the café becomes a focal point as it welcomes the semla season, especially with Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday) approaching on February 13, 2024. Here, the semla is not just a seasonal treat; it’s a culinary emblem of Swedish heritage, celebrated by locals and visitors alike.

The Swedish semla, distinct from its European counterparts, is a testament to simplicity and quality. Known for its cardamom-spiced wheat bun, each semla is meticulously crafted. The bun, with its top artfully cut off, is filled with a rich blend of milk and almond paste, and then crowned with a generous dollop of whipped cream. The cut-off top, serving as a lid, is delicately dusted with powdered sugar, completing this exquisite pastry.

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Exploring the Heart of Kaunas: Laisves Aleja, Lithuania

At Laisves Aleja, Kaunas, Lithuania.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro 2023

It’s my first time in Lithuania, and I’m marveling at the broad streets that give a sense of pure luxury in having space to oneself. Laisves Aleja in Kaunas is the main pedestrian street that reminds me of Las Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona. It stretches impressively straight and long, framed at one end by the beautiful Church of St. Michael the Archangel. This boulevard is the lifeline of Kaunas, offering a kaleidoscope of shops and experiences.

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A Glimpse into Skördefest Harvest Festival 2023 at Tjolöholmslott, Sweden

At the food truck arena at Skördefest Tjolöholmslott 2023, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & , JE Nilsson 2023

The late summer warmth was still noticeable as I walked through the grounds of Tjolöholmslott, also known as Tjolöholm Castle, during the Skördefest, or Harvest Festival of 2023.

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Exploring Alkmaar: A Day at the Dutch Cheese Museum

A shop specializing in Dutch cheese, near the Cheese Museum, Alkmaar, Netherlands.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & , JE Nilsson 2023

It was a Saturday market morning in Alkmaar, and as an enthusiast of both markets and cheese, and being involved in marketing for cheese on this trip, the opportunity to explore the old cobbled tributary streets leading towards the Dutch Cheese Museum in Alkmaar, Netherlands, proved an irresistible activity. The sun was out on this day, making everything perfect for some walking.

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A Tradition of Taste and Trade: The Alkmaar Cheese Market Experience

At the Alkmaar Weigh House. The Waag building is a National monument / Rijksmonument listed building on the Waagplein in Alkmaar in the Netherlands. The Cheese Museum, Alkmaar, is also lcoated in this building.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & , JE Nilsson 2023


The Netherlands, known for its windmills, tulips, and canals, also boasts a vibrant cheese culture that dates back centuries. This blog post is a personal journey through the history, taste, and culture of Dutch cheese, with a special focus on the city of Alkmaar, the heart of the Dutch cheese industry located in Northern Holland.

A Tradition Rooted in History

The story of Dutch cheese is a tale that dates back to the Middle Ages. It’s a narrative deeply rooted in the country’s history and traditions, and it’s impossible to tell without mentioning the Dutch East India Company, Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC for short. Established in the early 17th century, the Dutch East India Company was a major player in the global spice trade. Its ships sailed to the farthest corners of the world, bringing back a variety of spices that would eventually find their way into Dutch cheese. The integration of these exotic flavors into local produce is a testament to the Dutch’s innovative spirit and their openness to the world. It’s a reflection of their willingness to experiment and adapt, to take something familiar and make it new and exciting. This spirit of innovation is still evident in the Dutch cheese industry today, with cheese makers continually experimenting with new flavors and techniques.

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Where day meets night: Experiencing midsummer along the Swedish west coast

Swedish west coast midsummer celebrations at Strysö Sweden 2023
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & , JE Nilsson 2023

The sun casting long shadows as it flirts with the horizon, the laughter of friends and family echoing through the air, the taste of traditional Swedish food (mostly herring), and the feeling of community and love permeating the celebration. This is Midsummer on the Swedish west coast – a celebration of life, love, and the magic of the longest day of the year.

I love the longer days of summer that on midsummer’s eve, you can witness the sun teasing the horizon, refusing to fully set. It’s been just about two decades that I’ve now lived in Sweden, and I’m still enchanted by midsummer in Sweden. This captivating time, when daylight stretches into the night, is a celebration deeply rooted in Swedish culture, the celebrations of which are larger than our National Day. And where best to witness and participate in the unfolding of midsummer activities to its zenith? Why, along the scenic west coast of Sweden, of course!

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Specialty coffee and Beijing’s hutongs: A cultural fusion of East and West in China, 2023

V7 Coffee, serving fantastic specialty coffee in Haidian district, Beijing, China.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro, JE Nilsson & E Sindhöj 2023

Having had the privilege of visiting Beijing on numerous occasions, I remain drawn to the Forbidden City, also known as the Palace Museum, despite the staggering modernization that has transformed this great city. The Palace’s imposing gates and striking red pavilions situated at the heart of Beijing never fail to impress me. Equally fascinating to me is the network of narrow streets and low houses surrounding the Forbidden City, known as “Hutongs.” Once the living quarters of those who worked in the palace, some Hutongs have been converted into commercial areas, while others remain residential neighborhoods.

During the Ming and Qing dynasties these quarters served as a mental relief to the even the highest ranked individuals inside the Forbidden City. Some eunuchs played a role in facilitating visits by imperial court members even to pleasure houses outside of the Forbidden City. These illicit visits were seen as a way for court members to escape the rigid protocols and constraints of palace life.

Even the Emperor Guangxu (1875-1908) sought help for his medical problems from those among the Hutongs that practiced traditional Chinese medicine towards the end of the Qing dynasty. It is said that his great-aunt, the Empress Dowager Cixi, repeatedly tried to poison him due to irrevocable differences in their ideas about the future of China. In 1908 they eventually both died. The Guangxu emperor one day before Cixi, poisoned by arsenic.

With this in mind I set out to visit this maze of winding small roads and gray buildings in the area around the Forbidden City in late February 2023.

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