One of the things I love doing while travelling is to strike up a conversation with strangers. An introvert I may be, but when I spot something interesting, I don’t mind to be sociable.

While looking around Tiong Bahru, a short walking distance from Hotel Re!, I spotted an artist on his stool at the junction of the road opposite the market, hard at work on his pocket-sized sketchbook. The Perfect Sketchbook is the name of it, made from 100% cotton paper.

Urbansketchers Singapore Dr Lim Su Min

1. Dr. Lim Su Min busy with his artwork at the road junction opposite Tiong Bahru Market

It turned out that this artist, Dr. Lim Su Min, is quite a personality in Singapore. He told me that he’s a descendant, through his maternal grandmother, of Tan Tock Seng, and he’s also the great-grandson of Dr Lim Boon Keng.

Being Malaysian, these names sounded familiar but I did not realise the impact they had on Singapore until I returned home and did a search on the internet to read up on them. Ah, what a humble man Dr. Lim is!

Urbansketchers Singapore Dr Lim Su Min

2. Dr. Lim Su Min busy with his artwork at the road junction opposite Tiong Bahru Market

Dr. Lim, 70 years old now, is a retired OB/GYN, married with two children and five grandchildren. Since joining Singapore’s Urbansketchers, an international art movement, about four years ago, Dr. Lim has been travelling all over Singapore to look for inspiration to fill up his sketchbook.

The style that he has adopted is “ink and wash”, which means to outline his art with ink first and then fill it in with watercolour.

What impressed me was that Dr. Lim said that he only picked up art after he joined Urbansketchers Singapore, although prior to that when he was a practising doctor, he was required to draw body parts of his patients to illustrate a point.

Urbansketchers Singapore Dr Lim Su Min

3. an art on Dr. Lim’s Perfect Sketchbook

These days, besides indulging in his new hobby, Dr. Lim is busy with his company, Graphic Recorders Singapore, which uses illustrations as a means of communication.

Through this, Dr. Lim is also actively involved in community development via an outreach programme to help people improve on their life through their own resources.

This voluntary work has taken Dr. Lim to countries such as China, Indonesia and Cambodia. He calls this his full-time retirement job.

Urbansketchers Singapore Dr Lim Su Min

4. a sketch of Wesley Methodist Church of Singapore, in his sketchbook

In his free time, Dr. Lim sings in his church choir and is passionately campaigning to save Bukit Brown Cemetery, the biggest Chinese graveyard outside China.

In 2011, the Singapore government had announced plans to exhume 5,000 graves here to make way for a dual four-lane road that would run through part of the cemetery. Some of Dr. Lim’s ancestors are interred here, hence the enthusiasm.

The next time I take a flight to Singapore, I must remember to pack some of Ipoh’s famous caramel egg custards for him. 🙂

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With love

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