The best revenge on life's cruel jokes is an equally wicked sense of humour.
24 Mar 2013 Leave a Comment
in Places of Interest, Poems, Singapore Tags: Batik Orb Weaver Spider, Casio EX-ZR1000, Casio Exilim ZR1000, EX-ZR1000, Giant Wood Spider, Nature, Nephila Pilipes, Orb Weaver Spider, photography, Pulau Ubin, Spider Web, Summer, Ubin Island
19 Feb 2013 2 Comments
A late afternoon presentation to a client wrapped up during the end-of-work-day rush hour and I found myself stranded in the heart of Singapore’s financial district. I waited for about 40 minutes but couldn’t get a cab back to my office.
Failing to out-queue the suits for a taxi, I decided to take the long walk to Clarke Quay MRT Station and prepared myself to slip into the sardine jacket that is our public transport since our population has burgeoned to the current 5.31 million from 4.59 million just under 5 years ago. And we are not stopping.
The recent White Paper projection of 6.9 million by 2030 has brought Singaporeans out on the streets to protest.
Having been a Singaporean for almost 4 decades, that was the first massive protest I can recall, crowding during last year’s hotly ‘contanted’ General Elections not counted.
What’s my stand on the government’s population ambition? When 69 ceases to be a position but a survival proposition, will we still be having fun?
Personally, I feel the world is so borderless now. We are kind of a global tribe. If population growth is identified as the way to go for economic sustainability especially for natural resource-poor Singapore, my question is whether do we have the long-standing power to attract high-calibre foreign talents to take root here in competition with other nations who are also tapping the same pool to boost their demographic reliant GDP (as opposed to an economy supported by agriculture, export and industry)?
We are not the only country facing the woes of a low birth rate and rapidly greying population. According to a 2050 projection by the Taipei’s Department of Manpower with data drawn from a 2009 population survey by the United Nations, Singapore is amongst the top 5 fastest greying population (also making the list are United States, Japan, Hong Kong and Taipei). Competition for young mouths seems perched to heat up. Why will foreign talents want to come here? Will they stay? Xenophobia is definitely not going to make Singapore attractive. So is congested roads, packed public transport, and living so close we can smell each other’s laundry.
Will Singapore end up as a country of massage parlours? They are everywhere now. Not that I’ve anything against legit businesses that knead and soothe our high-strung backs crushed by inflation and rising costs of living, but my concern is more of the make-up and credentials of foreigners being offered the Singaporean citizenship. I’m proud of my country and I just don’t wish to see our citizenship being lelong-lelonged just so we can meet a quota.
Anyhoo, I’m not a political analyst or population specialist. Not being able to get a cab, of which there could be many reasons not linked to our need for headcount, just ruffled my feathers since I had lots of work to complete. Singapore is facing another prosperity challenge, like it always had, and instead of protesting or asking questions, what solution/s can we as a people propose?
No wonder Yusof Ishak looks pensive on our dollars. He isn’t smiling. Who can when our nation’s growth, or any country for that matter, is dependent on foreign investment, trade and internal consumption. We have no natural resources such as land, produce, petrol, precious metals or gems to sell, remember? Ours is a people economy. If Singaporeans are not delivering more Singaporeans because of high living costs, long working hours and no fire to stoke the libido (pornography is outlawed and sex remains a taboo subject), how can we turn Mr Ishak’s blank stare into a triumphant glare? What’s our Vendetta agenda beyond anger?
Unknowingly, I’ve walked through a key part of our country’s history that started at the very mouth of this river where many of our ancestors first stepped foot on Singapura.
A vibration of the old, neo-colonial and modern footsteps of Singapore coursed through me. We have always been a population of immigrants. Our today is the light from yesterday, and tomorrow, is what we set aglow today.
16 Dec 2012 Leave a Comment
I’ve always found Hindu temples to be somewhat overpowering. If not because of the cacophony of figures on the gopura, then it’s the half-naked temple sages who serve the gods. The temples echanted, but at the same time, intimidated me to go no further than the door.
One of my biggest worries of stepping into a Hindu temple or mosque is that I may upset some rituals or sacred rules. I’m not sure if photography is considered disrepectful except during Thaipusam and if it’s okay to be wandering around the temple halls like a lost soul.
Photographed here is the side wing of Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple along Serangoon Road. As a boy, the giant statue of Hanuman (the monkey god) was the object of my profuse fascination. To this day, whenever I pass by it, the huge green figure continues to be the only thing I see of the temple.
I’ve never once been inside the temple even though I’d pass it by so many times. I hope me and my camera will be welcomed.
06 Nov 2012 2 Comments
Work today brought me to the recently revamped NEWater Visitor Centre. I’ve been assigned to shoot the centre and its new exhibits since I have some experience with photography. It is not within my job scope but I don’t mind helping my company, Digimagic Communications, save some cost.
Procuring clean and safe drinking water for an ever growing population has always been a strain on our land scarce petite nation and a politcal tumour with Malaysia where we import most of our water supply from.
To satisfy our thirst, Singapore began recycling water in 1974 for industrial purposes to free up reservoir catchments for human use. More than 20 years later, water purification technology came of age and the reclamation of wasterwater from sewage was made possible. In 1998, NEWater was born.
The NEWater Visitor Centre traces Singapore’s hydro-struggles and the evolution of NEWater as our long-term solution to hydrating the nation through a highly interactive gallery and a peek into the wastewater treatment processes.
NEWater Visitor Centre
Address : 20, Koh Sek Lim Road, Singapore 486593
Tel : 6546 7874
Opening Hours : 9am - 5pm (Tuesday – Sunday)
Guided Tours : 9am, 10.45am, 12.30pm, 2.15pm, and 4pm
Admission : Free
29 Jul 2012 Leave a Comment
Living in the urban jungle provides many conveniences but robs us of unobstructed views to admire the beautiful sky cloak at the end of every day. Unless one stays atop a west facing skyscraper, places to catch the full splendour of sunset are few and far in Singapore. And one of these few, and not so far spots to frame the dusking hues of a dusk would be at Henderson Waves.
Part of a 10km green spine that connects various parks in the southern ridge of Singapore (collectively known as the Southern Ridges trail), Henderson Waves is a 274km long pedestrian bridge that qualifies as one of my favouritest sunset destination on our tiny country-state.
Although we can’t really see the sun dipping into the horizon, the organically-shaped bridge offers an awesome vantage point to admire the colour parade as a day bids its farewell. So goaded by the recently anointed princess of nauture and adventure, I came on a photo outing and here’s the celebration of they evening’s colours…
I’ve been to Henderson Waves on a few occasions but this is the first time I shot a sunset here. And I have a feeling this won’t be my last
25 Jul 2012 1 Comment
Had a rare opportunity to get off work on time after a series of meetings and visited the War Memorial Park while waiting for my Thai language class to start.
Piercing the City Hall skyline like a needle that pricks at our nation’s tumultuous past, the memorial stands as a tribute to all civilians executed during Japan’s World War II occupation of Singapore between 1942 – 1945. It was estimated that 100,000 young Chinese civilian men were killed by Japanese forces all over the island in what came to be known as the Sook Ching Massacre.
So many innocent lives snatched from the cradle of their youth. No wonder an eerie aura of sombreness hangs in the air of this cenotaph. But it does feel kinda peaceful within the hollow enclosed by the four towering columns though. May peace mass acre every corner of our world… and beyond.
10 Jun 2012 4 Comments
Dropped by one of my favouritest rooftops in Singapore en route to dinner and filled up on the evening hues with my Casio Exilim ZR200. It wasn’t a planned visit but we were in the vicinity of Orchard Central and that Sunday’s orangey farewell was just too delicious to resist not catching some shots.
Whenever I’m here, the wireframe humanoid sculptures by artists Victor Tan and Yayoi Kusama never fail to fill me with a spur of energy and movement. And the changing sky is a perpetually evolving backdrop that fills up the hollowness of the wire men. If I’m not careful, a trance would take over me as I stare at the sculptures. They have this meditative aura that magnetises me. I feel at once wistful and wishful…
It was a spontaneous trip to Orchard Central’s Rooftop Garden but I guess the place is so nice, any time is a good time to come by. Maybe one of these days, I shall try coming up here for a picnic. Or maybe camp overnight since access to the garden is 24/7!
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10 May 2012 Leave a Comment
Faith can not only move mountains but build them too. Here’s the Gopuram of the Sri Perumal Temple along Serangoon Road (Little India) which I pass by almost everyday to office. The temple was built in 1966 and has been gazetted as one of our national monuments. Whenever I go pass it really close, I will always try to pick out one different figurine from its ornate Gopuram each time. So far, I’ve yet to study all of them.
I take it as giving my eyesight a daily workout. I think by the time I can clearly see the decorations at the top, I would have super vision!
05 May 2012 10 Comments
in FUNicating 2012, Places of Interest, Singapore Tags: Birthday Candle Plant, Blushing Bride, Casio Exilim ZR200, Devil's Blush, Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, Majira, Marina South, Skyway, Supertrees
As our Garden City prepares for its next biggest bloom, I had a chance to tour the new bud before it fully opens and I think it is going to be a major landmark that will have people falling in love with Singapore all over again.
This new destination for adoration is Gardens by the Bay, a sprawling waterfront attraction set to bring out the inner butterfly, or bee, in anyone who visits. This post documents my privilege of being one of 25 photographers and bloggers invited for a special preview and sunrise shoot before the Gardens officially welcome visitors from 29 June 2012 onwards.
Getting a special invite like this is very exciting, but it has its perils. I had to get up at 4:30 am to prepare for the shoot. As much as I love the photo opportunities dawn presents, my bed usually trumps over all will power to rise at the wretched hours that sunrise shoots demands.
Adding to that, I was working till about 1 am the previous night and a cool storm washed over Singapore starting at 2:30 am, all strong magnets to keep me in bed. But I’m glad I made the shoot and here’re photos to share with you. For the shoot, there’s a sort of embargo for us to not post photos as we are supposed to submit shots for an exhibition so the organisers preferred that we didn’t let our cats out of the bags too soon.
However, I don’t think I got any good shots so I won’t be submiting my mediocre photos to dilute the high standards that the pro photogs will be maintaining. So here are the shots to share with you a sneak peek of what’s coming up at the south of Marina Bay…
Despite the bland weather and muted daylight, the architecture at Gardens by the Bay, both manmade and by Mother Nature, made us all very trigger happy. I would say that Gardens by the Bay is about 70% completed during this visit so when it gets finished in two months’ time, I am sure it will become the next hotspot for photography and lotsa nature lovin’ in the city!
Related Post : Flower Dome and World Orchid Show
15 Apr 2012 4 Comments
I posted in Day 054 that the generous folks at Casio Singapore had given a set of their latest innovation in digital compact camera, the Casio Exilim ZR200 (EX-ZR200) to use and keep. Since then, I’ve been taking photos on and off with it because I’m still using the Casio Exilim ZR100 won from a blogging contest.
Right up till now, almost all the photos in the FUNicating daily shot series have been taken with either EX-ZR100 or EX-ZR200. The cameras have become my handy companions and I seldom leave home without either one of them. Although I’ve been using the EX-ZR200 for some time, abett sparingly, I haven’t actually test-driven the camera and put it to use for different shooting situations.
I had wanted to take the camera for a good shoot-out but work had been crazy busy and the weather went cranky rainy of late. So today, blessed with good weather and a release from work, I took EX-ZR200 to MacRitchie Reservoir to see how well it performs for an outdoor cum sunset shoot. And here are the photos…
As you can see from the modes I’ve been using, P Mode and HDR Mode turn up tops (if you are unfamiliar with HDR imaging, click here to find out what it is). The camera is so intelligent, it automatically selects the mode and settings to get a great shot regardless of the shooting requirement. That’s one of the improvement EX-ZR200 have over EX-ZR100. The former activates the HDR Mode automatically so long as it detects a need for it when shooting in P Mode. With EX-ZR100, I had to turn on the HDR Mode manually.
The other feature I really like is the Blurred Background Mode. It’s really amazing to get DSLR quality effect with just a small compact camera. However, the Blurred Background Mode needs a certain technique in capturing images to get the effect. There were some photos I took in that mode but the camera wasn’t able to process it.
Apart from those features, what I also like about the EX-ZR200 is its start-up time when turning on the camera. It’s super fast!
Overall, I think the EX-ZR200 is an easy-to-use digital compact camera with good imaging capabilities and useful shooting modes pre-programmed for all kinds of photographic situations.
All photos in this post has gone through minor Photoshop post-processing such as Shadow/Highlight adjustments, Brightness and Contrast, Colour Saturation, and Sharpness. I do these to all my photos regardless of what camera I used. I consider that as make-up for the photos… just like how pretty girls can enhance their beauty further with some mascara, powder and rouge.
If you’re thinking about getting a compact camera, consider Casio Exilim ZR200. It’s a really smart gadget that idiot proofs idiot-proof cameras!
18 Nov 2011 4 Comments
Just got hold of the new Casio Exilim ZR100 a couple of days ago because I was lucky enough to be 1 of 4 selected bloggers to take part in a contest about the compact camera. The blog challenge doesn’t start till next Friday but I was eager to take the camera out for a test drive.
A few locations to shoot came to mind but since I’m recovering from a seriously bad-ass flu, I didn’t want to venture too far. I needed some place that can offer lots of photographic opportunities as well as dustbins for me to throw my mucus-soaked tissues. I also wanted it near home because it’s icky to be carrying a wet, snorty handkerchief in the pocket for too long a time.
So I settled on Orchard Central. I came here once last year to take some shots of the enchanting Sky Garden but I’ve not taken photos of the shopping centre’s interior. To me, the mall is perhaps the most esthetically captivating of all the malls in Singapore.
The key highlight at Orchard Central is the Roof Garden (Level 11 and 12) which qualifies as a minor tourist attraction offering an aerial view of our famous downtown shopping district and high-rise skyline. According to the mall’s website, the garden is operational 24/7. I think that means it’s always open. And it’s FREE to visit!
For my test drive, I wanted to see the image results from the different modes that Casio Exilim ZR100 offers. Especially the one-touch HDR and HDR-Art mode. HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging is a photography technique that combines photos with different exposure levels into one picture. I’ll talk more about HDR in an upcoming post.
The photo above as well as the one below and the one after it were taken in the HDR-Art mode which yielded some pretty interesting colour results.
From the open air outdoor garden, I next tested the camera inside Orhard Central. Indoor photography without flash is always a headache because the pictures have the propensity to turn out blurred and very pixellated from high ISO settings. The interior photos were shot with ISO settings ranging from 100 – 400 to keep the pictorial noise level down, yet achieving sharp snaps.
Done shopping for shots inside Orchard Central, I wanted to head home when I realised I haven’t taken a photo of the mall’s visage. Out of tissues and my hanky protesting any more gooey deposits, I pressed on to finish some exterior shots…
Later, I reflected on why I carried on shooting despite being relatively sick and realised that I’m developing an addiction to the camera. We all know how addiction works. It overpowers better judgement and even though we know we shouldn’t do something, we continue to do it anyway. Yikes! First time using it and I couldn’t put it down. Hope I don’t have to go into rehab later.
Why would I need to go into rehab? Photography is a healthy addiction compared to many other vices right? Well, you see, this camera is not mine. At least not yet. It is on loan from the good folks at Casio for the blog contest period and I have to return it at the end of December.
But you can help keep me out of rehab :) There will be a voting segment in the contest which you can help vote for my photos to make the Casio Exilim ZR100 permanently mine. Will keep you informed when the time comes and hopefully, I’ll get your support.
Meanwhile, I’ll be shooting more and sharing with you the strengths and weaknesses of this camera as well as user tips. The photos on this post have been shot entirely with the Casio Exilim ZR100 and minor Photoshop processing has been done to adjust brightness, contrast, and sharpness. I’m treating photos taken with the ZR100 like the way I treat other images before posting up.
But one thing’s for sure, I have no problems with a washed out sky now thanks to the camera’s in-built HDR function.
In upcoming posts, I’ll go deeper into the HDR, HDR-Art, High Speed shooting (the ZR100 is built for incredible speed) and the camera’s unique Zoom capability to bring far objects closer. The photos put up in these posts will have ZERO image editing done except resizing file sizes. That’s the requirement by Casio. All photos for the contest proper must not be manipulated in any way to show the true potential of the ZR100.
So stay tuned as I show you where my fingers have been with this nifty camera in the coming weeks!
24 Oct 2011 2 Comments
in Places of Interest, Singapore Tags: Halloween Horror Nights, Halloween in Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa, RWS USS Halloween Horror Nights, Sentosa, Singapore Halloween 2011, Universal Studios Singapore
If there’s one thing I love more than watching horror movies is being in one! And with Universal Studio Singapore’s (USS) inaugural Halloween Horror Nights, my fantasy took to life in the form of cavorting with man-eating zombies, maniac clowns, butcher doctors, terrifying mummies and many more diabolical creatures from the realm of darkness. Awesome experience!
I’m so thankful I was given a ticket by my company, Digimagic Communications Pte Ltd, to attend the movie theme park’s first ever Halloween event. Our company is the producer of various experiential and multimedia stations at the recently opened Maritime Experiential Museum & Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), so my boss bought 10 passes in support of this event, as well as letting staff have some fun and gain exposure.
Now, at S$60 a ticket, it doesn’t come cheap. But IMHO, I think it’s totally worth it! Turning the place into one huge outdoor haunted destination with 5 scare zones, the ticket price includes admission into 2 thematic haunted houses and 4 rides to get your adrenalin boiling. Halloween Horror Nights terrifies over 2 weekends (21-23 Oct and 27-30 Oct) from 8pm – 12am.
Scare Zones : Carn-EVIL, Post-Apocalyptic Rage, The Void, The Edge of Darkness, and 44 Sins
Haunted Houses : Vengeance of the Matriarch and Pestilence
Rides : Battlestar Galatica CYLON and HUMAN, Accelerator, and Revenge of the Mummy
I’ve never been to Universal Studios Singapore and I was really bowled over by the standard and fidelity to realism in this wonderland on steroids. My only grouse was that 4 hours isn’t enough time to explore everything that the Halloween theme event had to offer at a comfortable pace. Other than the Mummy ride, I didn’t get to go on the other rides and the ushers at the haunted houses were rather pesky coz they kept ‘pushing’ me to move along instead of allowing me time to take some shots.
Also, the rides and attractions can take some time to queue so do chrono budget if you’re planning to visit. Other than those minor misgivings, this fright conception seemed poised to take over Night Safari’s Halloween Horrors as Singapore’s next scream farm.
23 Oct 2011 10 Comments
Time to stock up on fresh undies as the season of uncontrollable green stool is upon us again! Yup, Halloween is here and this year, there seems to be an unprecedented number of hell portals opening up all over Singapore. I’ve heard of at least 5 major Halloween scare attractions going on or upcoming, and numerous clubs pushing out theme parties on the Hallowed night.
So who will win in this fight to soil our inner wear now that the brandname who’s defined our local Halloween scene since 2007, the Singapore Zoological Gardens’ Night Safari’s Halloween Horrors, has bowed out this year because purportedly, its new interim CEO likened a Halloween event to devil worship.
I don’t believe eating chicken rice will make you a chicken or wearing a cross automatically turns one into a Christian.
But do I believe, with a little effort, money, and a lack of self-importance, Halloween is the best time to celebrate freedom of the mind and have fun! I mean, it is not often that we can don a costume and let our secret desire to be a superhero, sexy nurse, or anything we wish itself to manifest right?
Not that I secretly wished to be a dead cliche, but the traditional long-haired female ghost given a twist in the Ju-on and The Ring movies was my favourite. Plus, it’s easy to look the part. When I got the invite to preview Singapore Flyer’s FrightFest where dressing up was encouraged, I was toying with the idea of going as the recently deceased Amy Winehouse. Or Smurf. But I can’t find the Winehouse wig and tattoos in Singapore, neither the Smurf hats.
So I decided on Kayako. Many people are familiar with Sadako (Samara in the US remake), the creepy little girl from Ringu (The Ring), but not many know the name of the ghost housewife in Ju On (a.k.a. The Grudge). Both female spooks are somewhat identical so I’m killing 2 birds with one stone in this costume!
Let me tell you more about Kayako so you can understand the above video better. In the Ju-on trilogy, Kayako was murdered by her husband in a feat of jealous rage. Her neck was broken and she was stuffed into a black trash bag before her body was stowed in their home attic. She wasn’t dead at that time and was gasping for air that’s why whenever she appears as a ghost afterwards, there’s a continuous rasping sound that follows.
Her husband killed their son, Toshio, and cat too. Since they died such a horrible death, their rage turned into a curse, which is what Ju-on (咒怨) meant. And anybody who steps into their family house, dies. You can watch the full movie of Ju-on at the end of this post. (Wei, don’t skip to the end now huh!)
Okay, enough about my obsession with one of my fave Asian horror title, let’s look at the happenings during the preview. Singapore Flyer’s FrightFest runs from 28 – 30 Oct 2011.
The ticket charge of S$25.00 entitles you a visit to the Journey of Dreams Pre-Flight Gallery, a chance to be spooked at the Rainforest of Horrors, and a non-alcoholic cocktail, the Flyer’s special concoction Halloween Brew.
I struggled for a long time as to whether I should dress up for the event or not as I didn’t want to be the only one in costume. But looking at the creativity, gungho-ness and effort by the many bloggers and their guests, I wanted to kick myself for not doing more!
Then again, dressing up shouldn’t be a competition, but the key to unlocking fun! May you have fun watching the full Ju-on movie where the inspiration for my costume came from…:)
21 Mar 2011 2 Comments
Science. My archnemesis. Since time memorial, I’ve never been the kind of kid who’d like to ask why things work. I just like to know how to work them. So that goes without saying, my chemistry test scores were always acidic, math drove me mad, and physics was my equivalent of an academic nuclear meltdown. Perpetually. Throughout secondary school, that subject had always been exam poison.
Hence, with my distaste for all things Einstein, the Science Centre for me is like Superman’s love for kryptonite. I remember going there once for a school excursion and haven’t been back ever since. That is until last Saturday (19 Mar 11) when I decided to go back for a visit. It could have easily been more than 20 years since I stepped foot in our national monument of science inaugarated in 1977.
There were still a lot more exhibits that I didn’t get to see but whatever I managed to cover was enough to make my grey matter a lot denser (since I’m an airhead to begin with). I think the SCS is definitely worth a visit even though the look-and-feel of the whole place felt like patchwork and some of the interactive exhibits weren’t working. But every inch of that place is covered by something about something so the dazzle of knowledge really make up for the misgivings.
But SCS is not about making geeks out of every one of us. I was amused by the outdoor water playground that was a huge draw for the kids. I saw parents who brought their kids there just for the themed water park which is an extension of the exhibit on the water situation in Singapore.
When the mind never ceases to wonder, it will always be fascinated. I had such a good time there, I stayed the whole day although my initial plan was just to stay a couple of hours. It took me more than 20 years to come back here again. Let’s just hope my next visit won’t be me with a walking stick. Or perhaps they have invested robotic legs by then? Hmm… let science answer the imagination of man.
For more photos, please click here.