请停

Dragonfly-KL

Something fleeting against something enduring… An Orthemis dragonfly parked in front of Kuala Lumpur’s magnificent Sultan Abdul Samad Building.

蜻蜓,请停,好让我慢慢的习赏。

缘份,请留,允许时间细细喜尝。

Dragonfly, please stay, the appreciation of you takes practice and time.

Love, don’t go, the joyful flavours of fate is made up of both bitter and sweet moments.

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Fab by 40 – Adding a Little Adventure

As my personal training sessions with SAFRA EnergyOne starts shifting into high gear, I begin to feel the limitations of a stamina deficit. Breath recovery in-between sets lasts an ice age and my fortitude to tahan the lactic burn is in the pits.

As we engage in strenuous exercises, lactic acid builds up in the muscles and causes a burning sensation (known as lactic acidosis). This condition is caused by muscles receiving too little oxygen when being worked and one of the ways to minimize lactic acidosis is to increase oxygen flow to the muscles through regular cardiovascular activities such as jogging, cycling and swimming.

Having a spin at SAFRA Toa Payoh’s EnergyOne gym has the added advantage of looking out to a beautiful pool. For the purpose of strength training, adjust the bicycle’s seat such that it is lower than the handle bar. This way, your legs won’t be extended fully during each downward paddle and that keeps the quadriceps constantly engaged. It also works the lower abs at the same time. Hopefully I can wave goodbye to my chicken legs and get ripped abs soon!

Hence, the better our endurance, the less pain our muscles will feel during workouts; which means we can lift longer and heavier! Being able to lift heavier weights more frequently equates to bigger muscles so don’t neglect the importance of improving endurance while bodybuilding.

So in a bid to spice up my fitness routine and increase my endurance, I went on a long distance cycling trip over the weekend to add a little adventure. The bicycle tour starts from Sungai Rengit (a seaside village in the Johorian township of Pengerang) all the way to Desaru and back. A total distance of about 70km!

I attempted this cycling ‘feat’ earlier in March but failed to reach Desaru (you can read about it here) and I’ve been itching to try it again ever since. So for 2 days, I left the gym behind for the great outdoors and pushed the limits of my endurance and will.

But will I succeed in reaching my intended destination this time round?

After an hour’s bumboat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal, we arrived at Pengerang via Tanjong Pengelih Ferry Terminal. I’m ready to conquer the seemingly endless road from Sungai Rengit to Desaru!

Car fuels up with petrol, bicycle fuels up with Red Bull! Love the newly launched reduced sugar Red Bull as it has the same flavor but not so sweet.

The long ride cuts through the countryside lined with acres upon acres of plantations. There’s something meditative about facing the endless road with just my thoughts. That is until I come to an upslope. Then the tranquil frame of mind becomes clogged with swear words. But the tiresome uphill paddles provide a really good workout to pump those legs… It’s a love-hate thing.

Although traffic is sparse, a moment’s carelessness can be fatal. Stationary cycling in a gym doesn’t feel so boring after all.

My ride was entertained by a changing backdrop of the scenic countryside.

One of the rewards on the road trip was close encounters with animals we have to pay money to see back in Singapore.

I was thrilled to come across these two ponies grazing by the road side. This fella even allowed me to pet its snout! I shall name it Seabiscuit! LOL.

Then there was this docile cow at a small fishing village along the coast. It must feel that I’m such a 牛sance following it around with my phone camera. Heh heh.

The great thing with a bicycle tour is that I can stop wherever that catches my eye and whenever I want. Discovered this interesting gallery of rocks at Batu Layar while exploring a trail off the beaten track.

Finally, after almost 5 hours of cycling, I made it to Desaru this time! This beach is in front of Desaru Damai Beach Resort where I spent a night before cycling back to Sungai Rengit the next day. The hotel room cost RM130 a night but it felt ready to fall apart.

Mission accomplished! The cycling duration took much longer than expected and by the end of it, my legs felt like jelly. However, this second attempt didn’t feel as draining as the first. Maybe the gym sessions with Wandi are helping!

Endurance is one of the key indicators of one’s fitness level and cycling is a great way to build it up. Outdoor cycling is not as monotonous as doing laps in a pool and has a lower impact on the knees and ankles compared to running.

If you’re taking part in a marathon such as the upcoming Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon, cycling is a good complement in training for the run. Cycling is low impact so it doesn’t place too much stress on the joints if you haven’t been running for a while. It also helps to strengthen muscles surrounding the knees, which supports  ligaments in that area and minimize injuries during prolonged running.

After conquering 70km, I look forward to go further and perhaps even tour another country on bicycle! That will take quite a bit of research and planning. For now, I’ll train up with my favourite stationary bike at EnergyOne Toa Payoh!

Getting fit need not be boring. With a sense of adventure and making your body work during your next holiday, you just might arrive at your destination stronger than before!

Related Posts :

A Cycling Tour from Sungai Rengit to Desaru (March 2013)

2nd Attempt at Bicycle Tour from Sungai Rengit to Desaru (July 2013)

Time-Lapse Photography of Sunrise Over Mount Kinabalu

Structures materializing from nothingness, a flower unfolding its petals through the night, a butterfly’s metamorphosis from pupa to adult stage, the sky changing its hues while the sun rises and sets… where it is not feasible to run a video camera for a long period of time to capture these defining moments, there’s time-lapse photography.

I’ve always found this photographic technique fascinating for the photo-video it produces but have never found the motivation to try it until a stay at the beautiful Gaya Island Resort. Located on Pulau Gaya, the largest of 5 islets sitting off the northwestern coast of Kota Kinabalu City, the resort’s hillside villas offer a jaw-dropping view overlooking the South China Sea with the horizon rimmed by Kinabalu’s mountainous range. This awe-inspiring setting was the perfect muse to coax my first attempt at time-lapse photography because I wanted my first time to be special!

In this post, I’ll share my experience and tips on time-lapsing a sunrise in the hope that the information will be useful for anyone attempting this technique for the first time.

Equipment and Necessities :

– DSLR camera (ensure that your battery is fully charged)

– Tripod

– Cable release or remote control

– Torch light, drinking water, towel and insect repellent (if photographing close to nature)

Time-lapse photography involves 2 steps… The first step is acquiring the images and the second step is combining the photos to form a video clip.

Step 1 : Acquiring the Images

Before embarking on a time-lapse photography session, always find out what time is sunrise at the locale you are shooting and be there an hour early to recce, set up equipment and frame the shot. In Singapore, I am used to daybreak happening at around 6.15am but at Kota Kinabalu, the sky starts brightening from 5.30am!

4:30am. It’s pitch black during the wee hours so a torchlight is essential for knowing you are putting all the parts in the right places.

As it was very dark, it was hard to frame the scene and get the horizon straight. I used the city lights in the distance to gauge and frame my shot.

Camera Settings :

– Switch the camera’s lens focus to Manual and set it to infinity

– Use Aperture (‘A’) mode for the shoot and set F-number to 16 (F16)

– Set ISO to the minimal (the lowest for my DSLR is 200)

– Turn on remote control shooting mode (if you use a cable release to control your shutter, this step is not necessary)

– Switch on your patience if your DSLR doesn’t come with a built-in interval timer like Nikon D7000 (I’m using Nikon D90 so I stood by my camera the whole time to click the remote control to shoot)

My time-lapse photos were taken from Gaya Island Resort’s Kinabalu Villa number 852 from 5:00am to 7:00am.

5:41am. Witnessing the arrival of dawn is truly magical. The highest peak in the distance is Mount Kinabalu. Awesome!

Pano view of the scene in front of me at daybreak.

Timing the Time-Lapse Intervals

Math and I are eternal enemies so my mind went into screensaver mode the instant I tried understanding how to calculate my number of shots. Basically, you have to first determine how long you want your time-lapse video to be and decide on how many shots you want per second of your video.

For example, if I want a 10-second video with 24 photos per second, I’ll have to shoot 240 images. Shooting from 5 – 7am (7,200 seconds), the interval between my shots would be 30 seconds. Which means I’ll take 1 photo and 30 seconds later, take another. The shots continue until I reach 240 shots.

That’s a lot of calculating to do!

So I simplify. I just made it a point to take a shot every 15 seconds from 5-7am. It didn’t matter how many photos I got, I just combined them all into the time-lapse video. I wasn’t concerned with how long the video lasted either. I ended up with about 365 shots and a sunrise segment that lasted 38 seconds on the video at the end of this post.

6:17am. The fiery disc popped out from the mountainous horizon.

I had it easy with this time-lapse shoot as the location was at the balcony of our villa. During the 2-hour shooting process, a Macaque Monkey came to visit and 2 Oriental Piped Hornbills flew by while countless birds serenaded the dawn. The entire experience was pure magic!

Such a sense of accomplishment for not sleeping in and miss the rare opportunity to time-lapse this incredibly scenic sunrise.

Step 2 : Creating a Time-Lapse Video

After capturing all the images, the next challenge is to combine them all into a video. There are quite a few options with Lightroom providing a pain-free way to do the job, but since I don’t have that program, I went with Photoshop to batch process the photos for a lower resolution and Windows Movie Maker to string the shots into a video.

It is necessary to batch process the photos first to shrink their file sizes before importing them into Windows Movie Maker to cut down on processing time. In Windows Movie Maker, I set the animation duration between photos to 0.07 seconds, add in a title, music, ending message and voila! I have my first time-lapse video! Hope you’ll enjoy it…

Rustic Serendipity at Pengerang

Spontaneity ruled Good Friday 2013 as Siow Har or I made an unplanned trip to Pengerang. It was 3 years ago (also on Good Friday) that we first discovered the Malaysian coastal town famous for its lobster dishes and had wanted to revisit ever since.

Although we’ve been to Pengerang before, what we intended to do this time round bordered on madness. We wanted to cycle from Sungai Rengit (the chief township in Pengerang) to Desaru, which is 30km away, and back. Total distance : 60km.

The distance we decided to cover may be a yawn to seasoned cyclists but for leisure paddlers like us who don’t own a bike and cycled only when the moon turned blue, 60km is a killer.

But we did it anyway without worrying thinking too much into or understanding fully what that amount of cycling can do to us. We learnt the hard (and long) way that long-distance cycling is not something to be spontaneous about but requires careful research, more so than regular holiday sightseeing.

Packed for an adventure of the unexpected. Our Pengerang trip began with an hour’s bumboat ride from Singapore Changi Point Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Pengelih Ferry Terminal. The bumboat’s retro imprints felt like time had stood still.

We didn’t reach our destination, missing by about another 5-6km, but it was a personal feat nonetheless. Our return cycling tour covered a total distance of about 50km and we took 7 hours due to the many photo stops we made along the way.

That’s the great thing about being the masters of our own journey, we had control over when to stop and were able to explore many places off the usual tourist track. And also discovered parts of our bodies we never knew existed if not for the strains and cramps we endured under such an extreme physical expedition.

I will post up more info, tips and details about the experience later over at Explore Life Lah!. For now, this post will capture snapshots from the rustic-scenic ride and beautiful encounters along the way!

Leaping with energy on reaching Sungai Rengit, the chief township of Pengerang, This photo was taken in front of a small sea-facing Chinese temple off the main road.

Rode warrior! Golden wheat fields and an unbroken chain of balmy coconut trees accompanied our ride on the right while to the left, sand quarrying had defaced mother nature.

Small girl with big bag against a long road and monster trucks. I take my hats off to Siow Har who completed the rigorous trip carrying a backpack that could’ve easily weighed 10kg. We were given a lot of dust facials as cars and industrial vehicles whipped up clouds of smog as they passed us by.

Saw 2 abandoned godowns and decided to check them out. Glad we did because the aura of neglect made for a splendid bask on camera.

Relishing a chance to get upclose with the padi fields carpeting Pergerang’s countryside.

Siow Har fell off her bike and while we checked for injuries (thankfully it was just a bruise), we also surveyed the surrounding burnt field and saw these dandelions ready to seed. I’ve never seen a dandelion in the wild before.

Statuesque trees lined our route with numerous picturesque moments.

Every so often while travelling in a car or coach, such beautiful sceneries sweep past in the blink of an eye. Riding a bike, I am able to savour nature at my own pace and retain its beauty in my SD card.

When we first rode past this scene, it was high tide. On our way back, the waters have receded and revealed a web of mangroves that led to a single treeling rising above the waves.

Took a rest stop at Punggai Beach and hiding in the shade to cool off my badly burnt knees and shin. My chicken legs are proof that I hardly cycle.

We didn’t reach the more popular and touristy Desaru Beach but we found our spot on the quieter Punggai Beach about 15km away. It is not about settling for the next best thing, but appreciating where we’ve arrived at for getting anywhere required a lot of effort. Often, we’re too focused on arriving at our goal and missed being grateful for the minor successes along the way.

There were 3 things against us on the road trip – the scorching sun, state of mind and our bodies. The heat was relentless and coming face-to-face with a long winding road that stretches endlessly into the horizon was a test on determination. I’ve wanted to turn back a couple of times but pressed on. Not looking ahead and just focusing on my front wheel helped keep the mind from being overwhelmed. But alas, the body has its limits. Our legs were cramping so badly, especially after conquering a slope, to the point that I can feel every part of my leg muscles. Thank goodness we had Tiger Balm!

This was the last point we got to before turning back. Desaru should be under 10km away but it was already 4pm and we were worried that our ride back may coincide with nightfall. We didn’t want to risk being roadkill as the country roads lacked street lamps. After this shot, we cycled the 24km back to Sungai Rengit. *Pant*

Pointing to where we cycled to on a map at Tanjung Pengelih Ferry Terminal. Sungai Rengit is at the lower tip of the light green map and Desaru is where the figure of a swimmer is above my finger.

It had been one tough ride from Sungai Rengit but an awesome adventure! Will definitely attempt it again and make it to Desaru the next time!

Related Post : Pengerang – A Cycling Tour from Sugai Rengit to Desaru

Day 365 : Sexpressionists

I almost didn’t recognise them with their clothes on. LOL. It was surreal to chance upon Alvin and Vivian in front of Lot 10, Kuala Lumpur. The infamous famous Malaysian couple was interviewing people on the street about sex for an upcoming documentary on Alvivi Youtube channel.

Having gone through the whole media frenzy about their now defunct sex blog, Sumptuous Erotica, it’s great to see that they treat the debacle and critics as water off a fduck’s bareback. Then again, if one dares to post personal nude photos, genitalia close-ups and love-making videos in a public blog for all to see, especially in this conservative part of the world, what else is there that one could not stand up to? This couple has balls!

Losing his prestigious ASEAN scholarship to read law at the National University of Singapore (NUS), Alvin and Vivian are now back in Kuala Lumpur and living together. They tried to pitch a reality show about sex in Asia but of course, no studios dared to take them on and wanted them to steer away from the whole sex thing if collaborations are to be considered. Kinda like telling McDonald’s to not sell hamburgers because they are not health food. But Alvivi decided not to receive media castration and armed with their own camera and tripod, set up an interview point at the busiest shopping district in Kuala Lumpur, and got people thinking about their views about sex.

They asked if I would like to be interviewed but I was in a hurry to collect my lugguage from the hotel before heading to the airport. Besides, I won’t have much to say about sex for I hardly have any! My cobwebs are legendary amongst friends.

In the States, Sex and the City is a huge hit, in Asia, it got the couple into big shit. Meeting them was a sexciting surprise as I felt like I know them already from their nude photos and headlining news stories. Alvivi came across as sincere and personable in our brief chat and I think their self-confidence and guts are uber sexy!

Whatever the future holds for Alvin and Vivian, I wish them well and may they have a rewarding life together. Lights, camera, mirror, shoot and shoot! 😉

Day 364 : Last Trip of 2012

A last minute decision to accompany a friend who badly needed a break brought me back to Kuala Lumpur a second time after I’d sworn it out of my travel destination in June this year. I’m so used to the place by now that I actually fell asleep instead of heading out to the clubs on a Saturday night. The roar has left this party animal.

Day 316 : Perdana Botanical Gardens

While I appreciate the vibrancy of every city I visit, I also like to sniff out scenic parks and gardens to give urbanity some rest. Close encounters with native flora and fauna really refreshes the spirit. I even enjoy that sweaty, sticky feeling after a satisfying hike that clears the mind and fills my camera’s memory card.

My hunt for nature in Kuala Lumpur brought me to Perdana Botanical Gardens today. Due to the consistent wet weather, I almost didn’t make it here during this trip if not for my very hospitable KL friend who made a stop en route to Publicka.

Previously known as Kuala Lumpur Lake Gardens and renamed to Perdana Botanical Gardens in the middle of 2011, the sprawling naturescape is the city’s first ever large-scale park project. Due to its massive size, the garden has various entrances. Since my interest lies in catching sight of mousedeers, we took the entrance behind the Tun Abdual Razak Memorial which leads right to the deer enclosure.

The main building of the Tun Abdul Razak Memorial was under renovation so all I saw was rumble and debris.

Walking down a long flight of stairs behind the memorial’s main building leads to an enclosure that houses deers and mousedeers. I poked my Casio Exilim compact camera through the fence to snap their pics. I should’ve brought some treats along to get them to come to me.

Perdana Botanical Gardens seem in need of rejuvenation to relief it of neglected landscaping and get a spruce with more perennial flowering plants.

One of the few flowering shrubs I came across at the Tun Abdul Razak section of Perdana Botancial Gardens. Colourful blooms were lacking in the garden’s overbearing green.

Felt so wintry with the grey weather and this unpossessive tree. Unpossessive because it had no leaves.

The garden got it’s previous name due to this huge man-made lake within the park.

Light was very diffused with the coming rain so I decided to use the Sunset Mode on my Casio EX-ZR200 which applies a warm filter to the scenery to add some colour.

We didn’t spend a long time at Perdana Botanical Gardens although I would’ve loved to stay longer to check out the Orchid and Hibiscus Gardens as well. Within walking proximity to the city garden are the KL Bird Park and Butterfly Park as well as the Islam Art Museum and KL Planetarium that spots a mini Stonehenge replica. Will definintely come back again to check out these sights the next time I return to KL again.

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