Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Singapore Zoo

I hold fond memories of the Singapore Zoo and lost count of the number of times I have been there. The happiest moments in my childhood days were always been paying the Zoo a visit.  My daughter has inherited my animals watching genes whereas my wife has slowly but surely picking up the interest due to my undying influence :-).

 Greater Flamingos

Proboscis Monkey
The Singapore Zoo has been rated one of the best in the World (and the best Rainforest Zoo) and not many people would want to debate that. The premise holds many exotic animals like the Organ-utans, Komodo Dragons, White Tigers, Proboscis Monkeys, Pygmy Hippos and the list goes on and on. The open concept where most animals are left to roam freely (within well-hidden barricades) instead of being caged up in tight spaces have won praises from many visitors.

All the Animals' shows like the "Splash Safari Show" and the "Rainforest Fights Back Show" are to educate people on the importance of protecting the environment and animals. My family has not get tired of the shows although we have watched them a number of time.

White Tiger
My daughter's favourite place in the Zoo must have been the Rainforest Kidzworld. Beside getting close proximity with the farm animals, she could choose to have some watery fun at the Wet Play Area. She would also not forget about the Pony Ride, Wild Animal Carousel Ride and the Horse Carriage Ride.

Pony Ride
Horse Carriage Ride

Many animals right activists will still criticize the concept of the Zoo as it still ultimately deprives the animals of their freedom in the wild. But without the Zoo, many city dwellers like us would not be able to witness so many wondrous and majestic creatures in this earth.

It also imparts to us on how selfish human has become and how our existence has threatened and even caused the extinction of many species in this World. The Zoo experience has actually taught us to spare thoughts for the other animals and also on how we can contribute to protect them.

Pygmy Hippo
Naked Mole Rat
I am very sure you will enjoy the same fun and fruitful experience like my family if you ever pay the Singapore Zoo a visit. Do also pay a visit to the nearby Night Safari and the River Safari (opening in December 2012) where the Giant Pandas-Jia Jia and Kai Kai are housed. Our last week visit to the Singapore Zoo is surely not our last. We will be back :-)

Flying Fox
Komodo Dragon
Mouse Deer
For those interested, this is the official site of the Singapore Zoo.

Related Posts: River Safari, Singapore

Scenic view of Seletar Reservoir from the Zoo
Family Photo
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Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Camera and I

Sea Dragons, Singapore
In this blog, I just want to share a story about my camera and myself. I own a DSLR camera. Well, nothing special about that. With their affordable prices, many people owned DSLR cameras nowadays. In fact just not too long ago, I saw a couple of youngsters snapping away with their latest model cameras at a place of interest. The enormous zoom lens on their camera body some how looked too heavy for them as they trudged along . But again who really cared as long as they enjoyed what they were doing, right? Back to my camera story again.

Maybe you will not believe it, despite my interest in photography, I have never an intention to buy a DSLR camera. I found it too bulky and have always placed my faith in the smaller digital cameras. That opinion changed after my visit to Korea few years back. First, there was obviously a problem with my usually trustful digital camera. All the pictures taken came with a weird pinkish background. To add to the frustration, I suddenly found that I was not able to get the photos effects that I desired. Back home, in a mixed rush of anger and madness, I headed straight to a camera shop and purchased a DSLR camera. I never regret my decision since.

The Red Bridge, Singapore 
Of course, owning a DSLR camera does not guaranteed I would take good pictures. But it definitely gave me a good head start. I started wondering around my home land like a mad tourist in town. Snapping feverishly day and night on every opportunity at monuments, buildings, statues, humans, animals, trees, flowers, static and dynamic objects, I was determined to hone my photography skill with my new device. It took me a while to grasp it's "temper" but it was all worthwhile. The pictures I took seemed to have more "life" in them and fulfilled my desired effect. But I was hungry for more. I planned trips out of Singapore and wanted to capture the World within the shutter of my camera.

Helix Bridge and Marina Bay Sand, Singapore
My obsession with photography would come at a price. My wife started complaining I was always "lost in my own world" when I was taking photographs. She threatened not to go out with me again if I would to bring my camera and tripod along.  My daughter developed camera-phobia. Everytime she saw I slung my camera bag, she would cry and complain: "Mummy, Daddy is bringing his camera! We are going to miss dinner tonight!" I knew I have to appease the "angry mob". Tempting the ladies with gorgeous photo of themselves and  bribing them with stuffs they like, I somehow always manage to conjure up some magic and convince them to continue allowing me to indulge in my hobby. I know the complaints and tug of war will never end but well, my strategy is always to take things only when they come ;-).

Sunset at Ocean Park, Hong Kong
I guess my camera will always be part of me till I am sick of this World and say good bye. But of course that say, the World has so much more to discover and photograph to even say good night.The camera and I relationship will surely continue on and on and on......  I have included some of my personal favorite shots in this blog. Hope you like and appreciate them like I do. Last but not least, I really feel the need to introduce my picture taking companion. It is a Canon EOS 550D :-).

Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Malaysia

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Bangkok-The Land of Smiles

I have a hate love relationship with Bangkok. I love the yummy food (especially Tom Yum soup!), the relaxing massage (I pampered myself with at least one session everyday) and the exotic Wats. But I also hate the ever hot and unbearable weather, the never ending traffic jams and the many scams set to snare the foolish and unwary.

The Grand Palace

tuk tuk
I remembered my first trip out of Singapore by plane was to Bangkok many years ago. I was fascinated by the sights of Buddhas statues at almost every streets and corners in the city. The devoted Thais are very friendly people although I learnt to beware of those over-friendly ones. Always be on your toes when someone offer to bring you to a "government-approved" gem shop or to see "The Lucky Buddha". Good chance a scam is in store and you will find yourself not so lucky at all!

Travelling in a tuk tuk would always be a thrilling and unforgettable affair for me. The driver would always manage to squeeze and manoeuvre through the harsh traffic jams to reach my destination. For first timer, it is something similar to your maiden ride on a high speed roller coaster except your chance of dropping out from the vehicle is real! The cost of taking tuks tuks has escalated over the years. The Bangkok government has limited their numbers on the road and that has actually benefited the tuk tuk owners. The tuks tuks have become "rare species" for the tourists and expensive to take. I have avoided taking one in my later visits to the city. Taxis and Metro have become my favourite transports since.
Wat Arun
Wat Pho
Stupa at Grand Palace
The Wats have always been the places I never miss every time I visit Bangkok. Their intricate and unique designs and constructions have never fail to amaze me. If you are going there for the first time, remember to plan to visit the Big three Wats. They are Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) located in the Grand Palace, Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). Your later visits shall include the likes of Wat Ben (The Marble Temple), Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha) and Loha Prasat. Many visitors comment that a visit to one or two big Wats are good enough as "all Wats are the same". I readily beg to differ. All of them are special in their own way and I am glad I have visited all the above Wats to witness their glamour and uniqueness.

Loha Prasat

The Marble Temple
Wat Traimit
The traditional show at Siam Niramit is certainly worth mentioning. The 80 minutes show with over 100 performers is truly spectacular. In my opinion, it's worth every bahts of the ticket and my knowledge of Thai's culture and history has raised a few bars after watching the show though I found it already much commercialized. Well, which tourists' spots are not?
Fountain at Siam Niramit

Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
One blog is surely not doing justice to cover my trips and thoughts of Bangkok. There are still the Chao Praya River, Chinatown, Dusit area and many others to be mentioned. I will cover them in my later blogs. I have no plan to stop visiting Bangkok anytime soon and my next visit will be my fourth trip there. Till then, we meet again :-).

Bot at Wat Arun
Family Photo at Marble Temple
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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Singapore Flyer

The Singapore Flyer

Unless you observe carefully, you are not to blame if you think the 28 capsules on the Singapore Flyer are not moving at all (They are moving, trust me :-)). The number of capsules were planned with a reason. In fact, each capsule was actually constructed to a size of 280 sq ft and can accommodate 28 passengers.

Although now a modern city, Singapore majority population is Chinese and many still believe in the art of Feng Shui. 28 in feng shui resembles prosperity and wealth. That explains the number's affiliation with the Singapore Flyer. And again for feng shui reason, the Singapore Flyer's revolving direction has been changed in August 2008 with advice from the feng shui masters that the original direction was "taking fortune away from the city".

The Singapore Flyer in the City Skyline

With the Marina Bay Sands and the newly opened Gardens by the Bay as it's neighbours, the Singapore Flyer has received increased attention. If you are a fan of Formula one, you would not missed it's presence in  television when the race was held in the night in Singapore. It was supposedly to be the star attraction before the Marina Bay Sands was completed and all the racing vehicles would have to drive pass it for 19 times!

For those who like to take photograph of the giant structure, the Marina Barrage and Gardens by the Bay have good photo-taking spots. It's a big day when Singapore equivalent to the London Eye in England was completed and opened to the public on 1 March 2008. Blamed it on my engineering background or superstitious instinct, I would always wait for at least 1 year before taking the plunge to take a ride on any new attractions that involves mechanical and especially moving structure.

Sad to say, I was proved right numerous time. Most, if not all of these attractions were completed with tight time line (and sometimes budget) and I was always not too surprise if they neglected some little details. These neglected small details could sometimes lead to big problems. I was bingo yet again with the Singapore Flyer. Within 1 year after it's grand opening, the giant wheel has broke down three times. The worst one was when 173 passengers were trapped in their capsules for almost 6 hours and a few of them have to be lowered down to safety in a sling-like device!

Night view from the Singapore Flyer#1

Sticking to my decision (and proved right), I finally took the ride after my self-declared "Safety Period". In fact, I have taken two rides in the Singapore Flyer after that. The tickets were not cheap especially when you were bringing your whole family.

But as a Singaporean, I would always like to show my gesture of support to my country's newest national icon. In fact, after taking the 30 minutes ride, I thought it was really not a bad idea at all. At the highest point of 165 meters above ground level, you could enjoy the panoramic views of the city skyline. Many Singapore's landmarks-The Marina Bay Sands, Fullerton Hotel, The Esplanade, The Merlion and now The Gardens by the Bay could be captured in a glance.

I recommend all of you to take the ride in the night. In my personal opinion, the captivating night view at the top would always be my highlight of the ride. I was also well assured that your young ones will be excited by the ride. My daughter enjoyed it and has always asked me when we can take the ride again.

Night view from the Singapore Flyer#2

If you are planning a visit to Singapore, remember to pay the Singapore Flyer a visit. This is the official site.

The Singapore Flyer and Gardens by the Bay

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Sunday, 8 July 2012

Trip to Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Flower Dome and Cloud Forest
29 June 2012 is a great day for Singapore. The long-awaited "Gardens by the Bay" was finally opened to the public. The garden in the city is set to be the new national icon among the likes of the Merlion statue and Marina Bay Sands. Eager to be among the first to witness the new chapter in Singapore history, I brought my family to the new attraction on 30 June.

The Supertrees

We chose to go down in the evening as I want to capture some night scenes on my DSLR camera and the weather was to be cooler. As predicted, the place was crowded with locals and foreigners. I guessed many people were not left disappointed. The Supertrees would have left a great impression on them. Standing at about 25 to 50 meters tall, they were like giant guardians overlooking and protecting the gardens below.

The gardens were divided into different themes to symbolize the different races, cultures and history of Singapore. To name a few were the Malay garden, Chinese garden, Colonial garden etc. Many who visited there would not have missed the two domes which were the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. They housed exotic plants from around the World in a controlled environment and need a fee to access. We did not enter the domes but make it a point to visit next time.

Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands

The night scene there was a different playground with all the Supertrees lit up in fascinating colours. Together with the captivating reflections on the many lakes and rivers in the gardens, they combined to form a mysterious beauty of the night. Photography enthusiasts would certainly have a good time snapping their cameras away and losing track of time in the gardens.

Gardens by the Bay and The Singapore Flyer

As a Singaporean, I am proud to see Singapore growth. From a "kampong" boy to the city dweller today, I have witnessed Singapore transformation. The Gardens by the Bay is a testimonial of our successes. Despite the many voices of dis-satisfactions on the government policies, due credits must also been given on the good work they have done. For those visiting the new attraction in town, have an enjoyable day! 

For more info on the Gardens by the Bay, please go to the official site.

Related Posts: Mid-Autumn Festival at Gardens by the Bay

Supertrees in the night