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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