Photographs from Our Holiday in Taipei (2017)

So I did it! I have managed to processed all the photographs taken during our trip to Taipei within three days of return. That is a feat of discipline. I still have years old albums unprocessed, waiting to see the day of light. With more and more different shapes and forms of distraction we have in our daily life, it is getting harder to focus on to something and get it done. This change of mine is so positive that I am feeling the energy. Next, I would like to memorize some quotes from Romeo & Juliet so that I can pen down something artistically intelligent in public without referring to the Internet. It is a long story for another day.

This is me in Shifen, Taipei - a photo taken by my wife Cynthia.

My wife and I have spent six nights in Taipei. We stayed in Mandarin Oriental for three nights. Then we stayed in Our Home 187 in Jiufen for two nights. Finally, stayed in Mandarin Oriental for another night. I brought along my Nikon D700 as well as my two lenses – Nikkor 24-70mm f2.4 and Nikkor 70-200mm f2.4. Pretty heavy stuff but it was worth it. Especially the long lens for photographing the animals in Taipei Zoo. I always love the results from my Nikkor 70-200mm anyway, even for the portrait. Photo albums as follows.

In addition, I have also taken some pictures using my Nexus 5x. The quality is not as good. But at times, the phone camera serves its purpose to add context to short journals. Links to the entries as follows.

Visiting Singapore River Safari, Again

Recently, my parents from Hong Kong visited my wife and I in Singapore. And I took them to River Safari. I had no idea what the visit would be like and did not want to risk bringing my DSLR camera with me (river safari sounds wet to me).

My wife loves red panda.
My wife loves red panda.

As it turns out, I should have brought along my 70-200mm lens. The pair of red pandas are overwhelming cute. My wife loves them. Next to the red pandas is an area for the pair of giant pandas. To be frank, both of us are more of a red panda fan.

This time round, knowing that my mother-in-law is visiting us, I bought 3 tickets to River Safari using corporate discount. The great thing about River Safari is that there isn’t much walking. While the entire area is pretty compact, it does pack with fish and animals. The presentation is good. The park brings awareness on some of the species of the world that we seldom think of in this urban jungle. I think more people should pay a visit.

These are squirrel monkeys. They move fast!
These are squirrel monkeys. They move fast!

In my last visit, we did not get to drop by the squirrel monkey area. My wife Cynthia is not a big fan of monkeys. In contrary, I am. As I took pictures of these monkeys, through my telescopic lens, I saw these monkeys constantly peeing and pooping. We ought to watch out for where we stand.

Also in my last visit, we were unable to take the boat ride – River Quest – due to raining condition. Prior to today’s visit, I have checked the weather forecast and it is hazy all the way. That’s good news. Without much thinking, we spent S$5 per person for the ride. Today is a working day so the queue was empty. Three of us had the boat for our own. We didn’t get to see many animals. And the ride was a bit too fast, a bit too short. The only good photo we have taken was a selfie using my wife’s wireless phone. Having said that, my mother-in-law said that it was an experience of a lifetime. Good for her!

All in all, a delightful day, visiting Singapore River Safari on my birthday. 24 photos of the day can be seen via this link.

Last attraction, the otters.
Last attraction, the otters.

The Entire 2012 Korean Trip Photo Album Is Out!

I know I have not been paying as much attention to this website as I used to be.  The truth is that I have not stopped blogging.  Just that I am doing so more often at Google+ instead.  There is something amazing on that social platform.

Now back to our Korean holiday last year, I have finally finished processing all the pictures and have them mostly published at Google+.  Photo processing takes time mainly due to the fact that I put captions on each photo that is worth publishing.  And adding captions require fact checking and constantly referring to my diary (and my terrible, terrible handwriting doesn’t help).  My goal is to be able to view the photograph and read the captions in the future so as to relive the moments.

Jeongbang Waterfall

As always, the links to the photo albums can be found in here.  Below are the journal entries for each day of our travel, documented in Google+.  Thank you for reading and browsing!

Korea Holiday Photo Albums – A Recap Thus Far

Lately I have been busy processing the photographs taken during our recent trip to Korea in a lightning speed.  Too much to do, too little time.  Procrastination weights me down, eventually depresses me much.  So I wish to get it done, and move onto the next thing in life.

Museum of Sex and Health

Google+ has some unspoken guidelines when it comes to posting of pictures.  Images that show female nipples and human genitals including implied sex – be it as vanilla or oral or whatever – are out of the question.  What about paintings?  I was told that Origin of the World by French artist Gustave Courbet is also not allowed due to – I believe – realism.  But what about sex related sculptures?

Not wanting to risk getting my Google+ account banned, I have hosted the Museum of Sex and Health album and Jeju Loveland album back in my website.  Feel free to click onto the links for viewing.  I really love some of these local art pieces.  Something seldom to be seen here in Singapore for sure.

When it comes to holiday itinerary, Cynthia and I are pretty much in sync.  We are not into shopping.  We don’t mind a bit of walking and a little bit of hardship, so long as we have plenty of breaks with food and drink in between.  And, we love to visit the museums.

Leeum

There is a Samsung Museum of Art called Leeum in Seoul.  We attempted to visit it on the day we visited Gyeongbokgung Palace.  But Leeum was closed on Monday.  On our second attempt, it was snowing in Seoul.  It was quite a challenge to walk up the slippery slope.  But we made it up and down safe.  Photo albums for these two locations can be found by clicking onto the two links above.

I have no idea how Cynthia has found a free bus ride to Jeonju.  She registered our tickets online, prior to our trip.  Bravo!  It took three hours to travel from Seoul to Jeonju – a UNESCO heritage site.  Thankfully, we had some decent weather for a good half of the day.

Talking about UNESCO sites, we have visited two in Jeju – namely Seongsan Sunrise Peak and Manjanggul Cave.  Both locations are unique and worth visiting.  One above ground, another underneath.  Don’t miss that photo album too.

The most unique museum we have visited in Korea has got to be Museum of Teddy Bear.  You can imagine my reaction when Cynthia first suggested and later insisted that we shall visit a museum full of teddy bears.  I have got a lot of eyes rolling reaction whenever I mentioned this to my guy friends.

Interestingly and surprisingly, Museum of Teddy Bear is anything but childish or silly.  It is a one of the most popular tourist spots in Jeju Island.

When God Created Teddy Bear

I still have quite a few more photo albums for sharing, photographs from our Korea trip yet to be processed.  As of now, this is what I have.  If the links above you confuse you, check out my photograph page for a more organized view.

Jeju Loveland Photo Album

First, wishing all my readers a Happy 2013.  May you be blessed with all the joy and happiness life has to offer.  Time flies.  And we are one year wiser.  It is good to do some self-reflection on what we have accomplished last year and what our plans are this year.

I wish I could have spent more time with my website.  But the line between blogging and social networking in Google+ is blurring, as some pioneers have predicted.  The outlook of my website this year would remain as a place for higher quality and more lengthy writing while Google+ is an excellent place to incubate new concepts and ideas, to meet new friends who share common passions.

Love, from Jeju Loveland

It is a pure coincidence that I am featuring photographs of a sex theme park on a New Year Day.  You may have noticed that my photographs are now published at Google+ instead of here in my website.  Well, it saves disk space and the interaction is a lot richer over there.  However, not wanting to run the risk of getting my Google+ account suspended due to explicit contents, I am publishing this album here.

  • Click here to view Jeju Loveland Photo Album (52 pictures with captions).  Warning: explicit contents.

For those who are new to Jeju Loveland, it is a sculpture / theme park based on sensuality and eroticism.  Jeju Island has long been a popular honeymoon location for the Koreans.  It is said that in the older days, after the Korean War, arranged marriage was the norm.  The island provided sex education for the then honeymooners, and to break the ice so as to speak.

When Cynthia and I visited Jeju Loveland, we thought the experience would be all weird and embarrassing.  In contrary, the theme park is full of giggle and laughter.  People of all ages (above 18 of course) seem to enjoy the humor side of the sculptures.  We do too.

PS. More photographs from our Korea Trip can be found in this link.

The Birth Of A Language – Hangeul (Korean)

Korean language intrigues me.  During my brief holiday visit, I would stare at the characters for hours (read: long bus rides) and trace the writing with my finger on my thigh.  Looking at Hangeul from a Chinese perspective, each character appears to assemble like the Chinese characters do, but in an entirely unique way.  There are circles ㅇ and there are squares ㅁ.  Fragments of Chinese-ish constructs ㅅㅆ , strokes ㅓ ㅔ.  And many unique symbols ㄹ and ㅙ.  Putting them together, it is just beautiful.  Like 안녕하세요, which means hello.

Sujeongjeon, where the Korean alphabets were invented.

Of all the pictures I have taken in Gyeongbokgung Palace, this particular one is my favorite one.  This is where Hangeul, the Korean alphabet was invented under King Sejong 569 years ago.  I could imagine the historical moment of scholars (perhaps) getting together and designed a new system to phonetically transform the then-current language into a new one.  What sort of debate went on in that office?  How long did the entire process take place?  How many generations did it take to educate the entire nation on how to use this new language?  Whatever the answers are, this structure you see marks the birth of a language that exists till today.

Of all the government offices inside the palace, Jiphyeonjeon, the Hall of Worthies, is the only one remaining. It is where Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, was invented under King Sejong. Rebuilt in 1867, its name was later changed to Sujeongjeon. It served as the cabinet office during the Reform Movement of 1894.

Unlike my previous trips, this time round, I have intended to separate the photograph processing work (that includes adding captions to each picture) from the travel journal writing work.  I hope this way, I am able to share the pictures in a more timely fashion.  I frequently publish the processed photographs in Google+.  For those who are not connected with me over in Google+, you may keep checking out the photograph section of my website.  I update the links there as and when new albums are published.

Supertrees And Gardens By The Bay, Singapore

For many months, as I drove by the site in construction daily, on an elevated highway overlooking the marina, I have always been wondering: What on earth are these things?  From afar, these work-in-progress chimney-like tall structures looked like factories.  Or perhaps helipads.  I had no idea.  Until one day, I read about this new city gardens in CNN.  These are Supertrees!

Note: To see more photographs of Gardens by the Bay, don’t miss this link to an album of 48 pictures.

I was born in Hong Kong.  As a city boy, I love city gardens.  There is a certain charm visiting a garden with the city center as the backdrop.  Paris has plenty of gardens in the city.  Many famous cities too.  While I was thrill that Singapore has put aside 101 hectares of prime land to build a garden (in comparison, Singapore Botanic Gardens has an area of 74 hectares), I was not too sure what to expect.

Gardens by the Bay appears to have built with tourism in mind.  Contrast that to other city gardens I have visited in other parts of the world, I saw way more tourists in Gardens by the Bay than locals.  Maybe time will tell, if this new garden will win the residents’ hearts.  My wife Cynthia seems to prefer Singapore Botanic Gardens.  As for me, I think my heart still belongs to Sentosa as a family hangout location, if I have a whole day to spend that is.  Otherwise, I concur with Cynthia.

These Supertrees are majestic.  They ranges from 25 to 50 meters and besides being amazing to look at, they are functional too.  The ‘trunks’ of these Supertrees are home to unique and exotic plants, though I must say, I can’t tell one plant to another.  I don’t know where the photovoltaic cells are located.  They could be on the top where I could not see.  These Supertrees are capable to collect solar energy during the day and light themselves up during the night.  They can also collect rainwater and serve as a air cooling system to the two conservatories nearby (don’t ask me how).

To get to the 1 minute treetop walk, you have to pay S$5.  As for the two conservatories, it is S$28 for the foreigners and S$20 for the locals.  Not a good enough discount I must say.  If you are feeling rich and have some money to spend, you could also dine in a treetop restaurant.  I bet you could even book the entire restaurant for you and your loved one, for a romantic evening dinner, especially if you are looking for a place to ‘pop’ the question.  Yes?  Another option – equally expensive I bet – is to book the entire capsule at the Singapore Flyer.

Besides the Supertrees and the conservatories, within this new city garden, there are four mini gardens – to denote the four cultures in Singapore.  There are also six areas, each comes with a unique theme: Secret Life of Trees, World of Palms, Understorey, Fruits and Flowers, Web of Life, and Discovery.  These areas still look to me like work-in-progress.  Or they are made more for kids to enjoy (like small man-made mushrooms and pictures built using painted pixels).  There is also a lake in Gardens by the Bay too.  It is called Dragonfly Lake that overlooks Singapore Flyer as well as one of our two Integrated Resorts Marina Bay Sands (see picture below).

Parking at Gardens by the Bay is as expensive as parking in Sentosa.  It does have more food choices than Botanic Gardens though.  I can’t wait to bring my niece Bethany to this city garden and see what she thinks.

This Is Pulau Ubin

I have always been curious about Pulau Ubin – an island off our mainland.  For more than a decade, Cynthia and I and some of our friends have been talking about visiting Pulau Ubin.  To cycle, or to observe the wildlife.  For some reasons, all that talk does not seem to go anywhere.  Earlier last year, I have joined a corporate volunteering event to weed at Pulau Ubin.  The island is charming.  Rural, unlike any place I have seen in Singapore.  During my mother’s visit, I brought there her for a day trip.  My sister also wanted to join us.  So we have five adults and a toddler, eager to explore the very last defender of Singapore’s village living.

Pulau Ubin is a 1020-hectare island.  It is not as tiny as I thought.  It does look like a mini Singapore.  The town center is on the south by the shore (just like our mainland!).  West side of the island is reserved for Outward Bound.  To the east, there is Chek Jawa Wetlands.  I laughed when we saw the posters saying that there are wild pigs in the island.  Ya right.  This is Singapore.  Lo and behold, there are wild pigs in Singapore!  They were dashing around near the Wetlands looking for, I suppose, food.  Cynthia said that the wild pigs are smelly.  To be frank, I smell nothing of that sort.  I smell only the smell of nature.

It was a nice walk from the town center to the wetlands.  Armed with the printed guide by our National Park, we could more or less figure out the landmarks and the points of attraction.  Cynthia was our de facto map reader.  I was hopelessly reading our location off my GPS phone.  Fortunately, we have Benny, our real map reader.

Would you bring a 2-year old toddler to Pulau Ubin?  To be honest, it was quite nerve wrecking to get my niece Bethany in and out of the boat.  Because in Singapore, these small boats are not secured to the pier during boarding time.  They reverse, press against the pier with the engine on, and the passengers then gingerly jump in and out of the boat.  As for the walk, majority of the roads are paved.  But there are some unpaved roads.  So, my sister has to turn back while my mother, Cynthia and I pressed on.  Do bring insect repellent.  And lots of sunblock.

Pictures speak a thousand words.  And I have prepared a photo album, just for you.

  • Click here to view the photo album.

To get to Pulau Ubin, you can take a boat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal.  Once you are in the island, you can go on foot (expect hours of walking), take a taxi, or rent a bicycle.  Next time I visit the island, I would cycle for sure.

Corsica Is A Beautiful Island – Our Day 2 Adventure

I have contemplated long and hard if I should pick up the courage, finish up the journal today before heading for a new trip to Spain tomorrow.  It would have been odd to talk about our trip to France when we have already moved onto our next destination.  So I put aside some time today, in the mist of our last minute planning and preparation.  Besides, I have always wanted this post to be featured on top of this website while we are away because unlike some of our previous holidays, I do not plan to release any new materials in our absence.  I hope you enjoy reading this final piece of the journal.

To read more on our adventure to this French island, Corsica, here are the options.

Corsica Is A Beautiful Island – Our Day 1 Adventure

I must be amongst the laziest people in the world.  It would be embarrassing if I am unable to publish a complete set of journal for our trip to France last year before we head to Spain later this year.  Corsica is a beautiful island.  We saved the best for the last.  Looking back, we would love to spend more time in Corsica and experience the nature and the local dishes.

This entry documents the first day of our visit, to the birthplace of Napoleon.  As I have mentioned before, it is tedious to write a journal.  But it is rewarding to look at the end product.  Because there is only that much a picture can say.  Let’s hope that I will not take too long to publish the final entry, which is going to be one of the meatiest in this collection.

To read more on our adventure to this French island, Corsica, here are the options.