Mid-Autumn Festival – Museum Crawling In Hong Kong

Today is Mid-Autumn Festival.  For the single guys out there, may the space rabbit grant you a ticket to moon and meet the immortal maiden, Chang’e.  As for me, I have waited long enough and have decided that someone from Earth would do.  Talking about the moon, today Cynthia and I have visited the Hong Kong Space Museum and have watched the ultra realistic space video clip called “Cosmic Collisions” at the huge dome shaped Sky Theater.  Inside this documentary clip, it is said that when Earth was at its infancy, a rock smashed onto its surface and sent billions and millions of small pieces into space.  Within a month, these small pieces consolidated into one huge rock.  That rock has become our Moon.  Incredible!  And the Moon in turn gives the Earth tidal waves.  Such a romantic notion.  Perhaps that was where Italo Calvino drew his inspiration from, when he wrote that fascinating “Cosmicomics” and a few others.

The last time I have visited the Space Museum, I was a small kid.  The museum seems to have shrunk in size as I grow bigger.  Wednesday is a good day for museum crawling in Hong Kong.  Free admission for all the museums.

We have visited the Hong Kong Museum of Art next door too.  There are ancient Chinese drawings that are painted on a thin horizontal stripe of paper that seems to extend indefinitely.  Landscape drawings with paths and stationary objects and people that lead your eyes from one end of the painting to another end.  There are vertical drawings too.  The same concept that leads our attention from the bottom to the top, which is often the mountain top and the cloud.  During our visit, there is a special exhibition of the late Wu Guanzhong.  The theme is “Lofty Integrity”.  It is eye opening to see Chinese culture incorporated into modern art.  Each painting comes with a poetic short description, which I appreciate a great deal.  The title of the painting illustrated above is “Leaving Youth Behind”, courtesy of Hong Kong Museum of Art.  The translated description is as follows.  If you come across an exhibition of Wu Guanzhong, don’t miss it.

When a tree is old, its roots are exposed.  When a lotus is old, its stalks break.  It is better to break than to submit, leaving no regrets even when youth is gone.

On a lighter note, there is an exhibition called “The Ultimate South China Travel Guide” that attempts to recreate the history of Canton after the First Opium War (1839) in an entertaining manner.  I felt as though I was transported back to that era.  There is even a phrase book that translates the “Chinese Pidgin English” (a distorted form of English frequently spoken by the locals back then).  From the obvious ones such as I no know and I no understand, to the obscure ones such as give dog chow-chow (give it to the dog) and my hap sick (I am sick).  One day, if there is a phrase book for Singlish (a distorted form of English frequently spoken by the Singaporeans I suppose?), I wonder what would people think of cannot also can?

My Dog and My Family, One Day at a Park

My Dog and His Dog Tak Tak

I wonder if any of you remember precisely what you did during the New Year Day, or on that day, what has gone into your mind.  I didn’t.  As I processed my digital mountain worth of photo backlog, the timestamp of this particular photo collection tells me that on New Year Day, my family took our lovely dog to the park.  Ma joined late, it was a cold day, and there were moments when our beautiful white dog drew attention from the fellow park visitors, unintended attention from the dogs bigger than him, smaller than him.  Pa doesn’t like our dog to get bullied by other dogs, I get it.  To the extend of over-protectively keeping our dog inside the house most of the time, I don’t get it.  But then again, I don’t keep a pet, have no clue on what it’s like, and in the rare moment, during our stay in Hong Kong for my sister’s wedding, this is a photo album of my dog and my family, one day at a park.

I understand not everyone likes to go through others’ family photo albums.  And so, I have extracted 12 photos to share at the bottom of this blog entry.  For our family and friends and readers who are more or less in touch with my family life, I have added a new high resolution photo album (59 photos) to my online collection for sharing.  Inside, you will get to see a lot of pictures of our dog, my parents, my sister Lora and her husband Benny, and Cynthia and I.  I have included mostly spontaneous shots, may not necessary be the best shot for my subjects.  Nevertheless, I know how they look at their best, at their not-so-best.  I treasure those moments that I tend to forget more.

My dog’s name is Tak Tak.  The direct Chinese translation of his name would sound strange.  So I would say, he is named after the can-do attitude.  Tak Tak is an amazing dog.  So clever in so many ways, he is a gift from Heaven for my parents who are living thousands of miles away from my sister and I in Singapore.  When he was still a puppy, before my sister’s emigration, Tak Tak had an accident, at my home in Hong Kong, and broke a leg.  The operation would cost more than getting a new dog.  It was a hard decision to make because we have a humble family income, Pa has long retired.  My family has decided to go through the pain and the expense of an operation.  Deep inside, although I don’t know Tak Tak that well, I am sure he knows that he is loved by those around him.  And I can understand the tears in his eyes whenever my parents leave home for an overseas holiday.

My Sister’s Wedding in Singapore – Thank You For Your Warm Wishes

We wrapped up the night with a group photo

It is amazing how pressure can propel us to do the seemingly impossible.  I woke up this morning barely 8 hours after I shot the last photo of the evening and my parents were already pacing around my living room hinting or rather strongly hinting that they wished to take all the photos I have shot for my sister’s wedding as they are.  As they are?!  It is hard to explain to them why they can do that for point-and-shoot photos and not for the 500 pictures I took with my dSLR camera.  I find it hard to believe that too.  It has got to be my skill, or the lack of it.

And because it breaks my heart to see my parents fly back to Hong Kong disappointed, not only have I done the necessary photo shortlisting and touch up in record time, but also have them published online with a less than 24 hours turnaround time.  I am happy with the results.  Some of the shots I really like.  I suppose Benny and Lora may have passed this blog entry to you for viewing.  Maybe you were there, maybe you couldn’t make it.  As a proud brother of Lora and a good old friend of Benny, I thank you for your warm wishes to the wedding couple.  I am pretty sure in time to come Benny and Lora will share the professionally done up photos of the event with you.  Meanwhile, here are some of the candid shots I have taken to complement the event, arranged chronologically in three albums.

PS. Stay tuned for a little write-up on how the day went.  Thank you for viewing the pictures and as always, feedback is welcome.

Delivering the Wedding Gifts the Traditional Chinese Way (過大禮 / 过大礼) … In the Modern Day

Benny, My Dad, and the Wedding Gifts

Here is the thing, I am lousy when it comes to Chinese tradition.  Maybe I shall read more Chinese literature, maybe I shall date a … or maybe I shall just talk to my parents more.

We can talk about the six Chinese wedding etiquette here.  But if you are more of a visual person, here is the link to my personal family photo album.  Yes, in this tidy home of my parents in Hong Kong we have a dog named Tak Tak.  He is smart, he is adorable, and I will share a photo album of just my dog later.  How late?  I don’t know.  I still have my photos taken in Fraser Hill unprocessed, awaiting to be published.

One day I woke up at the apartment on the 5th floor – my parents stay on the 7th floor and it is a long story that you probably can skip – and Benny (my then-brother-in-law-to-be-now-brother-in-law) was loading the 5th floor apartment with gifts.  I looked at the gifts in my wildest curiosity wondering what on the earth he was doing.  Well, according to one of the Chinese wedding etiquette, the groom’s family delivers the wedding gifts (過大禮 / 过大礼) to the bride’s family days (or weeks?!) before the actual wedding date.  In the old days, it was meant to be an elaborate event.  When the bride’s family receives the wedding gift mostly with items in pairs – plus a letter or a book itemizing the gifts (?! … lots of documentations in the old days) – another set of gifts will be returned as part of the tradition.  If you wonder why coconuts, chickens, and even a pair of shoes can be considered as wedding gifts alongside with the gold and jewelery, phonetically, these items mean only good things to the wedding couple.

In the modern day, this tradition is simplified.  As seen in the photos I have shared, I recall Benny did bring wine, fruit, cakes, abalones, and … lots of cash!  In Singapore dollar!  And my parents also returned a portion of the cash received to symbolize the tradition.  When I saw that, I was like … don’t, don’t … let me have it!

At times I wonder, what dilutes the local tradition?  I tend to look at the era of colonization with puzzlement.  One day I may write a blog entry about it.  Perhaps after this ambitious photo trip my friend Ken and I have been talking about for ages – local culture and tradition at a crossroad.

Photo Album: Family Photos in Hong Kong

Captured Moments of My Sister’s Wedding in Hong Kong (2008.12.28)

A Sample from My Personal Collection of My Sister's Wedding

Fortunately I was not the main wedding photographer.  What hard work it was!  With no control over light quality, background, and where everybody stands, I did the best I could.  And I did the best I could with my first dSLR camera that was less than 2 months old and my non-existing knowledge of Photoshop.  At times I am amused by the faith my little sister has in me.  I love my little sis.  I have been practicing hard, for this very moment.

Can’t wait to see the result?  Click here but please do come back.

I have been resisting to ‘photoshop’ my pictures for a long time until now.  Simply because I’d like to show the world what I can possibly do with my camera and my camera only.  Here is an analogy for you.  Showing you what could have done with my camera (to the point of no cropping) is like performing my music live to you.  The artwork is not perfect, it has its flaws, but (I hope) it has its charm, a sense of genuineness.

Most professionals do some forms of post production work on their photos.  Competitions allow that too.  Hence to me, admiring a moderately or heavily ‘photoshopped’ picture is like listening to a music album.  Perfectly finished and generally accepted.  Some cross the line and they have become more like a digital art to me.  No disrespect to those who are skilled in post production work, I personally enjoy playing my music live.  I.e. my photos as they are being shot (or could have been shot).  Having said that, after ‘photoshopped’ this little photo collection of mine, I do enjoy admiring the end result of this twenty odd pictures, out of 500.

It is surreal to think that my little sister is now married.  It seems like yesterday when I changed her diapers, when I was 4.  Now, here are the rest of my photo collection.

Related Link: Personal Photo Collection of My Sister’s Wedding (HK), What a Fruitful Year that Ends with a Bang: My Sister’s Wedding

Final Leg of Our SG-Bandung-SG-Hong Kong-SG Holiday

My Family and I at a Gardan in Hong Kong

Blue sky came with a price.  As the blanket of thick cloud finally got lifted in our last few days of stay in Hong Kong, the temperature dropped dramatically.  This morning, I was greeted by a cool chilly temperature of 11-degree Celsius.  I kept sneezing not used to the cold weather.  Tonight, as I am typing this blog entry, my nose doesn’t stop running either.  Gosh, I miss the heat of Singapore.

There are good and bad being cut off from the news.  Someone at the dinning table started a conversation, “So you heard the news about that London Eye in Singapore?”  “The Singapore Flyer you meant,” I interjected.  “Yes, have you been up?”  “Yes, once.”  Someone else cut in, “There was a recent power failure.”  OK, I have vaguely heard this news before I left for Hong Kong.

“People were stuck for 6 hours!”

“6 hours?” exclaimed I.  “Do you know what was the first thing people did when they were rescued by the ropes?”  “I have no clue.”  “They dashed to the toilets.”  “How do you know?” I asked.  “It was all over the news!”

Here in Hong Kong?  I wonder if they have seen the video of the guy getting pounded by the tiger from the Singapore Zoo.

“I am surprised that Singapore has power failure,” another someone chipped in.  I too am surprised.  “Do you know what caused the power failure?” it was my turn to inquire.  Everyone at the dining table shook their heads.  And like all good gossips in Hong Kong, the topic switched from Singapore’s “London Eye” to local economy in just a heartbeat.

Hong Kong doesn’t change much.  Still full of people, still very vibrant.  The food is so fresh and good, so value for money.  When visitors see rounds of dessert as well as plates of fruit served at the end of a Chinese meal, their eyes beamed out rays of delight and they asked, “It is free?”  Yes, when you dine in Hong Kong, in such a competitive service oriented environment, the restaurants want you to be happy and come back to them.  Besides, what good is a Chinese meal without the dessert and the fruit?  I wish Singaporeans demand the same level of freshness and food quality, as well as the same level of service quality.  I wonder why we don’t.  Are we happy being charged for every single item in life?

What we do demand, I think, is our constant up-to-date dosage of high quality Hollywood entertainment.  This could explain why Singapore has more varieties in movie titles.  And some of the titles come out much faster in Singapore too compares to Hong Kong.  In addition, if I am not wrong, Singapore has some of the best cinema systems (at least our Cathay Cineplexes do).

When I first touched down in Hong Kong, my brother-in-law Benny told me that in every corner, you can see someone carrying a dSLR camera.  How can that be?  At times I feel uneasy carrying my rather gigantic dSLR camera around in Singapore.  I walk into a mall in Hong Kong and I can see a dozen of people shooting pictures with their dSLR cameras (yes, inside a mall).  I visited a garden with my parents today (see picture above) and I saw two groups of people.  The Nikonians who carried a D200 and above with jaw dropping lenses.  I have not seen what appeared like a 200-400mm or a super long telephoto lens in real life and I saw one guy carrying one like a hand held bazooka.  It is freaking long, take my words.  I think he must have shot all that he can in that garden with his other lenses and was aiming for some out-of-the-world-no-one-else-but-he-can kind of shots.

Another group was the non-Nikonians who appeared to carry much smaller camera bodies.  No conclusion drawn.  Just my observation.

Inside the MRT, I saw a couple carrying the exact camera as mine with a huge tripod.  I feel so at home in Hong Kong carrying my mini-bazooka even with my rather gigantic flash gun attached.  For a brief moment, I was one of them.

Some names in Hong Kong tickle us.  Cynthia found the name “Po Hon Building” funny because in her language, pohon means tree.  I spotted the road name “Average Road” and we both had a good laugh.  There is a GP called “Porky Chan”.  Hmmm.  We have yet to meet someone named Porky in our lives.  And one day I was inside a mini-van and saw the road sign “Opposite Sea”.  I asked my mom where “Opposite Sea” is and she looked at me in puzzlement.  Maybe it is as simple as somewhere facing the opposite sea?

Time flies when you are having fun seems to have some truth in it.  And so we have come to the final leg of our Singapore-Bandung-Singapore-Hong Kong-Singapore trip.  I ponder where we will visit next.

Looking Back on 1997

Another Christmas day, alone on my own.  The background music?  Well, “Do they know it’s Christmas”.  Looking back the year of 1997.  A lot has happened.  Far too much.

But I have to write them down.  What’s life without memory?  Good or bad, they make up our past.  Hopefully, we can learn something out of it and hopefully, that will make a better me.

Two Christmas night, two lonely nights.  Overlooking the Jakarta night scene.  It kind of reminds me of Paris.  The lights are the same, the place is different.

OK, we shall start with my whereabouts this year and talk a bit about feeling later on.  Good idea?

I was in Singapore during the first half a month of January.  Then returned to Paris to continue my four and half months mission.  Went to US somewhere in April and traveled with Colin.  Places like LV and LA and so on.   By the end of May, I was back to Singapore for a few weeks.  Finally returned to HK for a 2 weeks visit and sick for a whole week.  Came to Jakarta towards the end of June.  Visited Bali and Borobudur in Indonesia.

When I look back, it is pretty impressive thinking about the number of places I have visited in this 12 months’ time.  But am I happy about it?  That is what I constantly searching for.

Oh, my WWWIS.  I sent so many emails that I have lost track of.  It is kind of funny to read what I have written.  But inspiration only seems to come when I am alone.  Hence, haven’t been doing it for quite a long while.  Or more correctly, ever since I left Paris.

Edit 2008.05.12: This entry does look truncated.  But that is all I have.  Maybe it is how it ends.  Maybe a chunk of it is lost.  Note that WWWIS stands for … doesn’t matter.  It was my old “blogging mechanism” to reach to my friends.  Also, the original date that this was written is lost.  So I place it under 1997 Christmas day.

Left Hong Kong and Now in Jakarta

Two weeks in Hong Kong and that has been gone.  Not exactly enjoyed for two weeks.  Sick for a week and how does that count?

Jakarta (first impression) seems not as bad as I thought.  Must be the ultra low expectation to begin with.  The days are long and we shall see.

A faint sense of loneliness.  A very familiar sense of loneliness.  A different place (environment), a different job but same kind of feeling.  Oh no, not to think about all these but to enjoy tomorrow while we can.

Bought a new novel called “High Fidelity”.  In any case, I shall not buy any new book but this one was irresistible.  Talking about girls dumping guys and all the sad love stories.  Well, kind of suit the scene.

It’s Father’s Day, Can We Stop Arguing?

Father’s day.  Started off pretty good.  We went “dim sum” together.  Only that my sister was late for half an hour.  Mum was late for one hour.  Dad wasn’t very happy.  But that is just Dad, he is never happy.

True enough, we had a big argument over one small thing.  Dad was trying to install something into the computer that in the end, messed up the Internet connection.  My intention was to let sister to “get her hands dirty” and learn how to remedy the case.  Hence I just walked away and he was so so angry.

What for?

Watched “Con Air” with my sister.

Fun to be with Friends

The lunch was as exciting as expected.  We have Kenny and Amy, Michael and Janet, Yvonne and Wilson, and the singles including Alex, Herman, Cedric, Anthony (Athena still in UK), Alex’s friend – Desmond and me.  Amy and Janet both have short hair.  Must be the fashion of to date.  Herman and Yvonne seems to have gained some weight.  Other than that, everyone looks very similar.

It is very fun to be with your friends really.