2010 SingTel F1 Grid Girls Crowning Party – A Media Event

What a great media event!  I mean, fast cars and pretty women should go side by side with one another.  I am an avid fan of Formula One and have been watching every single match on TV.  Singapore circuit is special.  Not only because it is a night race, an anti-clockwise circuit, but also because the race takes place in the city, along the beautiful marina.

So what do F1 grid girls do?  Good question.  I met one of my fellow bloggers at the party.  To me, grid girls are there to hold the flags before the race.  And they are there to clap and welcome the winners at the end of the race.  Beyond that, I have no idea what they do.  My buddy is the hilarious one.  He said there have been rumors that …

Anyway, the venue of the event was at Shanghai Dolly, Clarke Quay.  I seldom write about the event venue (because most are just standard).  I think Shanghai Dolly is a lovely venue.  Great decoration and the house band is simply mesmerizing.  I will be back, for sure.

12 SingTel F1 grid girls, 3 group performances followed by questions for the individual.  I am surprised that no one answered world peace.  I think one girl has a rather noble answer and she went on winning the top grid girl award.  At 10 pm, the winner of SingTel Grid Girls 2010 was announced.  Mabel Lau has won the title, got herself a S$10,000 cheque from SingTel, and will be holding our Singapore flag on the race day.  OK.  I can understand why she wins.  Probably the most photogenic of all.  Personally, I like the 2nd runner up too.  In any case, we will see them on TV during the weekend of 24th to 26th September.

Back to F1, I am being asked a lot of time on which team I support or who is my favorite F1 driver.  The thing about motor racing is that viewers have very short term memory.  The last race’s winner is always the hero – in this case, Alonso.  Webber in this season has pulled off some of the most amazing stuns (and is marginally leading the championship).  Button has won the championship last year, looks like he is still in the game.  And Hamilton, what a committed driver – when he has a competitive car.  I wish he can win this season.  Having said that, I would be delighted if any of four could win.

Where are the photos?  You must be asking.  Well, I have worked double hard and pushed out the contents within a few hours after the event.  Hot from the oven.  Just for you!

Notes:

  • I haven’t got time to narrate the photos.  But they are very much self-explanatory – I hope.
  • Those who carried flowers are the top 3 girls.
  • I wish I could devote the same amount of attention to all 12 grid girls.  But I am a man.  My attention takes direction from my …
  • The girl who doesn’t look like a grid girl won herself a gift from SingTel after some intense competition on the stage that involved … dancing.
  • The girl who was holding the mic is from the house band.  She has one amazing voice.

It’s Time Of The Moon Again

The Moon - ISO200, f/8, 1/800s

Last evening, returned home from a lovely dinner gathering with Symantec, Cynthia was already in bed.  I opened the window, cool air greeted my face.  As I extended my vision from near to far, from the golf course on the other side of the reservoir to the pitch-dark sky, I saw a bright dot.  It was the moon!  Quickly I dashed to my dry cabinet, switched to my telephoto lens, set up the tripod, and started taking photos of our only natural satellite.  The moon does rise up faster than I thought, so does the speed of rotation.  And if I line up the photos I took in sequential order, I can see how the moon rotates.

Different photographers have different preferences on subject matter.  Cynthia’s brother for instance loves to take pictures of insects found in around his Jakarta home at the macro level.  He would proudly show me images of insect eyes and hairs and what not.  I could faint looking at those.  As for me, I enjoy taking pictures of the monuments, candid pictures of the moment, and celestial beauty like the moon.

Avid readers of my site may think: Wait a minute, is this a déjà vu?  I have seen a photo just like this before.  Indeed, that was last December.  I think the photograph of the moon then was a little bit too bright.  Also, no longer do I need to hand hold the camera now that I have a tripod.  Hence a different setting that seems to make the moon looks a bit more 3D.

Last night’s moon reminds me of Italo Calvino’s “Cosmicomics (1965)”.  The short story “The Distance of the Moon” is the most beautiful piece of literature I have read that is based upon our moon.  Italo Calvino remains as one of my all-time-favorite authors.  Some of his books I have read more than once.  His work has made it to Harold Bloom’s “The Western Canon (1994)”.  Unfortunately, my zest of writing book summaries did not quite take form until 2006.  Perhaps in this upcoming 2010, I shall have a book marathon on all his works of fiction and have the book summaries posted here.

PS. No post-processing on this photo.  It is as it is, cropped of course.  Exposure setting: M mode, 1/800 second, f/8 and sensitivity: ISO 200.  Now, I wish I have that 600mm lens (that costs nearly S$20,000!).

Still Wilfrid The Paparazzi, On Felicia And Nathaniel

My niece and nephew

If you recall, a year ago, I was happily sharing the exciting news of my nephew and I sharing the same birthday.  Decades apart, of course.  Looking back at that blog entry, what a bizarre piece of write-up I produced!  So much details then that I would have forgotten now.  Like I often say, keep a diary and keep writing it.  One form or another.

So I did get that dSLR camera.  Towards the end of our holiday in Indonesia, when Cynthia one day in her home in Bandung after we have visited her brother Eric’s home in Jakarta looked at my bulky camera gears, she asked, “You brought all these gears all the way from Singapore just to take pictures of Felice and Nathan?”  I nodded and replied, “Indeed.”

If the weather in Bandung was any better, I may have taken some dusk shots in around Cynthia’s house.  Unlike my trip a year ago, I now have a tripod.  But during our stay, Bandung rained and rained and rained.  Non-stop, every evening, which is OK, for I have prepared tons of things to do while relaxing at Cynthia’s home.

During this trip, instead of taking tons of photos, I have jotted down tons of writing ideas, including one possible book idea.  That book idea aside, I initially intended to start publishing the short stories inspired by my short trip to Indonesia starting today.  But then, why the rush?  Better rush the photos of my lovely nephew and niece instead, learned from experience.

Jellyfish Is Called Medusa In Spanish, Out Of Valencia And Into Toledo

Inside a Marine Center in Valencia

This post is dedicated to the loyal followers of this Spain holiday series and to those few of you who constantly ask me if the photos are coming out any time soon and drop some comments here.  It is your anticipation that keeps me going.  Thank you.  At the end of this series, we may have a 15,000 words journal completed with 600 photos.  All because of you!

Day 6, we have approached the midway point of our journal.  Of all the episodes, I look forward to the photo album of this one the most.  It is because the subjects are so different from the rest of what we have.  The structures in the “City of Art and Science” are so futuristic, so unexpected of.  I wish I had more time to tour this part of Valencia.

As usual, below are the options you may wish to read more about our road trip.

  • A photo collection for day 6 of our trip to Spain (39 photos with captions)
  • A journal written in details on what we did and more (approx 1,800 words)
  • A highlight of the photos below (8 photos – and for Facebook readers, please view the original post)

To read the rest of the travel blog entries, please follow this tag.

On My Birthday We Visited Medan Ikan Bakar at Malacca (Again)

Meda Ikan Bakar

My observation on age as such: besides the age that you can legally have s … ahem … your own driving licence and the one that grants you lots of discount everywhere you go because you are senior, age is just a number that has little significance.  Some achieve more than others at their age; some look better than others at their age; some manage to defy the gravitational pull of music-from-my-good-old-days-sounds-much-better-than-today’s-hits better than others.  As for me, I am so going to watch Lady Gaga’s concert when she comes to Singapore.

My birthday is my holiday, always.  And I woke up at nine this morning with my head still spinning after a long night of online gaming.  Our team lead of 5 – a good online friend of ours – lightly commented that we were not performing up to our usual standard.  I said the obvious, “It’s three in the morning, ha ha ha.”  Cynthia and I were more or less randomly hitting the buttons like two sleepy zombies.  Game mission accomplished nonetheless, sort of.

Processing my band’s studio jamming materials took much shorter time than anticipated.  Probably because I have already spent much time running through the recording during the week.  At about eleven-thirty, I said to Cynthia, who also took leave because I did, “Let’s have lunch at the Botanic Gardens.  Grab our passports, we may dine in Malacca.”

We love road trips.  Road trip for couples is like golf for business partners.  It is almost like having an undivided attention for each other for hours.  In fact, I think all couples should go through the road trip test amongst other ‘tests’ that I will cover in my new book “Things You Wish You Had Done Before Saying I Do”.

OK.  There’s no such book.  I am pulling your legs.  Below are some of the photos taken today.

Malacca has changed a lot, over the last decade.  It is now inscribed as a World Heritage City, though we have no clue which organization inscribes such a title.  We arrived at Malacca way before dinner time so we road-toured the city.  Now, there is a Malacca Eye by the sea (something like the Singapore Flyer), a few new malls, and we need to buy parking coupons instead of putting coins into the parking meter.  Maybe these changes have been around for years.  We seldom tour the city.  We visit Malacca to have seafood, a location outskirt of Malacca.

We always had difficulties in finding “Medan Ikan Bakar” (translates to Baked Fish Eating House I think).  Each time, we would spend an hour or two trying to find the place.  Each time, we would document the direction in exactitude only to realize in the next trip that the landscape has changed.  Malacca is not small.  And it is easy to get lost.

I can certainly say it with conviction that Nokia Map has changed the way we travel.  The maps are free, the GPS service is free.  Not only do I know exactly where I am, it knows a list of landmarks around the area too.  I don’t need to pay for and install a separate device just for this function.  It comes with the phone.  So, on my birthday, we arrived at the Baked Fish Eating House at ease.

Every morning, fishing boats arrive at the shore and unload some of the seafood to the long stretch of restaurants nearby.  I have seen the days when this area was so popular that it literally took hours to find a parking space.  In our recent visits, there seems to be an increased number of parking lots.  Also, maybe because we often avoid the weekend crowds and we prefer to dine early, we dine in leisure.

We had a sea bass (baked), six gigantic prawns (baked), some squids (sweet source), a vegetable dish, and three portions of rice.  The sea food tasted fresh and the fish was juicy.  The total bill came up to about RM 55 (which is about S$25?).  I thought it was reasonable.  Note: for my future reference, we spent RM 200+ for this brief out-of-town experience.

For those of you who have the Nokia Map installed in your phone, download the Malaysia map and punch in “Pernu Umbai”.  The search result of “Medan Ikan Bakar Pernu Umbai” should appears (186.7km from my home!).  For other map users, try this coordinates: 2° 9′ 21″ N, 102° 20′ 9″ E.  Or if you trust my direction (I have tested it on the way back and it is accurate to the one hundredth meter), click here and scroll all the way to the bottom.

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.

Photos of Taman Safari Taken During Our Trip to Bandung, Indonesia

An Owl at Taman Safari, Indonesia

I agree with Haruki Murakami: The older we get, the busier we become.  Maybe as I acquire wisdom and experience, more opportunities open up; maybe time is taking a chip off my efficiency, slowly but surely.  It is a good and a bad problem at the same time.  I enjoy writing pieces that are more personal.  But my life is not that exciting on a day-to-day basis.  And some pieces take time for a common theme to evolve.  So, in between, I fill my writing diary with my thoughts on the things that I consume, like music, books, movies, and etc; things that I am passionate in.  Reviews of these sorts usually generate a decent amount of web traffic but lack the readers’ interaction in the form of comments.  Google thinks that both are important measures for relevancy.  To me, I just wish to keep practicing my writing skill regardless of the topics of my choice, as often as I can.  Either outcome is a nice-to-have but certainly not something to-die-for.

I still have tons of photos sitting inside my computer waiting to be selected and processed.  To be honest, it doesn’t take long to compile and publish one photo album.  It is just tedious and I always seem to have something better to do.  I love Bandung and so does Cynthia (her birth town).  And because of the recent infrastructure upgrades – a new highway connecting with the capital as well as the availability of more direct flights into the city – Bandung has suddenly become an attractive tourist spot.  If you do visit Bandung one day, you should not miss the Taman Safari as one of your daily excursions.  Into the valley of the tea plantations, you literally drive into the Safari Park and are up close and personal with the animals.  If someone was crazy enough to get off the car and stroke the roaming tigers and lions, no one would care.

OK.  Someone may care.  Inside the confined area of the most ferocious animals on earth (beside us, humans, of course), there are guards watching over the visitors and the animals making sure that both us and them behave.  There was a big sign asking us not to wind down the window.  As I opened a tiny gap sticking my long camera lens out of the passenger seat window, I felt the guards intensively staring at me from their jeep.  And as these ferocious animals moved towards our car, everyone inside the car would scream and I would quickly retreat and wind up the window.  Everyone would laugh and the cycle continued.

Follow the link below if you wish to view a complete set of photos (50 in total) including my offbeat comments for each photo.  I don’t run the Animal Planet cable channel here so do excuse me if I can’t get the names of the animals correct.  Hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I risk my life making it.

CLICK HERE to view the complete photo album with captions (50 photos in high resolution)

Below is a sampler of my Taman Safari photo album (10 in total).

PS. Photos taken on December 13, 2008.

Related Tag: Bandung December 2008 Trip

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.

For My Parents With Love In The Beautiful Landscape of The Singapore Botanic Gardens

My Parents at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

My 74 years old dad said the funniest thing.  He told me that these days when he went fishing, along the harbor of Hong Kong, young photographers often take him as their photo subject.  And in his tone of reminisce he said, “When I was a young photographer I was doing the same.  Now that I am an old man, it’s my turn [to be photographed by the strangers]”.  We all laughed.  But on what?  We don’t know.  I don’t know.  I don’t want my dad to be old.  I want everything to stay the same.

Reality is, we all get older as time goes by.  Decades ago I was my dad’s photography subject.  Who doesn’t like to see little babies, little kids, so full of innocence, so full of joy on pictures, on prints?  Decades later my parents have become my photography subject.  Kids and old folks – the two most common picks for the photographers on human portraits.  It is the innocence and the wisdom; it is the sign of creation and the mark of time; it is a blank story book filled with possibilities and a memoir that inspires.

Why the Singapore Botanic Gardens?  It’s rare that both my parents are in town, thanks to my sister’s wedding.  It is the green and the fresh air, the flowers and the butterflies.  My family loves to visit parks.  Back when I was in Hong Kong.  A tradition that I still carry with me today.  Some of the happiest moments of my life happen in the parks.

That’s why.

For the viewing of a personal photo collection dedicated to my parents, please click here.

P.S. An entry written with my Nokia N96 the sms style hours before my sister’s wedding dinner at a cafe at China Square Central while waiting for Cynthia’s make up session at Raffle City to be done, synchronised with Nokia free OVI service using the free Wireless@SG wi-fi network.

Wrath! And the Pebbles Bouncing on the Marble Flooring of the S’pore Sphere – A Metaphor

A photo taken at a zoo in Hong Kong ... these animals have a very nice "voice".

To my readers who may have heard recent shocking news with regards to the brand new Association of Bloggers (Singapore) , well, I am still the secretary who intend to see this through (read my new theme for 2009) together with EastCoastLife.  I believe that challenges and obstacles are there to propel us forward, setbacks are there for us to see how badly we want that something, and if we want it bad enough, the entire universe will conspire to make it happen.  These are borrowed ideas from Paulo Coelho and Randy Pausch.  Those who have worked with me know my style.  Some see a wall and they stop.  I see a wall and find a way to crash through it.  Mark my words: AB(S) is re-grouping for round 2.

Democracy Comes with a Price

Recent events in my life trigger a recollection of an episode that happened last year, in a different setting, rather unrelated to these recent events.  Nevertheless, it has been in my to-blog list for quite some time.

In as much as I wish to see myself as a coffee boy, I am not.  But somehow, during those weeks of working with an International crowd flying from all over the world and into Malaysia, my priority then seemed to evolve around coffee in the morning and the food that we served.  Noises on the ground seemed to have a life on its own, an infectious fire that moved from the topic of workshop logistics to the aggressive inquisition on the leadership’s decisions previous made (read previous blog entry, quite a funny read).  Everybody wants to make decisions, but who is going to do the work?

One evening, my then project director of an African origin looked at me with his usual fatherly eyes, a look that has calmed many turbulent situations throughout the course of our project, and he shook his head and said, “Democracy comes with a price”.  I concurred.  When everybody is talking and nobody is working, when the directions and decisions set by the leaders are in a perpetual cycle of questioning and debate, nothing moves.  [Too much] democracy hinders progress.  Like most established organizations, a good level of chain-of-command is good.

One Message Different Delivery

Recent observation in life triggers my thought on how one single message can be delivered in different ways that has such a high contrast of shock and awe versus nurture with hope.  Hypothetically, I could make a sweeping statement saying that, “Singaporeans complain a lot, too much for the good of our progression of […]”.  I could hypothetically quote examples from my personal experience working overseas, perhaps add on my friend’s true story as well.   This good old friend of mine leads teams within a call center located in Malaysia handling calls from the region.  Let me tell you, he dreads calls from Singapore.  Specifically, Singapore.

That statement probably won’t sit too well with the public.  Hence, the hypothesis.

Alternatively I could quote the late American professor Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture and promote the idea of “Don’t complain, just work harder” (somehow there is an unspoken rule saying that whatever you write is less credible than quoting from other people).  And hope that someone listens.  Hope that people realize that they can be much stronger without being consumed by the negative energy of complaining just a tad too much.

Whether it works or not, at least I have done my part.  Share this with someone: don’t complain, just work harder.

On the Photo in This Blog

When I was studying in Hong Kong, I enjoyed studying at the Zoo located just a stone’s throw from my school in the morning and in the afternoon.  The serenity has its charm.  Once in while, animals from one cage would start to – for lack of a better word – make a lot of loud noises and that would trigger animals from another cage to do likewise.  The next cage, and the next.  Soon, there would be a symphony of animals’ calling that I could immerse into.  Suddenly, the zoo seems alive.  Some noises are just music to the my ears.

I took this photo during my trip to Hong Kong last December.  I wish the animals were not caged like those in Singapore Zoo.  Here is a close-up of that photo with high key effect.  If you see some shadow at the foreground, you are not seeing things.  It’s the cage.

A Close-up