Gorges Du Verdon Is Gorgeous

Gorges du Verdon is located in the South of France, around 100 km away from Nice.  For those who wonder what a gorge is (like I do), a gorge is a deep ravine craved out by a river over a long time.  To experience the gorges is best by car.  The scenic route we took on day 9 of our trip got us as close as being next to the river and as high as 250m directly above it.  The scenery is breathtaking.  The road is windy and squeezing out that extra bit of performance from a tiny 1.4 liter rented car can be fun, in a challenging way.

Our holidays often involve a bit of museum crawling, a bit of city touring.  Nature exploration is one of our trip’s highlights and we often plan it to be the last of the itinerary.  So much control is placed upon us and yet the unknown is thrilling.  Road trips like this can be mentally tiring.  I don’t think we can do this on everyday of our holiday.  Then again, we don’t need many.  A few good day trips are good enough for memory’s sake.  Gorges du Verdon is a memorable trip.  So is the time we spent in Corsica, which I will share with you later.

To read more on our day trip to Gorges du Verdon, here are the options.

A Productive Day At St-Tropez, St-Paul-de-Vence, And More

Although I do enjoy writing travel journals, as the chapter draws towards the end, it often gets more tedious.  Historically, Cynthia and I become more productive towards the end of a holiday.  Perhaps we are more used to the holiday rhythm.  Or perhaps since we often cover the cultural aspect of the trip before the scenic aspect, I end up having more photos to work on in the later part of the journey.  I do not make a lot of micro adjustments to the photos, mainly to apply digital filters if necessary.  White balancing is taken care of by the grey card we use in almost every composition, fortunately.  The most time consuming activity is the addition of captions to each and every photo that I have selected for the album of the day.  I have to cross reference my notes with the printed materials I have as well as the information available online.  Also, as the days go by, the camera sensor and lens begin to get dirtier.  And it takes time to zoom into each and every photo and to comb through the image (the sky especially) and remove those spots.  Not that I am complaining.  The end result is worth it, to the two of us that is.

Day 8, we have visited St-Tropez, a town by the sea.  Ramatuelle. an ancient town with strange life size figures everywhere (see photo above).  Cannes, another town by the sea and no, we did not manage to meet any celebrity.  And St-Paul-de-Vence, another ancient town that has a very special personal memory: Never ever try to drive into an ancient town again.

As always, below are the options to read more.

On Day 6 and 7, We Have Visited Nice and Monaco

With a blink of an eye one month has passed since I have written an article for our recent trip to France.  So much have happened in the last one month.  We have visited Hong Kong.  There has been a good lineup of blogger events.  Our Spanish class has moved up one level.  My reading passion has been reignited.  And of course, away from home for a week makes me miss my video gaming hobby even more.  Catching up on the TV recording of How I Met You Mother takes up time too.

This weekend is a bizarre weekend.  I had this strange flu like the one I had in Hong Kong.  It got quite bad and I reckon it was due to my sensitive nose.  It disappeared as silently as it arrived.  Cynthia blamed it to the evening we had spent in Kazbar.  We seldom have a Friday date, just the two of us.  We often spend time with our friends or stay at home.  Since she worked late, I took the golden opportunity to sip beer in a pub, read a book while waiting.  We ordered some Mediterranean food when Cynthia arrived.  I love the candle light dinner with the belly dancer occasionally came out and danced in front of the crowd.  I admired the sensational dancer while she fixed her attention to Cynthia.  I think that is a win-win-win situation if you think deeper, logically deeper.  Saturday morning we had a breakfast date with my niece Bethany at the Botanic Gardens.  It was her 9-month birthday (I can always trust my beloved little sister to come out with all kinds of reasons for celebration).  I was so excited that I woke up an hour before the alarm rang.  The breakfast was great except I was quite concerned on the number of dogs around us.  Some were so huge!  If I was a baby, I would have freaked out.  But not little Bethany.  She wanted to hug one.

If you think that watching F1 on TV is boring, try staring at the TV for two hours waiting for the rain to stop.  It was raining in Japan and the one hour F1 qualifying session on Saturday was delayed for two hours and then canceled.  In the evening, like every other evening these days, I teamed up with my buddy to play Starcraft II.  We love the game and we are visibly getting better at it.  On the topic of video gaming, I am being selected to participate in a closed beta testing for a racing game Test Drive Unlimited 2.  Unlike the last closed beta testing I did, there is only a window of time whereby testers from all around the world can participate.  Naturally, like any global conference calls, it takes place in some wee hours.  But I am not complaining.  It has been a fun experience so far.

Back to the travel journal, we have moved onto the second leg of our journey and into the south of France we went.  There are so much to see, so many places to visit.  Interestingly, Cynthia booked us into a rented apartment in Nice.  The pros?  We had lots of space and could do our laundry.  The cons?  We had to do one round housecleaning before returning the keys.  And that, you can read more in various ways:

Lamma Island, Hong Kong – A Short Trek Between The Villages Of Yung Shue Wan And Sok Kwu Wan

This post is dedicated to my buddy Alex in Hong Kong for making our short trip so much more colorful.  Thank you buddy!  We shall arrange a trip to visit Macau some time in the not so far future, preferably one that coincides with a concert of a superstar (read: Ayumi Hamasaki).

We have visited Lamma Island in the winter of 2006.  Now that I have a relatively better, bigger, and heavier camera, I was eager to visit Lamma Island again.  So much have happened in these four years.  My sister is now in Singapore, married, and having a beautiful daughter.  If she was with us in our recent trip to Hong Kong, I reckon I would not end up trekking alone.  But it was a warm day and the walk from one village to another seemed daunting.  So, my mother and Cynthia have decided to stay put at Yung Shue Wan while the hero of this story – armed with a heavy camera and some Hong Kong dollars – continued his journey to Sok Kwu Wan.

Lamma Island, in contrary to my initial impression, is not tiny.  There are two ferry stations that connect Lamma Island with Central at Hong Kong Island.  One is at Yung Shue Wan – where we landed.  And another one is at Sok Kwu Wan – where I intended to go.  The walk between these two villages take 1 hour and 10 minutes, so said the signpost.  That is brisk walking I reckon.  Towards the end of the two and a half hours hike, I was jogging only stopped to take photos.  I would not want to miss the 5.35 pm ferry and spend another 90 minutes or so waiting for the next one.

Lamma Island is beautiful.  I took a detour, hiked up the hill, and visited a wind power station that has a lone wind turbine.  The mechanical sound of a wind turbine is hard to describe and has to be experienced.  What a strange noise in an otherwise serene environment, one of the last frontiers against modernization.  I have visited Hung Shing Yeh beach too, beautiful babes in bikinis.  If I had more time, I would love to visit other parts of the island.  To read more about my adventure, I have prepared a set of photos for sharing.

  • Click here to view the 39 photos that come with captions.
  • A quick look at a selected set of photos below.

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!


  • 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.

Day 5 To Versailles And The French Were On Strike

I can understand the philosophy behind the action of the unions calling upon the workers to go on strike as a form of protest against certain unfavorable policies.  This time, it was something to do with the pension fund policy in France.  On one hand, I am pleased to see workers coming together to achieve a common goal.  It is a rare scene from where I come from.  On the other hand, it sucks when we as tourists have to bear with the inconvenience and uncertainty in a place that does not communicate in English.  Every moment, there may be a surprise on where the train is heading, where the train is not heading, which station it does or does not stop.  Through chitchatting with the locals, we learned that a strike or better known as industrial action or social movement is well planned in advance.  And it is usually set in stages.  Every morning during the strike period, the unions get together and vote to decide if the strike should be intensified to the next stage.  Or if their objectives have been achieved, the unions may call off the strike – for now.  The beauty of it all is, no one knows what tomorrow would bring.

Although the train service was shutdown to the minimal, we stuck to our plan and visited Versailles that is about 25 km away from Paris.  To read more, there are:

Sacre-Coeur And Montmartre, Pompidou Centre And Eiffel Tower

I am not a big fan of Eiffel Tower.  But when we visited France, I had one mission in mind: To take a photograph of Eiffel Tower that is seldom seen before.  I think I have somewhat achieved that.  There is some deeper connotation with regards to how this photo is composed.  But I shall leave it to open interpretation.

Day 4 and the weather got warmer and warmer, more like a summer holiday.  It did take some time for Cynthia and I to recuperate from the jet lag, change in weather, and slip into a more productive mode of being a tourist.  In the morning, we have visited the Sacre-Coeur or Sacred Heart Basilica.  It is hard to miss this basilica when you look at the landscape of Paris.  It is white in color and is located on top of a hilly area called Montmartre.  We had spent a good number of hours under the sun admiring the monuments.  And we had spent a good number of hours inside the museums.  By the time evening arrived, we had a delicious dinner at a Corsica restaurant.  Likely to be one of the best meal we had in Paris.

To read more about our 4th day in Paris, here are the options.

Day 3 And We Went Up The Towers Of Notre-Dame

Finally, the blue sky appeared on the third day of our holiday.  We switched from museum crawling to monument crawling.  If I am to pick one place in Paris I love to hang out the most, that has to be the two islands – Ile de la Cité and Ile St-Louis – in the center of the city.  These two islands are so tiny but yet, to me, they are the focal point of the numerous momuments in Paris.  That is why when you climb the 387 steps and stand on the top of the south tower of Notre-Dame, you can see Sainte-Chapelle, Hôtel-Dieu, Palais de Justic, Arc de Triomphe, echoed by Grande Arche de La Défense to the west.  Saint-Jacques Tower and Sacré-Cœur rise up over Montmartre to the north.  To the east, the Bibliothèque Nationale and to the south, the Latin district and turning westwards, Les Invalides.

To read more about the third day of our trip, here are the options.

First Two Days In Paris Was Colder Than We’d Anticipated

Time flies.  If I don’t get started documenting our travel journal, year 2011 may hit me before I know it.  June this year, we have visited France.  Like our trip to Spain last year, I am going to publish an article every weekend, until I run out of materials.

I am familiar with Paris.  When I was studying in UK, I spent my summer holidays staying with my relatives in Paris, helping them with their work and in my free time, I wandered the streets of Paris.  I have worked in Paris too.  And I have always wanted to bring Cynthia to Paris and show her the city inside out.  10 years we have been married, it seems like a destination long overdued.

Late June, we would have thought the weather was going to be sunny and warm.  We landed in Paris on a cold, cold morning of 9 degree Celsius.  Time to jiggle our plan a little bit and improvise.  Below are the options to read more about our first two days of the trip.

Here is a quick peep at a highlight of our photos.

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!).