On Lora’s Birthday Bethany And I

Lora is my sister.  Bethany is my niece.  On Lora’s birthday Bethany and I built sand castles at Palawan Beach, Sentosa.  After that joyful afternoon, it took me two days to recover from my muscle strain.  Oh little Bethany.  How you have worn me out.  But that was worth it.  Because  she seems to be friendlier towards me after I have spent some quality and quantity time playing with her.  Her mom was munching under the shade most of the time.  My wife Cynthia too was munching and has elected to supervise the end-to-end process instead.  Her daddy’s job was to fetch sea water.  As for me, I was the designated photographer and the co-sand castle builder.

So the plan was to meet at 10am.  The night before we went to sleep, Cynthia asked if we needed to set the alarm clock.  I casually and confidently waved her thought away and said, “How is it possible not to wake up by nine?”  At 9.50am, Cynthia woke me up from my beauty sleep and we both screamed at the clock.

A few days ago, my sister has this sudden urge wanting to build sand castles by the beach.  Jolly well.  I love the sand and the beach.  It was a warm day.  The afternoon sun was rather punishing.  Fortunately there are shades everywhere in this resort island of Singapore.  I often think that Bethany – like my sister – is a more indoor sort of person who prefers air-conditioning to tomar el sol.  I was quite surprised that Bethany could be pretty active in the outdoor.  Her determination to build sand castles was admirable.  Except, no matter how hard we tried to show her, she used dry sand instead of wet sand.  That did not work out.  Halfway, she gave up and played with sea water instead.

I cannot fathom why she deliberately avoided the wet sand.  Maybe she prefers the lighter color to the darker one.  I do not know.  I tried to teach her to add water to the dry sand inside the cup.  But she tended to pour in too much sea water so much so that the sand turned mud got stuck inside the cup.  What should I do?  Instinctively, squatting next to her, I took the larger bucket and started to fill it up with wet sand.  Bethany followed what I did and fill it up with her personal preference: dry sand.  I mixed our sand as we worked our way and fill the bucket to its rim.  Before I flipped the bucket, I would ask Bethany where she wanted it to be placed.  She would pinpoint a precise spot and we would do the count together, looking into each other’s eyes and said …

1 – 2 – 3 … Wow!

OK.  I have to admit.  It was fun.  It went on and on and had I not stopped, the Great Wall of Sentosa would extend all the way from the tree that shaded us to the shore, which must have been fifty to a hundred meters away.

Normally I bring my 24-70mm f/2.4 lens for a general purpose photography session like this one.  That day, I brought my 70-200mm f/2.4 telephoto zoom lens instead.  I love my zoom lens.  It produces a nice bokeh.  And it collects less background distraction.  No distortion to the faces at 90mm and above.  The only drawback is that it is heavy and it requires quite a distance between my subjects and I.  In an open space like Palawan Beach, the latter is a non-issue.  It has only become an issue when Bethany got friendlier with me and started to get nearer to the camera.  That was when I had to jump backward in order to take a photograph.  All in all, no regret in bringing along my zoom lens.  My intend was to be able to take pictures of Bethany without getting too close and become intimidating.  Objective achieved.

In the past, I host my photographs within my website.  But time has changed.  I am more involved with Google+ these days.  So I am giving it a try and have uploaded the photographs there instead.  I am not sure how this will affect the non-Google+ users.  I hope it doesn’t.  Do let me know your feedback in the comments below.  I would love to hear.

  • Click here to view the photo album (29 photographs)

I am delighted to have found a new way to bond with my niece.  Sand and sun at Sentosa is very doable.  Next time, I may wish to bring my chilled picnic box and stock it up with ice cold Apple Cider.  That would be an ideal way to spend a Sunday.

The Gemini At Home Is One Year Wiser

Traditionally, Cynthia and I take leave on our own birthdays.  This year, we take leave on each other’s birthday as well.  I mean, who would want to face the ever exciting work items and hyper friendly colleagues on our birthdays?  This year, my wife chose to spend her birthday in Sentosa, with the family.  Her mother from Indonesia happens to be in town.  As always, I am the designated transporter and photographer.  And I tugged along for the adventure.

Over the years, Sentosa has changed quite a fair bit.  There is a new casino, or rather integrated resort and there are so many more tourist attractions these days.  The Sentosa I remember of has a musical fountain, a pier, a Merlion statue, a beach, and an Underwater World.  Today, I don’t even know half of the attractions in the island.  The tram service that runs along the southern coast of the island seems to have received an upgrade too.  It now looks more like a long bus.  As an avid F1 fan, I was eager to try the gravity powered go kart.  Then I divide the ticket price with the game duration.  I think I would rather have some Chinese dumplings for lunch, which we did.

Maybe my gigantic camera appears to be intimidating.  Or maybe my mother-in-law is not used to being photographed.  Capturing her smile requires patience.  At times, patience pays off.