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#45

October 6, 2010
I started on my “Things that make me happy” photo project earlier this year, with the goal not only to list, but also to capture with my lens, a hundred things that make me happy.

I thought why not tackle two of my life list items (the other being to “Take more (and better) photos on my DSLR”) at once.

So, here I am at #45.

Unfortunately, I feel like I have stalled a little bit – both creatively and emotionally.

Seems it is much easier to pinpoint things that make me unhappy rather than happy these days.

I need to (as the new F&N Seasons ad exhorts) drink in some positivity!

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Staycation

September 20, 2010

The boyfriend and I celebrated turning six years as a couple with an overnight – or as they say nowadays, a “staycation” – at Marina Bay Sands. I love how they coined a neologism for that. So it’s a little corny, but manages to perfectly encompass the previously cumbersome “overnight stay at a hotel in Singapore” or “vacation without leaving the country” in three syllables.

We were pleasantly surprised to have been upgraded to their Orchid Suite. Ok, that is an understatement; I think that one move made our stay. (I actually had the opportunity to return for a site visit to the rooms and a couple of junior suites some time after our stay, and I still think the one we stayed in was much nicer.)

It is amazing how a little luxury, in a relatively large space, overlooking the sea (and a construction site), can make one feel invincible. If only for a few hours, we were living the high life : in-room dining, lounging by the infinity pool on the 57th floor, eating celebrity chef teppanyaki and window-shopping at designer boutiques. Like Audrey Tatou in Priceless. Especially when there were 70-carat rings retailing for $29 million a pop in one of the shops downstairs… no kidding!

Unfortunately, that feeling lingered when we found ourselves in a mall more within our price range the next day – The boyfriend ended up with a spanking new set of golf clubs, and I with a new handbag and some jewellery.

I really like Marina Bay Sands, architecturally, even if it was crawling with gawking Singaporeans.

Sea-view is overrated though; the next time, I’d choose to face the bay instead of the sea. Located on the other side of the bay, the Sands has an incredible sweeping view of the Singapore skyline – I think the best in the whole of Singapore!

Of course, the infinity pool at the Skypark was one of the highlights.

Ku De Ta wasn’t open yet (it was open for a private party though), so we shopped around for a restaurant to have dinner at. We managed to squeeze ourselves in at Hide Yamamoto for teppanyaki even though they were fully reserved on a Friday night.

The breakfast table was so lovely in the morning light streaming into the room. I couldn’t resist taking plenty of photos, while my bacon and eggs lay getting cold on the platter.

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Pig is at Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, Singapore

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Wanderlust

September 10, 2010

Less than three weeks to our short getaway to Bali for J’s wedding, but I’m once again having itchy feet.

It’s my fault, really, surfing airline sites for their year-end airfare deals is like a buffet spread for someone on a diet.

I feel like going somewhere that is familiar and hassle-free; like to Osaka for ramen, or to Perth for Margaret River wine.

But, is it really bad that I have only been in this new company for less than six months (I think it’s closer to four), and I have already taken more than 15 days’ vacation leave?

Not to mention I must consider the impact of my leave plans for 2011: Greece with the girl friends, the couples’ getaway with the married peeps to Hokkaido, photog trip to India and visiting the boyfriend’s brother in Canberra.

Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t have people judging me for all the time I’d be away from the office. I don’t know how D does it, jetting off to somewhere spectacular every other month (or more).

P/S : And, whatever happened to the promise I made to the boyfriend that I wouldn’t travel anywhere for five years after our exorbitant trip this summer? :p

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Inspiration Part IV

September 7, 2010

This morning, I got a happy dose of Mandy Lynne’s “I believe in Pink” series.

I just had to share.

What a lovely way to start a Tuesday!

Visit Mandy Lynne’s blog to see her beautiful work in full.

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Photoshoot : A little taste of Malaysia

August 22, 2010

The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station has been a subject of contention between Singapore and Malaysia for many years – the Malaysian-owned station and its tracks lie on prime land running right through to our city centre and, as expected, has been a thorn in the side of the Singaporean government.

Now that an agreement has finally been reached to move the railway, the photo buddies and I decided that a field trip to capture the essence of the place was in order.

The station – a remnant of our past as a part of Malaysia – is a surreal place that seems to be lost in time (and locality) amid the towering skyscrapers and spanking new facades of Singapore’s central business district. Just a hop, skip and jump from the city, Singaporeans can step onto Malaysian soil for a little taste of Malaysia without ever having to leave our sunny island. Quite literally too, for who can resist a Ramly Burger while there?

The building will surely be conserved after it ceases operations in July 2011. It will probably be more beautiful than it has ever been and may well become the next swanky hot spot in town (I have faith in the Singaporean government when it comes to things like this), but the genuine flavour we can still get there today will soon be forgotten.

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A lil’ something for bicycles

August 15, 2010

When I am out and about with my camera, I often find myself attracted to bicycles as subjects. I think, perhaps, it is because they hark back to simpler times and I am a sucker for nostalgia.

I first learnt to ride a two-wheel bicycle when I was three (I don’t know why some people find that hard to believe), and for a long time, it was my preferred mode for canvassing the neighbourhood or going to the nearby grocery store.

Unfortunately, I have not been on one for more than ten years, and although they say you never forget how to ride a bike, my love affair with the humble bicycle has waned.

Singapore is not a very conducive place for cycling for many reasons. I was very happy to hear, however, that they are intending to build more cycling paths soon. I have been an advocate of this since returning from Munich in 2004, where dedicated cycling paths run through the entire city. Given the size of our country, if cycling were made safe and convenient (our horrid weather not withstanding), it would seriously be a practical – and green – alternative means of transportation.

That said, while bicycles make good subjects in my mind’s eye, they are really more difficult to photograph than one might think. Having shot many disappointing photos of bicycles during my walkabouts, I finally made a picture that I am rather pleased with.

This picture was shot at the back lane of the soon-to-be defunct Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. And is it just me, or does it look interesting however you process it?

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Adventures in the Land of the Midnight Sun – The Final Chapter

August 14, 2010

4 July 2010 The Best of Svalbard

“Strange. There is always a sadness on departure. It is as if one cannot after all bear to leave this bleak waste of ice, glaciers, cold and toil.”

– Fridtjof Nansen, 1912

What a trip! The last three days really picked up the pace; I didn’t have any time to write, so I’m cramming it in while waiting to board the plane at Longyearbyen airport.

14 polar bears, I believe, was our last count. Not to mention countless exciting wildlife encounters and just being immersed in the immense beauty (each day a little different from the next) of the Arctic Svalbard.

I’m hard-pressed to find just five images that really encapsulate the experience for me, but I hope these come close:

Cruising the Ice

Jagged peaks

Curious Walrus

Whale Karma

Bear

And in true spirit of the expedition, just as we thought the trip was winding down after all the formal farewells on the last night, came one of the most magical experiences of a lifetime. It was past 11pm when, as we stood on the forward-looking decks under the midnight sun, white-beaked dolphins danced for us by the ship’s bow and a magnificent blue whale – the largest living mammal on the face of the earth and exceedingly rare – surfaced just a few feet from us.

An apt tribute to an absolutely amazing vacation.

Here’s the final list of wildlife sightings:

  • Polar bears
  • Blue whale
  • Fin whale
  • Sei whale
  • Minke whale
  • Beluga whale
  • White-beaked dolphin
  • Walrus
  • Reindeer
  • Ringed seal
  • Bearded seal
  • Puffins, and a bunch of other sea birds

Unbelievable!

All praise for the staff and crew of the National Geographic Explorer on Lindblad Expedition’s “Land of the Ice Bears” voyage from 27 June to 4 July 2010, especially our excellent expedition leader Tim Soper and the awesome team of Naturalists and Photographers. I’m also grateful to Chris Harter from AdventureSmith Explorations who helped us put it together – Chris really went out of his way for these somewhat troublesome and suaku travellers from the tropics. (To those who are interested, I would be happy to put you in touch with him).

Next dream vacation the boyfriend and I are working towards : a 24-day voyage to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands on the Explorer by 2020.

For now, it’s goodbye to the polar wilderness that has so drawn us in over this short visit. Indeed, there is a strange sadness about it. And an even stranger longing to return.

Edit >> All photos are up on my Flickr site : Arctic Svalbard 2010

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Pig is at Longyearbyen airport, Svalbard. 78 degrees, 13 mins north, apparently.

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