31 August 2008

You Char Kway

I like to think that pushcart hawkers give a place its character and charm. Especially so when the intended customers are the locals. I really enjoyed observing this hawker stall selling you char kway preparing its products. So I sought permission to take a few photos and then supported the little business in my own little way. The food was brilliant by the way. :)

30 August 2008

Chendol Melaka

Once you've tried the chendol in Melaka, you wouldn't want to touch other versions. Chendol Melaka sets itself apart with the generous use of gula melaka which is that fragrant brown coconut sugar as well as the thick, undiluted coconut milk. Both ingredients are almost always diluted to the point of mediocrity elsewhere.

Especially for this stall in Jonker Walk, the gula melaka has the consistency of honey. It slowly runs down the little mountain of coconut milk drenched ice as its viscosity resists being absorbed. Best of all, it sticks to the spoon so that its fragrance can be savoured as it is licked off. The result is a little bowl of awesomeness that will leave you knowing you never want to go for chendol knockoffs.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Balls at Chop Chung Wah

The herd mentality is works pretty well in finding good food anywhere, in Asian countries at least. While in Melaka, I spotted an unassuming kopi-tiam that was filled with customers and had people queuing out in the open.

The herd mentality naturally suggests that there is something good there. So I went in for look...

The full house of customers can't be wrong, so I sat down to order what everybody else ordered...

Ok, so I wasn't exactly alone to have ordered 2 chickens. Anyway, I am here to talk about how different and good this chicken rice is from the Singaporean version.

Starting off with the chicken, the texture of the meat was a different firm, juicy and had that natural sweetness only found in free range chickens. There was significantly less fat under the skin too. The sauce drizzled all over the meat gave a nice fragrance of sesame oil to it.

The ping-pong ball-sized rice balls were heavenly. At first bite, it was literally a burst of flavors. There was an extra oomph that was distinctly from the chicken fat that went into the making of the rice. Plus, it was such a joy to eat them, I wish didn't have to limit myself from having one too many.

Overall, this is probably one of the best chicken rice ever.

On a side note, there is another chicken rice balls restaurant chain (with 2 branches) by the name of A'Famosa Chicken Rice Balls (or something like that) that's more atas. Heard they aren't as fantastic as expected according to some who have tried. So don't go for substitutes, go for Chung Wah!

Reflections on the River

These were sort of accidental shots as I forgot to set my white balance back to sunlight.
But the stillness of the water that allowed for the clear reflections was great enough to share.
The colors from the white balance provided an additional spectrum of emotions, I guess.

Seventh Month Offering

Seventh Month Offering

The hotel staff had prepared the offering for the Seventh Month, or Gungry Ghost Festival. It is probably the only other Chinese festival after the Lunar New Year that calls for such a spread of food.

29 August 2008

A Lantern Shop

It was nearing Mid-Autumn Festival, and I was quite impressed and pleasantly surprised by this shop in Melaka that specializes in festive toys and decoration.



The more traditional ones

The more traditional ones

Here are some special mentions of lanterns in the shape of popular cartoon characters.

Hello Kitty, Doraemon, Winnie the Pooh

Hello Kitty, Doraemon, Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh, Doraemon, Hello Kitty

Winnie the Pooh, Doraemon, Hello Kitty

CJ7, Garfield and someone related to Hello Kitty

CJ7, Garfield and someone related to Hello Kitty

Spongebob Squarepants and Ultraman

Spongebob Squarepants and Ultraman

Po the Kung Fu Panda

Po the Kung Fu Panda swears the lanterns are cheap.

Spiderman on Spiderman

Spiderman on Spiderman

Yes, it was a WTF?! moment.

28 August 2008

Acrobatic Getai Performers

It was a WTF?! moment when they came on for Keat Hong's 43rd National Day Variety Show. Glittery and skimpy outfits and dancing are quite the norm for Getais, but acrobatics? Nevertheless, it was rather spectacular and entertaining.

Limau Limau Cafe

Came across this place while roaming the streets towards Jonker Walk in Melaka and took a quick break. It seemed really laidback, especially since I was probably the first customer of the day.

The Shop Front

The Shop Front

The staff went about with the daily chores while I checked out the place, which consisted of two levels. I really liked the upper floor, balcony and all.

The second floor

My favorite bit was probably who well ventilated and how much natural light was allowed in. Cool and warm at the same time.

The second floor

The second floor

I proceeded back to the bar counter and pondered over their menu, which consisted mainly of drinks concocted with fruits, ice and yoghurt.

Colorful clothes pegs at the bar counter

colorful clothes pegs at the bar counter

I finally ordered a dragonfruit lychee smoothie which went down really quickly thanks to dehydration from the sweltering heat outside.

The waitress serving me my dragonfruit lychee smoothie

With my thirst satisfied, I bid the place goodbye and continued on my roamings in Melaka.

27 August 2008

Liyan, The Navy Specialist

Liyan is a friend of mine who is leaving the Navy to pursue her studies in France and she wanted to do a photo shoot with her No. 1 uniform for keepsake.

It isn't exactly common for a girl to be serving in the military, at least in Singapore. So I wanted to try and bring out her feminine nature while also showing the trait of strength and toughness of women serving in the military.

I also wanted to veer away from very stoic shots that I find rather common for formal uniform shoots. Thus, the smiles and intense lighting for an almost glamorized look.

So what do you think? Did the shoot achieve my intentions?

The lighting setup consists of 2 Speedlights (1 x SB-600 and 1 x SB-900) The SB-600 was used mainly to create the edge lighting while the SB-900 is used to illuminate the subject.

25 August 2008

Own Time Own Target

Own Time Own Target

Own Time, Own Target

Served up in 3 segments, Own Time Own Target attempts to follow up on Army Daze with an update of National Service jokes that will have many reminisce their own NS days.

The theatre piece kicked off with Full Tank, in which a tank and its crew break off from the unit and goes on a joyride into town. The outrageous process brought about the characterisation of stereotyped soldiers of our 4 main ethnicities: a jaded Eurasian career soldier, a boot-licking Indian, a Hokkien spewing Chinese and an uncommon Malay in the military service. Gags galore as the crew interacted with the public while they drove their tank through town, realising the cost of refueling a tank, that they have NSF discounts for visits to a nightclub and even having that mandatory encounter with a ladyboy. Meanwhile, the play also takes a dig at the top brass of the military whose expertise lie in delegation of responsibilities and "carrying balls". Neither is a certain Minister in charge of Home Affairs let off in light of a recent escaped detainee, especially since it is almost a common practice in local theatre to poke fun politics wherever possible.

Next, Radio Silence attempts to challenge our military process of grooming leaders. Lieutenant Boon and Driver Charlie were on an exercise which they have little idea of their mission objectives when they got lost. The incompetence of the military leadership systematically surfaces through flashbacks of training sessions where stereotyped instructors provide much comic relief through liberal and ceaseless swearing or hilarious presentations of the topics covered. These snippets seem to suggest the failings in the process of passing on necessary knowledge. The exchanges between the officer and driver effectively brings to light what it takes to be a leader as well as how one needs to earn his subordinate's respect, especially under our military's ethos of training "Thinking Soldiers".

Finally, Botak Boys brings the audience into Pulau Tekong for a musical of every boy's first steps in his initiation into manhood as it charters the happenings from enlistment day to the end of the confinement period. Daily, expletives fill the air as the recruits go about their song and dance retelling their training experiences. Yet, one can't help but to realise the actual focus in this segment is on the discovery of a homosexual among 5 bunkmates and the riproaring song and dance sequences surrounding the issue. It even puts the character in question as a protoganist, almost to convince the audience to accept such occurrences in our military establishment.

Unfortunately, all the scripts hinted heavily of Army Daze with plenty of borrowed jokes and little else to offer. Perhaps the root of the problem lies in the scriptwriters' NS background (or probably the lack of) as some scenarios are beyond realistic. Portrayals of military personnel were also unfair as there is seemingly only humour derived from incompetence. Why can't NS jokes come from the pretext of competency and excellence? Still, much credit goes to the cast for their confident, energetic and over-the-top performances that carried the stories through this 3-and-a-half hour triplebill.

22 August 2008

Self Portrait (sort of)

Self Portrait (sort of)

Self Portrait (sort of)

I took a shot of my shadow as a reminder to myself about the use and exploitation of light and shadows while taking pictures. Good compositions have probably been missed and ruined once too many because of bad lighting, be it low light conditions, poorly positioned strobes and most definitely laziness and lack of thought.

The arrow also reminds that I need to know how to work with lighting so that my level of photography can move up.

21 August 2008

Party Girl

Party Girl

Party Girl

I achieved this effect using a slow-sync flash so that the features can be clear enough with the firing of the flash. The aperture then stayed open long enough to soak up the light from the background so that the blurs give a sense of movement.

It definitely helped that the rest of the frame was generally filled with people wearing dark coloured clothes.

Note to self while using slow sync: need to watch out for the background light and the aperture speed so that light trails will not deface the subjects.

19 August 2008

The Kallang Roar Movie

Don't be fooled by the less than polished marketing, Kallang Roar is a great movie.

Once upon a time in Singapore, football was a passion that united the people. People would congregate at a common TV set or make the pilgrimage to the Kallang Stadium as the Lions take on the Malaysian state teams. Entire blocks would erupt with shouts of jubilation whenever Singapore scored a goal. It was the healthy Singapore-Malaysia rivalry that united the people on this little red dot. It was the golden era of Singapore football.

The Kallang Roar Movie recounts the struggles of "Uncle" Choo Seng Quee, the legendary coach behind Singapore's first Malaysia Cup trophy since 1965. Having made champions of rival countries' teams, "Uncle" Choo returns home in a bid to lift the Malaysia Cup and reignite the people's passion in football after a 12 year losing streak. However, he was flatly denied the chance. Undeterred, he sought to train and groom his own team for Singapore in defiance. It would be a decade later when he finally assumes the position of national coach to lift the prized trophy.

In his first full-length feature film, independent filmmaker Cheng Ding An successfully captured the passion and emotions on and off the pitch. Scenes from the matches were carefully choreographed to replicate the actual footage for authenticity. Even the cast picked for this movie bear very close resemblance to the actual football legends themselves. Best of all was the infectious and electric atmosphere of excitement and euphoria at the stadium will literally have you cheering for the Lions as they played and won the game despite rough playing opponents and biased refereeing.

Beyond the games, it was a glimpse into the ordinary individuals who would become the local heroes and legends that thrilled millions with their feet. Some struggled between living out their passion for the game and fulfilling responsibilities as sons, husbands and fathers. Others tread on love and addictions. Even boardroom politics played a part in moulding Singapore football.

Above all, Kallang Roar is a story of grit, courage and humanity behind our nation's triumph in 1977. It was about how one man's undying patriotism and passion in the beautiful game that captivated and inspired the country. More importantly, it was a life lesson that success is not without patience and sacrifice.

This is probably the best movie about local football ever made and a worthy tribute to Singapore's first sporting heroes.

15 August 2008

Building Cleaners

Building Cleaners

Apparently, this profession pays really well as the abseiling skill set is very technical and specialized. Not to mention the obvious fact that it is a high risk job. But the view up there is unmatched.

14 August 2008

Our National Bird

In case you didn't know about this joke, this is our national bird...


Geddit? Geddit?

13 August 2008

Lines and Perspectives

12 August 2008

The Padang at Night

I was there waiting for the fireworks, but it turned out to be a bad session thanks to the wind that turned the intended fireworks shots into something that might be mistaken as aurora borealis.