Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Accidental tourist - Singapore from the sky: The Singapore Flyer

I have been on the Singapore Flyer several times....yes, I know it is a tourist thing but hey! Where else can one view the Singapore city skyline?

It is definitely not a cheap expedition because it costs approximately S$1 for every minute you are on the ride….but the other 2 occasions was subsidized fares (due to company sponsored trips) so this is my 1st real full-fare ride…

Having gone on for both the day and night rides, I will definitely take the night ride anytime! Here are the reasons why…

  1. There are basically 2 sections when you are in your little capsule going round the giant wheel– the sea section and the land section. Small trivia: originally, the spinning of the wheel starts from the land view and ends with the sea view. In 2008, for feng shui reasons, the turning changed to start from the sea view section and ending with the land view section. For more information about this trivia, hop over to http://www.singaporeflyer.com/en/media-releases/singapore-flyer-flying-high-with-feng-shui.html
  2. Personally, I think you can get a nicer city skyline at night. This is especially if there is construction going on (which in Singapore’s case, it is almost an everyday affair). In the day, it is just boring construction sites but in the night, even the lights surrounding the construction site make the area more "fairy like".
  3. If you are up there anytime during the day (worst time is high noon), it can get quite hot inside the capsule even though it is air-conditioned. Personally, being a pampered soul, I prefer a cool environment than a heated up capsule.
  4. From the sea-view section, twinkling lights on the ships look great to me…

There a many places that you can see whilst riding on the Flyer – the official website has a great summary: http://www.singaporeflyer.com/en/visitor-guide/views-from-the-top.html

My expedition is to try to capture Singapore skyline @ night whilst on the Flyer – unfortunately for me, there will be some challenges:

  1. night scene – I am at best a struggling amateur on DLSR so this is going to be tricky
  2. no tripod – I did my preparations but frankly, it turned out not enough as I forgot the catch that is needed to place the camera on the tripod
  3. since I will be in the capsule that moves ever so slowly, I will basically be in-motion AND trying to take night shots. *sigh*

Here’s my 3 best efforts of the Singapore skyline from the Singapore Flyer:

Skyline @ Night

Skyline @ Night.2

Skyline & Singapore Flyer Capsule - *sigh* the irritating blue/ white lights of capsule

Onto the world and beyond!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Accidental tourist - Vesak Day celebrations in Singapore

For Vesak Day, I took a leap of faith and went to places I never ventured before….together with my friends, we stepped into Chinese temples and I saw a world that's totally alien to me even though it's in my backyard (literally at times). To a certain extent,I was a "fish out of water" as I didn’t know whether the temple devotees will object to my presence holding a camera and taking photos of the religious activities during this special day for them...

In the night before the Vesak holidays, I hopped down to Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (better known to me as “Bright Hill Temple”), one of the largest temples in Singapore and best known for it’s “3 steps 1 bow” ceremony held only during Vesak Day. I am challenged in using my DSLR for the 1st time at night but I do need to “practice, practice, practice”.

The temple’s website showed many many places I didn’t manage to go in my short 2-hours there but here are some photos.

Photo of one of the temple towers in bright lights

Photo of 3-steps-1-bow ceremony

(out of focus) Photo of a man praying before Buddha

On Vesak Day itself, I went down to the other side of Little India at a temple called Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple” or “Temple of 1000 lights”. This is an earmarked historic site by Singapore National Heritage Board. It’s a Thai-Buddhist temple with a 15m Buddha. Again, I have never been anywhere near here all my life (this is becoming a “story of my life” statement) so we decided to drop by there….3 photos showing what we saw:

Photo of 15m Buddha surrounded by hundreds of lights

Photo of worshippers putting down incense sticks outside temple

Photo of devotees placing gold-leaf on statute of Buddha

Of course, I did the thing that most people will do in such places, I did my gold leaf placement and wish for good luck and health as well!!

Opposite this Temple of 1000 lights was another temple called “Leong San Buddhist Temple” or “Dragon Mountain Temple. Unfortunately, I couldn’t capture any nice photos of this place. I totally blame this on my limits as a photographer as it was definitely a shame since as the temple has some lovely sculptures on its roof….

But there was a dragon dance troupe that came by while I was at the location so I will be showing some shots of the dragon & lion dances instead:

Photo of dragon head coming out of temple – it is a bit orange

Photos of the dragon dance troupe hard at work

Photo of the pink lion that followed after the dragon dance

Next was a MRT train ride down to Chinatown for a trip to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Its website is quite impressive so do hop over if you have some time: http://www.btrts.org.sg/. Again 1st time venture in there even though I heard much about the huge complex of some 4-5 floors with a roof top garden coupled with the largest cloisonné Buddha Prayer Wheel in the world. It houses a museum together with a shopping gallery cum library within its premises. During Vesak Day, the priceless tooth relic is displayed for veneration. Here goes the photos:

Photo of the front entrance

Photo of the countless candle tea-lights (again only during Vesak Day)

Photo of girl tying on prayer knot by monk

Personally, I feel that I do not do much justice to this gorgeous place with my 3 photos cos it’s quite beautiful in that place and pretty impressive.

Anyway, till the next time...Onto the unknown and beyond.....

Accidental tourist - Little India

1st expedition was to go to Singapore's very own Little India. Guess it is one of the “weird things” that we have in Singapore, enclaves of our many and diverse ethnic groups. Little India is where all people of Indian descent gather together especially during festive Deepavali celebrations. Similarly, the Malay communities descend on Arab Street and Geylang areas during the fasting month of Ramadan (well, that’s another blog entry for another day…). People of Chinese descent go down Chinatown during Chinese New Year time….

Anyway, coming back to my Little India assignment…even though I am a local Chinese Singaporean, I love going there...largely because I can’t find great Indian cuisine anywhere else! My mission this time however was to find photos that represents this place….in my mind, temples, temples and more temples….BTW the photos are taken using my autofocus camera (Olympus UTough) not my DSLR.

Photo of the temple dome

Photo of a nice lady in red sitting down at the temple

(out of focus) Photo of a man beating the drum during the evening pooja

Onto the unknown & beyond!

Accidental tourist in Singapore...Intro

This is a write-up of me being an accidental tourist in the place I grew up in: Singapore. This came about as I was fiddling with my newly purchased DSLR (Nikon D90) and hoping to find interesting topics to photograph in the little island that I call home.

Will be restricting my photo assignments to the various spots in Singapore & (hopefully) finding 3 photos that says the following:
1. an establishing shot (overall picture photo)
2. medium shot (preferably one that leads up to a story)
3. a final close-up shot (for a conclusion to the location)

At every location, I will like take tons of photos but will eventually be restricting myself to show 3 photos for each location. I am still an amateur in using photography to express my feelings so please forgive me for out-of-focus shots.

Onto the unknown & beyond!