Thursday, November 27, 2008

World Heritage - Malacca

Being recognized as world heritage (Penang and Malacca) is definitely a good news to Malaysian. Congratulation! This means an influx of foreign tourist, booming the tourism to maximum. Malacca has indeed full of its own charms. This place is the birthplace of Sultan system in Malaysia as well as many tradition and culture. Baba and Nyonya are legendary while Hang Li Po story gives you endless imagination. Let's hope Malacca flourishes with more colour of history....
This building is absolutely an eye candy for photographer.
Unique and colourful trishaws add spices to Malacca culture.

Stunning statue to guard the church.

Typical protocol and counsel arrangement with Sultan.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pearl of West Coast - Langkawi Island

It has been more than ten years I set foot in Langkawi. Back there, I still vaguely remember I and several schoolmates started from Ipoh bus station. Only after a long bus journey, we reached Kedah harbour which was full of rats, then it took us many ferry hours to arrive Langkawi harbour. Now, just after an hour flight and you are heading the way to your hotel from Langkawi airport. Langkawi’s development really amazed me - wide roads with many traffic lights. The most shocking one was the Makam Mahsuri, which transformed from a tiny graveyard within my reaching hand to a big guarded graveyard, with video story-telling auditorium!

The residents where Mahsuri family were resided, tourist junk probably.

Makam Mahsuri. Apparently, according to the guide, many people came to consult for lottery tips.

Laman Padi, providing you an experience of agricultural activities.

In this recent trip, I visited two places which impressed me so much. The first place was so-called Laman Padi, where you could get acquainted to all the agricultural activities. It was nicely set up, one of the paradise for photographer. The second place was The Bon Ton Resort. It was a famous honeymoon resort, ranging from RM 900 onwards for a night stay. We had a gourmet dinner at its sunset deck. The Nyonya food was delicious while the sunset view was more than breathtaking. I ranked it the best sunset after the Santorini sunset in my travel log. Frenzily and losing my mind, my Canon 40D was virtually clicking non-stop for half an hour. The view was a simple pond, floating with many little bright white flowers as if they were shinning under the amazing hue of sunset. The background was a natural artistic tree to perfect the view. All in all, it was spechlessly scenic! My picture could hardly justify my description.

The breathtaking sunset view from Bon Ton sunset deck.

The Bon Ton Resort, a famous honeymoon resort owned by a foreigner.

Will I revisit Langkawi? Absolutely, I still have not tried the cable car and diving there. Anyone is visiting there, book me in please…

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Cleaner Shrimps Spawned!!!

Look carefully, the microscopic juvenile shrimps 'snowed' in my aquarium.

It had been 2 months since I established my nano marine aquarium. A lot of busy incidents happened inside, of course. First, my bully damsel killed most of my bottom feeder fish. Then, it started to annoy my clown fish and someday later, the pair of clown fish could not take anymore and went to netherland too. It finally hit my boundary when it attacked my favourite fire goby (the cutie fish in the picture, until it hopped out from the aquarium. Furiously, I isolated the damsel and the residents in my aquarium now are only a fire goby and a pair of cleaner shrimps. I expected to loose my fire goby as I noticed that it bleeded after falling to the floor. In fact, it survived the ordeal and getting more active and happier ever since! Miracle did happen sometimes.

With the bully damsel gone, the shrimps practically felt more safe. They devoured anything I dropped in. Sometimes, they even swam upside down to catch the floating pellets! I suspected that the lady shrimp had eggs under her belly. It proved me right last night when I found that my aquarium was 'snowing romantically'. The shrimp spawned! Not eggs but juvenile microscopic shrimps! It was an interesting sighting. The happiest one should be my goby, first time ever tasted live food in aquarium. This morning, all of the baby shrimps were gone, which I have expected to be eaten or being sucked by into the filter. Nevermind, at least the shrimps are happy with their lifes and I am not a bad fish keeper afterall.... Make more babies please....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Whale Shark Smiles at Tenggol Island

The blog title speaks all - a memorable dive in Tenggol Island, close encounter with a juvenile whale shark at Tokong Timur. To feed you the details, carry on reading then…. All of the photos were captured by my fellow divers as I did not rent or bring any camera this time.

Happy divers who spotted Whale Shark at Tenggol Island!

Long journey of driving, stranded boat due to spoiled engine, cumbersome gear up etc. etc. are some of the nightmares that drive diver to the wall. Though we experienced all of these mishaps during the trip, everyone was still going home with a big smile. New friendship + good dive guide + luckiest sighting + positive attitude counterbalanced all of the unlucky events. In fact, I think this is the luckiest dive trip I ever had so far since I am still in one piece after the driving journey. Well, my fellow divers will understand what I am referring to…

Yeah, I was not to be lost thanks to the striking red wetsuit.

Tenggol Island is exclusive for divers. It does not have a breathtaking beachview nor spectacular chalet, nor tempting food, nor bikini girls. What you can do is just dive, dive and dive. I logged 6 dives in two days (5 day dives and 1 night dive) but I could only recollect 3 dives (Tokong Timur, Lost World and House Wreck at Night).

Tokong Timur
This dive site is located at the southern tip. This was the first morning dive of the 2nd day, after a torrential rain at night. Visibility was simply superb. Backrolled into the clear ocean, we were greeted by schoaling ‘DIGI’ fish, i.e. all sorts of yellowish fish such as yellow stripe snapper, yellow fusiliers etc. The sheer number of the yellow species alone would make this dive unique. I could never imagine fusiliers could grow to such an extensive size! Along the dive, I also spotted my favourite schoaling barracudas.

At the turn of the boulder, we spotted the idol of all divers – Whale Shark. I believe I was the first person who spotted the whale shark after Charlie frantically bang his tank. The moment was just sensational. First, its head emerging from far away, then its full length body appeared, with many remora fish sticking under its belly, swimming alongside was a lone king fish. If I started finning upwards, I believe I could reach the whale shark and block its direction. Too afraid to scare it away, I just watched motionless. I had a delusion that the king fish peeped at me with a despicable expression, laughing snobbishly at my fans-met-idol silliness. The whale shark had not fully grown yet, about 4 meters plus. It passed by and almost wanted to turn back to check on us, but later with a flip of tail, it vanished into the blue. Oops, forgot to mention that most of the photographers missed the sighting and, therefore, no photo to prove.

Giant puffer cleaned by a wrasse at cleaning station.

Lost World
The coralscape was something to keep you amazed. Boulders were standing tall and high, lots of bright colour seafans with transparent shrimps and fries as their residence. I spotted some monstrous-size angels, such as bluering and six-banded. I am always an angelfish fan, no matter how frequent I spot them, I will still get excited. The six-banded angels were the largest angels I had ever encountered.

Healthy table corals scattering everywhere.

House Wreck (Night Dive)
I was almost doomed by this dive. First, tangled regulator which made me difficult to grab my first stage while descending. Second, bloody virgin torch light died beneath 20 m. Third, buoyant tank and current which keep pushing me upwards. Definitely struggling not to loose my buddy. To compensate the mishaps, plenty of night creatures to spot – cuttlefish with bioluminescent signals, big banded shrimps, crocodile fish, decorator crab, puffer etc.

Banded shrimp inside the wreck.

Turtle Point, Mini Highway, Tanjung Gemuk
These were the blur dives for me. Right after descending of one dive, we saw a grouper being trapped in tangled robes. Charlie, our dive guide, rescued it by cutting off the robe mess.

Poor grouper trapped within the robes

Turtle Points - checkout dive and spotted a schoal of juvenile barracudas, batfish, giant bumphead, giant puffer at clean station.
Mini Highway - there was a sandy bottom where shrimp gobies were abundant. Also, spotted the red Spanish dancer resting on the bottom.
Tanjung Gemuk - the last dive of the trip. The visibility was crappy, strong and many thermoclines, loud clicking sound made by coral during feeding (told by Charlie).

To sum out the dives, Tenggol Island was incredible. I definitely see myself revisit it again someday sometime. Until then, take care my dearest whale sharky….

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

City of God – Rio de Janeiro, Aug 2008

I was very fortunate to have a business trip to Brazil. Talking about works, I was nervous as I had to meet some of the international top researchers in this industry while I was a total newcomer. Well, finger cross, the meeting turned out to be quite OK. Let’s skip the work part and chat about Rio de Janeiro. The flight was excruciatingly long but the thought of virgin exploration to South America continent made any hassle worth. Brazil is a nation with legendary legacy in samba, football, capoeira (martial art that two people kicking without touching), carnival, racial diversity etc. I just could not wait to reveal the curtain of this country with my own eyes. My total flight time was about 25 hours, with a transit in Paris. The Brazilian timing is 13 hours behind Malaysian timing. The official language is Portuguese, yup, not Spanish.

Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro from the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain.

The hotel I was staying had the nicest location, in front of the Ipanema beach. It was a posh and classical beach. Brazilian are health freak by the way, I had stop counting people jogging along the beach. They jogged day and night, half-naked or bikini style, alone or in groups, with dogs or etc etc. It was a crime to be not exercising and healthy! The waves were gigantic too! I was swept away by the wave, no kidding, I almost shouted for the lifeguard but luckily a big wave swirled me back to the shore. Phew... swimming above the ocean is definitely more dangerous than diving into it. Surfing was another common practice there. Watching the surfers glided through the waves was simply joyful.

Surfer having so much fun with the giant waves.
This is what I called crowded beach (Ipanema) during a beautiful winter Saturday!
Coffee - Brazil has met its reputation. The Brazilian coffee was a lead in its type – moderately strong but smooth and addictable, not those kind of coffee that you would be thirsty and make your pee smell like hell after drinking. Our host also brought me to a very unique restaurant. As a photography geek, I was spell bounded by the elaborated decoration and cultural environment of the restaurant. Its name was Rio Scenarium (, situating in downtown area. It was huge, three-storey high, with extensive spaces of each storey. I would recommend any visitor to Brazil to experience the sensation. It was a converted antique house, full of stylish and camera-magnetic antiques. I really meant FULL, you turned a corner and you see wooden horse, then old-style pharmacy bottles, then statues, then musical instrument, then clocks, then car….. You guess it, I forgot to bring my camera. Don’t scold me, I was crying loudly in my heart. There were also some singers singing mesmerizing Brazilian songs, instrumenting Samba music. Diners came out and performed sporadically, delighting the audiences with their exceptional Samba moves. The vibes were something I could never forget in my life. This was all I had imagined about South America – bits of Latin flavour, pretty and expensive taste of livingstyle, relaxing.

Brazilian coffee motto: One Country, Many Flavours.

Of course, I had been living in bed of roses. There was no such thing as perfect in the world, I had yet to see the ugly side. In fact, Brazil is notorious for its favela where the poor housing area stationed by many drug addicts, perverts and criminals. It was taunting that it occupied quite a lot of area in Rio, either uphill or near the coast. I passed by the area on the way to airport. The lake in front stunk to the max and the houses were nothing more than simple brick build-up from nowhere. Backpackers should definitely avoid these places but ironically, they had favela tour available for curious backpacker. I was so tempted to join the tour but finally dropped the idea after advised by my host. Better to see the famous Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue, one of the new Seven Wonders. Nonetheless, Jesus must hate me because when I ascended to the hill, the fog rushed in and covered the statue. Only several of my photos were clear. Needless to mention, I did not see the aerial view of Rio, what a big let down. In my opinion, I do not think it deserves to be one of the Seven Wonders. Imagine that I took elevator and lift to reach the statue, totally no match with the Giza Pyramid. Equally popular tourist spot was the Sugar Loaf Mountain, which could also offer the swept view of Rio de Janeiro. Rio was certainly something extraordinary, half-moon-shape beach with monolithic granite mountains in between. I believe this is the city with the most accessible beaches (Ipanema and Copacabana) in the world. Double thumb up!

The Rio symbolic Christ the Redeemer Statue, Seven Wonder of The World.

In short, do I like Rio de Janeiro? Hmmm… It’s complicated. Do I want to live there? Definitely NO. Do I like to visit Rio again? Definitely YES. The best beach that I have ever been (Vs Greek island beaches and Italian beaches, yet to comment on Australian beaches).

MET EXPECTATION: Spectacular beaches, machos and chicks, football fans, cool Capoeira dance, diverse races.
CAUGHT OFFGUARD: Soft and polite Portuguese speaker, artistic and cultural, dog lovers (as comparable as European), fatless and healthy food.

Paintings displayed at Hippie Fair on Sunday Morning, Ipanema.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

New Toy – Canon EOS 40D

Eventually, I upgraded my camera gear to Canon EOS 40D, 17 – 85 mm IS USM lens kit (inclusive of UV protective filter and 4GB CF Memory card). For the Canon noob, IS stands for Image Stabilizer and USM denotes Ultrasonic Motor which gives a quieter zooming sound. RM 5200 flew from my bank account but I figured out that I will have so much fun with the new toy for quite some time. Virgin shots were snapped to capture our Malaysian Pride - KLCC Twin Tower. The feeling was somewhat different compared to that of EOS 400D. The camera body is larger, more robust and heavier. Quicker response and quieter shutter, equally pleasing results. I have yet to discover the hidden pleasure. The photos below can be a teaser for you. All photos were taken handheld, photoshop finesse. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Underwater Box

Fishkeeping has always been my passion since I was a kid. At some point, I know I will end up indulging in either planted aquarium or marine aquarium. As the marine setups are getting more reasonably priced, plus the evil friend’s persuasion, I began my marine aquarium challenge two weeks ago. I know my dive instructor/master will be mad at my act but I think, with proper care and moderation, fishkeeping is not a crime to environment. Deliberate purchase the hard-raising marine species and being ignorant are somehow unforgivable. Say if you are not capable to raise seahorse, then please do not buy it or if your aquarium is too small, please do not stuff too many species.

In fact, starting a marine aquarium is not as complicated as I expected. It has nothing much different to starting a freshwater aquarium, except the water salinity. My setup was pretty simple - dead coral and sea sand as decor, mounting filter and overhead lamp. The major challenge is always the first stage – introducing the fish to new environment. My earliest residents are clown fish and mechanical shrimp, following by damsels, strawberry grandma and doctor shrimp. They are extremely picky on food. Only after I switched to several brands, they started to consume. Now, they gulp ferociously whatever I dump to them! It is quite a sight and I enjoy watching them. It is funny that the doctor shrimp (a.k.a cleaner shrimp) tried to clean the two nemos while they refused to be cleaned; or the grandma darted in and out among the coral slits just to avoid my observation…. At least, it can quench my diving fever for a while..

Ok folks, will update you further. Or you can join me with this wonderful hobby!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gem of Malaysia - Cameron Highland

Cameron Highland was perhaps the first travel destination during my early childhood. I was less than 10-year old when my parents brought me there. As a young scout, I also camped overnight there during my first ever exciting primary school trip. Later, I also joined a tea factory trip with my secondary schoolmates, one of our Geography lessons. In short, lots of handsome memory I had imprinted in Cameron. I could still remember the chilly breeze and coolness. Somehow, I was not impressed with the temperature during my weekend overnight trip yesterday. The night temperature was barely 19 degree Celcius. Global warming again? Lame topic...

I went to this trip with couple of OLD friends. Basically, the activities consisted of releasing stresses by chatting nonsense, playing mahjong, consuming the youth we barely spare.... The most meaningful activity was the 'tea factory trekking', at which I could spend some time taking good pictures of scenic tea terrace. The view was soothing and refreshing. By the way, we also bumped into some MY FM DJs during the trekking and pasar malam strolling. What a plus.... well, although I knew nothing of their faces.
It was a good meaningless trip, haha... Until then, I let the photos do the talking. See you at the top next time.

Living community nearby the Boh tea factory, with Hindu temple, primary schools, settlements.

Popular background for wedding shot.

Another scenic shot

Bumped into MY FM van. Music unlimited, Heart in the air.

Chessy shot in Boh tea center.

Friday, May 30, 2008

P.S. I Love You

I always felt that blogging personal emotion is like exposing your own diary to public, naked and embarrassed. My friends always said I tend to have a protective shield to push away anyone who tried to approach and understand me deeper. Ok, get the message and will try to open up my heart more…

I recently watched a movie called “P.S. I Love You” and would like to share it with you ( The movie scene started with a couple fighting for some stupid issues. Not a typical attractive opening but the director did an excellent job by selecting the beautiful couple, starred by Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler. Out of curiosity, I carried on with the flow of the movie and had not left the chair since. The storyline could not be more simple but it was absolutely hilarious, emotional but yet not too dramatic. This is the movie with every element I love and possibly the best movie I have watched in this year so far. Did I cry watching the movie? Nay.... Boys Don't Cry...hehe

The movie and book. Movie is the adaption of book, shorter and tighter pace.

The movie was actually written based on a novel with same name. I am reading it now. The feeling of reading is totally ‘sky-and-ground’ different. Don’t get me wrong, it is a very good book. The book has more depth and more elaboration, equally as impressive as the movie but I felt that the book will be more suitable for the ladies, too much tears and drama.

I ever wonder if there is a guidebook to find a true soulmate. I read this book before “Men Are from Mars and Woman Are from Venus”. Closed to the purpose but some of my female friends do not agree. The book suggested that soulmate is always an extreme version in some way of yourself. If you are extrovert, your soulmate is probably introvert and so on. Hmm…. That even puzzle me more because I am an extreme entity in both! I like clubbing and I like reading. I like arts and I also love engineering. I like complicated puzzles but also enjoy simple brainless game. I like swimming and sports but I also prefer luxurious treatment. I am talkative and I like to keep silence. I like shopping and I hate shopping…. The list can go on and on. Does it mean that I will not have my soulmate? Or my soulmate is my similar type? I am certainly a very confused person now.

John Gray book series - relationship counseling.

There is one shot in the movie, Denise told her friends, “ Your soulmate must be somewhere around the corner or he/she is just stucked with the wrong person.” How true! And I love the saying. For the past years, I have seen many couples. Some of them are so lucky that they found ‘the one’ and some of them just got so lost in the process. Although I hate wedding invitation as much as I love it (Hate it because need to prepare big Ang-pow, Love because it is time for my wedding photography practice), I always share their palpable joy. They are such lucky bastards, haha… mind my language. Relationship is probably 100 times harder than getting a PhD. Some people get it right once without slightest effort, some people never get it no matter how hard they try, pretty unfair… C'est la vie! My soulmate is somewhere with wrong person or she already appeared but, somehow, I have just stupidly overlooked?

Enough for one day sharing. Why I blog this? This is non-negotiable secret, so don’t bother to ask me. But what I can tell is – my big 30th is hitting me soon. Whoa… that is something freak me out even to just think about it. So, friends, please remember to console me with piles of gifts during my big 30th . I prefer designer watch, cash is only marginally accepted…. Haha… I heard someone cursing.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Earning My Passion

My first ever wedding photo shot for my sister two years ago.

It has been a dream if I can turn my passion into earning. Well, it probably is dream of everyone in fact. I have identified some of my ‘passions’, leading to some part-time jobs which I can fantasize:

  1. Wedding Photographer
  2. Sleeping Investor of a Diving Centre
  3. Leisure Stock Broker
  4. PC Game Tester
  5. R&D Researcher to Tackle Insomniac
  6. Photography Judge

Forget about the last 5 fantasies. I am probably still quite crap and not up to the level to dream. But I do think I may have a shot with the first fantasy. I had been started photographing, mainly travel photography, since year 2000. For the past two years, I had grown interest in capturing wedding pictures for my colleagues, relatives and friends. It was the most exhaustive and time-consuming job but yet it was rewarding and exhilarating. Each laughter and emotion captured could easily melt down the tiredness.

It is amazing that my skill in photographing and photo editing are getting better each time. Ya… may be a bit too big head to commend this. Recently, I felt that I hit the bottom neck due to the limitation of my photo gear. So, it is time for me to upgrade my gear but so much pity that these sophisticated and expensive gears will cost me a fortune.

To my delight, it is from a renowned wedding photographer’s advice that if you need someone to recognize and appreciate your artwork, you should ask for monetary rewards, regardless the amount. Absolutely not a bad idea to fund my long wish list of photo gear (lens, flash, memory etc. etc.). So, friends, please help me out to advertise. Officially announced, I am ready to be a part-time freelance wedding photographer. Anyone interested to hire a wedding photographer during the actual day, please contact me via my email address For all my single friends who are going to marry in the future, sorry that I do not offer free service anymore but discount for you is guaranteed. I can only work part-time during weekends or I will get my butt fired by my current company. If you choose to have a photobook, longer period may be required for the photo editing. Also, I prefer Chinese or Church wedding as I am more familiar with their procedures.

My service fees will yield wedding photos in digital format, colour and art edited. Others are negotiable, with or without hard print/ photobook:

The following are some of the photos that I have shot from year 2006 to 2008. Big thank you to my friends who allow me to polish my skill. If you enjoy them, please spread the words and advertise for me.