Sunday, January 6, 2008

My Malacca Trip

I went to Malacca last December, 2 days prior to Christmas Day, for a short trip with 2 of my friends. We booked one of the local hostel, Twenty Guest House, located near the entrance of Jonker Street. It was a 2 days 1 night stay. It meant to be a get-away trip for us all, and at the same time a photographic trip. I wanted to travel light so I brought my Seagull 205 Rangefinder and a couple of extra 35mm color negative films. Oh yes! I brought my HOLGA 120GN too, for some fun shots.

So here are the street photographs I took on the color negatives. I'll update the photos from my HOLGA once ready. All photographs are scanned and converted to B&W with light sepia toning, in Photoshop. Hope u enjoy viewing them as much as I made them.

Day 1 - 23 Dec 2007, Sunday:

Parking Jeep

After we had checked in the hostel, we were very hungry. We spotted one of the famous Hainanese Chicken Rice stalls with long queue and decided to try out Zhong Hua Cha Shi (中华茶室) on their famous chicken riceballs. They taste good - the authentic Hainanese chicken rice. Yummy!

After the meal, we take a walk along the street, exploring the area for some good street photographs. The photo above is one of the first few photos I took. Though the weather was blazing hot, it provides excellent lighting for photography.

Malacca Trishaw Rider

This is one of the famous tourist attractions - trishaw decorated with vibrant flowers. I was lucky to take this shot. We were walking along Temple Street and as I turned around my back I saw this trishaw rider was riding with his passengers, coming in my direction. Fortunately I had set my rangefinder camera in advance, so I lifted it up and snapped! This is the fun part of street photorgaphy, especially when using a rangefinder camera.

Peace Fool - graffitti outside a tattoo parlour

Next, I came across this graffitti right beside a tattoo parlour. the wooden door was painted in green color, hand in yellow with the bandaged finger in red. I like the color combination as it reminds me of Bob Marley and a country flag colors. If you know or heard of Bob Marley, you'll know what I mean.

Parking Trishaw

As we walked farther down Temple Street, I saw this parked trishaw outside what-it-seems-like a shop. It's the Trishaw Association Company, I think. This is me taking the shot.

Courtesy of Stan, Shiwei

The hot weather certainly dehydrated us alot. I was thristy and as we reached the 2 temples, I saw this drink stall parked by the road side. The drink seller is selling herbal tea and other cooling drinks like waterchest nut drink, etc. It costs 1 Ringgit (50 cents) per cup. Ah...! The waterchest nut drink certainly quenched my thrist. Later I asked the drink seller if I can take photo of him. He just smiled and does his work. So I did a few quick shots. This is one of them.

Drink Seller

After a short rest, we continued to walk down the street, in search of more interesting things to shoot. What a surprise! We came across Malacca's famous shoemaker store, Wah Aik Shoemaker. They are famous for the making of traditional bound feet shoes, which they claimed that they are the one and only store that still making it, not only in Malaysia or Southeast Asia but the whole world. Even in China, there isn't anyone making it. This trade/heritage is dying off as no young generations are willingly to learn and make.

Wah Aik Shoemaker Store. Courtesy of Vivien Lee.

This is how a pair of bound feet shoes looks like. A pair of bound feet shoes measures at 3-inches in length from tip to heel. Well all this heritage has to trace back to history which I won't elaborate here.

Bound Feet Shoes on my palms. Courtesy of Stan, Shiwei.

Let's meet the owner and shoemaker, Mr Raymond Yeo. This craft and skill has been passed down for three generations. Currently the business is managed by Mr Yeo and his elder brother.

Mr Raymond Yeo, the shoemaker.

Mr Raymond Yeo at work.

Mr Raymond Yeo at work.

Mr Yeo serving customers.

We chatted with Mr Yeo on the history and business of bound feet shoemaking before we bid farewell. We continued our walk and suddenly we craved for the local famous dessert, Chendol. We stopped by this stall that sells really good tasty nyonya chendol. One cup costs 2 ringgit (about one SGD). The boss told us that they use gula melaka (dark brown coconut sugar) and pure coconut milk, which are undiluted, for their chendol. It's not too sweet and blends nicely with red beans & jelly. Very refreshing! So far this is the best chendol I have ever tasted.

Nyonya Cendol and Coconut Drinks

Best Nyonya Cendol in Malacca.

Later on, the rest of the guys went on to buy the local famous biscuit,“豆沙饼”. Too bad I didn't manage to get any photos. We went back to the hostel to keep those biscuit and rest for awhile before we moved out again to next location i.e. Portugese Settlement, for some sunset photography.

On impromptu, we stopped by at St Paul Cathedral building, one of the tourist sites in Malacca. It's located right on the hill top next to the main road. Upon reaching the top, I bummed into a painter. His name is Martin. I took a closer look at his work and he was doing up a new painting. I decided to have a chat with him. He looked up and smiled at me.

Chatting with the Painter. Courtesy of Vivien Lee.

We chatted for awhile before I asked for his permission to take some photographs of him. He seemed to be relunctant even though he agreed so. Therefore I took a few quick shots.

Martin the Painter at work.

Martin the Painter.

We started to go our way to explore the area for more photography opportunities. There are street buskers and flea market sellers around. Many tourists and including the locals came all the way here for family day outings during the festive holiday.

Taking photograph of a street busker. Courtesy of Vivien Lee.

Street busker singing Bob Dylan's "Knocking On The Heaven's Door" .

I came across another artist, an old man by the name of Francis. A chatty old folk who was talking to a young lad and his group of friends. As I approached nearer and squatted down, he noticed me and smiled at me. "Go ahead! You can take as many photos as you like!", he said it out abruptly. I just smiled back at him. Then he turned his attention to me and started to talk about his artwork and even asked me where I came from. In the end, I took a few shots and this is one of them.

Francis the old painter.

After asking for directions and reading the map, we somehow decided to walk to the Portugese Settlement. You wouldn't believe it. It was the craziest idea! After a few minutes' walk on the busy street with heavy traffic, we thought that the distance is way too far. We tried to hail a taxi but in vain. We were standing right outside this Club and there was a car with 2 guys, drove up leaving the place. It stopped at the entrance.

For the last resort, my friend approached them for direction and asked if they can give us a lift to the Portguese Settlement. They gladly agreed. Whoa! we did actually hitch-hiked a ride. Fortunately we arrived at our destination safe and sound. My personal advice: never hitch-hike a ride in yr overseas trip for yr own safety. You never know what will happen. Never take that risk. Well for us, we were lucky. Based on the car journey and distance, we wouldn't be able to reach there on time for sunset shoot. We were really lucky to meet those 2 kind guys.

After staying there for an hour or so for the sunset, we decided to go back to Jonker Street for dinner. We had a good meal at an authentic Nonya Restaurant. After dinner, my friends suggested to go for spa and we went into Hotel Puri to check it out. To our surprise, there was a Christmas carol going on. Well we wouldn't want to miss this opportunity for a few good shots. Here's mine.

Christmas Carol @ Hotel Puri

To their disappointment, the hotel spa service was closed for the day so they decided to go for foot reflexology. I didn't join them but we had supper after their one-hour session. After the meal, we continued to walk around for a little sight-seeing of the night street market til its closing time. Our last stop was at a pub on a quiet street. We had drinks and a nice chat before we called it a day and retired to our hostel room for cool shower and good night sleep.

In the next morning, we had breakfast in-house, provided by the hostel. Simple bread with fruit jam and hot coffee. Over the warm breakfast, we discussed for the day's program. The other 2 fellows decided to go back for more foot reflexology after some walk-around shootings at Christ Church Melaka area.

Trishaw Rider, resting

Christ Church Melaka

Flying High In The Sky

Sun burst over Church

Our group photo (in clockwise from right): Vivien Lee, Stan and me.

Later on we visited a photography gallery and had Melaka Laksa and Chendol for lunch. Lastly, Vivien and Stan went back for foot reflexology and as for me, this time I decided to try body massage on my back. Whoa! It was really good though painful. I felt much better after the session and the following days to come.

Finally we walked back to the pick-up point at Hyatt Hotel and waited for our coach. Overall it was a good short trip which I really enjoyed.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Eye e City 2007 - Preliminary Selection

This morning I went to Bras Basah Complex for Eye e City Preliminary Selection of my photographs. Well I always want to have control on my own work and I know what i wanted and got the kind of pictures I wanted, so I had selected the "best shots" in advance last night. I did all the essential write-ups for the selected photographs as well. This year Eye e City committee launched a new challenge, A Visual Retrospective of the Year - an open call for a set of photographs reflecting and depicting the year's events and happenings, which I confidently took up the challenge Participants of Eye Challenge should submit a set of photo-essay (4 - 12 frames) taken anytime during the year, but at least one frame captures on the last day of the year. The partcipant is free to decide on the scope and subject of the photo-essay.

Below are the photographs I selected i.e. 2 individual single shots and a set of 5 photos with photo-essay. The topic or theme for the Retrospective challenge I chose was Singapore National Stadium. Yes I dug out all the photos I took within the year 2007, and I remembered I made lotsa photographs of our National Stadium. Well most were taken in medium format with my TLR camera. Nonetheless, I did take a roll of 35mm color negative with my Nikon FM10, night photography at the stadium. I did attend the official closing ceremony event held on 30 June 2007, Saturday. I was lucky as my friend got an extra ticket to the event and I was delighted to accept the offer. So here are the set of photographs of our National Stadium. Pleasant viewing and reading.

Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall

The Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall (Chinese: 孙中山南洋纪念馆). also known as Wan Qing Yuan(Chinese: 晚晴园), and formerly as Sun Yat Sen Villa (Chinese:孙中山故居) is a double-storey colonial villa at Ah Hood Road, off Balestier Road. The villa is now a museum commemorating Dr Sun Yat Sen who visited Singapore eight times between 1900 and 1911.

The museum is closed for renovation since 1st May 2007. I was walking along Balestier Road and thought of dropping by to check out the venue. Of course the main gate is locked with notice signboard hanging on it. Minutes after I took this shot, a lorry pulled up right behind me. They are the exterminators, coming to "smoke" the mozzies. So I have to leave.

Unchanged Melody - Mr Chen, construction worker

This is Mr Chen from Jiang Xi China. He works as a construction worker at a nearby construction site that builds new condominiums named Pavilion (in the background). I happened to bum into him while I was walking up to this grass field area right behind the old Balestier Road Market (defunct). As I walked towards Mr Chen, he looked up at me and said with a smile, "Taking photos?" in Mandarin. He sounds friendly and I replied, "Yes I am." He stood up and started to chat with me.

I asked Mr Chen what is he doing on this grass field. He was told to patch up the whole field with new grasses, to make it more greener. Later on we talked about his homeland, China and his hometown, about life living in China and Singapore, work, etc. He has been working in Singapore for 2 years. The construction company he's working for, employs mainly Chinese foreign workers. After our 30 - 40 minutes conversation I asked for his permission if I can take pictures of him. He was shy and kind of relunctant at first, so I convinced him that I'll print and send him the photos as his souvenirs. He gladly agreed.

Photo-essay: Unchanged Melody - Mr Jimmy Chin, iron welder

Mr Jimmy Chin, the iron welder at work

Mr Jimmy Chin, the iron welder at work

Mr Jimmy Chin, chatting with me

Mr Jimmy Chin's hands

Mr Jimmy Chin and his workshop

Eye Chanllenge: A Visual Retrospective of the Year (2007) - Singapore National Stadium

Bridge to Stadium

Ticket Booth

West Entrance 1

West Entrance 2

Soccer Match


Kallang Way

Lights Off for Countdown


Ice-cream Man

Last Glimpse 1

Last Glimpse 2

The Singapore National Stadium (Chinese: 国家体育场; Malay: Stadium Nasional Singapura) is located in Kallang. Opened in 19 July 1973, the National Stadium was used for many sporting, cultural, entertainment and national events, such as the Southeast Asian Games (when it was hosted in Singapore), the Singapore Armed Forces Day, the Singapore Youth Festival Opening Ceremony Parade, and the finals of the 2004 Tiger Cup. The National Stadium has been the venue for the National Day Parade 18 times (in 1976, 1980, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996 to 1999, 2001 to 2004, and 2006).

Plans have been made to demolish the stadium in the second half of 2007 but due to some reasons, it was delayed. The stadium has to make way for the new multi-purpose Singapore Sports Hub which is expected to open in 2011. Before its closure, the Singapore Sports Council organised a photography competition to commemorate the stadium.

On 30 June 2007 a closing ceremony titled Field of Dreams - A Tribute to the National Stadium was held at the National Stadium. 45,000 people attended the event, together with our President S.R. Nathan, members of the Cabinet and Singapore athletes, past and present. Before the ceremony, a soccer match featuring ex-internationals from Singapore and Malaysia like Quah Kim Song, T. Pathmanathan,Samat Allapitchay,V. Sundramoorthy, David Lee, Dollah Kassim, Soh Chin Aun, Santokh Singh, Chow Siew Wai and K. Gunalan was played. was played.

The match was followed by the highlight of the evening, an international friendly match between ASEAN champions Singapore and the Asian Cup bound Australian team, the Socceroos. Next was the countdown to fireworks and an all-night dance party with Zouk's DJs. The closing event certainly relived many fond memories for many Singaporeans, especially to all soccer fans.

As for me, the stadium certainly attracts me to take photographs with some of the night photographs I took in early April 2007, including the closing ceremony event in June. On the last day of 2007, I took the last few photographs in the day for the last glimpses of our National Stadium.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Eye e City 2007

31st Dec 2007, the day Eye e City held its annual documentary photography event island wide. I took part for the 3rd time and I must say it was a tremendous year for me, and I certainly looking forward to this wonderful new year!

Back on track, I got plans on subjects I wanted to photograph. Howsoever, it turned out more challenging than I expected. I did some evaluations on some chosen subjects, whether they are the ideal ones in this documentary event. Well it's not necessary to work things out this way but personally I just wanted to focus more on the more important aspect and objective of this event. Well I don't try to sound too seriously or stressed up. It's the way I work things, doing my very best each time, and to improve and learn from each experience.

For this year's event, I covered mainly in my neighborhood area i.e. Balestier area and Whampoa Drive area. The farthest place I went was National Stadium, where I took a few last photographs before it's gonna be demolished and make ways for a grand new one. In fact it wa a good time for me to take a closer look around my neighborhood. So here are the 27 photographs I took. Pleasnt viewing.

The new Whampoa Makan Place

Reconstruction of shop house 1

Reconstruction of shop house 2

Balestier Road Market (defunct)

Mr Chen, the construction worker 1

Mr Chen, the construction worker 2

Mr Chen, the construction worker 3

Mr Chen, the construction worker 4

Mr Chen, the construction worker 5

Mr Chen, the construction worker 6

Mr Chen, the construction worker 7

Protected Tree 1

Protected Tree 2

Reconstruction of shop house - behind the scene

Mr Jimmy Chin, the iron welder 1

Mr Jimmy Chin, the iron welder 2

Mr Jimmy Chin, the iron welder 3

Mr Jimmy Chin, the iron welder 4

Mr Jimmy Chin, the iron welder 5

Wan Qing Yuan - Dr Sun Yat Sen Memorial Museum.

It's closed down for a major renovation since 1st May 2007

New Connector

Last Glimpses of National Stadium

Last Glimpses of National Stadium - West Entrance

Racer on Mini-Motor Racer Bike

Family Outing on New Year Eve

A Plate of Satay

The Last Stick of Satay