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Time to move on.

About 3 years ago. (acutally its much shorter then that).  I decided to come back to Singapore to work while waiting for my wife's status to change which at that time, seems like going to be a long wait.

I was lucky to know a friend from my photography Alumnus in SLCC who introduced me into DC to work as an Insite Engineer.. (basically its a Call centre and network monitoring job)

The shift based job allowed me to adjust my off days so I could fly back to Thailand pretty often to see my wife and kids.  Its a hectic job and pretty long working hours (12 hours shift) but it was suitable for my situation.

A lot of things happened during my work here.  Like I actually got my 2nd child, Ah boy in 2009 (and it was a bit unexpected one too.. :P)  And getting some of my team mates picking up in photography (kena poisoned jialat jialat).

There were of couse, many other differences and dislikes about the job environment (as usual if you work in a corporation) but of course, the friendship and companionship outweighs all these differences.  And this is the 3rd point I wished to highlight.  I managed to get to know some great people during my stint here in DC. I'm not going to list them out but I guess you know who you are (if you are reading this post) and I am eternally grateful to getting to know you all :)

Nevetheless, I wish to thank my friend Mr Dog (his nickname) for introducing me to this job so at least I get paid whille waiting for my wife;s status and at the same time,  being able to go back frequently to Thailand to be with my family.

There's an old chinese saying "天下没有不散的宴席".  (All good things come to an end) So I guess its time to move on and return back to where I belong.  Thanks for the 2 years 7 months of fun!


In the Western part of Singapore - Chinese and Japanese Garden

I have very fond memories of these 2 gardens as I still remember my parents brought me to visit these two gardens when I was just a little boy.  The main Pagoda, the lake and the old classic Chinese stone bridge is something refreshing from the boring conrete jungle of Singapore's landscape.

My last post was about Joo Koon station and on my way back.  I just dropped off at the Chinese Garden station to visit this garden again in broad daylight.

The last 2 times I came was actually at night during the mid-autumn festivals.  The park always organises some lantern festival during the mid-autumn festivals and really can't recall why I went to these events..

Anyway, its much more of a blast to visit the parks during daytime.  The main pagoda is finally opened to visitors (8am-7pm) so I get to climbed the pagaoda again!  

View from the top is a bit dissapointing actually as most of the landscapes you see on the top are just more and more and more HDB flats... I remember it used to be a jungle out there when I was just a boy.  I did took some slides this time but as I have not finished the roll.  Can't post them here until the roll's finished :P

However, I took a lot of shots using my NEX and 25mm CCTV lens combo.. I am getting to like this lens a lot.  Its lighter and more compact then the kit lens. But it just produce very interesting and unqiue photos.  And its still quite sharp at the center too :).  The only major complain is the severe CA and I found the best workaround is to convert those affected by the strong CA by converting them to black and white.  So its actually not as distracting as it used to be.

You can view the rest of the photos in my facebook album :)

In the Western part of Singapore - Last MRT station Joo Koon

Last Friday was my day off from work and being bored of shooting Singapore's cityscape.  I tried a different approach in documenting Singapore.  If you have been following my blog or facebook activities lately, you will understand that I will be leaving Singapore for long periods of time again.  Yes, I will be back in the Land of Smile mostly in the coming months and I wish to record something down for myself this time.  To see how much Singapore will change once I'm back here again.

While I was away, the west side of Singapore was constructing 2 more train stations.  Pioneer and Joo Koon.  I believed I was in Thailand when they officially opened it and I was surprised by the new name of the train station Joo Koon replacing the old Boon Lay station.  Joo Koon.... What a funny name... (That was my first impression when I saw and heard it)

Now I know why its called Joo Koon... Its above Joon Koon CircleBoon Lay was an area I was quite familiar with during my National Service in 1998.  I was with the 30th Singapore Combat Engineer and later HQ SCE at SOCE (School of Combat Engineer).  Both of the camps are in Jurong Camp 3.  Basically I spent about 1 and a half year of my life there before I got myself disrupted for my studies.  Its actually quite hectic in the morning during week days as a lot of factory workers would be taking the train to Boon Lay and transfer a bus at the bus-station to work.  Moreover, another University (used to tbe called NTU) is there so you get to see a lot of students too.  Its also filled with army camps so thousands of people like me serving NS are around that area too.  So although its a small station but its always crowded.  

I took a train all the way from Cityhall to Joo Koon.  Passing Pioneer station and actually saw the entrance of my old camp (30 SCE) along the way.  Not very fond memories of those days :P.  

Railway tracks....I was actually expecting myself to be in Tuas when I reached Joo Koon but it seems that is not the case. It is still about half an hour ride from here to Tuas checkpoint. (I checked the bus services and its still quite a long way).  I'm surprised to find it actually quite a near walking distance to SAFTI MI.  So Singapore Discovery Centre is just next door!  Finally that poor Centre is more accessible to the local crowd.  I did not spend a lot of time there of course.. Since its basically in the middle of nowhere.. hehe..

The tracks do continue furthur west and I believed one day there will be a station called Tuas (just next to 2nd link maybe?)  Then Joo Koon and Boon Lay will slowly be forgotten as the last train station at the West side of Singapore.

Do feel free to view more photos taken with my NEX and 25mm CCTV lens below :) 


Pathway to Singapore Discovery Centre and SAFTI

For those "Owicer" who spent at least 6 months in SAFTI MI. Can see that bloody tower clearly from the station.Road that will leads to Tuas (2nd Link)Singapore Discovery Centre!!! I have been here so many times (kena forced to by army) and till this day.. I still have not "discovered" whats in there... :PThe station is surrounded by factories. This was a funnel like structure beside the pathway. Belongs to The Union Container Pte Ltd... Lots of bicycles are parked at the bicycle bay. Belongs to the factory workers (night shifter?) I guess...

Federated Malay States Railways - Part 2

The journey from Woodlands onwards were actually a bit boring.  We do stopped at various interesting locations.  The Johore Bahru station is also the new station (no longer at the old one).  I was a bit concerned at first as the Malaysian Immigration did not stamped by Passport.  So I dropped off and asked one of the officers at the JB station.  Kena suan by him say that we already pass immigration and customs at TP liao.  So why need to do it all over again?

Hehe.. A bit mountain turtle feeling.  So what if I lost my immigration card in Malaysia?  Better hold on to that white card as my dear life depends on it.

We slept a bit on the car and actually moved to another carriage.  Ours were a bit warm.  The A/C seems to be leaking.  We found most of the seats to be empty so we just helped ourselves to the coolest carriage and took a nap.  Later we explored the dining carriage.  A bit dissapointed as it only serves tidbits and drinks (at extortion price of course).   So we just bought mineral water and sipped slowly on it.  We actually spent almost an hour at the dining area chatting and observing other people.  The seats in my humble opinion, is actually more comfortable then the one we had.

We discussed about what we plan to do when we reached KL and we actually have a little bet on whether the train will be on time. 

The train continues towards Gemas and thats where we went back to our carriage to sleep.  But this time, surprisingly the flat screen TV was on (each train carraige has a flat screen TV leh.  And it was blasting Malay move (more like propaganda) and KTM's history plus its train's schedules.  The train schedules are actually just slides but its background music is quite interesting.  Bloody Malay traditional music being converted to TECHNO!  Wonder whether its a hit in Malaysia Disco joints anot? hehe

We did reached KL Sentral on time at 3pm and we proceeded to go to the ticket couter to buy our return ticket.  This time we purchased the sleeper carriage which only costs us RM43 each (bloody hell, so much more cheaper then what we paid at Singapore)

The train departure time is 11pm so we had about 8 hours spare time to jalan jalan (take a walk).  We went down to Jalan Petaling to grab out late lunch and took some time to walk around that neighbourhood and visit the old KL train station.  The photo you see is actually taken inside the old station with the 8mm Peleng on my NEX.  Pretty fun lens to shoot with.  You can even see my feet in one of the shots of the train tracks in the gallery.

After that we took a cab to Sungei Wang area to shop around.  We were a bit shacked out actually because we did not get enough sleep last night and also the train ride was pretty exhausting.  We took a break at starbucks and started to people watch.  KL a lot of pretty girls leh :) hehehe..

Anyway, we took off again and head for a SPA around that area.  The SPA facilities not too shabby.  Got facials, massage and even a buffet spread!! So we just showered and get ourselved all cleaned up.  Refreshed and whack the buffet.  Never bothered about the facial and massage though.  After getting oursleves all freshened up.  We took a short walk to Jalan Petaling again to buy some local products before we hit back to KL Sentral.  I also bought 2 Ramlee burgers as a snack on the train.

I actually finished the 2 burgers even before I board the train... hahaha.  Not because I'm hungry but actually bored of waiting.  We were at the station a bit too early and we bought some magazines to keep ourselves occupied.  Photography magazines in Malaysia is pretty cheap wor.. But mostly are just advertisement.

The train was ontime and we boarded the sleeper bunkers.  Pretty cool actually.  Each bed has its own curtain shades and its actually very clean.  Initially I was a bit worried it will be dirty but its actually really very clean.  Mr Dog was actually very happy with his bed and once on board.  We got into sleep mode immediately.  I could not sleep actually due to the fact I have 2 more burgers in my stomach :P  The punishment for Gluttony.  But I just lied there and enjoy my little private space and watched the passing lights and shadows out of the window. 

Its a matter of time that I just dozed off and slept.  The repetitive rocking motion of the train actually helps too.  I woke up in the middle of the night when the train stopped.  It seems like more carriages were added to the train.  We are supposed to be in Singapore TP at 7am.  But around 630, we still have not reached Johore Bahru yet.  We only reached Woodlands checkpoint at around 9am and Mr Dog dropped off from Woodlands because he needs to get back to the office.  I continued onwards and the train stopped again at Bukit Timah for more than 15 mins to wait for a passing train to pass by us (its a single track in Singapore)

I only reached TP at around 10pm and exhausted.  The train ride is actually quite comfortable but the long waiting time is a killer.  Overall, its a very interesting experience and I wouldn't mind taking the train again.  Maybe for the next time, I would try a jouney all the way to Bangkok. :)

Hope you like my little journal.  My gallery is updated with photos of the journey.  Do feel free to browse through them.


Federated Malay States Railways - Part 1

When I heard the news of the exchange of land between Malaysia and Singapore a few months back.  I know I have little time to kind of getting a chance to visit this old train station and try taking a train from this station to Malaysia.

Luckily I had 4 days off last week so I took this opportunity to take a train to KL on Thursday and then back again during the night.  So literally its just a 24 hour trip back and forth.

This may sounds crazy to some but I really like trains.  I think they are elegant and a very efficient transport (in terms of going green).  The thing is that we always heard a lot of negatives comments on the train services and the last time I took the train to JB was during my secondary school days.  And its actually not a very good experience the last time.  Train was late for almost 2 hours.. :P

Nevertheless. I believe this old structure and the railway will be gone soon.  There are already notices at the station informing the closure in end of July 2011.  I will be away from Singapore in December so I guess its the last chance for me to experience the track for one last time. Do I roped in my photo buddy Mr Dog (u saw hime a few times in my travels) to have this little trip.

Pricing wise is crazy.  The price is $34 SGD and $68 for VIP.  All air-conditioned but here's the funny part.  If you buy at TP (Tanjong Pagar).  The price is in SGD.  But if you buy in Malaysia (like JB or KL) Its the exact same amount but in bloody Malaysian Rinngit!!! So for those who want to try the experience and want to save some money.. Maybe you can board from JB instead.  I decided to go ahead as I want to go through the whole process of buying the tickets at the station and board the train at TP.. :P 

I bought the tickets a day earlier and the gentleman at the counter is very helpful.  Do remember to bring more cash.  No nets or credit cards at the station.  The nearest ATM is DBS and its 2 blocks away from the station.  (I learnt my lesson.. :P)

I bought the morning train which leaves TP at 8am.  The ticket mention it will reach KL at 14:56.  We reached there around 6.30am and had our breakfast at the station canteen.  Nasi Lemak and a cup of Kopi.  We board the train at around 7:45am and here's  the funny part.  The immigration for Malaysia (not Singapore hor!!) is at the station and we have to cross the immigration and customs of Malaysia before boarding the train.  I still need to fill out the arrival card.  No stamp was chopped on my passport.  Only on the arrival card and they did not even tear the arrival part. 

The train departed on time and as usual, Mr Dog went to sleep while I enjoyed the scenery.  Its really an old track and not really well maintained.  Technically, we are in Singapore but legal wise, we are in Malaysia.  Very strange feeling... What if the train breaks down and I stepped out of the track... consider me as illegal immigrant anot har?? :P hehe.  Along the way we cross some bridges and I spotted a few homeless people sleeping there.  I was not fast enough to take a picture.  Moving trains and the dirty glass panel is a pain in the ass. 

The train took about 45mins to reach Woodlands checkpoint.  Here all of us got out and have our passport scanned.  They have a waiting area after you finish clearing the Singapore immigration.  Here we wait for the rest of the passengers and they will only open the gates for us to board the train until everyone of us are cleared.  

Below is a GPS snapshot of the track.  I recorded it while I was on the train back from KL.  Will continue part 2 in another post.   Some photos taken during the trip are in my gallery.  Do feel free to browse through them.

View Ktm Railway Track in a larger map


Cheap lens does not mean lousy photos.

I recently accquired a cheap brandless CCTV C-mount lens from E[vill]-bay for the grand total of SGD$41 plus shipping.  I already have the C-mount adaptor from JLphoto so naturally since the flange range of the Nex is the shortest (18mm) which means I can mount literaally all known lenses ever produced in the market...

I picked 25mm as I already have other various 28mm, 35mm and 50mm in other mounts (mostly in M42 or Leica M-mount) And before the purchase, I already suspected that there will be very strong vignetting if I used this lens on the Nex.. This is because it already shows strong vignetting on the Oly/Panasonic m4/3 sensors which has a 2x crop factor.

Nevertheless,  I already have a plan to reduce the vignetting by composing my shots in square formats :)  So basically I took a shot and crop it later in lightroom.

The lens is pretty sharp.. at the centre of course as you can see in the pictures below.  Colours are pretty vibrant too! Its bloody multi-coated some more! hehehe

I would say its the cheapest arsenal in my lenses (about same price as those Diana lenses but much much better built of course)

Its a very good buy to me and I actually quite like it as I did not need to spend time PS other then crop and adjust a bit of contrast or brightness.  At first I could not get the lens to focus sharply because the mount seems to be too close to the sensor.. Might be the adaptor fault but after I put a rubber band on the mount and slightly increased the flange distance. It works marvellous.  It also comes with an extension tube too, allowing me to go macro :P

And the good part is that with the tube extended.. the Vignetting actually was actually lesser.  So I could get a full square photos with little falloff. Another funny thing about this lens is the aperture.  It is round all the way till f/2 but starts to become rectangular after f/2.8 ... hehe.. So you might experience wierd bokeh if you stopped it down .  I shot mostly wide open in these photo so maybe I will post some examples later.

Highly recommended for those who like special effects in their shots without the hassle of photoshop.  And yes, of course you can use your thousand dollar lens to shoot and edit the effect in PS. But I rather spend $40 to have a less of a hassle.

The point is.  Know your equipment and shoot accordingly to the strengths of the equipment.  As the post title says. Cheap lens does not mean lousy photos :)

You may enjoy the rest of the series here in my facebook album.