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2012 - A boring year.

Technically we have not reached the end of 2012 but by the counts of my post this year.  It's actually quite a boring year for me.  The year never ended on 21-12-2012 as predicted and nothing really major happened (aside to the scandals in Singapore politics and the SMRT strikes).  Maybe only the first half of the year when I came back to Singapore to work and resumed my shift job.  Other than that, it's just work, sleep, buy stuff, fly back to Thailand to spend time with the kids and etc.  Nothing eventful in my personal life.

Which brings to one point, how long can I last in such a situation.  Again, I have managed to save up some money and gained some through our stock exchange in lovely Singapore.   So 2013 will be an interesting year for me again.  I have that option to leave my job in Singapore (for good this time) and return back to Thailand to work on something.   I also have some plans that involved in a room of stuff left by my late father that I promised my mother that I will sort them out eons ago.  Initially I planned to sort them out when I'm on my day offs but I just do not have the energy to do so when I came back from work.

And recently, I just feel "old". hahaha.  Being physically of course and I do have to admit, once you hit 35 and above, its going to be downhill all the way.....  

So Happy Holidays and see you all in 2013.

More Camera Porn - Rollei 35 SE

I was looking around on (E)vil bay for my "Texas" Leica 690 when I bumped into someone selling a used Rollei 35 SE.  I have been dreaming of getting one just for collection sake.  Yes.. you heard me right.  First time I say I buy a camera just for "collection" but I just want to get one because I already know about its quirky designs.  I wanted it because it kinds of reminds me the old Singapore, when Singapore is part of the camera manufacturing business in the 70s and 80s.   Rollei 35 was an engineering feat as it's the smallest compact fully mechanical camera ever build.  So I want to get it for its historical value.  

I started bidding for it and set aside a target.  Nothing over 300 SGD including shipping.  Shipping was $10 USD so I set $250USD as my MAX bid.  It still has 9 days to go and I expected to loose the bid as this little piece of gem could still command a pretty high price in pristine conditions.  Come end of Nov.  I received an email from (e)vil-bay saying I won it and need to pay it asap... HOLY Shit!  I WON.  And the price is just ............

Anyway, happily paid for it and received it today!  I was on MC these 2 days and it was the best gift I could have.  Early Christmas pressie from Santa?? :P heheheh    Here are the rest of the photos of this little camera.

The beautiful Sonnar 40mm 2.8 with Rollei HFT coating

Size Comparison

The Texas Leica - Fuji GW690II

Ok.  Another camera :P.  This is actually another impulse purchase over e(vil)-bay.  I  was actually planning to use the money for an Ipad-mini to replace my Ipad (1st generation) that was hijacked by my kids in Thailand.   The reason I was not getting the mini was because it does not have retina display and sincerely, the price it charges without retina is a bit "high" and dissapointing.

It all started when I started to see some photos posted by none other of ndroo of  showcasing his shots using the Fuji GF670, basically the rebadged version of the Voigtlander Bessa III.  It's a compact and foladable medium format camera and that camera really appeals me because I am not shooting 120 as often as I want to in Singapore because the Mamiya Press was just so damn heavy and daunting to use.  His latest post re-ignited my quest to find something lighter and more portable to use.

Initially I thought of getting the GF670 but it's just too expensive for my budget.  I don't want to spend too much money and yet I wanted something smaller.  I started looking for some Mamiya 645 but the smaller format does not really appeal me.  Hassy is out as it's as boxy as my press.  The Fuji GW series immediately came into my mind.

1st, It's cheaper and more affordable.  There is the 6x9 format for me and lastly, the EBC coated Fujinon lens.  I chose the GW690II 2nd version because there isn't much difference between the III and II besides the RF mechanism.  I have handled a GW670II before and I quite like it.  It's huge but actually quite light for its size.  Mainly because of the more "plastic" construction.

I found a reputable seller in ebay and I got it within a week.  The seller is one of the rare ebay sellers that are very honest in his service and price.  He actually refunded some money to my paypal when he found out that shipping was not as expensive as he expected! Do check his store out for any LF or MF gears.

The camera is in great condition and it was actually on my target list when I was hunting for a 6x9 camera during my last search.  I settled for the Mamiya Universal "Beast" that time as I wanted something more flexible and modular.  This time, my aim is portability.  It's definitely not as portable as the foldable GF670 but at least it's much better than the "beast".

The RF and VF is quite bright but defintely not comparable to the VC or Leica.  They actually nicknamed this camera as the Texas Leica because of its size.  Come to think of it, actually the size ratio is exagerated.  Althought the camera's physical size is about twice the size of a 35mm Leica but the negatives you yield will be about 6 times of a 35mm film.  So actually if you think of it, the camera is quite small.

I have tested a roll and the initial assessment and feel is quite postive except for 2 things.

1st, this bloody leaf shutter RF camera give a very thunderous loud "clack" when triggered.  Bloody almost as loud as a Hassy.  Leaf shutter supposes to be quiet but Fuji has to make it this loud... WTH.  And from what I know, the loud clack is actually caused by triggering the shutter counter... not the real actual sound of the shutter closing.

2nd, the bloody front hood!  It's great to have a built in hood but if you collaspe it, you can't change shutter speed and aperture!  So imagine if want to mount a filter in front of you lens.... !@#!@$@#$  Stupid design.  I actually tried to remove it but it seems I need to disassemble the entire lens unit, just to get the bloody hood off!! So for the moment, I'll just leave it on.

I have loaded a roll and plan to shoot when I'm off from my work.  Will post more later.


Just a small update.  Got a call yesterday from my missus informing me that my girl's 1st mid term exam results.  Out of 41 in class, she was 6th in position!

No need to be top 3, just in the top 10 I'm happy and proud.  Why?  Because I'm not like other Singaporean parents that blindly chase the best results and force thier kids to study to get good results to boast or cliam they will have a bright future.  I'm not beside her constantly to guide her and my wife has learning disabilities so she could not guide her too.  (only some basic Thai but sometimes she writes them in the wrong direction :P)

Education to me, is all about the joy of learning.  How to reap new knowledge everyday.  Yes, they do practice rote learning in Thailand but at least my wife and I are not forcing her to go to her books everyday after school.  But I do ask her everytime on what she has learnt in school.  At least once per week when I'm calling back home or daily when I'm in Thailand.   And each time I would encourage and sound surprise if she say she is learning something new.   This some how reinforces the importance of learning to my girl and kinds of spurs her into action.  Yes, she's P1 only but I believe in starting a good foundation.  Hope she will continue to work hard and maintain her results :)

The photo on the left was taken by wife's friend and posted on her FB.  My wife does not know how to use the computer so I was happy that her friend started learning how to use facebook.  So now quite often I can see some photos or post of the family on her wall.  Girl was playing with my wife's friend Iphone while her brother is looking on beside her.

They play with each other and fights a lot, (well which siblings dun do that huh :P).  But they are close.  I can tell.  The term break ends and Jie Jie will go to school, leaving poor Didi all alone at home and he will start to throw tantrums, asking where is his sister and he wants to go to school with her.  Jie jie also very thoughtful one, everytime shcool ends she will buy extra ka-nom (sweets and candies) and share it with her Didi (I think she bought extra because she scared Didi will snatched it all away.. huhu)  If I scold either one of them or threaten to whack them, the other will stand up and whack me back.  Same thing when they are playing with others in a group.  Recently while I was back and we visited a ball park playground.  Another girl around the same age as my girl shoved and pushed Jiejie. Trying to pick a fight.   Didi protectively went up and shoved the girl back and stood in front of the bully, even though he was a head shorter. Hehe!

So the 2 of them now reminds me of my own relationship with my sister.  I think I really need to spend more time talking to my sis again....  Not sure when our conversation starts to dwindle but I guess we share the same blood.. Hell yeah.  Whoever dares to bully my sis, I'm gonna hurt him/her bad! :P

3 week break

Not really considered it as a break.  I have been back in Thailand since 1st Oct and was wondering what I could write for my blog for the past few weeks.  I got writer's block.. LOL ..  Since most of my entries will be 1-liners...  Some examples are
1) I flew in on Airasia.  They have moved their operation back to Dong Meaung so it was a bit nostalgic going back to the old airport and find nothing has changed much.
2) Spent a few days cleaning up the house and moving some stuff to our shophouse.    
3) Girl girl term break has started and we spent most of the time goofing around.   Results on her first exams are quite encouraging, she's pretty good at everything but weak at Arts.... that's a surprise.
4) Boy is naughty and bloody stubborn.  Refuses to listen and only likes to wear ultraman T-shirts... Lucky wife bought a few...
5) The living room cabinet is in the making.  There was a slight delay so I guess I won't be able to see it completed in time before I return.
6) I spent some time shooting with my Nex-7 on the kids.  The 24mm Zeiss is good but I found myself not shooting as much or as often as with my DSLR.  The crop factor kinds of puts me off and the EVF is not that particularly good in darker scenes.  AF is not that accurate oso.  It's still more of a travel, landscape camera and not good for action.  Miss my A900.  Dun think I will get the A99 after spending extensive time with an EVF.. 
And I guess that was a pretty good summury.  Tomorrow will be on a plane back to SG...  Sianz...

Some thoughts on my photography

First of all, apologies for not writing much these few weeks and especially things on Thailand or Maesai.  A reader actually dropped me an email asking me why no updates on things in Thailand?  Am I in trouble or what so ever.

Actually, everything is great.  It's just that I have mentioned I was back in Singapore working.  There isn't much to write about in Thailand while I'm away.  The missus and the kids are fine.  Nothing much special cropping up and I just dun want to bore you with mundane stuff like kids are sick or what they eat etc etc...

So the blog kinds of goes into a hiatus mode in this period of time.  I think this will continue till 2013 at least.   I am also getting used to the long distance family relationship depression mode.  It's easy this time around, just keep myself busy with work and other stuff.  And of course, photography.

I am a self confess gearhead.  Not those extreme types on the specs of the camera or a particular brand but more of someone enjoying a good research and making different type of images with different system of cameras.  You could say I'm a jack of all trade but master of none and I kind of like it.  It's just me on how I enjoy photography;).  There are some so called photography "purists who insisted on only using 1 particular format or lens" asked me why I kept changing my photography equipment?  Do you really need that lens or camera? I just tell them that it's how I enjoy making images.  I'm not a loyalist to any particular format or brand but I do lean towards Sony or Minolta as I already have a great selection of lenses that I have collected over the years.  The important part is that I'm just interested in the learning process of using a new equipment.  So is that bad?? hmmm...

Recently, I'm into wide angle lenses.  The more I used my Zeiss 24mm Distagon on my Alpha system.  The more I grew into it.  It's not easy shooting with a wide angle lens.  I'm so used to 40mm and 50mm POV so it took some time to get accustomed to the new FOV.  It's not the 1st time I shoot extensively with a wide actually.  The Minolta 16mm FE (which I still has it) is great to shoot the kids with but the 24mm really poses a challenge on me.  I still don't dare to use it as a street lens although the potential is defintely there.  The above shot of a sunset at Bedok Reservoir was only taken recently with the 24mm lens with a Singh-Ray Gold N Blue Polariser with a GND 3 HS filter.  Not much PS, just boosted the clarity in LR.

This process of  relearning again to adapt myself to the new focal length is always refreshing.  The fun part of photography is that there is so much to learn, even a simple act of replacing a part of your equipment you have and you'll get to enjoy the whole learning experience again.  From analogue, to digital, to lomo style camera, to pinhole and etc etc.  And the best part about photography is that each image you have shot is a record of time and history.  A frame frozen in time that might never reoccurs again.

Yes, it's an expensive exercise to keep changing equipment.  I think that's one of the reason I'm back in Singapore working my ass off too.. LOL.  But seriously, to all my photography buddies whom I've met and have stop shooting.  Perhaps you could try swapping your lens or getting another camera.  It dosen't need to be an expensive L lens or a Nikkor G or even a zeiss.  Just use something different and then just maybe, just maybe you'll start enjoy shooting again.   :)  

The lust for Zeiss….

nex7w24mmThe problem with getting a new camera, especially the 24megapixel monster of the Nex-7 is that you start to find the dual kit lenses for the Nex systems is a bit crappy.  Yup, it’s true.  When the sensor is that packed and dense with photo sensing silicates, the inferiority of the lens bloody shines too . 
Okay, ignore the above crappy excuse, I just buy because I simply lust for Zeiss.. LOL.
Some people might call it a brand thing but hey, all of us do it in a way right?  I remember my first Zeiss was the 50mm f/4 Flektogon (Praktica) which I bought an adaptor to use it on my A mount.  It’s cheap and although slow, it’s a damn solid lens.  I gave it away later and started to try out some other Zeiss M42 lenses.  Most of them are pretty decent at the price point and the resale value was there.  So I just bought and sell and tried various series of Zeiss glasses and so far none of them were duds.
Then came the Sony – Zeiss co-operation and I got the 135mm Sonnar 1.8.  Whoa!  That is my greatest purchase of all time for this killer lens I dare to say.  I would say a perfect score for me, especially if I mount it on my FF A900 and shoot any portraits.  I always find I need to soften the image a little just to remove some skin “defects” that should not be captured in the first place.  And it is also one of the lens that I love so much that I still hold onto my a900 too.  The other being the 85mm Minolta G, 50mm Macro and the 16mm FE. 
After the prime, I sold off my Minolta 28-135mm f/4 which I a bit regretted and got the 24-70mm Vario Zeiss.  That became my working lens for quite some time.  Mainly for events and it was a great and versatile lens.   It was also on my Dynax 7 film camera frequently when I shoot film.
The other great thing about Zeiss is the colours it renders, the T* coating is not just a marketing thing, honestly because I shoot slides very often and Zeiss lenses just gives a much boost in contrast.  Most of my shots with the most vibrant slides are from Zeiss glass.  I have compared my MF shots that I took with my Hassy and Mamiya  and Zeiss wins hands down in the colour department.  Mamiya Sekor is a bit flat but its damn sharp.   
I stopped shooting events nowadays so I sold my only zoom lens and got the lighter 24mm Distagon recently.  So far, to be honest, I have not used it extensively.  The main reason is that I prefer to shoot film with my Press for landscapes and that 24mm is a bit neglected, even my 135mm as I’m not at home in Thailand.
Anyway, back to the Nex system.  I was using some VC lenses on the Nex7 and was really very please with it.  But the widest VC I have at the moment was the 35mm Color-Skopar.  It’s good but as I have mentioned in my post recently, I am currently into wider lenses and was planning to get a wide angle VC or something to complement my shooting style on the 7.  The 16mm is good on the 3 but it just starts to suck on the 7.  Especially if I started to compare the files with my VC lenses.  So within a month of my Nex 7 purchase, I was looking through a local photography forum, looking for a good bargain of a M mount  wide angle lens.  Then, I saw a post,  Someone selling the 24mm Zeiss E-mount at a very good price with a good filter and 5 months warranty left.  On the APS-C , it will be a 36mm equivalent.  Wide enough for my taste and it has AF too.  Jump on it and it’s attached to my 7 now.
I spent only 2 days with the lens and I would say the lens is a bit overpriced at its retail street price of 1.5k  or 1.4k SGD.  It’s good of course, but just not good enough to justify at that price point.   I think a fair price would be 1k at most.   No weather seal and hood is plastic.  No optical stabilizer.  The  lens does not feel heavy and dense like other Zeiss glasses I have before.  Maybe, it’s designed that way to keep the weight down but the Aluminium body just don’t feel that it will last as long as those old Zeiss lenses .  Focusing manually is smooth and it’s fly by wire like the Fuji system but the travel is much much much better then the Fuji one..  Kudos to that part.  I still like it but I might sell it if there is a wider M mount lens available for me.  The 7 with its peaking function is really a god bless for manual focusing.  And if you shoot RAW, try this setting.  Change the Image setting to Black and White with peaking colour set to Yellow at Mid range.  Bloody bloody good.
And finally a rant to SONY, please stop making BLOODY bodies and solve your lens production issues!!  This lens is well sought by thousands but its out of stock since June in every major retail or web store!  What’s the use of coming out new bodies when there are no lenses available?  And now you are coming out a Nex 6 or 5R… WTF….
Here are some shots taken with the 24mm Zeiss and 7. 
Little India Streets

The “7” is complete!

IMG_20120813_211443As I mentioned in my previous post before on one of pet peeves about the 7 is the grip of the camera.  It’s just a bit tad too small for my fatty fingers so I was looking around for a case until I saw someone posted this grip at a rangefinder forum.  I followed the link and it led me to this website by Jim.  By just looking at the pictures, I know its something that is well thought off and designed.  It even sports a dovetail like plate for Arca Swiss type lens release system. 

Anyway, to cut the story short.  I ordered 1, price is a bit steep but if it helps in making better pictures, then its a worthwhile investment.

20120813_212120It took more than 2 weeks to arrive but it was here today!  The initial impression was that it was  very well machined and the metal feels solid. Although it was CNC machined out of a block of aluminium.  There were no rough at all along the edges on the grip.  Everything was smooth which means Jim really took the time to have it finished off nicely.

I took out my 7 and tried the fitting and it is a snug fit.  The black colour may not match exactly but the fitting was just great.  I could easily access the battery cover and taking out the battery.  However, I do have some difficulty taking out the SD card with the additional height of the grip but its not that bad.  It’s already a bit tough without the grip so naturally it’s tougher but not a big deal for me as I rarely change cards.   The speaker for movie playback or camera “beeps” is working fine too as there is a hole just beneath the speaker.  I tried low lit handheld shots and this time I could easily and confidently shoot at 1/10 with the grip.  Previously it was not even possible to do it at 1/30.  And finally as a bonus, check out this photo below..


Yea!  Its a camera lens plate too.  No need to have additional lens plate and moreover, you can still attach non Arca Swiss plate below the grip as it has a standard tripod screw threads just below the dovetail plate.

Like the Thumbs up grip for Leica Digital and Fuji X series, the Jim Buchanan Palm grip totally changes the handling of my Nex 7.  Yes, you might want to wait for the cheaper China clone but I think this grip is just worth that $99USD.  Totally!

There goes my long weekend.

I was suppose to have a long 4 day break on the day of National day. (9th Aug) and was looking forward to go out and shoot some pictures or meet up with some friends.  But during the last night shift I started to develop a flu like symptom followed by an unrelenting cough.  It got worst when I cycled home from work and I couldn’t sleep well as I spent most of my energy wheezing and coughing my lungs out.  Horrible horrible experience.  Even when my colleague called me up for an OT I rejected outright (not myself usually) as I have not been able to sleep for the past 24hrs.  I’ve drank some cough syrups and managed to get some sleep finally on Friday, spending the whole day in bed.  Lucky me, I got better today after managing to sleep non-stop for more than 6 hours.

Anyway, I was suppose to write up a short bike trip and a short review on my Nex 7 that I took with me.  The photos are over here in my fb page.   The last 2 photos were taken another day during a night cycling trip with a friend from Bedok to Marina Bay.  I would say the 7 is a great upgrade from my 3.  I was more at home with the viewfinder and the controls as they resemble more of a SLR rather than a PnS like the 3.  There is however, some flaws to the camera.  The first being the size of the camera.  It’s just too small for my fat fingers.  I have trouble gripping it and without an inbuilt Anti Shake system means I have trouble shooting it handheld at anything lower than 1/30.  I think I need to get a grip or a case soon to solve this issue.  The other major F**k up thing is the bloody video button.  I think most who have read the reviews knows what I’m talking about.  It’s just stupid to have the button so easily triggered.   I think this are the 2 major problems I have with the camera.  Other then that, the camera serves my purpose well and I am seriously considering dumping all my SLR gear if and only if they come out a Nex with FF sensor… : P 

I will try to pound out my bike trip later.  Need to rest more.

Birthday Gift–Nex 7


Those who followed me on FB or Instagram will know I bought another camera : P.  I was thinking of pampering myself this coming Aug since I had work hard for the pass few months.  Especially on June and July where I clocked a great amount of OTs.  I was thinking of getting another lens to my arsenal but was put off by that idea as I just recently acquired my 24mm Distagon and I did not find I had enough time (or purpose) using it as often as I wished   : S.  And I already have (almost) all the focal lengths I required at the moment anyway.

So I decided to look around on the web when I discovered the retail price of the Nex-7 body in Thailand was only 39,900 Baht inclusive of tax.  Now normally it’s not that attractive but this time, due to the strong SG dollars.  The converted price was less than $SGD1,600.  Way below the retail price in Singapore.  Moreover I get to have my 7% VAT refund if I buy it in Thailand. 

I decided to go take a look in Bangkok (still not decided to buy yet)which I had over 6 hours of waiting for my next domestic transit.    I already played with the camera before and I quite like it on my first impression.  Just that the price at that time was just not that attractive to me.  Moreover I am still enjoying  my Nex 3.

The “look” and “see” became a “buy buy buy” immediately when the salesman at Sony Store Paragon told me they are having an annual promotion.  10% off the retail price!  And can pay by Credit Card some more…. KNS…. I ask him about the VAT refund and he say I could claim that too…. so in the end, it’s 10% off retail and less 7%.  After my calculation, I paid $1370 for the brand new camera with a year Tourist warranty (covered in SG).   Really good bargain (The last time I asked, SG retail best price is 1700 wor…) 

I’m not sure whether the sales is still on going but for those hunting for Sony gears.. It’s a good time to visit Bangkok now.  Will post more later… Now need my beauty sleep.  Just finished my 3rd night shift and I have 4 more to go… : P

Street shots at Little India

I took a roll of Tmax 400 on my Bessa in May (or maybe in June) while I was on a day off.  It was a pretty good session as  I clearly remembered it only took me less than 3 hours to complete the roll.  This is a rare case for me nowadays.  It took me 3 to 4 months to finish a roll of 8 shot 120 .  I think I was a bit trigger happy on that particular day.  But the area was bustling with interesting shots so I guessed it did paid off.  37 shots all correctly exposed but some of them can be thrown away though : P

I still have a roll of Reala 120 I shot that day around the Marina Bay Sands that I have yet to scan.  Not a very good series of landscapes as it was not a clear bright day.

You can view the rest of the series here.  I am avoiding to put too much photos into this site as I will be migrating back to Blogger. 

Universal Studio Singapore (USS) trip

Recently our company organised a USS gathering for our team.  I was initially a bit reluctant to go but ever since I got my 24mm Zeiss Distagon, I am dying for a chance to really test out the lens.   Entrance fee is all paid up while we have to foot all the other expenses by ourselves (not too bad as the entrance fees is already quite expensive).

Since it’s just a scouting trip, I decided not to bring my Beast with me.  I just have my A900, the new 24mm Zeiss Distagon, 135mm Sonnar and out of fun, brought along my lensbaby Composer Pro with the 35mm optics.  Initially planning to shoot some fireworks later, I brought along my tripod too.  Our team met at Vivo around 930am (I was there early with another 2 team members for breakfast) and we took the monorail into Sentosa.  It has been eons since I last visted Sentosa.  Much have changed.  Anyway, boarding the train was a hassle to me too.  The stupid gantry does not support my paywave card (only Ezlink card) so I have to manually go buy a ticket at the vending machine which bloody hell, 3 out of 5 is on service!  That is on a SATURDAY for pete’s sake!  So it was a long queue.  Anyway, we got in at around 10am and I wandered off while the rest of the gang took the Transformers ride.  I was not planning to get on any rides as my sole purpose was to shoot and scout around the area.  Later I caught up withe the gang and they were still queuing for the Transformers ride.  They asked my to join in my I saw the waiting time (bloody 50mins) so I declined and moved on.  I went one round around the park, shooting along the way and just walk and stop, looking at interesting people and other stuffs.  The park is not that big actually so I actually completed the whole park within an hour or so.  Bored, I called my friends and guessed what, they are still waiting for their ride in the Transformer Ride!  I told them I finished my walk and decided to join them, so I waited patiently for them at the cafe next to the ride.  Then it started to rain!  And it was quite heavy too…  Lucky me for not bringing my Beast! 

I started to get bored so I  swapped my 24mm with the 135mm and started to “snipe” some interesting people in the park (just for fun)

Finally the wait was over and they came out looking exhausted.  There was a technical glitch with the ride so the wait was damn long.  The timing indicating outside the ride was a whopping 120mins when they came out.  2 hours in the Q for a 2min ride……

After that we just continued on and the rain starts to stop (great timing).  They gang decided to take a ride in the Bstar roller coaster but another colleague of mine and I decided to pass and look after their belongings while they took the ride.  Bored of waiting, we went to one of the canteens to grab a bite.  We chose Indian food (as it smells great) while my boss finally joined us while we were hunting for food.  The gang came out and went to another cafe to have lunch.  After that it was just one ride after another… 

Overall, it’s a pretty good theme park and the staffs are actually quite helpful but I don’t think I will spend my own money to come in again Smile with tongue out.  Maybe it’s just me but I just find the merchandising and overall "fakeness” just not my cup of tea.  I might bring my kids and wife if they are in their early teens to enjoy the rides but definitely not now… Most of the rides are catered to adults and I don’t think it’s worth it.

I didn’t stay for the fireworks as I was completely poofed at around 7pm.  I was wearing contacts and my eyes are starting to dry up so I decided to call it a day and went home while the rest stayed to look at the fireworks.
Speaking of testing my new lens.  I would say it performs very well and way beyond my expectations.  Zeiss Distagon label is not just pure marketing but a real performer.  Very little distortions and sharp, sharp sharp!  Those who enjoy shooting details and landscapes will 

You can see the full album over here in my facebook album (no FB login required as its Public)Smile

Weekly Conference


Video call snapshot 3

I usually Skype at least once a week unless some special circumstances that I might do it more than once.  I do call back every night to check out wife and kids daily activities but its pretty usual updates so I didn’t wrote much about them recently.

Some interesting development recently is that the 2 monsters are starting to find each other a “bit” of pain in the butt so they started to fight (quite often as reported by my missus).  Yeah!  next stage of development;siblings fight! 

I think those with more then one kid or you are not a single kid family will understand the normal situation.  Sister or brother sitting there playing and the other one will come and disturb for no apparent reasons.  Then follow by whacking around and eventually one of them cries and run towards the parents phase… Smile with tongue out  So guess what,  normally it’s always the boys (or the younger sibling) that are the one who starts the fight…. initially the elder sister (or brother) will relent but the pressure is building and finally the elder sister could not stand any more of the nonsense and started to fight back… Smile with tongue out  Hehehe not a good sight at all.

Anyway, the above paragraph summarises what’s happening in my home.  Coming 2 weeks time I will be back to join the fun.  Wife is a bit burnt out from the 2 monsters' constant bickering, whining and complaining.  So don’t say I’m back to enjoy a break… more like going back to control a war zone….  Still, I’m actually looking forward to it (think I might take this back when I’m in the war zone)

Moving back to blogger soon

Recently (actually just last year). Google made various changes to their blogger by combining their “Site” services with Blogger. I was impressed with the new dynamic layout and the new mobile version (yes, it actually converts your site to a predefined mobile template) that I think I will move back from Squarespace to Blogger.
But I actually just renewed my bi-annual subscription in 2010 from SS so I still have about 400 days to go before my account expires! So I guess I will continue to blog here and update the entries into Blogger at the same time. Windows Live Writer supports multiple accounts so its a god send for me.
Anyway, I have exported the entries from SS to blogger but my posts in blogger will be missing photos which I am still considering if I wish to manually move them over to Blogger.
The domain still points to SS but for those interested in the new layout of Blogger. You can visit my “cloned” blogger site at
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New Sound (Card)

I was missing in action for the pass 2 weeks (not even on FB most of the time) as I was working night shifts consecutively for the last 14 days with only a day of break in between them.  Anyway, I actually bought this headset last week and I was very very happy with it so I decided to write something about it.

I guess some of you might have seen my last entry which was a new PC for my sister (and me :P) and I was getting a bit put off by the internal sound card.  I used to have an X-Fi Sound blaster card in my old system and I was planning to shift it over to my new PC.  But due to minor depression of missing my family in Thailand... I went onto the net (retail therapy again) to look around and saw that Creative released a new chipset... the Core3d processor!  Bloody quad-core processor for voice and sound.  Call it marketing hype or what-so-ever but it looks interesting.  The new Recon3D card costs around $150 each and then I saw an interesting product on theie website.  It's actually a wireless headset called Soundblaster Recon3d Omega Wireless.   It's actually their top range wireless headset bundled with the new Sound blaster Recon3D USB controller.  Whoa... external sound card via USB.  Then it dawns on me to get a USB version.  Why?  It allows me to move the sound (card) processor around!  I could bring it into office and used it on my lousy desktop computer with my earphones! 

The idea excites me and I checked out the price for the recon3d unit alone (without the headset)... bloody $169 for the Recon3d USB version.... more expensive then the PCI-e card leh.  And moreover it only has headset output.  I can't connect it to a normal 5.1 speakers to get the THX surround.  Then I made the silly silly mistake of going down to Marina Square Creative show room last Monday to test out the new gadget.  I brought along my Sony inner earphones to test it out.  The display set is actually the Recon3d paired with the Tactic Wireless headset (the link above).  I ask the saleswoman for permission to test out my earphones and she gladly obliged but a bit blur blur on where the connection is (think need more training) .  Anyway, I managed to figure it out and plug my headphones into the front headphone jack.  No sound came out (they were playing a movie).  Hmm, I thought faulty or wat but another guy came over and explained that the Recon is paired to the Wireless tactic headset so it could not output out.  He asked me to try the headset first and so I stupidly obliged..... Initially I was reluctant as I hated those wireless headsets.  Normally they are just trash to my ears.  This however, proves me wrong. The headset was just fantastic!  I think the technology might have matured over the years but I still could not believe the sound coming out of it.  Anyway, the guy also powered off the wireless headset and I tried my own personal headphone.  Another BIG mistake.  It dosen't sound as good as the wireless headset..... :P  The bass and clarity on the Tactic headset is definitely much better then my Sony ones (which is actually already a very very good inner ear isolated headphones I bought)  I think my Shures would perform better but they are in Thailand....

So in the end I bought the Recon3d Omega Wireless headset ($329).  I couldn't test it straight away as I was working night shift that day so I just charged the headset while I was working and used the Recon3d with my Sony earphone.  Installation was really easy, really just plug and play and you get better sound without running any software!  But for more controls, just install the software provided and you get to tweak the eq and THX surround sound and others.

After a week using the system (watching movies, listening to music and some gaming).  I think it's a good buy.  For those really who are interested in music or wish to have a better listening experience, it's a no brainer.

Yes, it's pricy but for 300++ you can get sound almost on par with a 10k audiophile system is a bargain to me anyway.  And please, although I'm a fan of Soundblaster cards dosen't mean I'm bluffing.  Go try it and you will understand.  :)


New PC

My old PC lasted me for 7 years (I know because I bought it 1 year before my girl was born) and its acting strangely recently.  Instead of reformatting, I asked my sister (who had took over the computer from me since I was away in Thailand most of the time) if she wants a new one.  She replied "It's about time you asked me that computer!"

So I spend a week or 2 to research a bit on the latest hardware and calculated my budget.  I want another system that could last for another 5 to 6 years so my budget would be on the above average end.

so here's the specs for those hardware nuts.

Casing : Cooler Master 912 HAF Advance
PSU: Cooler Master 625W Silent Pro M2
MB: Gigabyte Z77X-D3H
CPU: i5-3550
Memory: 8GB Kingston Hyper X 1600 (2x4GB)
SSD: Corsair T3 Sata 3 120GB
LG 24x DVD-ROM and writer
Xigmatek 5.25 inch 4x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0 front ports, eSATA port and USB 3.0 Card reader. 

I also have my 2x 1TB Sata HDD transferred over to my new system.  Total damage on the new system is around 1.6k SGD.  Pretty expensive but I checked out the DELL Extreme CPU series and its nothing near my system's spec and quality so its a good buy.

Initially I have some concerns of building it myself.  It has been a long time since I did one and technology sure changes.  Nowadays the PSU is actually at the bottom and wow, the fans on the casings were HUGE!  It was an hour job fixing with all the wires and stuff.  Good thing is that the power cables are finally all SATA standards.  Even my DVD drive uses SATA.  No more long ribbon cables!  (Can see how mountain turtle I am :P)

I booted up the PC and ran the bios.  Wat liew!  Now system bios can use Mouse and got 3D interface one leh.... kns... I really missed out a lot of stuff.  Installed Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit and SSD sure delivered its promises.  Blazing fast boot time.  How fast?  Let's just say I turn on the CPU and then followed by my monitor.  Once the screen refreshes, it's already in the login screen... scary. (Its a bit slower now after I loaded more programs into it but still fast compared to a normal HDD.

Tested Lightroom 4.1 and Photoshop CS 6 and pretty satisfied with the speed.   

So now I'm all set and think I will get some 3D intensive games to try out my graphics card :P..  Later..




Frames and Kitty Madness

Today it's an interesting day for me.  I was supposed to meet up with some of my colleagues and ex-colleagues for a hotpot meal in Bugis at around 6pm.  I decided to take my Bessa and VC 50mm 1.1 for a spin at Little India.

Loaded a roll of Tmax and started to shoot around the area.  It's still a great and vibrant place to shoot street photos.  The people over there are less camera shy and actually more willing to let us shoot them.  Try that in Chinatown and you might get the "digusted" look more often.  I didn't actually count the frames I shot but when I started to leave the area and head for Bugis, I stopped by Camera Hospital (the boss Steven's my pal and doctor in fixing my photography gears) and took a look at the frames left.  (See picture on the left)  Wow... 36 shots, on a single day,  same location (well it covers a big area) and within 2 hours!  That's really not like me at all.  I think the 5 months or more of my sabbatical with streets actually helped a bit.  Everything seems to look photogenic and every shots seems to be a possible winner (still need to develop it to see the results though).   I think I will do that again on my off days again :P  Ndroo of Fuzzyeyeball actually wanted to join me but as it was a last minute decision, he couldn't make it (got reserved by his kiddo to cook :P)

The 2nd interesting (and funny) thing that happened today was the Hello Kitty Madness.  You know, SG's McD is now having a Kitty Promotion again (not going to link it here, you can google it here :P)  I saw the Hamburglar and decided to collect all 4 of them for my kids (well actually I quite like it too LOL).  I managed to get the first 2 last week and as I was on night shifts and RT, I didn't have the time to get the 3rd one which was released just last Wednesday.  I did however, went to Bedok Interchange on Friday early morning (around 5am) to get some breakfast and the Kitty but it was all sold out!  After our hotpot meals and desserts,  I actually tried my luck at the Bugis McD.. The sign says sold out.... heart starts to dampen a bit.  Buddy and colleague of mine then suggested the McD just opposite the Rocher center.  Went there, sold out!  Starts to get worried and a bit fustrated.  My buddy friend got all fired up and say "Impossible!  Sure got one!" So we took the trian and stopped by Paya Lebar and it's also sold out.  Ask the fella at the counter and he said Kallang still has it.  Took the circle line and reached Kallang.  Searched and walked 15mins before reaching the drive through McD and also sold out.  Started to get very very low morale.  Took a bus to Siglap Center (ulu place) and I told my buddy friend.  "If here dun have that means all sold out liao, can give up and go home and sleep"  Reached there and to our horror ....

Super low morale.  I was thinking I might missed this little kitty for good.   There goes my collection.   But my buddy mentioned our work place at Bedok Reservoir has an outlet, maybe we can try that one.   If not, Changi Point, followed by Changi Airport, then to Punngol and Pasir Ris... Wa Piang, He more crazy then me.  Well, we were tired after trying 6 outlets (including the one in the morning) so I decided to call it off and went home.  Unable to sleep (bio clock all messed up) , I went to the McD website and was surprised to see all the the outlets has a telephone number.  I decided to call the nearest outlets that runs 24hrs just to try my luck.  The 1st call was Bedok North St 3.  No luck, sold out.  I then called the one at Bedok Reservoir.  Got a fantastic reply from the guy saying that they still have stock but its running out and won't last till next morning.  Wat liew... look at the clock and it was almost 3am.  Took my bike and peddled to the outlet (20 mins ride).  It was on the way to work anyway.  Went in and saw the kitty :P  Happy liao..  Bought a meal and the toy.  Ate and left the place.

 Here's the result.

Was it worth all the trouble to get it?  Well, it was actually quite fun.. Especially the part when my friend and buddy get all fired up in the quest of kitty.... long time no see him like dat liao... LOL

:-This post is dedicated to Mr CSL.  Good Friend, Photography buddy, Ex-colleague and now my BOSS :P

Another camera bag?

Mrs Postman (my block served by this very nice auntie now) visited today .  It's not really a full camera bag but a padded insert for my camera gearI got this insert from Gmarket (now rebranded to Qoo10) .  This is the L or largest version.  If you are interested you can click here to buy it.

I would say its pretty expensive for a padded insert but the quality of the product is very good.  It's soft and the paddings are very flexible. Unlike those Made in China ones found on ebay which cost 2/3 of the price (for similar size) and those paddings are just hard like hell. If you bent one it will surely get stuck in that shape.  Unlike this one.  Very very good for my usage as most of my equipment varies in shape and sizes.

The other good thing about the insert is the outer fabric.  Its hard to explain but the material feels very good to touch and it's doubled layer with some form of water resistant coating.  Not as hard or plasticky then those China ones.  One bad thing is that it does not have a top padding like those found on ebays. But as shown on the picture, the outer fabric extends and serves as a top.  Just need to pull the strings on the side and it will enclosed nicely.  No zippers and I actually prefer it to be this way as I could access my stuff more faster and easier.

Initially I thought the bag would be bigger and I was a bit concerned if it could fit all my MF gear in it.  The main reason I bought this insert is that I planned to convert my Brompton T bag to a camera bag.  Yes, I do plan to use this setup do cycle around Singapore and take some photos. :P

The insert fits nicely into the T bag and it still have room for other thingies.  I am pleased.  Now, it's just wait to have some free time to go out, cycle and shoot... :)


The "little" beast

Another project I had in mind was to do with my "beast".  I enjoy shooting with it but the bulk and weight of carrying it around really bothers me.  Its actually not as heavy as my old Hassy but the huge rectangular shape of the camera means I could only use 2 of my current larger camera bags that could hold it whenever I go out and shoot.  Its a pain the arse to carry such large camera bags at certain location.  

I could remove the lens and 120 film back and pack them seperately but this means whenever I reach a location.  I need to unpack it and hang it on my neck for the rest of the day until the shoot it over.    If I need to move to another location, I need to pack it again.  Which is slow and tedious.  I can't just throw the whole damn thing into my bag and move on.

Even my Lowepro backpack can't fit the camera with lens and back properly.  It's really fustrating.  I read about converting the camera to a light weight flat top version over here and I decided to operate on my spare Super 23 body.

The reasons I chose the 23 over the Universal is 2 fold.  Firstly,  I could only shoot film on it and I tend to use the camera more like a view camera rather than a Rangefinger.  Secondly, it has a bellow which I find it to be more useful in shooting as a view camera.  I would have more control over the perspective I want to shoot.

The mod was quite simple yet destructive.  I unscrewed the top and removed the RF unit block.  It has only 3 screws holding onto it.  I then removed most of the levers and parts left and then here the tough part.  The front metal frame holding the glasses for the RF window.  The glasses were actually glued to the frame so I use som flat tip screwdirvers and tore them off.  I kept the RF block and the various screws, springs and levers as spare parts for my Universal.  I then send the camera to a local metal workshop and asked the guy to cut off the top part of the camera for 20 baht (I gave him 50 baht after the did a fantastic job of filing off the sharp corners.  

I then took some modelling epoxy clay and filled out the holes on the top to prevent light leaks.  Then I just painted over the exposed metal with black paint from my leftover model paints.  Viola!  A much smaller, squarer and lighter "Beast".  

Comestically, the top part still looks a bit wierd.  Maybe later I will look for a piece of aluminium to cover it up but at the moment, it sure is a lot neater to pack in my bag.  I could even fit it in my Thinktank 35 Urban Disguise!

Lastly, I took 2 old cheap and underutilzed Chinese lens plate (markins compatible) and screwed them on the side and bottom, Making it convinient for me to attach it to my tripod.   This modified 23 will surely be deployed very often soon :)


Pentax Espio 160

My mum passed me this camera when we moved to the new place.  It actually belongs to my late father whom used it for their travels.  

No issues with the camera, initially I thought there might be fungus or hazing in the elements but on closer inspection, it was fine.  

I actually took it out recently while I was back in Singapore and shot a roll of Tmax with it.  You can see the results over here in my FB album. Surprisingly good results.  No exposure failure although it was totally automatic in metering.   There were however, some shots with focusing errors as there is no way you can really know if you're focusing on the correct subject in the small viewfinder.

The zoom is crazy... 38mm to 160mm... Not too sure about the max aperture though.  I guess its a slow f6.3 or more at the tele end.  The built in flash automatically pops out when you power on it.  There is a dial to turn off the flash or set it to red eye.  Very basic stuff.  The best though is that it has a bulb mode!  Quite wierd to see such automatic cameras to have a bulb mode.... 

Overall, its actually quite fun to shoot with it.  I spend a whole month in April shooting with it and managed to finish the roll and brought it back to Thailand to develop and scan the negatives myself.  Its now back in my dry cabinet and it might see some action some other time.    This is the first project I mentioned about in my previous blog.  Developing and scanning the results of this little camera.  More to come later.

End of break soon...

Just a quick update.  Girl's 6years old birthday was on 18-May and we had a little small celebration at home.  Well, not exactly at home as we went out to have dinner at one of my favourite restaurants over here.  We only invited one of our best friend's to come over to celebrate.  Sophia whom is 1 month older then my boy.  Her mum (our dear friend) is in Bangkok working and couldn't come so her youger sister came with a cake as a present.  I too, bought one in the afternoon so we had 2 cakes.  Girl was happy to get to blow the candles twice :P  Some fp100 shots below.  You can click on them to see a bigger version.  Not shooting digital that day as I don't feel like it :P

It was a good break for me actually.  Although it was hot like hell over here, I managed to finished some personal projects that was on hold for quite some time.  I will write about them when I'm back in Singapore.   

And here's a great photo of Didi poking away on his sister's ipod... :P


Hot Hot Hot!! (Part 2)

Part 2 is about my boy.  Now really going to be 3 years in July.  He is really showing off his traits now.  Stubborn like hell, a bit of a loner (like me) and like to do things HIS way.

Which makes it really difficult for us to instill discipline and order in him.  He tends to whines a lot even if we try to talk some sense to him.  My mum say this is the rebellous stage and I was a pain in the ass too during this period.... :P

Anyway, little things (that dosen't suits him)sets him off into a angry fit and tantrum.   If you try to grab hold of him he would start punching and biting.... really can kena left right center.  I ask my mum I got so violent anot and she said that was unlike me:P I whine but I don't turn violent leh...

Wife's not helping that much too.  She normally gives in to his demands everytime he throws his tantrums.  

I quarreled with her a few times when I tried to implement some discipline on my son.  Think this one will be really challenging.  He used to be the mellow and quiet one but now become a real headache for me liao..


Anyway boy is not as fast as his sister in speech.  He still have some issues forming sentences but he would have no issue when he wants to play the Ipad, ask for food/milk and toilet breaks.   He still displays a keen sense in his surroundings and although prefers to play alone, he enjoys his sister's companionship.  This is always the case when girl girl was away in school and he was at home and kept whining about his sister's whereabouts.  

I hope this bad behaviour is just temporary and I am trying to talk some sense into my wife of not relenting to our son's demands.  This will only fuel his arrogance and I fear for him if he goes to school with such attitudes.

Hot Hot Hot!! (Part 1)

It's really hot here in Maesai.  So hot I have no mood to even surf the web as my computer room dosen't have an AC.  I'm actually sweating like a pig while typing this! :P

The thermometer registers 35 degrees but the air is so warm that even with the fan blasting at full speed actually makes the whole room worst.  The idea was to dial at a slower speed so there is a constant breeze of air movement.  Wonder how anyone can survive outside in the rice fields over here...

The first part of this series will be about my girl.

Girl girl is back in school yesterday.  She's in her new school just a few blocks away from our house.  She could actually walk there if she wants to:P.  I was a bit concerned about the new environment because it is a government school and not the old semi-private school.  The change was necessary as the old school made some administrative changes and a lot of the good teachers left.  Moreover, they just had a 200% price hike!  Money is not a issue but still with that amount of money I could actually apply for a full international school in Chiang Rai.

Since I'm not around and most of her friends in her old school applied for this one.  We enrolled her here.  It's pretty good environment but girl gril complained about the toilet.. :P  We have to explain to her that it's due to the number of students in the school.   It's a pretty big class of 38 students but I would say the competition would be great too.  2 of her old friends are in the same class as her and she was quick to make new friends. (Not too worried in that department) 

The Barbie doll toy I bought for her was a sucess.  Although technically it's still not her birthday yet.  She has opened it and we had some fun time decorating the dress.  One bad thing is that the inks from the pens tends to smudge and spreads if you apply too much pressure.  So in the end instead of getting beautiful patterns you get blotches.  But after some coaching from me, she did pretty well... (for her age :P)

Its pretty great to be back at home,  I started shooting again with my Mamiya Press and I plan to bring that back to shoot.  Funny thing is that although its hot here, we are in constant overcast so my new 24mm Zeiss was not in the field.  I was also too busy with girl girl's 1st day in school and my problematic boy boy which I would write about later.... headache....  


Toys for the children

Apologies for the lousy shots of the toys as I took them at 4am in the morning.   After working for 6 consectiuve nights, I still need some time to go back to my old normal time zone.   I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep so decided to write a short entry.

Girl's birthday is on the 18th May.  (The main reason why I would be going back on the 10th May).  So naturally, I need to get her a birthday gift for her.  I asked her on the phone and she gave me the usual answer... I want a Barbie doll!

I actually don't really like toys without any form of education or stimulation in it.  Figurines are actually one of them as I find it as just a fad (because of TV or a movie).  But my sister reminded me that dressing up dolls and playing with them is actually a good form of brain stimulation and creativity.  That kind of seal the deal for me so I got her a Barbie doll set.

Not just any Barbie doll set but a Design your own Barbie doll set!  

I found this at Tampines Toy'r'us and I was quite happy Mattel thought of such a wonderful idea.  It even comes with refills sets for additional dresses, templates, markers or stickers!  Pretty good toy!  I got the starter set for her.  It comes with the doll, 5 blank coloured dresses,some stickers, markers and 2 templates for her to design and colour.  Girl loves to colour so its really god send.  I also have some permanent sparkling colour markers I got for my Instax photos and this should be able to be used on the set too.  Which means she would have more that 3 choices of colour markers for her dress. :)

I plan to guide her in the process of making it when I'm back with her.  (Actually I want to play oso :P hehe)

I think this is a better set then those pre-made sets on the shelves.  Yes, those are more colourful but less meaningless then this one.  All dresses are a personal design and totally unique.  How cool is that? :)

 Girl's toy was easy.  But not for my 3 yr (coming) old boy.  Need to get one for him just in case he snatches his sister's.  It's the age of not too small and not too little :P.  Hard choices.  A transformer toy would be too difficult for him and those toddlers toys would be too mudane to him.  Wife and girl girl mentioned to me over phone he loves Ben 10 cartoon so I also got him a doll..... 

Yes, I know it's a figurine.  I broke my rules but hey, ain't rules meant to be broken? :P  Hope he likes the "Fourarms" 

A quiet night in office on Labour Day.

Techincally, it's the 2nd of May.  I started my night shift on Sunday night and it's my 3rd night today in my office.  Surprisingly quiet too.  Not much events and emails (maybe because of the public holiday?).  I got bored of reading and surfing the net so I decided to pen something down.

Some family updates.  Wife just got herself involved in a minor bike incident just on Monday.  Thanks to the almighty power of "blessings" on the bike she was not seriously hurt.  Just some bruises and cuts.  Apparently she was riding uphill when another bike with load of stuffs tried to cut her lane and she jumped off her bike.  Kids were at home while this happened.  Bike was damaged and she now wants to sell off the"unlucky" bike for a new one......

Boy boy shifted to a new pre-school and he seems to enjoy the new surroundings.  Got more toys in this new school.

Girl started her summer camp in school.  It's called a summer camp but in actual fact is another tuition and prep-course for her Primary 1 entrance.  Yup... going to P1 in May...  Time really flies...

I myself, bought some upgrades to my new bike.  A touring bag with carrier block, some new set of roller wheels and a copper suspension block.   Still waiting for my Brooks saddle to arrive though... :P   I also sold off my 24-70mm lens and got a Distagon 24mm prime for my a900.  I tested it on some mundane shots and so far it looks really promising.  Will write about it in another entry. 

In 2 more weeks I will be back in Thailand again.  Mum will be following me this round but my missus did warned me about the crazy tempreature over there.  Over 40 degrees celsius!  Man... that's hot....But I'm excited, finally get to see my family again.   Happy!

The good thing about Singapore.

I need to get this off my chest actually because quite often, I get branded by some people or friends that I hate Singapore.  (Countless time actually) I think the main reasons is that I complaint too much about our gahment's policies or other little aspect of our country.  Moreover, I realise most(actually all of them I guess) of the articles I have written are actually something bad about my mother land.

So let me be frank, I do love my country and I do enjoy certain perks of being a Singaporean.  So this post is actually what I do love and really appreciate when I am back in Singapore.   

1) The diversity of food.  Period.  It may not be the best, but being a cosmopolitan and multi-racial country, we get to have different varieties of food available at our convenience.    The choices we have are really quite astounding.  From Middle Eastern food all the way till South Korean cuisine, you name it, we have it.  Not authentic you might say but at least there is a choice.

2)Our Internet.  Fast and considered reliable.  If you have been staying in Thailand you wouldn't have complain much.  Price point is also consider affordable for that speed.  And most important of all, it's not blocked or filtered like in Thailand. (maybe some porn sites but at least not a 100% block)

3)Our passport.  Practically can go any other countries without applying a VISA.  

4)Efficient gahment services (applying new accounts for utilities, getting married, certified and etc).  Surprising to see I praise this, well... its actually quite efficient when we go by the book.  That means no oddities or special requests.  You can consider it to be way more efficient than the Thais or even Malaysia (try applying for a lost passport in Thailand or Malaysia... tons of hurdles)  But of course when if you are applying something not under the SOP (Standard Operating System)  then prepare yourself for high blood pressure replies and services...

5)Public utilities (electricity,gas and water).  Very very little screw ups.  Way better then Thailand of course and I appreciate that.

6)Clean streets.  Some like it, some don't but I do appreciate the clean environment.  All thanks and kudos to our foreign friends who took the task to keep our place clean.  It's a tough job to keep such a dense city clean and surprisingly we are doing that quite well....

7)Our police and efficient SCDF.  (This is actually a mixture of good and bad....) but I'm leaning to the like side (even though they really screw up big time on certain things)  at least the low ranking cops don't take bribes or abuse their power like they do in Thailand.  Overall, my impression on them are still quite professional.  But they are some silly incidents like CSJ and the Mas Selamat incident.  But overall, I still trust them (so far)if I need help and that is quite essential.

8)Our taxis.  Another surprising entry but actually our taxis are one of the better public transport I would say.  Yes, it's difficult to look and book for one during peak hours but at least if the service is not up to standard you have a means to complain.  And moreover,  you get to hear some very interesting and entertaining conspiracies/rumours from the uncle or auntie.... :P

9)Our CPF.  (another big surprise!) To be frank, it's actually a good system for us to save money for retirements and for purchasing a house.  But I kind of think it's being abused by our current gahment right now.    I still think it's a good vehicle to save our money.  The idea is good, but the implementation wise is a bit errrrr....

10) Our people.  (Older generations in their 60s or older) These are the pioneers who made SG today and most of them are being left out of our gahment's so called progress.  Most of them are kind hearted, down to earth, hardworking people and I really really enjoy talking to them.  Just talk to one of them and you would know how come PAP still wins every election.  It's because they are just so nice.....

and lastly a bonus... hehehe

11)Our exchange rate!  Singapore money more expensive, the merrier I am.  I can buy more things cheaper from the states and I could change more money to spend in Thailand :P

Ok.. I can think of some more but this are the 1st 11 things that came into my mind.  So don't ever say I never say good things about SG hor!



My New (Used)Ride

Fully UnfoldedMy first foldie was the Strida 5.1 I bought in 2008.  I sold it away in 2010 when I decided to quit my job and return back to Maesai.  Fast forward to the beginning of March when I decided to come back to work.  I started to miss riding a a bike in Singapore.  After 3 weeks of bus rides to office.  The excruciating pain of the bus system here compels me even more to get one.  At first I plan to get a normal bike but my new flat (currently staying at my sis's new HDB flat) is just too small to house a full size bike.

As the idea of getting foldie comes back to me, I started to think about the Brompton folding bike and other brands such as Dahon and Birdy. I have a friend who is also using a Dahon and I asked for his opinion on his bike and he's quite pleased with it.  I started to do more research about the bikes.  I would prefer something that would folds neatly and perform better than my Strida.

Yesterday was my day off and I started a round island trip looking at the bikes from 3 different shops.  I narrowed down to the Brompton and Dahon.  I was leaning towards the Brompton as it really really folds up into a very small package (which is my 1st major citeria).  Then I learnt about a Brompton clone called Flamingo Nex 7 which looks mightly similar of the Brompton fold and at least half the price point of the Brompton.  Money was still a major issue, I'm willing to spend but I have a limit as I still have not earn enough OT to get such big ticket items yet.  I was planning to go down to another bike shop in the West that has the Flamingo Nex 7 to take a peep but that silly old me went to the local bike forum  Itchy hand I went in and searched for a WTS (Want to Sell) thread for a Brompton.  Bing!  Returns 1 under utilised black Brompton M6R at a pretty good price.  Still above my budget but out of curiosity and (trying my luck).  I messaged the guy and asked for the best price (which is my budget).  Took a minute and he replied he is willing to let it go at my price!! Whee... took a cab down and checked out the bike.  Paid and left :P

Folded My first encounter with the Brompton was actually in 2008, when I visited Diginexx to get my Strida.  The owner of the shop showed the Brompton to me but the price tag was just too high for me to justify one at that time as I was only planning to use the bike mainly for commuting between my house and office.  After riding on the Strida for a year plus,  I found that the size of the folded Strida is not as elegant and also it's a bit big and cumbersome to carry around (I could only wheel it).  Not the case for Brompton.  It's slightly heavier but because of it's compact size, I could carry it easily when folded and even wheel it by just extending the seat post.  The other thing is the 6 speed gear which means climbing a hill (around Bedok Reservoir Road) is no longer a pain the ass for me old fat arse.  I always have a hard time along that stretch on my single speed Strida.

I bought the bike at Senkang near Hougang and there was a bike connector.  I took out my handphone and was pleased to find out that the connector would lead me to Hougang Ave 10 which I could hitch a bus back to my office in Kaki Bukit.  I unfolded the bike (many thanks to Gary who sold me the bike and provided some good tips in folding and using the bike) and took a short ride to the bus stop via the park connector.  Its good!  The initial acceleration is less then the Strida but much smoother ride.  Even though its on 16" wheels.  It was a 10 min ride to the bus stop.  I was taking it easy as I was trying to get used to the gearing system.  

I folded the bike and board the bus and dropped off at Ubi.  I decided to take a test ride home on the bike.  The whole journey was about 40mins.  I was not speeding, just crusing along the pavement as I was really testing out the bike and looking out for a better path to get back home.  

I think the current construction around the area meant I have to take a big detour to get back to Bedok Reservoir Road.  There were a lot of rude speeding cyclists I met along the way and I don't really dare to cycle on the road as I did not have my helmet on with me.  Moreover, I have not been cycling on SG's road for more than a year.  All in all, I enjoyed the ride and the bike as well.  Some people disliked the mustache handle bars but I kind of like it a lot.  It allows me to have a much upstraight riding position.  There are some minor peeves on the bike I wish it could be better.  First are the cheap plasticky shifters for the gears, seriously, for this price I hope it could be better, it looks like it would snap easily.  I think it would be difficult to swap them as I have read that most of their parts are proprietary.  Another peeve is the umarked seatpost.   Think I need to use a marker to mark my height.  I stopped twice just to adjust the height of the seat.   Other than that, its a good buy.  Ride is really smooth and the frame is well formed and sexy.  All in all, I love it.  I planned to get a few upgrades.  First, I need some lights!! Then a Brooks seat for my butt.  The seat is good but those Brooks leather seats just look awesome!!  Then a bag or luggage carrier!  I guess I still need to spend a lot more than I expected :P

Parking Mode

PS: Apologies for the lousy photos of the bike in my room, I was actually hiding it from my mum.  Well, let's just say she still sees it in the end and immediately after that was followed by a barrage of nagging of how dangerous it is to commute with a bike on SG road.... :P