Saturday, February 28, 2009

Red Cliff 2 赤壁(下)

Finally finished watching the movie Red Cliff 2. It is a modern interpretation of a story based on a novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The novel itself is about 70% true to history, 30% fictitious. As the story has quite a high percentage of fictitious elements, the direct John Woo, decided to take the liberty to change the story to his own liking. OMG, the most famous plot in the original Red Cliff is Zhou Yu spanking his most loyal general Huang Gai to deceive the enemy, and that leads to the success of the battle. Because now we have a super model Ms Lin Zi-ling in the cast too, so the story is changed that Zhou Yu's wife, Xiao Qiao (starring Lin Zi-ling) deceived the enemy, Cao Cao, to help win the battle.

The ending of the movie is even more ridiculous. Liu Bei, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Zhao Yun, Zhou Yu, Sun Quan all surrounded Cao Cao, but Zhou Yu let Cao Cao go. Haha, very good, the only happy person may be Guan Yu. He finally gets rid of the blame of letting Cao Cao escape.

The fighting scenes, especially the fire attack part is not bad, looks grand, but other than that, nothing much interesting.

My rating: 2.5/5.

Watch it if you have nothing better to do :P

10-min Hair Cut

Where do you usually go for your hair cut? I used to go to neighbourhood barber shops, but now have changed to mainly those 10-min cut chain shops. So far I have tried out both QB House and EC House.

The quality very much depends on the particular person serving you. I have been to QB house many times, the experience differs from very good, to average or bad. My recent trip there I was served by John Tay. He was friendly, and most importantly, his skills are good. After the hair cut, I looked very fresh. I am very happy with the hair cut. But then another time, I was served by another guy. He was a bit rude. At the end of the cut, I requested him to trim a bit more here & there. He was not very pleased and complained that I should have told him earlier, blah blah blah.... Lots of complaints! I made similar requests before to other hairdressers at the same QB house branch, nobody has made any noise before, this guy is the first one.

Another bad experience was with EC house (@ Woodlands Civic Centre). The guy used a shaver with a very blunt blade I think. The shaver kept pulling my hair and it was very painful. I informed the guy, politely requesting him to change to another one, but he refused! He said that shaver was a new one. So he stubbornly used that blunt shaver, although with more care. I don't know whether it was the shaver's problem or his problem, after I complained, the shaver didn't pull my hair anymore. It gave me a very bad impression on that guy.

Microstock: Go Exclusive

At present, most contributors submit to a few microstock agencies at the same time. If a customer can't get an image at one site, he/she can get it elsewhere, sometimes with a better price. One good example is a contributor will get a $28.00 for selling an image with enhanced license at, while at, a contributor only gets $6.60.

Going exclusive is a definite advantage for the microstock agencies. This means customers can only come to them to get that particular image at the agency's price. The customer loses some bargaining power.

However, from the contributor's point, is going exclusive a wise choice? Let's say Yur Acurs, the legendary microstock star, goes exclusive with ABC agency. Would it be advantageous to him? It is reported that Yuri makes around $10,000 a month from one agency. Assuming he only make such amount at 3 agencies, then his monthly revenue is $30,000. If he goes exclusive with one agency, assuming his sales boosts by 50% because his fans follow him to ABC agency, and a 50% increase in payout rate for being exclusive, then his revenue will be around $22,500 per month all in all.

Under the current economic conditions, another serious concern for going exclusive is the risk of agency going bankrupt. If you submit to a few agencies, one of them fails, you still have your stream of income from other agencies; if you are exclusive to one agency and it fails, then that's it. Your income will immediately drops down to zero. You have to again painstakingly build up your portfolio with another agency. I am not talking about what kind legal tussle you may have to face with your photos previously at your exclusive agency.

Just my thoughts...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Christie's - A Robber's Accomplice

Christie's just auctioned off the bronze rat's head and the bronze rabbit's head in its latest auction in Paris. They are two of the 12 Chinese zodiac scupltures that once graced the Imperial Summer Palace in Beijing.

This serves as a reminder to the Chinese that if you are not strong enough to defend your own home, robbers will just come in and take whatever they want, and ask you for a ransom to get your OWN stuff back!

I don't really care about the two bronze heads. Wherever they are, not my business, but the Chinese shall forever remember the shame of being defeated by the British and French troops in 1860. More importantly, we must learn the lesson & get strong; otherwise, the robbers will just come in again to loot another national treasure!

Ta Prohm - The Angkor Experience

It used to be sacred place, a place of ceremony, a place where artisans show off their skillful dances. The pass glory has transformed into today's rumble of falling stones. Visitors can only take a peek into the great performances by the artisans by looking at the fading carving at the walls.

The monks are long gone, but the religious teaching remains. What can be a better example than Ta Prohm itself to tell the visitors nothing is permanent in this world? This once splendid temple has been reduced to piles of moss-covers broken stones. Who could have imagined such a great monument will ever fall? Just like nobody had ever imagined Titanic would sink!

Just like life is full of ups and downs, Ta Prohm has fallen for hundreds of years, then in 2001, it shot back to international fame for being the location where the final scenes of Tomb Raider the movie was shot. The scene of temple ruins interwined with the trees and the forest has been deeply planted into the mind of thousands of movie goers.

Life is full of ups and downs, so when you are down, don't be too upset, because your up days have not come yet...

[You can find my other entries on Cambodia here.]

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thousand Smiling Faces - Bayon

Angkor Wat is well-known in the world, but in terms of architecture, it is just plain simple a temple structure with more decorations, but Bayon, overwhelmed by the fame of Angkor Wat, has a very unique feature - the thousand smiling faces.

When King Jayavarman VII built the city of Bayon, he ordered his face to be seen in every part of the city. I was amazed by this special feature of the ancient construction. Everywhere you go, every corner you turn, you will see his smiling face. It is like a ghost, it is like an angel, it is like your own shadow, following every step you take.

Do you find his smile has the same quality as that of Mona Lisa? His eyes are closed, but the tips of his mouth are tilted upwards, obviously smiling. What is he smiling about? For the great achievement of his own? For this architecture wonder, historic monument he has created? Or... Nobody can tell, he is just smiling, in all directions, to all the visitors, to friends and enemy. He is never tired, he is always smiling.

[You can find my other entries on Cambodia here.]

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

JB Food Experience

How can one go to JB without enjoying some good and cheap food? We did a little bit of food hunt as well.

Breakfast at OldTown Cafe at City Square. I ordered the ice-fire bun. I was wondering what it means by ice-fire? Would fire dancing atop ice cubes? When the food was delivered, alama, it was just a bun with butter sandwiched. Our explanation is that the bun is hot, so it is the FIRE; the butter is cold, so obviously it is the ICE! Nice name, but lousy stuff. Big thumbs down! For coffee, I orderd Nanyang Memory white coffee. Oh, it was very strong. Its strength does not come right away, but it will 'release' its energy slowly.

Ice-Fire Bun from OldTown Cafe

Our lunch was a coffee tucked in somewhere in Taman Johor Jaya. We ordered some rice noodles, and Hokkien noodle. All noodels, hungry for noodles, hahah.... Well, the taste was quite ordinary, not worth a special mention.
After lunch, we enjoyed a bowl of Chendol as dessert at a road side store. Well, the chendol was not bad.

Road-side Chendol

Dinner was at a back alley that I will never ever go on my own. My friends brought me there for an experience.

The Food Back Alley

We ordered the samba stingray for RM20.00. Take a look at our stingray below, the portion is big. You can't get this for S$10. In terms of taste, it was good. The fish was tender. It kind of melts in your mouth. It is mouth-watering by just thinking about it.

Then I ordered a bowl of rice noodle with fish. Alama, it turned out to be a bad choice. The taste was not really bad. It has this special sour taste that you can't find in other such noodles in Singapore. No, it is not rotten food, the sour taste is that kind of sour that you will find in Thai Tom Yam Kung. Other than that special, nothing is worth mentioning, even not worth that RM6.00 I paid for this small bowl of noodle.

Sounds like JB does not have lots of good food hor. I guess you really need to be a 'hunter' to go to those popular good food haunts. In addition, Malaysians' taste is also a bit from Singaporeans, a different understanding of standard of hygiene too. Another common problem is once a stall/store becomes famous, the standard drops off the cliff. Good food becomes bad food.

Monday, February 23, 2009

How to Get To Jusco at Tebrau City

There are three simple ways to get to Jusco@Tebrau City.

1. Take a taxi. You know JB taxis don't run on fare meter even if there is one in the taxi. You always have to negotiate a fare to your destination. The last price I heard is RM22.00 from City Square to Tebrau City.

2. Take a public bus in front of JB Central/City Square. There are a number of buses that pass by Tebrau City. Two of them I know are Bus 6B & Bus 188. The cost is RM2.50 per person per trip. Alight at the bus stop after you see Tesco, a recently opened shopping mall, which is just a stone's throw away from Jusco.

Dari: Bandar Raya
Ke: Taman Johor Jaya

3. Of course you can drive to Jusco. After you pass the custom, just take the Tebrau Highway straight.

Ok, what is there at Jusco. Jusco is the anchor tenant at Tebrau City, another mega shopping mall in JB. Comparing with the last time I was there, the only difference now is more shops have closed down. The things there are too expensive for Malaysia's standard of living, in my humbe opinion. The newly opened Tesco is slightly better. At least I can still find some good buys there.

Oh, by the way, there is a toy shop in Tesco selling remote-controlled helicopters at the price of RM89.00, the same model selling at City Square is RM99.00, a slight price difference.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New JB CIQ (Custom, Immigration, Quarantine) Building & JB Central

Didn't go over to Johor Bahru (JB) for a long time. Today, finally made a trip over, just to relax a bit from Singapore's stressful life.

To describe he new JB CIQ is one word: Grand! Comparing with the old CIQ building, that small little building where visitors had to squeeze like sardins, with no air-conditioning, and you felt like suffocating in it. The number of counters? You can count all of them with your 10 fingers. The new building has ample space, fully air-conditioned, and plenty of counters. In the old CIQ building, it took at least 20 mins, but normally 45 mins for a Singapore passport holder to get through; at the new CIQ building, it takes less than 10 mins to get through. The new building looks modern, and artistic. I like the new CIQ building, a thumbs up for the Malaysian government.

But then it is not all praises, the building is grand, but the road leading to the building is a bit too narrow. Only two lanes! And the road has sharp turns. Look at that U-turn.

Connected to the new CIQ building is the new JB Central, which is still not in operation yet. It is all built up and I suppose in the process of furbishing the internal. Looking forward to the opening of JB Central, hopefully with new train services between Singapore and JB and the rest of Malaysia.

With the opening of the new CIQ, there is a drastic change of traffic pattern in JB. Cars and visitors don't have to pass by Merlin Tower, City Square any more. And the once most popular petrol station in JB now has little business. See the line of petrol pumps but no cars insight? Those pumps may have come to an end of their life. It is time for them to retire.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Online Shopping Experience with a Chinese Website

I made a purchase of two pairs of Calvin Klein underwears at a Chinese online merchant at the Chinese equivalent of eBay.

Photo in the Ad

Actual Merchandise

Looking at the actual pair of underwear, with my uninitiated eye, I don't think it is a genunie product from CK. In terms of quality, actually it is not too bad. The material being used is very similar to genuine CK products. For this particular case, as the underwear is still usable and the price I paid is not extorbitant, I will just rest this case, but I will be more careful in dealing with the online Chinese merchants.

For online shopping in China, they have the paypal equivalent call ZhiFuBao (支付宝). When you make an online purchase, the full amount of the price will be deducted from your ZhiFuBao account and held in custody of a third party (in this case, ZhiFuBao). After you have received your purchased item and happy with it, then you can instruct the thirt party to release the money to the seller. It is a good measure protecting the buyers. However, there is still a loop hole in the system. ZhiFuBao will only hold the money for 7 days, after that, the money will be released to the seller automatically. So make sure the product reaches you within that time, otherwise, you money maybe as good as being thrown away.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Crazy Woman Missed Her Flight at HKIA

This is the hottest video right now at, about a crazy Hong Kong woman missed her flight at the boarding gate. I hate people who are always late. They shamelessly make hundreds of people wait for them while they enjoy their life, wasting other people's precious life! Airlines should implement much stricter rules to deal with those late-comers!

I'm Stupid

I'm very stupid! That's what I finally realised.

It took me almost 10 years to find out I had been fooled by rat. That hardship the rat had been talking about was in fact nitpick from the lap of luxuary. Based on that information, I made wrong decisions, stupid moves, and then I ended up in the current state.

I had always wondered why the pig gave me so much autonomy, I suspected it was because whatever assigned to me was not important, yet I still diligently worked on my tasks. Then the pig cancelled the project.

The pig assigned people to me under training. I spent my time and effort training the new guys. If anyone one of them happens to have great potentials, he/she will be re-assigned to other projects, due to a resource crunch.

The pig said I was not knowledgable enough to do presentations to the customers, so somebody else should go for that trip. A couple of years later, when I gained the knowledge, the pig sent somebody else for that trip, saying that guy is more suitable, although that guy had no clue about what he talked about.

The only good thing of being stupid is you are transparent in the office. People walk past you as if you do exist. Absolutely nobody will get jealous about you, and your position is very 'safe'. Nobody will take up that position.

There is a saying it is better late than never. Taking 8 years to realise I am stupid is still not too bad. Just don't get fooled around by pigs and monkeys. Today is the most memorable day in my life. I should never forget this date. It will become my 纪念日!Finally I am honest to myself!

Because of the pig's mean setup, and my own stupidity, I wasted a precious 8 years at my current position, the most precious 8 years in a persons life! The set-backs in this position has made me have low self-esteem. When it comes to dating, this failure always daunts me, making me feel inferior to the girl I date. But today onwards, I will not have the inferior feel anymore. I should not punish myself for the pig's fault. I shall live as a happy person, get back what I have lost in the past 8 years!

Gyuzen (牛膳)

Japanese beef is world famous, when you are in Japan, how can you miss such delicacy? When I was in Himeji, I discover a small little shop specialising in Japanese beef, with a reasonable price.

Well, we ordered the cheapest, just in case it is not good :) The set we ordered is a 3,800 yen set, which comprises 3 types of beef, hundred-day old chicken meat and different vegetables.

The 3 types of beef basically refer to beef from different parts of the cow. The prices for beef from different part of the cow can vary a lot more than you thought, so does the taste! A picture is worth a thousand words, so just let you see the picture of our food and you will know.
They actually put labels on each type of meat to let you differentiate them, and feel the different tastes later. To turn the raw beef into cooked beef, you have to do your grilling yourself. Wah, with a great chef, R, around, the grilling is exceptionally good. You ask me how the beef tastes? Ok, it melts in your mouth. It is juicy, fresh, delicious, tasty, running out of words to describe it.

The grilling part is fun too. Time for you to chit-chat with your friends, enjoy a glass of beer. And most importantly, there is no smoke!
My rating: 4.9/5
You can visit their website at:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ramen Santouka (火头山)

There is a small Japanese restaurant hidden at one corner of the Central Mall in Clark Quay. The shop is actually behind a Chinese restaurant called 'The Grains'. Yet, there is always a long queue outside.

Just out of curiosity, I paid a visit to them. Small shop space, only a couple of tables, less than 10? As the name implies, they are most famous for their ramen, and the meat from a pig's chin.

Pig's Chin Meat

The pig's chin meat is tender, has nice texture. They marinated with some special sauce, so it is very delicious. A top recommendation from my friend, R.

Their ramen are served in very thick soup base. They are just like those served in Japan itself. As you can see in the pictures above, the portions are big, more than enough for a young man to have a filling meal.

However, in terms of taste and healthy eating, their food is a bit more on the salty side. The pig's chin meat is marinated so it is naturally more salty; the ramen soup base, I suspect, has been cooked for long hours, so it is also a bit salty, as a result of the many long hours of cooking.

My rating: 4/5. It is quite close to what you can get in Japan itself.

Ramen Santonka
6, Eu Tong Sen Street
#02-76, The Central
Tel: (65) 6224-0668
Business Hours: 11:00-21:45

And it has these two special notes to the customers:
1. In such situation of soup running out, we may shorten the day of business hour.
2. We do not take reservations.

Wow, judging from such statements and the long queue outside the restaurant, their business must be really good. Anyway, good things should be shared :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

JJ Lin Jun Jie 林俊杰

This is a very back-dated post. I happened to bump into JJ Lin Jun Jie's meet the fans session at last year's Chinese book fair at Suntec City. Too bad, I was there late, and he was already singing the very last song. Followed by a one-to-one photograph session with his fans on-stage. For those few who had the honour to go on-stage, I don't know how long they had been queuing at the venue waiting for that moment to come.

Sometimes I really pity those 'stars'. They have to be approachable to almost everybody, sometimes even have to do things that ordinary people won't want to do. In certain cases, I feel those 'stars' are kind of modern day geisha. "stars" is just a name that sounds more glam.

Shocked Rejections at 123RF

I got a shock this morning when I logged in to my 123RF account. 5 out of 11 photos have been rejected. All of them have been rejected for the same reason:

Incomplete or No Release:This image requires you to provide and attach the proper model or property releases. To resubmit the image for review, please start attaching the releases to it.

Similar photos have been accepted just a month or two ago, and now all of a sudden I am asked to upload a release! Is this a policy change? If yes, then the change should be communicated to the contributors earlier. Or is it just a new reivewer coming onboard and exercising his/her new found authority? I don't know. Looking at 123RF's forum, some other contributors seem to have encountered the same problem, but no replies to their questions.

Below are the 5 rejected photos of mine.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New York Fashion Week 2009

The New York Fashion Week kicks off this week, and here are some of the video clips on the fall season fashion 2009.

Purpose of Life

What is the purpose of life? In the animal world, the primary purpose of life is no doubt to ensure the survival of the species. Once that mission is accomplished, your value drops to zero. That's why you see in the insect world, some males will be eaten by the females after they mate, as the male has no more value to the species anymore.

How about humans? Of course the primary purpose is to ensure the survival of the species too! What do you think the reason behind all that 'pro-family' policies advocated by many governments around the world. Without enough young people, the survival of the nation will be at risk!

Well, other than that, the remaining purpose of life is just to experience life. Try that food you have always wanted to try but never, go to that place you have dreamt since a young kid. The list is endless. As I grow up, I realise that some of my dreams will never come true. Not because I won't be able to afford it in my life time, but because the opportunity is gone forever. Anita Mui is my teenager time goddess, I had always wanted to attend one of her live concerts. I did have the opportunity, but then I never thought that was something urgent. Now, she is gone. I will never be able to attend her live concert, no matter how much I am willing to pay.

I still remember vaguely a conversation in Home Alone 2 - Lost in New York. Kevin said to the lonely lady in Central park, he used to keep his pair of new shoes and seldom wore them. Then one day, when he wanted to wear that pair of shoes, they were too small for him to wear. See, if you have something now but you don't use it, it may become totally useless to you later.

Monday, February 16, 2009

AMK Hub Fried Prawn Noodle

There is popular fried prawn noodle stall at AMK Hub food court. Newspaper/magazine cuttings displayed on their wall to show how famous they are. Obviously, they have been recommended by almost all the local newspapers, be it in English or Chinese, from the more serious ones to tabloids.

Their way of cooking the noodle is quite different. Usually, the cook will prepare the noodles in small portion, customer to customer. At this stall, they cook a large quantity of noodles at one go, using a big iron wok. Haha... people say big iron wok has more wok 'air'. :)

They cook with a big iron wok

The fried prawn noodle is juicy & creamy. The sweetness of the bean sprouts are absorbed into the noodles, both the yellow noodle and the white rice noodle. You should definitely try their chilli sauce. The sauce is not too spicy, but it has this special taste that I don't know how to describe. Guess it must be their secret recipe.

Ok, one thing I don't like though, is the prawns. The prawns they use are not really that fresh. The flesh sticks to the shell sometimes. And a common problem of the Singapore way of preparing prawns is that they don't remove the veins, neither do they raise the prawns in clear water for a few days to let the prawns get rid of the mud in their body. If you don't make a conscious effect to remove the veins yourself, you are basically eating mud. That's the turn off thing for me.

Overall, the taste of noodle is not bad, as long as you leave the prawns alone. :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Travel from Hongkong Airport to Guangzhou

For my last trip home, I took a flight to Hongkong, instead of a direct flight home. It is quite convenient to travel from Hongkong Airport to Guangzhou directly.

There are 3 coach companies offering coach service from the airport to various parts of Guangzhou. I personally have tried two, one is Wing Tung (永东), another is CTS (China Travel Service). They use a Hongkong coach to fetch you from the airport to Luo Ma Chow border crossing point. After you pass the Hongkong immigration and mainland China immigration, you will be a mainland Chinese coach all the way to your destination in Guangzhou City.

The coaches leave Hongkong airport once every 10-20 mins, quite frequent. You don't have to wait for too long. The coaches are not bad in general. There is an on-board toilet for you to relief yourself, and a water machine to provide drinking water.

Now it comes to the tricky part, which is the price. When you enquire, they will quote you a price of RMB250.00. As you hesitate or bargain, they will lower it to RMB200.00 immediately, and that's the price I paid for my ticket. Then later I realised in fact I can actually get it to as low as RMB150.00 for the trip! Please do learn my lesson!

I heard there is one more way to get to Guangzhou from Hongkong airport. Also by coach, but you don't have to get through the immigration at Luo Ma Chow. The price is higher at RMB230. But I couldn't get more details about that service.

Breakout - The Extreme Dance Performance

This is a follow-up of a previous blog entry:
Breakout - Extreme Dance Comedy.

Finally, I got to watch this performance at the Esplanade Theatre. First, let me talk a bit about the theatre. It has a seating capacity of 2000, sounds small, but yet, the seats are a bit too crammed. The feet of the person behind you are too close to your head for comfort. The leg room must be specifically designed for old-time Asians who tend to be shorter in height, and have short legs. I can't imagine how a leggy western model can squeeze into that small little space.

The theatre also has many doors, but many doors also converge into one door for exit, and one staircase. What is their evacuation plan? Mmmhh....

Ok, back to the main topic, the Breakout! Yes, the performance lasts about 80 mins, the fun-filled 80 mins. It seamlessly integrates break dance, hip-hop and stage play together into a comedy appealing to people of all ages. (By the way, yesterday audiences include from school kids to old grandmothers.) They also have good interaction with the audience, not just leaving the audience watching but no participation.

Stage lighting, music, and transitions from one scene to another are done smoothly. As the performance has very few verbal conservations, the message is mainly communicated to the audience through facial expressions and body language, which the performers did a very good job. They did it naturally, they did it in such a way that you forget you are actually watching a performance.

I highly recommend this performance. My rating is 4.9/5, the 0.1 is because everything has room for improvement :)

My only regret is I didn't get my ticket earlier and get a better seat, a seat closer to the stage. I was sitting in Circle 3, which is on level 4 of the theatre, too high up there.

Below is an excerpt from the Esplanade Diary about Breakout:

BREAKOUT is a new concept b-boy show created by Yegam and Sevensense Inc of (South) Korea. Established in 2003 and based in Seoul, Korea, Yegam and Sevensense Inc was one of the first production companies to specialise in comic martial arts performance in Asia, designed to appeal to people of all ages and international cultures.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yuri Acurs - The Legendary Microstock Photographer

I found a couple of video clips about Yuri Acurs, the legendary microstock photographer. He is regconized to be the best and the most profitable and successful photographer in the microstock world.

Enjoy the video clips and be inspired.

Friday, February 13, 2009

New York Fashion Week 2009

The New York Fashion Week 2009 will start next Monday 16 Feb 2009. It is reported that the invitation cards are printed in black to reflect the sobre mood of the current state of the economy and the one of the worst winters for high street fashion. Well, don't be so pessimistic. Even if we are going to see a repeat of the Great Depression in the last century, there will still be some rich people who can afford high fashion, and people in the streets still need to have clothes to wear. Life will still need to go on, regardless of good or bad economic conditions.

Here is a clip from YouTube on what to expect in the New York Fashion Week.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Crossing between Hong Kong and Shenzhen

Hong Kong is part of China, Shenzhen is also part of China, but when you travel from one to other, you have to cross a border checkpoint just like you are crossing the border of two countries. One country, two systems!

Ok, the most popular and convenient checkpoint is no doubt LuoHu (罗湖) checkpoint. The inter-city train from Guangzhou East Railway station arrives directly at LuoHu checkpoint. You leave the train station, walk into the Mainland Chinese side of the immigration building, then walk to the Hong Kong side of the immigration building. Then you can walk directly to the Hong Kong MTR station which can bring you to anywhere in Hong Kong.

But LuoHu is usually very crowded with lots lots of people crossing the border. LuoHu area is also the breeding bed for all kinds of crimes, from petty theft to day-light robbery, to various scams by the con artists.

An alternative border crossing point, which I just discovered this past Chinese New Year, is the Futian Kou'an (福田口岸). From LuoHu train station, take Shenzhen's subway line 1 to Exhibition Centre, then transfer to line 3 to Futian Kou'an (福田口岸) station. The immigration building is part of the Shenzhen subway station building. On the other side of the border, that's Luo Ma Chow (落马州) station of Hong Kong's MTR train system. From there, you can go anywhere in Hong Kong too!

Futian Kou'an (福田口岸) is usually not crowded, with very few people in the immigration hall itself. Can you imagine I was there on the 3rd day of Chinese New Year and the immigration hall was mostly empty, while LuoHu side was very crowded.

From LuoHu or Luo Ma Chow to Hong Kong central is ~HK$43.00 on the MTR.

Next time, give Futian Kou'an (福田口岸) a try if you are crossing the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Saizen Reit - Lost of Faith?

Saizen Reit, a reit with poor fate. When it was first launched, it immediately lost 7% from its IPO price of $1. As the financial crisis deepens, the reit is losing its value day by day. Look at its chart above, the price has gone down from $0.93 to 9.5 cents today!

Reits are said to be 'defensive' plays. Defensive? My foot! In a declining market, nothing is 'defensive'! To make things worse, Saizen has issues with refinancing its debt which is to mature soon.

Can you imagine if you were the one who bought at the IPO price of S$1.00, you are only left with 9.5 cents, that's only left with 9.5% of your original investment value.

So if you are investing, please do your own research, don't just believe those so-called 'advisors' who are just out there to ...... (you know what).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thaipusam Survival Guide

Thaipusam is a big festival for Hindus, so you can expect there will be lots of crowds. And it is taking place in a tropical country, Singapore. The sun is never too gentle around noon, while Thaipusam is almost like a whole day event. Based on my two-time experience with Thaipusam, here is my survival guide.

Attire & Accessories:
1. Wear a hat to have some shade
2. Wear a pair of sun glasses if you are not taking photos
3. Dress light. Dry-fit T-shirt, bermuda and sandals will be good. Remember when you enter the Hindu Temple, you MUST remove your footwear, so don't wear something too expensive, just in case.
4. Bring at least a bottle of water. You may get dehydrated under the burning sun. However, do keep in mind that there are free drinks and snacks available for ALL. Yes, for ALL people, regardless of race, religion or whatever. Do try their snacks, if you have not, just for the experience.

Photography Locations and Timing:
1. The procession starts at the Hindu temple in Serangoon Road, near Farrer Park MRT station, ends at the Hindu temple in Tank Road.
2. The preparation starts at around 2am, but unless you are really serious and kiasu, otherwise I think you can just go early in the morning.
3. There is a preparation tent in the temple ground in Serangoon Road. You can go in there to take photos of how they do the preparation, including the praying, and piercing. This preparation lasts well into the afternoon.
4. If you are shooting early in the morning, say 8.30am and before, the lighting is not going to be too favourable. The streets the procession pass by are lined with buildings. Early in the morning, the streets are still in the shadow of the buildings. However, in the mid-day, the lighting is harsh too. So, not so easy.
5. The kavadis will only come out more after around 9.30am. before that, they are less frequent.
6. It will be handy to have a telelens to take some close-ups. The procession is quite crowded, and you can hardly get a 'clean' shot.
7. It will be good to have an external flash on hand too to do some fill flash. The shadows are killing.

1. Serangoon/Little India area will be very crowded! Ok, depends on your definition of being 'crowded', Little India area was not crowded at all for me on 8 Feb this year. Plenty of room for you to move around. Indeed some sections of Serangoon Road is a bit narrow, and hard to get through, but it was only a couple of minutes wait.
2. The bigger Kavadis will come out in the afternoon. Not true. It is the same.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thaipusam 2009

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival to ask for forgiveness of their sins, to redeem their bad deeds. This means there will be lots of self-sacrificing acts. The following pictures may cause some uneasiness. Please proceed at your own risk!

The annual Thaipusam procession in Singapore starts at the Hindu temple in Serangoon Road, near Farrer Park MRT station along the North-East line, ends at the Hindu temple at Tank Road, which is just a stone's throw away from Orchard Road.

Thaipusam is a Hindu Festival, but somehow the Chinese Monkey King managed to sneaked into the procession. Look at those typical Chinese Monkey King portraits.

And this Hindu devotee is actually wearing the portrait of the Chinese Monkey King on his chest.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Muscle and Fitness War 2009 - Part 3

This is the final part for Muscle and Fitness War 2009. A sequence of muscle-flexing of our 1st runner-up of this competition.

You can find Part I and Part II at the links below:
Muscle and Fitness War 2009 - Part I
Muscle and Fitness War 2009 - Part II