Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Microstock: A Significant Milestone

After 6 long years of working on microstock photography, the income has finally reached the most important milestone:  All my expenses on photography, including both hardware, such as cameras and lenses, and software, such as photography courses, have been recovered.

It is just like taking out a home loan, and now you have finally paid off your loan.  From next month onwards, any income from microstock photography will be return ON my investment.  The return is yet to be seen, but I am really happy that this day has finally come and I can enjoy the fruits of my hard work in the past 6 years.  In addition, the joy of photography is even more rewarding.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wisdoms of Life

Reading a book titled Wisdom of Life, by German author Arthur Schopenhauer.  Strictly speaking, it is not a book, but an excerpt from a book of Schopenhauer.

The author discussed about life and happiness.  Life for the poor is filled with daily struggle to get food on the table, all else to them is secondary.  Life for the rich is filled with boredom.  They have to constantly look for new things, new adventures to keep themselves interested and feel alive.  The author advocates happiness can only be found, for both the poor and rich, middle class included, by obtaining spiritual satisfaction.

In his book, he bluntly exposed the hypocrite's moral standards which are generally accepted in society.

The truth told by the author is plain, direct, frank, and dark.  It somehow paints a very dark picture of human life, a life without much hope.  No wonder he has been considered to be a pessimist in history.

It is a good read, but just don't get too carried away by his pessimism.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Caning as one of the punishments or the criminal court is a legacy from times long ago, and it still remains relevant in the modern world of Singapore, Malaysia, and some other countries.

Below is a video recording how caning is like in Malaysia.   It may look a bit barbaric, but then it is effective in crime prevention.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Looking for some entertainment in a rainy weekday afternoon, so went to watch Immortals at Cathay.

The movie is again about the fight between good and evil, Gods and Titans.  Somehow the Zeus, king of all gods, appears as a middle age man, with a perfect man's body.  It is quite a difference from the Zeus that we see in more traditional painting and sculptures where Zeus has been portrayed as a kind old man.

Theseus, played by Henry Carvill, is great material as a model, with again, a perfect man's body.  The muscles are so well defined.  I think the girls most probably will be drooling all the time.  However, somehow he doesn't appear to be a great hero, as he has neither lots of courage, nor strategy against the enemies.  Rather, his totally unnoticeable hero support, Stavros, seems to be more knowledgeable, and has more tactics.

The movie has quite a lot of CGI, giving the audience a sense of mystery, and lots of elements for a mythology  movie.  In addition, the movie is bluntly bloody.  Humans, gods, titans are slaughtered with utmost brutality, splashing flesh and blood everywhere.  Definitely this movie is not suitable for young children.

After watching this movie, you may conclude that there are no more gods nor titans in this world, as they have all been killed by each other.  Guess what is the end of the movie?  King of Gods, Mr Zeus, was busy fighting a war with the Titans in heaven!  No wonder he has no time to take care of Greece's national debt :)  That explains why Europe now is in a deep financial crisis.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fu Lin Yuan Health Soup Restaurant

A friend bought some coupons for four people from a group purchase website recently.  I already one previous experience with group purchase food, which was just so so, so this time round, my expectation was not really high.

The restaurant is tucked in one of the small old-style shop houses in Neil Road.  The setting is quiet and peaceful.

The table setting is very simple, nothing special, but it is clean and neat.

Then came our first dish.  Mushroom with leafy vegetables.

This dish is quite special.  The mushroom is very crispy, and flavour of the sauce has been fully absorbed by the mushrooms.  I think the chef also slightly fried the mushroom so it has a very distinctive taste, waking up all your taste buds.

The other dishes are:

1. Deep fried prawns with salted egg yoke
2. Chili Xiapo (虾婆)
3. Duck and reddish soup
4. Pork Ribs
5. Frog legs
6. Yangzhou Fried Rice

Sorry, guys.  The food was good and we were all too eager to eat rather than taking photos :)

All the food is good.  The Chili Xiapo is spicy and punchy, at the same time, preserving the freshness of the Xiaopo.

Frog legs are good too.  They are very tender and you can tell the freshness the moment they enter your mouth.

Fu Lin Yuan is at 47 Neil Road.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Who Wears a Rolex Watch

Rolex has been a very famous branded Swiss watch across the world.  The prices of Rolex watches are also as high as its fame.  However, do you ever wonder who wears a Rolex watch?  Other than the kings and queens, presidents and celebrities, who else will wear a Rolex watch?

As I passed the immigration at LAX, I simply couldn't not to notice that flashy shiny piece of stainless steel on that US Homeland Security officer's wrist.  Why?  It is a Rolex submariner.  The price of such a watch is in the range of S$7000-8000 to S$10,000, depending on the exact model.  I was a bit far from his hand and couldn't get a close look at the exact model, but I am sure it is a Rolex!

On my way back to Singapore, the young steward on board that SIA flight also has a piece of shiny piece stainless steel, popping out from his nicely ironed sleeve.  It is a Rolex!  The magnifying glass piece is so distinctive!

Just when you wonder who would spend that insane amount of money on a tiny piece of stainless steel, the Rolex shop at Changi Airport terminal 3 actually ran out of stock of the new Rolex submariner (116610LN), the stainless steel version, only left with the more expensive gold version.

It is a very interesting world. :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Paradize Inn @ NEX - My 3rd Visit

I can't believe it myself, but this is my 3rd visit to Paradize Inn@NEX, and 2nd visit within like 2-3 weeks.

This time we ordered Goby soup with pork and apple.  The soup is not too thick.  Apple adds a bit sourness to the taste.  It is nice!

And the sambal kangkong here is not bad.  I guess it must be the sambal that has added the critical flavour to the dish.  I like the leafy portion, not the stems.

Tofu with century egg is a cold dish that I have never seen before.  The tofu is plain, but once added in the century egg, the taste is complex.  You can even eat the tofu plus century egg plus the wonderful sambal kangkong.

Steamed minced pork with water chestnut and salted egg is another delicious dish.  However, some fat is mixed in the minced meat, so if you don't like fat, you won't like this dish.  Water chestnut is sweet and crispy.

Last but not least, the very sinful kourou bao.  Basically it is super fatty meat with a plain bun.  We only ordered one piece, as I didn't want to take this.  Too much fat for this old man ;P

Food-wise, it is still the usual standard and it is really good.  Service-wise, today is not so good.  The waiters and waitresses hit our hands a couple of times when they walked past, and nobody came over to serve us the soup.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin - The Secret of The Unicorn

It seems like Hollywood has somehow run out of ideas for new movies, so they just re-make the classic old movies.  The Adventures of Tintin is based on a comic book, and also a cartoon series in the middle of the last century.  People who grew up reading Tintin comics now are in there 70s or even 80s, the new generation  may not have even heard of it.  So, it is time to re-introduce this old world adventure character to the new generations.

The movie combines 3 original Tintin series into a single episode, so there is a lot of compression of the story, and quite a bit of deviation from the original cartoon.  There is a typical Hollywood signature style of being too hasty in story development, I call it 'fast food' storyline.  The 'original' Tintin fans may get a bit disappointed, but the new generation fans may be just happy with the modern version.

I watched the 2D version.  The characters are very 'plastic'.  It is neither real human like, nor cartoon like, it is in between, like your plastic barbie doll.

My Rating: 3/5

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kam Ja Zhuang Seafood

Kam Ja Zhuang Seafood is a Zi Char stall featured in Channel 8's Sizzling Woks program.  As it is near my work place, so 3 of us went there to give it a try.

Our 'main' disk is the curry fish head.  The curry sauce is not bad, spicy and fragrant.  However, the fish head is quite a disappointment - it is very small.  You dig into that big big clay pot but you don't get much fish head.  Taste-wise I think it is acceptable, portion-wise I think it is a disappointment for S$20.00.

Second dish is prawn with fruits.  The fried prawns are fresh, and taste is nothing to complain about.

The shrimp paste chicken wing is quite plain in taste.  I am not sure whether it is because the spice of the curry fish head has disturbed my taste buds for this dish.  I think its standard is acceptable, but not exceptional.  The meat is slightly on the dry side, not as juicy as it should be, but still ok.

Highlight of the night is actually this simple vegetable dish - samba kangkong (马来风光).  Ok, my Malay is not very good, so people who know Malay please correct the name of the dish.  Anyway, somehow this dish is very different from the same dish I had elsewhere.  It has that special 'punch' in the taste, and wakes you up!  I don't know whether the secret is in the vegetable itself, or the sauce or both!

In terms of environment, the coffee shop was renovated recently, so the lights are bright, environment is pleasant.  Still no air conditioning thought.  However, what turns me off most is there are people smoking in the coffee shop, right in front of the 'No Smoking' sign!

Kam Ja Zhuang is at Block 202, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3.   

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Monkeys at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

It has been quite a long time since my last visit to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.  Decided to take a walk in this beautiful reserve this afternoon.  The nature reserve seems to be a bit exhausted these days.  Signs of landslides, and tree falling down are more than what I had seen before.  Anyway, I was greeted by a group of resident monkeys in the nature reserve, and there are many young monkeys playing in the trees.  What does it mean?  Does more young monkeys mean they now have an expanded family and the environment is conducive? Or most of the old ones have died as they can adapt to the modern living?  I don't know.  For now, let's share the happy moments with the young monkeys :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tea Dot @ NEX

Had tea at Tea Dot @ NEX last weekend.  Their drinks have very fancy names, such as the drink that I ordered is 'Arctic Dragon brew'.  Do you have any idea what it is?  Basically it is just Oolong tea plus some kind of fruits, plus ice cube.  That's it!  For this small glass of tea, the cost is S$5.85.  I guess most of the cost comes from the rent of the shop, in such a nice busy shopping mall :)  Taste-wise, it is typical Oolong tea and there is nothing weird at least.

My friend's order also has a very fanciful name, and it cost S$7.20.  I start to understand why Starbucks is such a huge success :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Punggol Waterway

Last Sunday was the official opening of Punggol Waterway, a project by HDB that cost S$220 million dollars!  Put it simply, it is just a big monsoon drain without the concrete walls on the sides.

The place is quite barren, with few trees.  It feels hot even though it was a cloudy afternoon.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paradise Inn @ NEX

It is my second time to Paradise Inn @ NEX.  My last experience was not bad, and of course their Cantonese cuisine is the main attraction.  We were not very hungry that day, so we only ordered two dishes.  One is sea whelm soup, the other is steamed fish head.

Our sea whelm soup is thick and sweet in taste.  You can tell it has been boiled for many hours.  The sweet taste of sea whelm has come out completely into the soup.

The steamed fish head is not bad, too.  However, the fish has too many bones, and you have to be really careful when you eat it.  The way they cook it is more toward Teochew style, and it is a little bit spicy.

Overall, it was a very satisfactory meal :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fukuichi @ Triple One Somerset

Purple suggested we go for lunch at Fukuichi @ Triple One Somerset.  There is a display of a blog post from ieatishootipost, a famous Singapore food blog.  We arrived slightly after 11.30am, just after the restaurant opened for the day.  We were ushered in by a lady, somehow like very reluctantly, as if we owed her a million dollars in debt!

When we ordered our food, came another lady.  She was quite nice to inform us that if we pay by UOB credit card, then we can get 15% discount on ala carte items.  In addition, we will get a complimentary century egg tofu cold dish.

Simple, old-fashion table settings.

And here is our complementary century egg tofu.  The taste is not bad, although it is a bit salty for my taste buds, otherwise it is good.  The tofu is tender and jelly like.

My unagi lunch set:

The highlight of the day, and the most expensive item of the day: TORO!

These two tiny pieces of sushi cost S$22.00, while my whole unagi lunch set is only S$18.00!  This TORO has to be god-damn good for that price.  To my disappointment, the TORO is very chewy, and that's only impression I have of this most expensive item :(

Last but not least, our dessert:

We felt that we didn't eat much, but somehow we felt we were very full.  Had to go for a long walk for proper digestion.

In summary, I would say it is just another Japanese restaurant.  Price is reasonable, acceptable service, reasonable food, but not outstanding.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Indecent Ad?

Here is a giant advertisement board at the crossing of Orchard Road and Bideford Road.  This ad has created quite a stir up in Singapore, with people writing to newspapers and relevant authorities to complain that the ad is indecent.  Reason being?  The model's body is too sexy, too smooth, too perfect, and above all, the model's pubic hair is shown partially.  Come on, we all know that humans have pubic hairs when they reach adolescence.  There is no secret about it, although people don't talk about it openly and in general social settings.  Beauty of the human body is a god sent gift, let's don't junk it to the indecent category.   

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Meet Your MP

Just a few minutes ago, the MP for our constituency dropped by my humble flat to say hello, and asked whether there were any improvement they can make.

Yes!  I saw the notice the other day and I had been waiting for her to ask this question.  Around my block, there are quite a number of rotten friends running around.  They just come out from nowhere and then run around the path right in front of you.  Our dear dear and darling cats don't seem to even bother about our rotten friends.

Our MP happily agreed to get the experts to come and get rid of all our rotten friends.  Let's wait and see, whether there will really be some improvements in the days to come.  Rats spread diseases, and they are not something that you can ignore and live together happily.

Let's wait and see.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Weekend Without My Handphone

Mobile phones have been deeply woven into our modern life.  Like it or not, without a mobile phone, there are many things you can't do, even if you don't need the mobile phone to communicate with anyone.

I forgot my mobile in office on Friday, so I had to live through the weekend without one.  I didn't expect I would get myself into any trouble, or even inconvenience myself, as I don't make that many phone calls, or sms a lot.  Then when I need to do online purchase, and when I want to do bank fund transfers, I realize I can't, without my mobile phone. 

Now for credit payments for your online purchase, they require you to have an OTP password to authorize the transaction.  It is an added safety feature to safeguard your money.  I can't say anything bad about it.  But then if you lose your mobile phone, it will also be a nightmare for you.

Modern life, life can't do without mobile phones...

Memorial Museum of Generalissimo Sun Yat-Sen's Mansion

Watched the movie 1911 Revolution yesterday, and it reminds me of my visit to the Memorial Museum of Generalissimo Sun Yat-Sen's Mansion earlier this year in Guangzhou.

Usually, the museum is quite empty, hardly with any visitors, but I visited it on the first day of Chinese New Year, long queues of people at the entrance, waiting for distribution of free entry tickets at each hour.  The museum offers free entry, but they control the number of visitors to, I think, 3000 per day.

The mansion has obviously been renovated, with all the fresh paint visible over the entire building compound.  And, in order not to obstruct the architectural beauty of the mansion, a small part of a nearby bridge was removed.  You see, we Cantonese are really serious in preserving our heritage.  :)

There are two western style buildings in the compound, used to be connected on the second floor with a bridge, but then that is gone.

Within the building itself, there are displays of artifacts related to the operation of the generalissimo during its heydays, offering a glimpse into the life of those challenging days.

Here is the meeting room where Dr Sun used to hold his meetings.

Quiet, airy corridor, perfect for a lazy summer afternoon in the heat of southern China.

Looking over the old structure, we can see the modern Guangzhou, covered in a thin layer of mist.

It is a nice place to remember those who dedicated their lives in the past for the betterment of our lives today.  If you are not interested in history, at least it is a nice place to sit back and relax, and enjoy the view of modern Guangzhou.

If you can read Chinese, more information about the museum can be found at this link.

Empire State @ Causeway Point

Empire State is another restaurant opened at Causeway Point after the renovation.  It is more or less in the same style of New York New York, serving American style western food.

It is quite crowded at 6.30pm on a Saturday, quite a queue outside the restaurant.  However, we were quite lucky that they quickly found a table for two for us.  Customers obviously out number the waiters/waitresses.  In such a hurry, our waitress forgot to bring us our ice water, although we ordered.

Here is my steak & fries.  The steak is medium-well done, however, there is still sign of blood atop the steak. It is a bit scary, isn't it?  The steak is tender, better than I had expected from any American style food.  The food is simple, just a piece of steak, nothing much more to talk about, but they did it right.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kapap - Self Defense for Everyone

Recently I took up a Kapap course to learn some self defense techniques, just in case I may need that some time, although I hope that moment will never come.

There is a video clip produced by the North East CDC, which you can find below.  You will get more information about Kapap.

1911 Revolution 辛亥革命

This is Jackie Chan's 100th film, and it comes at the 100th anniversary of Xinhai (1911) revolution.

The movie has a bit of identity crisis, it seems like the scriptwriter doesn't know what he/she wants to portrait for this movie, whether it is a movie of history, a war movie, a movie of love, or whatever.  It seems like the movie wants all, but then unfortunately achieves none beautifully.

What is more sad is that, the wishes of the revolution's leader, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, one century after the 1911 revolution, are still not fully fulfilled.  

Hot Tomato @ Causeway Point

Hot Tomato is one of the new restaurants opened after Causeway Point's upgrading.  Often times, you can see long queues of customers outside it, and seems to be a very popular place for young people.  Ok, in that case I must give it a try, and they are having some kind of promotion, how can I missed it?

My order is steak N prawn combo, served with spaghetti for ~13 bucks.  Not too bad a deal.  The food comes with a reasonable presentation, and looks good.

There are 4 parts to my dish, namely prawn, steak, spaghetti, and vegie salad.  Let's start from the prawn.  The prawns are of reasonable size, but unfortunately not very fresh.  The meat sticks to the shell, a telltale sign that the prawns are not fresh.

Next the steak.  I will say it is not too bad not too good, just ordinary.  I order medium, and it is more on the bloody side, yet still ok.

Spaghetti is just normal, cooked with some kind of herb.  The taste is on the plain side.

Last is the salad.  The vegies don't look very good, and totally tasteless.

For me, it is unlikely I will go there again, sorry.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wong Kok, Again

My friend and I are kind of addicted to Wong Kok Char Chan Teng at JB City Square.

Ok, let's talk less, and show more.  First comes the restaurant's new disk, baked prawn boat.  What exactly is this?  Actually it is a piece of potato.  They dig out the center part, and then fill it back with prawn and fish paste, I guess, then bake the whole thing together with some butter.

The smell is good, and the taste is nice too.  It gives the sweet taste of the potato and the texture of the prawn and fish paste.

Another new dish is Sabu Sabu rice.  This dish is not as good as I expected.  The pork they use has quite a bit of fat, which I don't really like.  However, the thin slices of pork is still not bad, but people with heavy taste may not like it, as the taste is very light.

Manhattan Fish Market @ Causeway Point

Manhattan Fish Market restaurant is a restaurant specialized in American style seafood, similar to Fish & Co.
Decided to give it a try, after they opened a new branch in Causeway Point.

My choice is the Mediterranean Baked Fish (S$.  The fish fillet is wrapped in aluminum foil, and then baked together with banana leaf (?), and garlic.  It is served with some healthy vegies, and garlic herb rice.

The fish is tender and juicy, with a light scent of the nice smell of garlic.  I like it very much.  Rice is not bad, although it is a bit on the dry side, and portion is a bit small.  My young dining buddy complains that it is not enough for him :(

Sunday, September 25, 2011

First Encounter with Golf @ MaxSwing offered a deal of S$38 for 1 hour of indoor golf at MaxSwing@Orchard Central, plus coaching!  It is such a good deal then how can I miss it?

MaxSwing is located on the 4th floor of Orchard Central, right next door to the even more expensive flight simulation shop.  It is indoor, with air conditioning, so it is perfect for the rainy season of tropical Singapore.  In addition, you can check out your own swing speed.  Well, it somehow looks like a giant arcade game, I don't disagree.

Golf balls will come up automatically, although that mechanism doesn't seem to be very robustly designed.  During our short 1-hour sting with golf, it jammed :(

Our coach is an old grandfather, David, a very kind and patient man.  He is also a PGA professional golf more many decades!  Ok, back to my golf experience.  David taught us the basics for golf, as we are so green, knowing next to nothing about golf.

While I was at the counter waiting for the receptionist to bring us to the indoor golf room, I overheard a conversation between the receptionist and a guy enquiring about the cost of hiring a coach.  Guess the price?  S$100/hr!

At the end of the 1 hour session, we managed at least to hit the golf ball, and then getting a bit interested in this interesting but a bit expensive sports.  If there is another opportunity to try this, for sure I will grap that opportunity, if the cost is reasonable.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sarang@Orchard Central

Sarang is a Korean restaurant on the top floor of Orchard Central.  There are two dining sections, indoor and outdoor.  Outdoor tables have a pretty good view of the central area of Singapore, and at night, you can gaze at the stars, if there is any :)

Being in a Korean restaurant, I, of course, ordered the Ginseng porridge, which is what the Koreans are famous for.  The porridge came in a stone bowl, that is quite special.  Stone can maintain the temperature of the porridge so that it will not cool down so fast.  Unfortunately in Singapore, with the tropical weather, you do hope your porridge to cool down faster, especially in a sunny afternoon :)

The porridge came together with a small plate of plum power.  I wondered why, as I have never seen ginseng porridge with plum powder before.  Anyway, don't think the plate looks very nice?

Back to porridge.  The taste of ginseng is gentle and mild, but you can tell that distinctive Korean Ginseng taste.  The porridge is like the Cantonese style, so it is to my favour.  Yeah, I must say I enjoyed the porridge, although the portion is on the small side.

We also ordered a plate of fried chicken wings.  Usually chicken wings have 3 sections, but the chicken wings here have only two!  The way they fry the chicken wings is also a bit different, neither the KFC with lots of flour style, nor the Chinese way of without any flour style.  They are in-between, with a thin layer of flour.  Outside is crispy, inside is juicy and tender, and it is not salty.  I must say it is quite to my liking.

Total damage of this late after snack is S$32, including one ginseng porridge, one plate of fried chicken wings and that yellow alcohlic drink.  Well, it is a bit on the high side, but still acceptable.  Not too bad.