Singapore Diary #4: Nature And Street Scenes

Singapore is known as the “Garden City”, so I thought it would be fun to have a post on the contrast between the modern, even futuristic-looking architecture and the pockets of nature in the city (no wonder they shot a sci-fi film there.) During my 3 weeks there, I revisited the Botanic Garden (and the National Orchid Gallery, of course) and did some short hikes/walks around Mount Faber Park and Sungei Buloh, a wetland reserve near the Malaysian border. As fun as the city is, it’s great to get out once in a while and just lose yourself in nature.

The Helix bridge

The Henderson Waves bridge

It was raining heavily while I was at Mount Faber, but it was super relaxing to simply sit (there is always a covered rest area along the way) and listen to the rain or enjoy the incredibly sweet and refreshing smell of the trees. If my shoes weren’t soaked through, I would’ve stayed longer.

View of the Singapore River toward downtown

Mangrove forest at Sungei Buloh

Some of the flora and fauna of Sungei Buloh

We didn’t see any crocs though – just these signs

The ION Orchard, one of the most famous shopping malls along Orchard Road

Orchid arches at the Botanic Garden

Colorful houses along Clarke Quay

Colorful orchids at the National Orchid Gallery


The national flower of Singapore (the Vanda “Miss Joaquim” orchid) and a crazy-looking (but sweet-smelling) flower at the Botanic Garden

A mother hen and her chick at the Botanic Garden

There is still one more Singapore post left, so stay tuned!

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Life On Film III

Got some more film photography here. I couldn’t find any store that still sells the film I used last time (Efiniti UXi Super 200), so I got a roll of Kodak Colorplus 200 instead and took some test photos first, just to see what it’s like. It’s a bit yellowish, and doesn’t have as much contrast as I like, though I’m not sure if it’s because of the film or because I made some mistake in guessing the f stop. But it’s not bad overall, and it’s the most readily available/popular (i.e. cheapest) film for amateur photographers, so I guess I’m going to shoot with it from now on.

Bonus – this night time photo, which turns out much better than I expected:


Life On Film II

It’s been a while (two and a half years, in fact), since I posted my first attempts at film photography. I haven’t shot much film since – mostly because I was too busy, but also because it was a bit of a hassle to get processed. I finished two rolls about a year ago (it’s surprising how long it takes me to get the full 36 shots per roll), and didn’t get around to processing them until now, after I’ve discovered a lab close to the place where I teach my weekend film making workshop. Thankfully the films are still OK, and the photos turned out way better than I hoped:

Looking at these, I was reminded why I got into film photography in the first place. Now that I’ve found a processing lab, I will try to shoot film more regularly.  I know I sound like a total hipster saying this, but it’s so much more… rewarding than digital somehow.


Happy Year of the Goat!

You know how I often complain that Vietnam doesn’t have enough food-based holidays? I think I know why now. It’s because the Lunar New Year is like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Super Bowl all rolled into one. I’m currently stuffing my face and have been for the last three days or so. We had kind of a pre-New Year feast last weekend (when we made the rice cakes), we had one last night (for New Year’s Eve), we had one today (for New Year), and we’re going to have another one the day after tomorrow (for the end of the Lunar New Year holiday). So please, enjoy the photos of the feasts, the spring flowers in our garden, and the firework display, while I go sleep this off.

rice cakes by 14 shades of grey

kalanchoe flower by 14 shades of grey

camelia by 14 shades of grey

chrysanthemum by 14 shades of grey

camelias by 14 shades of greychrysanthemums by 14 shades of grey

camelia and bees by 14 shades of greypeach blossoms by 14 shades of grey

barbeque by 14 shades of greysticky rice by 14 shades of grey

barbequed meat by 14 shades of greyBarbequed pork and sticky rice cooked in bamboo stalks

new year feast by 14 shades of greynew year feast by 14 shades of grey
Bamboo shoot soup and sticky rice

new year feast by 14 shades of greyGlass noodle salad

new year feast by 14 shades of greynew year feast by 14 shades of grey
Slow-cooked pork and spring rolls

new year feast by 14 shades of greyBeef and vegetable stir-fry

new year feast by 14 shades of greyBraised chicken

firework by 14 shades of grey

firework by 14 shades of greyfirework by 14 shades of grey
Yeah, that’s a smiley face/Joker firework

firework by 14 shades of grey


Da Lat, part II: Floral And Fauna

da lat flower - dogrose

 Da Lat is known as “The City of Eternal Spring” or “The City of Flowers”, so naturally you find flowers everywhere. One of the few touristy things that my family did while in Da Lat was to go to the Flower Park, and it was worth it. Yeah, you get the tour buses and the people who go there solely for the photo ops, but the place is big enough that it doesn’t really bother me. All the locals kept saying that the rainy season has ruined a lot of the flowers, so I can only imagine how amazing the city must look in the spring when all the flowers are in bloom.

da lat flower - fuchsia

da lat flower - bird

da lat flower - rose

da lat flower - wildda lat flower

da lat flower - rose garden

da lat flower - park

da lat flower - rose garden

da lat flower - parkda lat flower - tea rose

da lat flower - rose

da lat flower - hydrangea

da lat flower - tea roses

da lat flower - park

da lat flower - cosmos


Da Lat, part I: The Scenery

So, Da Lat. My dad had a conference there, so my mom, my niece, and I tagged along. It is actually the furthest I’ve ever traveled in Vietnam, and one of the prettiest towns I’ve ever seen. It’s up in the mountains, so the weather is super nice (aside from the humidity), and the landscape is absolutely gorgeous, all lush and green. Even the flowers seem more colorful. I didn’t get to explore as much as I wanted to – it’s to be expected when you’re traveling with a preschooler – but honestly, you don’t have to go out of your way to find beauty in this town. We stayed at this hotel on top of a pine hill overlooking a lake, so just walking down the hill and around the lake is enough. Most days, my mom and I just took my niece walking/biking and wandered around all day before meeting my dad for dinner. We didn’t really do touristy stuff, and I prefer it that way – no rushing off, no jostling with a crowd to see this sight or do that activity; it’s a relaxing vacation in its truest sense.

OK, I’ll just let the photos do the talking now 🙂

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery


Flora And Fauna

chickens by 14 shades of grey

It’s been insanely hot this past week, too hot for outfit posts, so here is a random post of flora and fauna around our house, while I answer this fun questionnaire I got from Isabella’s blog.

1. What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud? I’ve been watching Father Ted again as a palate cleanser after so much Hannibal. It’s by the same writer of The IT Crowd, so it’s the same brand of humor.

ladybug by 14 shades of greybird by 14 shades of grey

2. What is your earliest memory? Gosh, let me think… Probably being terrified after lifting up a rock in our garden and finding a gigantic ant hill underneath. I must’ve been two or three.

3. What is the strangest job you’ve had? I haven’t had a lot of actual jobs so I’m not sure. But if anything you do for money count as a job, then I guess the strangest thing I did is having to dress up as a clairvoyant for a school fair back in high school. I told fortunes (which were actually daily horoscopes I got online) for 2,000 VND each – about 10 cents at today’s exchange rate.

4. If you could visit a time and place in history for one week, which would it be? Tough question. I’d say Ancient Egypt to see how the pyramids were built, but the Austen fan in me wouldn’t say no to Regency England either. Honestly though, I’m a history buff so I’d go anywhere, as long as it’s safe!

5. Have you ever talked or walked in your sleep? Talking, no (as far as I know), but when I was little, there were a few times I fell asleep in one place and woke up in another with no idea how I got there.

desert rose by 14 shades of greybaby chicks by 14 shades of grey

6. What is one form of transportation you haven’t experienced that you would love to use? (ex: hoverboard, dragon, etc.) I wish I could say dragon but I’m terrified of heights. I think I’d love to try horse riding.

7. If you could magically acquire the ability to speak any language perfectly overnight, which would it be? Realistically I’d say German because everybody in my family speaks German, but if it’s any language I’d like to learn something like Welsh or Gaelic.

8. What piece of clothing holds the most sentimental value for you? I’m not particularly attached to my clothes, so maybe one of my brooches? Simply because they’re vintage. Oh and anything that is a gift from my family and friends, of course.

baby chick by 14 shades of grey

9. How did you behave toward your first crush? HAHAHAHAHAHAHANO. Actually, all of my crushes have been either famous or fictional, so there is nothing to tell.

10. What is one book you wish everyone in your life would read? Anything by Terry Pratchett, but especially Good Omen.

orchids by 14 shades of grey

I think I’m supposed to give my own questions too, but I’m too lazy to do that, so feel free to answer these questions below in the comment or in your own post (and send me a link!)