Moustaches, Lollipops and Camembert

9 06 2013

Thinking about what or who from the 1960s did serve as an inspiration as part of the themed challenge for this year’s Singapore Blog Awards, it dawned upon me that for some reason, many of the figures I have looked up to at some point in my life who featured in the 1960s either wore masks or moustaches (sometimes both). There were times when I would probably have wanted very much to imitate their appearances, but it wouldn’t have been just my inhibitions that would have prevented me from doing so – a lack of facial hair does prevent me cultivating some of the more exotic moustaches that my heroes seemed to wear. Plus, that more recent attempt by a certain cabinet minister to dress like that rapier wielding masked hero, Zorro, I did look up to as a child in public, does make me feel a lot less inclined to do an imitation.

The Hallucinogenic Toreador (1969 - 1970), Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida (Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/bb/The_Hallucinogenic_Toreador.jpg).

The Hallucinogenic Toreador, Salvador Dalí Museum.

Imitation of appearances aside, one particular mustachioed figure who I often find myself wishing to imitate (his depictions of flies aside), is one for whom the swinging sixties went much further than marking Z rapier cuts on defeated villains and represented a particularly creative period in his life. The figure – with his flamboyant wisp of facial hair which is said to be styled after that of a Spanish artist Diego Velázquez and an artist in his own right, is the somewhat eccentric Salvador Dalí.

Take a peek into the inner workings of the great surrealist artist Salvador Dalí at the ArtScience Musuem in Marina Bay Sands.

A projection of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí seen at an exhibition at the ArtScience Musuem in Singapore.

Known for the somewhat bizarre surrealist expressions of his inner workings, it wasn’t the surreal or peculiar side of him I would have got to know early on in life. Dalí is of course the man being the logo for a brand of lollipops, Chupa Chups, which was to take Singapore by storm in the 1970s – which might have explained the frequent visits I had to make to Pegu Road dental clinic as a schoolboy.

The famous Chupa Chups logo that I did encounter in my childhood was perhaps one of Dalí's less bizarre works.

The famous Chupa Chups logo that I did encounter in my childhood was perhaps one of Dalí’s less bizarre works.

It is however in Dalí’s more bizarre expressions that I have held a fascination for since my encounters with them later in life. It is through them that I see Dalí very much as an artistic genius and a source of creative inspiration (which perhaps explains my bizarre behavioural tendencies), for whom that fine line that is said to lie between genius and insanity doesn’t exist.

Dalí is known for his bizarre interpretation of the world around him which is expressed by depictions of everyday objects in a ways that seem beyond human comprehension.

Dalí is known for his bizarre interpretation of the world around him which is expressed by depictions of everyday objects in a ways that seem beyond human comprehension.

It is in one particular work that was executed at the end of the 1960s, The Hallucinogenic Toreador, where I did find much of that insane genius. A large scale and somewhat mystical piece I had the pleasure of viewing during a visit I just had to make when I found myself in the U.S. to the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida in the summer of 1989, The Hallucinogenic Toreador is one where we see many of the images which he seems to constantly replicate in his work. The images are ones which are depicted with great symbolism, offer insights into the artist’s life and his experience of life, his inner thoughts, as well as his obsessions and fears – presented in a way that could only have come out of that hallucinogenic state of mind he is often said to go deep into.

One of the images we do often see repeated is a somewhat insignificant figure of a little boy. The boy is one Dalí uses to represent himself in his youth and is one who bears witness to much of his work and his journey. It is that image that I often find myself relating to – I do have that little boy in me who bears witness to much of my own life’s journey.

A nice touch added by the curators - a reflection of clocks distorted by their reflection on convex and concave mirrors at the exit from the exhibition.

A reflection of myself and timepieces distorted perhaps in a Dalí-esque melting timepiece fashion by a reflection on convex and concave mirrors at Dalí exhibition held at the ArtSceince Museum.

The seemingly incomprehensible world we do see in much of Dalí does often have me attempting to see the world as how the artist’s might see it. The world is after all an incomprehensible place made comprehensible by only how society would have us see it. What Dalí does somehow tell me is to look beyond all that and to see what is around me and all else as he did see time through a melted piece of cheese. Looking a piece of Camembert has certainly never been the same for me – I stop to take a second look before gobbling down what is one of my favourite cheeses. While it is not the bizarre I seek to show in capturing the experiences which make up my life, through words and photographs – I do stop to ask myself if that is indeed a melted timepiece that I am able to see somewhere in it.


This post is written as a submission for the themed challenge for the Singapore Blog Awards 2013 for which I am a finalist in the Panasonic Best Photography Blog category. If as a reader you do feel that the blog is deserving of the award, I would be most grateful for your kind voting support – reader’s votes do count for 30% of the scoring. To vote, registration (and account activation via an email you will receive upon registration) would required. Voters do stand a chance to win some prizes. Following activation, you may vote for finalists of your choice for each of the ten main categories, seven special categories and two celebrity categories, once a day (calendar day based on Singapore time). For more on what the use of photography means to me, do visit a previous post “Come Walk with Me …“.






Come walk with me …

8 06 2013

I started this blog back in January 2008, intending it as a means for me to take a walk back through my life’s journey. That was some two months into a working stint in Penang which in reminding me of a Singapore I had long forgotten, triggered a deluge of memories of my younger days in a gentler Singapore I had a most wonderful time growing up in which were locked up in me.

Come walk with me ...

Come walk with me …

It was then that I decided on trying to capture my experiences in life, moments not just of my happy childhood, but also the many stops I made on life’s long journey – a blog seemed a good enough way of doing this, allowing me to capture the many impressions made on me of both past and present. A collection of posts related to the early chapters of my life can be found on “The Singapore of My Younger Days”.

277A1152The “bright lights” of Singapore after dark I often seek to capture.

November's a busy time in and around Kyoto when many from far and wide flock to the former imperial capital just to catch koyo - the autumn leaves. Colouring my life with a pause along life’s journey taking in Kyoto’s autumn colours.

The winter landscape at the top of Mount Balwang Chilling out in winter at the top of Mount Balwang on another pause along life’s journey.

The blog has evolved over the years, and has very much been associated with the use of photography, twice being named as the Best Photography Blog at the Singapore Blog Awards and being shortlisted as a finalist for the award at this year’s edition. Photography was never intended as the focus of the blog, nor do I describe myself as a photographer, although photography is a medium I used to help in telling my story. Photographs are to me not just about capturing beautiful or perfect images, but are also a powerful visual means that can be used to convey mood and emotion, a sense of time and place, and a wonderful way to capture the moment and the passing of time.

277A0277bAfter dinner conversations, Chonburi, Thailand.

277A0277bA representation of architectural conservation in Singapore.

It is the consequence of the passage of time I am constantly confronted with in my attempt to connect with my memories, in particular, the rapidly changing landscapes in an island nation which has not stopped to pause in its race to modernise. It is perhaps a regret that I have that I did not think of harnessing this means – which I did have at my disposal, to previously do this, and I set out to also capture the present not just to connect with the past, but also as it will inadvertently become the past.

Capturing time, place and the moment on my journeys out of Singapore.

It is in doing just this, that I am also able to celebrate the wonderful experience I have of living in a Singapore that for me, has more to offer than its bright lights, glossy new icons, busy shopping malls, and eating places that the good folks in our tourism board seem to want to sell above all else. It is however far beyond the tourist view of Singapore, where the real Singapore is to be found, a gentler world in which the rich diversity of cultures and traditions which made Singapore what it was before the modern city took over can still be discovered. A collection of post in which I celebrate Singapore can be found at “Celebrating Singapore”.

Celebrating the arts and entertainment scene in Singapore.

The journey taken with this blog, has been one that is a very enriching one, and one in which I have learned a lot more about myself and my roots in Singapore. The blog has also provided many opportunities for me to broaden my view of and experience of life, including the many new and valuable friendships made with the many I have met along the way.  I am also grateful that it has given me the opportunity to share my impressions and memories through various channels. One is the Singapore Memory Project, a project which aims to collect the many memories we as Singaporeans have of living in Singapore.

Capturing the many facets of Singapore.

I have also been provided with the rare opportunity to exhibit some of my photographs at two recent National Heritage Board (NHB) exhibitions. The first, was a small photo exhibition I was able to curate on the last days of the railway through Singapore, “First Journeys, Last Goodbyes“. This was held as part of the Motoring Heritage Weekend at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in September 2012 and involved a collection of photographs contributed by the community, including some of my own.

The other contribution I made was to an exhibition that is currently being held at the National Museum of Singapore, “Trading Stories: Conversations with Six Tradesmen“. For this I put together a series of photographs which offers my impressions of how spaces in which some of the early traders thrived have been transformed.

One thing that I hope that the blog can help in doing is in raising awareness on the lesser publicised issues which in celebrating Singapore, I am often put in touch with. One issue in which the blog did help in raising awareness on was on the proposal to preserve the rail corridor as a green corridor in 2011. More recently, posts relating to two religious National Monuments which are badly in need of funds for repairs, did help bring the plight of the monuments to the attention of the mainstream media. The two posts relate to the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and the Church of Sts Peter and Paul, the two oldest Catholic churches in Singapore, on which reports in the mainstream media soon followed.

This year’s edition of the Singapore Blog Awards sees some excellent photography blogs. However, if as a reader you do feel that the blog does match up  or exceed the standards of the blogs it is up against at this years award, I would be most grateful for your kind voting support – reader’s votes do count for 30% of the scoring. To vote, registration (and account activation via an email you will receive upon registration) would required. Voters do stand a chance to win some prizes. Following activation, you may vote for finalists of your choice for each of the ten main categories, seven special categories and two celebrity categories, once a day (calendar day based on Singapore time).

This post wouldn’t be complete without me giving a shout-out to some the very good bloggers with who I have become friends with or who have been loyal supporters. These are:





Colours of Macau

14 10 2012

Having revelled in the many contrasts that gives Macau a unique flavour, and finding gold and happiness as well as having taken flights of fancy in the tiny territory, getting high up in Sky before getting wet in a dream, I must say that Macau is a lot more than just that blend of east and west and of old and new that the initial impressions I had of the territory had given me. A territory that I would certainly want to get lost in just to have a deeper appreciation of its unique culture, its wonderful mix of old in the new, and most certainly the delectable treats one seems to find in almost every corner, the impression that a four day trip courtesy of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) and Tiger Airways has left on me is one of the celebration of colour that is what makes the territory what it is – a celebration that is certainly a much more colourful one that what I have attempted to capture through the lens:

Colours of old Macau

Colours of a shop window on the streets of old Macau.

Colours of celebration at the ruins of St. Paul’s (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Green of the entrance to an apartment block in old Taipa (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Green of a soda bottle in a Portuguese restaurant in old Taipa (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Colours of almond cookies on the streets of old Macau.

Colours of almond cookies on Taipa’s food street.

Colours overhead at Taipa’s food street.

Colours of old Taipa.

Gold of fried wan tons at Wong Chi Kei in Senado Square.

Red and gold of ‘jerky’ displays on the streets of old Macau.

The glow of red lanterns at Tak Seng On Pawnshop in old Macau.

Red and gold of lighted candles flickering in St. Dominic’s Church.

Red of the A-Ma Temple in old Macau.

Red of plastic drink crates in Taipa Village.

Colours of a toy store along Taipa’s food street.

Gold in pastel shades on the streets of old Macau.

The light gold of columns of a colonial building in Taipa.

Gold of a door in old Coloane.

Light gold of a window at the Moorish Barracks in old Macau.

Colours of new Macau

A golden dragon in the City of Dreams (Photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The gold of luxury goods in the CIty of Dreams.

The gold of The Venetian Macao (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The gold of lychee wood fire at the Jade Dragon in the City of Dreams.

The gold of chair coverings at the Macau Tower Convention Centre (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Gold, white and black of a queue of taxis at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Red and gold of the new world at the City of Dreams.

The golden glow of the amphitheatre at Fisherman’s Wharf and the Macau Sands in the background (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Dark gold of of a ceiling decoration in the City of Dreams.

Blood red of a scene at The House of Dancing Water.

Silver of ice cubes at Sky 21 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Red and gold of corks at the Macau Wine Museum (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The colours of an annual celebration of fireworks.

Colours of the sunset over the Cotai Strip.

Colours of a glorious sunrise over the Friendship Bridge (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).


The trip was made possible by the kind sponsorship of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) which included a three night stay at the Grand Lapa Macau, and also Tiger Airways who sponsored the two way flights.


Links to Macau’s colours:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting has started (on 28 September 2012) and ends on 15 October 2012. Votes can be cast on a daily basis at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Minus 8 degrees Celcius in Macau

7 10 2012

In between sky and water there has to be ice and fire. At least that was how it did seem on the second half of the third day of a Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) sponsored trip to the former Portuguese territory.

A different side of Macau. A frozen replica of the A-Ma Temple at the CotaiExpo.

The afternoon had started high in the sky with lunch at Sky 21, and before we found ourselves immersed in the lychee wood fire of the Jade Dragon for a quick dinner before the spectacle of The House of Dancing Water, there was still time to be led by Venetian canals, and to explore the frozen world that with temperatures of minus eight degrees Celcius, certainly seemed far removed from the heat of the Macanese summer.

The passage to the frozen world took us by the canals of Venice brought to Macau by the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel.

We even had an accordionist to entertain us along the way.

The frozen world was that of Ice World 2012, this year’s edition of highly popular display of ice carvings which was at the tail end of a four month run that ended on 16 September 2012, held at CotaiExpo within the Venetian Macao. For this edition, the 18,000 square foot ice hall was divided into ten zones with the works of 50 of the best ice sculptors on display. Among the eye-catching ice sculptures were replicas of many recognisable landmarks included several large scale ones that included Tiananmen, the A-Ma Temple, the Petronas Towers, and even Singapore’s tourism symbol, the Merlion.

At the entrance to the frozen world in which temperatures are maintained at -8 degrees C.

An ice sculpture of Tiananmen.

The recognisable Merlion.

Sculpture at the entrance.

Another sculpture at the entrance.

Pandas close to the entrance.

There were also several interesting sculptures, which being the year of the dragon, included several that incorporated the mythical beast such as a Dragon Boat and a Double Dragon Slide. It was on the slide where several of us were able to revisit our lost childhoods and where one did find out that ice wasn’t as slippery as one might have imagined (Ai Sakura got stuck on the slide not just once but in all three of her attempts to slide).

Dragons made an appearance.

Down the slide I went …

Someone did manage getting stuck on the slide.

Other notable sculptures were a 100 metre Magic Ice Maze, which amazingly, was constructed out of 1,000 blocks of coloured ice; and a piano that could actually be played! The four month run of what was the second edition of the ice sculpture exhibition attracted some 176,000 visitors … and certainly is another surprise packed into the 29 square kilometres that is Macau. Tickets to Ice World 2012 were sponsored by The Venetian Macao.

The Magic Ice Maze.

The ice piano that could be played on.


More photographs


All photographs in this post were taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 which Panasonic Singapore kindly lent to all ten bloggers for the trip to Macau. The trip was made possible by the kind sponsorship of MGTO which included a three night stay at the Grand Lapa Macau, and also Tiger Airways who sponsored the two way flights.


Links to being put on ice:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways
The Venetian Macao
CotaiExpo


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting has started (on 28 September 2012) and ends on 15 October 2012. Votes can be cast on a daily basis at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






High on Sky

1 10 2012

Lunch on the third day was to be quite a surprise, the venue for it being high in the Sky above the Macau peninsula. It was on the 21st level of the AIA Tower, at the aptly named Sky 21 to be exact, a destination that as I was to discover, offered more than just a great dining experience in a room with a view.

Sky 21 is a surprise that awaits on the 21st and 22nd floors of the AIA Tower in Macau. Sky Life – an action and entertainment venue on the 22nd floor is seen here (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The sign at the entrance to Sky 21 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Much of the decor found in the MOP 20 million dining and entertainment venue is Zen inspired (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Stepping through into the restaurant, the view offered not only out the windows but of the restaurant itself was a pretty eye-catching one. The 80 seat main dining area’s Zen inspired décor, was certainly one with a lot of appeal. It was at a private room where we were to have lunch, and stepping inside, it did not take very long for the cameras to come out. The views out the window and the room itself certainly seemed to catch the fancy of everyone in the group. The VIP Room accommodates a maximum of 16 people, and can be reserved for private events such as birthday parties, private dining, and small meetings and is equipped with a private restroom, projector and screen.

The Zen inspired decor seen in the main dining area (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The VIP Room is a room that certainly has a view (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The southward view from the VIP Room (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Decor inside the VIP Room.

The lunch menu at Sky 21 offers a selection of set meals, a Pan-Asian selection that gives diners a choice of Macanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Indian, Japanese and Vietnamese. I decided on the Japanese which proved to be an excellent choice, as was the various other choices made by the other in the group. After a common raw tuna salad that was served, my set was served. Beautifully arranged on a tray, it had a bowl of a crab roe salad with aloe, another of udon noodles in soup with Japanese roast pork, a generous serving of sushi, and a rather attractively presented slice of wasabi cheesecake.

Inside the VIP Room (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Choices, choices! Willy probably wishes he could order everything on the menu (i did too!) (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The Japanese set that I ordered (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The Wasabi cheesecake – yummy!

Valyn staring into her dessert – one that came with the Macanese set.

Being one who eats first and asks questions later, I will leave reviewing the food to one of my favourite food bloggers, Yiwei. I can however say that the food certainly did not disappoint and is very good value based on the prices that were on the menu.

The food review is best left to food blogger Yiwei.

There was some time for a small presentation of prizes to the winners of the previous day’s race through the streets of old Macau at which no one came away disappointed. Even with the team I was in coming in an embarrassing last, Kaika (my teammate) and I did receive a prize – for a photo posted during the race. The prizes were presented by Iris of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) in Singapore, who we have to thank for making the trip such a wonderful experience. The MGTO were the kind sponsors of the trip, with Tiger Airways, which flies to Macau daily, sponsoring the flights to and from Macau.

Iris announcing who the winners of the race were (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A shot of my race teammate Kaika.

Valyn showing the prize that she got … (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A short tour followed of the MOP 20 million luxury dining, shopping and entertainment destination, which is not only on the 21st floor AIA Tower, but also extends one floor up to the 22nd floor. On the same level as the restaurant, we were to discover a surprise that was hidden in a room behind closed doors – an exclusive luxury retail showroom that is reserved for Sky’s VIP guests. Designed to attract the big spender, there is a selection of hard-to-find luxury goods on offer behind the showcases … something that certainly opened the eyes of the ladies in the group (and most of the men too)! Access to the showroom can also be made via a concierge service that is available through one of the Suncity group VIP rooms which can be found in all Macau 5 star Casinos.

Inside Sky Luxe (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Leaving Sky Luxe behind, we went up a flight of stairs to the 22nd level where we got a look at Sky Life, an action and entertainment venue which offers live entertainment and features guest DJs; and also the SKY B bar and lounge with an open terrace which has great views of Macau Tower and of the area around the Grand Lisboa. The two outlets do also offer dining – a semi-buffet Western Excutive Lunch is available as well as a Classic / Asian Afternoon Tea. Both certainly are cool places I wouldn’t at all mind an evening out in.

Sky B is a bar on the 22nd level (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The open terrace of Sky B offers magnificent views of the area around Macau Tower … (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5) …

… and the skyscrapers around the Grand Lisboa (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Another view of Sky B (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

At this point I would like to express my appreciation to Sky 21 for the scrumptious lunch and also for showing what a wonderful concept Sky is all about. It certainly is a place to see and also be seen in. More information on Sky 21 can be found at its website (click here).


Links to getting high:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways
Sky 21


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Wet in the City of Dreams

26 09 2012

My recent four day sojourn in Macau was one that provided me with a deeper appreciation of the very compact territory, and what it has to offer the visitor, which certainly is a lot more than I had imagined. I was fascinated by every bit of the territory that I got to experience, a territory which is a world not just where east and west have blended well together, but also where the new world and the old seem have found an equilibrium. Among the different experiences that I did have over the four days, one certainly stands out from an entertainment perspective. It is also one which perhaps showcases how east and west, as well as old and new, have managed to come together to provide not only a harmonious outcome – but one that will surely mesmerise. It was one that I must say captured my imagination, and one found not on the absorbing streets, but off them in the new world in which dreams must surely made in – the very aptly named City of Dreams.

What surely must be a dream in the City of Dreams.

The House of Dancing Water blends influences from East and West with 80 performers representing some 25 countries.

It is at the City of Dreams, Melco Crown Entertainment’s integrated entertainment resort on the Cotai Strip, that one of the most stunning theatre productions I have been fortunate to witness, takes to the stage. The production is Franco Dragone’s The House of Dancing Water, which goes beyond the description of the word ‘stunning’ and possible synonyms in a sentence. In fact, the production provides audiences with an experience which words can not sufficiently describe. That it plays to packed houses show after show since it made its debut two years ago on 16 September 2010, with some 1.5 million having watched the show during the period, is testament to how well it has been received and continues to be received.

Shanghai born ballerina Faye Leung takes on the leading role of the Princess.

The show has played to packed audiences since it opened in September 2010. More than 1.5 million have watched the spectacular show since then.

The House of Dancing Water is a production that is certainly like no other that I have watched. It combines on a water stage, 270 degrees around which the audience is seated, an explosion of dance, theatre, music, swimming, diving and acrobatics, part of which goes into some very daring stunts that go beyond simple circus acts. That, together with the stunningly dramatic visual effects that is provided by projections, movement, elaborate costumes, lighting and props, as well as some 239 water fountains (some of which go as high up as 18 metres), makes it a show that has to be not just watched but also to marvel at, even with a storyline which can be said to be rather clichéd. The storyline is intended to take the audience on a roller-coaster ride of human emotions, culminating in the triumph of good over evil. It is perhaps the manner in which that storyline is delivered that renders it secondary.

239 fountains are used to propel jets of water as high up as 18 metres in the air (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Dance and water combine to provide a dramatic effect.

The storyline revolves around the well told story of the triumph of good over evil. One of the ‘evil’ characters takes the form of the Dark Queen, played by Ana Arroyo.

Very elaborate costumes are used – up to 400 in total. Some like the ones seen here weight up to 2 kilogrammes.

The performance combines dance, theatre, music, swimming, diving and acrobatics with effects provided by water, movement, lighting and and daring stunts that go beyond simple circus acts.

East and West meet on water.

The efforts of the performers in going through their routines on stage is certainly one that is challenging both technically as well as being physically demanding, and that alone justified the generous applause that they received at the end of the show. The roles require the artists, 80 in total from 25 different countries, not just to be dancers, but also swimmers, divers, acrobats and stuntmen in constant motion. The stunts that are performed are spectacular and certainly not without peril, and has some fly through the air, seemingly with the greatest of ease, which the loudest ‘oohs and aahs’ from the audience seemed to be reserved for. One scene has performers launched into somersaults from swings, while another performers hurtle through the air Evel Knievel style on motorcycles (motorcycle which we were to learn that are changed every six months) 15 metres above stage. All of this does make for an extremely dynamic show, one that left me breathless in my seat trying to keep up with all that was happening on stage.

The performers go through technically challenging and physically demanding routines. Many stunts are also performed at height.

One of the scenes has performers hurtling through the air, launched by giant swings.

Another highlight is a scene which see motorcycle jumps Evel Knievel style.

The motorcycles go as high up as 15 metres in the air.

Special motorcycles are used which are replaced every six months.

Having been completely enthralled by what I witnessed on stage, there was a treat that awaited the group of bloggers I was in – a tour backstage scheduled for the morning after we watched the show. It was through the backstage tour from which I received a much better appreciation of what does go behind the scenes to make the show what it is. The production must be one that has to be appreciated not just for what we see on stage, but also in what does go on behind the scenes. The coordination effort alone is a monumental one that involves not just the 80 performers, but also another 160 crew members from 35 different nationalities working behind the scenes. That everything does seem to go according to clockwork show after show must surely be a marvellous achievement.

The male leading role of the Stranger is played by Jesko von den Steinen.


The grace of Faye Leung as the Princess.

The clown in the show – Lago the Dark Queen’s Fenelon Minister.

The performer who plays Wabo the Wiseman is also a contortionist.

An expression of joy at the moment that love triumphs over hate.

The theatre as seen during the ‘backstage’ tour (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

At the centre of the purpose-built theatre is the huge pool. The pool, which contains some 3.7 million gallons or 17 million litres of very clean water (we were told it is kept a lot cleaner than any other commercial pools), or that contained by more than 5 Olympic sized swimming pools, serves as the stage. In the pool 11 hydraulically operated ten-ton elevators are moved up a metre and down 7 metres, allowing it to be converted from an aquatic stage to a dry one – a perforated non-slip metal floor allows water to rapidly be drained away. Some 36 scuba divers are deployed to assist with underwater work with 20 providing support (and assistance to the performers) during the show, including during a seemingly perilous scene where a cage containing one of the main characters, The Princess, is lowered into the pool. In this case, divers assist no only to open the cage to help the performer out, but are also on standby with a spare breathing apparatus should anything untoward happen.

Looking into the depths of the 3.7 million gallon pool – which has a depth of some 8 metres – some 36 scuba divers work in the depths with up to 20 deployed to provide support during the show (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The entry and exit point for divers and performers below the seating – different colour lighting is used to identify each quadrant to allow cast and crew to know where they are (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The red quadrant (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Divers provide assistance to performers in circumstances such as this where a performer is lowered into the depths inside a cage.

The stage as seen ‘backstage’ (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The flooring of the stage at the top of hydraulic elevators is perforated to allow water to drain quickly (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

From the depths of the pool, we were taken to the heights above the stage, first to the fourth level, some 17 metres above. It is from a 360 degree catwalk at this level that the scenery props and the artists are lowered from and raised to, an effort that requires the use of the 40 rigging winches found on the catwalk. Just looking down from the catwalk to the pool level is enough to give the same effect that standing on the glass floor at the top of Macau Tower gave, and that was only level four … there was still level 8 to go up to, but not before a look at the dressing rooms. In the dressing rooms we could have a closer look at some of the 400 costumes that are used including one that weighs 2 kilogrammes. It is no wonder that the artists have such well toned bodies! An amazing fact we learned was that over 15,000 pieces of Swarovski crystals are used in the costumes! We also had an appreciation of the effort made in the selection of textiles for the costumes – neoprene is used to keep its shape and withstand the effects of the water.

A view of the stage, pool and seating from the catwalk 17 metres up (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A scene during which the cage is hoisted up to the catwalk level – a retractable platform allows performers to get in and out of such props safely.

The cage being raised.

A close examination of a mask in the dressing room.

The view from level 8 provides an appreciation of the scale of the 2000 seat theatre and the efforts that have gone into setting up the USD 250 million production. The purpose-built theatre was designed by the Pei Partnership in collaboration with Franco Dragone’s team. At level 8, 40 metres above the stage, we see the world that the performer sees descending and more … a foldable platform below us – some 24.5 metres above the stage can be seen. That is where another highlight of the show – a high dive that takes place close to the end of it, is made from. It certainly does take nerves of steel to take a dive from that high! Level 8 is also where the bungee cords are suspended from and stored under lock and key – safety certainly is paramount in production where much can possibly go wrong.

The view from 40 metres above the stage from level 8 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

One interesting fact that was shared on the elevator ride down to the last stop, the Control Booth, was that the elevators were equipped with mirrors and did not have cameras in them as they served as changing rooms for the artists as they moved from one routine to the next. The Control Booth is certainly an amazing place, and it is through the mess of the computers which control just about everything mechanical, the cables that run to them and the numerous monitors, and the technicians and crew, that the stage director, a lady we were told, sees that everything is as well executed and coordinated as can be. The director who is often required to make on the spot decisions and has the authority to call a performance off if need to has to remain in her seat throughout the length of entire 85 minute performance during which it is impossible even to have a comfort break.

Inside the Control Booth.

The view through the window of the huge Control Booth where operations are coordinated (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The view that the director sees.

One of the observations I did make during the backstage tour was that was picked up by the omy reporter, Rui Long (see Exclusive: To the backstage of a breathtaking water-based show! was that there were so many things that could have gone wrong during the performance which made me appreciate how well-coordinated and executed everything was. I also noted the physically demands that each performance placed on the artists and was surprised to learn that the roles are each played by a single performer for every one of the shows (under most circumstances). The show does usually play 5 days a week and twice a day on most days (the performers do get a two week break every two months), which makes the effort of the performance and the performers a truly remarkable one in a remarkable show that when in Macau, should not be missed! More information on the show can be found at the show’s website.

The show requires its cast members to be multi-disciplined.


The opportunity to watch the amazing show and also go on the backstage tour was made possible by the City of Dreams for which I am eternally grateful, as I am to the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) for the sponsorship of the trip which included the 3 night stay at the Grand Lapa Macau, and to Tiger Airways for the sponsorship of flights, an on-board meal and check-in baggage allowances.


About The House of Dancing Water:

A dramatic scene from the show (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

‘The House of Dancing Water’, the centerpiece of City of Dreams envisioned by Mr. Lawrence Ho, Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Melco Crown Entertainment Limited, is a production by Franco Dragone Entertainment Group at City of Dreams, personally created and directed by Mr. Franco Dragone. This over HKD 2 billion (over USD250 million) breathtaking water-based show which draws creative inspiration from Chinese culture particularly on the ‘seven emotions’ principle derived from the classical Confucian beliefs, is destined to be the most extravagant live production ever seen in Asia.

Mr. Franco Dragone toured China exploring the country’s cultural and artistic history as inspiration for The House of Dancing Water, the world’s largest water show, and was drawn to China’s deep story-telling heritage within its art and particularly the ‘seven emotions’ principle derived from the classical Confucian beliefs before deciding on an epic spectacular love story that transcends time and space.

The show, set at City of Dreams’ awe-inspiring ‘Dancing Water Theater’, begins in the coast of Coloane, a Fisherman travelling with his boat enjoys his journey. Suddenly, a mysterious energy from the water creates a terrible whirlpool, grabs the fisherman and pulls him to a place and a time of legends…He cannot realize what is happening at this very moment within a lengthy time. He observes, lost and intrigued… when a storm brings a survivor from a shipwreck, a Stranger to this magical kingdom. The young brave Stranger encounters and falls in love with a beautiful Princess who was thrown into a cage by her evil stepmother, the Dark Queen. Without hesitating, the Fisherman decides to help the Stranger to fight against to the Dark Queen and rescue the Princess. With his help, the Stranger & the Princess defeat the Dark Queen and the Fisherman obtains an unexpected reward.

‘The House of Dancing Water’ will take audiences on an awe-inspiring journey through the heights and depths of human emotions from the abyss of Sadness and Anger, to the heights of Desire and the summit of Joy, between the cliffs of Fear to a glorious resolution where Love triumphs over Hate and its sinister forces.

This spectacular water-based show takes physical performance to its ultimate limits through combat, wit, creativity, incredible expertise and agility. Experience a magical journey, that transcends even time, as Mr. Franco Dragone transports us on a theatrical masterpiece of incredible artistry, outstanding physical performance and special effects in the most spectacular show that Asia has ever seen.

Another scene from the show.


Links to getting wet:

Getting there:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways

Dreaming:

The House of Dancing Water
City of Dreams

Interpreting Dreams:

The Cast
About Franco Dragone
About Franco Dragone Entertainment
About City of Dreams


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Macau: a celebration of contrasts

24 09 2012

Having spent a amazing four days in Macau courtesy of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) and Tiger Airways, I was able to see for myself the wonderment that is packed into the 29 square kilometres of the tiny former Portuguese territory. It is for me a world certainly worth exploring, a world which is more than just that unique blend of east and west we have come to expect, but also a fascinating world where two other worlds, the glitzy new world has collided with the charming old world. With the two now forced into a tight embrace, it is in the compact territory where contrasts, and as one might see it the contradiction of new with old, are as apparent as black and white, black and white as is how it looks to me:


The celebration of the new world:

A scene from Franco Dragone’s The House of Dancing Water playing at the City of Dreams.

The Outer Harbour with the Friendship Bridge and the waterfront at Fisherman’s Wharf at the break of day (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The waterfront at Fisherman’s Wharf at the break of day (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Breakfast at the Café Bela Vista in the Grand Lapa Macau (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The Roman Amphitheatre at Fisherman’s Wharf (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Daybreak over the Roman Amphitheatre (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The Ponte Governador Nobre de Carvalho as seen from Sky 21.

Bottles behind a frosted glass counter, Sky 21.

A new arrival embracing the arrival of the new day in the new world.


Windows into the old world:

The window into an unseen side of Macau – the quays at the Inner Harbour (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A window from the past … louvered windows seen at the Taipa Houses-Museum, which is housed in a set of charming old colonial houses at Taipa Village.

Fish being dried in the sun.

A street named happiness, the Rua da Felicidade.

An almond cookie maker on the street of happiness.

Almond cookie samples to be offered to passers-by near the ruins of St. Paul’s.

A street food vendor.

A side street near the street of happiness.

Shutters of an old shop (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Street scene.

Barra Square.

East meets West and old meets new: A western couple leaving the A-Ma Temple.

A fortune teller at the A-Ma Temple.

An archway under a building along an old street of Macau.

A car workshop in an old shophouse.

A female worker at an old building being refurbished.

Disused pellets by the quayside at the Inner Harbour.

Where two worlds are made to collide: the bow of a ship peeks out at the Inner Harbour.

Coloane Village scene (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A square in Coloane Village (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The writing on the wall in Taipa Village (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).


The visit to Macau was made possible by the kind sponsorship of MGTO, flights were sponsored by Tiger Airways with check-in baggage allowances included.


Useful Links:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Wild rides and flights of fancy

23 09 2012

Where the second day of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) sponsored trip was all about the pursuit of happiness, the third seemed to be about the celebration of life. The morning started with a visit to the Tourism Activities Centre, where drinking and driving is very much celebrated. The centre, located at Rua Luis Gonzaga Gomes, is run by the MGTO and houses two museums which take a look at two interesting sides of the former Portuguese territory: one celebrates the appreciation of wine and its place in Portuguese culture; and the other celebrates the Macau Grand Prix, a famous street race which will see its 59th edition held later this year.

The third day seemed to be about the celebration of life, which fellow blogger Valyn seemed to be doing at the Wine Museum (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

I found the Wine Museum, our first stop is, even without the wine tasting session that came at the end of the visit, quite absorbing. A series of panels leads visitors through the origins of wine making and the spread of it through Europe and the rest of the world, bringing visitors into a mock-up of a wine cellar. The cellar is where an exhibition which has on display various implements, traditional and more modern, that is used through the wine-making process. One implement that couldn’t be missed seemed to resemble a medieval torture device – with a large wooden screw like extension. Much to my disappointment, it turned out that it had a less than sinister application, that of a wine press.

Traditional implements used in wine making are on display (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A wine storage jar (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Not quite a medieval torture device … a wine press on display (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The part of the cellar must surely have had everyone’s attention was the part that was kept under lock and key. On the racks of the dusty bottles that the area contains some 359 bottles of special collection wines, including a Madeira wine that dates back to 1815! The 359 is among some 1115 Portuguese and 28 Chinese wines in the museum’s collection! An area which many found fascinating was one with many colourful and unique looking costumes – traditional dress of the various regions of Portugal, on display, including one rather interesting outfit that is made from straw!

Prized bottles of wine. The Wine Museum has a number of bottles of collection wine including a 1815 vintage Madeira.

The Wine Museum also features mannequins in various regional dress.

That it was early in the day, did not prevent some of us from taking a few sips at the tasting session which came right at the end of the visit. One that we tried that must have had quite a lot of appeal was a Port on the evidence of the number of bottles the group bought at the shop immediately after the session.

We had an opportunity to do some wine tasting (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Valyn tasting a Port.

Straight after having a drink, it was time for us to get behind the wheel of a Formula 3 (F3) car to have a feel of a street circuit that has sometimes been referred to as the Monaco of the East. It wasn’t surprising to see most of us, including myself, spending more time in the safety barriers than doing actual driving … good fun, only because it wasn’t in a real car (of course), but in a simulator at the Macau Grand Prix Museum. The museum, which opened in 1993 for the 40th anniversary of the event, which goes all the way back to 1954 when three Portuguese residents of Macau, Fernando de Macedo Pinto, Carlos da Silva and Paulo Antas organised the first Macau Grand Prix (Macau GP).

Kaika coolly showing how to manoeuvre a F3 car with one hand (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The winners of the race on the simulator: Valyn, Leo and Yiwei (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Even if not for the chance to drink and drive (I don’t of course support combining the two), the visit to the museum was very enjoyable. Stepping into it I was immediately took me back to halcyon days (as the first main exhibit did suggest it was taking us to), days which for me were ones associated with the pre Formula 1 editions of the Singapore GP which I had the good fortune of watching on the muddy slopes at Old Upper Thomson Road with my father back at the end of the 1960s and in the early 1970s.

An exhibit that takes the visitor back to halcyon days … a red Triumph TR2 driven by the winner of the inaugural Macau Grand Prix, Eduardo de Carvalho (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Ai Sakura did find out that life can often be lonely at the top (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The exhibit is that of a a red Triumph TR2, the car driven by the winner of the inaugural race in 1954, Eduardo de Carvalho. The museum has also assembled a display of cars (some purchased, some donated and some on loan) that were used through the history of the race, which since 1983 features a F3 race. These include several F3 cars used by drivers who have moved on to illustrious careers in F1, including that of the late Ayrton Senna (the 1983 race winner), Michael Schumacher (winner in 1990), and one driver I have been a fan of through much of his career, David Coulthard (winner in 1991). Speaking of race winners, those from Singapore may also be interested to find the name of a driver who hailed from Singapore, Chan Lye-Choon, among the names listed on the roll of winners. He won the race in 1958 with a Aston Martin DB35.

The car driven by David Coulthard, a Ralt RT35-Honda/Mugen, in winning the 1992 edition of the race. The Reynard 903-Volkswagen/Spies driven by the illustrious Michael Schumacher during his victorious 1991 race is seen further back (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Several other F3 cars used over the years are also on display … (photographs taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

One from Teddy Yip’s Theodore Racing team (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5)..

The museum does also have a display of vintage cars (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).
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We were quick to leave our wrecks on street circuit behind, as we headed to our next destination – a magical world in which we would be taken not on, by in by what can be described as flights of fancy. The flights of fancy, colourful butterflies, were to be found at a specially created Butterfly Pavilion, set up in a world that in itself seems like a very magical one, the MGM Macau. The Butterfly Pavilion is part of ‘The Magic of Butterfly Reinvention’, taking place in the MGM Macau’s visually stunning Grande Praça, a square set inside the MGM complex which opened in 2007. With a glass ceiling some 25 metres above through which light is most beautifully cast into the space, the Grande Praça, surrounded by façades inspired European architecture, has got to get my vote as the most strikingly beautiful atria that I have seen.

Not one we left behind … an exhibit of a rescue vehicle and crew in action (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Impressions of the Grande Praça.

The Grande Praça of MGM Macau dressed up for The Magic of Butterfly Reinvention (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

‘The Magic of Butterfly Reinvention’ which opened in May this year and will be on until the end of October this year, has been put up in collaboration with US based Stephen Stefanou from Design Solutions. While the Butterfly Pavilion is very much the focal point, stepping into the Grande Praça does in itself seem like stepping into a fantasy world with giant pinwheel trees, willow-vine sculptures and giant butterflies. The pavilion draws inspiration from the late multi-disciplined inventor and designer Buckminster Fuller’s concept of the geodesic dome, measuring 7.8 metres in diameter, and serving as the butterfly habitat. It is in the habitat where one is taken on a flight of fancy, interacting with mesmerising flutters of colours – the flights of fancy that are some 130 species of butterflies which have been imported from Malaysia, South America, Africa and China.

The Buckminster Fuller inspired geodesic dome which serves as a temporary habitat, the Butterfly Pavilion (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Giant pinwheels on the pinwheel tree.

There are a total of some 130 species that visitors can interact with in the Butterfly Pavilion (photographs taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The visit not only allowed us to immerse ourselves in the fanciful flights of the beautiful winged creatures, creatures that spend only fleeting moments in colouring our world, but also to hear from Dr. Victor Wu, a butterfly expert and guest consultant. He had much to share on the lives of the butterflies. An especially interesting part of the visit involved the a look at the Incubation Room. In the room imported pupae are incubated in carefully controlled conditions and I managed to for the first time in my life, see pupae of moths and butterflies. A huge thrill was seeing butterflies which are newly emerged, with wings too soft to fly, hanging from some of the pupae.

Yiwei with a flight of fancy.

Chun See of Good Morning Yesterday with Dr. Walter Wu (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A newly emerged butterfly among the pupae in the incubator.

Leaving the flights of fancy and the Grande Praça behind, there was time before we left for lunch, to be taken by Ms. Vanessa Estorninho of MGM on another flight of fancy. This was in or I should say, through, the opulence of the very exclusive private lobby where VIPs have access through private elevators to the MGM’s Grand Suites and Villas all of which is housed in a separate tower. That certainly was an eye-opener and one that set the tone for the lunch on a high that was to follow.

Through the MGM Macau VIP Lobby (photographs taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Goodbye MGM! Leo the Lion says goodbye – seen from the back window of the bus (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).


The visit to Macau was made possible by the kind sponsorship of MGTO, flights were sponsored by Tiger Airways with check-in baggage allowances included.


Fanciful Links:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways

Tourism Activities Centre
Macau Grand Prix
MGM Macau
Butterfly Pavilion


Admission Information:

Macau Wine Museum:
Opens: Daily 10 am to 6 pm except Tuesdays
Admission: MOP/HKD15 per adult (inclusive of wine tasting), MOP/HKD5 for visitor age 11 to 18 years old **
(FREE for visitors age 10 & below and above 60 yrs old)

Macau Grand Prix Museum:
Opens: Daily 10 am to 6 pm except Tuesdays)
Admission: MOP/HKD10 per adult, MOP/HKD5 for visitor age 11 to 18 years old **
(FREE for visitors age 10 & below and above 60 yrs old)

** Joint admission ticket @ MOP/HKD20 for Wine Museum + Grand Prix Museum

Butterfly Pavilion:
Opens: Daily 10 am to 10 pm until 31 October 2012
Admission is free.


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






In pursuit of happiness on the streets of old Macau

20 09 2012

Much of the second day of our trip to Macau seemed to be spent in the pursuit of happiness. Happiness, not as one might imagine, found in the brightly lit gaming rooms that one can’t really get far away from in the territory, but rather found in and around the narrow streets and back lanes of old Macau, streets and back lanes that given more time, are ones that I certainly would want find myself getting lost in.

A dance of joy at the foot of the steps leading up to the iconic ruins of St. Paul’s, one of the many pockets of happiness that awaited us on the second day (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Scrambling around the streets late on what was a muggy Sunday morning, it didn’t take long to find ourselves dripping in perspiration and it did seem for a while, that that was the last thing that would lead us to any form of happiness. We had found ourselves involved in a Mini Macau Amazing Race, split into five teams of two, wandering around seemingly aimlessly seeking answers which were to be found in the narrow streets in and around Senado Square.

Have GPS will race … not that it helped … as my team was the last to arrive (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

We did in the course of the race, stumble upon happiness. We found that in the name of a street – Rua da Felicidade or 福隆新街,which translates to the Street of Happiness. The name has its origins in a seedy past, one that was associated with the pleasures of the flesh. The street is today (along with the narrow streets around it), where pleasures are still to be found, in indulgences that some would say are no less sinful. This we had to leave for a little later with the little matter of having first to finish the race.

The pursuit of happiness brought us to a street called ‘happiness’, the Rua da Felicidade / 福隆新街 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Being paired with a very able partner in Kaika, of The Cosplay Chronicles fame, somehow wasn’t enough. Arriving drenched in the morning’s exertions at the pit stop, we were to hear the dreaded ‘you are the last team to arrive’. Looking back, we had perhaps spent a little too much time on happiness, in search of what one might call a purveyor of happiness that eluded us. We did find some momentary happiness at the end point though. That came in the form of what has to be one of the simple pleasures of Macau – a Portuguese Egg Tart or Pastel de Nata as some refer to it. The Macau favourite was one that came from Margaret’s Café (玛嘉烈蛋挞), tucked away in what seemed like an obscure alley not far from the Grand Lisboa Hotel, which served as the end point.

A jump of joy in front of St. Dominic’s Church, one of the stops along the race route … I was paired up with Kaika of The Cosplay Chronicles for the race (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Happiness at the pit stop – found after having an egg tart (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Margaret’s Café (玛嘉烈蛋挞) is tucked away in what seemed like an obscure alley not far from the Grand Lisboa Hotel (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The scene that greeted us at Margaret’s Café, might have had fuelled some delusions some of us might have had that the large crowd that was present was there to cheer our efforts. It was however clear that they had come for the rich creamy custard filled flaky pastry cases that can only be described as a little piece of heaven. There was just a queue that was in evidence, with tables laid on the outside all filled up, many were seen, egg tarts in hand, standing around in the alleyway. The café had been one of the many pockets of happiness surprising us in the labyrinth of streets of the race route and looking back at it, the race certainly was an well thought of means devised by the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) to help get us acquainted the streets in and around Senado Square and what they have to offer.

There was a large crowd at the café when we arrived (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Those who could not find seats did not seem to mind having their egg tarts standing (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

With the newly acquired local knowledge fresh in our heads, a number of us decided to use the free time we had after the race to embark on a quest to seek out the pockets of happiness we now knew the streets had to offer. Retracing our steps back to the street called happiness, we sought out Cheong Kei Noodle House (Loja Sopa Da Fita Cheong Kei or 祥记面食专家) and the famed shrimp roe noodles we were made aware of. Undeterred by the queue that had formed when we arrived, we patiently waited for the reward that awaited us, shrimp roe noodles of which we each had one (we realised that the portions served were small enough), sharing a bowl of wan ton soup, and what seemed like house specialities fish skin salad and fish balls deep fried with a coating of rice that resembled balls of Fererro Rocher. The shrimp roe noodles, noodles sprinkled with dried shrimp roe on top, made an interesting eat and turned out to be quite a happy treat. The fish balls and wan ton were too, but I think the jury was out on the fish skin which if anything was rich, as I learned from the ladies with us, in collagen.

The queue to get into Cheong Kei did not deter us (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Fish Skin Salad, a specialty – the jury seemed to be out on this (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Fererro Rocher balls? Deep fried fish balls coated with rice (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

What we came for, happiness in a serving of shrimp roe noodles (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

… which Ai Sakura seemed to find (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Feeling happy from the exercise of gluttony at Cheong Kei, there was more happiness to be sought. We decided to find it in some sweet delights that Macau does have an abundance of – desserts! We headed to the Leitaria I Son (義順牛奶公司) along San Ma Lo (新馬路 / Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro), known to many who visit Hong Kong as the Yee Shun Milk Company. The dessert shop, which I understand originated in Macau, offers a range of smooth and creamy steamed milk puddings with a variety of toppings, all of which would probably require several trips to Macau to have a complete taste of. We shared a few different bowls – a plain milk pudding, as well as one each with ginger, lotus seeds and red beans. The ginger was quite an interesting experience, and if you are fond of having a cup of strong ginger tea we find at the sarabat stalls in Singapore, it is something you certainly will like – which I did. Seeing the expression on the face of one in the group, Rui Long, the omy.sg representative, as she had a taste of it also told me that ginger wasn’t everyone’s bowl of milk pudding. I did however find, and I think many would agree with me, that the bowl with the red beans topping came closest to happiness in a bowl – red beans seemed to best complement the joy of milk pudding.

The search for more happiness took us into Leitaria I Son (義順牛奶公司) along San Ma Lo (新馬路 / Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro), known to many who visit Hong Kong as the Yee Shun Milk Company and famous for their steamed milk puddings.

Happiness found in bowls of steamed milk pudding at I Son … just so good! (Photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

It was at this point that some decided to head to the shops in Senado Square in search of the happiness that shopping does bring. A few headed back to the starting point of the morning’s race, Ponte 16, to visit the MJ Gallery and MJ Café there. The gallery, the only one in Asia devoted to the late ‘King of Pop’, Michael Jackson (MJ), is where MJ fans will take great delight in the 40 well-known pieces of MJ memorabilia on display. This includes the iconic white rhinestone glove which he wore worn during his first moonwalk performance which was televised during Motown’s 25th Anniversary in 1983, and also a fedora hat and crystal socks worn during his Victory Tour in 1984. MJ was certainly a big part of the generation I am in and I was quite happy to see that he has fans in the young bloggers who came along. One big fan we were to discover amongst us was Rui Long, who I must say did an excellent impression of MJ next to a life-sized standee of MJ doing the legendary moonwalk.

Some headed back to Ponte 16 to visit the MJ Gallery.

Paying homage to the late ‘King of Pop’, Michael Jackson at the MJ Gallery at Ponte 16 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The MJ Café at Ponte 16.

The time tunnel at the MJ Gallery captures the key milestones of MJ’s legendary career (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Rui Long during a perfect impression of MJ.



The MJ Gallery features 40 items of MJ memorabilia including some iconic items such as the white rhinestone studded glove he wore during his legendary moonwalk performance televised during Motown’s 25th Anniversary in 1983 (photographs taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

I decided next to head on my own in an attempt to discover the heart of old Macau, starting with the A-Ma Temple (媽閣廟) which is thought to be at the origins of the Portuguese given name of its former colony. The temple, I will write on in part of another post, which dedicated to the Taoist protector of fishermen, the goddess of the sea, Mazu or Matsu (妈祖 / 媽祖), serves as the starting point of any heritage trail through the streets of old Macau. It is also a stone’s throw from Lilau Square, the heart of the first Portuguese settlement. It was at the square where peeking through a window of a convenience kiosk, I spotted Yiwei, of Foodeology fame, seemingly in a state of happiness peeking (quite coincidentally) through a window at the opposite side of the kiosk.

The A-Ma Temple (媽閣廟) is at the origin of the Portuguese given name for Macau.

Having spent a little more time that I thought at the A-Ma Temple, the Moorish Barracks along the way and at Lilau Square, and perhaps a little distracted by the sweet smile at the other end of the kiosk, I abandoned thoughts of continuing with my trek through old Macau. I decided on heading back to Senado Square where I would find the larger part of the group, with the promise of a raid on more places of culinary happiness later that evening.

The joy that accompanied the surprise through a window of a kiosk at Lilau Square.

I found the group close to the steps leading up to the ruins of St. Paul’s, looking for happiness in the many shops selling Macanese / Cantonese confectionery and biscuits found in the streets leading up to the ruins. It is at these shops that Macau favourites such as boxes of almond cookies fly off the racks like hot cakes, and where another favourite, what I is best described as sweet barbequed meat or 肉乾, referred to locally as jerky (or in Singapore as ‘bak kwa’ or ‘long yuk’), is displayed in folded sheets as large as a piece of A4 sized paper– something I would certainly would have found happiness in as a child!

The streets below the ruins of St. Paul’s are littered with shops offering happiness in the many local snacks and confectioneries.

Sweet BBQ Meat a.k.a. jerky or 肉乾 is displayed in A4 sized sheets.

A shop assistant with a flat basket of a local favourite, almond cookies.

Ai Sakura finding happiness in a confectionery shop.

Tired from what was a long day out, it was then time to seek the dose of happiness at one of Macau’s food institutions – one we found out about during the race, Wong Chi Kei Noodle House (黃枝記麵家) in Senado Square. Wong Chi Kei has been in business some for some 66 years, having started in 1946. Set in an old shophouse in Senado Square, the wait to get into the restaurant, popular with locals and visitors, proved to be well worth it. The noodles and the soup in which they were served can be described as nothing less than a bowl of great happiness! As with any visit to the region, I had to have a bowl of beef brisket noodles. I thoroughly enjoyed and would if I could, return for more. The wan ton noodles and crab congee are apparently among the favourites here, as is the shrimp roe noodles, which served in larger portions with a generous helping of wan ton, was received well by those who did try it.

A happy customer leaving Wong Chi Kei Noodle House (黃枝記麵家) in Senado Square, a local institution.

The verdict was that the shrimp roe noodles at Wong Chi Kei brought happiness to those who tried it.

Leo of Spin or Bin Music must be wondering how Ai Sakura is going to eat all that!

Another house specialty is the crab congee.

Before we were prepared to call it a day, there was still one last bit of happiness we had to seek. We headed back to the dessert shop that had eluded Kaika and me during the race, Hang Heong Un (Loja De Doces Hang Heong Un / 杏香园雪糕甜品屋), in which their walnut cream desserts are said to bring pure joy. I decided on ordering something that would cool me down instead, it having been a hot day – a cold water chestnut based dessert. That did bring pure joy to me, certainly an excellent way to bring what I must say was a very successful pursuit of happiness through the streets of Macau to a very happy conclusion.

Last stop for finding happiness was Hang Heong Un (Loja De Doces Hang Heong Un / 杏香园雪糕甜品屋) off the street of happiness.

A refreshing bowl of water chestnut based dessert – a perfect way to end a happy day.


The visit to Macau was made possible by the kind sponsorship of MGTO, flights were sponsored by Tiger Airways with check-in baggage allowances included.


Links to Happiness:

Getting there
Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways

Pockets of ‘yum’:
Margaret’s Café
Cheong Kei Noodle House
Leitaria I Son
Wong Chi Kei
Hang Heong Un

Happy places:
Suggested Walking Tour of Macau
Rua da Felicadade
Senado Square
Ruins of St. Paul’s
St. Dominic’s Church
A-Ma Temple
Lilau Square
MJ Gallery at Ponte 16


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.


Video of Mini Macau Amazing Race as captured by the crew of omy.sg:






Dances in Macau’s night sky

17 09 2012

Fireworks have to be one of the best gifts that the Middle Kingdom has given us. A show does always seem to bring out a celebratory mood on any occasion – even when there is no occasion … the explosive burst of colours is in itself a celebration. I for one have long held a fascination for fireworks since my youthful days watching them from the window of my flat in Toa Payoh. And now in my second childhood (perhaps third or fourth), displays still captivate me and I often chase them whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Fireworks displays never fail to put audiences in a celebratory mood.

I found myself not having to chase one of my more recent encounters … being a participant on a trip to Macau that I had the good fortune of being on. The trip, sponsored and hosted by the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO), coincided with the annual celebration of fireworks – the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest, which this year is in its 24th edition. That it was hosted by the MGTO, also meant that the group I was in, were able to watch the pyrotechnic displays from a comfortable position and unobstructed position in a reserved area at the Macau Tower Outdoor Plaza.

The judges for the contest seated at the Outdoor Plaza.

Entertainment at the Outdoor Plaza in between the two displays.

This year’s edition of the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest sees 10 teams attempting to outdo each other in painting the night sky over the Pearl River Estuary between the Macau Peninsula and Taipa Island, each in a choreographed show of pyrotechnic bursts accompanied by music. Taking place over a period of some five weeks from September to early October, the 24th Macau International Fireworks Display Contest sees the displays of two teams on each of the Saturdays in September, and that of the last two on 1 October, China’s National Day, in a contest that sees the participation of teams from Korea; Thailand; Taiwan, China; United States; Portugal; France; Japan; Australia; Italy and Mainland China. This annual contest is supported and sponsored by the MGTO with a subsidy given to the participating teams for fireworks. This year sees the participation of teams from France and Italy for the first time, and boasts several well-established names in pyrotechnic displays including the Australian company which was responsible for the fireworks during the opening and closing of Sydney 2000.

Four of the bloggers in the group: (from L to R) Valyn, Joey, Chun See and Yiwei.

After a short ceremony at the Outdoor Plaza, the contest got underway. Featuring two teams on opening evening, the Korean team represented by Woori Fireworks Inc and the team from Thailand, Thailand Fireworks, the audience which also included guests to a BBQ Dinner Buffet which is served to coincide with fireworks nights, was treated to two wondrous 14 minute long shows which saw the colourful bursts dancing to music the teams had specially selected for their respective shows. The displays by the two teams were certainly well planned and choreographed and despite not having a remote release for it, I decided to attempt using the Lumix DMC-GF5 camera that Panasonic had kindly provided for our use during the trip to capture some stills of the displays using the self-timer, the results of which are seen in the sequences of photographs below. The sequence by the Korean team was a little more dynamic and alternated between large and small bursts and capturing them did prove quite a challenge, whereas the Thai display I thought had prettier and subtler combinations of fireworks with lengthier pauses in between – which presented another set of challenges, particularly in anticipating when the bursts would start.

On the way back to the hotel … the bloggers, and even the bus, were in an exuberant and colourful mood!

Although exhausted from what was a very long day (plus the fact that I only got two hours of sleep due to packing at the very last minute for the trip), I must say that enjoyed watching and trying to photograph the two displays, the likes of which I have only got to see up close and unobstructed on very few occasions before … an occasion that will certainly long be remembered …


Performance by Woori Fireworks Inc of Korea










Performance by Thailand Fireworks












The visit to Macau was made possible by the kind sponsorship of MGTO, flights have been sponsored by Tiger Airways with check-in baggage allowances included. The visit to the Macau Tower for the 24th Macau International Fireworks Display Contest was also made possible by Macau Tower.

All photographs of fireworks in this post were taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 camera.


Useful links:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways
Macau Tower
24th Macau International Fireworks Display Contest


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Macau on a high

16 09 2012

That it was going to be an interesting 4 day trip to Macau, there wasn’t any doubt. What with it being my very first trip there, plus the added bonus of being in the company of nine very highly spirited bloggers, two members of the omy.sg team and a representative from trip sponsors, the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO). It all began on a Saturday morning with what has to be my last check-in at the Budget Terminal (it is scheduled to close on 25 September 2012). A very smooth and hassle free flight of just over 3 hours on flight sponsors Tiger Airways, one of two airlines that flies direct to the territory and the only one that has daily flights there, was all it took, and we soon found ourselves walking down the ladder right onto the tarmac of Macau’s very unique airport on the sea.

Boarding the Tiger Airways flight bound for Macau. Tiger Airways is the only carrier which flies daily to Macau (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

Inside the very comfortable cabin of the Tiger Airways Airbus A320 (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

It didn’t take long before we found ourselves taking in the gorgeous views that any drive across the Friendship Bridge offers and in no time we were dropped off at the hotel’s doorstep. The hotel that we were staying at over the 3 nights, the Grand Lapa Macau, a five-star hotel in the Mandarin Oriental group located close to the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal on the Macau Peninsula, is a luxuriously decorated resort hotel which is set in a very relaxing garden setting. Having checked –in, there wasn’t time to really appreciate what the hotel offered until later, as with some of my new-found friends and travel companions, we decided on looking for a quick bite – something that perhaps set the tone for the culinary adventures that lay in wait.

The room in the Grand Lapa Macau which I found myself in (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

The beautiful setting of the Café Bela Vista in the Grand Lapa where breakfast is served (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

Too many choices for our Y-blogger Joey – as some of us decided to grab a quick bite before heading out (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

First bite – the much talked about Pork Chop bun (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

Having momentarily satisfied cravings that were to accompany me for the rest of the trip, it was time to set off for the first adventures that the MGTO had in store for us. This was to take us on a high – up the heights of the tallest structure in Macau, Macau Tower, which soars to a height of 338 metres and is currently the 20th tallest tower in the world. It would be at the tower where we were to have dinner at the tower’s revolving restaurant, the 360° Café and also where we were to catch the opening of the 24th International Macau Fireworks Display Contest at the tower’s Outdoor Plaza.

Macau Tower at a height of 338 metres is the tallest structure in the territory (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

The tower is a truly fascinating place – a lot more than just an observation tower that offers magnificent views of the Special Administrative Region and Zhuhai in mainland China and the Pearl River Delta, but a location that offers dining, entertainment as well as convention and exhibition facilities as we were to discover in the company of Money, which took the form of a Macau Tower representative named Money.

Macau Tower offers excellent views of Macau and the Peral River Delta.

We first had an introduction to the Grand Hall in the convention centre located next to the base of the tower. The Grand Hall is a huge hall that accommodates up to 1800 people for seminars and 1000 people for banquets which can be divided into 8 smaller halls. There are also private rooms arranged along the outer edge – rooms with a view offering a magnificent view of the Sai Van Bridge, more popularly referred to as the ‘M & M’ Bridge for the shape of the arches on the pylons, for private functions. Interestingly, the bridge, which is the 3rd bridge to be built linking the island of Taipa to the Macau Peninsula, has two decks – an open upper deck which is normally used and an enclosed lower deck that is opened up during typhoons.

Chairs inside the Grand Hall (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

The Macau Tower representative, Money, introducing the tower’s convention facilities to the group.

Private rooms are arranged on the outside (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

The rooms provides a beautiful view of the ‘M&M’ or Sai Van Bridge (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

The view of the Sai Van Bridge we got from the private rooms (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

It was then time to get high … and in some 50 seconds we were transported up via high-speed elevators with a maximum speed of 5 metres per second up the 223 metres to the lower Indoor Observation Deck of the tower on the 58th floor. And if that wasn’t exhilarating enough, the fully air-conditioned Indoor Observation Deck, besides offering sky-high views of the surroundings, has thick glass floor panels fitted in some areas that offers the sensation of walking with nothing but 223 metres of air below one’s feet and is certain to make one’s legs go soft.

223 metres high with nothing but a thick pane of glass below me (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

And, if that isn’t enough, Macau Tower offers several unique experiences for the thrill seeking height defying visitor. Up on the upper observation deck – the Outdoor Adventure View Deck, visitors have the choice of ascending the mast, walking exposed to the elements along the edge of the tower, or even jumping off … activities that are certainly not for the faint hearted! It is from this deck, some 61 floors up that A J Hackett, a pioneer in commercial bungy jumping, runs the four activities that will at the very least provide some adrenaline moments, the Mast Climb, the Skywalk X and the Bungy Jump and the Skyjump. The Bungy Jump which at 233 metres up is ranked as the second highest commercial bungee jump in the world and which has been identified as one of the top 5 bungee jumps to do takes one down the tower and offers some spectacular views … something I might have thought of doing if it weren’t for time (yeah, right!). We did get a chance to watch as one very brave man went through his preparations before taking the plunge – wearing a look of calm (or maybe putting on a brave face) throughout. There is also a slower more controlled descent 20 second one can make – the Skyjump, if the bungee is not for you.

The Outdoor Adventure View Deck (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

The view from the Outdoor Adventure View Deck (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

The Mast Climb allows visitors to climb up the mast (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

A couple of brave souls being prepared for the Bungy Jump and Skywalk (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

Must be a wonderful experience being out there and seeing the sunset.

Giving the thumbs up! (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

Taking the plunge.

A participant being guided along the Skywalk (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

Skywalk participants get to sit on the edge some 233 metres above ground!

It was soon time to move down to the 60th level where the 360° Café is located to indulge in its huge buffet spread. It did seem like the one hour we had for dinner wasn’t quite enough to fully savour the scrumptious spread of Macanese, Portuguese, Cantonese and even Indian delights plus take the time to view and photograph the wonderful views we were dining to, before it was time to head down for the opening of the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest. On the evidence of the ladies seated at my table, the dessert spread was very well received … including tiramisu to die for – that alone I suppose makes the dining experience one that, for also the delicious spread and wonderful views, is one that should not be missed when in Macau.

The buffet at 360° Café includes local favourites (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

The dessert spread was popular with the ladies in the group (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

The experience at Macau Tower is certainly a great way to start off the adventure we were to have in Macau, and was one that provided a wonderful first impression of the surprises that Macau holds. We soon found ourselves seated right below the tower ready for the next segment of an eventful first evening, the opening of the 24th Macau International Fireworks Display Contest to which I would devote the next post to.

The view of the Pearl River Delta and the ‘M&M’ Bridge was spectacular from the revolving restaurant (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).

The ‘M&M’ or Sai Van Bridge features an enclosed lower deck for use during typhoons (photo taken with a Panasonic LUMIX GF-5 camera).


The visit to Macau was made possible by the kind sponsorship of MGTO including sponsorship of our stay at the Grand Lapa Macau, flights have been sponsored by Tiger Airways with check-in baggage allowances included. The visit to Macau Tower and dinner at 360° Café was also made possible by Macau Tower.


Useful links:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways
Grand Lapa Macau
Macau Tower
360° Café
A J Hackett
Bungy Jump
Skyjump
Skywalk X
Mast Climb


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






A new world in an old to discover

7 09 2012

I’ll soon be off on a new adventure to a place that I have only seen in pictures, Macau. It will be one that I certainly am looking forward to, given the opportunities that will be presented to photograph its wonderful diversity of culture and architecture in the former Portuguese colony.

Macau, one of the earliest European colonies in Asia, and also the longest held, offers and interesting blend of east and west.

The adventure will be one that I will take in the company of an equally diverse group of bloggers, diverse from the age range and areas of interest. That in itself promises to make the four day trip, kindly sponsored by the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO), with flights there sponsored by Tiger Airways which flies there everyday. The itinerary is also one that makes the trip one to look forward to. MGTO has lined up an exciting programme that will include visits to some of the main attractions such as Macau Tower, Macau Grand Prix Museum and Wine Musuem, the Butterfly Pavilion at MGM Macau, Ice World @ The Venetian Macau, The House of Dancing Water, Coloane Village and Taipa Village. During the time, we will also have an experience of some of the scrumptious cuisine that combines the best of east and west.

Macau Tower and the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest.

The highlight of the trip could possibly be the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest, which is in its 24th year. Held over five Saturdays, the event will see ten teams compete with their creative displays for the top prize – two each evening. We will get to see the first set of teams – from Korea and from Thailand on the first evening – and I hope to see and hopefully photograph a spectacular show that evening.

Senado Square.

One of the things that I will look to be doing – especially with a free afternoon after what should be an interesting Amazing Race style race that is planned for the morning of the second day, would be to explore some of Macau on my own. I would be particularly interested to try to discover the mix of east and west in a territory that was one of the earliest European colonies in the Far East. Macau also is the earliest European colony on Chinese territory and the last to be held by a European nation and is certainly a place that is steeped in the history of the golden age of Portuguese ‘discovery’ in Asia. This is a subject that I have been fascinated with since my introduction to it attending a church in Singapore that traces its history, interestingly enough to the first Catholic missionaries who arrived in Singapore, coming from the Portuguese colony of Macau, as well as in the ruins of the A Famosa and St Paul’s Church in Malacca.

A-Ma Temple.

For more information, and also to follow the ten bloggers on the trip, do visit the My Macau Experience page on omy.sg http://blog.omy.sg/experience-macau. We will be updating with blog posts on our experiences before, (maybe during), and in the few weeks after the trip as well flooding it with instant feeds on Twitter (#sba2012) and Instagram (#surprisingmomentsinmacau) during the trip.


Photographs in this post courtesy of MGTO.





The Singapore Blog Awards 2012 Interview

28 05 2012

How do you feel about being one of finalists in Singapore Blog Awards 2012?

I am smiling from ear to ear! What I actually am feeling is a mix of emotions that include being excited and extremely ecstatic, at the same time, I am also deeply honoured to be picked as one of the finalists in the Photography Category!

When did you start blogging and what drew you to it? Where do you get inspiration for your blog content?

I started blogging in 2008 as an attempt to document my life. At that time, I was doing a stint in Penang, and in wandering around the streets which were very reminiscent of the Singapore of old, I was transported back to that Singapore. It was then I started to realise how different life for me was, and how much Singapore had changed, and I thought of documenting that part of my life as well as what went on around me, partly to help me reminisce and partly to keep a record of what the world around me was seen through my eyes – what essentially had left an impression on me along life’s long and winding road (hence the blog name). The blog has over time evolved to much more than that and I have included photographs that I have taken as a means to help the reader connect with my writing. In the process of that I have developed a strong interest in photography.

What has inspired my blog content has very much been my readers and it is through the generous feedback I have received that I realise that it is more than nostalgia that draws readers to my blog, but also the snippets of history and heritage, the interest the blog has generated on the passing of the railway and the Green Corridor, the mix of the old and the new and the cultural aspects of Singapore, as well as my use of images that I am told speak to the audience. This inspires me to seek new experiences as well as look back at older ones. The interest and attention the blog has received has also benefited me in offering opportunities to further my experiences in the areas I am interested in and document them in my blog.

How do you feel about the other Finalists in your category this year? How do you think you will fare compared to them?

As with the previous year, I have found myself amongst some very accomplished photographers in the category. These include another previous winner, and several who ply the trade. Going through their stunning and mouth-watering sites, the level of competition provided is certainly very high and it will certainly be very hard for me to repeat my feat last year of winning in this category.

Give a reason why readers should visit your blog and vote for you?

If there was to be one reason why readers should visit and vote for The Long and Winding Road – it will have to be for the images that I’ve used on my blog that I hope has been able to paint a thousand words, images such as the few that I have included in this post.





Support The Long and Winding Road for the Singapore Blog Awards

23 05 2012

The Singapore Blog Awards is back – for a fifth year with the finalists in each of the fifteen categories announced on Monday. Once again, The Long and Winding Road is in the running in the Best Photography Blog (PANASONIC ECO BEST PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG) Category.

It is a great honour to be selected, having already had the good fortune of being picked as the winner in the same category at last year’s awards – for which I am greatly indebted to the readers of this blog and to the many friends I have made on the journey along the Long and Winding Road who have cast their votes for the blog. Repeating the feat this year will certainly be difficult – as with the last, there are exceptional blogs in the category which are all more than worthy of winning and once more. I would be most grateful for your votes, if you do think the blog is worthy of the accolade, to help in nudging the blog in the right direction – once a day up until the 30th of June. The voting page can be found at the PANASONIC ECO BEST PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG page.

To be able to vote, you would need to first register by clicking on the “REGISTER NOW” text at the top left of the page – you may fill up with any ID number if you do not have an NRIC/FIN Number required to register.

At the same time, I would also like to give a shout-out to some finalists in other categories – some of whom I have become great friends with, whom I think deserve a mention:

  • Fellow Singapore Memory Corp member Lam Chun See, the man behind Good Morning Yesterday (Best Individual Blog). Chun See’s tireless efforts in documenting a Singapore that once was is the benchmark for many nostalgia bloggers – including myself.
  • Self-professed ex-City gal turned expat housewife Karen Lim, whose wonderfully refreshing blog, Story of Bing (Best Lifestyle Blog) takes us on an adventure to South Africa.
  • Wildlife and conservation enthusiast Ivan Kwan, whose morbid fascination with dead animals in the form of updates on Monday Morgue (Best WTH Blog) every Monday certainly has me exclaiming “What The Hell”.
  • Father of four (yes, four!) Andy Lee, who introduces us to his adventures with his kids on Sengkang Babies (Best Family Blog) and is a really nice and down to earth guy.
  • Travel writer Rosemarie John, who takes us on her travels and beyond on Travel and Beyond (Best Travel Blog).

Photography on The Long and Winding Road

I wouldn’t call myself a photographer, but I do use photography as a means to express myself. Photographs to me are a wonderful way to capture that story, an impression or to keep as a record of events, the beauty around us and also the passing of time. Photographs certainly can paint that thousand words, helping a reader to connect with a body of text – a wonderful way to help me keep account of my wanderings along life’s Long and Winding Road. Below are some more recent examples of the stories I try to tell, the impressions and moments in time I try to capture in this blog through the lens. Feel free to browse through them and let me know what you think. :)






A riot in Central Melbourne

9 10 2011

Presenting the riot of sights and colours that is the Queen Victoria Market in Central Melbourne – a perfect way to spend an lazy Sunday morning:

Queen Victoria Market brings a riot of colours to Central Melbourne.

Green and Red Apples.

Bell peppers.

Amarillos.

Oranges.

Some of the juiciest tomatoes I have seen.

Giant custard apples.

Pineapples.

More oranges.

Asparagus.

Love the variety at the deli outlets.

A tart - looks yummy!

Baguettes.

Something fishy.

Selection of cheese.

Pasta!

Rose wine.

Popular doughnut van.

Wigs.

Textiles.

At a toy stall.





The reward for stealing a horse – holding $0.25M in her hand?

5 10 2011

It was to our horror that we discovered that we had a horse thief amongst us, just as we tucking into the main course of the lunch we were having on the Main Street of an early but already thriving Ballarat. It was midway into the main course when a man dressed in a blue uniform and armed with a sword – a policeman I guess, stormed into the quiet dining room in which we were seated and read out charges of horse stealing and furious riding to Deenise, one of the bloggers with us.

Firing of guns on Main Street. Were they aiming at a horse thief furiously riding down Main Street?

Main street in the Ballarat of the 1850s - where we found out we had a horse thief in our ranks.

Bills stuck on a wall - no 'Wanted' sign and no sign of trouble.

The horsethief in happier times.

Oh dear! Charges were read in the dining room just as we started on our main course.

It wasn’t of course at all real – but part of the fun we had at Ballarat’s Sovereign Hill where we were transported into the heat of the mid 1800 gold rush on which the city was built. Sovereign Hill, referred to as an outdoor museum, is a recreation of Ballarat in its early years, where one can have a feel of what it was like in the days of the gold rush, as thousands of migrants descended on a an area where one of the most significant finds of gold at that time was discovered. It was also at Ballarat that the largest nugget at the time and the second largest ever, the massive 69 kg Welcome Nugget, was discovered by a group of miners in an underground mine in 1858 and this is re-enacted in a replica underground mine which can be visited at Sovereign Hill.

It was all part of the fun of being in Sovereign Hill - a reacreation of the gold rush town of Ballarat in the 1850s.

The find of the second largest gold nugget ever found is reenacted in the replica Red Hill underground mine which visitors can descend to for a feel of the conditions the underground miners faced.

Walking down Main Street gives a feel of the dusty wild, wild west like town, where one can stumble on soldiers, miners, and townsfolk dressed in the costumes of the day, as well as shop at shops that are decorated very much like what one expects of the shops of the day. It is also possible to take a horse-drawn wagon ride around the area – past buildings that would not have been out of place on the set of a wild west movie.

A scene from the wild, wild west.

The Post Office.

Soldiers marching down Main Street.

Horse drawn wagon rides are available.

The view from the wagon down to Red Hill Gully Creek.

The ouside of the replica underground mine.

A church.

Livestock can also be found to add a feel of what conditions were like.

Candles from a candle maing shop.

Soda bottles in a grocery shop.

One of the more interesting activities that are available is at Red Hill Gully Creek where one can pan for real gold amongst tents and shacks that would have resembled the area during the gold rush days. It was quite interesting to do it – not that I was any good – it was Deenise and Yiwei who did find a few bits of the shinny metal. We also had the opportunity to dress up in costumes resembling the dressing of the period and have our photo taken – which was quite a blast.

Panning for gold at Red Hill Gully Creek.

An oldtimer demonstrating the technique.

The inside of a Chinese miners tent - Chinese made up a substantial portion of the miners' population then.

A replica Chinese temple.

The tent city.

The highlight of the visit was probably the gold pour for me. It was where we could watch 3 kg of gold being melted over a furnace and poured in light of the orange glow of the molten metal into a mould and cooled down – and after everyone had left, we had the opportunity to have a feel of that 3 kg of pure gold – worth close to a quarter of a million Singapore dollars! And for half a minute – I felt rich!

The glow of molten gold during the gold pour.

A quarter of a million in gold in the hands of the horse thief.


Australia’s foremost outdoor museum – Sovereign Hill recreates Ballarat’s first ten years after the discovery of gold in 1851 when thousands of international fortune-hunters rushed to the Australian goldfields in search of riches. By day, Sovereign Hill is where Australia’s history comes to life – from the hustle and bustle of Main Street where costumed ladies and gents parade their new-found wealth, to the excitement of the Red Hill Gully Diggings where you can pan for REAL gold.

Sovereign Hill
Bradshaw Street
Ballarat VIC 3350
Tel: (03) 5337 1100
Fax: (03) 5331 1528
www.sovereignhill.com.au


This is a repost of my post on the omy Colours of Melbourne 2011: My Melbourne Experience site. You can vote for your favourite blogger at the My Melbourne Experience voting page. Voting period is from 15 September 2011 to 5 October 2011 and stand a chance to win prizes worth up to $3000 which include Jetstar travel vouchers and Crumpler limited edition laptop bags.






And she sang, as we sat and waited til’ our billy boiled, putting a damper on the fire

5 10 2011

After two wonderful days in which I was able to develop a deeper appreciation of what Melbourne has to offer and experience an activity packed excursion to Phillip Island, I wasn’t sure if my choice of the third and final day’s activity, an excursion to Ballarat, was going to be a wise one, as I really wanted to have the chance to have a better feel of the city especially having heard about how much more Melbourne has on offer. I wasn’t to be disappointed though – as not only did it give me the chance to see (and feel) some of the well known creatures of the Australian Bush at the Ballarat Wildlife Park, but also take a step back in time to a world that existed in the mid-1800s in and around Ballarat.

The third day involved a visit to Ballarat Wildlife Park.

The blue skies we woke up to that morning may have been seen as a sign of good things to come, but then, the grey skies of the two previous mornings were not really an indication of the fun filled days we were to have. The skies were indeed blue – brilliantly so, so much so that they deserve mention. The ride of a little more than an hour was fairly pleasant, taking us past the apple and pear orchards of Bacchaus Marsh along the way, and it wasn’t too long before Tony Poletto of Tourism Victoria pointed a sign welcoming us to Ballarat out close to where we passed a medieval castle – Kryal Castle that’s probably worth a visit on my next visit to the area.

The road near Bacchaus Marsh - an area where apple and pear orchards can be found.

Kyral castle - a replica medieval castle on the road close to Ballarat.

At Ballarat Wildlife Park, we were welcomed by a curator Julia Leonard, who made a short introduction and led us to a cabin in the park where she had a little treat in store for us, right under the shade of what might have been a coolibah tree at the front of the cabin. Borrowing from the lyrics of that famous song Australian song Waltzing Matilda, it was there where Julia sang as we watched and waited til’ her billy boiled. What was boiling in the billy, was the famous billy tea – tea brewed in a billy, a tin can, suspended over a fire and flavoured by the addition of eucalyptus leaves, that was supposed to be swung around a few times to sink the leaves to the bottom of the can. Over the fire, we were also able to try our hand at baking damper – a traditional scone like soda bread prepared in the outback made of flour, water and baking soda, at the end of a stick. It was a good thing that there was pre-prepared damper waiting for us in the cabin, as I promptly got mine burnt. There was an assortment of condiments such as butter, jam and golden syrup and even vegemite that we could spread on the damper – much like a scone. I like it – as I did the strong eucalyptus tea that Julia poured out for us.

The cabin we had the damper and billy tea in.

Deenise Yang and Huang Kee Hong baking the damper, as Julia looks on.

The billy (it should really not have a spout!) and our damper being burnt.

Loved the aroma that reached my nose as the billy tea was being poured.

The pre-prepared damper with a selection of condiments which included vegemite!

After that very interesting experience, it was time to wander around the park with Julia. We were first able to feed some very tame kangaroos – ones from Kangaroo Island where there are no predators. It was quite a treat to get up close and personal with them – and have them eat out of my hand – as it was a treat to see two joeys in their mother’s pouches.

One of two very tame Kangaroo Island kangaroos we saw with joeys in their pouches.

Another joey in its mother's pouch.

The mother and her joey.

Other treats were in store for us – I stared right into the eyes of an emu, looked at the sharp and long fangs of the Tasmanian devil (the first time I had actually seen the famous Tassie devils), patted Koalas, including a baby Koala (one of the few places you can pat a Koala) and said hello to Patrick the wombat, as well as saw a host of reptiles including snakes. I enjoyed meeting Patrick in particular – wombats are a lot bigger than I imagined them to be – an adult wombat can weigh as much as 40 kg, but they did not look any less adorable than the cute soft toy replicas we often see being sold.

Staring into the eyes of an emu.

Close up of the feathers of an emu.

A koala at the wildlife park. The wildlife park allows koalas to be petted.

An adorable baby koala peeking through the fur ball that is its mother.

Patrick the orphan wombat, who weights 32 kg. A full sized adult can weigh as much as 40 kg.

Cute and adorable, but they do bite!

A poison gas breathing tortoise? A giant tortoise - the ray of light is a reflection off the glass panel.

Not a two-headed snake - but two rattlesnakes colied up together.

A lizard on a tree.

Going in for the kill! Lab mice being fed to a Tassie devil.

A Tassie devil baring its fangs.

The short visit to the wildlife park was one that I thoroughly enjoyed, not just for the unique experience of billy tea and damper but also for the opportunity it provided for me to see many of the iconic creatures of of Australian outback really up close and in the case of the koala and kangaroos – to pet them – something I am sure would appeal to visitors with children. For the four of us – the experience probably made us feel like kids once again – and I was certainly thankful for that. Next stop on the third day was Sovereign Hill – to hunt for gold, but more importantly to also stop for lunch.


Ballarat Wildlife Park is set in 116 hectares of beautiful peppermint gum woodland and is dedicated to the care and appreciation of Australian wildlife in its natural surroundings. Proprietor Greg Parker uses his considerable breeding expertise to develop an array of Australian fauna such as wombats, Tasmanian devils, goannas, crocodiles, birds and koalas. It’s a favourite with all visitors.

Ballarat Wildlife Park
Cnr Fussell & York Streets
Ballarat VIC 3350
Tel: (03) 5333 5933
www.wildlifepark.com.au


This is a repost of my post on the omy Colours of Melbourne 2011: My Melbourne Experience site. You can vote for your favourite blogger at the My Melbourne Experience voting page. Voting period is from 15 September 2011 to 5 October 2011 and stand a chance to win prizes worth up to $3000 which include Jetstar travel vouchers and Crumpler limited edition laptop bags.






Flying on the new Star to Melbourne

4 10 2011

Together with nine other bloggers, I was jetted comfortably and efficiently on a new star to Melbourne – Jetstar that is (one of the very kind sponsors of the trip). While I would have, prior my recent experience, probably not have given thought to flying on a low cost carrier on what is a long-haul route, Jetstar’s long haul services would now be one that comes first to mind in considering the choices on routes served by the carrier. The Singapore-Melbourne route is a relatively new one, having been launched in December 2010, and is served by two of Jetstar’s widebody Airbus A330-200s on a daily service to and from Melbourne. This adds a choice of a no frills, low-cost, pay only for what you need alternative to full fare carriers serving the route.

Jetstar's Singapore to Melbourne service was launched in December 2010.

Boarding the plane was an efficient and no fuss experience, and making my way down the aisle, I soon found my seat and sank straight into it – having had a long day trying to get some errands done and packing for the trip. The seats were comfortable – and I had no complaints at all with the leg room on the standard seats – the neatly arranged cabin and the comfortable leather seats providing a clean, fresh and uncluttered feel to the cabin. Based on information on Jetstar’s website, the seating in the economy class cabins of the A330s, which are arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration, are pitched at 31 inches apart and at 17.5 inches wide, are comparable to similar non-budget airline seating arrangements.

Jetstar inaugural A330 service from Changi Airport (source: Jetstar's YouTube channel).

Again with little fuss, a short pre-flight safety demo by the cabin crew was provided prior to take-off, and we were soon airborne, with the cabin attendants distributing comfort packs – packs which included a synthetic fleece blanket and a zipped case (which can be re-used as a neat pencil case) with a very necessary set of ear plugs, an inflatable neck pillow, eye shades, a toothbrush and toothpaste – pretty useful items for the long journey – the toothbrush especially! These can be pre-booked with the flight (it was included in the ticket that Jetstar kindly arranged for us) or can be purchased on board. Also available on the flight as part of the in-flight entertainment service are Video-on-Demand (VOD) units which can be hired. Again, these can be pre-arranged or hired during the flight. Included with the VOD units are earphones which the passenger can keep – an adapter allows the earphones to be used for flights with other airlines as well. The VOD units provide a selection of the latest movie releases, TV programs, music videos and audio tracks – more than sufficient to keep one entertained on a long flight. I managed to catch an interesting Japanese movie, Rebirth, on the VOD unit either side of dinner that was served before catching some needed shut-eye the flight seemed to lull me into.

Video on demand units can be hired offering latest movie releases, TV programs, music videos and audio tracks.

Meals (along with snacks and beverages) which are also available for purchase on board or pre-booked as ours was, came nice and hot – the small portions perhaps adequate for some – may not be to the liking of those with a big appetite – but that does help to reduce waste as once again – one pays only for what one intends to eat. On the journey to Melbourne, I found it hard to resist having the stir fried beef with noodles. That was, to my surprise, tasty without being too soggy – airline meals are sometimes drowned in too generous amount of sauce or gravy. Also pre-arranged with the ticket was breakfast at the end of the outbound flight, and lunch and dinner on the return flight.

My lunch on the return flight. A range of hot food, snacks and beverages can be pruchased on board or pre-purchased with the ticket.

Based on my experience with Jetstar in which the flight on the whole was comfortable and comparable with that of a full fare airline sans the frills of full fare airlines in which baggage allowances (baggage allowance according to one’s needs can be pre-arranged with the ticket on Jetstar), meals, in-flight entertainment, pillows and blankets, in some cases similar comfort packs, and one that I would definitely consider for my next holiday to Melbourne – especially when it allows me some additional pocket money on the trip!


This is a repost of my post on the omy Colours of Melbourne 2011: My Melbourne Experience site. You can vote for your favourite blogger at the My Melbourne Experience voting page. Voting period is from 15 September 2011 to 5 October 2011 and stand a chance to win prizes worth up to $3000 which include Jetstar travel vouchers and Crumpler limited edition laptop bags.






Rush hour on Summerland Beach

2 10 2011

Leaving A Maze’N Things, it looked like we might be in for a cold, wet and windy evening, as we headed towards what would be the evening’s rush hour on Summerland Beach – that of the daily frenzied (if you can call it that) procession of individuals in black and white suits back from their day in the office. The rush hour is one that is one that certainly isn’t a pain to be caught up in – that of the Little Penguins of Phillip Island, returning from their daily duties in the office that is the cold waters of the Bass Strait.

A detour en route to the rush hour on Summerland Beach - a drive by the Nobbies with the promise of stunning views of the rugged western coastline of Phillip Island facing the Bass Strait.

With a wee bit of time to spare before we need to make our way to catch Summerland’s evening crush; we were able to take a short detour to the wild, wild, west of Phillip Island. It is on the western tip of the island where we find the rugged geographical features known as the Nobbies that overlook the rough white waters of the Bass Strait breaking over the rocks that dot the coastline. The stunning views we were treated to standing on the high windswept cliffs that are the Nobbies that evening were made even more dramatic by the storm that appeared to be brewing – the precipitation in the atmosphere painted a spectacular rainbow that seemed to promise a lot more than a pot of gold. It wasn’t just stunning views of the coastline that we got as we made our way to the intended destination – the heads of several wild wallabies on their evening’s forage through the tussock grassland that surrounded us were very much in evidence.

The stunning geographical features of the south western coastline of Phillip Island known as the Nobbies.

The spectacular view of the white of waves breaking on rocks to the setting of the sun.

The Nobbies and the wind tossed tussock grassland on the high cliffs.

The breaking of waves over the rocks that dot the coastline.

The rainbow over the Bass Strait that the precipitation painted.

View of the coastline on the approach to Summerland Beach.

Sunset greeted our arrival to the Phillip Island Penguin Parade’s visitor centre, as did signs prominently displayed that reminded drivers to look below their parked cars for penguins when they were eventually prepared leave after getting their fills of the evening’s procession. We were soon armed with a cup of hot chocolate and an MP3 player – an audio guide included with the tickets for Penguin Plus that provides commentary with information on the penguins, their habitat and their habits, and ready to brave the stiff breeze that brought a chill to the boardwalk that led us to the beach.

Sunset greeted our arrival at the Penguin Parade Visitor Centre.

The grey of the incoming storm mixed with the fading light of sunset.

Signs reminding drivers to check under the car for penguins.

Several options are provided to allow visitors to get up close and personal with the penguins – Little Penguins that at 30 centimetres high are the smallest penguins in the world. Penguin Parade provides general viewing from tiered seating on stands by the beach. The option which we got – Penguin Plus, allows a more private viewing at an area where more penguins come up the beach – this is limited to 150 people each evening. More private viewing options are also available. The popularity of viewing penguins at Summerland Beach has increased substantially since the initial viewings were organised in the 1920s (now attracting over half a million visitors each year) – and steps were put in place to minimise human impact and damage to the habitat in the 1960s with fences and boardwalks constructed, which today boardwalks allow visitors to get close enough to the penguins to be able to observe them at arm’s length. Photography in any form, with or without the use of flash is not permitted to protect the penguins.

The procession of Penguins takes place every evening on Summerland Beach (photo courtesy of Phillip Island Nature Parks).

Getting up close allowed us to observe the habits of the penguins that waddled up in waves in the safety of numbers, with tummies full of the day’s harvest of fish that would be regurgitated to feed nestlings. Sensing danger the scout penguin pauses – preening with oil from glands to keep their feathers waterproof – the penguins in the parade behind the lead penguin doing the same. Despite the rain that came down as darkness fell and the stiff cold wind that blew across the beach and the boardwalk behind it, it was a wonderful experience getting that close to the adorable little creatures in their natural habitat – I had only previously come close penguins separated by the thick glass panel of the zoo enclosure.

The boardwalks allow visitors to get up close to the penguins without disturbing the penguins or their habitat (photo courtesy of Phillip Island Nature Parks).

To bring a wonderful day out on Phillip Island to a close, from Penguin Parade (after checking for penguins under the car), we made our way to Taylors Waterfront Restaurant where the scrumptious treat of a huge seafood platter that included oysters, lobsters, king prawns, mussels, octopus and calamari awaited. The restaurant is one that is situated on cliffs that overlook the Bass Strait and must provide spectacular views in the day time – the view that we got that evening was no less spectacular, with the full blast of the stiff wind from the sea sweeping over the cliffs driving the rain that was falling horizontally to the huge window panes as we dined to the sound of the weather cock spinning furiously on the roof. A couple of us – Pete and Valyn were crazy enough to brave the wind and the rain and take a walk around on the outside. The coffee and ice-cream that we finished with also brought to a close what was a long but thoroughly enjoyable day out on Phillip Island – a must visit for anyone visiting Melbourne.

Taylors Waterfront Restaurant by night.

The huge seafood platter was a wonderful treat!

The force of the wind coming from the sea over the cliffs blew the rain horizontally against the windows of the restaurant.

Two mad bloggers braving the wind and the rain outside Taylors - the cliff drop was just beyond the edge of the grass that you see.


Phillip Island Nature Park

The Phillip Island Penguin Parade, the star attraction of the Phillip Island Nature Park, has been delighting visitors for many years with little penguins making their way up Summerland Beach each night at sunset. Over 500,000 visitors make the Phillip Island Penguin Parade the third largest visited natural attraction in Australia.

Phillip Island Nature Park
Summerland Beach, Ventnor Road
Phillip Island VIC 3922
Tel: (03) 5951 2879
Fax: (03) 5956 8394
www.penguins.org.au


Taylors Waterfront Restaurant
5 Phillip Island Tourist Road
Phillip Island VIC 3922
Tel: (03) 5956 7371
Fax: (03) 5956 6540


This is a repost of my post on the omy Colours of Melbourne 2011: My Melbourne Experience site. You can vote for your favourite blogger at the My Melbourne Experience voting page. Voting period is from 15 September 2011 to 5 October 2011 and stand a chance to win prizes worth up to $3000 which include Jetstar travel vouchers and Crumpler limited edition laptop bags.






Delusion and illusion on Phillip Island

1 10 2011

A visit to Phillip Island provides one with the opportunity to live out one’s delusion, as well as have one’s mind stimulated (or confused) by some very smart optical illusions at a curious attraction, and this was just what we did after that lazy but refreshing after lunch stroll around the Phillip Island Heritage Farm. We first found ourselves at a Grand Prix Circuit – the Phillip Island Circuit, one that hosts a series of events each year which include a Superbike World Championship and the MotoGP and provides some rather spectacular views of the of the rolling hills in the area and of the Bass Straits that it faces. It is here that those of us with delusions of being a race car driver could imagine what it is like to be one by getting behind the wheel and racing down the circuit – well almost – it is on a 760 metre scale replica of the circuit in a Go-Kart.

The delusions and illusions offered by Phillip Island may have got to some of the bloggers.

That was just what four deluded bloggers did – Pete, I guess was the most deluded of us all – zipping down the track immediately out of the pit at a breakneck pace, lapping all of us at least twice in a ten-minute frenzy, completing nine laps. For the rest of us it was a little closer, Valyn, despite spinning out of control and hitting the tyre wall and Eric, both completed six laps and I completed seven.

A rainbow greeted us at the Phillip Island Circuit.

Tearing down the track - well almost.

Lap time print-out.

The next stop after getting a speed fix was where we stepped into a world where the mind finds it hard to comprehend what the eye sees. Stepping into the Illusion Rooms of A Maze’N Things – a curious but delightful attraction created by Mr. Geoff Moed, one’s perception of reality and what one sees is put to the test – nothing’s quite what you see here – Valyn for one looked a lot bigger than we thought she was and some of us looked like we flew. This was certainly one time that I thoroughly enjoyed being confused and one place that I would certainly be back to if I pass by the same way again. Besides the Illusion Rooms, A Maze’N Things offers visitors a chance to get lost in an outdoor maze with two kilometres of passageways (which takes an average visitor 45 minutes to complete) and several other activities. For more information on the Phillip Island Circuit and A Maze’N Things do visit the respective websites found in the information below.

It wasn't just Pete ... it seemed to get to Valyn too! Just what was she, and Pete in the first photograph doing? Scroll down to the last photograph on this post to find out.

A giant Valyn in the Shrinking Room (photo courtesy of Amaze'N Things).

Off the vertical? Han Weiding of omy.sg, Valyn and Pete.

A dainty dish?

Painted illusions.

The answer to what Pete and Valyn were up to - drinking from a magic floating tap.


Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit

With a history of action on the track dating back to 1928, the Phillip Island Circuit offers visitors the chance to re-acquaint themselves with all aspects of motor racing, as well as get a glimpse of life on the island in times gone by. The island is hosts stages of the World Superbike Championship, the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and V8 Supercar Championship. When no races are being held, anyone can enjoy the thrill of go karts or hot laps in a HSV Holden.

Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
Back Beach Road
Phillip Island VIC 3922
Tel: (03) 5952 2710
Fax: (03) 5952 3160
www.phillipislandcircuit.com.au


A Maze’N Things

At A Maze’N Things you can marvel at the mental confusion of objects defying gravity, rooms flooding without getting wet, a huge magic tap floating in mid air, or giant people shrinking into tiny versions of their former selves.

A Maze’N Things
Cowes VIC 3922
Tel: (03) 5952 2283
www.amazenthings.com.au


This is a repost of my post on the omy Colours of Melbourne 2011: My Melbourne Experience site. You can vote for your favourite blogger at the My Melbourne Experience voting page. Voting period is from 15 September 2011 to 5 October 2011 and stand a chance to win prizes worth up to $3000 which include Jetstar travel vouchers and Crumpler limited edition laptop bags.









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