Monday, April 25, 2011

Transit at Amsterdam - Easy and Carefree

July 2010

On our way back, we had our transit again at Amsterdam. This round, we took a stroll along the quiet, serene and charming streets of Amsterdam, allowing ourselves to be totally immersed in the Amsterdam’s carefree life style and atmosphere.

For the uninitiated, the streets can be confusing as every street looks `exactly’ the same to us. Every house looks peculiarly familiar. The streets look similar and there is always the canal. We tried very hard to keep close to the train tracks to ensure that we don’t loose our way and ended up missing our flight.

Along the way, we watched a highly energetic street performance, mesmerised by many locals leisurely cycled by, observed people reading a book along the canal, sipping coffee at their balcony and along at the many street cafes while soaking in the sun …

It was simply enchanting …..

Caught this roadside cafe advertising their "Best Sandwich in Amsterdam"
Amsterdam is a city of bicycles and taking the dog for a walk takes on a whole different meaning
An energetic street performance by some macho guys
The colours of food
Catching up with the news in the morning on his boat house ....
Taking life easy, finding a good spot and reading a good book by the canal
Soaking in the morning sun with a cup of coffee and the morning papers on the balcony overlooking the romantic canal of Armsterdam

Transit At Amsterdam - Romantic Canals

July 2010

Amsterdam conjures up images of windmills, cheese, tulips, the famous red light district and the canals of course.

I was in Amsterdam a decade ago with my bosses after our trip to Cebit at Hanover, Germany. I cannot honestly recollect much of the trip except a hurried day trip to have a look at a windmill, a visit to the cheese and clog factory and a hurried trip around the red light district before the tour guide took us bar hoping to savour the different types of home brew beer. (well, travelling with bosses is and will never be an actual holiday, will it?)

So, when our tour agency told us when we arranged for our trip to Washington on KLM that we could transit at Amsterdam, we jumped at the opportunity. We actually had almost 10 hours since we arrived at Amsterdam at around 6:30 a.m. The best part was the immigration actually allowed you to get out from the airport without much of a hassle. Once out of the airport, we simply took a 30 minutes train ride from the airport to downtown Amsterdam. It was heavenly.

We booked ourselves on a one hour canal cruise. As we laid back allowing the sun to warm up our faces, the cruise took us along the many canals of Amsterdam. Strange as it may sound, there is a sense of charm and romance as one cruised leisurely along these waterways.

God, I am in love. I am in love with my wife by my side and I’m certainly in love with Amsterdam ….

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sunrise at Tanjung Jara Resort Terengganu

May 2010

Our first real holiday trip, my Nikon and I - Tanjung Jara Resort Terengganu.

The east coast of Peninsular Malaysia has always been one place I would love to go back again and again for a good sunrise picture. When I was still a teenager with my faithful Yashica, I remembered a trip with my lecture mates where we woke up as early as 5am and was waiting at Teluk Chempedak Kuantan for that one perfect sunrise. I can still remember that one shot where I caught an eagle flying past the red rising sun across the horizon with my 70-200mm telephoto lens.

Much later, I remembered driving my wife (then GF) all the way to Kuantan and stayed overnight with a promise to watch the sunrise together. Unfortunately, the skies were not too cooperative then.

Hence, this trip was both to fulfill a promise as well as my childhood dream of catching that perfect sunrise and GOD was kind enough to help me fulfill both.

Tanjung Jara Resort is about 4 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. This 99 rooms resort located on a 17 hectare site fronting the South China Sea was designed to reflect the elegance and grandeur of the 17th century Malay palaces, hence her tag line - `Unmistakably Malay'. It is truly a wonderful place to escape with one's lover and to be totally immersed in the tranquility, charm and great hospitality of this highly rated resort managed by YTL.

The early fisherman catches the fish. (Caught this at 6:30a.m. the second morning)

A lone fisher up and early looking for that one that got away the previous day

Footprints in the sand

A perfect dining experience during the sunset


Sunset at Kuala Selangor

May 2010

Took my new toy (Nikon d90) for my first spin.

We have always love seafood and Kuala Selangor has always been one of our favourite spots for a number of years now. We would generally prefer to leave early on a Sunday morning and take a 1.5 hours leisurely drive and stuffed ourselves crazy during lunch.

Our favourite would be dishes like crabs fried with salted egg and mantis prawns steamed with egg and Chinese wine. After a hefty lunch, we would walk about the many stalls selling both fresh and dried seafood and grab some home.

The restaurant that we frequent is located just next to the river and we often get a good view of the many fishing boats travelling up and down the river.

I was hoping to catch this scene in the evening, with fishing boats coming home from their daily catch against the backdrop of a (hopefully) spectacular sunset. Hence, for this trip, we intentionally started at about 4p.m. on a carefree time to catch the sunset.

I was not disappointed ......

A lone fisherman sitting on his little sampan probably pondering over his day

A fishing boat coming home after a long day out at sea with her catch

Friday, April 15, 2011

Photography - How I got started ....

Decades ago, when I was still a teenager (yes, yes, I'm that old), I was already fascinated and intrigued with how beautiful pictures were captured, the colours, the tones, the timeless expressions and the memories that these pictures preserved. I am blessed with a keen interest in art and hence it becomes a natural part of me to want to produce similar art pieces with this gadget called `the camera'.

After much persuasion and convincing, my parents finally got my uncle who worked in Singapore (who was also into photography then) to buy me a fully manual Yashica SLR! There were no compact or `point and shoot' cameras back then and digital photography was something you would probably see in movies like STAR WARS!

I remembered spending so much of my pocket money on buying films (KODAK and FUJI ASA100 that comes with 36 exposures) and developing the pictures I took. Because you don't have the luxury to delete the `bad' pictures, normally only 50% of the pictures would turn out satisfactory and 1 or 2 pieces would be considered `a good shot!'. There were no digital retouching software then (as far as I know), experimenting turned out to be a very costly affair!But I remembered the thrill and the excitement each time I go to the photo shop to collect my developed pictures, eagerly flipping through the photo album, hoping that I have at least created a couple of `masterpieces'........When I was in college, my camera was my faithful companion and with a little bit more pocket money, I invested in a telephoto 70-200mm lens and tonnes of filters (diffuser, star burst etc), a tripod and a flash gun.

Unfortunately, once I left college and enter the corporate rat race, my passion slowly diminished. Though the passion flared up every now and then when I came across some great pictures, I was just too busy to indulge myself.

Subsequently, when digital camera came into the market, prices of DSLR were exorbitant. Therefore, just like everyone else, I got myself a simple Canon point and shoot camera and soon upgraded it to CANON IXUS860. Soon, the passion for photography reignites. However,though the pictures taken were sharp, I just could not capture the `feel' that I want to relate. I was getting increasingly frustrated but there was nothing I could do with what I have.

My better half must have sense this frustration and dissatisfaction. On my birthday in 2010, she got me what I have been longing for ...a NIKON D90 with a 18-105mm kit lens.

I was ecstatic to say the least. At last, I could immerse myself yet again into the world of photography, going after that perfect shot, revisit my childhood and rekindle my passion .....

...and so begin the journey and adventure of my Nikon and I ........