From Tokyo to the Bay

Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo Bay (circa 2013)

“…a thousand miles from comfort…there’s no place I’d rather be…”–Clean Bandit
This is where it all started.  The first time I’ve seen Japan was way back in November 2013.  I was invited by a major Japanese furniture manufacturer to attend a convention in Tokyo.  It was a 3-day event with a 2-day extension for us to do anything we want.  It was my first time to travel outside my own country (other than Singapore of course where I am currently based) and to be honest with you, I was childlike ecstatic.  Autumn was very much well on its way when we arrived; and with the cold temperature, I fell in love with Tokyo almost immediately.  I remember the last time when I passed off an opportunity in the office for a free winter travel to this country.  I really regretted that one.

I also just got started with photography during this time, so I was able to put it into practice during my stay here.  Like most newbie photographers, most of the photos I took home later were just average.  But I was happy with the thought of being able to document the travel experience in pictures.  With the days also shorter in autumn, I found myself doing more of night photography.  That sense of peace and being alone as a stranger in those cold autumn nights gave me the confirmation that I am happiest as a photographer when shooting during the late hours of the day.  That first travel experience also gave me the desire to explore more of the world around me with whatever limited time, opportunities or resources I may have.  I remember looking outside our Tokyo hotel window one early morning and promising myself to return to this place.  Four years and twelve Asian cities later, I will finally be back this winter.

30/30 Vision.  Asakusa, Tokyo viewed from Tokyo Skytree (circa 2013)

Seeing only Tokyo is barely scratching the surface of the beauty that Japan has to offer.  Chances of snow here in winter is minimal and the landscape barren and devoid of color.  But I don’t mind.  I can always come back.  I have always loved this beautiful city, with its pace and busyness.  I usually don’t write about an upcoming trip (honestly, I am just making full use of what I am paying for in this blog space) and seldom do I visit a certain place twice (unless it’s to find something I lost).  But in this beautiful case, I will make an exception.  But I did lose or missed something:  it’s those precious moments alone outside in the cold; in the same place where peace and an elusive, perfect, and unforgettable experience has started.  I haven’t listed yet what I will do here, but I do hope to make more time to cover those places I have missed the last time I was here.  Looking forward to more photography sessions in the cold. ūüôā

See you in my next post. Cheers!!!  ūüôā

Shinagawa Night Scene (Tokyo, circa 2013)

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One Lovely Blog Award 2017

Marina Bay Sands & ArtScience Museum in Singapore (circa 2017)

A month ago, I was given the ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD by my fellow blogger Audrey.  Audrey pens Living for Experiences, a blog about her wonderful insights on life and useful tips on travel.  Do check her wonderful blog.  This is my second award from her, with the first award causing me to earn a few followers.  It is encouraging to know that people are actually reading some of my thoughts and writings.

RULES OF THE AWARD
1) Thank the person that nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2) List the Rules.
3) Display the Award in your post.
4) List seven facts about yourself.
5) Nominate 15 bloggers for this award and comment on one of their posts to let them know you have nominated them.

A FEW FACTS ABOUT MYSELF
1) I am an architect from the Philippines.
2) I am currently based in Singapore (an Overseas Filipino Worker away from my wife and daughter) and working as an Interior Designer.
3) I became an architect because of my love for drawing and the LEGO (which I wrote about here).
4) I am an obsessive compulsive, phlegmatic control freak (with a tendency to overthink and overwrite). ūüôā
5) If I am not doing architecture or interior design, I practice writing, photography, and do a bit of traveling.
6) My love for travel started in 2013 after a first trip to Japan; and fell in love with Japan and anything Japanese ever since. ūüôā
7) I always wanted to write a book about my professional work but started this blog in 2015 instead; and have used it since to share my travel postcards and insights brought about by my Christian faith.

Bay Gardens East View in Singapore, the beautiful city where I am currently based (2017).

MY NOMINEES FOR THE ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD
For the next ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD, I list below my nominees whose posts I read for a variety of reasons which include a zest for life, passion for travel, love for architecture, excellent photography, and an emotional or unique style of writing. ¬†Congratulations to all my nominees. ¬†It’s okay not to accept the award but I sure would like to know more about you my fellow bloggers. Enjoy!!!

1) Eat, Pray, and Love Kind of Adventure
2) Travel Happy
3) My Life in a Snap
4) Albert
5) Weeknightly
6) Architecture Wander
7) Joshua Dunn
8) Tiny Nectar
9) WanderingKakat
10) A World of Adventuring, Learning, and Loving
11) Jet Set Brunette
12) Ezekiel Kok Photography
13) Jandreiventures
14) Yen and Again
15) The Weary Travelers

Again, thank you very much to Audrey of Living for Experiences for this wonderful ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD. ¬†See you all in blogosphere. ¬†ūüôā

See you in my next post. Cheers!!!

Dubai Retrospective

A Light Between Oceans.  Burj Al Arab after Sunset.

This is love: ¬†to fly towards a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. ¬†First to let go of life. ¬†Finally, to take a step without feet” — Rumi

I got this idea from one spontaneous traveler. ¬†He would spin a globe and stop it with his index finger. ¬†He will look at the place where his finger has landed and then pack his bags or suitcase quickly to go to that place. ¬†I did the same thing. ¬†My finger landed somewhere in the Gulf (or purposely made it land there) and decided that it’s Dubai. ¬†At least it had to be because it’s the only place I know that is within that neighborhood. ¬†So I literally ran to the airport and fly to Dubai right after that. ¬†Of course I am just kidding. ūüôā ¬†I believe I planned this all along and I am not a spontaneous traveler. ¬†My passport is not really one of the strongest in the world, so traveling to Dubai is a challenge. ¬†Besides, the Middle East (or Western Asia) is a dream (up until now) and way over my travel budget. ¬†Looking back now, it was not also the best time to visit the place. ¬†Summer has started and it was 40 degrees during the day; with the heat a different kind of painful on the skin and the air a bit stifling and suffocating for first timers. ¬†But it was also the time to take advantage of lower hotel rates and speedy Visa processing. ¬†It was obviously an off-peak season. ¬†I lodged in my Visa application on a Saturday afternoon and got the Visa the following day (a Sunday). ¬†So if you don’t mind staying inside malls during the day (which I am sure you don’t), early summer is a good time to visit this wonderful country.

I am doing quite well at the moment, happy and busy with work; having found a job in a new company with a more positive atmosphere. ¬†I am inspired again and I can draw again; doing now what I believe, the things I was always meant and supposed to be doing (with the added bonus of deciding for myself which direction my projects should go, which maximizes my time) and still manage to squeeze in a bit of time-off from work. ¬†A big project was coming up over the horizon and I needed to prepare for that one. ¬†So despite my busy schedule, I decided to go to find fresh inspiration and do something else other than my architectural work (in this case, to practice photography). ūüôā ¬†And what is a better place to find inspiration in architecture and to do travel photography than in Dubai?

The Fountainhead.  Burj Khalifa and Souk Al Bahar at the blue hour.

I’ve read somewhere that Dubai can be viewed in two ways: either as a stopover destination for people traveling to Europe (if you’re coming from Asia), or a place where you can do something different or impossible. ¬†I have to agree. ¬†I really love spending time in stopover and day trip destinations because it’s in these destinations where you will find the most interesting places often overlooked by travelers and day trip packages. ¬†Impossible is also a word that you will not find in the Emirati’s dictionary. ¬†Dubai is preparing to host the 2020 World Expo, so a lot of architectural projects are pretty much well on their way; most of which are without precedent.

Obviously, tourists come here to experience the Desert Safari, as well as Skydiving. ¬†Tourists (and even the locals) take the time to escape from the big city and into the desert landscape of Dubai and come back later refreshed. ¬†A desert experience can be amazingly mind-clearing. ¬†But I didn’t do all that (for fear of getting sand or dust into my camera ūüôā ). ¬†I didn’t do skydiving either. ¬†Sorry about that. ¬†I’m a certified bore; and extreme sports and adrenaline rush can really make me sleep to death. ¬†Besides, I honestly really don’t like guided tours and traveling with a group (except with my wife and daughter). ¬†I could very well read my travel guide beforehand so I could maximize my time in my destination. ¬†But I love and enjoyed the architecture of this beautiful city. ¬†If you’re an architect, it would be a sin not to see Dubai in your lifetime. ¬†Suddenly, 40 degrees for me was not so hot anymore. ūüôā

Arabian Nights. The beautiful Madinat Jumeirah at night.

So you see? ¬†That’s the good thing about travel and photography. ¬†It helps you (and others) change perceptions about certain places. ¬†It’s a counter to the never-ending stream of images provided by news media which oftentimes focuses only on the negative. ¬†This recent trip certainly changed my perception of the Middle East. ¬†I stayed here for five days. ¬†If you plan to do the same (or have plans of coming back), you should be able to cover the following places:

1) Deira and Bur Dubai: Deira is one of Dubai’s oldest districts oftentimes overshadowed by the glitz of the modern city. ¬†Built around Dubai Creek, its most prominent feature is the cluster of souqs (or markets) connected by narrow lanes and alleys which can be very busy in the late afternoon (particularly the Gold Souq). ¬†The Abras (traditional wooden ferries) are still in use here today; not so much for transporting merchandise but for sightseeing along Dubai Creek. ¬†Bur Dubai provides you with a glimpse of Dubai’s past. ¬†Take a tour around the beautifully restored Al Fahidi Historic District and understand Dubai’s beginnings at the Dubai Museum housed inside Al Fahidi Fort.

2) Burj Al Arab and Madinat Jumeirah: Burj Al Arab (perhaps Dubai’s most recognizable and iconic building; and the only 7-star hotel in the world) sits along the beautiful coast of Jumeirah Beach. ¬†Madinat Jumeirah (another recent development) is a modern rendition of a traditional Arab village built around an artificial river flanked by palm trees and signature restaurants. ¬†Don’t miss Burj Al Arab at sunset and see Madinat Jumeirah at night when the buildings are beautifully lit with Burj Al Arab in the background.

3) Downtown Dubai: Burj Khalifa towers over Downtown Dubai, the city’s main urban hub and a major destination for sightseeing tourists. ¬†Climb your way to At The Top (Burj Khalifa’s observation deck at the 124th and 125th floor) and experience the exhilaration of standing on top of the world’s tallest building. ¬†Dubai Mall (the mother of all malls as they call it) is nearby with its overwhelming 1,000 or more shops. ¬†Adjacent to Dubai Mall is the equally handsome Souk Al Bahar, with its grand colonnaded atrium and signature restaurants, most of which have enviable views of Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain at night.

4) Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeirah: Dubai Marina is a posh private residential development and provides you with a glimpse of the Dubai high life. ¬†The best way to experience the Marina is by walking along Marina Promenade in the evening where you pass by fancy restaurants and berthed yachts set against glimmering high rise buildings. ¬†Opposite Dubai Marina Beach is Palm Jumeirah, a palm-shaped artificial island jutting into the Gulf; with several residential and commercial developments along the Palm’s fronds. ¬†At the tip of the Palm along the outer crescent is Atlantis The Palm (another hotel development) and the adjacent Aquaventure Waterpark, a family theme park.

A visit to Dubai usually includes a day trip to Abu Dhabi, which you can reach in 2 hours by bus from Deira. ¬†Sadly as always, I really don’t like day trips. ¬†Abu Dhabi I’ve read is equally beautiful and deserves a proper visit and write-up of its own, which I look forward to doing so soon. ūüôā

So here you go: my personal postcards from this beautiful and peaceful Emirati outpost. ¬†I hope I kept you inspired and as always, grateful. ¬†Enjoy the images as much as I do. ¬†See you in my next post. Cheers!!! ūüôā

(Click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel)

Macau Musings

St. Paul's Church Ruins (Macau)

The Ruins of St. Paul’s Church in Macau, China (January 2017).

This wanderlust has been an effective family therapy for us. ¬†I’ve been writing here for a while but I forgot to mention that I work abroad (currently based in Singapore) and away from my family. ¬†Like most overseas worker, I made it a point to go back to my hometown every 6 months and spend a week or so with my family. ¬†But before that one week is over however, we were already crying; knowing it will take another 6 months or more for us to see each other again. ¬†My father also used to work overseas when I was a kid; so I know how it feels like now for my own family. ¬†Nowadays however, distance (and long distance communication) is dead and modest travel is available for everyone. ¬†So instead of just me traveling alone, my family and I decided that (if I have the resources) we will meet regularly in some nearby foreign lands and explore those places together. ¬†Parting ways at the end of those journeys however is stll difficult; but now, the sadness is eclipsed by the memories of those travel experiences . ¬†Whatever. ūüôā

Anyway, I am being cheesy and talking gibberish back there. ¬†Sorry about that. ¬†It’s been a month since I took the photos in this write-up and I really don’t know what to say about this recent trip. ¬†Except maybe that I was glad my new employer announced the Chinese New Year break a bit early last year; which gave me enough time to plan on spending the week-long break in a place that’s Chinese. ¬†I could have chosen Hong Kong (which would be the easiest), but decided to see Macau instead; a small Chinese outpost known mostly as a day trip destination for most people touring Hong Kong. ¬†You can’t blame them; as Macau is generally a walkable city and most of the major sights are within walking distances from each other.

But that wouldn’t do justice to the beauty of this place. ¬†I love Asian cities especially if it has a history of colonization. ¬†Because the end product would always be a blending of cultures of sorts; confusing but exciting. ¬†Which is very much like Macau. ¬†Known as “The Vegas of China”, the city obviously comes alive at night with its megacasinos, luxury resort hotels, and shopping districts. ¬†So the word “day trip” wouldn’t be correct. ūüôā ¬†But Macau is more than that. ¬†A Portuguese colony for more than 300 years, it only became part of China in 1999; two years after the British withdrawal from Hong Kong. ¬†Remnants of colonial architecture, churches, and grand public squares give the place a tangible Mediterranean flavor; oddly picturesque and peculiar in a city that is strongly and culturally Chinese. ¬†You can walk through cobblestone lanes and hear people chatter in Cantonese; asking for directions to find streets with Portuguese names. ¬†To add to this, megacasinos and modern high-rise hotels in ambitious themes and scale appear almost every minute in districts with well-preserved Macanese architecture. ¬†I fell in love with the confusion almost immediately. ūüôā ¬†If you’re a fan of postcards, night photography, and architecture, your day trip to Macau will not be enough for you.

City of Dreams (Macau)

The recently completed City of Dreams along the famous Cotai Strip in Macau, China.

Needless to say, food is a part of the general travel experience. ¬†But you won’t find it here. ¬†I’m a mindless eater and a really lousy food photographer (sadly) so you just have to believe me (or anybody else who has been here) when I say that the local food here is one that you should try and experience. ūüôā ¬†Obviously, my bias has always been towards the major sights and architecture of a place; which is my way of understanding a new city. ¬†So a typical photowalk in Macau covers its 2 main islands; within any of the two you can do some exploring on foot as the major attractions are close to each other. ¬†A bus ride however is needed to get from one island to another.

The Macau Peninsula holds the Old City Center, with its 2 most popular day trip attractions: The Ruins of St. Paul’s Church and Senado Square, a grand public plaza. It is also the site of some of the earliest hotels and casinos including the Grand Lisboa, Lisboa Hotel, Wynn Macau, and MGM Hotel. ¬†Along the fringes of the peninsula are Macau Fisherman’s Wharf (a themed park) and Macau Tower with its open-air observation deck. ¬†Towards the south are the integrated islands of Taipa, Coloane, and Cotai. ¬†Taipa has well-preserved colonial houses. Coloane has Macau’s beaches, and Cotai is home to the high-rolling Cotai Strip (Macau’s version of the famous Strip in Vegas), an avenue of megacasinos, luxury hotel and shopping centers including¬†The Venetian Macau and Galaxy Macau, as well as the recently completed City of Dreams, Studio City, and The Parisian¬†with its Eiffel Tower replica. ¬†As much as I would like to give a description of each of these (and for fear of boring you to death), I will just allow my personal postcards below to hopefully speak of the glitz and beauty of this city. ūüôā I tried to cover as much places as I can during my 5-day stay here but missed out on the important Chinese temples and colonial churches (which speaks so much about the place’s history) because of a rain shower on the day I planned to visit them. ¬†Sorry about that.

Not surprisingly, I was able to take home more photos from this trip as compared to previous ones. ¬†Only because my family and in-laws decided on our fourth day to take a day trip to Hong Kong to do some shopping (only to find out later that most of the stores there were closed for the holidays) while I decided to stay behind and catch up with my personal photowalk. ¬†So what happened to that family bonding we were looking forward to that I was talking about earlier? ¬†And I thought Macau is supposed to be the day trip destination (and not Hong Kong). ūüôā ¬†I hate to say it, but I have to admit that the brief moment alone helped me maximize my time. ¬†Don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, but I guess the travel therapy really worked. ūüôā

So there you go.  My two cents worth on this beautiful and quaint city (which I think deserves more than just being called a day trip destination) and my first of many other adventures I am looking forward to in days to come.  Enjoy the postcards below.  Stay grateful and inspired.

See you in my next post. ¬†Cheers!!! ūüôā

(click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel)

Liebster Award 2017

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The Venetian, Macau (circa 2017)

Two weeks ago, I was given the Liebster Award for bloggers by Audrey, author of the blog Living for Experiences. ¬†I thank Audrey for this nomination as I did not expect people to be reading a lot of my writings and musings. ¬†It is an honor to receive such a nomination. ¬†Check out Audrey’s blog here and be inspired by her amazing insights on life and her useful tips on travel.

What is the Liebster Award?
Dating back to 2011, the Liebster Award is an award that exists only in the internet, and is given by bloggers to fellow bloggers to promote each other’s blogs. ¬†Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.
As a sign of my gratitude and my appreciation of other writers, I would like to nominate for the next Liebster Awards the blogs I follow below because of their authors’ amazing zest for life and passion for adventure. ¬†Do check out their sites.

My Nominees (drumroll please):
1) Jandreiventures
2) Yen and Again
3) Wandering Kakat
4) The Weekend Sightseer
5) Architecture Wander

www-kirstiekinsblogs-co_-uk_small

Rules of the Award
1) In a blog post, thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2) Answer the questions sent by that person who nominated you.
3) Nominate other bloggers for the award and ask them a new set of questions.
4) List the rules for the nominees and display the Liebster logo in your post and in your blog.
If my nominees do not wish to accept the award, I am fine with that.  Although it would be great to know more about you my fellow bloggers.  If you are new to this nomination (or your first time to hear about it), you can click here for more ideas about the guidelines, questions to ask your nominees, and some latest Liebster logos you can attach to your post.  Remember to notify your nominees about their nominations and link them back to your blog post.

My Questions to My Nominees
1) What or who inspired you to start your blog?
2) What do you think made your blog successful (in terms of number of followers, visibility, etc)?
3) Where are you from and what top 3 places in your country / hometown would you recommend travelers to visit?
4) What are your Top 3 Dream Travel Destinations and why?
5) What place or country left the most impact on you and what is your most important take away from that place or country?
6) Any unique experience / advice / lesson you want to share with other travelers / bloggers?

Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian (Macau)

The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian, Macau (January 2017)

My Answers to Audrey’s Questions
1) What is the story behind your blog’s name?
I originally wanted to write a book about my specialized work in architecture but busyness caused that writing project to be shelved. ¬†I picked up photography as a cure for tunnel vision and found myself writing about my photos instead. ¬†My blog title (From Lines to Lenses) explains that shift from writing about Architecture (Lines, Drawings, etc.) to writing about Photography & Travel (Lens, Cameras, etc). ¬†Pretty lame isn’t it? ūüôā
2) Why did you start blogging?
I was already using photo-sharing sites before I started this blog, but found those free sites to have ever-changing formats and interfaces.  Having your own blog allows you to contol appearance, format and content.  Nowadays, almost everyone has a web presence, and owning your own blog (or domain) is a powerful medium to reach other people with the same interests.  If you have something to share (or if you love writing), the blog is a perfect venue to do that.
3) What according to you is the best thing about blogging?
I realized that there are many talented and creative people out there, and some of them are very inspiring writers and bloggers.  Blogging allowed me to reach out to other people with the same passions; and their experiences and stories help me improve my own skills.  I love photography and travel; and blogs are the best sources of travel advice and real-world experiences for me.
4) What is/are your goal(s) for 2017?
Other than my personal & career goals (which I think are too many to write here), I plan to see either Australia (Sydney) or the Middle East (Dubai) in the later part of this year.  As I am working in Singapore and away from my family, it will take a bit of logistic planning to travel with them to either of these places.  Meantime, I just came back from Macau and will be back in Hong Kong next week for a company trip.  Singapore also has 7 long weekends this year, so I will do a lot of road trips and photography projects around those long weekends.  I am also looking at the potential of earning revenue from my photography.
5) Where are you from and what is the common stereotype / misconception about your home town / state / country?
I am from Manila, capital city of the beautiful Philippines. ¬†One of my former employers had a branch office in Manila but I heard the owner of the company never really visited that Manila office for fear of being kidnapped. ¬†While crime is always present (what country doesn’t have one?), those isolated incidents of abducting aliens (and alien abductions ūüôā ) still will not take away the fact that my country has its own unique set of resources and beauty (I’m a good example by the way ūüôā ). ¬†When traveling to the Philippines (or to any unfamiliar country), it is good common sense to have a friend or someone who knows the place well to guide and accompany you. ¬†Each country I have visited has certain areas I was told to avoid, and I was wise enough to follow that advice.
6) What kind of traveler are you- spontaneous or planner?
The trips I take are never long enough so I do a fair amount of planning to maximize my time when I get to my destination.  With my trips planned around photography and with the speed at which I need to take pictures, a good deal of research about the places I plan to cover is always a key.
7) Share your worst travel experience ever.
All my travels so far were pleasant ones (thank God).  Most of the locals we encountered were kind to tourists; except for a few cranky ones inside crowded trains, buses and restaurants who are oblivious of the tourists around them.  Language is a challenge sometimes (my fault by the way) but adds to the beauty of the experience.
8) What is one important lesson you have learnt in your travels?
Not just one, but a lot actually. ¬†Traveling helped me respect other cultures and to understand friends and colleagues who come from all sorts of nationalities and backgrounds. ¬†When visiting another country, I also learn more about my own country than the country I am visiting. ¬†Also, travel photography (being different from a family holiday) is best done alone to maximize the time (I apologize to my family who will read this ūüôā ). ¬†To travel to take pictures is different from taking pictures while traveling. ¬†If you have to do both travel photography and a family holiday, it is always best to plan the holiday sightseeing around the places you plan to shoot. ¬†As always, I plan well and try to cover a place like it will be my first and last chance to see it.

So there you go.  Again, stay grateful and inspired.  My sincere thanks once more to Audrey of Living for Experiences for this wonderful Liebster Award.  Do check her wonderful blog at www.audreysimplicity.com

See you in my next post. Cheers!!! ¬†ūüôā

About Anniversaries

Marina Bay (Singapore)

Heartland. Singapore CBD at twilight.

It’s been a while since my last write-up (or to be more accurate, since I last travelled). ¬†Honestly, I have maxed out my sabbatical for the first three quarters of the year and have to wait for a few more weeks to be able to make use of the available balance. ¬†But that may not happen. ¬†I have resigned from my current post which might cause that balance to be forfeited; and it will take another long period before I could be allowed to take a long leave under my new / future employer. ¬†The good thing is that Singapore will have 7 long weekends next year. ¬†Some of the public holidays in 2017 will fall either on a Monday or Friday; so I am looking forward to working my road trips and photography projects around those long weekends. ¬†At least; until I get to my next major holiday. ¬†Meantime, I take the time to write this post to feature this beautiful country that has been second home to me for almost a decade.

It’s my 9th year working as an FT here in Singapore (Foreign Talent, as they call it) and my first time to find new work since I came here. ¬†This post simply could have waited for my 10th year anniversary (which sounds more appropriate) but it couldn’t; thanks to this period of inactivity and travel hiatus. ¬†Honestly, I just felt guilty I didn’t write about Singapore’s 51st Anniversary which happened last month. ¬†None of the fireworks photos I took during the celebrations was really successful; which was supposed to be the highlight of my aborted Singapore Anniversary write-up. ¬†So I simply write here and make use of the photos I have; images I have created recently as well as those I have amassed during my long stay here.

Marina Bay Sunset (Singapore)

Time to Burn. Sunset above the Singapore CBD.

You know what’s good about anniversaries? ¬†They actually help you remember. ¬†I have been blogging for a year now and I just realized I really haven’t featured this beautiful city. ¬†How could I forget a country that took care of me for the last 9 years and that has allowed me to do my best work and rewarded me accordingly? ¬†Ten years ago, I never would have imagined working here; much less move outside my own country and travel to see other places. ¬†But now I am here; and for too long. ¬†Familiarity does breed contempt (or even complacency); and you’ll never know of the wonderful things you have until you find yourself stuck somewhere in limbo with all the time available in your hands (which happened to me just recently). ūüôā

Anniversaries also remind you to be thankful. ¬†The problem with being a foreign talent is uncertainty. ¬†I honestly feel quite fortunate for still finding new work in a foreign country especially at a time when most companies are either downsizing, reorganizing, or folding. ¬†Back where I come from, it will require an enormous amount of fortune, an intricate network of connections, and a miraculous economic upheaval to be able to succeed in my profession. ¬†Working in another country has levelled the playing field for me and has allowed myself and others to reap the benefits of meritocracy. ¬†So like any foreigner working in another country, my mantra has always been “to endure and succeed, or pack up and go home”. ūüôā

Lastly, anniversaries allow you to start afresh. ¬†It allows you to take stock, appreciate your own uniqueness or strengths, and assess what worked well and what didn’t so you could better prepare and be stronger the next time around. ¬†We are only as good as our last projects; and this tempering process has painfully changed me from being an impractical theorist to more of a humble, open-minded learner. ¬†This recent activity of finding new work has taught me just that (the hard way, to be honest). ūüôā

Marina Square (Singapore)

These City Walls. Blue hour at Marina Square in Central Singapore.

In most of my posts, I usually write a short historical background of the place or city being featured. ¬†But in this case, I am happy to forego that one and just allow the images to speak of the beauty and wonder of this place (hopefully). ¬†I just wanted it to be more personal and leave all the researching to you. ¬†Travel photography is all about shooting places in the best available light (those fleeting moments before sunrise and after sunset) which you do not have a lot of when you are traveling (how ironic isn’t it?). ¬†The best thing about living in a photogenic country is that you have all the time to do just that. ¬†So I share them here; my personal postcards from Singapore (my favorites) which I hope will entice you to visit this surprising and beautiful country (in case you haven’t done so). ¬†Enjoy the images and stay grateful and inspired. ūüôā

See you in my next post. ¬†Cheers!!! ūüôā

(Click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel.)

 

Silence is Golden

Bintan Sunrise

Awakenings. Sunrise at Club Med Bintan.

This write-up should have been posted more than a month ago.  I actually forgot I have these photos from our recent Club Med Bintan retreat; and I was only reminded of having them when I was looking at my passport while on queue at the renewal section of the embassy a few days ago.  I have to admit that long holidays are always short.  Even much shorter for a weekend company retreat like this one.  And because they are short, there is always the chance of bringing home only a few photos; which you easily forget.

So I post them here.  I am not getting a commission for promoting this place in this post by the way. ūüôā  It is just not fair not to share these few images.  Some other people contemplating on coming here could still use a little more of these images to get a sense of the beauty of this place.  The colors in the photos here are real and without much processing or editing.

Club Med (Bintan)

Cool for the Summer. Morning at the poolside of Club Med in Bintan.

This is our third company retreat in Indonesia (the first two we had in Batam and Bali).  The first time they announced this Bintan trip, I have to admit I was ecstatic; even excited about the prospect of experiencing another airplane ride.  Then I realized we were in Singapore, and our destination is not like Bali.  Bintan is just 30 minutes away and can be reached by ferry or boat.  Silly of me actually. ūüôā So, do I still consider this 30-minute boat ride as travel?

This post is relatively short compared to my previous ones.  And I apologize for not writing more about the beauty of this place and about the things that we did while we were here.  Maybe I ran out of words to say or just simply uninspired.  At the moment, I am okay with that.  If there is one thing I learn again from this trip and this unexpected dry spell, it’s that Silence is Golden (and Speech is Silvern).  Do you remember your dear friends who talked lengthily when all you needed from them at that moment is the comfort of their presence and silence?  I don’t have the gift of gab but I do write occasionally.  But even that I can overdo sometimes; and the first people to tell me that I write long emails and letters are people who love writing long emails themselves.  Experts cancel each other out. ūüôā

Club Med (Bintan)

Passion Walk. Golden morning light at Club Med in Bintan.

There are moments when writing is spontaneous and a narrative is clear.  Sometimes, you have to wait for inspiration to come.  And other times, words are not needed to get your message across.  That last one I began to appreciate just recently through the posts and works of others; and only the real photographers are able to move me just like that.  In meditation (and in prayer) listening is as important as talking (or chanting).  It is in that moment of silence when you have nothing more to say (and your mind is clear of all clutter) will you hear that soft, gentle and clear voice.  And the message there will be profound.  Honestly, we all could use more of that right now.  ‘Nuff said. ūüôā

See you in my next post.  Cheers!!!