Posted on December 29, 2019
I almost gave up all hopes of taking good photos after I saw the weather forecast showing a week of rainfall in Taipei. Surprisingly, we had good weather the whole time since we arrived here. Weather is really unpredictable in Taipei. 🙂 I also did not know what to expect or see here (other than Taipei 101 of course) but this city turned out to be an enjoyable one not only in terms of food but also in its architecture. Photography for me of course is a given; and with the cool and unexpected beautiful weather, I really enjoyed those photowalks out in the cold. 🙂
The image above is a classic view of Taipei City taken from the Fireworks Lookout of Elephant Mountain in Xinyi District. Every photographer visiting Taipei must have this shot. The climb up the hill to get to this viewpoint is challenging enough, but the view is definitely worth it and extremely rewarding. I waited on this location for hours and not willing to move or give up my spot as other photographers were already set-up to capture this twilight moment. Besides, no one knows what the weather will be like the following day; so I have no intentions of coming back. Sorry about that. 🙂
I can’t wait to write about this beautiful and progressive Asian city in my next post. Meanwhile, I have saved a few photos from this recent trip. You can click here for the photo gallery. Enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them and I hope this inspires you to visit this beautiful and surprising city (in case you haven’t done so).
Happy Holidays Everyone! Thank you for reading.
See you in my next post. Cheers!!! 🙂
Posted on August 9, 2019
I am about to experience my second winter this year. This time (that’s next week) in Melbourne, Australia and probably a third one this December in Taipei, Taiwan. I was just thinking of how the world is so amazing that you can experience the same beautiful season more than once in a year and in different places (or all the four seasons in a year and in different places). Anyway, I am just being melancholic and trying my best to write; so I have to start somewhere. Besides, I have quite a number of photos I had finished editing and that should have been posted a long time ago. It’s been a long while also since I last wrote and posted on this blog; and I missed writing (blame it on our toxic workload these past few weeks). So this is obviously a very late post written simply to share a few thoughts and to cure tunnel vision. 🙂
So earlier this year, I had the chance to see Seoul, South Korea a second time (the first time was way back in the early summer of 2015) but now with a side trip to wonderful Jeju Island. And what’s a better time to revisit this beautiful country than in winter. Thanks to our employer who made this trip possible for all of us. We call events like these as incentive trips which help motivate everyone to perform and allow us to bond as a team. As my employer puts it: the more we make, the farther we can go. I believe we did well the previous year so we were rewarded accordingly. 🙂
I honestly enjoyed the trip despite the fact that we were on a travel package. Yes that’s right. We were on a guided tour; something that I really don’t like which I made quite clear in most of my earlier posts. For the most part, we were constantly moving from one hotel to another; focusing only on the highlights of the places we go to. In a group tour, the 6:00AM wake up call is really cruel. It’s also always a guarantee that the tour guide (as part of the itinerary) will take you to some healthcare product or cosmetic store where the experts get to point out the maladies plaguing our human bodies and how their products would help provide the cure. At this point, everyone starts to cringe or feel guilty about their respective lifestyles and give all sorts of rationalisations as to why they are not yet ready to (or not supposed to) buy the product. It really felt like a trap. And yeah I did fall into it and had my own rationalisations too as to why I decided to buy the product. 🙂 As a photographer on the other hand, I have these ideal times of the day when I plan to shoot certain scenes. A guided tour (with a set itinerary) will not support this; and you will most likely end up sharing the famous spots with other tourists who come by the busload every minute. So now you know why I don’t like travelling with a big group. 🙂
Setting aside all these funny things, nothing has changed much about the South Korea that I loved so much. The people are still beautiful and hospitable; going the usual extra mile to make the tourist experience more memorable. The food is always great and is a highlight of every Korean trip (on top of the endless shopping). In Korea, everything tastes better when it’s free. A different season also brings a new perspective on the same and old but familiar scenes. Now because of my bias against guided tours, I never really maximised photographic opportunities in all my previous company trips. But this time (thanks to a new colleague who was also into photography), I learned how to shoot spontaneously, tried not to think too much, and just simply enjoyed the moment. So in this recent trip, I was happy I brought home a few decent photos despite the limited time and the not so ideal situations for an aspiring travel photographer. So I share these random photos below. You can also click here to read my earlier write-up on this beautiful country.
This is supposed to be an informative travel post but I’m a terrible travel blogger and guide; and I will not write about all the things that we did (and eat) during this short company event. But I list below the places which are the highlight destinations for this trip. May I just request that you look them up yourself as the internet is a far more reliable source of information. 🙂
JEJU ISLAND (SOUTH KOREA)
(click on any of the images below to enlarge photo or activate the photo carousel)
SEOUL CITY & AROUND (SOUTH KOREA)
(click on any of the images below to enlarge photo or activate the photo carousel)
One can never get enough of Korea. Aside from its colourful seasons, the food and attractions (as well as its hospitable people) are always reasons for one to return. In the next trip, I hope to see this beautiful country in either spring or autumn. 🙂
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I do. See you in my next post. Cheers!!! 🙂
Posted on March 18, 2018
This is one example of those late melancholic posts. I finally had the chance to see Tokyo a second time last Winter. The first time was way back in the Autumn of 2013 when I was invited by a major Japanese furniture manufacturer to attend a 3-day convention. Since then, I always remember Tokyo as a cold city (my first encounter with the outside world); the city I fell in love with and the one that inspired me to explore, to travel, and to discover more of the world around me. I don’t know how I will do it; but after this recent trip, I promised myself (and my family) to return to this place at least once a year. 🙂
That photo of Tokyo Tower above is one of my favorites from this recent trip. I have always wanted to capture Tokyo at twilight from that vantage point (at the top of the Tokyo World Trade Center). It was not really the composition I had in mind though. A new building was being built infront of the World Trade Center; blocking the iconic and signature view of the cityscape below as well as the silhouette of Mt. Fuji beyond and forcing me to shift the camera to place the tower on the left side of the frame. This is another example of the importance of acquiring updated research before reaching your destination. Still not bad really, as I ended with a different take of this beautiful city (at least for me). 🙂
Anyway, I should stop stalling. I know I just needed to write (or blog) regularly. I just simply miss Tokyo. A protracted throwback is not really my thing and very seldom do I visit the same place twice. But I honestly still have the blues for this city and still can’t get over those late night photography sessions out in the cold. 🙂 As always, I had my shot list on hand (which took me months to diligently prepare). The thing is that long holidays are always short and chances are you will not be able to do all the things in your shot list (unless you’re traveling alone). Besides, we took a couple of ad hoc day trips to nearby Kyoto and Osaka which required me to take a bit of time off from my rigid and regimented Tokyo photography schedule; to spend quality time with my family and in-laws. Kyoto and Osaka however are different and wonderful cities (and the essence of a Japan trip for most travelers) which arguably deserve a separate visit as well as a proper write-up of their own. Meanwhile, the unfinished tasks in my Tokyo shot list gives me a valid reason to come back next year. 🙂
It’s a good thing we will have our summer company trip next month; and that will give me enough time to let this melancholia of cold places to subside. 🙂 So I’ll just share them here: my incomplete and random postcards from this recent Tokyo trip and a few from my earlier 2013 trip as well. I have to apologize for all that drama up there and for not being the supposedly informative Tokyo travel guide in this blog post. The internet anyway is a far more reliable and accurate source of information and I do not want to bore you with my profuse writing. I did label the photos though so you could look them up yourself. 🙂 I honestly enjoyed taking them and these I gladly share to those who enjoy travel photography and to travelers who plan to visit this beautiful and unforgettable city.
Enjoy the images as much as I do and always remain excited and inspired.
See you in my next post. Cheers!!! 🙂
(click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel)
Posted on October 26, 2017
“…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 saw 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.
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 a perfect and unforgettable experience had 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. 🙂
See you in my next post. Cheers!!! 🙂
Posted on August 25, 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). 🙂
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. 🙂
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.
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
6) Architecture Wander
7) Joshua Dunn
8) Tiny Nectar
10) A World of Adventuring, Learning, and Loving
11) Jet Set Brunette
12) Ezekiel Kok Photography
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. 🙂
See you in my next post. Cheers!!!
Posted on June 9, 2017
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 had 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. 🙂 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. 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). 🙂 And what is a better place to find inspiration in architecture and to do travel photography than in Dubai?
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 🙂 ). 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. 🙂
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. 🙂
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!!! 🙂
(Click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel)
Posted on September 11, 2016
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 paid leave 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.
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). 🙂
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”. 🙂
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). 🙂
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. 🙂
See you in my next post. Cheers!!! 🙂
(Click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel.)
Posted on June 20, 2016
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. 🙂 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 colours in the photos here are real and without much processing or editing.
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. 🙂 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. 🙂
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. 🙂
See you in my next post. Cheers!!!
Posted on May 15, 2016
You know what? It’s a good thing we will have our company retreat next week. It will give me enough time to shake off this overwhelming feeling I had from my last trip. I just came back from Seoul and obviously still in a daze; my body already here but my mind still back there in the cold. I usually only spend a week or so in a certain place so I could use my other leave days to visit other cities and see as much places as I can. But this is the first time I wished I had stayed longer in one city. It is also the first time I heard myself wishing for time to stop (obviously dreading the work waiting for me back in the office). It seems that I am the only one who has not seen Seoul yet. At one time and for some reason, I passed off an opportunity in the office for a free winter travel to this place. I regretted that one. So I made it a point that I get to visit Seoul this year. With all these recent frenzy for Korean drama, this Seoul trip is all the more significant. 🙂
And I was not disappointed. It was not really the best time to visit this place though. We did miss the spring blossoms (since my daughter had to wait for the school year to end before we could get here) but the weather was the most pleasant with the air still cold and chilly despite the sky being bright and sunny (the closing of spring and the beginning of summer) which made this trip one of the most memorable. This is one of those places that lightning gets to strike only once. But unlike lightning however, tourists make it a point to hit this place at least twice in their lifetime. How can you blame them? Seoul is one of the most beautiful and tourist-friendly places on the planet (at least in the region I have visited). It is a shopping haven for travelers (you ask the ladies) and a food mecca for the adventurous. The locals are the most friendly; going the extra mile to make the tourist experience memorable and speaking the most sweet-sounding of all languages (even though I didn’t understand). I apologize for that. Maybe we listened to too many Korean songs and watched too much Korean drama while we were there 🙂 . It is a very lovely and picturesque place with old neighborhoods preserved and nestled within a modern and bustling metropolis; with different seasons providing new perspectives on every familiar scene. Despite the ravages and destruction of war, Seoul has come a long way to emerging as one of the world’s 21st century cities. This is one model city enjoying a comeback that should not be missed.
You have to believe me. The photos in this post don’t do justice to the ultimate bliss of actually being here. I originally wanted to do several posts about this trip with each post corresponding to each day I spent here; but then decided not to. As much as I wanted to relive the experience, I also did not want the memory to linger any longer than it should. It is one of those “I-wanted-to-stay-but-I-had-to-leave” situations you sometimes find yourself in. Again, too much of that Korean drama 🙂 . Besides, I also messed up my itinerary for my personal photowalk and committed the grievous sin of seeing most of the places I planned to shoot but actually forgetting to shoot some of them. It is because the place is so beautifully distracting and the local food so sweetly unnerving. All those preparations and plans to photograph the place with a fresh pair of eyes and from new angles all went down the drain. I just simply didn’t care about doing original photography but just immersed myself in the moment. I don’t even remember ever complaining about long walks and large crowds. It was a welcoming change from previous tropical ramblings.
What am I talking about anyway? Okay, I’ll spare you the Korean drama. This is one place you definitely have to see. But don’t take my word for it. You just have to be here. I am trying to make sense and order out of a disorganized bunch of random photos from my distracted photowalk and trying to write the names of places and their descriptions as I remember them. So I share them here: my must-see places in Seoul (the Seoul I love); not in the order of their importance but in the order I found them worthy to be salvaged from my camera’s memory card 🙂 . Enjoy the images and stay inspired.
Gyeongbokgung Palace: Gyeongbokgung is the largest of Seoul’s four main palaces and perhaps the most recognizable of all the city’s attractions. It has served as the principal residence for Korean royalties. Much of the palace’s structures were destroyed during the 20th century Japanese colonial rule. What you see now are mostly accurate recent reconstructions. Take time to walk through the palace grounds beyond the Throne Hall to admire two beautiful floating pavilions: Gyeonghoeru and Hyangwonjeong.
Ehwa Womans University: This is one impressive and imaginative piece of contemporary architecture I have seen during my stay here. A sloping causeway dives six stories below ground level to the main entrance of this facility and is flanked on both sides by glass and steel fenestration. The causeway is terminated at the opposite end by a flight of stone steps leading back to the Gothic style campus buildings at the ground level.
Seoul City Hall: The recently redeveloped Seoul City Hall embodies the modern interpretation of traditional Korean architecture. The curved top of the new glass and steel building resembles the roof of old palaces and temples. Underneath its shade is the beautiful stone-cladded old City Hall building.
Deoksugung Palace: Also called “The Palace of Virtuous Longevity”, Deoksugung is one of several main palaces built during the Joseon dynasty. It is the only palace ground that is open until late evening so you could admire the buildings when they are illuminated. The highlight of this attraction is the unusual mix of traditional Korean and Western Neoclassical buildings within a single palace ground.
Cheonggyecheon Stream: This famous stream of the Joseon era was once covered by an elevated highway that was built after the Korean War. In 2003, the highway was removed as part of an urban renewal project to restore the stream to its present state. The stream is 11 km. long running through downtown Seoul and passing under 22 bridges with several attractions along its entire length.
Namsan Hill: Namsan Hill is Seoul’s geographical center and is topped by N Seoul Tower, its iconic observatory. The cable car ride to the base of the tower is impressive enough; but the view of the city from the top of the hill is breathtaking. Counter the cold weather with a cup of coffee and churros from one of the restaurants at the base of the tower. 🙂
Bukchon Hanok Village: Walking through the alleys of this village feels like going back to the time of Korean kings, dynasties, and royal subjects. Bukchon is a cluster of traditional Korean houses (or hanoks) nestled between two main palaces at the heart of an urban city. Some of the houses were recently converted to small coffee shops, restaurants, and homestays for tourists who want to be near major local attractions.
Some Sevit and Banpo Rainbow Bridge: Some Sevit is a cluster of contemporary flower-themed buildings set on a man-made island off Han River. The buildings house restaurants and a number of multi-purpose spaces. Come during the blue hour to admire the buildings when illuminated by color-changing LED lights. Next to the buildings is Banpo Rainbow Bridge (the world’s longest bridge fountain). At night, colored lights illuminate the fountain as it sends up jets of water into the air with synchronized music.
National Museum of Korea: The simple but impressive exterior doesn’t divulge much of the diversity of exhibits found in its interior. The stories and cultural treasures within its walls are topics that require a separate discussion. The lush garden and beautiful park outside the museum provide a calm and soothing contrast to the rigid and stately character of the buidling.
Thank you for reading. 🙂
See you in my next post. Cheers!!!
Posted on April 3, 2016
Even the hard-working aspiring writers find themselves struggling for words sometimes. I was almost tempted to simply post these recent photos and let the images speak for themselves. Besides, a picture paints a thousand words, right? Yeah right. But a part of me also believes that a thousand words paint a beautiful picture. If you love writing, use it to make up for a lousy photography (which I have already done so many times 🙂 ). This is a blog anyway so try to make use of what you’re paying for. Use it or lose it. Constantly moving or travelling does not always get you somewhere. So we stop for a while and write about our most recent travels to help us articulate and reflect on the things that we have learned from them. And what is a more perfect time to reflect and to remember than during the last Easter weekend?
For those staying in Singapore, Malacca is a favorite destination for long weekends and public holidays. Much has already been written about this beautiful place which makes it difficult for me to write about something new and to find fresh inspiration. So what can I write about? How about food as a topic? Nope. Not that one. Admittedly, I am a bit of a food junkie myself, but a really lousy food photographer. 🙂 By the way, the food here is really great and one that you should experience (the Malacca coffee is superb). How about “Things to do in Malacca”? Not that one either. Too lazy to do those things; whatever activities those might be. Top Family Attractions? I travelled solo this time (surprisingly, and sadly). So I guess that leaves me with “Top Places to See in Malacca” to write about. Nothing out of the ordinary but something I really like; where I could put my photography into use. But even that one was a bit frustrating. The problem with major tourist spots is that they have been shot to death. You find a beautiful place (and there are lots of it in Malacca) and shoot it from an apparently unique angle; only to find the same angle later already posted in the net by other photographers (ain’t the internet grand?). So in the end, all I have is a set of beautiful postcards which are very special only because they were created by me personally. So the photographs in this article do not really speak truthfully about its title. Talk about originality. So the only value of this post now is what you could learn from it. Use this post as your travel guide; your visual companion to Malaccan architecture; or your encouragement to do better, creative, or original photography. 🙂
Malacca is perhaps Malaysia’s most historical state. It was here where European colonial forces first made contact with Malaysia, which eventually shaped and formed the country’s current political, cultural, and economic system. The Portuguese, Dutch, and the British all made their marks here (with varying forms of responses from the locals); their strong influences basically evident in what remains of their public buildings, museums, churches, forts, and town squares. Its rich and colorful (and complicated) history has created a feel and flavor that is uniquely Malacca today. It is a seamless blend of cultures so to speak; with strong local traditions standing alongside modern lifestyles that will leave you in a swirl and in awe. Malacca is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The major tourist spots can get really crowded (duh); obviously like all tourist spots we know. So most of my photos here were taken either early in the morning or late in the afternoon when most of the crowds haven’t arrived yet or has already thinned out. In between these times, tourists (who all look the same, and dress the same) come in by the busload every minute. If you don’t mind having them in your photos, then shoot away anyway. 🙂
Needless to say, my bias has always been towards the architecture of a place. This (alongside with the food which I enjoyed very much when the crowd at the tourist spots was at its thickest) is my best way to learn and appreciate a city’s history and culture. I have featured below some of these wonderful works of architecture and picturesque places in Malacca. My take (sort of). 🙂
A’Famosa Fort: A’Famosa is perhaps Malacca’s most famous sighseeing spot. It was built in 1511 to house the Portuguese administration and as an outpost in Malacca, which was an important link to the Spice Route in China during thr 16th Century. It has changed hands from the Portuguese to the Dutch and finally to the British who ordered the destruction of the Fort. Fortunately, Sir Stamford Raffles (founder of Singapore) visited Malacca in 1810; and because of his love for history, stopped the destruction of the Fort. What remains to this day is the lone gate (Porta de Santiago) that stands at the foot of St. Paul’s hill.
Christ Church Melaka: Christ Church is the most recognizable of the Malacca structures with its brick red exterior and large white cross. It was built in 1753 by the Dutch to commemorate a century of occupation and to address the need for another place of worship other than St. Paul’s Church. It has changed hands from the Dutch to the British who turned it from a Protestant church to an Anglican one. The church sits squarely infront Dutch Square along Jalan Gereja.
St. Paul’s Church Ruins: The beautiful ruins of St. Paul’s Church stand on top of St. Paul’s Hill which can be reached via a long flight of stairs from the lone gate of A’Famosa at the bottom of the hill. The original structure was built by a Portuguese captain as a sign of gratitude to the Blessed Virgin Mary for saving his life during a storm at sea. The ruins is now famous for its breathtaking views of Malacca City below it.
Malacca River: Malacca River was once called the “Venice of the East”. Now it is famous for the river cruise that takes tourists past several riverside establishments, bridges, Malay villages and settlements. It is considered the birthplace of Malacca because it was here where the Sumatran prince Parameswara established the Malaccan sultanate.
Masjid Terapung Selat: This mosque is situated on the man-made island of Pulau Melaka facing the Straits of Malacca. It is perhaps the only Middle Eastern-inspired structure I have seen during my stay there, and a much more recent building compared to the ones mentioned earlier. Tourists come here for the magnificent view of the mosque against the sunset.
Malacca is usually a day trip destination for most tourists visiting Kuala Lumpur. From Kuala Lumpur, take a bus to Malacca where you will alight at the Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal off Jalan Tun Razak. From there, a taxi can take you to town where all the major tourist attractions are located. Most parts of the town can be explored by foot as the major attractions are near each other.
So there you go; my take on this beautiful and quaint city. I hope I have kept you inspired in this adventure of exploration. Enjoy the images as much as I do.
See you in my next post. Cheers!!!