As everyone was busy preparing for Chinese New year that year, I finally got the opportunity to travel to Thailand for a week, alone. Getting a day off from my work was difficult as the office was busy in the previous year. The only way to take a long leave is by waiting for this kind of public holiday and luckily Malaysia has tons of it.
My first choice was to travel to Hong Kong or Taiwan but luckily Zhuang Wu Bin told me that he will be involved in Chiang Mai very first photo festival as a curator. Chiang Mai is one of the states in Thailand and when he told me that it will be cheap and fun to go there by train, I was basically convinced.
To begin with, I really didn’t do much study on Thailand or Bangkok before going there. The only thing that I prepared was some map that I photocopy from Lonely Planet book and the train ticket that Wu Bin send to me from Chiang Mai.
To be honest, I did study the interesting place to visit in Bangkok but none of it seems to be that interesting. So I decided to skip all the famous tourist spot and instead, take my own time walking around the city at my own convenience. But I really do wanna visit the famous (infamous?) Thailand Go-Go Bar.
When I arrive at my hostel, I was hungry. 7Eleven was everywhere but the sandwich price is ridiculous when I convert it. So I decided to eat the local food which is Sticky Rice with Spicy mango and sliced beef. It was good but extremely spicy.
My train was in the evening around 6pm so I have plenty of time to explore the Chinatown. I notice on the map that there is some temple near the area so there I go.
The experience in waking up inside a moving train in the morning was surprisingly pleasant. It was cold but not noisy, it was shaky but not horribly shaken. Overall, it was just like another day in the morning except that you need to wash your head/face in the small train toilet.
The whole point of the trip was to actually learn and observe new photography material and culture from South East Asia. Seeing first hand on how they organize a photo festival from a real photography and art curator perspective was the ideal timing for as I was at that time involved in a way in organizing a Photo Festival in Sabah. Which is successfully organized by my friend, do check the festival out, kinabaluphotofestival.com)
This was interesting. I believe you do a google search about the writing. The work selected here is curated by Zhuang Wu Bin.
The exhibition was simply mind blowing. The image showcased in the exhibition is very impressive and I was lucky that WuBin was there explaining stuff around regarding those pictures he curated. Afterward I believe we went around and went on to welcome one of Wu Bin acquaintance from Indonesia, Deden Durahman.
My second morning in Chiang Mai was spent cycling around the old city area, which is basically in the middle of Chiang Mai. I also notice that it is very difficult to find public toilet in Chiang Mai, not to mention a thrash can.
And after the last picture, I was drunk as hell and probably embarassing myself by talking something unrelated to their topic. Went to WuBin place to get my bicycle and there I go cycle back to my hotel which is half an hour from his place.
For the first time in my life, I am cycling drunk alone in a foreign city in a cold 24 degree celcius weather. Safe to say that I arrive safely but of course, by taking some wrong turn along the way.
The next morning I decided to went back to Bangkok, I took some breakfast with Wu Bin and say goodbye to my host. It was a great experience overall.
Woking up in the morning made me realize that I missed Chiang Mai cold winter season weather (they call it winter but they also say the summer season is hell). So as I arrived in Bangkok, I decided to walk all the way to my new hostel. It was stupid as I ended up getting lost for 2 hour before actually reaching my hostel. My internet data was lousy and I couldn’t read Thailand.
I was really hoping to visit one of the closest Go-Go bar but after walking non-stop since morning, I was basically exhausted. I slept early around 9pm and ended up waking up in the morning, just in time for check out and took a taxi to the airport.
After my Thailand trip, I was planning to save up some money for a trip to Japan. But opportunity shows up and I went to continue my study in Penang. What I learn from the trip was humility in general. Thailand people are surprisingly friendly and somehow resilience in nature. We could learn a lot from them, just check out their creative talent, they are amazing.
Its been a few years since I continued my studies in Penang. While the Island has changed in many way since my last visit many years before. The underlying culture that makes Penang interesting remained the same.
As the title suggest, this series is mainly just an observation on the place that I have visited around Penang island and in no other way were it meant as a reference towards the Island as a whole. In the recent year, the Island has been promoted intensively as a street food heaven by the local government and with their successful bid in making their city area a UNESCO Heritage site, the Island has been striving with tourism investment.
Going around the town shows tons of murals made by local and foreign artist and this itself was created under the government initiatives of promoting Penang as an Art and Cultural hub in the country. Obviously, this bring tons of cultural events that has attract the attention of the international community.
But, despite all this, the island still retain its cultural value pretty well despite the rapid urbanization that is ongoing throughout the island. Exploring the small detail of the island will still surprised some seasoned traveler I believe.
Although Penang is majority occupied by the Bumiputera, the Island town area is predominantly Chinese and Indian Muslim. This can be seen on the daily activities and the annual celebration held throughout the year. The street would be filled with offerings and road are sometimes closed for this special occasion. Still its a sight to experience yourself.
2017 has been that kind of year where you had been trying out many different thing but in the end it didn’t left you with much. It left me a bit unorganized and unprepared for the next venture but hell was it fun. By the end of the year, I notice that all this small tryout has somehow made me understand what I need to focus on more in 2018, whether its photography or architecture.
As for this year planning, I personally set to end one of my photography project if possible and preparing my own architecture portfolio before continuing my master study. It will remained to be seen if any of this will materialize but finger cross.
In the mean time, I need to get myself a new DSLR soon and I am also selling some of my ‘excess’ photography equipment on carousell, do check it out here -> Kelvin carousell profile.
For 2018, it’s probably the right time to appreciate those people that are close to you and treat them better in some sort. If possible, I would like to give advice to those that are younger than me that the final year of your study is just the beginning in the pursue of many thing. Life is rough and it is never is a fairytale.
I believe it’s been a few months since we went out together while visiting some new places with our cameras. Studio projects and random assignment has kept us busy over the past few weeks in which I believe are heard from time to time again in this blog.
Last year we did plan to visit this old abandoned mining place at mainland Penang as she has been there with her friends and calling it a ‘beautiful’ place with ‘blue’ colored pond. True to her word, a random google search proves that it is indeed a beautiful location but I couldn’t find any clue on why it’s called Frog hill, the actual hill doesn’t even look like a frog in the slightest.
So chances came by when we happen to source our timber material for a project over at Penang mainland in which Frog Hill is only half an hour away from the shop that we were about to visit. Since we did plan to visit the place before, its a quick decision to drive straight to the area. (We got lost, thanks to a Pak Cik for the direction)
If you are wondering where is this place, I suggest you google it yourself. This blogpost (or this blog) is never about the place but more on my personal visual experience organized into a blogpost.
Finding the area is a bit difficult but I leave the fun to you guys if you happen to be visiting that place. The road leading to the site is covered in red colored soil and it will soon lead you to one of the nicest man-made landscape that you can find in Penang (not the Island).
Climbing it is not as difficult as shown in the picture, any decent human capable of taking 2 flight of staircase would survive the climb easily. The only concern is whether you are able to hold the urge to dive straight into the crystal clear water that surround the area. But from what I heard, the water is unsafe for your skin due to the high level of alkaline. (which I highly doubt)
The landscape is pure eye candy and luckily the weather is slightly cloudy which is nice. With the pond crystal clear with slight green tint and a rather awesome rocky landscape, Its only a matter of time before someone close it from the public.
We spent about an hour and a half but most of the time was spent sitting down admiring the landscape while having some silly talk. Its a very secluded area with rarely anyone passing by. But still there was a few visitor who came to the hill and taking some picture before they left.
Overall, it was a great experience. The place is beautiful and hopefully will be preserve well for the future. The only regret is that I dont have any black and white film for my Leica hence this series of picture in monochrome taken using my girlfriend Nikon.
For more information about this place, just google. Its worth it.
I rarely had the urge to write something about a camera that I try before but this one is an exception as I felt that there is a few points that I need to put out.
A week ago, Fujifilm did a camera hands-on session which include a small street photography workshop done by one of their brand ambassador (I think). To be honest I do not expect much from the workshop but the chance of trying out Fujifilm high end equipment on the street of Georgetown is much more interesting, and it’s free.
Ever since I continue my study in Penang, I never got the chance to explore the street of Penang as much as I thought I would be. Project submission and curricular activity has made me very occupied throughout the week. So this is like killing two bird with one stone, a chance to explore Georgetown with a better camera and to actually try Fujifilm recent offering.
Since it’s free and doesn’t seems to restrict only to Fujifilm camera user. I decided to give it a go.
The event was held at Gayo Cafe, next to the Chinahouse. A cafe that doesnt seems to bother to check their location on facebook, which made many of us late for the event as we scramble to find the exact location of the cafe.
As I was late, the talk already gone through halfway and the place was literally packed with people. The talk was done by Thomas Phoon where he gave a basic introduction on street photography.
Street photography in general is a very difficult genre to dissect. Even the speaker try to keep it simple while at the same time entertaining to the crowd. It keep up with the basic approach to street photography while at the same time showcasing why Fujifilm X series camera are the best camera for street photography.
But I am not expecting a talk from Alex Webb here.
CAMERA LOANING SESSION
The only experience that I had with Fujifilm camera before is their X100 model. A camera which I was planning to get before getting a second hand Sony a900.
But that was back in 2012, where the autofocus was not up to standard and the control is a bit tedious compared to what I heard recently. For this session I was hoping to try the X-pro2 or the X100F in which I was unlucky as I was one of the last few at the back of the line.
So for this, I have to settle with the Fujifilm XT20 with some random zoom lens that is left with them. The girls in front of me manage to use the Xpro2 Graphite, damn.
We left our MyKad with the organizer before taking the camera off to the street of Georgetown. I also ask one of the brand representative to teach me how to use the camera and to adjust the setting in which I find the camera control to be similar to my Olympus OM-1.
After a 10 minutes of basic Fujifilm camera session with one of the Fujifilm representative, I head out with the usual intention of taking photograph of whatever that I deem interesting.
This is also a good way to try the camera where in the recent year, saw many hardcore Nikon and Canon enthusiast to switch to the X-series system. On first impression, the camera control is pretty direct and simple with most of the necessary control are put on top of the camera plate. The most noticeable difference compare to the usual DSLR is the classic look of the camera which resembles the SLR back in the 70’s from the like of Olympus OM and Pentax LX. The camera is also surprisingly solid with the lens built quality is stunning, similar to a solid classic analog lenses made from stainless steel. Even though my loan lens had some used mark here and there.
You can refer to more information on XT20 at Dpreview.com, as this blog is never meant for a scientific camera review. I used to like Fujifilm for its 400H Pro film.
In general, mirrorless camera is a very viable option as a serious workhorse camera. For me that is. But this is not a surprise considering that Sony has somehow conquer the market with its mirrorless full frame camera, the RX1r and A7 series camera.
My point here is that I used to have some doubt on mirrorless camera, not in term of image quality but more on the actual shooting performance and I am glad that the technology for the camera is getting better.
In this day, most digital camera is a good camera. With only differences is more on the features than the actual image quality. For a starter the only thing that I find irritating with the camera is only the following (nothing serious) ;
The EVF still could not replace the actual experience of using a viewfinder. Which I believe the X100F or Xpro2 suits me more. I am the kind of person who use viewfinder most of the time.
The organizer doesn’t even bother to provide a neckstrap for their camera. So basically you are carrying 7K equipment around the area by holding onto the expensive lens.
I just wish to try the Xpro2 instead. 😦
Given the opportunity, I wouldnt mind using the XT20 all year long. Its a great camera with tons of feature but so far, I am impressed.
As for the event, I believe it was a success. I consider myself a neutral when it comes to camera brand but Fujifilm did a good job on this and they even have a free meal.
Looking forward for a Leica camera hand-on test in the future. Hopefully.
I consider Penang street food to be one of the best in the world. The range of choice around the island and across over Butterworth is really just overwhelming. From the Chinese Hokkien cuisine and all the way to the famous Indian Muslim delicacy, the choice is really just endless.
That is until my girlfriend says that the food at her hometown is better. Yes, there is more choice here in Penang but the taste, according to her, is different. Whereas at Bahau, the taste is simply better and the texture or smell is definitely more authentic. She was saying that they cook it much better. And so does the Coffee.
As a good boyfriend that I am, I simply agree on this matter. Simply because she has good taste towards stuff and she is usually right.
Chance came upon me to visit her hometown during the semester break. She invited me to meet her family and at the same time, brought me around Bahau, Negeri Sembilan. For those that are wondering, I am a bit nervous when meeting them and yes, I do find it awkward at first but it gets better over time.
It is a week long visit to Bahau and it begin with a rather long trip from Penang, KL, and all the way to Bahau. But it’s just the beginning of very interesting trip in recent time.
I arrange all the picture that I took into one long post with caption in each photograph. That way it would be easier to view the entire post without bothering to read any poorly written paragraph.
Eventhough my girlfriend show me around Bahau, her family was actually was very eager to let me try many great different food around Bahau. So every night they brought me to many different places which is great. Never felt hungry even for the next few weeks.
I did visit Kuala Lumpur that week. For those who lives in Peninsular Malaysia, their understanding between near and far is way different compare to us in Borneo, especially for me who have been living in a small island for less than a decade. For my girlfriend, she thinks from Bahau to Kuala Lumpur is okay, and quiet near. (it’s more than 8 hour trip).
Our highlight of the week was supposed to be a hiking trip to Bukit Broga. They say it is very near (1-2 hour trip is actually very ‘dekat’ to them). Instead since we arrive there a bit late with the sun high up on top of us, we decided to just visit the temple with Sun Wukong and enjoy ourselves.
The last day before going back was a bit relaxing, I just finished submitted my assignment and packing my stuff only took a short time to settle. We did manage to try her sister breakfast set before taking off to the airport.
So I got back home to my room with a full stomach. My girlfriend family has been extremely friendly and thoughtful for the entire week. It’s just that I wish I could be more nicer and less awkward during my next visit. Of course, there is a lot of other stuff to visit as well.
Next time, I gonna bring my Seagull and maybe my OM-1n.
After getting my own passport for the first time, there was various choices of destination that I could visit with a year saving that I earn from working full-time as a project designer.
Choices range from Singapore, Indonesia, and even Hong Kong. (saving was just enough to cover a week trip around this country)
But I eventually choose Indonesia as a friend of mine invited me to follow him on a week trip to Indonesia to meet up with some of his friends at Jakarta and at the same time meeting up with some photographers for future collaboration on possible photography workshop and photo festival at Sabah. (At the time of writing, Kota Kinabalu Photo festival has went into its second edition back in December 2016 with numerous mentors being invited from Indonesia such as Agah Permadi, Erik Prasetya, and Romi Perbawa)
It was a significant time to visit Jakarta as they are preparing for the upcoming election week with Jokowi being the locals favorite, Christmas is coming and New Year eve is just a week later.
Personally, I didn’t do much research on Indonesia apart from the do’s ‘and don’t. As I will be tagging along with my friend. He assure me that everything is already planned, just standby enough money for the entire trip. No kidding, we even joke on being a millionaire overnight at the airport!.
Another thing to note that all the pictures taken during the trip was using Ricoh GRD III and the brand new Ricoh GR. It was a loan unit from a good friend of his and the camera perform flawlessly but I am not used to it at some point hence the blurry pictures. I had some problem with the Ricoh GR Auto ISO.
For the rest of our stay at Jakarta, I am quiet fortunate to received the hospitality from Pak Agah Permadi, a well known photographer himself, thanks to Mr Jebat for introducing him to me. The plan was to go to Bandung in the next few days and so far we will visit some of the place that is quiet favorable by photographers (more like tourist photographers).
On the next day, after we got our breakfast. We headed to the famous marine port, Sunda Kelapa. It has a lot history to it and to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect.
After spending more than 3 hour at Sunda Kelapa, it was time to grab our lunch. The sun was high and its getting hot, we were lucky that it was cloudy during our stay or else, the sunlight would be very harsh. We grab some nice lunch where they serve local delicacy ‘Masakan orang sunda’ but I don’t know the name of the place. It was Friday and I decided to the church next to the Istiqlal Mosque.
I regret for not exploring the area around the mosque but it was full of people and was super crowded, and I am afraid that I would run into problem since I haven’t got any local sim-card at the time. Istiqlal Mosque is huge and the design is fascinating for those who want to visit Jakarta.
The main agenda of the day was to visit Antara Journalistic Gallery and to meet with some of the person in charge for future collaboration. More info can be gather here.
Afterward Pak Agah bring us to the camera store nearby, there is an area where they sale cheap camera accessories. They bring me there because I ran out of memory so I bought the 16gb Sandisc instead which is cheaper than buying in Malaysia. Later, I use the Ricoh GR for the entire trip.
To be honest, we didn’t go to many place that day, the traffic was terrible and we don’t want to force Pak Agah to drive us around the place as it was inconvenient. That night we did have a plan to meet with Rony Zakaria, one of my mentor during IPA workshop in the last few months. He is also an award winning photojournalist for this awesome work around Gunung Merapi.
In the next morning, I was told that we will accompany Pak Agah to get his youngest son, Qhairan, for circumcise. I was curious on how they do it here in this dense urban area and decided to tag along. I had nothing to do that morning anyway.
After our morning session with Qhairan circumcise (or Khatan) is done. Pak Agah bought us some food for lunch and it’s finally time to say goodbye as we will have to proceed to our next destination which is Bandung. We haven’t got the bus ticket but it can be bought easily since it was not fully booked that day. Funny thing is that we got the entire bus just for ourselves.
The main agenda for our visit to Bandung was to meet up with the local ‘underground’ photographer that is led by Sari Asih. We didn’t manage to meet her but instead we did somehow were welcomed by Tandia Permadi and Aditya Pratama (he runs Unobtainium selling photobook in Indonesia).
On the next day, we are accompany by Aip. He is a good photographer with a rather interesting body of work. Can’t recall his website though. He did show us around the town area and also gives us the direction to some of the custom boutique where Jebat is planning to make his club t-shirt at.
Our stay in Bandung was lovely, although we didn’t get to visit some of the famous places due to the warning from the geological department. Nevertheless I bought some t-shirt, jacket, and a nice black jeans which later I wear for the next 3 years.
It was on New Year eve and thing is getting interesting in Jakarta. The traffic surge like crazy towards evening and noise were everywhere. Pak Agah did warn us that it is not a good idea to go to the Tugu Monas as the traffic is mad and you wont be able to go back home on time afterwards. We really want to go there but we don’t want to trouble Pak Agah either so instead we spend the night at his house instead. We are tired from the train ride anyway but the sounds of the fireworks towards midnight makes for some interesting visual and sight.
As this is our last day at Indonesia, again there was nothing much to do as the traffic is getting busier but Pak Agah told me that it is so much better than usual. Apparently during holiday, most of the people will go back to their hometown and most of those who stay at Jakarta is only the local that are doing some odds job.
We did manage to visit the high-end area of Jakarta and Jebat got his Hardrock cafe t-shirt from Jakarta. It’s a stark contrast to the other part of Jakarta though.