December 29, 2009

Photography Excursion @ Sekinchan Part 4

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!!

Well, hope that everyone had a great Christmas or still enjoying the Christmas break.

I was still working on all my photos during the Christmas break. It is a great pain to edit these photos as the damn perfectionist in me wants to get the photos perfect with the right effects done.

Anyway, aside from the lovely beach around Sekinchan, we managed to take photos of a small fishing villages nearby too. According to a friend, these villages are slowly disappearing as the land around gets converted into commercial property or housing for the locals. So, such picturesque scenery are getting fewer around Selangor.


We spotted this village on our way out to the beach and so, we decided that we would drop by before we left Sekinchan for Ijok.


I apologize for the saturation quality of the photos. I'd guess I took the photo using the wrong settings and didn't quite see it until I got back into the car. By then, it was too late...


This is probably my favourite shot in the series. Golden hour was fast approaching and standing in the shade, I pointed towards the horizon and just kept snapping.


It was still low tide and I was lucky to capture the scene where the boats were docked near the houses. It was quiet around the village as most of the fishermen were resting and waiting for the tide to come in so that they can go out to fish. It's a hard life...

We left Sekinchan to head out to Ijok for our dinner. The organizing team had booked a table at this Beggar's Chicken restaurant a few days in advance to make bookings for the beggar's chicken. You have to call a few days in advance to book for the Beggar's Chicken/Duck/Fish/Pork. We opted for the traditional chicken.


We also had seafood (again) and throwing cholesterol caution to the wind, we just indulged ourselves after a long day of "work".


The prawns were HUUUUGGGEEEE. We could only take 1 piece as we were stuffed with the glutinous rice, pork stomach soup, vegetables and fish. For dessert, we had chilled honey-sweet nangka. The nangka cost RM10 per kg but it was worth it. It was sweet and fragrant.

Sorry, no picture of the nangka as everyone quickly "sapu" (consumed) it all when it was put on the table.

Anyway, my apologies for not providing directions as I was a passenger and so, didn't have any directions with me. However, Googlemaps gave a good set of directions & I believe the drivers were using that as a guide to get to Sekinchan and Ijok.

*sigh*.. Now, I'm yearning for another photography excursion but I've yet to complete my other Christmas photos.. ARRGGGHHH!!!!

December 24, 2009

Merry Blessed Christmas & Seasons Greetings

I'm taking a break from all the Sekinchan postings...

Anyway, it is that time of year again where hedonistic consumerism may consume us all, or the spirit of giving redeems us... Yes, it's Christmas.


I didn't have a lot of time to make my way around the malls to photograph all the merriment and decorations. So, I'll just post up what I have.


I finally did put up my Christmas tree. Although it isn't as big and as lovely decorated as this one, the tree gives a warm glow to everyone in the house.

Here's wishing everyone a Merry, Blessed & Joyful Christmas! May you enjoy the festivities & good cheer with your loved ones around you...

Photography Excursion @ Sekinchan Part 3

After a great lunch, we all had quite a number of hours to "kill" before we could head towards our final goal - to have a great dinner at Ijok. So, based on the directions of the restaurant captain, we set off to find a lovely beach nearby.

We drove on and finally heard the sound of waves hitting against the shore... We were near a beach!


It's a slice of photography heaven as the beach was quiet and the sky was clear of any clouds... We jumped out of our cars and happily snapped away.


My only regret is that I don't have a lens hood and so, some shots appeared to have quite a bit of lens flare. However, I managed to incorporate that effect nicely...


When we walked on the beach, we noticed that we were not walking on sand but on shells!! Shells were just scattered around the beach.


Most of the shells were intact and absolutely beautiful. For those who loves to collect shells, it was a great find. Luckily, I brought some additional plastic bags to pass around everyone who were collecting the shells as the photographers were busy with their work.


We also saw that there were a few fishermen by the shore. We're not sure if they were locals who just came to fish for pleasure but this kid sitting by the beach offered a great subject for a photo.


I converted the photo to black & white for more impact... Luckily, the boy and the fishermen were not bothered by us. They were busy with the business of catching fish.


As I walk along the shoreline, I noticed a great tree which became a perch for some sea eagles flying in the area. I wished that I had a superzoom to capture their majestic flight around the beach. They did not approach us and as I neared the tree, they hid in the mangrove plants nearby.

We spent close to about 2hrs around the beach before moving on. We had another location to shoot before we headed off to Ijok for our dinner.

December 23, 2009

Photography Excursion @ Sekinchan Part 2

A friend just commented about why I didn't post any good close-ups of the rice plants. So, here is the best shot I have so far...


We were really grateful for the wonderfully hot weather we experienced during our trip. It had been raining for quite a bit since it's the wet season.


The blue skies against the green/yellow paddy fields painted a beautiful picture. Too bad that I was only armed with my kit-lens & 50mm only. I would have loved to have a wide-angle or zoom lens to capture some details. Anyway, I'm shopping around for a reasonably good zoom lens with a reasonably good speed so that I can do some low-light photography too.

Nevertheless, I am grateful that I did bring my external flash to take photos of the people who posed amongst the fields. The itty-bitty in-built flash would not have been strong enough for such work.

We started our session a bit later than planned, so, lunch was around 2:30pm. We shopped around for a good place to eat, where we wanted to try some specialties like shark meat but the restaurant we wanted to go to had closed down. In the end, we opted for some simple seafood...


I won't bore you with the details of the type of vegetables we ordered. We opted for seafood since we're supposed to be near the sea... The size of the mantis prawns was just shocking! The meat was sweet encased in its seasoned shell. I just had to have a couple of those prawns despite the diet restrictions.. Kekeke...


We didn't really wanted crabs as we were expecting to have a bit of seafood later that night but after the captain's sales talk, we bought into ordering about 1.5kg of crab. It was very fresh and was not salty as I expected.


I enjoyed the steamed clams in Chinese cooking wine. The clams were succulent and not at all rubbery. The sauce went very well with the rice.


No meal is complete without another round of prawns. LOL!

Again, we did not want to order this but after seeing plates of large prawns being sent over, we just fell into the temptation of ordering it. It was the best decision made that afternoon! I took just one prawn for taste and it was heavenly. Except for the head, I gobbled up the entire prawn - shell and all. Yum.

Once we were well fed, we decided to head to the beach. We asked the restaurant captain about any nice beaches around and she pointed one out which was just down the road.

So... once we got our camera settings ready, we were off to our next photo shoot location!

December 22, 2009

Photography Excursion @ Sekinchan Part 1

I apologize for my belated post. It's been a hectic couple of weeks for me.

As well as wrapping up some documentation for the project before the end of the year, I had to get some stuff ready for Christmas.

Anyway, some ex-colleagues and myself decided to embark on a trip to Sekinchan for a photography excursion. Now, my geography isn't so great but Sekinchan is northwest of KL, towards the border of the state of Perak.


When we arrived at Sekinchan and spotted the lovely fields of green paddy fields, we didn't know what to do... We stopped the car at the side of the main road and had a short discussion to see where we can go. So, we drove into the fields and began our session.


As we drove into the fields, we noticed that it was close to harvest time. Lots of other friends have mentioned that we may not be able to photograph the lovely fields during this time of year. But, luck was on our side - we had fantastic clear weather and GREEN fields!


As I looked around, I noticed that there were no scarecrows (contrary to popular belief) but there were plenty of grey buildings dotted all around the fields for the swallows to nest. These buildings are where people can harvest birds nest which is great for Chinese herbal medicine and delicious as a dessert.


We were lucky to still spot that some parts of the fields were harvested, which provided us great photography opportunities to capture the entire process.


Rice is a grain and once the rice is extracted from its husk, it needs to be polished. So, what we have on our table is essentially processed rice.


We drove deeper into the fields and managed to capture some very good shots of some people at work as well as a rare sight of the harvester coming around to harvest the rice. Can u imagine the amount of effort it took to harvest a large paddy field of rice?


We were backing out of a small lane when we spotted the harvester from far away. Not wanting to miss this opportunity of watching the machine at work, we stopped to take lots of photos. This shot was taken through the tinted window of the car, which acted like a "filter".


It was cool watching the machine work. In the distance, other parts of the paddy field were already harvested and they had done some back-burning to prepare the soil for another round of planting.

We also spent some time around the fields taking lots of different photos. I brought my 50mm lens and was quite happy with the effect. As for the exposure settings, since were under direct sunlight, we were using f/stop f/22. When we photographed our "models", we used a fill-in flash to illuminate the face. Thank you Digital Camera magazine for those tips!

Psstt... I'm not at liberty to post pictures of the "models"... So, it'll only be pictures of food and rice fields for now. LOL!

December 15, 2009

Kickstart of a Photography Excursion

I needed a good cup of coffee just before we started the photography excursion last Saturday.

So, while waiting for a friend to pick me up, I had a cup of coffee from McDonald's.

I know.. I know.. In my condition, I should not be taking caffeine. But then, I was just too sleepy and also, a bit hungry while waiting for her. Besides that, I had to take a bit of medication and I can't take it on an empty stomach.

The excursion was fantastic and we had a great time. We were very lucky on all fronts as we managed to take some really great photos (timing was everything) and we all got home in one piece despite driving on some really dark roads that night.

The weather cooperated with us and we had a fantastic time.

Will post some photos up in the coming few days... When I'm done with my dark-room work.

December 10, 2009

Upgrade Exercise - Phase 2: 90% Completed

Finally.. The HDD was installed in the laptop. It took me a while to get the pin slotted on the HDD connector pins as I "forgot" that I had to swap it from the old HDD to the new one. Kekeke...

Anyway, my laptop is not really a Vista, it's just made to look like Vista. :P I did try out a transformation pack to convert it to Windows 7 but found that there were some graphic glitches whenever I played videos or started some applications.

As you can see, I was still trying to install some photo-editing software but my DVD-drive is acting a bit funky and so, couldn't get the installer to run off the DVD properly. Grrrr...

So, that leads me to the next part. Now that I've upgraded my laptop, I suddenly heard a loud whirring noise from the fan... which means, I still need to clean the internals of this laptop!!!

Reading the manuals and some sites, it will not be an easy feat. Not only that, I've got to get a can of compressed air to really clear all that dust and grime accumulated for the last 5 yrs.. :P

I'm tired....

December 07, 2009

Upgrade Exercise - Phase 1 Completed


Not that the laptop upgrading exercise was so hard to do but I always feel a tinge of excitement and fear whenever I touch my PCs or laptops. Hence, I often break out in a cold sweat for the first 2 minutes or so. :P

I finally got my new 2GB RAM and 160GB HDD under budget. I spent RM352 for both pieces of hardware - which is great!! I had expected to pay > RM400 as it was hard to get a notebook IDE HDD these days as most of the notebook HDD sold are SATA.

Anyway, the easy part is done. The next task on my list is to change my hard disk and re-install all the stuff I had.

I think I will do that another day, as I've got to compile the updates and drivers.. *headache*

December 05, 2009

Christmas Came Early for Me This Year

I'm pretty exhausted now although it has been hours since I got back from the hospital.

Well, I just got a great early Christmas prezzie... One of my doctors, i.e. the cardiologist is quite happy with my echo-cardiogram which I did this morning. According to him, my heart looks to be back to normal with the treatment I'm undergoing.

It was a very busy day at the hospital, with a lot of folks coming for their check-ups and etc. I had to wait for almost 1.5hrs to get my blood drawn for tests. Some kids had to get their blood drawn and being so small, I pity those kids who had to be pricked by needles.

This time, the technician somehow "chose" a small vein and it was difficult to draw blood out. -_-"

So, I was in a bit of pain. Funnily though, I'm not too scared of needles or blood. But then again, at one point, I did seriously think about taking up medicine but in the end didn't when I decidedly loved Physics more than Biology in pre-U.

Luckily, there was no queue at the diagnostics services but the echo-cardiogram took a really long time to complete. After all, the test was to scan all 4 chambers of the heart. I had forgotten that it was cold and by the time I finished, I was freezing.

All that time I did not have time to take my breakfast as I had to fast before my blood test. So, I only had a late breakfast/early lunch by 11:30am. After a quick bite, it was off to see the other doctor too.

The doctors did warn me about side-effects of the medication and should I experience any of the symptoms, I was to go back and see the doctors.

Other than that, I'm now free to do a bit more stuff at the gym... in small steps. That means, I can't start doing 20kg bench presses or dead lifts so soon but to do so gradually when I'm strong enough. It'll be mainly cardio and some light strength training to tone those muscles. I'm looking forward to doing some running soon.

I'll still need to see my doctors in about 2-6months time.

Meanwhile, I'm just glad to be able to celebrate Christmas in good health this year.

Thanks to everyone who kept me in their prayers and thoughts. (^-^)

December 04, 2009

Teo Chew Food @ Chao Yen, 1Utama

My laptop still has some life left and so, I'm taking the opportunity to blog about something before I embark on my minor upgrade exercise.

It won't be much, I'll most likely just upgrade my RAM from 1GB to 2GB and the HDD from 100GB to 160GB. My old laptop takes only IDE and so, I can't take advantage of the lovely SATA drives... Besides that, I can't seem to find those 320GB or 500GB IDE drives in the market anymore. :(

Oh well....

Anyway, it has been over a month since I had my little life-changing event... One of the first places I went to eat with EV was to a little restaurant in 1Utama. It was the Teo Chew restaurant called Chao Yen.

We've been curious about this place ever since the banner went up some months back before it opened. Both of us wanted to indulge in our Teo Chew heritage food and gave the place a try.


EV and I love vegetables. In fact, I have to thank her for "teaching" me how to appreciate vegetables. We used to cook a lot back in our university days in Australia and so, she, being a "cow" would love to cook vegetables while I, being a "lion" loved my meat. I requested for little oil and low salt which was just nice.


This brings me to the only meat dish we had. We ordered a set (which included a bowl of rice) of the braised Teo Chew styled chicken. The skin was a bit salty but the meat was just sweet. I do not recall my grandmother making this and EV's mom only makes the duck version for Chinese New Year only.

Chao Yen also serves other Teo Chew dishes such as the Teo Chew style Bak Kut Teh, i.e. pork ribs/meat in a tea-like broth and also "Or ni" which is the yam dish.


Due to health reasons, I'm "forced" to take brown rice and was glad that this restaurant had an alternative option to white rice. It tasted yummy and chewy.

Anyway, these days, my rice intake has dropped significantly as I'm taking more vegetables in proportion to rice and meat. A higher fibre diet is what the doctor ordered and if I do take rice at home, it has to be brown rice and the most I can take is probably 2-3 tablespoons worth.

Chao Yen is pretty pricey. Our meal for 2 persons came to a total of RM 54++, which included a pot of fantastic Pu Er tea. The taste though is quite mild as there are not much spices or sauces to overpower the ingredients. Anyway, Teo Chew food tends to be quite "pure" and simple.

Not sure if I would recommend folks to try this place due to the price but Chao Yen offers a variety of Teo Chew cuisine which is not very Malaysianized and so, can be said that the food is more of China Teo Chew style...
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