Saturday, January 31, 2009

New York, New York!

New York City. A city depicted in so many TV shows, movies, stories and books. Glitzy, dynamic, full of life. No matter how much you've been exposed to it, it still does not prepare you when you visit New York in person!

New York City comprises of 5 boroughs - The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Manhattan is probably the most well-known, being the home of famous sites such as Wall Street, Broadway, Empire State Building, and the fallen World Trade Center. Thus it is really quite the most exciting city I've visited!
Besides the sights, walking through Times Square at night is an experience on its own! The lights, the people, the buildings - they collectively gel into a feeling that no words could quite describe. Thus, as I've mentioned, nothing could quite prepare you as you step into this City that Never Sleeps!

There are other attractions as well. A visit to the Statue of Liberty. Many many shopping opportunities. A walk in the park ... Central Park of course! Catching a theatre show. I'm not quite a city person, but I really enjoyed myself. So if you're a city person, you'll love New York City!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wishing all a Happy Lunar New Year!

Today's the eve of the Lunar New Year. For those who have not complete their New Year shopping, check out the last minute deals at Chinatown after your reunion dinner!
Here's wishing everyone a Prosperous New Year!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Romancing Romania I : Discovering Scărişoara

I've written a short travelogue on part of my trip to Romania. I hope to write on other parts of the trip as well, and hence I've titled it to indicate that there's parts II and possibly III as well ;)

Romancing Romania I : Discovering Scărişoara

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Kyoto, a well-known city in Japan, is an extremely popular tourist destination. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, it contains many historic monuments like shrines and temples. In fact, its shrines and temples is one of the major attraction for tourists, esp during autumn, where the old temples amidst the autumn foliage makes for a really pretty picture!

Kyoto also retains quite abit of its old architecture in parts of the city. In some parts, you could imagine yourelf as walking in imperial Japan! Some of the old houses have been converted to guesthouses, which I felt was a much better accommodation option than hotels. Wooden sliding doors, quaint furnishings, delightful small gardens, it really makes you feel you are IN japan!!

Of course, if you have a chance, do stay in a ryokan. As a "japanese inn", a ryokan stay typically includes dinner & breakfast, and served in your room. For me, a ryokan stay completes a true authentic Japanese experience!! However, nowadays, there are many "modern" ryokans - hotels that emulate the traditional ryokan experience. Still worth to check out if you can't live without hotel amenities...

The other main attraction that no visitor to Kyoto should miss out is the Gion district. Here, you'll have the chance to catch a glimpse of geishas or maikos still dorned in their traditional clothings, going about their business. Of course, you could also opt to go for one of the geisha performances that's being arrange in various places like theatres and even restuarants. Or if you visit Kyoto during one of its festivals, then you can easily see many Japanese wearing their kimonos in the streets. The Japanese women love to wear their kimonos when the occasion calls for it!

Kyoto has lots of other attractions, which can be easily found in guidebooks or on the net. As it is a popular tourist destination, plan and book ahead is recommended if you visiting during the peak periods!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Earth from the Air

First post of 2009, and a Happy New Year to all readers!! :)
Many an overseas trip start with a flight out of Singapore. I had my first flight out of Singapore when I was in Secondary school, and strangely I remembered I didn't really feel all that excited. I was excited about my trip (a school trip) but not the flight - mabbe because I was seated at a aisle/non-window seat. I think I didn't see out of the window at all during the flight!!

Of course, since then, I had looked out of the plane window during the flight, and discovered the beauty out there. While the world's landscape is ever so diverse, so is its view from the air. From the aerial perspective, from farming land to snow-capped mountains ... and from canyons to rivers, everything takes on a different face. It was sight-seeing of a different sort! And when the plane flew above the clouds, the "landscape" is something we rarely ever see. The clouds are serene and beauitful, and literally on a world of its own.

The thick plane windows does pose a little problem to photography. To take pictures out of the plane window, and prevent your camera searching for a target to focus, set your camera's focus to infinity. In some point-and-shoot digicam, this can be done using the "Landscape" mode. Then place your camera as close to the window as possible to cut down reflections. This will give you very passable photos, which otherwise the rarely seen view of the Earth from the air would only reside in memory.

For really impressive aerial photography from around the world, check out this documentary and pictorial from Yann Arthus-Bertrand - The Earth from the Air. Amazing photos which cannot be captured on any commercial passenger airplane. But when you next take a flight out, do look out of your window!