St. John’s Island and Escape Room

Today we went to St. John’s Island and Lazarus Island for an excursion! She brought all her camera gear and we wanted to go there to see the cats too. I think it’s the first time we go on a shoot with all her proper gear haha. Always loved to see her in action, at work with the cameras. She was shooting for potential stock photos for the zone magazine.

We went to Amoy hawker centre for brunch but there weren’t many stalls open. We ate lor mee anyway and she ate laksa which wasn’t her usual order. We then took the infrequent bus to marina south pier to take the ferry to St John’s.

There was like a big bunch of foreign workers on board. Seems like this hidden place is more popular with them than with locals? Lol. After a 25 min ride, we alighted to a small beach area with many families picnicking.

We set off on a random walk to look for cats. We walked into the forest towards the tropical marine life institute but there weren’t any. We walked back along another road and saw a lone black cat in the shade. It was very friendly and willing to be molested. Haha. We then googled where were the cats and floated towards the staff quarters, which were like ubin-like old village houses. And that’s where a dozen of them were. But they were not as friendly, probably well fed and spoilt. They just sat there, or ran away when we approached =/

After that it started drizzling so we hid at the back of an old abandoned dilapidated house. Seems like the Paranormal investigators used it as a checkpoint haha. We walked to the small causeway connecting the two islands and decided to camp there for a bit, take many many selfies and photos, and spent some time together.

I brought my ukulele and we spent some time with Jesus and praying for each other. After a while we decided to walked into Lazarus and we found a lagoon with many expats and yachts docked and people swimming. It’s like a hidden private beach for these rich people. One of the yachts even have a slide into the water, wah lau eh. Haha. But it’s a really nice, clear and clean beach.

We headed back to the ferry jetty for the last jetty. Her magic hour sun came out but she didn’t have much things to shoot anymore.

It was a long ferry ride back, we were both tired and took a nap =)

We met the cg for ramen and xscape room called upside down at bugis. The first impression of the place was like a LAN shop? Lol. The puzzle was really Harry Potter themed. The room had furniture upside down and the quizzes we were supposed to solve were all related to Harry Potter.

SPOILER ALERT

The first lesson was a set of wands and we were supposed to find the owners of the wands. Sarah and Lizzy were like experts and figured out the names. But we couldn’t unlock the lock still! We asked for help after many tries and we were told it has to be in alphabetical order. Aiyo.

The second puzzle was regarding finding the right mix of portions. Not too difficult, just matching colours and numbers. The third puzzle was harder as it involved maths. After much calculation, we managed to find the answer and supposed to press the photo frame of the answer. But it didn’t work! We tried a few more times and still didn’t work. So we asked for help again and they told us to press and hold longer lol. Then magically a table popped up from underneath a trap door on the floor. Nice touch.

The last one is of a matching a jigsaw of blocks with an upside down map. We could not match them properly and then it was times up =(

It’s quite a cool concept. But can be improved. Entertainment technology indeed.

Bali 2014 – A trip of many firsts

Going to Bali has many firsts: the first trip with my girlfriend, my first whitewater rafting experience, my first time eating Bali crispy duck and pork blood sausage, my first time dropping down 5 storeys of a vertical water slide, Lizzy’s first time climbing a volcano, and many more.

The first night we landed, we took a taksi to our villa in outer Ubud. It was a nice small hotel and we had the whole 2-storey 2-room villa to ourselves with a pool in front of it. We took a cab to town to eat their famous Dirty Duck, smoked duck and crispy duck with bali sambal. Pretty amazing. After that we bought stuff at the supermarket and went home and sleep early to prepare for the Mount Batur trek the next day.

At 2am, the driver picked us up in a Suzuki APV, one of the most common cars on the road here which I also sat in my mission trip last time. I was about an hour’s drive to the start of the trek. The unique thing of this package (Pineh Trekking) we were on is that it includes a breakfast stop. We walked into this dark forest into a hut, which was a little suspicious-looking initially, like a Alice In Wonderland forest. We saw a luak, the rodent which eats coffee cherries to output coffee seeds. We had a nice banana crepe breakfast and 5 different flavours of drinks: vanilla coffee, ginger coffee, bali coffee, ginger drink, lemon honey. It was pretty amazing and the owner/operator, Mr. Pineh, was very kind and hospitable. He asked if we wanted lunch when we return, and we agreed.

After that, it was a short drive to the starting point of the trek. The first half was pretty easy, a wide sandy path through lalang and forest. The path grew steeper gradually and Jeremy was wondering if it is going to be this easy the rest of the trek. The silhouette of the volcano could be seen dimly in the starlit sky. Unfortunately, the terrain became steeper and harder, and soon we were literally climbing up volcanic rock, somewhat like Kinabalu but the latter is granite. It was slippery cos volcanic terrain has many loose rocks. We had to take many breaks because Jeremy was not feeling well and couldn’t keep up with the pace. As for me, it wasn’t too difficult as nothing is difficult is compared to Kinabalu. Lol. We saw tiny lights in the distance of other people’s headlamps and torchlights, and they look pretty far away.

After a 2-hour climb, which seemed neverending, we finally reached the foggy peak. It was 6am and getting crowded. Sun’s rising soon and the colours of the sky started to change. The peak is not exactly the tallest point, but a big crater where the volcano is. One can climb higher to the highest point of the crater, but most will just go to the plateau area to see the sunrise, which we did. There are even benches to sit on. Initially we thought it was too foggy, but it cleared and we could see the whole caldera area with Lake Batur below. It was pretty breathtaking. Soon, the oranges began to glow in the purple with some clouds covering in the horzion. The golden hour lighting is beautiful. As we watched, the guide was cooking hard boiled eggs in volcanic steam and we had that and warm bread with banana for breakfast. After a while, suddenly, the edges of an orange marble rose out of the clouds. It was the sunrise! Being designers, describing the scenery with Photoshop terms became a joke. It was like an eclipse with inner bevel and outer glow and radial gradient in the horizon with some gaussian blur. Hahahah.

When there was more light, we could see the volcanic steam rising out of the crater, but we couldn’t see the bottom of the crater as there were many trees. Soon, a herd monkeys came over and the guides feed them. Seems like a morning ritual. Some of the monkeys have babies clinging unto them.

The walk down was much easier with the light. Just like Malang, it looks like the Shire because everything looks so bright and green. Lizzy asks where are the dinosaurs? Haha. Cos the mountainous landscape is like Jurassic Park with giant long necked dinosaurs walking past. After walking through some vegetable farms, we finally reached the bottom. Saw like 5 kids riding motorbike together. Wah.

We went back to Pineh’s hut and his assistants let us try some fresh passionfruit and tomatoes from the vines. We were presented with a sumptuous home cooked lunch, with rice, satay, meat wrapped with banana leaf, banana plant soup and crackers. And he cooked that all for us! We ordered a cup of Luak coffee, which he didn’t want to charge us for. The coffee is very fragrant but more powdery. Once again, we were impressed by his hospitality. We wanted to tip him and he sort of rejected but accepted it in the end. We will definitely recommend him to other travelers.

After going back, we slept for a bit before going to down for roasted suckling pork lunch and then for a Balinese massage! It was really cheap like $10 for an hour and it was my first time experiencing a full massage actually. We walked around the market as well, and then we ended the day with dinner at some pizza place.

The third day we went for whitewater rafting. It was about an hour’s drive to the river and it was my first time, so I was afraid of capsizing and I never really quite liked water stuff. But it wasn’t so bad after all! It was like a 2-hour long Universal Studios Jurassic Park raft ride, the only thing missing was the soundtrack lol. The water wasn’t really deep and the rapids are about class 3, which is quite medium speed. Pretty fun actually, some parts we had to row around, splash water at other people, jump around rocks, go under trees and cliffs, and take photos with a waterfall. There were a few jerks which send Lizzy and I falling behind and then Jerm and Dot were laughing at us. The highlight was the last part, which was a 5-metre jump down a ramp. I was pretty scared but it was fun. We sat down inside the boat with our legs up and it was a huge but fun splash!

After that, it was 500 steps up the cliff to the hut where we had a nice buffet lunch. Everything was included, including a towel for showering and stuff. Pretty good.

We spent the afternoon nuaing in the hotel before going out for another foot massage, and then dinner at this popular grill place called Nuri. The spare ribs and fillet mignon were awesome and there were many tourists alike eating until it was actually sold out by like 7.30pm. We had a nice chat with some Americans who were from California but living in Bali, teaching at an international school.

At night, we discovered this crazy stupid adult cartoon on cartoon network called the Amazing World of Gumball.

The next morning we traveled to Kuta and went to the Waterbom theme park. I never quite liked water theme parks as I don’t like getting wet, some childhood phobia. So again, I have to push my fears away. The funny thing was the first ride we tried was the most exciting one called the Climax, in which you are launched from a capsule, the hatch door opens, and you drop into a 70-degree tube into a loop and into a splash, all in a few seconds. It was really gratifying and climatic. It’s like the best and scariest ride. After that, it was like a walk in the park since everything else was milder. I was slightly happy that the happening rides are closed for construction. Haha. But the boomerang and superbowl rides are quite fun too. We spent about 3-4 hours in the park, shorter than expected, including some time soaking in the pool and lazy river.

In the afternoon, we had lunch at A&W, walked around town, took a nap and nuaed on the bed watching TV, and walked to Kuta beach for a scenic sunset. It was pretty. The waves ain’t as huge as I thought, and it wasn’t totally cloudless but nevertheless it was pretty and romantic.

Dinner was crispy duck again, but a different franchise. It was actually better than the one on the first day. We seemed to be always hungry and always eating so fast. Haha. We spent the night trying to watch gumball again.

The last day was quite uneventful and boring. Just shopping at some tiny outlet stores and then trying to find mee bakso but we ended up eating the fast food version instead. That’s about it.

It was a good trip of firsts.

Thanksgiving for 2013

So today is the final day of 2013. It has been indeed a year of open doors and Daddy God has fulfilled all of my 3 wishes! The first half of the year spent in the states seems so distant and far away now, it seems like I’ve been in Singapore forever. I really miss the winter snow and the feeling of living in a foreign country though, and also my friends made there.

Thank you Jesus for…

  • A great last semester in Carnegie Mellon where I learnt the process of a 3D pipeline together with my team Stardust. Even though we had a tight timeline, we still managed to finish a 6-min 3D animated short for Give Kids The World. I learnt many things in those few months, from project scheduling, storytelling, compositing, rendering to 3D lighting. The best part was to travel to Florida and showcase the finished short to the kids. It was heartwarming.
  • Also, touring all the cool animation and entertainment companies during the West Coast Trip, experiencing South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX during Spring Break and learning the basics of ¬†lighting for theatre
  • The privilege of experiencing the grace revolution on the ground in a small scale at Freedom Fellowship of Pittsburgh. It was an honour to be an ambassador, the physical hands and feet of my church and my pastor, someone all the way from Singapore to a small church in America that preaches the gospel of grace. I had a great time getting to know Pastor Debbie, as well as volunteering to lead worship there.
  • His safety and protection in the 3-day train ride from West Coast (SF) to Midwest America (Chicago), and also the 20-day graduation road trip from East (Pittsburgh) to West Coast (SF) of USA. They were both significant journeys, both physically and spiritually. It was a precious time in which I could just spend days by myself and Jesus, and seeing his Favour that surrounds me like a shield every step of the way, looking at the scenery go by, and even through a minor tire puncture and some mechanical work in the car, I survived 5700 miles / 9173 km. Run in such a way to win the prize!
  • Allowing me to be planted in serving in Zone Lighting and Spark Film the moment I came back to Singapore, opening doors for a greater quality of lights and LED board graphics design, Christmas Service, as well as testimony and short film editing.
  • Opening doors for not just a job, but a career position. It was a time of waiting, yet it was a time worth waiting. It allowed me to trust Him for His provision that he would provide me a career that I will find fulfilment and enjoyment in!
  • Opening doors to meet my life partner. God is cute in every way in letting us to know each other only at this time and not earlier or later!

Last 3 months of 2013

The last three months of the year has been a blast.

First, I slowly got adjusted to the work life. Dragging myself unto the MRT, having heavy breakfast at times and skipping lunch, attending various long (and boring) meetings and handling 2-3 projects on my plate. The good thing is my department is moving to a new office with nice standing desks which I am looking forward to using. Haha. Also, my supervisors have commented that I am energetic, responsible and a fast-learner, the only thing I need to do is to speak up more during meetings.  Hoping for more career fulfilment in the new year!

Second, God has been cute in finally giving me a girlfriend, an open door and prayer answered after so many years. It has been an awesome journey so far, albeit with ups and downs. Some people think that we got together fairly quickly, considering that I just go back from the states. Well it’s been 3 months + 1.5 months officially now, looking forward to more happy times in 2014! =)

Third, despite so many changes in my life, I’m still pretty much involved in serving in church. Some colleagues asked what is my hobby. I couldn’t give a standard boring answer like cycling or surfing the internet. After some thought, I think my hobby now is studying about different lighting styles and doing lights in church, which is mostly what I do during the weekends. I had open doors to serve for Christmas Service, which was very enlightening and my biggest scale project so far. I also had open doors to do editing for a short film for main church, which is a very privileged thing to be participating in. Looking forward to greater opportunities to serve in 2014!