Monday, December 26, 2005

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Cat Whisperer


The Cat Whisperer is a pet shop in Katong you should visit just to see the cats who wander freely through the place. My wife and I went there to get cat food and some Christmas presents for the cats (they got a new scratching post and a water fountain), and I spent nearly the entire time just photographing the gorgeous cats, like the irascible looking fellow above (doing his best imitation of an English bulldog!) and the cute one below, who couldn't stop sticking his tongue out ...



Friday, December 23, 2005

Feeding the Fish

feeding fish

Two more photographs from our recent trip to Bali: my wife feeding the fish at Alila Manggis, and the fish feeding frenzy that resulted.

fish feeding


Monday, December 19, 2005

"Iffy the Great Explorer"

or: "What the heck are you doing up there?!?!"

Iffy loves to explore and climb, which has led to her being trapped in high places before. This time round, my wife was clearing out some shelves in our wardrobe and discovered that Iffy had jumped all the way to the top shelf when she wasn't looking. Our intrepid explorer cat perched there like a Hillary or a Tenzing Norgay for a few minutes before we evicted her and carried her down to less rarefied territory.

I love the look on Twinkle's face (she's the cat on the step-ladder looking up) as she stares at Iffy. This image was stiched together from 12 different shots.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

The warm blanket of domesticity


Holidays are nice, but there's nothing like the comfort of your own bed, and a warm cat to share it with.

We've been back in Singapore a day, and it's raining here like it was raining there. It seems the rain follows us. No matter - with three cats around the house, there's no lack of company to curl up in bed with on a rainy morning ...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Three Worlds

Three Worlds
Three Worlds - a homage to M.C. Escher

I took this photo thinking of an M.C. Escher print, Three Worlds. One of the few photos I've been happy with from the start. The original infra-red shot was split into two layers, with one layer pushed for detail in the pond, the other for detail in the leaves, and the two layers merged for the final image.


Days by the beach

Alila Manggis is the beach-side counterpart to Alila Ubud. Or perhaps I should say "sea-side", since there's more of a rocky shore than a beach. Speaking to one of the staff, who has been here for 8 years, I found out that there used to be a beach here, but over the course of time, more and more rocks have been washed onshore by the waves, creating the rocky shoreline you see now. He believes the rocks come from the two rivers that empty into the bay which the beach faces.

The sound of the waves crashing onto the pebbles is one thing, but the sound they make as they pull back is a rustling, soft crackling noise that I found very soothing. I spent a good half hour squatting by the beach recording video of the waves: later, played back on a loop on the iBook, they provided the perfect backdrop to an afternoon nap.

K and I were delighted to make friends with our first cat in Bali (plenty of stray dogs in sight, but not a single cat spotted except this one), a slim dark-coated cat. One of the waiters told us that the cat had been with him as long as he had worked here, and he was only a little kitten then. It took hours of coaxing and teasing before we earned his trust (all this without the bribery of food either), but eventually he let us stroke him. K took some excellent photos of him (the net connection here is not too stable, so that pic will take some time to upload).

The daily rain has meant that we've not got any sun-tanning done at all. I've spent most of the time taking photographs, reading books on the Wars of the Roses, doing crosswords and Sudoku puzzles.


I took these photos of the gardener as he cut a patch of the lawn by hand, with nothing but a sickle, a broom and a trash bag. It took him hours, but he cleared quite a patch by the end of it. I shot about 6-7 photos of him over the course of a few minutes, and overlaid them on each other to give a sense of his movement.

water lilies

The restaurant here is surrounded by a moat, filled with water lilies (or lotuses: I can't recall the difference - though given that this is Asia, they ought to be lotuses) and carp, and since we spend hours at breakfast, lunch and dinner (there being nothing much else to do) I've taken quite a few photos here. This one was composited from two shots, the left in normal colour, the right in infra-red.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A romantic breakfast (repeated)

A romantic breakfast for two

This is our 4th wedding anniversary and since the hotel had a "Romantic Breakfast" advertised, we thought we'd go for that this morning.

This was what it looked like when we got there - the table set up for the two of us amidst a circle of standing stones, overlooking a lush valley. Absolutely beautiful - I'll let the picture speak for itself.

Then it started to rain, and that was the end of that! We tried moving to a nearby pavilion for a while, but quickly became mosquito bait, and decided to beat a hasty retreat.

The hotel staff were nice enough to set up the whole thing in our room, so that's where we eventually had our romantic breakfast for two - strawberries and cream, bananas and chocolate, and more bananas ...

Romantic breakfast for two, redux

(flickr photoset here.)


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A short walk


Morning was spent on a very short walk round the neighbouring countryside. We had a chance to see the landscaped grounds of the hotel, beautiful in a manicured sort of way, with random bits of sculpture tastefully thrown in here and there - a few sculpted boulders, a ring of standing stones, a balinese shrine ... sort of New Age meets rural animism.

Outside the hotel grounds, our walk was ducks, paddy fields, more ducks, more paddy fields, cute ducklings - and one sighting of a stray dog making off with a duckling. Or a very large frog, which I prefer to believe, for my own peace of mind. A very, very large frog. I took so many pictures of the ducks, all of which, in retrospect and upon review, were horrible, hence the lack of duck photos here. The terraced paddy fields were nice, though not as spectacular as the ones you always see in tourisy brochures.

Paddy field IR
paddy field, infra-red

Besides ducks, living or dead, we also spotted this truly psychedelic spider. Don't know what species he is, but someone needs to tell him he's overdressed for the party.


On our way back, one of the farmers we passed by asked me to take a photo of him, which I did. Getting his address to send the photo on proved to be a bit of a challenge, but K's bahasa melayu proved adequate to the task. I'll have to remember to print the photo and send it to the hotel, whose staff have agreed to send the photo on to him.

palm tree moss
palm tree and moss

I've started a flickr set for the pictures from this trip, which can be found here.


Bali, Day Two

Late to rise today, which meant that we missed the sunrise. Reading Tym's comments on the previous entry, I thought I should post some pictures of the room.

The aforementioned iPod mini is in the middle of frame here, just behind the pillows, docked to the Altec Lansing speakers.


The doors on either side of the bed lead out to the back garden,

back garden

where you can find ...

oudoor shower

... the shower, all open air and everything. It's nice to have nature so close to you - a bit too close to have it right there when you're showering and all (but hey). The garden/shower area has high walls for privacy, but is a bit gloomy as a result, as you can see - feels like one is staring from the bottom of a well.

Three Fronds of Fern 3

The pool here deserves its own set of photos: a truly spectacular view, with a drop right to the paddy fields. I haven't quite figured out how to take a good shot of it yet, but will try again tomorrow.

pool IR

I've started a flickr set for the pictures from this trip, which can be found here.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Bali once more

cloud, wing, land, sea 3

K and I are in Bali again. Photograph taken from the plane as we landed, infrared filter on a Nikon D70.

The Alila Ubud hotel is by far the poshest place we've ever stayed in. This holiday is a bit dear, but we are celebrating our anniversary here, so we're spending a bit more than usual. It's also our first, long holiday in a few years.

Our room here has a little private garden in front, and a lovely open air shower in the back: since it was raining when we got here, we had the strange experience of showering in the open, with rain pouring all around ... a bit redundant one might suppose, but still a pleasant and delightful experience. Everything about this place has the well-thought out feel of a good resort, from the choice of soap (liked it so much, already bought a set from the gift shop), to the iPod mini in each room that comes preloaded with a selection of music and plugged into a set of Altec Lansing speakers.

We haven't explored much of the place yet, having arrived late in the afternoon, after an hour long car ride (preceded by a sleepless night of last-minute packing), just in time to catch the daily dose of the rainy season, which therefore by the inexorable logic of things lead us straight to an afternoon nap. Which is a nice way to say we collapsed in exhaustion and slept through the rest of the day. We've just had a late dinner of strange (though not unpleasant) fusion style food, and I've discovered that the hotel lobby and the restaurant have wireless connection, hence the blogging.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Twinkle and her Ball

Twinkle and the Ball

Twinkle, caught in a rare moment of stillness as she played with her ball on the bed.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

The view from the top

The view from the top

This is best viewed in its original size - though the file will take some time to load.

I climbed up to the highest vantage point in my building and took this panorama of the surrounding. It's funny how I've spent 3 years working here without realising what a great view there is from the top.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Cosplayers at Gamecon1

Some candid shots of the costumed fun going on at Gamecon1 over the weekend.

LOTR Cosplay
"Aren't you a little short for a Gondorian?"

Starwars RPG
"Err, let's see ... that's an attack of opportunity for using a ranged weapon in a threatened zone ..."


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

KL at Dawn

Kuala Lumpur Morning

K and I just got back from Gamecon1 at Kuala Lumpur. We didn't get to see much of KL itself, being stuck in the convention hall all day, and the rest of the time shopping for Christmas presents in the aptly named Megamall. In fact, I think we barely breathed KL's air in the 2 days we were there.

What struck me about KL was that it moves at a different - slower - pace than Singapore. The attrition of the traffic jams, the more relaxed pace at which people move, are all a bit alien to the Singaporean need for efficiency.

The other thing that struck me was that people (as in, the service industry) are, in general, more polite, and nicer. Genuinely nicer. There are the usual share of grouchy, curt, and rude people - but then again, you get those in Singapore as well, and there are less fake smiles going around.