The Island of Thousand Temples

Bali is the most significant among the few remaining pockets of predominantly Hindu areas in Indonesia after the fall of the Hindu Kingdom of Majapahit in the early 16th century. The Balinese Hinduism is unique and an integral part of the Balinese culture and everyday life of the people. Bali boasts several stunning temples (pura) built on some of the most picturesque sites on the island.

Pura Tanah Lot
Canang sari offerings, Pura Tanah Lot and surfers (10/2010)

Pura Luhur
Pura Luhur on top of a cliff at Uluwatu (10/2010)


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Sunset at Kuta Beach, Bali

A short weekend break with my labmates brought me south, across the Equator for the first time, to the Island of Bali in Indonesia. All in all, Bali certainly did not disappoint, albeit the inevitable commercialism and tourism. The exotic Balinese culture has spectacular nature to match and the locals are generally friendly and courteous too. We had great time there and concluded our trip by a visit to Kuta Beach for sunset and dinner before flying back to Singapore the next morning.

Sunset at Kuta 1

Sunset at Kuta 2


Zhongqiu Festival in Singapore

Zhongqiu (中秋, literally Mid-Autumn) has always been one of my favourite festivals since young. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar when the moon is supposedly to be the fullest and brightest. Family members and friends gather, enjoy mooncakes and carry colourful lanterns under the moonlit sky to celebrate the occasion. Zhongqiu is on 22 Sep this year in the Gregorian calendar.

Singapore Zhongqiu 1
Eu Tong Sen St./New Bridge Rd. with the festive decorations (22/09/2010)

Singapore Zhongqiu 2
Zhongqiu Festival celebrations in full swing at the Chinatown (22/09/2010)

Singapore Zhongqiu 3
Lantern display by the Singapore River at Clarke Quay (22/09/2010)


Folk Dance in Bunad

Bunad is the traditional costume in Norway. You won’t miss it if you happen to visit the country on May 17 (Kiat’sEyeView:SyttendeMai) when it is popularly worn for the national day celebration. Needless to say, bunad is naturally the costume of choice in traditional cultural event such as folk dancing. Shown here are my picture and video documentations of the midsummer day (23 June) performance in front of the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) in 2007.

Norwegian Folk Dance 1

Norwegian Folk Dance 2

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Singapore (RAnDom PicK)

Picture 11 Picture 12 Picture 13 Picture 14

From left to right (click picture to enlarge):

  • Job that acrophobics need not apply
  • Tourist boats ply along the Singapore River nowadays
  • Singapore hosted the first Youth Olympic Games from 14-26 Aug 2010
  • Model showing new development at the Marina Bay


Malayan Railway (KTM) Land in Singapore

I travelled by train between Malaysia and Singapore for the first time in May 2010 and got to experience firsthand the rather unconventional border crossings that have been properly summrised in Wikipedia as follows:

* Towards Singapore, Malaysian immigration officers carry out immigration clearance on board the train at Johor Bahru railway station. After clearing immigration, the train crosses the causeway and stops at WTCP, where all passengers must proceed to Singapore Customs and Immigration. Therefore, travellers entering Singapore by rail are following the correct order of immigration clearance, that is, exit granted by Malaysian Immigration in Johor and entry granted by Singapore Immigration in Woodlands. After clearing immigration at Woodlands, passengers may disembark or continue their journey to Tanjong Pagar by train.

* Towards Malaysia, passengers must board the train at Tanjong Pagar and clear Malaysian Customs and Immigration before boarding. The train travels about 30 minutes to WTCP and stops for another 30 minutes to allow sufficient time for passengers to clear Singapore Immigration. In this case, passengers are granted entry into Malaysia before clearing Singapore Immigration, which is contrary to international practice. To circumvent this problem, Malaysian immigration officers do not stamp on passengers' passports.

SIngapore Railway Station 1
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station is the current KTM terminal in Singapore (05/2010)

Singapore Railway Station 2
The station was opened in 1932 and nicely decorated with sculptures and murals (05/2010)

The reason behind the bizarre immigration procedure is that the Malayan Railway (Keretapi Tanah Melayu, KTM) land in Singapore was leased to the Federated Malay States by the Straits Settlement government then under a 1918 colonial ordinance for 999 years (The Star, Malaysian Insider) and the status of the KTM land has been subject of dispute after the separation of both countries. A breakthrough in the impasse was made recently with the signing of a historic agreement on 24 May 2010. The KTM Singapore terminal will be moved from the current one in Tanjung Pagar to Woodlands nearer to the border by 1 Jul 2011, hence, freeing up the KTM land for joint development by both countries in the future.

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Bangkok: End of Jun'10

The Thai capital was busy as usual.

Bangkok Traffic

Damages due to the earlier unrest were still evident.

Bangkok Damage

Restoring business and bringing people together again were high on the agenda.

Bangkok Reconcile

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Forest Research Institute Malaysia

Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) is a good place to go if you are already bored with the twin towers and shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur (KL). Located in Kepong, a suburb north of KL, FRIM offers a unique tropical rainforest experience within 1 hr of car drive from the hectic city centre. One of the popular attractions in FRIM is the 200 m long canopy walkway, which can be an interesting way of admiring nature as long as you do not mind walking 30 m above ground level on the planks!


TL: tall trees; TR: forest path; BL: wild life; BR: city view

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:-) :-| :-( :-D

Those who have been to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow should recognise the head sculptures in the picture. The installation, known as "Heads", is the brainchild of Sophie Cavein and can be found in the Expression Gallery of the museum. The enthralling exhibit features 95 heads with four different expressions that reflect the ups and downs of emotion in life.

Heads by Sophie Cave
Heads by Sophie Cave at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow (Jun 2008)


Related post:
Kelvingrove HaggisKiat’s Eye View: What is a haggis?

Three Wheelers in South East Asia

Vientiane, Laos
Jumbo driver waits for passengers in the capital of Laos.

Jumbo in Laos

Hanoi, Vietnam
Taking a cyclo is a popular and convenient way of exploring Hanoi Old Quarter.

Cyclo in Vietnam

Melaka, Malaysia
Excessively decorated trishaws blasting loud music are impossible to miss in Melaka.

Trishaw in Malaysia

Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2010

I made a point of visiting the international hot air balloon fiesta in Putrajaya after missing out on the first ever such fiesta last year. The second hot air balloon fiesta was held from 18-21 Mar this year. Visitors were entertained by balloon fun fly, tethered balloon rides and other events throughout the days. Hot air balloons were transformed into gigantic lanterns after dark during the "Night Glow" event on 20 Mar. The whole day of festivities was then concluded with a short but spectacular fireworks display.

Putrajaya Balloon Fiesta 2010
"Night Glow" at the 2nd Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (20/03/2010)

Related link:
  • Official website: Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2010
  • The Star: Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon rides draw the crowd
  • Flickr: Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Year of the Tiger 2010

The new year of the tiger begins on 14 Feb 2010, replacing the old year of the ox, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. The new year day is a public holiday in multi-ethinic societies, such as Malaysia and Singapore, in South East Asia.

CNY Singapore 1CNY Singapore 2
Chinese New Year decoration at New Bridge Rd. and Eu Tong Sen St., Singapore (02/2010)


Norwegian Stave Chruch

Stave churches are wooden churches from the Middle Ages in the Scandinavia, particularly Norway. Many of the Norwegian stave churches are well-preserved and can still be found throughout the country. I find the architecture of these churches to be some of the most intriguing in Europe. The pictures here show Gol Stave Church and Garmo Stave Church, which I have visited.

Gol Stave Church 1
Gol Stave Church (built 1235-1265), currently housed at the Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo

Gol Stave Church 2
The altar and interior decorations of the Gol Stave Church

Garmo Stave Church
Garmo Stave Church (built 1190-1225), currently at the Maihaugen Museum in Lillehammer


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Hoan Kiem Lake of Hanoi

The tranquil Ho Hoan Kiem or Lake of the Returned Sword is just a stone throw away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi Old Quarters. The lake gets its name from the legend that tells the returning of a magic sword by Emperor Le Loi back to the Golden Turtle God in the lake. Some have also suggested that the lake is the home of a rare distinct species of turtle. The scenic spot in Hanoi is popular among the locals and visitors (irrespective of interest in reptiles) and a welcoming retreat from the sea of motorbikes that fills the city streets.

Hoan Kiem Lake - dayHoan Kiem Lake - night
Hoan Kiem Lake: day and night, Hanoi (11/2009)


Hanoi Traffic Madness

Motorbikes rule the streets in Vietnam and this is especially true in big cities such as Hanoi and Saigon. Busy streets are filled with relentless flow of honking motorbikes and cars. Street crossing can be daunting at places where zebra crossings and traffic lights are scarce. It is almost impossible to wait till a halt in traffic before crossing. The common advice is to start crossing when there is a reasonable gap in the traffic and walk predictably across the streets so that the vehicles can avoid you. It works!

Hanoi Traffic
Traffic in the Old Quarter of Hanoi (11/2009)


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