Photo Essay: Vivid Singapore

After a 1 hour bus ride through Singapore’s CBD in 2011 (transit tourism), we figured it could be fun to spend more time in that city-state. So we went back for 1 week this year, crashing at friends.

While malicious tongues claim it’s not worth it to spend a whole week in Singapore, we wouldn’t agree. We were actually quite occupied, never bored, and didn’t even manage to see all places of interest. The locations we enjoyed most were the ones standing out for their colourful appearance. Please click on the photos below to read their captions and learn more.

Anja’s “Singapore To Do List” (for a 1 week visit):

  • Stroll around the Marina Bay to soak up the skyline (best combined with the daily laser show schedule)
  • Visit the Marina Bay Sands casino (bring your passport since you officially “leave” Singapore when entering the place) and cocktail bar on the roof (you better win some cash in the casino for this one)
  • Marvel at beautiful native plants and orchids in the Botanical Garden
  • Visit China Town and plan in enough time for the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, shopping and lunch
  • Walk in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and watch out for macaques
  • Do the 11km circuit to the Tree Top Walk and back in MacRitchie Reservoir
  • Visit Singapore’s Zoo and try to join 2 or 3 of their daily animal shows or feeding sessions
  • For more shopping, Orchard Street is a must, though I admit it made me really tired
  • Shopping on a local market however is fun; try to taste (or completely avoid) Durian fruits

Got time left?

  • Visit one of the men-made islands (e.g. Sentosa) in the South for some beach flair
  • Book a 1-hour-flight to Kuala Lumpur and visit Malaysia for a day

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Photo Essay: Tongariro, Middle-earth

Are you as excited about the latest The Hobbit trailer as I am? Five weeks from today I will sit in one of those wide and comfy cinema armchairs, glued to the screen, absorbing Peter Jackson’s latest visual tricks like a sponge, while marvelling at the Trilogy’s sceneries.

mt ngauruhoe new zealand tongariro mt. doom

Mt. Ngauruhoe aka Mt. Doom, in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

Best thing about it: I have been there! Most outdoor scenes have been filmed in New Zealand, just like most scenes for The Lord of the Rings. New Zealand is officially Middle-earth; and Mt. Ngauruhoe in Tongariro National Park is the most popular location among orcs fans, as they can attempt to climb “Mt. Doom” and conquer Mordor.

One does not simply walk into Mordor? Oh well, I must have gotten lucky the last 6 times I visited. Yes — visited. I looked and behaved like a tourist in Mordor, and of course I captured it on film (in the form of a 16 GB memory card).

On a foggy day, the region is indeed all about doom and gloom (like in the movies). But on all other days, Tongariro is one surprisingly colourful place to discover. I have been lucky enough to visit the region during all 4 seasons. Each season is unique and totally worth it. But let’s allow some photos to talk for themselves.

Who else is looking forward to rediscover New Zealand in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies?

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A Smile Of Nature


Never waste any amount of time doing anything important when there is a sunset outside that you should be sitting under!
~C. JoyBell C.

Photo details (please click on the image for best quality):
Canon EOS 60D, 17mm, ISO 100, F22, 1 sec., no filter, no flash.

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Auckland In Rainbow Colours

Over the past week several locations in Auckland City lit up in rainbow colours for the Pride Festival 2014. I figured there wouldn’t be any better timing than the very last day of the Sochi Winter Olympics to present you some of my photo impressions. Nod if you agree. Cheers!

While it was easier to capture the Auckland War Memorial Museum and The Gantry at Silo Par, the Sky Tower turned out to be a challenge. The landmark kept changing colours twice per second; exposing longer than 1 second would have made the top of the tower white. Thanks to an aperture of f1.8 and a nearly noiseless ISO 1000 I captured Roy G. Biv for a collage of seven frames.

I quite enjoyed this colour parade. Congrats New Zealand for being broad-minded!

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Auckland Sky Tower Colours

18 colours of the Auckland Sky Tower

auckland-sky-tower-colours Auckland’s Sky Tower in 2012 & 2013 (please click on the image to see the single frames larger)

At special times throughout the year Auckland’s Sky Tower lights up certain colours to show support for a range of activities. In the past the city’s lanky landmark got illuminated in various colours for the following reasons:

  • To mark a public holiday or special anniversary
  • To help promote the cause of a charity
  • To mark a special national event
  • For a particular SkyCity event

While I haven’t spent every single day of 2012 and 2013 in Auckland I think I still managed to capture the majority of lighting schemes during the past two years. Time to recap since we celebrate a small anniversary today: We moved to Auckland two years ago to the day.

  • White: Default
  • Blue and White: SkyCity Breakers winning the ANBL Championship in 2012 and 2013
  • White and Blue: Auckland colours (?)
  • White and Turquoise: No idea (help appreciated)
  • Gold: Celebrating Valerie Adams’ gold medal at the 2012 Olympics
  • Blue, White, Red: Bastille Day & Independence Day
  • Blue: Auckland Blues Rugby & Prostat Cancer Awareness Month; and in 2013: New Royal Baby Boy born
  • Turquoise: Auckland Adidas Marathon 2013
  • Green: St. Patrick’s Day; and in 2013: Xbox One launch in NZ
  • Orange: Auckland Festival & 40 Hour Famine
  • Red and Green: Christmas
  • Red and Gold: Chinese New Year
  • Pink: Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • Red: ANZAC Day & Red Cross Appeal Week; in 2012: One year anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake
  • Red and Blue: Matariki
  • Rainbow: Gay marriage becomes legal in New Zealand in 2013
  • Off with Pink Top: I actually think something went wrong here and it was supposed to be completely pink
  • Blue, White, Red, Yellow: Supporting the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013

Do you happen to know more about the colour schemes for which I couldn’t find an official statement (basically the white/blue and turquoise/white arrangements)? If yes, I would love to hear from you.

Below, I included one photo of the Sky Tower during sunset to show you the tower without any lighting; the way it appears once a year during Earth Hour.

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The Sky Tower during sunset – frankly, no artificial colours needed here…