Hello there. I am Terry and I am a full-time undergraduate based in Singapore. I take photos, write a blog and design websites.

And no, I'm not a teddy bear.

Georgie Bear

I apologize that I revived this blog with a mournful post. However, I felt that it would only be just for me to chronicle what is going on in my life – regardless of joy or sorrow, the mundane or the mythical, the ordinary or the outstanding.

George and Charlie

Let me start off with a little backstory. I met Jon1, a Brit who lived in Australia but moved to Singapore recently, a few months ago by chance. He had two dogs with him – George, a 16-year old yellow Labrador Retriever, and Charlie, a black Lab around the age of four or five. It is also through Jon that I met Boo2, and both of them make a lovely couple.

The first time I met the dogs (or boys as what Jon and Boo would call them), Charlie was overflowing with puppy energy. I remembered when Jon allowed me to walk Charlie with him while he had George on a leash in a mild tropical drizzle along a slit-filled canal. It felt like Charlie was the one walking me instead of the other way it supposed to be – while George required a bit of pushing and coaxing along the way. Nonetheless, both of the boys enjoyed their daily afternoon walks. In fact, if Jon didn’t bring them out for a breather Charlie would start going a bit crazy in the house.

George was an old boy for his age. At a ripe age of 16, he had arthritis and probably hip dysplasia as well, judging from his awkward gait. He had a scary episode of epileptic seizure many years ago, where he charged at his owners and were ready to bite their heads off. Thankfully, after a trip to the vet and being on the right medication, Jon and Boo never seen that wild side of George again.

George to Charlie was like yin to yang. While both Labs were exceedingly gentle towards me, George was the mature one. He was quiet, calm and composed. Charlie would sometimes breakout in a frantic, madman dance in the morning when he hears Jon or Boo coming down the stairs. However, George had the habit of rummaging through the kitchen waste bin for unfinished food – as much as Charlie does, much to the chagrin of Helen, Jon and Boo’s housekeeper.

Charlie loves pawing at me for no reason. Perhaps it was his unique way of saying hello, or that he just loves the touch of my hairy legs (although I highly doubt the latter). George, on the other hand, was a bit more conserved, but still enjoyed a good pat on his tummy or a nice little rub on his back.

I remembered sleeping over last Friday. Waking up on a Saturday morning I was greeted with Charlie bouncing off the living room wall, wagging his tail in wild abandon. George was lying on his favourite cushion and looked at me. I gave him a good pat on his back, and some fur came off. Oh boy, he’s shedding again! I tried to stick the fur back onto his back but decided otherwise.

Little did I know, that was the last time I saw George.

Departure

Sunday evening came a few messages from Jon. He informed me that George had passed that very morning. I was napping at that time, so I only got up way past eight in the evening and saw his message. I immediately replied, initially expressed my shock and then my sorrow. I tried to place a call but nobody picked up the phone. Jon clearly needed some time for himself.

Monday was a public holiday, but Jon had to go to work because of the nature of his occupation. He told me it helped him to take things off his mind – and I understand how much being around with people helps to ease the pain of a tragic loss. Afterall, George is 16. It is like losing a child of your own, grown up to an age of a teenager and then disappeared overnight, never to be seen again. The sense of loss and parting, while still new to me, for me being only 22 and have not seen too much deaths in my life, is profound. I could feel it.

My heart ached.

George & I

It took me a bit for the feeling of loss to sink in. Who am I George? Maybe I’m just a friend that his master introduced to him three months ago. Or maybe he’s that skinny little Asian kid who drops by once in a while and tickles his ears just for the fun of it.

However, I am not strictly a stranger to George. Despite the short time that we knew each other, I loved him. As a dog, as a friend and as a companion. He still craps the carpet once in awhile, and accidentally squeezes the lemon in all the wrong places in the house, but he’s an old dog. Humans do that too, when they get old and lose control over various muscles in their body.

So on Monday evening I set off to the mall. To get a small condolence card and a flower in the memory of George. I was a bit undecided about what kind of flower to give. It definitely will be a colour of white – representing purity, innocence, clarity and peace – or yellow – George’s coat colour. Roses are nice but they’re a bit too romantic for my liking. I settled for a white lily.

The Visit

I was planning for an anonymous and quick visit. My plan was to drop the card and the flower in Jon and Boo’s postbox, text them about it on my way home. I don’t now if it was arranged by George, a higher being or just Lady Luck, I bumped into Jon and Boo on the road. They look surreal from a distance – behind my glasses I squinted hard. I started a soliloquy.

Okay, I see two figures walking a black dog. That doesn’t look like Charlie. He looks too small to be him.

However, the glittering chain from Jon’s neck gave him away in the distance. My hands trembling, I plucked the earphones from my ear.

Boo? Jon? I shouted into the distance, the road ahead of me lit dimly by yellow fluorescent lights. It was them. Then Charlie saw me (or he picked up my scent). He charged at me wildly  and excitedly, dragging Boo along as he locked the leash.

I hugged Boo. Sorry, I whispered softly in a squeak. In contrast to Boo’s calm and composed response, I stared to sob. Behind Boo appeared Jon, who started crying when he saw me. I hugged him tightly, too. I have rarely see a grown man cry – I’ve never seen my dad cry, too. Male figures in my lives are always a stoic figure that offers a calming presence.

We walked back to their place. Boo decided to take Charlie on a longer walk past their house, so Jon and I talked a little. We hugged each other a bit more, and we cried a little more. It’s amazing how tears flow just so freely. Boo finally got back from his walk, and he fished out a vase from the cabinet above the refrigerator. He carefully plucked the leaves at the bottom of the stem and placed the white lilly in a vase filled with water. Thank you, he said.

After sending Boo off to bed, Jon and I sat on the balcony. There we sat, my hand on his back and his on my shoulder, facing the cloudless night sky and we chatted away. The conversation inadvertently steered towards describing George’s last moments, which Jon faced some problem reciting. His voice, chocked with tears, trembled in cold night air. Holding back my tears in my eyes, I gave him a few pats in the backs and a few squeezes to his palm.

It was to my great comfort that George passed with little suffering. 16 years is a very good run for a dog – and more importantly, he had the one of the most loving and caring owners in the world. Both Boo and Jon took very good care of the boys – monthly grooming, daily walks and balanced, timed meals.

Just like how seashells always remind me that each being’s passing leaves something beautiful behind, George’s loving disposition, gentle nature, impeccable fur and calm composition will always have a special place in my heart.

Allow me to conclude this entry with a quote from Sogyal Rinpoche:

…when we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings.

  1. Name changed for anonymity.
  2. Name changed for anonymity.

For the record

I am sorry that I have to put this message up. I am here to clear my name before any finger-pointing and name-calling thing begins.

This is really interesting. After a fallout with a good friend yesterday, his client’s database went down. His first reaction was to email me, with the title “Thank you for being a dick“, to indirectly accuse me of sabotaging his client’s database.

I don’t stoop that low to take anger out on people. Plus, I’m not some other sore, bitter man (or bitch, if you would put it) that goes around spray painting somebody’s properties just because what a certain someone did to me was unjustified, crude, juvenile and revolting.

I don’t touch people’s clients. I have a professional image and name to uphold, and as my friends in real life know me, I’m not that kind of person who holds grudges against people simply because I was maligned and being called a “fucking faggot” (how classy, by the way, isn’t it?).

While I can put with with name calling and false accusations, I will not tolerate anyone’s attempt to smear my name just because you have really deep problems with anger management.

Signed,
Terry Mun

Exploring the Scanned Film Effect

I have always wanted to try something new in photography once in a while. Over the past few years I have explored high dynamic range photography, infrared photography and have also developed new ways to post process my photos. During my time on Tumblr, I was inspired by Olle‘s photograph. He does film and digital photography, and on his Tumblelog I constantly find scanned films of his and others’ works.

Therefore, over the past few weeks I have been refining my post processing protocol to achieve a scanned film effect – sans the noise, because I can always add them in later – through adjusting a few curves in Photoshop and adding some light leaks when desired.

The Look

The look of scanned film is hard to say – there are so many different film cameras out there that produces films of slightly different colours. Defects in light sealing of the camera case will lead to light leaks, but that can be aesthetically pleasing in some photos. The general characteristics of scanned film are as follow:

  • High microcontrast and low global contrast – they looked as if they’re masked by a layer of white, therefore having a low contrast across the photo, but yet retain good contrast at a local scale.
  • Colour saturation – colour saturation seems to be selective, with preference over the warm hues and green or cyan.
  • Overexposed – Some films are accidentally overexposed, but still look amazingly beautiful.
  • Light leaks – A infamous characteristics of Holga cameras.

København

I travelled to Copenhagen (Danish: København) one and a half months after I arrived in Denmark. I did not spend too much time there – just two days and a night. I have to say I regretted going there for such a short while – I could have missed a day’s lesson or two and stayed there a little longer, since the weather was only good for the first day.

Københavns Hovedbanegård

Københavns Hovedbanegård

Københavns Hovedbanegård (eng: Copenhagen Central Train Station) is the heart of the transportation network in Copenhagen. It is located just across the street from Tivoli Garden.

The interior is huge and spacious, and glass windows on the walls and the arched ceilings provide some natural light into the sombre interior. However, the station is infested (I couldn’t find a better word for this) with pigeons, and I actually had a bird dropping on my coat on my last day in the city.

"I support everyone's troops"

"I support everyone's troops"

A postcard sized sticker pasted on a lamp post near the city hall, Københavns Rådhus.

Smokestacks

Smokestacks

Smokestacks at the harbour viewed from a bridge spanning across a frozen river. The bridge connects two parts of a place known as Freetown Christiania. I visited Freetown Christiania during my stay in Copenhagen, and I must say it’s one of the best experiences I have ever had in Christiania. I will write more about the visit in my travel blog :)

Traffic signal

Traffic signal

Graffiti and vandalism is common in Denmark. However, an interesting observation I have made is that graffiti don’t appear just anywhere – the people making them seem to spare public structures and sculptures most of the time. So far I am yet to see a bus stop, with ceiling height glass facades, be vandalised before.

I call that selective vandalism :)

Stockholm

I also visited Stockholm around a month ago, and my Tumblr friend Olle was nice enough to host me. He brought me to art exhibitions and we explored downtown Stockholm quite a bit, too!

View from my window

View from my window

I was seated next to the wing, so when the plane made a turn before landing, I was offered with this fantastic view of the land in the background, behind the wing.

Waiting to board the train at Flemingsberg Station

Waiting to board the train at Flemingsberg Station

Olle and I ran to the train station hoping that we could catch the previous train. We couldn’t, so we waited for another 15 minutes. The trains in Europe are really on-time, so they never wait for passengers to board.

Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum)

Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum)

We passed by the Nordic Museum on our way to Liljevalchs konsthall for their spring exhibition.

Looking down Sveavägen

Looking down Sveavägen

Sveavägen is one of the major thoroughfares in Stockholm. The five buildings on the side of the street have similar look but they’re actually designed by five different architects, from what I could gather from Olle.

Couple by the dock

Couple by the dock

A couple spends quality time with each other at the dock along the river. In the background stands the Nordic Museum.

This is Olle!

This is Olle!

Olle was my host during my four-day stay in Stockholm. I crashed on his guest bed at his apartment in Flemingsberg, which he shares with a girl, Hanna. Hanna is a fashion editor with a magazine, and I think Olle has the coolest flatmate ever.

Benches in the evening sun

Benches in the evening sun

One thing about the winter sun – it hovers very close to the horizon and low in the sky even in the day, so the sunsets in Scandinavian countries are exceptionally beautiful and majestic in winter days. Although extremely short lived, sunsets here are amazingly lovely. The shadows casted by the low sun can stretch for meters.

Achieving the scanned film effect

I have not given much thought about this section yet – maybe I will write a tutorial, and share my actions on this blog soon :) for the moment being, if you have any questions, just ask away at the comments area.

Back and writing again

After a long absence from my site, I’m finally back again. Let me give you a brief update of what happened in my life.

For the sake of continuity and consistency, all entires about my life in Denmark will be found in my other blog, Adventures in Solitude.

Hej, Danmark!

That’s “Hello, Denmark!” in Danish. Yes, as you might have guessed from my tweets and Facebook updates that I have been in Denmark since mid-January. I apologize for the blatant lack of updates on this blog – after I have arrived in Denmark, I’m preoccupied with coping with the cultural shock and appreciating the different way of life over here.

Leaving home

I left home in the morning. My parents drove me to the airport, we had a cup of tea. Lex called, we chatted for a little while, traded niceties and bade each other goodbye. Don’t worry, we’ll meet on Skype when I’m in Denmark, I assured her. As the seconds ticked by, I realized that the time I could spend with my parents was fleeting – every second started to disappear into the sterile, clinical airport air.

My flight was ready for boarding. Holding on to two carry-ons, I walked with my parents to the departure gate. We traded hugs, and I left for the custom checks. The corridor was long, but was brightly lit by the sun. I turned back, and saw my parents waving. Mom has one hand over her mouth – she was crying.

Holding back my tears, I smiled at the custom officers. Terry Mun? The man asked. Yes, I replied. So, you’re going to Singapore? What will you be doing there? I didn’t feel like starting a conversation right now and then. I mumbled an inaudible answer, plopped myself on the chair, and stared at the ceiling.

What am I doing? I asked myself.

Will I miss this?

In Singapore, the true goodbye began. I arrived at the airport, deposited my luggage at a storage shop, and quickly left for the city. I traveled all the way to Orchard Road, taking in the sight, sound and smell of the bustling tropical city.

Will I miss this? I asked myself. I couldn’t find an answer to that.

At Ion Orchard, I exchange a torn tee for a new one. I snipped off the price tag but the shop manager was nice enough to let it slip and gave me a new tee. It made my day. On my way back to the airport, I grabbed a cup of bubble tea, gratefully and carefully drinking from the cup. Usually I would gobble the drink in a minute or two, owing to the humid tropical weather, but this time round I took my time to appreciate the sugary, syrupy taste swirling in my mouth.

Will I miss this, too? I combed through my brain for an answer. I couldn’t find any.

Evening came, and my classmates – Ming, Cheryl, Cho Yee, Marianne and Michelle met me at the airport. We had a picnic in one of the quiet corners in the basement of Terminal 3. We laughed and we talked. We played silly games that we did when we were kids. It was a great evening when we let ourselves go free and silly.

Night fell. We bade goodbye at the airport. I met up with Jaslyn, Wanlin and Stella. All four of us will be travelling to Copenhagen together. At the departure hall, I looked back and I saw my friends.

Will I miss this? There’s only one answer. I will.

Arriving at Copenhagen Airport

At Copenhagen Airport

At Copenhagen Airport

On January 18th, 2011, my three friends and I touched down at Copenhagen Airport, around 7.00 in the morning and looking dazed and tired. The 13-hour direct from Singapore to Copenhagen was too tiring – because of the seven hour time difference, we effectively had a 31 hour day. Despite my repeated attempts to get some decent sleep on the plane – believe me, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Singapore Airlines and I personally think their services are top notch – I couldn’t get any. The in-flight entertainment system kept me fully awake. I watched Inception and The Town, and even had some time to play Super Mario Brothers.

The flight was the first thing that prepared me from Denmark – an endless sea of blue seats with blonde hairs, with a few Asians peppered among the rest of the Caucasian majority. Despite spending most of my adolescent years in Singapore, a globalized country that is never short of seeing Caucasians around, and making friends with many exchange students the previous semester, I was bracing myself from a cultural impact.

More importantly, there was an issue with my residence permit. To the death of me I could never understand why is there a “communication breakdown” (I’m quoting right here) between the Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore and the immigration department in Copenhagen. The latter thought the former had issued a residence permit for me while the truth is that I never got it – and is still waiting desperate for permission.

Up to a fortnight prior to my departure, my parents and I had a few skirmishes and they mainly revolve around the whole residence permit issue. Of course I was sick worried – I called and called the embassy to check on the progress, only to be told that they were yet to receive “explicit instruction” from their Copenhagen counterpart to issue me the permit.

So I ended up travelling to Denmark with a jittery heart and without a residence permit. If I stay in Denmark for more than 90 days, I will be deported. Now I sound like an immigrant.

Aarhus

Terminal 2, Copenhagen Airport

Terminal 2, Copenhagen Airport

Jaslyn, Wanlin and I waited for our flight from Copenhagen to Aarhus. Stella took the train instead.

We arrived at Aarhus Airport, took the bus to Aarhus Train Station. We talked a little more on the bus. Peeking outside the window, my eyes were too busy absorbing the views that I have never seen in my life before – from the endless rolling hills that stretch into the horizon to the quiet and tall windmills along the expressway. More importantly, there was not a single person in sight.

I have never been to a place where there are actually no people in your visual field. In Singapore, we have 6 million people (Denmark has a population of around 5.5 million) squeezed into an island the area that is 10% that of Zealand – there’s people everywhere.

Jaslyn’s mentor, Karen, picked us up at the airport. A chatty girl doing her masters in the molecular biology department of Aarhus University, she is the first Dane that Jaslyn and I truly had a conversation with (the Royal Danish Embassy staff doesn’t really count, since our talk is all about paperwork). We travelled to Jaslyn’s place before going to mine.

Børglum Kollegiet

Børglum Kollegiet

Børglum Kollegiet

I have to say that the dorm I was assigned to is one of the coolest ones around. Jaslyn was a little disappointed when the one she got was pricier than mine, and was further away from the university, but I told her she could always come and visit me if she wanted to.

We have fourteen people living on the floor. Each person has his own bath, wardrobe and bedroom. I really appreciate the degree of privacy that students are given. When I was told that it is impossible to find a two-bedder room in Denmark, I was completely and hopelessly puzzled – in my university dorm, single rooms are a luxury, and most of us live in twin-sharing rooms. So it’s either you get lucky and be assigned the best roommate you can ever have (and yours truly is one of the lucky ones around), or you play by Murphy’s Laws and get the most disgusting, repulsive, abhorrent roommate ever.

I was told that the Danes are private people. I would not want to dwell into this issue right now, but I would say it’s so far one of the truest thing about Denmark I have ever heard. However, I would plead you not to associate privacy with a selfish, self-centered, egoistic culture. The Danish culture is open and accepting, but people draw a fine line between their private lives and their public ones.

Our huge kitchen!

Our huge kitchen!

The reason why I really adore my dorm is that we get the best of both worlds – while each of us are entitled to our own private space on the floor, we have a common kitchen where people cook, dine and hangout together. It’s obscenely huge, and could easily accommodate five to six people cooking simultaneously – although fighting over pots and pans, the oven and the cooking area is sometimes an issue *laughs* We are never short of utensils, though.

Phuong, the Danish-born Vietnamese girl on the floor, was quick to receive me and gave me a tour of the kitchen. I also finally get to meet my mentor, Ane (pronounced as “Ann-uh”  - Danish names are hard to pronounce, believe me), who also brought me around the other parts of the dorm and explained how the laundry works – a total life saver!

My life so far

I have finished the first quarter of my exchange semester, and will be starting my second quarter today. I did really well for my exams, so I’m not complaining! I will write about the academic culture in Denmark soon, but I’m not going to do it now because that will be tantamount to shoving a ten-foot sandwich down your throat.

I have travelled to Copenhagen and Stockholm so far – Jaslyn, Wanlin and I will be travelling to Germany, France and Switzerland during the Easter break. I’m totally looking forward to that!

Talk to you soon, see you guys around!

Christmas Eve

Finally my exams are over! I would say that I’m a very happy man this semester – although my revisions started really late compared to my previous semester, I kind of loved every single moment of this semester.  Be it hanging out with my usual heptameric gang (of 7 members) from my school, or with this bunch of amazing exchange students from different parts of the world, I truly enjoyed the most.

In fact, I would be lying if I didn’t say this is my happiest semester in NTU thus far.

Lunch with Melisa and Susanna

Susanna and Melisa

Susanna and Melisa

Susanna is from Canada and Melisa is from Mexico. Both of them are awesomely funny people. So we’ve decided to have lunch and dessert at this Indonesian restaurant and boy, they serve the best food (and dessert, of course!) ever.

Ayam Penyet

Ayam Penyet

If you ever visit Singapore, you have to try the food from the Ayam Penyet Ria franchise. They have the best chicken and chili. The prices are quite reasonable too – mine was $6.90.

Mixed fruits with blended ice, and green bean with blended ice.

Mixed fruits with blended ice, and green beans with blended ice.

I had the mixed fruits with blended ice, and Susanna settled for green beans with blended ice. Their desserts are seriously awesome, and it would be a travesty if you don’t try them out.

Coffee time at Starbucks

Coffee time at Starbucks

Coffee time at Starbucks with the ladies ;) we decided to settle for Starbucks after milling around the mall looking for things that we weren’t buying. Nonetheless Melisa finally found the charger she wanted, so it wasn’t a lost cause afterall.

Christmas tree at Jurong Point Shopping Center

Christmas tree at Jurong Point Shopping Center

The beautifully decorated Christmas tree outside the shopping mall. The crowd around the tree never ceased, and the constant flow of commuters to and from the MRT station makes it absurdly impossible to snap a good photo of the tree without any people’s heads in it.

Christmas eve coffee time

Later in the day I met with Patrick, Jacqueline and Alvin for coffee after their movie in town. Patrick brought us to Jones the Grocer in the Mandarin Gallery.

Strawberry cake

Strawberry cake

Sugar cubes

Sugar cubes

Alvin's machiato

Alvin's machiato

Patrick's latte

Patrick's latte

We left the restaurant at around 10.30pm and walked briskly to Somerset MRT because we knew the last thing we wanted to happen is to get caught in the crazy Christmas crowd along Orchard Road. Orchard Road is infamous for their annual Christmas and New Year Eve celebrations where random people will start spraying foam and strings into each other. Of course avid party goes will totally love all the action but we didn’t want to get our clothes dirty. Plus, things can get pretty rough when fights break out, or when piss drunk people start throwing up on each other, so the best plan is to plan an early escape.

My heart skipped a beat when we walked past this group of punks who suggested that they try their foam spray on us. Luckily we were walking fast enough and they weren’t quite ready to randomly victimize a passerby, so we were kind of let off the hook or something. Only if I’m big enough, like 6-feet tall, then I could threaten to beat them to a pulp.

On the train back to my dorm, I drowned myself in the songs from KT Tunstall’s 2007 Christmas album titled Have Yourself a Very KT Christmas. I really love all her covers of classical Christmas songs. Fairytale of New York is one of the best covers.

Before I caught the last bus heading back to the campus, I snapped a photo of the same Christmas tree, but now at 11.58pm and when the crowd was reduced to nothing but commuters rushing to get their last buses from the terminal.

Christmas tree at night

Christmas tree at night

Have yourself a very merry Christmas!

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