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.

Three days in cloud nine – the aftermath

Three days in cloud nine - the aftermath

Hey there! I’m finally back from my three-day vacation at a highland resort and of course, there’s nothing else in this update except for a handful handpicked photos for you. For bandwidth reasons, as well as to be considerate towards visitors with slower Internet connection, the rest have been tucked underneath the read more tag. Photos are after the jump!

All the photos (except for portraits) in this update will be clickable – they’re merely thumbnails of their larger counterparts, so if you want to see more, be sure to click it! Photos are arranged chronologically, so you’ll more or less be following my itenary as you browse through the photos.

This update will be separated into three separate sections – Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.

Day 1 – Embracing nature

Getting to the highland resort itself means enduring the grueling one-hour drive up the windy (in both sense, that is) mountain road. Although I do have a probational driving license, given that I don’t even dare to navigate the flat downtown roads, dad had no reason on earth to hand the wheels to me. So he drove up, with my mom in the front seat, and my grandparents, my brother and I in the back seat. At a few really tight turns, such as the one in the photo below, I felt as if I was bursting out of the car door.

The windy mountain road

The windy mountain road. Of course, I held on to my camera as if it was my dear life.

I stuck my camera out of the car window and took this shot.

We checked into our hotel room but I remained at Coffee Bean to get my course registration done. After a handful of server errors and bugs I got it done with, and I ran off to my room, grabbed my camera and the telephoto lens and headed out shooting.

I didn’t want to purchase a full day theme park pass on my first day (and it’s already half gone), so I could only stand right outside the border and shoot through gaps in the fences. I took 28 photos in burst mode. I aligned them in photoshop and got an interesting gif animation ;)

Spinner - Animated

Spinner - Animated

On your left is the animated spinner I’ve mentioned earlier! Basically what I did was just to drag each photo into Photoshop workspace and then align them painstakingly with the previous layer. Since it was my first time doing it, I spent around 1.5 hours getting it done.

The thing isn’t perfect because the rate of photo-taking slowed down for the last 2 shots – and the camera felt hot! I wish I could export it as a .swf file so that it can have 16 million colours instead of the meazly 256 in .gif, but I guess I’ll have to settle for the latter first.

I later changed to my telephoto lenses and started shooting the riders flying in the air, all thanks to the reactive centrifugal forces acting on them. Physics never sounded so fun!

Riders flying in twilight.

Riders flying in twilight.

With the shutter speed being set to 1/400th of a second, I was able to capture the flying riders on the chair spin. Shooting against the sky, the bright background helped to make thing easier for me. I adjusted the curves and levels to artificially create this silhouette effect. This photo is one of the clearest out of the 30+ similar photos that I had taken, and I like it how the boy’s contours were largely isolated from the clutter in the foreground.

I then decided to move on to the park outside Theme Park Hotel, trying my hands on nature shots. I spotted this poorly-maintained fountain sculpture in the middle of the garden – the angel looks sad and abandoned. At that instant, I knew that I’ll call it The Fallen Angel.

The Fallen Angel.

The Fallen Angel.

His thigh invaded by moss, chunks of concrete falling off. His right foot is missing, one of his wings were no where to be seen. Cobwebs were drawn, remnants of the morning dew lingering on them. Exposed to the chilly highland climate constantly, the fallen angel was a sorrow sight.

Cuphea hyssopifolia and spider.

Cuphea hyssopifolia and spider.

I squatted down and started taking flower macros. My all-time favourite subjects in the garden are the flowers of Cuphea hyssopifolia, also known as False/Mexican Heather. The flowers are small, the foliage is fine and delicate. In addition, there’s a spider busy combing through leaves and petals for little bugs, I think.

Cobweb, up close.

Cobweb, up close.

Here’s another cobweb I’ve found on a pine tree. I covered my head with my jacket’s hood, poked my head into the foliage and snapped this shot. I was so close to other cobwebs in the tree that my glasses got smeared with them (thank God, NOT my camera :D )

Fresh from the mist.

Fresh from the mist.

Walking amidst the misty garden, the pine trees caught my eye. The wet climate constantly leaves small little water droplets on the tip of the leaves – what you see above is an attempt of mine to take a photo of it using manual focusing and with a flash. I rarely fire flashes when I take photographs, but for this case it seems to make it look nicer.

Sparkles bouncing off the water droplets.

Sparkles bouncing off the water droplets.

Here is another macro shot of a flower, fresh from the mist. I took two photos of the same composition – one with flash and the other without. The one with flash turned out to be nicer, with some light from the flash bouncing off the water droplets back into the lenses. Flowers in Genting Highlands, although not very well groomed or maintained, look drop-dead gorgeous because of the cold weather (my foreign friends describe it as spring-like climate, wow).

Your sweet embrace.

Your sweet embrace.

On my way to First World Plaza, I spotted a couple right ahead of me. I grabbed my camera and snapped this photo – for some reason I like how they are contrasted against the single pedestrians walking in the background. With some photoshop magic, I painted a layer mask over the rest of the image except for the couple to reveal the colours. Oh, and I’m happily single, by the way.

Flying coaster after the heartline rolll.

Flying coaster after the barrel roll.

They have a flying roller coaster named Flying Coaster (how creative :roll: ) installed at the other end of the theme park, and you’ll have to pay around 12MYR to get your ass on that little steel monster. The photo is taken from inside the First World Plaza using telephoto lens – I love the compressed distance between foreground and background objects!

I’ve been on it a few times during my previous visit, and my favourite part of the ride was the barrel roll – it feels distinctly different from the usually vertical loops or corkscrew inversions that I had been on. The train just cleared the second barrel roll after the hairpin turn, and is heading for the next turn. The layout of this roller coaster is rather compact (Zamperla seems to love compact roller coaster) – you can see an identical layout in this Flying Coaster over at Elitch Gardens, Colorado, USA.

Hairpin turn ahead!

Hairpin turn ahead!

Shot using my telephoto lens, the two photos show the expresisons of the riders as the train navigates through the second last hairpin turn. Scream!

Day 2 – Theme park fun!

Waking up from the morning cold, I heard screams from the theme park. It’s open! Crowds are starting to appear throughout the place so it’s the best time for photos. I paid 38MYR for the ticket – not horribly expensive, considering that I’m going to take hundreds of photos later.

Flying carousel, Spinner.

Flying carousel, Spinner.

My all-time favourite subject – the flying carousel named Spinner. Unlike other flying carousel, it has smooth, elegant edges and a lovely colour scheme (my blog logo explains my fetish for rainbows). I blurred out the rest of the image because the people were a little distracting, and I tried to achieve this miniature effect, albeit clumsily done.

A colourful rider.

A colourful rider.

I was snapping away at random people, when I unknowingly took a photo of a colourful rider. I love her… scarf! Very colourful indeed.

Say cheese!

Say cheese!

Oh and here’s a photo of a father taking a photo of his daughter on the ride. Mom looks equally excited too!

Turbo drop against the sky.

Turbo Drop against the sky.

The weater was cloudy and misty for the entire day but there were a few instances where the clouds cleared for a moment – and I managed to capture this rare moment with the Turbo Drop tower as the subject.

Holy mama f#@&! I told you we shouldn't try this!

Holy mama f#@&! I told you we shouldn't try this!

This is one with my favourite photos I’ve taken in Genting Highlands so far. With the all-mighty telephoto lenses and with a shutter speed of 1/500th second, I managed to capture the facial expressions of the riders at the instant where they were dropped from a height of 185 feet. The looks on their faces are just priceless.

Inversion. The first out of two. Hang in there!

Inversion. The first out of two. Hang in there!

I arrive at Magic Mountain. I braced myself against a tree and starting shooting in burst mode as the roller coaster train clears the first and the tallest drop. The train navigates a banked curve and engages the inversion. I wish I was on that ride!

Corkscrew, from below.

Corkscrew, from below.

I kind of trespassed the exit of the roller coaster to get the two photos above. The exit pathway was located almost direclty underneath the first corkscrew so there’s no better place for a clear view of the riders and the train. The photo was already underexposed so forgive me for the lack of details of the riders. It started to rain shortly after the photos were taken. I had to scoot!

Later in the afternoon I bought tickets for the film The Day the Earth Stood Still (featuring Keanu Reeves as Klaatu – what a cute name!) and headed for the cinema with my brother. It was only after dinner that I returned to the theme park to get some evening/night shots done – with my tripod, that is!

Spinner at night.

Spinner at night.

With Zamperla’s rather generous placement of lightbulbs, Spinner looked gorgeous at night! I secured my camera on the tripod and went for the 1-second shutter speed. This shot is the best one out of the 10+ photos I’ve taken – I prefer to have the canopy tilted towards the camera, which reveals the underbelly lights.

Turbo Drop in flood lights.

Turbo Drop in flood lights.

The sky is turning dark. I headed to Magic Mountain again, only to see the Turbo Drop tower beautifully illuminated by flood lights. I love the colour of the evening sky coupled with the reddish hue of the flood lights. When the ride started its freefall, I hit the shutter button to capture this shot, with a 1-second shutter speed. It started to rain again after that, so I was forced to head indoors.

Inside First World Plaza.

Inside First World Plaza.

There’s a view of the interior of First World Plaza. It’s actually way bigger than what is shown in this photo – there are still shops and indoor rides behind the two rows of retail outlets. People started swarming into the mall when the rain out there got even heavier. We have a cold night ahead!

Theme Park Hotel and city lights in the distance.

Theme Park Hotel and city lights in the distance.

The city lights were barely visible in this photo, all thanks to the heavy mist. A block of the Theme Park Hotel is located close to the cliff. The mist was advancing from the far left of the photo, and in a matter of minutes all I could see is just indescript bright mist and nothing else.

When the mist cleared, my brother and I headed downstairs for a sumptuous supper consisting of half-boiled eggs, French toast and a cup of warm black tea over at Old Town White Coffee.

Day 3 – Finale

The day we bade goodbye to the highland resort. We had breakfast, then enjoyed a short morning walk and departed for lunch at a mid-hill restaurant. It started drizzling on our way down via the new Chin Swee Pass, I was a little worried of our car hydroplaning.

Steep hills along Chin Swee Pass.

Steep hills along Chin Swee Pass.

The downhill journey via Chin Swee Pass was a little unnerving – in order to construct the pass, the construction company had to cut through hills and rocks to build the road. What you see above is one of the steepest hills along the road. I was reminded of many landslide tragedies including the recent one at International Hill. The hairs on my back stood.

Genting Highlands from midhill.

Genting Highlands from midhill.

We stopped at mid-hill to have lunch – it became part of our ritual when my aunt discovered the restaurant when they navigated a wrong turn en-route downhill. The peak was partially obsured by clouds, but it looks so heavenly from here. I’m starting to miss the cold air!

Durian testing.

Durian testing.

Mom discovered a van selling durians, a fragrant (well, to love durian is actually an acquired taste) tropical fruit. The ones they were selling were a little bitter amidst the sweetness, but it’s the slight bitterness that everyone digs for – or at least for us, that is. We bought and packed two big durians before heading to the restaurant.

Durian, the king of tropical fruits.

Durian, the king of tropical fruits.

Wow, the durian looks good! Mmmmmph :P

So this concludes our three days in cloud nine!

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