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.

It’s a wrap!

Sorry for being late for the weekly promised Fonty Friday feature – it’s Saturday already! I can’t believe a week just flied past me that swiftly. The feature went on the one-week break last week because of the length of the post, so now it’s back for good again. For this time, we’ll be having Alta Haas Grotesk, a simple, elegant and neutral sans serif typeface that looks good in almost any context. Just a tip – I’m currently using the font for the development of my next WP theme, so you know how useful it is to me (and that’s why I’m recommending it).

Fonty Friday - Alte Haas Grotesk

The typeface author, Yann le Coroller, has smoothened out the sharp edges, which is more noticeable in a larger font size. Some of you might not like that feature, but it is the smooth corners that made me fall in love with this font – it distinguishes itself from other sans-serif typefaces partially because of this cute visual gimmick. He has been working in the broadcast industry for more than 10 years as a creative director and a 2D/3D animator, which explains the simplicistic beauty behind the font – it’s a wonderful combination of creativity and simplicistic idealism :)

You should also check out his illustrations, which I find too cute to resist staring at. An added bonus – he also loves photography!

Life updates

Okay, so here’s the part of the post where I say things that are rather general, mundane, semi-rant in nature and will make you crave for the powerful, enlightening effect of caffeine (in simple terms, it’s boring). To make things a little less painful, I’ve made a list instead of ramble on and on (surprise!):

  1. I’m working on a new WP theme for this blog. It’s taking longer than usual and I’m stuck in the designing stage. I am also concurrently converting it into XHTML/CSS (notepad is my saviour for hand-coding), has been testing it in Firefox 3, Safari 4, Chrome 1 and IE7. So far so good, hasn’t lost a lot of hair yet. I’m still thinking whether should I add IE6 compatibility.
  2. Confirmed the trip to the Perhentian Islands with my aunt – my brother and I will be heading off to the lovely tropical islands on the 5th of June. We’re already too excited about it… and it’s still 3 weeks away. Containing all the excitement is very, very painful. For the past 2 decades, we’ve only been to Genting Highlands and Penang – my parents are not the travelling kind of people, so yep, little variation in holiday destinations.
  3. I was outraged at the level of meritocracy (or the lack thereof) in my own country. The government finally said ‘the most honest thing I have ever heard’ (to quote my friend, Lee), quite true. The current selection of the public service criteria has a 60% weightage on RACE and 20% weightage on MERIT. My goodness, do they even call that scholarship? Total bullshit. That’s why they have people like me running over to Singapore, open heartedly embracing their way of education. I wonder if they’re smart enough to know the huge brain drain taking place. Perhaps not.
  4. Malaysia has its taste of the H1N1 scare – we have the first confirmed case. Tonight I received messages from relatives that there are two more confirmed cases in Penang up North, but I’m not going to speculate. 199 people were aboard the flight from US (via Stockholm) to Malaysia, only 39 or 40 people voluntarily showed up for checkups and quarantine. What are the other 150+ people doing? Cowards.

Just in case you haven’t notice, 2 out of 4 points are me ranting. Told you, it’s a semi-rant section, heh.

A taste of Penang food

Today my family headed out to a huge shopping mall located in the heart of an even bigger suburban sprawl. It’s called One Utama (locals call it One U), Utama meaning main, importance, first, priority in the Malay language. When we were searching for parking lots at the basement, the inevitable verbal argument between mom and dad happened again (my brother and I are so totally not surprised). When pampered with too many parking lots, they can actually get very, very picky with what lot they want to park the car in. For the next 30 minutes, mom walked ahead of us while dad walked behind us. Tension sliced the air… and my brother and I dreaded this kind of situation. Soon after dad hugged mom in the shoulder and well, problem solved. I think they’re going to be an interesting couple when they age gracefully, haha.

Till my last breath I bet I still couldn’t understand why my parents love heading to shopping malls early in the morning – the shops aren’t opened for business yet, let alone the restaurants and cafes. And they keep whining about the lousy customer service because ‘people should open their shops earlier on weekends to accomodate for the crowd’. The problem is, there wasn’t any crowd that early in the morning (early as in the definition of yours truly, a university undergraduate who sleeps till 2pm on weekends).

We finally settled for Little Penang, a nifty little shop in the old wing just above the ground floor. Located in a rather obscured corner, they serve excellent food and it’s a shame that they’re not getting as much customers as they deserve to (and you must have guessed, I’m promoting their little cafe).

Fried fish and coconut milk rice

Fried fish and coconut milk rice

Mom ordered their famous nasi lemak (coconut milk rice) with fried fish. Nasi lemak is a dish sold in Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Southern Thailand. In Kuala Lumpur, it is called the national dish, a national heritage of Malaysia. The name is derived from the cooking process whereby rice is soaked in coconut cream and then the mixture steamed. Sometimes knotted screwpine (pandan) leaves are thrown into the rice while steaming to give it more fragrance.1

Nyonya rice with spicy fried shrimps

Nyonya rice with spicy fried shrimps

I love curry chicken, and was offered a choice between nasi lemak and nyonya rice. I love their nyonya rice because it comes with fried spicy shrimp which makes the meal even more appetizing. I like it!

Hiking again. I promise, final serious post about hiking!

Ah, I hope I’m not boring you to death by writing about hiking again! I understand that some people are not particularly fancy about that – like my brother. When I warmly extended the invitation to him, who has just finished his mid-year papers, he brushed it off with a remark that mountain climbing is boring and the list goes on. I guess he’s just not that kind of an ‘explorer’ person, let alone being one that appreciates nature (all he appreciates is the inventor of computers, the Internet, PlayStation Portable and DOTA – lol!).

Aunt and the poor, burnt forest - a HDR image.

Aunt and the poor, burnt forest - a HDR image.

We revisited Gasing Hill, walked pass the burnt patches of the forest and examined the aftermath of the fire. While many plants were fried to crisp, the area is starting to teem with life again. An ants nest repopulated a charred tree trunk, and when we pried over some of the bark, there were still some cooked ants inside as the result of last Saturday’s fire started by drug addicts. Mother Nature will give them really bad karma for all the stuf they’ve done to the forest.

For this hike, we managed to get up the observation tower (it was fully-occupied by tired hikers last time, with little hope of giving up the precious space above there so we had to move on). It is narrow, around a meter wide at the top platform, but around 3 to 4 meters long. Good thing that it offers an unadulterated, scenic view (not panaromic though since there are still trees around blocking the view) of the area around the forest reserve.

A split toning experiment... gone wrong.

A split toning experiment... gone wrong.

What you see above is a desperate attempt to replicate the split toning experiment in black and white photography coupled with a pseudo-HDR image made from the same RAW file. Epic fail, but tinkering with PS for 45 minutes struggling with this single photo gave me some hands on experience of split toning, teehee. Somehow I dig the noise on the sky (I darkened the blue during split toning to achieve the dark sky), but the halos around the buildings are a big NONO. Looks like I’ve ruined the view of the telecommunication towers on the tallest peak in the forest reserve, whooopsy daisy.

Aunt on the suspension bridge.

Aunt on the suspension bridge.

Arriving at the suspension bridge, we all agreed that we should take another photo of her. In the previous trip, my hand shook and to make things worse, I accidentally set my camera to shutter priority mode, fixing the shutter speed at 1/15th of a second. Yikes.

  1. Traditionally, this comes as a platter of food wrapped in banana leaf, with cucumber slices, small dried anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, hard boiled egg, and hot spicy sauce (sambal) at its core. As a more substantial meal, nasi lemak can also come with a variety of other accompaniments such as chicken, cuttlefish, cockle, stir fried water convolvulus (kangkong), pickled vegetables (achar), beef rendang (beef stewed in coconut milk and spices) or paru (beef lungs). Traditionally most of these accompaniments are spicy in nature. Nasi Lemak is widely eaten in Malaysia, even as a dish served in Malaysian schools. Nasi lemak is a common breakfast dish, sold early in the morning at roadside stalls in Malaysia, where it is often sold packed in newspaper, brown paper or banana leaf – Wikipedia.
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