July 9, 2009 05:10 by Adrian

Hey guys and gals!

              This will be the final part of our multi-part article on our trip to Phuket.. Hope the articles are informative and the pictures captivated you as we bring you along 'virtually' to Phuket..  

             There are many many attractions in Phuket, such as temples and the amazing night life such as the famous Tiger Show.. We did sample the night life at Bang La Road.. cocktails go for about RM15-RM20 with gals dancing on counter tops.. and was introduced a bar game that uses a wooden box and 2 dices something like the Shut The Box picture below.. 

  

For those who haven't played, its quite simple and helps pass the time.. basically you just roll the dices and flip over the number that you choose from either

  • The lowest single dice number
  • Sum of both dices

If both options above has already been flip, then its game over.. so the objective is to keep on rolling until you get all 12 numbers flipped.. sounds easy right? but nobody got up to 9 that night.. closest was 8 in a row .. 

Getting back to the night life scene, there are plenty of bars at Bang La Road.. with one of the most talked about attraction is the ever so famous Tiger Show, probably only second to the other famous show the Ah Qua or Transvestite show.. didn't get to watch either tho.. maybe next time.. Cool 

       In Malaysia, some of our roadside snacks are things such as Goreng Pisang (Banana fritters) or Goreng Keledek (Fried sweet potato) .. but here, we found this, Banana Pancake.. that you can choose from an assortment of different add-on ingredients.. I've tried the Nutella and as well as Honey .. not bad actually.. if you find one, do stop and give it a go.. Smile 

After checking out from the hotel, we made a stop at the famous Pon Tip sea shop which is actually along the road from Patong towards the Phuket International Airport..  

Yeah... you get a large ass fish sawadikuping you when you enter.. this place sells a helluva variety of dried foods from nuts to dried sotong (squid) to dried meat floss and even fresh honey.. Lets take cashew nuts for an example, you can get the typical roasted variety, but you can get those anywhere.. so I end up getting the wasabi flavored cashew nuts.. whao.. its really wasabi flavored plus the kick.. Cool 

With typical Thailand style of customer service, every one of the different food types comes with a sample in a small plastic container.. so feel free to sample and decide...

Anyway, you buy 10 packets, you can get 1 item free which is their fried anchovies and also entitles you to a lucky draw.. which in my case got me another packet of.... fried anchovies.. oh well..

So all in all, I bought like 12 packets in a large big plastic bag.. which I then realized, damn.. How in hell am I going to stuff all this into the luggage? seriously there was no way to hand carry or stuff it anywhere..

Of course, the friendly staff at Pon Tip already had the answer.. 'Sir you want me to box it for you?' I'm like.. box? what do I need a box? until I realized their box is a shipping ready packaging.. they even have their own special Pon Tip box that you can write your name and other information on a pre-printed area on the box..  

I initially thought.. not bad.. they taped it and I thought it ended there.. but no.. they even put 2 plastic belts over the box (picture below) for added measure.. and best of all.. its all free of charge..   

That's the wonder of my trip.. as a tourist, I felt so taken care of.. mostly due to the pro-active measures to help resolve typical touristy problems such as the pon tip packaging issue above.. 

So off we left Pon Tip and made our way across the road to newly opened shopping area.. its mostly branded items with discounts but then again I could have gotten this back in Malaysia.. the only difference is that any VAT I pay here I can reclaim it back at the airport..  

Couldn't resist taking the above shot.. when taking a silhoutte type image, if its not something easily recognizable, its best to have the foreground slightly lit (not too brightly as it will look fake as the sun is backlighting the foreground) .. meter the foreground and place it about 2-3 stops down.. the above image wasn't photoshop and that lens flare is genuine... this crazy lens, even with the sun shining directly at it only created that tiny lens flare.. 

Lens flare is ok when you take pictures like the above as its a natural thing, what you don't want is lens flare without seeing the light source.. that would look just wierd.. and of course keeping the lens flare to minimal will prevent distracting the viewer while giving it a natural look..

So in the end, like all journeys, everything comes to an end.. leaving Phuket was really difficult, not only for the beautiful beaches but for the warmth of the people there.. their hospitality is just something that we on this side of the border got to dig deep to learn and improve.. 

We touched down at LCCT at about midnight..  and was greeted with a walk on the tarmac spanning the length of the entire LCCT terminal! only to exit and to walk back the entire of the LCCT terminal towards the bus station.. in all seriousness, we literally walked around the LCCT terminal.. only to be informed that the we have to wait for an hour for the busses which was originally stated to leave every 30 minutes.. their excuse? all of a sudden too good a business until 2 of their reserve busses got used as well..  One would expect that the Air Asia bus operators should know the number of flights arriving at a certain time and do a better job at planning..  rather than making tourists wait for 1 hour in the middle of the night!

To add further insult, when the bus finally did come, everyone pushed their way into the bus..  some tourists had to be booted out of the bus as it was full..

sigh... 

'Welcome to Malaysia'   

Cheers,

Adrian Y. 


July 4, 2009 03:31 by Adrian

Hey everyone!

        Ok now, this entry is specifically for some of the close up flower shots and some of which was converted to 1024x768 resolution, suitable for wallpapers. If you require any of the pictures at a different resolution fitting your screen size, just drop me an email here  

        The flower pictures are taken at the Holiday Inn Phuket hotel located @ Patong Beach.. there are tiny fishes in the man made pool.. those tiny red lines in the water are the fishes.. 

         Anyways, enjoy..  

To download the above picture as a wallpaper 1024x768, click Here (183.84 kb)

The below shot is a close up of the shot above.. the crazy details that can be retained by the AF-S Nikkor 14-24 F/2.8G ED lens is simply amazing.. I could zoom in further to the bee and have its shape in sharp lines and not blury ones..  the color and contrasts is also accurate and lovely enough to capture nature's beauty.. 

To download the above picture as a wallpaper 1024x768, click Here (198.08 kb) 

To download the above picture as a wallpaper 1024x768, click Here (172.74 kb) 

And below is the wallpaper of the scenery taken on our Phi Phi Island tour in our Trip To Phuket - Part 4 article. 

 
To download the above picture as a wallpaper 1024x768, click Here (167.41 kb)

One more article and that's it folks.. stay tuned..

Cheers,

Adrian Y. 



July 1, 2009 11:56 by Adrian

Hey everyone!

          Hope everyone's all well and good..  this entry will be a collection of shots taken at Patong beach.. below is a dreamy picture of a really long row of beach chairs stretching to quite a distance towards the other end of the beach..  the dreamy effect isn't created by photoshop but rather something more natural.. 

The early morning view of the beach.. the image is aimed to show distance and depth flowing towards the mountain.. a sand trail would be perfect leading towards the mountain but since this is a holiday shot, and to the other fact that we didn't have the beach to ourselves to 'set up' the perfect shot, this is as close as we could get.. 

The water is just so great, it doesn't smell like what we get in Port Dickson and its just clean.. the waves rushing water over our feet in nature's own rythm along with the spectacular skyline, I decided to take a shot of just that.. 

The below shot was taken with a slow shutter speed at 1/13 sec to give the impression of water flowing.. the upper corner was purposely left blank or in this case the view of the sand as this will create the feel of water rushing upwards towards the beach..

Sometimes as a photographer, I wonder when will I start being just a tourist and just take shots as it is rather than worry about all these tiny details like what goes into every other of Ardent's images..  

These few shots below are during sunset at Patong beach.. the sky was less than ideal as most of the sunlight are obsecured by clouds.. normally what I look for is for that golden 5 minutes but even at that 5 minutes, the shape of the sunset isn't perfect.. far from it.. but what to do? as photographers we are also bound by nature.. and also bounded by $ (can't spend like a month every day taking sunsets until getting the perfect one, tho would sound fun) 

So the above two shots are typical tourist type shot.. but what I wanted was to show the power of the sea amid the backdrop of a beautiful sunset.. kinda like how nature can be so beautiful and destructive as proven in the 2004 tsunami..  

The below shot was taken with the waves going towards the beach.. what I wanted is to show the tranquility of the empty beach against the moving flow of the waves.. to achieve the desired shot, the below shot was taken with 1/3sec at 14mm exposure hand held.. as a trained photographer, 1/3sec even at 200mm zoom is possible but standing on the unstable sand and just coming off the boat trip from Phi Phi island which made me continuously sway even on solid ground made things very tricky indeed..

But again its all about timing and knowing how to get control of your body.. wasn't easy but there it is..  an image of a moving wave crashing towards the tranquil beach.. 

Now coming back to that initial imagery of a wave rushing to shore against the beauty of the sunset sky..  with again 1/3 sec exposure, and timed to perfection, the below shot is created...  this in within the 5 golden minutes just before sunset.. the serenity of the skyline is offset by the rushing power of the incoming wave...

Now with that above shot safely tucked in, some creativity is added in to further add depth and enhance the wave motion further. 

And the final shot, which is meant to capture the final landscape sunset before the final golden minutes are up..  

To conclude, the images are meant to create depth and mixing power of movement against the calm serene and beautiful skyline.. the above pictures aren't blured with photoshop just some minor enhancements in contrasts as my camera is set to 'Standard' and not 'Vivid' so as to allow me to control the contrast later.

I hope that you all enjoy the above pictures and understood the creativity and art direction that I was aiming to create... 

Cheers,

Adrian Y. 


June 30, 2009 09:59 by Adrian

Hey hey!

           Ok.. there is no way that I can not talk about the food in Phuket.. especially sea food! so is it true that the sea food there is cheap and fresh? well.. how can I put it midly.. DAMN YES! oops..  my bad.. Cool

           Hehehe.. so yes, one should sample the lobsters and prawns.. the fish over there is somewhat comparative to Malaysia.. probably due to the fact that in Malaysia we import lobsters and large prawns while fish we have plenty..

           So below is the first dinner I had at a restaurant along Song Roy Pee Road (the road just behind the road along the beach).. 100gm of lobster and prawn costs about RM15 which includes the price of cooking..  so we had 2 of the largest prawns I ever saw, one BBQ and the other steamed.. I advice going for the steam version as the meat is much more tender and sweet, the BBQ although different in taste, can get quite hard easily when it gets colder as most of its moisture is drawn out from the meat by the fire. 

 

Close up of that large prawn.. damn this these ought to have a mandatory chollesterol check..  

And of course being in Thailand.. one needs to have the ever so famous and authentic tom yum thai style.. yuuumm... tho unfortunately been down spiced as most foreigners can't take the authentic spicy version.. even when requested to be most spicy, it came out just so-so..  

The above, tho looks like a novel way of serving tom yum.. its quite bad in terms of design as the ladel provided was slightly too large to effectively scoop out the soup..  

Ah.. then came the king of all... the lobster.. steamed with garlic.. wheeeeeeee  my god its large and full of meat..  there was once I've taken lobster back in Malaysia only to find out that the shell is huge but the abdomen where the meat is contained is small in comparison.. but this is obviously not the case.. 

On the 2nd night, we went slightly further down the road, just past the bangla road intersection and found those open air restaurants.. this place charges even cheaper.. at RM10 per 100gm.. the seafood selection is further in the shop where you get to pick your selection of yummilicious and chollesterol laden crustacean to fill your tummy.. 

I find that this place better than the first night's dinner.. the only downside is that there isn't any air-con option but there are tons of big fans to keep you cool.. 

This time around we skipped the prawns and substituted with 2 crabs instead.. notice how long that lobster whisker is?  As for me, the green curry isn't so yummy and ended up being isolated while the other dishes get clean off the plate..

So in the end, don't go to the restaurants facing the beaches (costs about RM 20 per 100 gm) but rather the road before that.. walk past Bang La Road for even more value for money sea food at RM10 per 100gm.. 

There's a few more pics left in this Phuket trip of ours.. till then..

Cheers,

Adrian Y. 


June 26, 2009 06:09 by Adrian
Hey hey!
 
        This is part 4 of our trip to Phuket.. this time around we are going Island hopping via speed boat via Andaman Leisure Phuket.. Its a full day tour.. Click Here for the itinerary.. as a short run through, we'll be going to Maya Bay, Loh Sa Ma Bay, Viking Cave, Hin Klang Reef, Monkey Beach and Khai Island..
 
        There are a few benefits in choosing this tour via speedboat from this company.. :-
 
  1. Their boats are new with Honda latest and highest spec V-Tec 3.5 liter V6 (4 stroke SOHC) generating 225bhp x 3 engines (675bhp- Get there faster, more time for you to enjoy at those key locations.. other tours may use only 2 engines or some even opt for the large tour cruisers.. whatever it is, you can save money but end up spending most of the time wasted on the boat travelling.. If you can spend the money to come to Phuket, you'd prefer saving a few bucks and waste precious vacation time bobbing down on the waves? 
  2. They depart from the hotel at 9am where as other tours start at 8am.. at least you can party to a reasonable hour the night before.. the last thing you want is to go back and sleep at 11pm for the tour the next day.. 9am, enough time to wake up and eat breakfast.. yum.. time to munch and chew too!
  3. Because they depart an hour later and faster speed of travel.. we end up reaching key locations at 'odd hours'.. usually before or after the crowd has left.. 
  4. We get to depart from the Royal Phuket Marina and not the Phuket Harbor.. which is much closer to Phi Phi Island, closer to Patong Beach and with lesser crowd and hassle.. plus helluva view of all the expensive yachts
So in the end, we get to wake up late and spend more time at key locations when the crowd is low.. for a price of course..  Anyway.. below are the series of images of the tour..  
 
First up at 9am.. we got pick up by one Mr. Sopol in a 10 seater van.. below is the first image of the series that shows us travelling from Patong beach towards the Royal Phuket Marina.. 

 
Ahhh.. reaching the Royal Phuket Marina.. How I wish to have gone here at night.. notice the black bands in the middle of each coconut trees.. those are spot lights aimed up and down the tree trunk.. if one would have driven this road towards the Marina at night, he/she will be guided by lighted coconut trees on both side of the road right up to the Marina..  romantic and beautifully landscaped.. best of all, clean and tidy.. 
 
 
Once reaching the Marina, all of us were tagged and given a specific number.. mine was 4.. this was later to help the organizers identify and guide towards the specific boat / tour that we are suppose to go.. no mix matches on this trip.. unless one swap numbers with someone else..  
 
 
Above picture is the view from the drop off point.. right infront of the Andaman Leisure Phuket main office.. Royal Phuket Marina is a small resort in its own right specifically catered for the rich people who park their boats / yachts / multi-million dollar floating babe magnet at the marina..  
 
 
 
So once entering the HQ of Andaman Leisure Phuket.. there's free coffee, tea and even sea-sick meds all ready for your morning consumption.. the sea-sick meds is new for me as all my usual sea tours, you are on your own as far as meds are concerned.. but this place gives you plenty..  And oh yeah, this is also where you make your wallet lighter.. the payment counter is located here as well..  
 
A walk around the Marina will yield the following views..
 
 

 
 
The above is the centre resort courtyard .. each building has their own specific key card access..  
 
Below is the view of the marina.. beeautiful..
 
I'm just happy that the skies are all nice and blue as the first day reaching Phuket, it was raining and has been apparently the few days prior to that.. luckly it stopped when I'm around.. hehehe thank you weather! 
 
 
 
So close to 10am, we are all gathered up for our briefing of where we'll go and what to expect.. our expedition briefing is broken down to two groups, one group which is briefed by another fella in Russian for the Russion speaking no english crowd and the other which is led by Mr Cooper (the guy in torquise shirt, showing us the map of Phi Phi Island).. this fella is very hillarious more so because of the way he speaks English.. he's been doing this for 8 years..   
 
 
 
Soon after we all took photos for insurance purpose.. which we get the option of buying the photo at the end of the tour.. sounds fishy but its a tourist thing anyway.. after snappy snapp, we walked down to the pier and towards the boat named 'Banjamas' .. which stands for.. like hell I know.. hehehe.. 
 
 
 
See those lovely high performance outboard motors?  
 
 
 
 
As a tip for those boarding such boats, its best to sit on the side of the boat rather than sit right infront of the motors.. due to the rough sea, people sitting there get the most splashes of water.. so unless you like to get splash with sea water, try sitting deeper in, I sat just behind the captain's chair..  
 
 
The above view is what you'll get zipping past islands as we travel 40+ km towards Phi Phi Island.. a trip that lasts about 1 hour.. if you can imagine 1 hour on a speedboat such as this, anything else would have taken twice as long.. we've zoomed past many boats with 2 engines..
 
Oh yeah another plus point of going around on a speedboat is that even due to the large waves during this time of year, its not a big problem as speedboats are meant to go through the waves and not up and over.. even so the journey is akin to a roller coaster bobbinb up and down as each wave hurl the boat over the water.. and also the waves slow the journey down as well.. for every 5 meters going forward, the wave will push you back 1 meter (as an example) ..  
 
 
 
Yep.. the each of the 3 engines are revved up to 4.5 thousand revs per minute or RPM..  this picture was taken with the 18-200mm lens zoomed in between the captain and the throttle control while bouncing up and down on the rough seas.. part of being a photographer is patience as it all bores down to timing..  there will be a time when the jostling up and down on the boat is at its lowest point, that is when you take the picture.. on this picture, unlike the usual leaning against the wall to get increased stability, this situation doesn't have any 'stable' place to lean on as the entire boat is the one moving about.. in such situations, keep your body away from leaning and just rely on using your body to 'go with the flow' .. kinda like doing a panning shot while moving up and down instead of side to side..  
 
Below is the view of the wake generated by the boat.. as earlier mentioned, try not to sit where the small kid is sitting.. those poor chaps all got soaking wet even before reaching the first stop.. we were the only asians on tour.. mostly from Russia and America..
 
 
The first stop is the Viking Cave.. waters around this area is calm as its protected by the island.. 
 
 
 
 
Our tour guide Cooper threw in some bread into the water and to our amusement saw a shoal of fishes going at it.. 
  
 
Zoomed in at 150mm, this close up of the fish was taken amid slight movement of the boat.. no biggie for us.. the below picture was taken seconds before the piece of bread disappeared entirely..  luckly these fishies weren't phiranas.. 
 
 
 
The view after the Viking Cave.. notice how shallow the waters are.. its low tide..  the water is absolutely beautiful.. and if you gone with a bigger boat, there's no way that the boat can go to these shallow parts..
 
 
 
We later saw some old fashion boats.. its mainly for small groups, usually couples.. kinda like the gondolas you get in Venice.. but not quite there.. 
 
 
Soon after, we reached the ever so famous Maya Bay where the movie 'The Beach' with Leonardo DiCaprio stared in was filmed..  
 
 
 
Maya beach is very popular as you can see by the number of boats parked.. the beaches are absolutely lovely.. clean white sand.. clear waters that doesn't smell (unlike the ones found in certain places in Malaysia) .. here situates only a ranger station which provides the only non nature lavatory.. Cool
 

 
The picture on top and below are quite good for wall papers which I'll provide at the end of this multi part article.. but just to highlight how subtle changes to composition can greatly alter the 'feel' of the picture.. take the above picture, everything looks balanced right? now look at the picture below.. the only difference is that I moved the image slightly towards the right which removed the hills on the left of the image..
 
All of a sudden, the image looks 'unbalanced' as if its right side heavy? although the boat is in the basic photography 1/3 rule.. balance is also required.. I purposely taken the picture below as an example.. this same rule applies when taking group photos, I've seen photos that are one side empty.. the photographer would give an excuse that it's 'different angle' but its all bullshit.. an image must be balance for it to look good.. that's what we human look for..
 
Now you know.. Wink 
 
 
After relaxing at Maya bay for I think 30 minutes or so, we moved on towards Monkey beach.. in all seriousness, Monkey beach is as the word is, a beach filled with monkeys.. I've never figured what's so special about this place.. just find an island, dump some monkeys and poof.. you get a tourist destination? damn you white folks..
 
Anyway, Cooper informed us that the monkeys kinda attacked the tourist on 2 recent tours there and adviced that we took shots only without getting off the boat.. nothing special except we noticed one interesting monkey drinking cola..  

 
 
The time saved by not hanging around Monkey beach, we ended up spending more time snorkling at Hin Klang big reef..  the waters are clear and corals are beautiful.. below is the only shot we took as we are about to leave.. heheh we spent all the time we could snorkling and enjoying one of nature's wonders..  the picture below clearly shows how shallow the reef is and how crystal clear the waters are.. simply beautiful..
 
This reef is the great reef of Phi Phi Island.. there are other reefs but none as large nor as beautiful as this one..  the other best thing is that we are the only boat there! talk about enjoying nature's beauty without the crowd.. for such a popular spot, I found it strange but then again that's why I paid this tour for..  
 
 
After that, we headed to the next destination Phi Phi Island natural resort for lunch..  below is the Tsunami warning signs.. a grim reminder of what transpired on December of 2004..  
 
 
We had a simple buffet lunch while taking in the beautiful open ocean below..  
 
 
Now the final stop after lunch.. Khai Island, also known as Egg Island due to its shape.. its on the way back to the Marina actually so we didn't need to rush back.. we had over an hour enjoying this lovely island until 5pm.. the crowd left before 4pm to rush back to Phuket Harbor..
 
Below is the view from the middle of Khai Island towards where we landed our boat..  
 
 
and below is what you'll see when you turn around..  
 
 
 
Yep.. from one end to the other, its all SAND! and not just any sand..  
 
 
 
I'm talking extremely fine powdery sand..  
 
 
The feeling is just so amazing.. you got to go there to believe it..
 
Actually one funny thing happened, upon reaching Khai Island, there will be a photographer snapping your picture and then selling it back to you I think for bht 200 ... but strangely he didn't take mine or Jacky's.. I wonder why.. could it be that we are carrying big dSLRs? hey.. we photographers also want our pictures taken you know.. dammit.. no luck  Frown
 
Below is the view standing at the other end of the beach.. you can snorkle as well but ended up being too tired and decided to just hang back and enjoy the scenery and cool clear waters.. 
 
 
 
Cheeky us.. you know those wedding photographers that love to take couples at the beach? seriously, its nothing we can't handle or do.. its just really expensive to bring a married couple along with the dress and make up to these exotic locations for a shoot.. I mean you got the money, we can arrange.. no problem Cool
 
Below is our lovely Jacky posing for a typical pre-wedding shoot.. just replace her with the couple jumping up in the air .. and of course minus those fellas in the background.. Tongue out
 
 
Then while taking the above shot, we noticed some things moving around the rocks..  crabs! walking on rocks.. wheee..  

 
 
 
Although we are photographers, it is still our holiday.. so we drowned coconuts! as typical Malaysian, we had to request for spoons to eat the coconut flesh inside.. I guess the white folks don't know about it and just toss it aside after drinking it.. what a waste as its really sweet and refreshing.. and cheap..
 
While relaxing around, our eyes are always scanning for some really good shots.. tho not as hardworking as we would be on project, but still doing it never the less..
 
Below is one of my favourite shots.. the umbrella I was sitting in was the perfect candidate for my shot.. it had a range of interesting colors of set by a bright blue sky and light brown sand.. basically it stands out really well..
 
I took the risk in using the sun as a back light.. no problem for us as we use manual all the time anyway, semi-automatic modes such as Shutter / Aperture priority will usually underexpose the shot, manual we get what we want all the time.. 
 
I propsely exposed what I wanted and through experience resorted to an external flash to further brighten up and bring some color back to the umbrella.. below is the one and only shot taken.. not bad for one shot one kill.. Cool 
 
 
Below is another attempt at a different angle.. same concept apply..
 
 
At about 5pm, we had to leave this lovely paradise and head for the marina.. to be really honest, all of the beaches we went to today were amazing, Khai Island sand is way finer than Maya beach.. tho there is one negative point.. due to the 2004 Tsunami, that huge wave destroyed a lot of corals and most of which ended up washing up inland.. 
 
Tho the sand are all nice and fine.. there are dead coral fragments here and there.. this is the only unfortunate thing and in time, these will improve but its understandable.. at least all the places we went to were all clean of man made litter..
 
 
 
 
The above shots are the one taken on the way back from the boat towards the Andaman Leisure Tours HQ for some drinks and ice cream.. there also you can purchase a coral framed picture taken earlier for bht 200.. 
 
After finishing up, we said our good byes to Cooper and headed back towards the van that will take us back to our hotel..
 
All in all, the money that we paid for.. well we didn't feel short changed, that's for sure.. then again this is our personal experience that we are sharing with all of you.. if budget is a concern, then do feel free to go for the other tours.. I'm sure some of the tours focus on certain places rather than our island hopping trip..
 
Our trip is coming to an end soon.. tho there is still part 5 and 6 which should contain all the downloadable wall papers..
 
Catch all of you guys and gals soon.. take good care ya..
 
Cheers,
Adrian Y. 
 
 

June 25, 2009 10:24 by Adrian

Hey guys and gals!

        Ok Part 3.. On the very same day we reached the hotel, we had like about 1 hour to settle our things and then get picked up by the Fantasea transport service.. Fantasea which is the ultimate nighttime cultural theme park in Phuket.. the number 1 attraction there.. you can visit their website here . You can reserve the tickets online and pay when you reach the park.. 

        You really have to take your hats of to the Thais.. they even decorate their transport vans.. there were 2 vans, each with their list of passangers to pick up.. we got the one with the nifty elephant.. did you notice that they also semi tinted the side windows so as to make the elephant look complete? I only wish Malaysians would go to that extent to do the job right rather than just 'sufficient'..  in the end, its all about impressions or preceptions.. and me as a foreign tourist appreciates all these small things that all adds up to the big WOW factor..  

The trip is about 40 minutes and soon after you'll reach the Fantasea theme park..  where you take your reservation to the counter for payment.. in the mean time outside the theme park you get the view below..  

The walkway towards the left is the entrance to the theme park.. 

Ok on the right of the above image, is where the bus will stop and you get to depart.. actually someone will open the van door for you and will do a brief introductory of what to do and where to go especially where to go after the Fantasea show ends..  

The whole system is very well done.. from the moment you complete your payment, each ticket is a square card about 2.5 inch on each side.. on it has a sticker which you stick on your clothes for easier identification..  that one single ticket contains information from your buffet table number to the show seat number down to the transport back to the hotel.. all in easy to read mini squares.. very informative and concise.. brilliant design I must add.. to top it off, behind of the ticket has the map of the entire theme park!

All in all, the whole place is so geared to making our lives as tourists so much easier and less confusion..  

Some of the great views just outside the theme park gate.. those koi fishes are really plentiful and the image right above on the right is where you buy fish food for the koi..  

Do note that in the entire place, its all clean! no litter what so ever..  and look, there is even a recycle bin for different types just next to the fish food stand..

There are plenty of games and things to buy.. this is of course a theme park after all.. one of the main attractions is the white tiger show..  and no.. its not that type of 'tiger' show.. and not by a 'white' kwai lo lady..  ok fine, only in Thailand must I actually clarify that..  hehehehe all you perverts! Cool 

Once entering the white tiger exhibit, its rather a multiple exhibit with the white tiger at the end of the exhibit.. the first part is quite dark, which was meant to showcase snakes.. the image below was taken with the flash of and exposed on the brightest spot which was the eyes of the snake (red).. this will create a matching scene with what I saw with my naked eyes..  anything other will just destroy the ambience..  

Although its dark, the walkway is lit lightly on the ground, especially on corners..  

The above is another exhibit.. I didn't take any up close shot as I felt its pretty pointless.. first of all, I'm behind a glass.. of course its for my own safety but in a photographic point of view, it just gets in the way..  like in the image above, just below the dancing stature lit in purple light, has a snake..  I can't use my flash as it'll just bounce off the glass causing a nasty white bright reflection..  nor if I used without a flash, I'll get purple colored snakes..  and besides, snakes isn't anything special so I decided not to waste time and moved on..  

Upon walking further, the above signage was found..  

Its a white peacock exhibit.. the gal in white is really pretty.. Smile the whole places glows and dims in random.. this is purposely done to bring out the white peacock feathers.. as you can imagine,if the white back lighting dims, the white feather of the peacock stands out more..  I took some pictures but due to the white peacock in front of a white background = insufficient contrast to bring out the subject.. unless I post process like crazy..  maybe on a later entry when I have the time.. 

The white peacock exhibit is shared with the white parrot.. noisy buggers.. but both are just so beautiful in its own right.. strangely both birds aren't tied down and aren't caged.. very well behaved!  

Soon after the bright exhibits, we enter the dark walkway.. the red dots on top are bats like design with the red dots being their eyes..  I purposely exposed the above image in such ways to bring out the fire at the end of the walk way..  by making the overall picture brighter, the fire at the end loses contrast with the background (as its now lighter) thus changes the feel of the image..  with this exposure, its dark and mysterious and the fire stands out prominently as if you are in a cave lit only lightly by fire.. such creative and detailed workmanship has gone into creating this side attraction.. can't imagine what the main attraction will look like..

Soon after we are back outside.. the opposite side of the main entrance.. check the photos at the very beginning of this post, we are  at where those statues are.. soon after we'll reach the main white tiger exhibit.. not before being shocked by something... hehehe I'll keep this a secret, you got to go and find out yourself.. 

Again this picture was taken with a glass partition..   this case is different then the above snake case.. well this exhibit is properly lit with white light of sufficient brightness.. which means I can take a picture without flash and with the subject in its correct color.. 

There are two white tigers, one majestically laying at the center of the exhibit.. graceful but yet intimidating..  

I couldn't get one to stare me at the lens.. so this is the best shot I can get.. I guess these tigers are smart enough not to look straight at the tourist in fear of being blinded by those compact camera flashes.. seriously these tigers are huge! its about 4+ feet in height.. if it stands up on its hind legs, its sure to reach 10 feet easily.. but to see these creatures walk, beautiful, graceful and elegant.. and also fearsome.. 

The above is the write up of the white tiger exhibit..

At the end of the theme park is the main attraction..   

Yep.. its called the Palace of the Elephants.. 

This is where the wide angle lens comes in handy..  true that wide angle distorts but if you know that it distorts, you can always find ways to make use of it.. such as the image above.. due to the distortion, I aim to create a in your face type of image.. hence the image of an elephant which almost pops out at you.. 

The above doesn't require popping out.. its all real.. one thing to note is that these elphants doesn't smell! none at all! unlike the ones found in the Malaysian Zoo.. jeez frankly I thought all elephants smell.. I got my picture taken next to the elephant and nope.. nothing.. no smell what so ever.. on any of the elephants.. damn you Malaysian Zoo.. for gods sake take those elephant of yours to the car wash.. or shall I say elephant wash? get em washed! period!  

Ah.. the above image.. can you imagine that's the entrance to the buffet! the design is so beautifully done and so well maintained!  but the bigger surprise is inside..

 

The above 3 pictures is the interior of the buffet hall.. a 4000 pax buffet hall! best of which is that every group is assigned their own table.. no fighting for tables! if this was in Malaysia, we'll have to camp and wait like vultures for a table to empty.. but here? no worries at all.. 

 

Even statues are sa wa di kap ing us...  

One of the lovely ladies that will greet you and show you to your assigned tables..

At about 7.45pm, there will be Bangkok Carnival Village special show..  

Yes the above ladies are.. 'special' ladies.. ahem.. 

No idea what human butterflies got to do with Bangkok but its nice.. 

Ok.. Tiger men! heheh 2 of the tigers got fit abs.. the other 2 got a bit flab.. which flapped around... hehehhe.. times like these I thank god that I didn't bring my 18-200mm lens.. sure the lens will crack.. hehehe 

The above picture is on one of the bars near the buffet hall... 

Ok as night falls, the above is the night lighting of the buffet hall.. 

and of course this is the main hall.. now lit in all its beauty.. I didn't take much as I got caught off guard and had to rush in..

Oh by the way, there were no shots in the main hall as all cameras and phones will be confiscated and you'll be given a colored numbered tag.. you'll just have to give the tag on your way out to collect back your cameras.. the whole place is very well secured so no worries..

The show is simply awesome.. with live elephants, a huge stage, indoor rain and pyro technics.. one of the coollest thing everyone talked about afterwards was the chickens! yes, the Thais have successfully trained chickens! if this doesn't make them gods I sure hell don't know what will..  they trained the chickens to walk from one end of the stage to the next when surrounding them were plenty of distractions and sounds..  

Ok.. when I say chickens.. I mean the livestock versions ok.. the other naughty versions doesn't seem that impressive.. Wink 

Ok.. this is the 10th year aniversary of Fantasea.. by the look at it, it doesn't feel old, nothing is discolored or falling off.. everything is clean and brand new! kudos to the maintainance culture..

Now.. for Part IV.. trip to Phi Phi Island..  

Cheers,

Adrian Y. 


June 25, 2009 04:49 by Adrian
Hey everyone!
 
          Ok now part 2 of our Phuket trip..  A good friend of Ardent, recommended for us to stay in Holiday Inn Phuket which is located in the map below marked in a red outline..  There are two parts of Holiday Inn, first is the Main Wing which is where we are staying, the entrance is located with a green X .. the other section is the Busakorn wing (colored yellow within the red outline)  which was under renovation, scheduled to be open on 31st August 2009.. its entrance faces the main road, marked in tourquise X .
 
 
There are some nifty location benefits in staying at this hotel, such as : -
 
  • It is located on one of a few roads leading straight to the beach, no more walking with sandy slippers.
  • Has a private access to the beach for hotel guests.
  • Security will stop traffic for you when you want to cross the road towards the beach!
but its further away from Bangla Road.. so if you plan to party more then a nearer hotel would be better..  but these are just benefits from where the hotel is located.. 
 
We soon arrived at the hotel and below is the view of the hotel Main Wing reception..   
  
 
Its not particularly huge but the wavy wall inprint behind the reception creates an illusion of space.. the above picture was taken to expose the wall correctly.. the lobby isn't lit as brightly as the wall, so to bring your attention towards the wall.. 
 
 
The above exposure shows the main lobby, all I can say is that the lobby has a welcoming feel with earth tones rather than those bright marble floored hotel lobbies which although feels grand but lacking soul.. 
 
Check-In process was done pretty smoothly, just a print out reservation, passports and credit card.. the lady that attended to us was amazingly friendly and attractive at that.. One of the things that strikes me was her overwhelming enthusiasm when she answered 'We are the number 1 hotel in Patong beach' to a question I posted to her.. Such passion, most people I know in Malaysia just work for the money... but here? its just different..
 
Another thing that caught me off was the hospitality.. it feels so genuine.. not the robotic 'Thank you please come again' kinda expression.. but rather the warm welcoming feel of a warm blanket on a cold night.. 
 
Usually the guy who brings up the luggage also shows you to your room.. but in Thailand, that lovely reception lady personally took us up to the room, walked in and gave us a brief introductory tour of the room.. all while giving a warm genuine smile.. I can't imagine she doing this multiple times a day and yet treat each guest like its her favourite.. simply lost for words.. 
 
Below are the pictures of the hotel room that I got..
 
 
 
 
Below are shots a day or two later after housekeeping..  
 
 
 
Its not overly bright, if you want brighter just open the curtain.. the above 2 shots are taken with the curtains closed.. there's sufficient light needed if you need to read the book by the bed (2 tiny but bright spot light for each side of the bed, controlled separately.. good design as it allows one party to read without disturbing the other) .. the whole room has an extremely cozy homely ambience..  
 
Heheehe.. normally hotels I've stayed in will only give you a few pillows but here? my god.. there are plenty, even a boaster.. I didn't even bother with the spare pillow in the closet.. bed is of good quality as well.. not the springy type but firm.. you can roll around without disturbing the person or persons.. Cool
 
The washroom is not particularly huge, yet neatly designed with practicality in mind.. I do love the top shower head.. feels like rain Laughing .. that's in addition to the normal hand held shower head..  
 
 
Yep.. Red Earth shampoos, conditioner, bath gel, hand soap and body soap.. in Malaysia, you get Red Earth only at Sasa retail shops.. its so nice to finally know what I'm getting.. rather than the tiny bottles which can be filled with god knows what..  trust me, this tubes aren't refillable.. 
 
Do notice that there is a vertical light next to the mirror.. actually there is one on each side of the mirror.. this is a godsend if you ever needed to shave in the morning with half opened eyes.. I so hate the top lighting which doesn't help at all..  
 
Another thing, all the tissue paper including the spare toilet paper rolls, all the ends are folded in a flower design..  you can see the tissue box flower design just next to the watermark below.. such attention to detail.. awesome!  
 
 
Oh yeah, the rooms at Holiday Inn all have their own balcony .. to sit in, enjoy the view.. or just a place to dry your swimming gear.. up to you..  I didn't get the room with the sea view, which costs like double of what I paid for my room..  
 
 
Yeah I got the 7-11 view opposite the hotel.. along the road to the beach.. below the balcony is the children's pool area.. 
 
So how about the breakfast? well the breakfast is at the SeaBreeze restaurant..  with a serving of fried rice, fried mee, congee to cereals, bacon, roasted lamb, scrambled eggs and a whole lots more... yum..  the sauces such as tomato and chilli are all from Heinz.. and best of all, 2 coffee making machines..  

 
Cappuccino anyone? maybe a macchiato instead? or maybe cafe latte? also provides expresso and regular coffee.. and best of all, there is an option of 2x Expresso and 2x Regular Coffee..  that will really give you a kick for the day.. more like a lightning jolt.. perfect machine to have in the office .. Cool
 
A must thing in Thailand is indulge in their fruits.. everything is sweet and heavenly..  
 
 
Each day, they rotate the menu from Fish, Pork and Chicken and I guess repeat again... the fried mee is just superb.. can't imagine going to Thailand to compliment them down to their fried mee.. their congee is also damn yummy..
 
Just outside the restaurant is the main pool.. below is the shot from the pool facing into the restaurant and hotel..  
 
 
 
The rest of the shots are those of the pool area.. of course it being early in the morning, the umbrellas aren't out in force yet.. 
 
 
 

 
 
 
And while taking quick snaps of the pool area.. encountered Mr Slug.. 
 
 
All hard at work going god knows where.. I wanted to take a shot that depicts Mr Slug travelling from some place far.. the wide angle lens allowed me to create much depth into the image thus having the illusion of Mr Slug travelling.. the low angle shot gives a unique view.. flash was used to bring out Mr Slug.. 
 
 
 
 
Heading from the pool to the hotel from a side walkway.. 
 
 
Ok, I stayed on the 3rd floor of the main wing.. and this is my view in the centre courtyard.. 
 
 
 
 
The images above is half of the courtyard.. the garden you see above is on the 2nd floor.. below the garden should be a bunch of meeting rooms at the ground floor.. talk about a great use of space.. 
 
The picture below shows the 2nd part of the courtyard which extends all the way down to the ground floor that houses seating places for the lounge..
 
 
 
Ok.. now the view from the 2nd floor garden.. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And below is the view from the ground floor lounge..  
 
 
 
 
 
Ok.. now as a guest of Holiday Inn, despite staying at the main wing, we are allowed to chill out at the busakorn pool..  tho we have to walk a short distance towards the busakorn wing first.. below is the view towards the pool area...  

 

and finally you'll be greeted by the below images of the lovely busakorn pool...   
 
 
 
 
Some of the things to note is that the pool water is pure blue.. no editing of the above pictures..  this is because the pool is exceptionally clean even without using the oh-so-the-common chlorine found in Malaysian pools.. the view while swimming in the pool is simply beautiful.. I've never seen water so clear and blue.. and the best part, the water doesn't smell nor does it frizz up your hair.. 
 
 
So with all that, its no wonder that this is Holiday Inn's throphy case! they certainly worked really hard down to the itty bitty small things.. Its never easy maintaining high standards, as every small little items count.. this hotel really takes care of their guests down to how the ends of toilet paper is presented to us.. this is their level of dedication towards excellence.. something that Malaysians should learn from and for go the typical 'tidak apa' slacker's attitude..
 
I've also taken plenty of beautiful flowers at the hotel which I'll show case in a separate part .. those would make lovely wall papers.. 
 
Coming soon.. Part 3.. [Fantasea Show]
 
Cheers,
Adrian Y. 

January 3, 2009 08:17 by Adrian

Hey ah Hey!

December was filled with events and tons of pictures to process, develop, deliver and post.. there's a huge back log and I'm hoping to get everything cleared and sorted out before Chinese New Year..

There are 2 projects which I've not yet posted up on Ardent's site yet as its still pending delivery / approval from the client and I'm hoping that will be soon.. Can't have too many back logged stuff or it'll just end up in the procrastination bin and will never see the light of day.. you know how that works.. Cool

Ok, lets continue with our Penang's travelog..

This is the view of the famous Penang bridge framed by the hotel curtains in my room..  

Later we headed off in search for food.. which by Penang's standard is never more than a 5 minutes walk in any direction.. mine was just 3 minutes walk out of the hotel..  

I decided to try out the Penang char koay teow.. the sign below is really misleading as the spacing in between the words really would have meant Char Koay Teow + Fried Rice mix.. Cool oh well.. anyway anyone from KL, RM 4 for a Char Koay Teow (small) is kinda standard.. now as in December of 2008 on wards.. gone were the days small = RM 2.50.. price of things have greatly skyrocketted to the planet of belt tightening fetish.. 

 

Anyway to my amusement.. RM4 in this shop in Penang will get you.. about this much..  

I've placed my old and trusted buddy k800i phone next to it for comparison.. tho to its defence, there are 2 big prawns there.. The taste? superbo! There's another famous char koey teow which you'll pay even more and have to wait a good 30 minutes for one plate.. didn't bothered with it as my trusted Penang guide Ben Ng didn't think it was that great to justify the 'suffering' required in terms of money and time just for that..  

Ah this is the 2nd hotel that we stayed in Penang.. Sunway Hotel.. not bad.. located about 1 KM from Komtar building.. tho personally I preferred BayView hotel as its next to Momo, Moist and SOHO clubs... you know.. for logistic reasons... Wink 

I've seen a few famous photographers taking pictures of brides coming out from wooden doors.. and me spending most of my life in KL/PJ area, have no idea where in hell did they get those type of buildings to shoot from.. only did I realize that in Penang, just opposite Sunway hotel, there are rows and rows of these type of wooden door like old school feeling type of buildings..

So I decided to take a snap shot of one.. just put a gal in the middle, shoot it with a wide angle lens and walla.. you get a professional bridal portriat.. cough cough.. or so it seems..  

Ah.. Penang.. in KL we got our Berjaya Times Square.. in Penang.. you'll get the ordinary out of the mill Times Square (without Berjaya = Success wording).. its not open yet tho.. and besides in our trip in Penang, we've never not once set foot into a shopping mall..  

Had to take a picture of this dude.. in Penang, wherever you decide to park your car, there's always SOMEONE who'll ask you to pay a RM 3 car park fee.. that someone can be just about anyone..  

While walking around, at the first corner, this is what I saw.. a row of food stalls just waiting to start business.. it was about 2pm.. at 3pm this quiet stalls will be all busy bees serving thier hotest dish to many paying customers.. 

Walking further down.. I encountered "The Advance Computer Centre" .. Somehow it just didn't work for me..

Went back to the hotel and took some evening snap shots..  

Got to really say, the view is serene and just melodic.. not quite like KL with all the towering buildings around..

The next and final day in Penang.. Mylen brought all of us down to the beach again.. in Batu Ferrenghi.. 

Below is some random gal enjoying the breeze at the beach.. 

And of course a picture of our Penang Macha.. Mylen.. 

Jacky & Clare..  

Enjoying seafood and chicken tom yam.. do be prepared to pay tourist prices for these.. 

And the best of all.. the guest houses along the beach.. the most famous of em all is the 'Ah Beng Guest House' .. Unfortunately there weren't any Ah Lian guest houses next to it.. Frown 

In departing Penang, we decided to take the ferry back..  

Its a good decision as it was already around 6+ and the sun was just about to set which is perfect to take some nice parting wide angle shots of Penang.. 

Ah and at the golden 5 minutes of sunset..  

Ok not exactly perfect but by the time I took that last picture, the ferry was about to dock.. 4 hours later driving in the dark and with continuous rain throughout our journey back.. we finally reach KL at around midnight..

Till the next time..

Cheers,

Adrian Y.