Archives

ethan-tan

Beauty in the Ordinary / Osaka and Kyoto, Japan

A few months ago, my family and I took a 5-day vacation in Japan, visiting the prefectures of Osaka and Kyoto. Even before going there, I have always had a strong fondness for the country and it comes from almost everything it has to offer: the temperate weather, the well-mannered culture of the people, the poetic countryside views, and the modern architecture of its big cities. From the blues of the business suits to the bucket hats of tottering Japanese children, Japan provides beautiful sceneries out of its simple routines. Avoiding crowds by taking the longer, quieter routes through the city, I curated my trip, with the goal of satisfying my love for Japanese serenity. I wanted to find the ordinariness of my subjects’ lives, going through their daily routines: of heading to the bus stop, of returning home from school, of watering their plants – anything that would show both the momentary beauty and supposedly loneliness in mundane tasks. How I went about this task was quite simple: I planned out 3-hour routes around …

new-zealand

Life decisions amidst nature’s calm/Queenstown NZ

“The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.” – Thomas A. Edison My travel down under to New Zealand was already planned at the beginning of this year for two purposes. First, I always wanted to go somewhere new other than Australia (which I frequently visit) and New Zealand caught my interest after browsing some online articles about it as well as seeing pictures of Auckland City from shared posts of my Facebook friends. Second, to think deeply about my life and to make some decisions related to my career path. I wanted to do this in a place where I can be mostly alone and nobody knew me. I was seeking absolute solitude-away from the hustle and bustle of city life-in order for me to concentrate on making some crucial decisions. Besides these, I heard many second-hand stories about New Zealand being a very beautiful country blessed with stunning landscapes. I had to find out all about this firsthand. After four, cold June days of moving around …

mt agung

When the mountain is calling/ Mt Agung, Bali

Weeks before our Bali trip, we had been eyeing Mt. Agung based on the amazing photos we’ve seen online – where other hikers witnessed the sunrise at the mountain peak. Always up for a challenge, we decided to climb Mt. Agung, the tallest mountain on Bali at just under 10,000 ft. We began our prep by hiking along Singapore Macritchie Reservoir , thinking it would fully prepare us; we were dead wrong. The clear difference was in the elevation of the hike. We managed to rope in our friends for our hike as they have previously accomplished a Mt. Batur hike. Our hike got off to a pretty bad start as the driver who picked us up from our hotel got lost while heading to Mt. Agung. Needless to say, we were circling around Bali for a total of 2 hours in the wee hours of the morning. By the time we arrived at Pasar Agung Temple (one of the 3 routes available up to the summit of Mt. Agung), we were already an hour …

The Daily Fix cafe

The Daily Fix / Malacca, Malaysia

Jonker street in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Malacca is, without a doubt, imbued with nostalgia. The vibrant street boasts of antique shops, a growing number of eateries, and fresh concept shops. But truth be told, most people are attracted to this street because of its underground coffee joints. One such shop is The Daily Fix, a café that has an easygoing ambiance combined with historical Malacca vibe. The wall featuring various colorful enamel dishes is a good example of this. The laidback cafe is partly hidden from the busy street as you have to go through another shop to reach the seating area. Mismatched, low-key furniture share the space along with potted plants here and there. These elements come together to offer guests a cool and welcoming respite. The Daily Fix specializes in top-flight roasted coffee and special flavored pancakes (savory or sweet). One of their bestsellers is the fluffy Pandan Gula Melaka, made aromatic with screwpine leaves and local palm sugar. Their mint cake comes highly recommended, too. The Daily Fix is …

south france 2

French Perspective Pt 2 / South France

Chamonix, Mont Blanc. Originally, I never thought I would find myself in Geneva. During the early planning, I was considering flying back to London as soon as I completed my Paris and Nice trip. But due to the expensive return airfare, I had to figure out another alternative. The only option I found was to transit through Geneva, Switzerland. The first thing that instantly crossed my mind was the Alps. And so full of curiosity, I decided to make my way back to the French border from Geneva, heading to Chamonix commune, where the Mont Blanc is. From the airport, I took an hour-ride in a minibus that brought me across the spectacular scenery of the Alps. Travelling in a long westbound highway, surrounded by vast grass fields and snowcapped mountains under the summer warmth, nothing could be compared to such an experience. The bus safely reached the Valley of Chamonix around afternoon time. As a town with 10,000 permanent residents, Chamonix had always been a lively place for both summer and winter seasons. Once …

south france 1

French Perspective / South France

Late summer/France 2013 marks my year of establishment. It was the year when I decided to move to Glasgow for my postgraduate architectural studies. Being in a foreign country for several years has exposed me to a bigger picture of life and that is how Scotland has changed me forever. Everything here is just plain beautiful. From tenements, narrow streets, and take away coffee, to smoky breath on a misty morning, vast highlands, and wide lochs..every moment that crossed my eyes lives in my photos forever. Everything started with a daily documentation, simply photographing my journey as a student abroad. From those works, I developed my visual appreciation. The more I saw, the more I thought of things. Not only about the aesthetics, but also more about narrating what captured my attention. Photos that portray meaning. Every thought that I derived before the shutter was released. All those fundamentals that I acquired along my years of travel years. As I walked, my mind did its own traveling, in a way. European highlands and countryside unveiled …

Mui ne desert

Quiet Haven / Mui Ne, Vietnam

Deserts and beaches in the same location – who would have thought? Now there isn’t a need to travel to the Middle East just to admire the deserts. Vietnam is much closer. A 5-hour train ride from the bustling city of Ho Chin Minh (Saigon) to Mui Ne is an escape to a much quieter and serene location. It’s 4am and we’re up, albeit groggy from a lack of sleep from the previous night. Our time in Mui Ne started as soon as we gathered our things and hopped on the tour jeep that our hotel had booked for us. The wind was flowing through our hair as our jeep made its way to the White Sand Dunes, the first pit stop of our 4-hour tour. There are actually 2 sand dune areas the tour offers among its other attractions. The first orange-hued sunrise rays kissed the sand dunes as we stepped out of the jeep. It slowly rose as we made our way to edge of the slope. Looking out, there was a vast …

exploring Singapore on bike

Discovering Bike Trails and Joy / Singapore

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” ― John Muir When I was much younger, I remember visiting the province and stepping into a river for the first time. I planted my feet firmly and stood still, cautious that the current might cause me to fall. Instead, the river decided to greet me with comfort. The movement of the water felt purposeful, almost as if it knew me and carried away all the petty worries I had as a youth. It’s still one of my favorite memories. That encounter with nature left me feeling connected and cleansed – and all it took was for me to show up. As the years went by, my encounters with nature became rare. Modern life presented itself, and any yearning for the wild was put on hold to make way for other important responsibilities. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found a simple remedy, which still works best for me to this day. In rediscovering the bicycle, a beloved object from …

santa monica beach

A Tinseltown Trip / Los Angeles, California

As a Singaporean whose country is always affectionately known as the “little red dot” on the world’s map, Los Angeles was a place that was way too big for me. It was a ratio of 1 to infinity. Everything here is huge-the roads and buildings in LA are thrice as wide as what I was used to seeing back home. Even the food portions in restaurants and the pigeons in the sky are twice the size than what I was accustomed with. It is a city with endless trails of surprises and possibilities. I found out that it could be dangerously fun while taking detours at Downtown LA, where we stayed. Skidrow Street is known to be sketchy and I can see why-there was a pervasive smell of pee along the alleys, many wandering hobos, and shifty-eyed strangers. But it is the fastest route to Little Tokyo and the place where many awesome food chains and fun events are held. About two blocks away, there is a shop called The Last Book Store, where you …

montigo

Montigo Resort Nongsa / Batam, Indonesia

These days, Batam is the third busiest entry port to Indonesia next to Bali and Jakarta. It has become the favorite resort destination to most travelers and locals alike because apart from its hectic development, Batam still offers a leisurely island escape. This is where Montigo Resort Nongsa comes in to offer their exceptional brand of beauty and service. The resort’s vast architectural expanse of white is gorgeously set against the deep blue Nongsa waters. The 88 villas in this contemporary resort each comes with a personal concierge, for starters. Each villa boasts of uninterrupted sea views through its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a private beach area. Though the beach area is not much for swimming, the infinity plunge pool from your personal space would definitely urge you to dive in. The luxurious 3-storey villas are spacious, with details ensuring clientele’s ease and comfort. The interiors exhibit clean lines and a monochromatic color scheme that’s both pleasant and relaxing. Simple paintings adorn the walls and an elegant four-poster canopy bed is the highlight of the master …