All posts by mintychm

Our favorite town in Greece, Lindos

Almost an entire month has past in 2014 and all I’ve done is to procrastinate. At least that’s an action. Hahaha.

Anyway, our favorite town on our favorite island in our favorite european country. I have nothing but praises for Greece! The walk through the square to get to the Acropolis of Lindos.

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Both LF and I enjoyed the Acropolis of Lindos probably cause it had great views of the sea and its surroundings. Plus the weather was perfect!

The view of Lindos beach on the way up to the Acropolis.

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The view of Lindos from the Acropolis.

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One of the rare times where we ended up with more photos of us than the scenery.

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The perfect frame to travel between dimensions.

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The Doric temple of Athena Lindia.

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Someone was in the mood to pose in his grey tee, grey pants, grey bag and a pair of blue slippers which looks grey from the sand. Hurhur.

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One of my favorite shots of us, 2 shades darker but happy.

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Streets of Taipei

How quickly the days go by. With a blink of an eye, 2014 is here. No time for procrastination. This year is gonna be a great one!

Anyway, random street shots of Taipei.

This is my absolute favorite street shot from the trip. Had to take it in a hurry cause the traffic lights changed really quickly and the only way I could get a good shot was to stand in the middle of the road. I realized that it does take patience to take good shots.

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Early morning at Ximending when the stores have yet to open.

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One of the smaller streets leading out from Ximending.

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Since we weren’t able to check in to our accommodations, we decided to make the best of our early start and headed over to Yong Siak Street to check out the popular cafes we read about online. It was a pretty easy walk getting from Ximending to Yong Siak Street (managed to convince my sis to walk since we were early) and we even managed to check out the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial hall. Yong Siak street, on the other hand, is a completely different story. The street itself and the surrounding streets where the good food is located is incredibly hard to navigate. Even the locals were confused. We did meet really nice people who went out of the way to help us. Like the chef of a bakery who couldn’t get a 3G signal on his hp in the kitchen so he walked out of the cafe just to Google directions for us.

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Pedestrian path on a tiny lane.

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All these thinking about the walking is exhausting. More on the food some other time then. Hurhur.

On a random note. The best way to keep your sim card safe when you change to a local sim card is to simply tape your existing card to your phone or phone case.

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There, safe and sound.

Cite de Carcassonne – Third time’s the charm.. not really

France, Cité de Carcassonne

In the midst of uploading a ton of photos on to Flickr. So here’s more of France, specifically Carcassonne.

It was really out of the way but it was the only place that LF (because he played the game and made it a point to play that game while he was there) had requested so we had to make a trip there. It was totally worth it, one of our favorite towns. Then again, we did liked most of the towns we visited.

We arrived at Carcassonne in the late afternoon to super awesome weather, not too cold with clear blue skies. Checked in and made our way to Cite de Carcassonnee but decided to spend a full day exploring the cite the next day instead. Wrong move. It rained for the next 2 days that we were there. All in all, we made 4 attempts to explore the cite in 3 days and finally went ahead despite the rain.

This was taken when on the day we arrived. Beautiful clear blue skies.

France, Carcassonne

We paid to enter the chateau, watched a film on the history of the fortified city and took a walk around the ramparts imagining that we were soldiers on patrol in a bid to protect our beloved city and its people. Well, the video had my imagination run wild.

France, Carcassonne

France, Cité de Carcassonne

Cité de Carcassonne, France

Just realized that I don’t take many photos when it rains. Figures.

 

My pledge to saying no to shark fin soup

A while back, I had tweeted that I will boycott all weddings that serve shark fin soup. Yet when the time came when a relatively close friend of mine decided to serve that dish at their wedding, I let myself down and failed to stay true to my words.

Yesterday at the wedding lunch when the dish was served, I felt truly upset. Especially when I saw another friend who had always been supportive to saying no to shark fin soup happily slurp down the soup while agreeing that the fin added no benefits nor taste to the soup while another said that the shark would have died in vain if they didn’t eat it.

It makes me really sad that the educated are unable to see reason and make logical choices. A lack of knowledge could be shrugged off. But how is it that people still go ahead with certain choices when they are fully aware about the finning situation?

Very briefly (all these taken from the web):

1) Shark finning refers to the removal and retention of shark fins and the discard at sea of the carcass. The shark is most often still alive when it is tossed back into the water. Unable to swim, the shark slowly sinks toward the bottom where it is eaten alive by other fish.

Finned shark left to die

Finned shark left to die

Finned shark left to die

 

(Photos taken from: http://blog.nativefoods.com/ and http://www.wildasia.org/)

Shark specialists estimate that 100 million sharks are killed for their fins, annually.

Something to think about, how would YOU like it if someone cut off your limbs and left you to bleed to death on the ground? 

2) More importantly, shark fin is completely tasteless and has no nutritional value. In fact there are a number of articles that actually share the high level of toxins found in sharks. Shark fin soup is a tradition but it isn’t essential. Try serving an imitation of shark fin soup if you have to. I’m sure few would be able to tell the difference.

3) Sharks are essential to the ecosystem and they help regulate the quantity and health of other marine life. Being at the top of the food chain, they play a crucial role to ensure that all parts of the food chain lower down are controlled. Currently, the massive quantity of sharks being harvested are depleting shark populations faster than their reproductive abilities can replenish populations.

I guess if farming sharks was a viable option and we could do away with the cruelty of finning. Yes by all means, go ahead. I have nothing against having sharks as a food source. I am however, against finning. A good documentary to watch would be Sharkwater and I strongly recommend watching it.

In conclusion, I pledge to turn down all wedding invitations that are serving shark fin soup. And I shall stay true to my words.

 

THE Colosseum

Right at the top of my to go places in Italy. It was every bit as impressive as what I’ve imagine and I could totally replay the scenes in books there and then.

The exterior of the colosseum. On a side note, Rome is absolutely gorgeous and unlike other cities that I’ve been though. Gorgeous buildings and ruins just about everywhere, it is truly a city teeming with history.

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There arena has 2 entrances, the Northwest gate, Porta Triumphalis where the gladiators entered alive and the Southeast gate, Porta Libitinaria where the dead are being carried/dragged out. The video tour never did mention about where the triumphant gladiators would exit. I assume Porta Triumphalis. Although, it was just a matter of time before it was their turn to leave by Porta Libitinaria.

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The arena was also covered with sand to absorb the blood of the injured as the bloodshed often made the arena too slippery for gladiators to put up an entertaining fight. I’m guessing they weren’t into comedies then.

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Though not obvious from the pictures (at least to me), the colosseum is 5 stories high where seats were distributed according to social rank. No surprises here. The senators were of course on the first floor closest to the action where they sat on marble seats with their names engraved. When they died or were no longer senators, their names would be crossed out and engraved with the name of the next person who got their seat.

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Gladiators and animals were hidden from sight under the arena until it was their turn to entertain the crowd. I somehow imagine gladiators living there in tiny rooms while reading but I guess I was wrong. They lived at gladiator schools.

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Interestingly, the marble that was used to build the colosseum was later removed at the order of later popes to build St. Peter’s Basilica. I did wonder which parts when I was at the church. Given how magnificent the colosseum looked in ruins, I can only imagine how spectacular it must have been build during its glorious days. I do wonder why no one thought of building a structure of that magnitude today. Probably cause it is more profitable building skyscrapers.

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Ending with an edited shot of the colosseum. What I cannot imagine is why people then would see bloodshed as a form of entertainment.

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The perfect ending to our trip to Rome, the Pincio gardens

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I absolutely loved how our week in Rome ended spontaneously with a visit to the well hidden Da Vinci Museum and watching the sunset against the beautiful city of Rome from the Pincio gardens. We couldn’t possibly have planned for a better ending, especially when we don’t plan. Well actually the Pincian hills leading to Villa Borghese. I’m a little confused.

Rome was actually one of the cities where I had failed to plan completely. All I knew when I arrived was that I wanted to visit the Vatican city and the colosseum. That was the extend of my plan. We arrived confused by the crowds in the termini and ended up buying our first map ever that highlighted the places of interest in Rome. Ha. Anyway, on our last evening, we realized that we’ve pretty much covered everything interesting but not the gardens, which took up a huge portion of the map, and decided to head there.

It was also when we discovered the awesome Da Vinci Museum right by the stairs leading up to the Pincio gardens! Unlike most museums where you look at stuff behind some barricades or through a transparent casing, this Da Vinci Muesum recreated some of the mechanisms that were found in his notebook and actually allowed visitors to play with. There were also 2 or 3 videos shown within that I found extremely informative.

So the gardens. Fantastic view of the city. There are 2 ways (or more) of getting up to the gardens, by the Spanish steps or by the stairs by Piazza del Popolo. The museum is right beside the steps on the left of the latter.

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A couple of the many heads (bust, po-teh-to po-tah-to) displayed in the gardens. In some places you get headless sculptures and in others, you get the heads. I don’t get it.

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Walking towards the light.

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The temple of Aesculapius.

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It was a sunny summer day and the kids were all out there frolicking and making out on the grass. We did encounter plenty of couples making out just about every where in Rome. The city of love I suppose?

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And that marked the end of our 4 week vacation, wedding and/or honeymoon. I’m definitely looking forward to explore the rest of Italy as soon as I can! I just need more time and money, easy peasy. NOT.

The walk down Via Appia Antica

Which turned out complete different from what I had imagine it to be. I had imagined a quiet walk down a dusty sand path (or a cobblestone path) surrounded by fields, deserted villages with an occasional horse trotting by with a carriage in tow. Like this.

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I guess this is why I prefer reading books to watching movies. I was aghast when I watched an episode of Naruto anime in which he did Kage Bunshin no Jutsu and I was like WHAT?! JUST LIKE THAT?! It was way more impressive in my head than in the anime.

I digressed. Anyway I probably should have had done a little more research, perhaps checked out some images instead of just going with my imagination. Even if (according to legend) it was the road that Jesus appeared on and thus I assumed he walked on.

We started the walk all the way from our apartment at Tor Pignattara (which has the nicest pizza ever for only 5.50 Euros!).

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Just the usual neighbourhood ruins. Hurhur.

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Enroute. Where we walked on non existent paths for pedestrians, passed by a petrol station with a single pump and a bare roof, the industrial area and abandoned houses before we finally… took a bus. Hahahaha.

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And a couple of stops later.

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First things first, breakfast! Walked past what appeared to be a private estate with signs offering coffee at the entrance, took a peek in and had a lovely breakfast under the orange trees. That was until we noticed the oranges on the floor and started worrying about having oranges fall on our heads.

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That was also my first time seeing orange trees.

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Continuing on.

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After Googling a little, I am now confused between Appia Antica (a park?) and Via Appia Antica. It seems like I might have taken the wrong road, thus the difference in expectations?

Anyway, there were loads to see on the road that we had taken including popping in a church for mass (in italian), hesitating at the entrance of catacombs and entering random open gates. My only gripe was having to share the road with cars zooming by.

Because “I’ve had enough of dating the bad boys and this is the man I’m gonna marry”

On an extremely random note, it suddenly hit me that using an iPhone is kinda like settling down with the one. When we were younger, we were (sort of) attracted to the bad boys. Guys that were exciting, different and possibly better looking. We lived with their flaws and volatile tempers silently believing that it was an one off occurrence. But as we grew older, we realise that what makes us happy is someone who is simple and sincere. A guy that we can trust and rely on. One who doesn’t change drastically forcing us adjust ourselves from time to time to suit them. Someone who put us before themselves.

That’s Apple and their iPhones (and of course products). I don’t need bigger screens that are uncomfortable to hold using one hand, I need a phone that can fit well into my small hands with a firm grip. I don’t need fancy external aesthetics, all I need is a simple and clean design that looks great. I don’t need Apple to make drastic changes and come up with a so called revolutionary phone every other year, not when they have already given me the best in the market. All I need is a phone that I can trust and rely on, made by a company that focuses on the user experience.

Its probably the object that you use most in your life. Its the product that you have with you all the time. With this unique relationship, we take changing it really seriously. We don’t want to just make a new phone, we want to make a much better phone. – Jony Ive

And that is why, I’ve been using an iPhone for years and will continue to do so. Because “I’ve had enough of dating the bad boys and this is the man I’m gonna marry”.

Sea Adventures at Seaventures, Sipadan

Because not every moment can be captured by photos, I’m here to note down memories that are precious to me. I do wish I had been more consistent blogging about my travels. More often that not, my memories fade quickly as time passes.

Anyway, third post and possibly the final post on Sipadan (at least until and if I head there again)!

Our accommodation for our dive trip at Sipadan, Seaventures. Here’s where we spent a huge portion of our time during the day in between dives flipping through the fish bible, having our meals and basically doing nothing.

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This is also where I would have the ultimate comfort dive food before and after every single dive. The awesome “so da pia” (biscuits) dipped in hot milo with a spoonful of coffee powder! I’m so gonna bring along a huge tin of milo for all of my dive trips!

Comfort food on dive trips, Seaventures, Sipadan, Malaysia

I usually have pretty low expectations of our accommodation on dive trips since we barely spend any time in our rooms and KO the minute our heads touch the pillow. All I ask for is a clean bed and a clean toilet. Both of which was fulfilled by Seaventures.

Seaventures, Sipadan, Malaysia

This was where we prepared for battle. Well sort of. IT IS a battle getting in and out of our wetsuits. Especially when I wore 3 layers, thermal guard, rashguard and a full suit. IT WAS COLD and it was also an experience sneezing underwater. Hurhur.

Seaventures, Sipadan, Malaysia

The awesome possum lift which is able to take us directly down into/from the water for house reef dives.

Diving at Sipadan, Seaventures

The sleeping/lounging area. Cause that’s all we do during dive trips. Dive, eat and sleep.

Diving at Sipadan, Seaventures

The group that got lost during our one and only night dive. I was merely following a hermit crab for that ONE SECOND and in the very next moment, it was just us in the darkness. I can’t recall how we ended up with KS and Pam where KS blacked out for a second, we held on to each other attempting to do a slipshod safety stop (which wasn’t required anyway since it was a house reef dive) and ended up ascending a distance away from the lift.

I remember being in awe as I ascended looking directly at the stars filled sky then cursing when I saw how far we had to back fin to the lift. Hehehe.

Diving at Sipadan, Seaventures

The gorgeous waters of Sipadan island. I’m a big fan of deep blue diving, feeling like a drop of water in the ocean, just a redundant tiny organism floating in vast waters. I love looking out/away from the reef walls and from other divers, just floating and staring out at an endless blue feeling completely at peace. Before anxiety hits me and I would turn abruptly to make sure that I’m still safely with my group. Hurhur.

Besides, in the deep blue I get to do big and silly actions like somersaults and cartwheels before ending up with a massive ear discomfort.

Oh and it was also during this trip where I felt way more comfortable being in the water and instead of following the group blindly, I spent a lot more time checking out the reef and managed to spot quite a few sea creatures on my own!

Diving at Sipadan

The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning. Meaning to say, is this a shot of the sunrise or a sunset? Hahaha.

Sunset/sunrise at Seaventures, Sipadan, Malaysia

This post was suppose to end with a WOOHOOO! Last post of my 30 days challenge. BUT as life would have it, as I exited the full screen mode, my post disappeared so here I am typing for the second time feeling a tad annoyed and no longer excited.

Photos were taken with my iPhone 3GS.

That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind

Filler

You know how animes often has fillers? I’m reluctant to skip one day of my 30 days challenge (after all this is already the second last post!) yet I’m absolutely exhausted and I really just want to play with my new iPhone 5s. So here’s a filler.

Woke up really excited and started randomly singing this:

I’ve gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night 
That tonight’s gonna be a good night 
That tonight’s gonna be a good good night 

Tonight’s the night 
Let’s live it up 
I got my money 
Let’s spend it up 

Only to realize it shortly after that the lyrics were completely apt since I made an appointment to get my phone in the evening! I even dressed up in grey with black accessories to match my new space grey phone! Hurhur.

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I haven’t had the chance to play with it much but so far, I am in love with the Touch ID. It has worked every single time for me! It does seems to be working faster as well. So yep, BYE.

Oh and here’s one of the best articles written about this release:

http://daringfireball.net/2013/09/the_iphone_5s_and_5c