UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Singapore Botanic Gardens


Sunrise at Bandstand

The Singapore Botanic Gardens has been inscribed as the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Singapore. The Gardens is the first and only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. I was delighted to know the news, and I wish to congratulate those who have put in the hard work to make this possible.




A garden of wildlife possibilities

The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a huge garden with endless of beauties in it awaiting to be discovered. I will drop by from time to time as the garden is so huge, you can hardly cover all of it within a day! Yes, and having such a huge landscape of garden in the small country is really a blessing.




The sculptures in Botanic Gardens

As the name “Gardens” implies, the whole garden was made up by a few smaller gardens namely Healing Garden, Evolution Garden, Foliage Garden and so on. Besides that, there are also a few nature-centric attraction such as the Swan Lake and Rain Forest which brings you a step closer to the mother nature.




The flowers

Other than attractions for visitors, the garden hosts some research facilities for horticulture and conservation biology. The National Orchid Garden provides visitors with a glimpse of the national flower of Singapore. Everyday, the garden is filled with people who came for exercising, outings, activities and so on.




The trees and leafs

There are many spots for event as well, such as the Symphony Lake and some event hall. There are also restaurants and souvenir shops for tourist and visitors. Photography group will often venture here to take on macro photography and birding at times when the season is right.




The rest of it…

For many of us, this is a place full of memories. Memories of wedding pictures, family outings, a walk with your lovers and so on. It’s great to see the garden has been well maintained and the history has been well preserved. Hopefully it will continue to carry on the heritage until the years to come 🙂


Sekinchan: The Fishing Village & The Paddy Field

Sekinchan is a small town in the state of Selangor, Malaysia. This town is known as “鱼米之乡” in Mandarin, which simply means “the village of fish and rice”. This name came about from the two main activities that happened in this small town, namely the fishing and paddy plantation.
I took the chance to pay this town a visit during one of the weekend, together with a photography group. First stop we arrived at the shipyard to check out the ship building and repair work, followed by visiting the fishing village. Fishing usually done in the early morning, by the time we arrived is already late afternoon, the fishing was already done and boats were back to the dock. The fishermen were busy repairing the fishing net, while the ladies and children were busy processing the seafood before selling them to the fish monger or the dried food and canned food industries.
A quick chat with them and I came to realize that most of them are not locals. They came from neighboring country such as Indonesia and Philippines in search for a living here. “The youngsters are not interested in this industry. They just can’t bear with the sun, the tiredness and the smell of the fishes. They rather work in the comfort of air-conditioned environment, far away from their hometown.” That was what the owner commented when I asked about his age and his children’s whereabouts. In his late 60’s, he can only rely on hiring others to help him out in his business.
“The business was passed down to me from my dad. During the old days we simply got no options, unlike today.” I asked the owner how much the workers get paid for helping out in processing the seafood. I was told that it’s based on the weight of the seafood one managed to process in a day. “Some housewives will just drop by for part time job. Well, they are free at home most of the time anyway, so it’s a good source of income for them as well. If they are hardworking enough, they can earn about 30 Ringgit per day, which is quite significant to feed a household in a small town like this.”
Later on, we took a ride to the paddy field nearby to take a quick look on the golden paddy field. Harvest season has been ongoing for awhile now, and some of the paddy has already been harvested. There wasn’t any harvesting activity going on in the evening, but from conversation with the locals, we get to know that nowadays all harvesting work will be done via machines instead of labour work. Harvested paddy will be sent to the factory nearby for further processing into packaged rice.
We also get to witness the field burning activities on the harvested field. “This has been the tradition that we followed since the old days. Upon completion of paddy harvesting, we burn the field to prepare it for the next plantation. The burning process will provide nutrients for the soil and to ensure good harvest for the coming season.” Said the 82 years old farmer who has been working for years in the paddy field. “As more and more of the harvesting work is taken over by machines, it helps to relief our workload as we are all getting older.”
Just like the fishing village, the paddy plantation is also facing the problem of aging workers. Fewer youngsters choose to work in the paddy field, which leaves a lot of the aging worker with no choice but continue to work. They love their job, and it’s hard for them to see it collapses. “Well, the good thing is that we started to see more youngsters working in the factory instead. As the industry gets modernized, they started to come back and work in their hometown.”
With more and more people moving to the big cities in search for a job with higher pay, better quality of living and more opportunities, it’s hard to imagine what will happen to these industries in the near future as the current generation of workers aged. Perhaps with modernization, machines will fully replace manpower from carrying out the job. However, the loss of succession in skills and professionalism for both fishing and paddy field plantation makes me feel a little… pity and unfortunate. I do hope in years to come, we are still able to show our kids on how things are done in the old and traditional ways, allowing them to appreciate and cherish the hard work from the older generation.

The forgotten lens – Fujinon XC50-230mm F4.5-6.7 OIS

Shooting landscape on the other side of the mountain
When people talk about Fujifilm lenses, people will tend to comment on how great those XF lenses are, such as the XF23, XF35, XF56 and so on. It’s rare that you saw people using or commenting on the XC series lens. There are only two XC lenses at the moment, they are the XC16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OIS and XC50-230mm F4.5-6.7 OIS. These lenses are usually paired and sold as a kit together with Fujifilm’s entry level camera, such as the X-M and X-A series. Often they are even been given out as free gift with camera purchase. However, it seems like there’s little appreciation from people on these lenses.
Shooting on what’s going on over the other side of the river
Yes, they are made in China instead of Japan. Yes, they are made of plastic instead of metal barrel. Yes, they have slower aperture compared to the XF lenses counterpart. But are these lenses really worthless? I have not owned or tested thoroughly on the XC16-50 before, but I do have the XC50-230 with me. Why am I getting this instead of the XF55-200?
Nice focal length for portraiture work
Well, the first reason is because it’s cheap. I bought it from people who got it as a free gift when buying Fujifilm camera and do not intend to keep it. Secondly, I’m not really a telephoto shooter. The longest lens that I have ever used frequently on my previous camera was actually the 18-55 kit lens. I’m not sure whether I will like the telephoto end, and I don’t think I should invest much on a telephoto lens first until I’m sure that I’m good with it. So this lens is more like an “experimental” lens for me just to cover the telephoto range.
100% crop. Reasonable detail and sharpness.
All in all, I would say this lens is performing well. Reasonably sharp, colour rendering is fine and focusing speed is acceptable as well. The major bummer for most will probably be the plastic built, the lack of aperture ring on the lens, the slower aperture and the slightly sluggish OIS. The OIS works, but I personally found that it is less effective than those on the XF lenses. Bokeh can certainly be better, but due to the slower aperture, it can’t really help much anyway. So one just need to be careful when selecting the background and distance to it so to ensure that the bokeh turns out well.
Subject isolation with long focal length… and birding… sort of…
Is this a lens to keep? For the time being, it’s a yes to me. If you just need something to fill your telephoto range without breaking the bank, this is going to be the lens to go for. But if large aperture is what you need, you will need to take a look at the XF50-140 which is also weather sealed. If you are looking for something in between, it will be the XF55-200. Until I can confirm that I need a high performance telephoto lens, I’ll happily stick to this XC50-230 🙂