Friday, November 28, 2008

My recent fishing trip

Last week my son’s IB exams finally ended and the two of us headed immediately to the kelong for a time of father-son bonding. Next January, he will be packed off for his National Service, and I don’t know when we will get the chance to do this again.

We went to a kelong in Malaysia called “Ah Ngan”. This is one of four kelongs between the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia and Pulau Sibu. Starting from the north, the first is Ah Fatt, the second is which is supposed to be owned by Singaporeans, is called Hot Boys, the 3rd is Ah Ngan and the last is Ah Yew. We have been to Ah Fatt twice and this time we decided to try out Ah Ngan. I think they are more or less the same.

We had a great time. Compared to the ponds in Ipoh, there were much more fishes to be caught, especially if, like me, you are an ‘amateur’ and are satisfied with small fishes like Selar. For those who are interested to go, let me give you some details.

1) How to get there?

You need to first get to the jetty at Tanjung Leman which is about 120 km from the causeway. You take the route to Kota Tinggi and Mersing. About 90 km from JB you will see a big sign to turn right towards Tanjung Leman and Sibu Island Resort. After that it’s another 27 km through deserted oil palm plantations. About 11 km from the destination, you need to make a left turn. We started from Singapore at 7.00 am and reach Tanjung Leman at 10-something. We chose a weekday to avoid the traffic and the crowds. The boat came from the kelong to pick us up and 11-plus. The boat ride took about half an hour and we reached the kelong just in time for lunch. (I hope I've recalled my figures correctly)

The 3 days 2 nights package costs RM225 per pax. It used to be only RM195 before. We departed from the kelong after lunch time on Day 3. Parking at the jetty car park is quite safe. It costs around RM14 – can’t recall exactly.

2) What to do there?

Besides fishing, there is really nothing much else to do, although I saw some people watching videos and some mahjong tables. I understand that the kelong can arrange for you to visit Pulau Sibu or go snorkeling; but mostly people are just interested in fishing. It rained on both nights and I took the opportunity to catch up on some reading.

Conditions, as you should expect, are quite rough; but I did see some kids and young girls. You sleep on wooden double-decker bunks. Of course there is no hot water baths. Because of the rain, it was quite cold to bathe at night. With the cool rainy weather and the incessant sound of waves below us, I slept like a baby on both nights.

The food is surprisingly good.

3) What to bring?

Besides your fishing gear, you should bring along a big ice box to keep your catch. Ice is provided free-of-charge. Be sure to bring a big hat and long sleeves shirt to provide cover from the sun.

4) Photos

This is what the kelong looks like close up.

This snake-like fish is called a Todak. Some girls wanted to take pictures with our todak. I told them it will cost them only RM2 per shot :) Last year, my friend who introduced us to these kelongs, caught a big corbia which weighed more than 8 kg.

In one of my previous posts about kampongs, some readers asked about attap houses. For those who have never seen an attap roof close-up, here are few photos. I am really impressed that in spite of the heavy rains, no water seeped through the attap roof.

The attap leaves are arranged in an overlapping pattern like this and the water flows into a gutter and is drained away.

Do you know what these men are doing?
They are banging in a stilt into the water. It is 100% human power. They latched a cross beam to the vertical pole and then in unison they called out the timing and ‘piled’ the stilt into the sea bed taking hours to do just one stilt.

5) Contact details

I am afraid I only have the name cards of these two kelongs; Ah Fatt and Ah Lam (aka Ah Ngan). But if you do a search on the internet, you should be able to get details. Don’t worry if you forgot to bring along the contact phone numbers - they are prominently displayed on the wall at the Tanjung Leman Jetty cafeteria.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I am a ‘Silver Ambassador’

As some of you may already know, I am one of 3 so-called Silver Ambassadors appointed by Infocomm123 to encourage senior citizens to “get onto the infocomm bandwagon. The other two ‘senior bloggers’ are Mdm Laozhabor and (Unker) Dick Yip.

Launched on 21 February this year, Infocomm123 is “a one-stop resource and community portal for all your infocomm answers”. It offers a wide array infocomm-related content, FAQs, walk-through guides, articles and so on. Supported by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), this new site has attracted more than 3,700 members to date.

Last Thursday, Infocomm123 launched a new quarterly contest called The Silver BlogContest. It is a blog contest whereby senior citizens aged 50 and above in Singapore are invited to submit one blog entry on the theme, ‘Family’. Attractive prices are up for grabs. So why don’t those of you who qualify give it a go?

As Silver Ambassadors, our role is to share our experience at an interview and appear on a Video Ad Jingle. For the period 20 November to 10 December 2008, we also have to do some blogging at the website.

My fellow Silver Ambassadors have already blogged about this project in their blogs and so there is no need for me to go into details; accept to direct you to the relevant sites as given below;

1) The Infocomm123 Website
2) Dick Yip, The Wise Old Owl’s posts about this project here, here and here.
3) Mdm Laozhabors’ post about this project here.

All in all, I am quite happy to be given this honour. My only complaint (as a true blue Singaporean, must always complain right?) is the silly head-jiggling image they put up of the three of us for the whole world to see. Frankly, I think it is quite inappropriate to use this type of gimmick to attract the attention of mature people. Anyway, that’s only my view. The people behind this project are all quite young and they have their way of doing things.

Maybe I am just too old fashioned :(

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Age of Film (Part 3) – Slides

There is one type of photo that I often took during the 1980’s and 90’s because of my job as a management consultant. These are slides. I suspect many of my younger readers do not know what is a film slide. To them the word ‘slide’ probably conjures the image of a Powerpoint slide.

A slide is a film negative mounted on a stiff rectangular frame. To show the image to a group in a classroom or a conference hall, you need to mount the slide on a carousel and project the images onto a screen using a slide projector.

The film by the way is different from that for normal photography; although they looked just the same. You have to check the roll of film carefully. The method of processing is also different. I remember a very nasty incident with a shop located at Coronation Plaza. I brought my roll of slides there for processing but they mistook it for normal film. In the end the film was ruined and the images came out all black and yellowish. My precious effort in taking the photos at my client’s factory was all wasted. The shop was unapologetic and simply compensated me with a new roll of film.

In my work, I have to take a lot of photos of situations in the client’s premises that could be improved by 5S. (A Japanese technique for good housekeeping and workplace organisation. Please see my other blog to if you want to know what is 5S). But using slides was a very tiresome affair, and I am really thankful for the new digital technology. For one, not all the clients had a slide projector because it was very expensive. And, they are very heavy.

Using the slide projector can also give rise to many problems. If you placed the slide into the carousel in the wrong position, the picture would come up wrong; either upside-down or front-to-back. A trick I used was to draw a small stick figure at the lower corner of my slide. When the slide is positioned correctly, you should be able to see the man standing upright. Thus, at one glance, you can spot any slide that has been positioned incorrectly in the carousel. In 5S jargon, this is known as visual control (mede miru kanri in Japanese).

As a trainer, you had to get to the class early to set up the equipment and also to arrange all the slides properly and test the equipment. If possible, I would bring my own carousel with all the slides already pre-arranged. The carousel has a transparent cover and the slides won’t fall out. But some machines - usually the cheaper ones, used a straight tray instead of a circular carousel.

Another problem with slides is that they easily get jammed in the projector. This is especially so when you needed to tilt the projector at an angle to project your image upwards. Let me explain.

As I said earlier, the slides are arranged in a carousel with 80 slots. The first time you pressed the advance button, the carousel would rotate anti-clockwise by 1 position. The first slide would drop into a slot in front of the projection bulb. As you continued to press the advance button, the previous slide would be ejected, the carousel would rotate and the next slide would drop in and so on. If a slide gets jammed in the machine, you have to rotate the carousel manually to the beginning, remove it and eject the jammed slide and start all over again.

In the nineties, after I left the NPB to go into private practice, I did a lot of work in Malaysia. Can you imagine how tedious it was every time I went for an assignment outstation. Not only had I to carry along a heavy load of transparencies, I also had to remember to bring along my collection of 5S slides.

With a huge collection of film slides, I needed a good system of storing and organizing them. I used a special folder or album like this one. The slides are placed into individual pockets on a plastic page that can be filed in the folder.

So you can see why I took to digital photography very happily when the technology came along. But first I had to convert some of my slides to jpeg images. I remember paying a hefty sum for the service.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Age of Film (Part 2) – Photo Studios

It’s been many years since I last applied for a job. I don't know if people still pasted a passport photo to their application forms, or do they just email a digital form to their prospective employers nowadays.

This is a negative of one of my passport photos. I wonder if kids born in this century even know what a negative looked like.

I still have in my possession several small envelopes containing passport photos of me taken years ago. The youngest photo was probably taken in primary school. Growing up as a kid in Singapore, we needed to go to a studio every now and then to have our passport photos taken. The studio would hand over the photos in a small envelope like the ones shown below together with the negative; in case we needed to order more copies later.

1) Golden Palace Photo Studio in Queenstown. I blogged about it previously here. Notice that they specified, "Opposite Margaret Drive Queenstown Library"?

2) Peking Color Photo Studio at Balestier Road and Toa Payoh. Some readers mentioned this studio here.

3) Snow White & Co at Serangoon Garden Way. This one must be very old. The telephone number has only 5 digits.

4) White Mount Studio at 4½ milestone, Bukit Timah. I think it was at the row of old shops between Cluny Road and Serene Centre.

5) New Columbia Studio at Alexandra Road.

Studios like these played an important part in our lives. At key milestones of our lives, such as graduation, or wedding, we would go to the studios to have our portraits taken. Other times, it could be just to take a family portrait. But I recall that my sister and our female cousins did go to the studios occasionally to have their photos taken.

If you look at the words in the envelopes you would notice that one or two emphasized “air-conditioned”. This means that not all studios had air-conditioning in those days. Without air-conditioning, it could be quite uncomfortable for the customers. The men could be formally dressed in coat and tie whilst the ladies had their make-up. Such photography sessions could be quite long and the bright studio lights added to the heat.

Below is another of my negatives. This one was taken during my university convocation. It was held at the National Theatre and the university commissioned a studio located at Block 112 Depot Road called Ideal Colour-Photo Laboratory Pte Ltd to take all the shots of us receiving our scroll from the guest-of-honour. At that time, I didn’t even know where was Depot Road.
I doubt any of the above-mentioned studios are still around today. Would my readers know?

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Age of Film (Part 1)

In his 2006 national day rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about the ‘great digital divide’; referring to the big difference between the lifestyles of today’s youth and those of my generation. Recently, I discovered that one area where this divide was quite marked was in the way we dealt with photographs.

During the June holidays, I attended a church camp in Kuantan where our trigger-happy photographers took hundreds of high resolution photos. After we came back, I was put in charge of disseminating the photos to our members. In the old days, the way we would do it would be to first bring the negatives to the studio to print one set of the photos and then display them on the notice board or circulate them in an album. Members would then fill up a form indicating which photos they wanted to order, and then I would bring the negatives to the studio to get them printed. I would then sort them out, distribute them and collect the money.

But when the number of members runs into hundreds, this was obviously a very tedious affair. And so I wanted to do it the modern way, which of course is to upload the photos onto a photo-sharing website like Flickr or Photobucket, and then simply direct members to the website to view and download the photos for themselves. But to my surprise, I found that many of the older adults did not know what was Flickr. Frankly, I believe if I hadn’t taken up blogging, I probably would not know what was Flickr either. I grew up in what can be described as the golden age of film.

Up to 1970, all the photos my family took were black and white photos. You have seen many of them on this blog. But in 1970, I used my first roll of colour film which I blogged about here. The film I used was Kodak of course. At that time, Kodak was the dominant brand. I remember when I came back from my holidays, I brought my precious roll of film to the Kodak Centre in Alexandra Road (near to where the Performance Motors Centre is located) to have my film processed and printed. I think each print cost more than $1.

But soon another brand burst onto the scene to challenge Kodak’s dominance. That brand was Fujifilm. From the seventies onwards, the cost and speed of processing colour films came down rapidly. Two other brands of films also became popular. They were Konica and Agfa. At the same time, ‘idiot-proof’ cameras with auto-focus and built-in flash also made their appearance.

The demand for films and film processing sky-rocketed and many photo shops and kiosks sprang up all over the island. Some famous names that I can recall off-hand are Standard Colour Centre, Singapore Colour Centre and Joo Ann Foh.

Thanks to this technological advancement, my dad who was retired and who loved to travel, was able to leave behind several albums of photos after he passed away. Likewise, I was able to capture many shots of my children as they grew up.

This is my very first colour photo taken from a ferry to Penang in December 1970. At that time the Penang Bridge was not constructed yet.

This is a full-page advertisement by Standard Colour Centre in the 1993 street directory. They had branches all over Singapore.

This is my last film camera (left), which I believe is still in working condition. It’s a Canon EOS 1000F. I have placed it sided-by-side with my new EOS 400 for comparison. Many happy moments with my wife and kids were captured by this trusty, (and now dusty) Canon. The next shot shows the film loading compartment.

Related posts:

1) My cameras
2) Through the years
3) Gather moments while you may

Next time I will blog about the photo studios which played such an important role in our recording the key milestones in our lives.

Share your photos @ NLB

I think many readers of Good Morning Yesterday like to take photos of places and plants of Singapore. Besides those you post on your blog, I am sure, like me you have many other photos in your collection. Why not share them with other Singaporeans?

Here is one neat place where you can do just that. It is the National Library Board's Just Share website. It was introduced to me by my fellow Friend of Yesterday, the Rambling Librarian, Ivan Chew. Ivan incidentally was the first Singaporean blogger to recommend Good Morning Yesterday to the folks at labelling me 'Singapore's oldest blogger' back in 2005 when I had just started this blog.

I have just begun to share my photos. For a start I will limit my photos to what I labelled "Peaceful Singapore". I will focus on places that are quiet and peaceful (and green), such as Lorong Semangka in Choa Chu Kang and Old Jurong Road.

I have one complaint though. How come they did not have a category on Heritage or Yesterday's Singapore?

Oh; I forgot to mention - you may even win some prizes through your photos. You can't get more Singaporean than that, can you?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Schools @ Tiong Bahru

Last month, my youngest daughter set for the ‘O’ levels Japanese exam at the Tiong Bahru Exams Centre at Lower Delta Road. I went to fetch her after her paper. I arrived early and so I parked my car at the open car park next to it - at the junction of Alexandra Road and Lower Delta Road.

Then I spotted this interesting old building. I have a question for you guys; and this is not a quiz question because I do not know the answer. What building is this?

Recently, YG mentioned in his blog that many schools in Singapore have moved into new premises relinquishing their premises to other users. For example, in Serangoon Gardens there used to be a school called Serangoon Garden Technical School. It was very much in the news recently because the government wants to convert the buildings into a dormitory for foreign workers giving rise to many objections from the nearby residents.

In the map below, you can see the Tiong Bahru Exams Centre (SEAB) and the PSB Academy across the road at Jalan Bukit Ho Swee. Both were formerly occupied by schools. Do you know what schools these were?

I have been to this Tiong Bahru Exam Centre quite a few times before. I drove my wife there to collect the O Levels Biology practical exam materials. It was usually early in the
morning and still quite dark; but already lots of cars and taxis were there for the same purpose. Interesting.

Incidentally, the PSB Academy used to be part of the National Productivity Board. At that time it was called the Institute for Productivity Training or IPT, and yours truly was one of the department managers there.
Update (09 Nov 2008)
Here's the answer to those 2 quesitons.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Old Buildings Quiz No. 9

Recently I was engaged by the Singapore Productivity Association to conduct some training for a group of foreign professionals. I blogged about it here. The training was conducted at a place called the EDB Learning Centre located at Jalan Bukit Merah.

Question – What was the name of this place before, when it was first built?

Answers (03 November 2008)

Anonymous has already given the answer. It’s the Japan-Singapore Institute. Not sure which year it was inaugurated; but I think it must be around the mid-70’s. At that time there were 3 technological institutes that we set up with the aid of the advanced countries. These were:

1) Japan-Singapore Institute of Software Technology
2) German-Singapore Institute of Production Technology, and
3) French-Singapore Institute of Electrotechnology.

The German and French institutes were located in Jurong Town Hall – Science Centre Road (see 1981 map below). I think one of them is now home to the Informatics Group.

But YG also pointed out that in 1989 it was part of the Nanyang Polytechnic campus. So I checked the NYP website and learned that these 3 institutes were in fact the predecessors of NYP.