Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Labrador Park Visit

9th/18th Feb, 2011 ~ Labrador Park, a place I'd not visited in a long long time. I love nature & nature photography. But am a little afraid of the wild jungle... yeah, I know I'm controversial. Therefore, nature parks & reserves are the next best things. When I was in school & boyish, I love to visit those. Stopped doing that when I became more womanly & started working. The local working lifestyle is devastating. It drained me, leaving me tired out on weekend, no energy to do much on weekend, but rest. Local working conditions sux big time!
However, I still love nature & photography. Took a short break from work recently. In between jobs, I took the opportunity to reconnected myself with Mother Nature again. After years of absence, the 1st nature park I visited is the Bottle Tree Park as recorded in my blog here. Next was Labrador Park which I visited twice.

Labrador Park

Located at the southern part of Singapore, Labrador Park stretches more than 1 km in length at the shoreline with 1 end near the Keppel Golf Club. From there, a lovely view of an old colonial style house, Keppel Marina & Sentosa with cable cars over the water. At the other end is Rocky Shore with an old jetty which is no longer accessible to public. Quite a disappointment since it was a long time ago last I walked on that jetty. I believe the closure is due to Rocky Shore having the last surviving corals on mainland Singapore.

View from both ends of the shore.

At 2 ends of Labrador Park.

Labrador Park is steep in history. Discovered, mapped by Chinese sailor explorers & later the British. During British colonial period, due to Singapore strategic position as a major port in the Far East, the British constructed 1 of their coastal defense sites at Labrador Park. Bunkers, gun emplacements & machine gun posts were build. Today, some of those war relics were preserved for their historical value.

Discovering History

Holy Molly BIG Gun!

The sea around Labrador Park might not be as picturesque as in historical past, but still is an ideal spot for picnic, fishing or enjoying the sea breeze. With Singapore as a major modern port in East Asia, countless boats & ships steam pass the sea at Labrador Park.

Picturesque Views

Old Tramper, Ferry & Luxury Cruise Ship

Rest & Relax

There's an attractive playground for kids.

Kiddy Hamster @Play =P

And many photo spots for camhog like me! xD

Photo Interests

Or you can try rock climbing...

Cliff Climbing Hamster

Hahaha... no, no. I'm only joking. There's no rock cliff to climb at Labrador Park. The 'rock' in the pic above is a replica of Dragon Teeth Gate which was destroyed by the British to widen the entrance to Keppel Harbor. I did not really climbed it. Just crawl up a little more than a meter off the ground, for photo shoot. xD

For the more adventurous, you can brave the nature trails.

The Dark & Mysterious Nature.

Beware of nasty blood-sucking, biting insects. Best to applied insect repellant before venturing into the forested area. I didn't & quickly rediscovered that I'm no Jungle Jane. I was bitten quite badly even though I did not walk into the little jungle.

Spotted Back Hamster =(

No worries if you are not the jungle type, but is a nature lover like me. At the fringe of the nature reserve or at the park, there are abundant of flora & fauna to delight you.

Flora Delights

Cheerful Flowers

Pretty Butterflies & Moths

Dragonfly Heaven

Spider Attack!

Cutie Squirrel!

And a gruesome discovery. A dead bird dangling from a tree branch with a fishing line in its beak. A dismaying sight. I dunno who did it, but it was definitely an act of cruelty.

Cruel Death

Stray cats are also devastating to wildlife. In many countries, stray cats had done much damage to wildlife unaccustomed to these superb hunters. However, this one that I saw is a lazy fat cat. =P

Artful Napping

My other purpose in visiting nature parks is nature photography. Avian photography, to be precise. Birds as a group, with their multi-color feathers & various active lifestyles intrigued me. Another thing that makes me wonder at birds are the theory about dinosaurs being related to birds. In birds, what we may be seeing are the true descendants of the dinosaurs & I love dinosaurs! No dinosaurs around today, but birds aplenty. To me, they are like miniature dinosaurs. Their activeness present quite a challenge to photograph them properly & this challenge attracted me. Am not exactly a bird watching enthusiast. Just wanting to apply the art of photography to those feathery friends.
Had tried to take photo of birds in the past, but without the proper camera, can't get good shots of them. Now I can coz I just got myself a Canon SX30 with a 35x(840 mm) SuperZoom lens. Come, little birdies & be immortalized in my photo album. LOL! xD

Bird Spotting

On my first trip to Labrador Park, when I was going towards Harbour Front bus stop, I stopped by the structure of an old lighthouse lamp & posed for a pic. It was then I heard the chirping of Sunbirds. Looked up & saw a pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds building a nest at the nearby overhead pedestrian bridge.

Lighthouse Girl

Olive-backed Sunbirds nest building activities.

I went back to check on my second trip & was sadden by the sight of a damaged nest. Poor little Sunbirds wasted their effort. =(
At Labrador Park, I was rewarded by sightings of many different types of birds, including a group of migratory Blue-tailed Bee Eaters playing on the sea breeze, soaring like kites, looking like gleaming jewels in the sky. Alas, I couldn't get a good shot of them as they are too fast & far away. Wish I know where they roost. However, I had plentiful shots of other birds, common & uncommon ones.

From left to right, top to bottom: Javan Myna with 2 Spotted Doves, Zebra Dove, Eurasian Tree Sparrow & Pacific Swallow.

Zebra Doves couple crossing a road.

From left to right, top to bottom: Male Pink-necked Green Pigeon, female Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Unidentified bird & Sandpiper.

Brown-throated Sunbird & White-collared Kingfisher.

Kingfishers are some of my favorite birds to photograph. They are so colorful & cute! Saw 2 species at Labrador Park.

White-collared Kingfisher(top) & female Common Kingfisher(bottom).

On my second trip, it rained some. After the shower, birds perched in the open to dry themselves, thus making it easy for me.

A wet & sad-looking Yellow-vented Bulbul.

Preening Brown-throated Sunbird.

Singapore is a tiny island with very little area set aside for nature. With the recent influx of foreign immigrants & workers, the population exploded, making matters worse. The authorities may denied that we are overpopulated, but whenever I took the public transport, even at off-peak hour, it's super crowded & the whole bus or train carriage will be filled with over 90% of non-locals. Most of them are uneducated, selfish, uncaring, ill-mannered & without social responsibility. Talking loudly, intrusive, grabbing everything they can lay their hands on, destroying, abusing public facilitates & leaving behind rubbish everywhere they went. It's depressing to see trash everywhere, at the seaside, parks & nature reserves. Beside driving up property price, more & more land will be cleared to house these new immigrants. More shopping malls or entertainment center to spoof money off them. In the name of progress, nature suffers. At what price will we pay in future?
So, I intend to visit as many nature parks & reserves as possible. Indulge in more nature photography before all are gone. Fragile ecosystem will disappeared forever.

In Harmony With Nature

My list of places to visit: St. John Island, the nature reserves at water catchment areas, Pulau Ubin, Sungei Buloh, perhaps Hort Park & many more. Will be revisiting Botanic Garden too.

Note: Encountered 2 examples of intrusive foreign immigrants/workers while at the park. When I was waiting silently, patiently near a flowering small tree for Sunbirds to appear, 2 Bangalas stopped nearby, talking loudly, frightening away every damn thing! With the whole big park around them, they had to stop & talk shop at where I was?!? The second time was when I spotted a squirrel sitting on a tree branch. While I was photographing it, 2 curious Ahneh approached & asked loudly what's in the tree. Told them it's a squirrel. Instead of keeping quiet, they started pointing excitingly & talk louder to each other. Then they started walking towards the tree, talking loudly all the while, frightening the squirrel away! WTF?!? These people love drama, can't be quiet, noisy like a Bollywood movie with no volume control & are ill-mannered busybodies! No Fucking Brainers!
I will NOT apologize for what I said here. Someone once told me I have to be sensitive to people & respectful of them. Yeah right... I can be, but can they?!? When 1 party holds the responsibility, the other party must too. If not, is it fair? There is a sarcastic quote about this: Responsibility in a society means the majority leaves it all to the minority to hold the responsibility. I'm sick of those idiots! Respect is earned, not to be demanded! You show me bad behaviors, I will label you appropriately, as according to your conduct.
Sensitive my foot! Fuck political correctness! I am a racist only if stupidity is a race!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chingay Parade 2011

11th & 12th Feb, 2011 ~ What's Lunar New Year without Chingay & this year is no different, except that this is the first time I participated in a Chingay parade. For the 2 days of Chingay Parade 2011, I was engaged as a model for body painting. The Hamster evolved into a little Lucky Red Bunny. Why Bunny? Because this is the year of the Rabbit as according to the Chinese zodiac. Lucky? Well, I guess so coz I was filmed hopping around by a TV crew & was featured prominently on Channel News Asia the very next morning. xD

Lucky Red Bunny Me, Day 1 & 2

I know, I know... those ain't bunny paws. The organizer didn't have bunny paws & we had to make do with cat paws. Just called it artistic license, alright? =P
There were 7 models in all, 5 girls & 2 guys. It took slightly over 3 hours for 2 painters to do us up & the results were...

Painted Ladies

Colored Team On Day 1 & 2

Note: The painting patterns/designs & some of our costumes varied on the 2 days of Chingay Parade 2011.

We were part of the welcoming reception for the crowd coming to view the parade. Of course we were also photo opportunity for them. With the endless camera clicks & flashes, we smiled till our cheeks numbed! LOL! =P

Arriving Audience

Colorful Welcome

Photo Opportunity

The best part was on day 2 when Senior Minister, Mr. Goh Chok Tong accompanied by his wife, arrived for the parade. Followed by various VIPs, Mr. & Mrs. Goh tried their best at spending time chatting & taking pics with as many teams of the welcoming reception as possible. A very tall, nice, friendly & considerate person is our Senior Minister, always asking if he is blocking anyone when taking pic, making sure everyone involved are included in the photo.

Mr. & Mrs. Goh Chok Tong chatting & taking pic with painted us.

Quite an satisfying assignment it was & a very vivid 1 too.

Our vibrant wigs & head gears


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day ♥

Happy Valentine's Day To All My Friends & Love Ones!
May you have true & everlasting love.
With hugs, kisses & love from the Polar Hamster, Nikita Hengbok

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Visit To Bottle Tree Park

Sunday, 6th Feb, 2011 ~ Since Bottle Tree Park was opened in 2005, I had wanted to visit & see the unique Bottle Trees. However, other events took priority, the visit was put off & forgotten. Last Saturday, when a friend mentioned about Bottle Tree Park, I was determined to visit the place. Another factor in deciding to visit the park is coz I recently got myself a new camera, a Canon SX30 IS which I wanna test it on some nature or wildlife shots. A park is as good as any place to start with, not as unfriendly as the jungle. =P
So, we started off the next day & arrived at the park at about 3 pm.

Bottle Tree Park

What? Only 2 Bottle Trees?!? I'd expected many more & was quite disappointed. My friends told me that 2 trees is already a bonus as it is Bottle Tree Park... tree as in singular. Geez... =(
Is that crater in the ground(below pic) reserved for a new Bottle Tree or a Bottle Tree had been removed?

Bottle Tree Missing?

After visiting the park, I went to their online site. Only then, silly Hamster me realized that the company which own the park imported only 6 Bottle Trees & those trees are very costly. The rest of the trees must be at their other site, the Bottle Tree Village.

Nevertheless, the park has many other types of uncommon trees, palms & I especially like the fruit trees.

Star Fruits & Pomelo

Flowering plants everywhere & a pond full of beautiful water lilies.

Flora In The Park

On display are a few caged animals. Rabbits, geese, jungle fowls, parrots & the grandest of them all, the Chinese Pheasants of elaborate colors. They are actually Golden Pheasants & mixed breeds. When we were there, the male Golden Pheasants were putting on their best mating display trying to impress the females.

Male Golden Pheasants(below) impressing a female(above)

Beside the plants & caged animals, there are plenty of nice spots for photo opportunities... for a camhog like me. =P

CamHogging Hamster xD

Nice Settings

But beware not to draw too much attention to yourself coz there is a tiger lurking in the forest nearby the stream. You don't want to get its attention. LOL! =P

Peeping Tiger

Of other activities, you can immerse yourself in the park's recreational facilities. Pond fishing for fresh water fish or prawns. Kids will enjoy the longkang(drain/stream) fishing in an artificial stream.

Parks Facilities

Pond Fishing

For the RC car enthusiast, there are 2 circuits, 1 sandy & 1 paved. Or if you are into pain balls... I mean paint ball, there are 2 arenas for war. Me? No, no... I'm afraid of pain. I rather spend the time relaxing with a cold drink at the cafe with its cool village rustic ambience.

Paint Ball Arena & Relaxing At The Cafe

Or I rather be shooting at wildlife with a camera. Insects, reptiles((no, I'm not really afraid of creepy crawlies), mammals & birds... all are fair games to me armed with a camera. Surprise that a girl like Hamster me loves photography? It had being my hobby for many years. Not only I love to be the model, I also like to be the photographer & my favorite subjects are animals, birds especially. Finally, with my new super zoom Canon SX30, I can do some serious hunting! LOL! =P

Ant nest, some kind of fly or wasp & a damselfly

Dragonflies & Damselflies

At the small stream in the park, I spotted fishes, tortoises & lizards on the rocks nearby.

Fish, Tortoises & Lizards

And a big lizard sun-tanning on a fence.

Little Dragon

Plenty of birds too, common & not-so-common ones.

From left to right, top to bottom ~ Rock Pigeon, Indian Myna, Water Hen & White Collared Kingfisher

And the best catch of the day, a vibrant color Stork-billed Kingfisher which was sitting on a tree above the small stream.

Stork-billed Kingfisher

Therefore, despite my disappointment of not seeing many Bottle Trees, the day was quite rewarding in nature photography.

Bottle Tree Park Sunset