10th February 2007 ~ 7th National Scout Craft and Pioneering Competition

Gan Eng Seng Dragon Scout Group, celebrating its 85th Anniversary this year in 2007, participated in the above competition organised by the Singapore Scout Association.

The compeition venue was at Bishan Park 2, a huge open field, ideal for a competition of such a massive scale. Many cadet scouts, boy scouts and ventures participated in this event and there were lots of fun and enjoyment, not forgetting the sweat and tears.

The boys arrived earlier the night before, unloaded and guard the equipment. In the early morning on 10th February, the competition began ! I only went in the late afternoon when the Tower and Bridge projects were close to completion. The photos in the early morning and afternoon could be found in our Dragon Scout Group Homepage, do take a look at our photos too:

http://www.dragonscouts.com/gallery

The morning photos were taken by another old boys Jonning and Weiyang. The photographs taken by them complemented my set of photographs that I took from the late afternoon onwards.

Viewing the various projects built by other scout groups, it was a refreshing experience for me, since I had touched pioneering some years back. Some of the projects looked fanciful but impractical and questionable pioneering technqiues, especially in the Bridge competition. The Tower competition was similar. Doing a walkabout around the various projects, I felt that Dragon Scouts had the edge and strengths, especially in the Scout Tower category. Our Bridge maybe simple in design but it beats others in term of stability, practicality and fundamental pionnering techniques.

Soon, it was judgement time. The judges were walking around, inspecting all the various towers and bridges. As the Dragon Scouts were at the far end of the field, our works were the last to be inspected. Our wonderful Dragon Scouts were very patient especially the Tower team ! The Bridge team was inspected first and soon it became a playground, there were primary cadet scouts coming to our Bridge and wanted to walk across and play around. Being the Bigger Brother Scouts, we happily hosted them and let them had their fun. Not long after, our favourite Radin Mas Dragon Cub Scouts, arrived and like tradition, they started their own fun time at our Bridge.

I may not have done pioneering for a long time but it was fun to be up there with them, watching those young cubs enjoying themselves and our Dragon Scouts playing host as a Big Brother.

After the Tower Section was inspected, it was already dark. The Dragon Scouts started to dismantle their projects while the results were tabulated. In the midst of the darkness and commotion, there were a few incidents that happened to other schools and it caused quite a bit of hassle and inconveniences. The Dragon Scouts, well marshalled by GSL Hongliang, his young leaders and ventures, were role models for safety in doing pioneering projects.

Finally, the moment of truth. The results were out ……….

We were the Gold Winners in Scout Tower and Bridge category (3 winners each for Gold, Silver and Bronze) ! It was an awesome result and congrats to all Dragon Scouts. However, we also won the Scout Tower Challenge Trophy, that means Dragon Scouts Tower was the best among the best !

I couldn’t hide my joy, enjoyment and I was very proud of their achievements. It was a pity I didn’t take the photographs of our winning Challenge Shield. Nevertheless, there would be ample opportunities. The awards won added another huge collection to our massive collection and I am pretty sure they would be displayed in our upcoming 85th Anniversary Campfire. Do keep a lookout for updates.

Congrats to Dragon Scouts for an outstanding performance ! The Champions !

Reflections on my Shanghai Holiday

It had been a few weeks since I came back from my Shanghai trip. This holiday was a very much needed personal holiday, no words can describe how much I needed it. Neither would the reasons behind it be written down here.

Travelling to China and witnessing its growth, it dawned upon me how much we can learn from travelling to different countries. The culture, the natural and man-made environment, people, local cuisine and lifestyle. Taking many photographs of the place I visited, gave me many great memories and friendships. The photos I took at the heritage listed/protected Zhou Zhuang and Zhu Jia Jiao Canal Towns were some of the better photographs I have taken since I travelled around for some time. I was happy with my photo taking and I am looking foward to improve my photography skills even further.

Moving foward, I would love to return back to Shanghai for another holiday, date and time to be confirmed. There are still many places in Shanghai and its nearby provinces and cities that I have not visited.

I would love to visit these 2 exotic locations, namely, Bhutan and Tibet. It takes some time to plan, looking for photography companions as well as time and resources allocation.

Thanks for reading my Shanghai holiday trip.

Looking foward to write up on new events that I took recently.

Shanghai Holiday Day 5 ~ 3rd February 2007

It’s time to return home …….

Woke up in the morning, started packing up my luggage after my shower, squeezing in gifts from friends in China, food and fruits into my luggage. Had my hearty big breakfast and walked around, taking photos of my surroundings, taking down memories of my 5 wonderful days of adventure.

I also took photographs of my cousin and her colleagues in Shanghai, giving them something to remember when I would print out the photographs for them when my cousin returns to Shanghai for another business trip with the photos.

However, before I went to the airport, I stopped by the factory outlet again and spent a bit of time there shopping. I bought some long sleeve sports tee-shirt as I always love jumpers since my uni days in Australia, whereby I would always be looking out for a Canterbury jumper. I wanted to look for a business suit set but due to time constraints, I did not buy it.

Finally, it’s time ……. After lunch, departed for the airport. We left early, in order to avoid the potential traffic jam Shanghai city might face. Along the way, I fixed on my 70-200mm F4 L and took pictures of different districts of Shanghai and Pudong International Airport.

After checking in and clearing immigration, we waited for our Singapore Airlines flight back home. In about 6 hours, we were home sweet home.

Shanghai Holiday Day 4 ~ 2nd February 2007

Shanghai Old Town ~ Temple of the Town Gods

Today was not a day of many planned different visits. It was more of a relaxing day without much rushing around. In the morning, I was strolling my way around the office and factory area, playing with the dog in the compound, enjoying the sights of the housing and way of life nearby the office.

In the afternoon, after lunch with the office folks (great cooking by Auntie). We went to Shanghai to look at this area called the Old Town, whereby the Temple of the Town Gods is located.

Before reaching there, we drove pass a famous nightlife spot in Shanghai, known as Xingtiandi, there wasn’t much activities when we drove past it. This “happening hotspot” was one of my planned places of visit and I had not visited it yet. Therefore, I would plan and make a return trip to Shanghai to explore the other locations.

Driving into the Temple of Town Gods area, it was full of people, nearby was a shopping district, pretty cool. Inside the arena, there were beautiful buildings that were preserved and there were different sights inside. There were food outlets, retail shops, shopping outlets etc etc. We got to the Temple of the Town Gods main entrance but due to time constraints, we didn’t go inside the temple and tour. Looking and walking around more, we moved on towards a facttory outlet location.

Upon reaching the factory outlet location, I was impressed by the brands establishing a factory outlet. There were many international brands and they range from working attires to outdoor gear. Just a quick browse as my cousin got a company dinner to attend.

At the company dinner, a tradition for the staff to enjoy (similar to our annual dinner), lots of drinking and lots of food. A real eye-opener on the different eating cultures on such occasions, the food was plentiful and they just stacked it on top of another. Another cultural lesson received, priceless.

Shanghai Holiday Day 3 ~ 1st February 2007 Night

Jin Mao Tower – Pudong District

The Pudong and Puxi Districts in the heart of Shanghai, along with the Bund, displayed the might and beauty of Shanghai. These areas are a must for every traveller to visit and feel the beauty, culture, history and development of Shanghai.

We had dinner in one of the Shanghai suburbs, a food court in a shopping centre. Initially, I wasn’t too keen on the idea as I had enough of food courts in sunny Singapore. However, it wasn’t too bad after all, instead of paying at the food stalls, you had to purchase a pre-paid value card at the cashier before proceeding to order and pay for the food. The food had a fair bit of variety and it was pretty good. There was a Singapore food section in the food court too.

After that, we proceed to our destination for the night, Jin Mao Tower. Jin Mao Tower is a 88 storey building that stands tall and proud in the Lujiazui area of Pudong District. There are offices and the Grand Hyatt Hotel is also part of Jin Mao Tower from 53 to 87 floors. More information on Jin Mao Tower can be read from these 2 web links:

(1)Jin Mao Building – Wikipedia
(2)China Jin Mao Group Co Ltd

We landed on the 87th floor, a bar known as Cloud 9, it was a really very beautiful bar, with great views of the night sceneries of Shanghai. Although the minimum charge for visitors (non-hotel guests) was 120RMB + tax per person, it wasn’t going to spoil our night chill out. My cousin and her colleagues were also with us for the night and we had fun walking around the Cloud 9, enjoying the different views.

We had a great time, drinking and having some pretty desserts. A great place to chill out and unwind, we were there early (9pm++ approx) and it wasn’t too crowded yet. After 10pm, the crowds started strolling in and it became a lively bar.

Soon, it was time to go back, we stopped by on the 56rd floor of Grand Hyatt and looked up at the atrium, a “spiral cone” of the hotel section, a postcard picture that is a common sight in any tourist information. I would plan to visit the restaurants and cafe as well as the 88th floor, the Skywalk Observation Deck.

A great day 3, had enjoyed myself thoroughly.

Shanghai Holiday Day 3 ~ 1st February 2007 Afternoon


Zhu Jia Jiao Canal Town

After visiting Sheshan, we went to another canal town, known as Zhu Jiao Jiao, in the province of Shanghai. The canal town is similar to Zhou Zhuang Ancient Town in Jiangsu Province.

Zhu Jiao Jiao is one of the tourist attraction in the outskirts of Shanghai district that is not that well publicised. In a way, it can work both directions, not too many tourists overcrowding a historical heritage area while the tourists (domestic and international) revenue coming in would be beneficial to boost the town holistically and cultural and historical preservation.

While I was walking inside this canal town, I found that the houses were much “younger” than the houses in Zhou Zhuang Ancient Town. The houses were in better conditions and the canals were a lot wider. The bridges linking different banks of the canal town were a lot higher than the bridges in Zhou Zhuang. That could probably be due to the bigger rivers and tributaries flowing through the whole town.

As I mentioned earlier in my Zhou Zhuang posting, every country in the modern world needs to take steps preserving their history and heritage, irregardless how young or old their country is. Visiting Zhou Zhuang and Zhu Jia Jiao had left a deep impression on me, a rich cultural experience and exchange.

I made a quick walk around the Zhu Jia Jiao as I was packing my schedule to maximise my districts visit. Took some photographs before we moved on towards back to Songjiang, whereby the Shanghai Film Studio is located.

Shanghai Film Studio

Before I started writing on the Shanghai Film Studio, when you watched movies/dramas that portrayed Old Shanghai, have you ever wondered where it was being filmed? That’s where I went, located in Songjiang District, the Shanghai Film Studio. I was keen to go there and have a feel of the filming location.

It was not just a filming arena, they also had their restricted acess, probably production and editing areas. The buildings though used for filming, was a very close replica of Old Shanghai, felt like walking down memory lane. When I was there in the afternoon, there was a filming going on, they were lots of cantonese being spoken and I reckoned they were from Hong Kong. I couldn’t spot any movie stars and I couldn’t really walked around more with the filming going on. Luckily before they were filming, I had quickly walked and took the photos.

This was the end of my afternoon agenda and we proceed with an afternoon tea at one of the teahouses before heading back to my accommodation for a rest and wash up before my night trip.

Shanghai Holiday Day 3 ~ 1st February 2007 Morning

SheShan

It’s been 3 days in Shanghai, had great fun exploring and understanding different cultures, experiences and food. After another lovely morning breakfast by Auntie, I embarked on another sightseeing tour around the outskirt districts of Shanghai. In the morning, I was brought to this area known as SheShan, 30km southwest of Shanghai.

This district does have a holiday designated area but we did not stop by and take a look. Instead, we went up the West Hill, drove up to a high plateau and disembarked. The views from the West Hill was awesome, even though it was a little bit foggy, we could still view the sights of the great massive space of land leading towards Shanghai.

There were a few interesting sights up there:

(1) SheShan Catholic Cathedral

(2) Jesuit Observatory (Tian Wen Tai)

(3) Cable car station that leads to the bottom of the hill and towards the East Hill

The Cathedral and Tian Wen Tai were historical monuments, each with their own glorious moments. The Cathedral was well taken care of when we went in and take a look inside the hall. No photography was allowed and the photographs I took were only the external facades.

As for the Tian Wen Tai, it is an observatory that had contributed to the history of ancient and modern China, great preservation of different eras of observatory instruments, used by the great astrolgers and scientists.

Great time exploring but that particular morning, the temperature was pretty low and with gusty winds blowing at our faces while we were on West Hill, it wasn’t long before we returned back to our car and headed towards Zhu Jia Jiao Canal Town.

To Be Continued ……….

Shanghai Holiday Day 2 ~ 31st January 2007 Night


Puxi District Night Sceneries

After my day trip to Zhou Zhuang Ancient Township, we returned back to Songjiang, had a rest and a quick shower before leaving for dinner in Shanghai.

Dinner was at one of restaurant in a shopping centre, located in the southwestern part of Shanghai, didn’t took down the name and take photos of the dinner I had. It was lovely food, just a little bit oily. I just loved the stir fried noodles.

After dinner, we split up, one group went to shop for goods and groceries while I went to Puxi District. When we drove towards the Puxi District, the beautiful lights of Pudong and Puxi District, lighting up the Huang Pu jiang, giving it a great aura of a modern cosmopolitian city that is able to retain its culture and history. There were many people along the Bund (as it known to the world), soaking in the cold winter night, taking photographs of Pudong District, chatting and having a great time. It is full of life and gives Shanghai the unique identity that stands out. If you ever visit Shanghai, it is a must for you to visit Pudong and Puxi District, in both the day and night.


We quickly walked along the road, admiring the various colonial buildings, the colours it bring to the river life. After that, we walked into Nanjing East Road, whereby a part of the shopping mall was located. There were not cars running in the middle of the road, just full of people shopping. It was brightly lit up with neon lights and advertisements. There were no intention for me to do any shopping yet and we just quickly walked up and down Nanjing East Road, looking around the various shopping complex, both old and new. People were all around, this place is lively and it brands Shanghai as a major city in the world.

Soon, it was time to pick up the rest and we headed back to the sub-urban district. Returning back to Songjiang, had a good rest and preparing for my Day 3 adventure.

Shanghai Holiday Day 2 ~ 31st January 2007


UNESCO Heritage Listed – Zhou Zhuang Ancient Township

Before I came over to Shanghai, this town was mentioned to me by my cousin, as a well-worthy place of visit. Upon hearing it, I went to read up on my Lonely Planet Shanghai book and found that it is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) heritage listed venues in 1998.

They have a comprehensive webpage on Zhou Zhuang Township, please go take there to take a look and have a greater understanding on this remarkable ancient township Zhou Zhuang Ancient Township

Today, after having a hearty breakfast by dearest Auntie, we set off to our destination Zhou Zhuang Township. However, before we even reached 5km, we had to stop for an hour to fix a leaking and rusty water pipe in the car. Therefore, we stopped at a garage for an hour to get it fixed before driving to our destination.

Along the way to the destination, we passed by different parts of Shanghai, great massive lakes before entering Jiangsu Province, where Zhou Zhuang Ancient Township is located. By the time we reached, it was around 12pm and it’s time for lunch. Looking around, we just pop into a restaurant at the corner of a cross junction leading up to the entrance of the Ancient Township. We had a great lunch and the pork leg meat a.k.a. “ti pang”, a Jiangsu delicacy. The meat was great but it was a bit too big for the two of us.

Without further ado, we went into the ancient township and started my journey into another world of rich and strong heritage, culture and history. It doesn’t take too much time to realise why UNESCO had chosen Zhou Zhuang Township, once you are inside there, you felt that you had gone back in time. The water canals connecting the houses, the bridges across many different sides of the entire township, display of historical kitchens, items, different chambers within the big houses. Wooden boats parked at the side of the canals, boatman and woman rowing the boats inside the canals, wriggling their journey through the narrow straits, singing their local songs. The villagers preparing their food, washing their stuff etc etc, displaying their traditional goods and local food.

I took about 100 photographs in Zhou Zhuang, something that I felt I didn’t do enough justice to this beautiful ancient township. I hope that my selected photographs on display would show Zhou Zhuang its rich history and beauty to all folks who visited my blog.

I walked around pretty quick and covered pretty much most of the whole ancient township. Within the ancient township itself, there were many other mini-museums e.g. Zhang’s House and Shen’s House, two of the houses we visited and we had a greater understanding of the famous people during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, their family house, artwork and their contributions.

Looking back, in the face of modernisation, many countries in the world faces economic growth at the expense of losing historical venues, items, culture etc etc … A world citizen in the modern globalised world, can play a big part in preserving the history and culture of the countries they visit and the motherland they originated or presently residing.

Let’s all play a part. I hope my writing here would make a difference to you and me.

Photojournalist in Travel, Events and Sports Photography