Tag Archives: Dragon Chapter

Personal Projects for 2016

The turbulent start to my year 2016 had kind of mellowed down and over the past two months in March and April, I slowly regained my composure, thoughts, emotions and thinking. Photography does help me a lot, a form of getaway and therapy from all those bad, harmful thoughts and emotions. In the first quarter of the year 2016, my photography projects and plans were put on hold while I sorted things out.

I pulled myself out from the bottom pit, I am back on my feet, ready to return back to my personal photography projects and starting my own photography business, as some of my friends said, “Finally! You are doing it!”. When the time is ripe, I would share more on my photography business, a lot of thinking and strategic planning had been put in place, the execution and action phase is coming up soon. My personal photography projects are concurrent with my photography business, to ensure that I do not be jaded by “photography work” and my passion of photography documentation/photojournalism continues to motivate me in a different manner and perspective.

In this post, I would like to share on my personal photography projects that I would to cover in 2016. I am doing more photography and documentation for my different personal photography projects, therefore, there might not be a photo book being planned for year 2016 at this point in time. If there is a change and a photo book is going to be produced, I would share the news.

Here are my personal photography projects for the rest of 2016 ~

Rochor Centre

The final countdown has started for this 4 iconic HDB blocks in the Bugis/Rochor area. While I had already done photography and documentation in the past few years, I still wanted to do something more before they are totally demolished and gone forever into history books, archives, our SGMemory.

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Bidadari

Another area that is also on the final countdown, once a former cemetery, the graves were exhumed and the lush greenery remains, attracting a lot of migratory and resident birds. This lush greenery will be gone, demolished, to make way for public housing estate in the near future.

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Central Catchment Nature Reserve

Our primary rainforest is in the limelight with the Cross-Island subway line plans for the future. They were planning to cut through the primary rainforest and in my personal opinion, it will affect our natural water supply beneath it, the wildlife and primary rainforest above it. I really hope they would do a diversion instead, skirting around the edge of the rainforest. My plan is to trek, photograph, document and share as much as possible of the lush greenery, wildlife and surroundings, to tell people how precious and important our Central Catchment Nature Reserve is, for the sake of our future generations.

Heritage, Old Places, Old Trades Photography and Documentation 

For this particular area of interest, it’s a huge area and I would probably go more in detail in a dedicated post by itself in the near future. An area that I might look into are the old trades and businesses.

Dragon Scout Group 95th Anniversary (95th anniversary in year 2017) Photo Book

In 2007, I was involved in the Dragon Scout Group 85th Anniversary celebrations, partially involved in the 85th Anniversary book. Fast forward and in year 2017, it will be my alma mater 95th Anniversary celebrations! I am involved in the 95th Anniversary Photo Book and the preparation starts in year 2016.

Photoblog theme refresh and seeking new Photography Business website

My wordpress theme for this photoblog of mine had served me very well over the years. 2016 is the 10th anniversary of my photo blogging, I think it is time to rejuvenate the template and layout, it’s time for a new refresh, a new start. The content will still be as great as before, if not even better! I am now seeking a suitable photography theme wordpress template for my photoblog and concurrently, another different photography theme wordpress template for my photography business. Now is the time!

While I am writing this last paragraph to wrap this article that I wrote, the topics and contents might be quite a big load to digest. Thank you for taking time to read my post! If a photograph speak a thousand words, visit my Flickr collection and the above topics that I wrote can be found there!

Happy Founder’s Day 2016!

On the 22nd February of every year, this particular day every year is a very significant day for many of us around the world, especially for those in the Scouting movement. During my Boy Scout days with my alma mater, Gan Eng Seng Dragon Scout Group, I learned so much from my Scouting days with the Dragon Scout Group family, life skills, outdoor skills, life skills, leadership, mentoring and priceless friendships for life. With a rich history and heritage dating back to 1922 when Dragon Scout Group was founded, Dragon Scout Group have come a long long way in Singapore’s Scouting history.

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Although I am not as active nowadays compared to ten years ago, I can always find my fellow brother scouts and seniors from the Dragon Scout family in our Dragon Chapter a.k.a old boys club of the Dragon Scout Group family, to catch up and chat. Here are some of my collection of the Dragon Scout Group family activities and fun that I was part of with my juniors and alma mater from the year 2007 till today. While I do have some of my Scouting photographs in the 90s period, I have yet to scan and share them online yet!

I hope to continue contributing back in some ways or another, through my photography and mentoring, to Pass-It-On and Pay-It-Forward.

Happy Founder’s Day to all fellow Scouts! Onward Dragon Scouts!

Outward Bound Singapore SGFuture at Coney Island

On a bright Sunday 14th February Valentine’s Day morning, I was out early in the morning, with two of my friends, Joe and DK, to join a group of young and youthful people on a trek to Coney Island (located on the North East corner of Singapore) organised by Outward Bound Singapore (OBS). I went to Coney Island not too long ago, explored the little island and I wanted to go back again soon after that. For this morning trek, NParks volunteers conducted a guided tour of Coney Island and they brought this group of youths along for a morning trek to Coney Island, sharing with them knowledge about nature, environment, conservation, wildlife, protection. Mr Baey Yam Keng, Parlimentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, graced the morning trek together with the group of young nature lovers for the 4km trek to Coney Island!

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It was fun to follow along this group of youth during the Sunday morning trek, all these activities resonate with me a lot, with my roots from my Boy Scout days when I was with the Gan Eng Seng School Dragon Scout Group (I am still a part of the Dragon Scout Group family) Outdoors, nature, trekking were some of my favourite outdoor recreational activities and I am still enjoying them as much as I can. Although I didn’t engage this group of young people that went for the morning trek, it was great to see their enthusiasm and fun loving nature! They were taken care of by the NParks volunteers and OBS instructors. During the trek, I was brought back into my own memories where I continued to help out at my alma mater, the Gan Eng Seng School Dragon Scout Group, mentoring and chatting to my juniors.

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During the trek, I took the chance to observe the flora and fauna, breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the lush greenery and tranquility on Coney Island. I did manage to spot some birds and wildlife and I would plan another trip to go back again for another round of wildlife/nature photography walkabout. For those who would like to see more of Coney Island, do drop by my Flickr collection and take a look! If you have not visited Coney Island, do plan a day to visit Coney Island and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life!

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At the end of the morning trek to Area C, near the mangrove swamp and beach area, this group of young nature lovers sat down in their respective groups with their OBS instructors and have an interactive discussion on how they feel about SGFuture, the natural environment, how to make and encourage more youths to appreciate the rich biodiversity in Singapore. Mr Baey was very enthusiastic, joining the various groups during their discussion, listening to them and encouraged them to contribute more ideas to expand OBS’ existing environmental education efforts to reach out to more youths on their outdoor education and recreation programs.

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“I’m pleased to see many young nature-lovers spending the morning of Valentine’s Day here at Coney Island. Youths are always looking for something fresh to interest them and today’s activity is one of such engagements. As youths are the future leaders who would see Singapore through SG100, it is important for them to be aware and proactive in conserving the environment,” said Mr. Baey.

Source: National Youth Council press release

Personally, it is very comforting to see this group of young people passionate and loving the natural environment in Singapore, even though Singapore is a very small country that is largely urbanised! I sincerely hope that this group of young people can go back, to their family and friends, to pass-it-on and spread the awareness on nature, conservation, preservation and protection of the small precious natural environment in Singapore.

At the end of the event, walking out of Coney Island, back towards the main land, I had a fun morning trek to the outdoors and be close to nature again. While Singapore is indeed a small country that is largely urbanised, we still have our gorgeous natural environment for us to visit and get away from the city life that we lead. It is up to each and everyone of us, the youth of today, our SGFuture, to continue loving and protecting the natural environment of Singapore.

Dragon Scout Group Campfire 2014

This was homecoming for me and my fellow Old Boys and Girls, returning back home to our Alma Mater, the Gan Eng Seng Dragon Scout Group Family, on Saturday 12th April 2014 for the 92nd Anniversary Campfire. The Scouting memories, camaraderie, friendships and to stay connected with the current Dragon Scout Group family. It’s also a time to Pay-It-Forward and Pass-It-On, the knowledge, bonding and experiences to the Dragon Scout Group.

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The Old Boys and Girls came back to celebrate the 92nd Anniversary Campfire, going up to the stage and singing campfire songs, just like our good old Scouting days in the past. Those were beautiful and wonderful memories that the group of Old Boys and Girls from the Dragon Chapter put together and part of the bigger Dragon Scout Group family. Along with the fellow Old Boys and Girls, we were proud of our history, heritage, culture and Scouting family bonding that is keeping the Dragon Scouting fire and spirit, big and bright! Check out the photographs taken during DSG Campfire 2014!

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In the year 2013, I wasn’t really that active and didn’t manage to stay in touch with the activities and happenings. In 2014, I hope to be more active and help out in whatever way that I can. I hope to Pay It Forward and Pass It On, the Dragon Scouting fire and spirit to the younger generation. For the year 2014, I helped out in the Scout proficiency badge – Photographer,  running the badge requirements and being the examiner. During the Saturday afternoon on 12th April 2014, I officially signed off my first Scout proficiency badge certificate for Photographer, with Li Xuan, a secondary 4 scout from Cougar Patrol, becoming my first Scout to pass the Photographer badge!

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My Dragon Scouting journeys taught me many things, life skills, friendships and fun adventures! I hope that my sharing, helping out in whatever ways possible and mentoring will be what I can do to Pay-It-Forward and Pass-It-On to the Dragon Scout Group family! Along with that, I am hoping to add more memories to my Dragon Scouting adventures, check out the collection on Flickr!


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

10 Steps to Photographic Fulfillment

A photographer’s journey is just like a life growing process and journey. We all start from the bottom, learning how to crawl, followed by walking and running. My photography journey has been part of me since about 25-30 years ago when I played with my first camera, a Pentax ME Super SLR camera that belongs to my Dad. While it wasn’t the smoothest and everything photography all the way from then, somehow or another, it had always been a part of me (although it left for a while and came back to me). Reflecting and looking back, I had learned and improved and I am still learning and hopefully improving!

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While I was reading Outdoor Photographer Magazine (one of my favourite photography magazines) recently, the July 2013 edition. I read an article by George D. Lepp, under Tech Tips “10 Steps to Photographic Fulfillment“. His words, wisdom and sharing struck me really deep in the heart and got me thinking hard and reflecting about my photography again. From George’s 10 Steps to Photographic Fulfillment, I decided to use his 10 Steps for my own sharing and reflection on my photography journey.

Step 1 – Photograph With A Purpose

There were times earlier in my photography days that I pretty much shoot anything that interests me and I got bored after some time, to the extent that I said there were nothing more interesting to shoot. This was also a turning point for me when I started to start looking more in-depth into my surroundings, my purpose and what I actually plan or/and want to photograph. Along with life changing incidents and growing older in age, I started to look at things differently and also looking back in time. One key area was the loss of things/culture/landmarks from my childhood and growing up years, that propelled me into Photographing With A Purpose – to document, photograph and share Old Places in Singapore. Photographing and documenting Old Places had been an on-going personal project for past few years and it allowed me to know many more new photographer friends with the same frequency. While my personal project is still on-going, for future photography adventures, I will make a point that I Photograph With A Purpose.

Step 2 – Do Your Research  

Doing research is an integral part of photography, from learning new photography techniques to understanding animals behaviour (for wildlife photography) or where/when to travel for landscape sceneries  shoot. There’s lots of planning and it only helps in your photography adventure and experiences. This would also allows you to enjoy your photography better and it can be a more fun time for you.

Step 3 – Invest Wisely In Equipment

There are always new toys and accessories in the market that is always enticing and attracting you to buy. It can be very tempting but we have to seriously ask ourselves, what kind of photography am I shooting and do I really need this new toy or accessories? Once we decided on a particular field of photography, we shouldn’t rush into buying all the new toys and accessories immediately. Personally, I encourage you all to explore and master your new toy (e.g. lens) and its capabilities and limitations before adding on the accessories to achieve the specialisation that you wanted in your photography. Sharing my own personal experiences, I started sports photography with my Canon EOS30D and EF 70-200mm f/4 L lens and I used this combination for about 3-4 years, shooting Rugby 7s and Singapore GP, before upgrading to a Canon EOS 1D Mark III and most recently adding the EF 300mm f/2.8 L lens. All this was done over a period of 5 years.

Step 4 – Embrace Education

Education, is and should be lifelong and ongoing, never-ending, regardless of whether it is about your work/professional career or hobby such as photography. For myself, photography was a lot about self-learning and exploration, coupled with some guide books, internet resources and one of the most important education that I ever received and I am still receiving was learning from photography seniors/masters/mentors. I am blessed by some bits and pieces of mentoring by different photographers and I am very grateful to them for passing down/sharing their photography tips, techniques, experiences and wisdom with me during my photography journey. While I am still learning the wonders of education in Photography, I am embracing sharing and mentoring through my own photography education and experiences, by teaching photography, I will be able to improve my level of photography knowledge and education.

Step 5 – Pursue Your Project

This is all about making and taking the First big step, in whatever you do. When you decided on your Photography Purpose, it’s now about execution and doing it! There will be ups and downs, it’s all part of your photography journey and do not give up! Just Do It and Keep It Going!

Step 6 – Adjust and Adapt 

While we are make plans to complete an assignment/project/goal, things are never smooth and there will be ups and downs along the way. Therefore, while we all make good plans, we must always be ready for changes and unforseen things happening. We need to be able and ready to adjust and adapt according to the situations, it can be adding/doing extra things into your existing project or taking away some of the things you are doing. Just like taking photographs, we always have to be ready to adjust and adapt to weather, lighting and situational conditions.

Step 7 – Follow Through At The Computer

Post processing initially was never part of my photography workflow. I confessed I was lazy,  I don’t have the expertise, knowledge and software. I was stubborn and  ignorant. After years, I slowly learned more about the scientific aspects behind those camera sensors and how different camera brands design/program them. There is a need for post processing and I began to adopt a simple post processing workflow into my photography recently using Aperture. In my photography adventure, I will ensure that the photographs that I take do not need too much post-processing by getting it close to “correct” based on the situation.

Step 8 – Invite Criticism

One of the human race worst flaw in my personal opinion is not able to take criticism in life. In life, criticisms (that are constructive) help us to improve in the things that we do, in work/career and our hobbies too. While criticisms can be painful at times (and your ego severely deflated), if the criticisms are unbiased, informed, constructive, meaningful and helpful, in the direction of  helping you improve your photography techniques, composition etc … All photographers can take back something constructive from it and move on to improve their photography skills and techniques.

Step 9 – Use Your Work

Share your works, with friends, photography enthusiasts, your local community and people around the world. Your works can be for sale or it can be part of a greater contribution to a social movement cause. Your photography works can make an impact and difference to the society around you and the world as well. I shared my photography works in various capacities and my photography experiences at alumni organisations and school. I have a Facebook Page for my Photography adventures and has a summary of my photography adventures to date. Some of  my personal photography projects are Old Places and The Green Corridor.

Step 10 – Share Your Knowledge

I believe in this personal philosophy Pay-It-Forward, this brings me back to ground level and start giving back to where I learned and started from. That is why I am active in my alumni mater activities and events, going back to my roots and giving it back something meaningful to them (as much as possible) , they are my Dragon Scout Group family and University of Queensland Alumni Association of Singapore. I also personally believe that sharing and passing on my photography knowledge as a mentor would help me in attaining higher levels of photography as I continued shooting and learning new things in photography. Start sharing your photography and Pay-It-Forward, to the wider local and international community out there!

After reading this article on Outdoor Photographer, it just impacted me a lot and reflect deeply. There are still many things for me to learn in photography and I am enjoying photography a lot more than the time when I said to myself “I have nothing interesting to shoot”. Today, I am not only photographing with a purpose, I am also embracing education to learn new photography skills and knowledge.

Moving ahead, I am planning to photograph more different areas and document more photographic stories to tell life stories and I like you to walk this photography journey with me!

“Your First 10,000 Photographs Are Your Worst” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

DSG 90th Anniversary Dinner – Home Coming

Founded in the year 1922, she’s 90 years old in the year 2012. The history, heritage, culture and strength of Gan Eng Seng Dragon Scout Group (DSG) stands tall and proud among her peers in the history of Scouting in Singapore because DSG is one of the oldest Scout Groups in Singapore. In the year 2012, Dragon Scout Group celebrated her 90th Anniversary with a grand campfire and a Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program. At the end of the year 2012, the 90th Anniversary celebrations were rounded off with a big bang with a 90th Anniversary Home Coming Dinner back to school, organised by the Dragon Chapter, for the boys and girls of Dragon Scout Group and for the old boys and girls too.

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It was great to see a good turnout from the current boys and girls of the Dragon Scout Group and the old boys and girls of different generations of the Dragon Scout Group family. This was our Dragon Scout Group Extended Family Reunion Dinner and we were honoured by the presence of our Principal, Mrs Carolin Tan, to be the Guest of Honour during our 90th Anniversary Dinner. While the 90th Anniversary Dinner was planned by the old boys, the current leaders, ventures and scouts all helped in one way or another to make this 90th Anniversary Dinner a success.

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A great example of Dragon Scouting unity was the creation of the Dragon Scout Group badge tea lights inside the school hall on the day before the 90th Anniversary Dinner. It was a combined effort by the extended Dragon Scout Group family, with a group of old boys like Wei Liang and myself; teachers Hongliang (my DSG senior) and Ms Lee; Leaders – Choon Lian and Moo Teng; Ventures – Amelia and Kenner; Scouts: Joel. Through our unity and combined efforts, we got the Dragon Scout Group badge tea lights ready for the 90th Anniversary Dinner the following day. Old boys Teck Chong (my DSG senior and my SL when I was a PL) and Ganesh were in school earlier to help with the banners and decorations too!

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On the day of 90th Anniversary Dinner, it was great to see many old boys and girls back. My fellow batch were back in force, almost occupying a full table, Nicholas, Jinguang, Zhigang, Zhenhao, Junjie, Alfred and Quanjun. I wasn’t able to catch up with them as much since I was the photographer and had to run around the dinner event. We had a group photo taking in the school hall, in front of the Dragon Scout Group badge tea lights. This was a great family reunion photo!

There were lucky draws, games and videos (of recent Dragon Scouting and Hawaii overseas exchange trip) were shown during the 90th Anniversary Dinner. When the dinner was officially over, we had our own patrol photograph taking, the old and new all coming together for their combined patrol photograph that would go down into our Dragon Scouting history and heritage. I had been documenting and photographing Dragon Scouting for the past few years, do check out my photos inside my Flickr collection! Looking back, I was glad to play a part here in the organising of the 90th Anniversary Dinner with fellow old boys, Wei Liang, Thye San, Teck Chong, Say Chionh, Ganesh and Wei Yang. A proud moment for all of us were the old boys lighting up the tea lights of the Dragon Scout Group badge at the end of the dinner. The Dragon Scout badge stood out remarkably, like a bright Scouting light that led and bind us all together in the Dragon Scouting family.

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The home coming DSG 90th Anniversary Dinner was great, significant and heartwarming. This is something that I am able to Pay-It-Forward and Pass-It-On, contributing and giving back my gratitude to the Dragon Scouting movement that I learned and honed many skills and life-long brotherhood friends. Happy 90th Anniversary to Dragon Scout Group and Onward !


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Day 10 – Mahalo & Farewell Hawaii

The final day of Dragon Scout Group Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012, it’s Day 10 of our adventure in Hawaii. Waking up early in the morning, we checked out from our hotel. Our Hawaiian Hosts, Wayson and Edwina were there to bid farewell to us. While we were feeling a bit sad that we would be leaving after 10 wonderful days in Hawaii, we were also looking forward to returning back home to Singapore. We would like to say Mahalo (Thank You in Hawaiian language) and farewell to Hawaii! A school bus was booked to ferry us from the hotel to Honolulu International Airport, it was an interesting experience to ride inside the yellow coloured school bus in the United States.

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When we arrived and checked in at Honolulu International Airport, we received news that our flight was delayed from 1155hrs to 1630hrs Hawaiian time due to severe weather conditions at Incheon International Airport, that caused many flights in and out of Incheon International Airport to be delayed. Due to the circumstances, we adapted to the situation and checked in and entered the airport area waiting for our delayed flight to Incheon International Airport. During that time, we were facing the possibility that our connecting flight at Incheon International Airport would be missed completely. The teachers and myself were discussing on the scenarios on what could happen if we missed our connecting flight. With the weather conditions affecting the flights and out of our control, we just relaxed and rested, having lunch and shopping inside the airport.

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Our flight from Honolulu International Airport to Incheon International Airport took off at 1630hrs Hawaiian time, it was a long 10hrs 40mins of flight, heavy turbulence and a bit of air pockets along the whole journey. With such a bumpy ride for most of the flight journey, I couldn’t really sleep on the plane and decided to watch movies instead. We arrived at Incheon International Airport at about 2315pm Korean time and we saw Incheon International Airport ground being covered in thick snow that were cleared to the sides, that explained why our flights were delayed due to the severe weather storm in Incheon. We asked for assistance at the Transit Desk on our missed connecting flight from Incheon to Singapore. We found out that our connecting flight that we supposed to board was also delayed from 1835hrs to 0015hrs and we were able to get into this flight. It was a bit of a rush with the administrative work to change our boarding passes. Soon we were reissued with our new boarding passess and we rushed to our departure gate for boarding.

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The boys and girls quickly called back to their family and informed them of their new arrival timing at Changi International Airport. The flight back from Incheon International Airport to Changi International Airport was smooth and we arrived safely back home in Singapore, touching down around 0700hrs Singapore time. It was great to be back home in Singapore, we collected our backpacks and stuff, gathered for one last group photo before the DSG boys and girls were officially dismissed, signifying the official end of the DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012.

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It’s Day 11 when we arrived in Singapore due to the time zone differences. Overall, 10 days of awesome exciting Scouting exchange and adventure in Hawaii (and approximately 2 days of flying and transit time). This would not be possible without the planning, hospitality and warmth of our Hawaiian Hosts that made our Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012 successful and fun. Mahalo to our Hawaiian Hosts, Sterling, Wayson, Edwina, Betsy, Nancy and  Thomas.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Day 9

Today is Day 9 of Dragon Scout Group (DSG) Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012. The past 8 days had been very fun, eventful and exciting. I had a great great time here in Hawaii with my DSG family and as our adventure in Hawaii was drawing to a close, I confessed that there were a bit of sadness in leaving Hawaii. After our breakfast at Aqua Aloha Surf Hotel, we gathered at the hotel lobby for our morning trek through parts of the city towards Mount Le’ahi (Diamond Head), Hawaii’s most famous and most recognised landmark, for her historic hiking trail, stunning coastal views, and military history.

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We were led by Wayson from our hotel through the sub-urban neighbourhoods, walking through a tunnel under the mountain and reaching the entrance whereby we started our trek up the mountain towards the summit of Mount Le’ahi (Diamond Head). Hawaii State Parks has information on the Diamond Head Summit Trail, do check out their site for more details! The trek up wasn’t too difficult for us, the route was winding along the contour lines. As we trekked further up the trail route, the view got even more beautiful along the way. Close to the summit of Mount Le’ahi, there was a steep looking staircase (like a stairway to heaven), this was a bit of huff and puff given the inclination and gradient of the staircase. Once we huffed and puffed our way reaching the top of the staircase, we were greeted by a small lighted-up 225 ft tunnel inside the mountain. Slowly walking through, we reached an old spiral staircase and continued our trekking upwards. The spiral staircase was a short journey and when we saw light and the ocean! We arrived at a observation post built inside the mountain, climbed out of the small opening between the rocks and I tumbled my way out because the exit was too small for my frame. In another short trek up, we finally reached the summit of Mount Le’ahi and we now know why this is Hawaii’s most famous and most recognised landmark, for her historic hiking trail, stunning coastal views, and military history. The coastal views were stunning and we were able to see the bunkers on the crater rim, besides that, there were many people there crowding around the small summit area, all taking panoramic photographs of the Southeastern Oahu coastline.

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After a good rest, enjoying the cool ocean breeze, breathe-taking sceneries and taking many photographs, we trekked down and back to our hotel, stopping by for lunch along the way back. The afternoon was a free and easy rest time for the DSG boys and girls, preparing for the farewell dinner later in the evening. I went back to my hotel room, showered and rested for a while before continuing with the photo video montage to be shown during the farewell dinner later in the evening. The photo montage video clip was done by Janice and Guan Ying, who were our DSG Ventures. I just provide my Macbook Pro, iMovie and photographs from Wayson and myself. It was a production by the DSG boys and girls for the Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012, I just pop in a few pointers and allow them to have control of the production. My room was joined by more people later in the afternoon, we were all doing some last minute gifts, the key chain boy scout figurine and doing the photo video montage and photographs slideshow.

In the evening, the DSG boys and girls gathered at the hotel lobby. Our various Hawaiian hosts drove us in their individual cars to pick us from our hotel lobby to Maple Gardens, a restaurant nearby our hotel. This farewell dinner was kindly hosted by Wayson and Edwina, thank you very much for the warmest hospitality and kindness! Before dinner commenced, there were short speeches by Sterling and Wayson. After that, Eugene took over the proceedings, like what he always do during the meal times at DAV campsite dinning hall, the DSG boys and girls collected their buffet food and waited for all to come back and tuck into their meals together as one DSG family. While they were eating, they were shown parts of the photo slideshow from our 8 days of adventure, we had a good laugh there during the dinner!

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During the dinner, DSG presented gifts and appreciation to our kind Hawaiian hosts that took great care of us during the time we were here. We would like to say a Big Big Thank You to Sterling, Wayson, Edwina, Betsy, Nancy and Thomas. The boys and girls from each patrol also showed their own appreciation to our Hawaiian hosts, with their own gifts and appreciation for them. During the appreciation time towards our Hawaiian hosts, the scene and atmosphere was very heartwarming, epitomising the spirit and bonding of Scouting movement worldwide. Suddenly, we were interrupted by Wayson coming with a big birthday cake! DSG and our Hawaiian hosts were celebrating my DSG senior, Hongliang’s birthday in advance! This was a surprise for Hongliang and I am sure he’s very happy deep inside him that DSG and our Hawaiian hosts were celebrating it for him!

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My DSG senior, Hongliang, gave a thank you speech to all at the farewell dinner. He shared a lot about the history behind how DSG and Hawaiian Scouting established their friendship and relationship, dating back to 1992 when both sides first met, the first exchange was in 1994 whereby the Hawaiian Scouts first came down and in 1995, DSG went over to Hawaii. This was followed by December 2006 when DSG went over to Hawaii and in July 2007, the Hawaiian Scouts came over. This time in 2012, it’s our third exchange and we would be looking forward to more exchanges in the future! I can totally relate to the speech that my DSG senior, Hongliang, when he was talking about this because I was there when Sterling first came down to Gan Eng Seng School and visited Dragon Scout Group, the first exchange in 1994 and how the friendship and relationship between DSG and Hawaiian scouting blossomed over the years. The Dragon Scouting blood inside Hongliang and myself, we probably had a stronger and deeper understanding of what this meant, the Scouting friendship and relationship between Dragon Scout Group and Hawaii Scouting since 1990s and growing stronger into the future. I also wrote some more in-depth personal thoughts here from my DSG Hawaii Exchange Program and my photographs for the Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program can be found here on Flickr!

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During the dinner, there was a short video clip presentation for Mr Kevin Kung, one of the teachers-in-charge of DSG and the overall coordinator for the Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012. This was to show appreciation to Mr Kevin Kung for all his hard work and time, over the years with DSG and this particular 2012 Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program. To end it off on a high and joyous note, Hongliang led a traditional 3 cheers of Yum Sheng and a group family photo taking! The time has come, for us to return back to our hotel, for a rest and packing up for our return back to Singapore the next day, our adventure in Hawaii was coming to an end soon.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Day 8 – Big Island Day 2

Day 8 of Dragon Scout Group (DSG) Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program, Day 2 on Big Island, Hawaii. After an exciting Day 1 on Big Island, the boys and girls woke up in the chilly morning for a morning PT, running from the Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) towards nearby areas in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I didn’t join them and stayed back taking photographs of the KMC, the surroundings, enjoying the morning breeze walk with Wayson and Sterling. I had a nice hot coffee with Wayson and Sterling, chatted at the staircase leading up to our accommodation. Thereafter, Wayson, Sterling and myself picked up breakfast and lunch packages from KMC admission office for the boys and girls later to have their breakfast.

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After the DSG boys and girls were back from the morning PT, it was rest time and breakfast time. We all had packed our daypacks, cleared our things from the bunks and got ready for our Big Island Day 2 adventure. Soon, we were on a road trip along Crater Rim Drive, heading towards the coastal area, the Chain of Craters Road. The Chain of Craters Road is a 38mile (62km) round trip that descends from 3700 feet (1128m) to the coast. Driving downhill towards the coast, what we saw were vast giant land of lava flow that were hardened/solidified since 1986. The road trip was very quiet and peaceful outside because there weren’t much traffic at all. However, during the road trip, my rental van was singing in the van while it was heading towards the end of Chain of Craters Road. We had our first stop at Kealakomo Overlook and Picnic Area (if I get my facts correctly). The view was special, vast open flat lava land, it never seemed to be ending anywhere that our eyes can view. I simply had to take a group photo of DSG here, we were going to leave our Dragon Scouting footprints here!

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Continuing our road trip downhill, the coastal and shoreline became more visible. Being a landscape and travel photographer myself, I just took photographs from our van tinted windows, the views were simply breathe-taking beyond words of description and composition here. The photographs that I took simply spoke for itself the beauty and aura of Mother Nature’s gorgeous natural artworks. Driving downwards and reaching the flat coastal plains, we soon reached the end of Chain of Craters Road because the road was closed and no longer accessible by vehicles due to the young 2003 lava flows. We disembarked after parking our vans and started trekking along the road. Passing by the huts and restrooms and barricade, we just trekked on the road, unable to really see what was ahead, the scene seemed never-ending. However, straight ahead, we saw something sticking out of the road, black and totally sealing the road off. This was the young 2003 lava flows, the youngest land on Earth being rewritten into the history books. Trekking on the uneven lava land, the adventurers from DSG continued their exploration, soon, we found a signboard that was placed there “Road Closed”, that suited the location perfectly 100%.

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After many photo taking by the boys and girls from DSG, we took a Group Photo there with the “Road Closed” signboard. It’s simply can’t be missed and I loved it how DSG had been leaving many Dragon Scouting footprints in Hawaii. We then begun to trek towards the coast line, where we can watch and enjoy the beautiful ocean waves and breeze. The views were simply gorgeous, yet it could be dangerous since there weren’t any barricades around the edge of the cliff and it was a vertical straight drop. Therefore, the teachers, along with Wayson and myself, being adults, had to ensure that the DSG boys and girls were kept a safety distance and being looked after carefully at all times while they were looking and enjoying the ocean breeze and waves splashing against the cliff. Although our plan to view the lava flow around this area wasn’t available, we still enjoyed ourselves a lot trekking and exploring the End of Craters Road.

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After many photographs were taken, we returned back to our rental vans and started our return journey uphill towards Kilauea Visitor Centre. We stopped by the Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku) and this was a very popular tourist attraction with coaches, rental vans and private cars parking nearby and hordes of people walking towards the Lava Tube. Therefore, there was a bit of queuing up to enter the Lava Tube cave. This was a pretty short trek because the other half of the Lava Tube cave was closed to the public. This was an eye-opener on how lava once flowed this tube (given the size and height of the tube/cave). After finished trekking and exploring Lava Tube, we departed Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, had our quick lunch nearby from Volcano Village. We drove back to Hilo, whereby the rental vans would be returned and getting ready to board our domestic flight from Big Island to Oahu. Before that, we visited Rainbow Falls Lookout, that had a nice pool of water below yet no waterfall due to the dry weather that day. We then drove toward Big Island Candies for shopping and rest, some of them bought cookies while I just bought ice cream and rested. Sterling and Wayson went to refuel the rental vans that were due to be returned.

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In the late afternoon, we reached Hilo Airport, the boys and girls rested, did their reflections and wrote down their thoughts and stories on their second day in Big Island while Wayson and Sterling returned the rental vans. Once they were back, we entered the immigration area, waited for our flight and returned back to Oahu. Our hosts were there to pick us up from Honolulu Airport and we were now headed for Waikiki, our hotel was the Aqua Aloha Surf Hotel, located at 444 Kanekapole Street, Honolulu, HI  96815. We collected our backpacks that were brought to us by our Hawaiian friends from their home, waited at the hotel lobby. Once rooms were assigned, we went to our rooms, dropped our bags and quickly went for dinner in their respective groups. I had a quick dinner at the nearby International Market Place and went back to my hotel room for a good sleep and rest after helping Janice and Guan Ying to prepare for the farewell dinner video. It had been an awesome 8 days in Hawaii and tomorrow would be our last night in Hawaii!


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Day 7 – Big Island

On the 3rd December 2012 (Hawaii Time), the day that we had been looking forward to in our Dragon Scout Group (DSG) Hawaii Overseas Exchange itinerary, it’s Day 7 and we would be flying over to Big Island from Oahu for a 2D1N adventure. Waking up early in the morning, leaving the DAV campsite and heading for Honolulu Airport, we checked in and waited for our domestic flight to Hilo, Big Island. It was a short flight around 45mins to 1hour and with the beautiful weather in the sky, we saw beautiful white clouds and saw the islands of Moloka’i and Maui below us.

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Soon we arrived at our destination, Hilo Airport. Sterling and Wayson went off first to pick up the 2 rental vans nearby Hilo Airport. Once they were back, we started our adventure in Big Island. First up, it was lunch at a nearby eatery, always fun to taste local food, their portion is always upsized according to our standards. I ordered a large meal and shared around. When we finished our lunch, we continued our journey and our first stop was the famous Mauna Loa Macdamia Nuts plantation and factory. It was shopping time for Macdamia Nuts, souvenirs, looking at the production/packing line of Macadmia Nuts factory from the glass windows. We didn’t take up too much time there and soon we were on our way to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, something I was eagerly looking forward to during this whole trip! Do follow Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Facebook!

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As our rental vans traveled uphill towards Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the weather got cooler and we knew we were reaching soon. We reached the entrance of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where the ticketing booths were located, continued driving in and we reached Kilauea Visitor Centre. At the Kilauea Visitor Centre, we learned about the geographical landscape on how Hawaii was formed, the flora and fauna on the islands of Hawaii. We watched a video presentation at the Kilauea Visitor Centre before starting our exploration around the Kilauea Visitor Centre area. Our first location was Volcano House, a short walk from Kilauea Visitor Centre, that was the start of our eye-opener adventure in Big Island. The vast open volcano land view was simply breathe-taking beyond words, it shows the beauty of Mother Nature and her creations. This was just a part of the viewing locations for the Kilauea Caldera, it’s really really big and vast!

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Continuing on, we trekked back to Kilauea Visitor Centre, hopped back into our rental vans and began our Crater Rim Drive adventure. We soon reached the Steam Vents (Wahinekapu) and spent some time there, exploring the steam vents. It’s really strong and hot, like a hot sauna into your face! I asked the DSG boys and girls to take a group photograph there in front of the steam vents and they had a “hot” time while we were photographing away! The Sulphur Banks (Ha’akulamanu) was nearby too and we started trekking towards there from the Steam Vents. The flora and fauna were unique, there were lush greenery with beautiful flowers from the road walking inwards towards the Sulphur Banks. However before moving closer towards the Sulphur Banks, it became dry and barren with strong sulphuric activities and smell. After photo taking and exploring around the Sulphur Banks area, the DSG boys and girls trekked back towards the rental vans and we drove towards Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

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I didn’t know much about this region at all, it’s very beautiful and I was mesmerised by the beautiful creations of Mother Nature, the vast land size, the geographical and geological nature of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It’s a hidden gem! From Hawaii Volcano Observatory, the views were so gorgeous and amazing. All the DSG boys and girls cameras went into overdrive mode and started photographing the sceneries, themselves and with their friends of this beautiful place. I also went a bit overdrive too, however, there were times I just paused, sitted down there, just silently viewed the entire Kilauea Caldera from left to right, like a panoramic eye. I haven’t had such an opportunity to sit down, relaxed and enjoy the gorgeous artworks of Mother Nature. The time there was very Zen, tranquil and peaceful for me, this was something very special inside my heart and soul (the Boy Scouting / Outdoor Adventurer / Traveler spirit) that had been missing from my life for quite a long time.

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Our DSG boys and girls visited Jagger Museum and learned more about the Kilauea Caldera, looked at the volcanic rocks and the history of this area. Wayson and Sterling spoke to the Park Rangers Office and one of their Park Rangers kindly brought DSG for a short tour/presentation of Kilauea Caldera. Our boys and girls were grateful, they were attentive when the Park Ranger was sharing his knowledge and stories of this area. His talk was very interesting, captivating our DSG boys and girls, listening attentively. Our Park Ranger host was so great that tourists also flocked behind our DSG boys and girls, and listened to his sharing together too! When he finished his sharing, we all had to take a photograph with our lovely Park Ranger host!

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It was dinner time and we left Hawaii Volcano Observatory for Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) for our dinner and accommodation. They are a pretty good place to stay while visiting Big Island especially for group tours and it’s definitely worth considering! Do check out their KMC website for more information! After dinner, we drove back towards Hawaii Volcano Observatory for another different view of Kilauea Caldera. It was pitch black darkness, except for 2 main things, the glowing fume from Kilauea Caldera and the many many beautiful star trails above the Hawaii Volcano Observatory. While we weren’t able to view a real life lava flow, we were quite close to the volcanic activities and right in the heart of volcanic land.  This time again, I was brought back to my heart and soul again, like it was earlier in the day. Taking photographs, enjoying the night Hawaii Volcanoes National Park sceneries, sitting down and relaxing, I wished I was able to spend more time there at night, photograph the star trails and concentrate on photographing the glowing fume. However, time was not on my side and I didn’t have my tripod, telephoto lens and remote control. Therefore, I want to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park again with my full gear of camera equipment.

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Due to time constraints, I couldn’t spend more time there during the night at Hawaii Volcano Observatory. We needed to head back to KMC for washing up, rest and recovery. The place was warm and cosy, nice beds with thick blankets. The dormitory was just like going back to Army Days for me except it was more relaxing! After a group debrief and personal reflection time for the boys and girls, we all had a good night’s rest before continuing with Day 8 adventure on Big Island, Hawaii.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.