Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Welcome to the world Daniella Isobel Iking-Chong

No pictures of the mother. Not camera ready but she looks great.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

All my bags and I'm ready to go...

I'm going to Kota Bahru tomorrow for 3 days. I'll be attending a wedding there with Chui Yan. I'm bringing along my camera equipment. I can't bring everything since I'll be flying Air Asia. I would love to bring all my lighting equipment but I just have to make do with my DC light and one battery pack.

The one thing I am definitely going to bring along is my new Manfrotto tripod. I spend the whole morning adding a padding to the bag I got for free for the tripod. I bought two rolls of those foam padding from the camping section in Giant. It's something people use to lay their sleeping bags on before sleeping.

I had to measure and cut the foam and fit it into the bag. Its all held together with duct tape. Not exactly an ideal way to do it but it'll do for now. Suprisingly, duct tape holds really well to the foam. Originally, I was going to stitch the foam together but I think that will just tear it. So duct tape it is!

Monday, November 19, 2007


Today, was the big day. I finally bought my tripod! I when down to Engtong Systems with Azlan and Fadli during lunch break today to buy the tripod I had ordered. Engtong is small shop in SS2 same row as lobsterman. They're a Manfrotto distributor. I heard about them from my cameraman Ali.

If you haven't heard of Manfrotto before, they're a famous Italian brand of tripods. They're like the Ferrari's of tripod. More expensive than the chinese and japanese imitations but it's worth it.

I had ordered a basic head and tripod. They're two seperate things actually. It came with a free vinyl bag.

Manfrotto tripod
I was so excited when I brought them home. I laid it out on my bed to assemble it. Excuse the bedsheet... I don't know what my maid was thinking when she changed my sheets.

Manfrotto tripod
The 701RC2 is the most basic video head setup available. It's also the most popular video head model according to the sales guy at Engtong. The tripod was a funky looking 055XPROB. It's also the basic tripod leg that can support the weight I required for my camera.

Manfrotto tripod
First, I took out the tripod head. The pan handle wasn't attached to it so I had to attached that first.

Manfrotto tripod
Initially, I wanted to attached the pan handle on the left so I can use it with my left hand. I'm actually right handed but my zoom control on my camera is also on my right so I wanted to control the zoom with my right hand and pan with my left hand. Apparently, I can only fit in the pan handle one way and I have to use it with my right hand. I tried squeezing it but I didn't want to break it.

Manfrotto tripod
Next was the tripod leg. It's the typical telescope leg setup I've seen other cameraman's use. The leg was really sturdy. They even offer a 2 year warranty plus another 3 years if you sign up on-line in their website which I did!

Manfrotto tripod
The black cap on the top has to be removed before attaching the head to it. The water level looks a little dodgy. It looks like it can break of easily if I accidentally bump into it. When the top part of the tripod is not screwed tight, the top part is loose and the water level is hanging loose.

Manfrotto tripod

Manfrotto tripod
It's just a matter of screwing the head onto the body.

Manfrotto tripod
To make sure the head doesn't unscrew by accident, there's 3 screw pins at the bottom that you have to tighten to make sure it doesn't fly of while you're shooting.

Manfrotto tripod
This is the most funky feature of the tripod. I don't have the right tripod head to use this feature fully. I need a bowl head to use this feature so that the camera can be tilted up vertically. With my current video head, it'll just be shooting horizontally if I put the tripod in this position. I guess it's great for still photo cameras.

Manfrotto tripod
So this is what my camera looks like on it. Very fluid pan and tilt shots. I love it! Only one feature missing, pedestal movements. I can't pedestal up and down like I can with my cheapo tripod. The cheapo tripods have a crank which lets me pedestal the camera up and down. Useful when you want to move the camera from under a table to above the table.

Manfrotto tripod
The tripod legs open up all the way until it's flat on the floor. Useful when I need to take low angle shots. I like shooting interviews with low angle.

Manfrotto tripod
The first thing I did was to lable my name on the tripod!

The tripod comes with a simple carry bag. Not like the padded Manfrotto bag they show in brochure. I wrapped the tripod head in the bubble wrap that came with the box just to protect it from bumps.

Engtong is like a toy shop for people who love camera accessories. Me, Fadli and Azlan had a good time exploring their shop looking at all their stuff. One of the fun things we saw was a body harness to hold the camera.

Tren body cam
Azlan here demonstrates how it is used. Useful for long interviews, instead of holding your camera it can now be hands free! No more shaky shots in an interview.

Tren body cam
It comes with a clip you wear around your body so the hardness doesn't slip of. It's only about RM200-300. Not a bad deal. Another fun thing we saw from Manfrotto was the Fig Rig. It's a hand held round mound for cameras. It looks like a steering wheel mount to be handheld for cameras. It's hard to explain.

I'm gonna see if my office can get some of these so we can play with it!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Somehow, I like this picture. Reminds me of two lovers. Peaceful, serene and so alike each others. Beautiful compliment of one another.
Still recovering from my flu. I woke up early today to send Chui Yan to the airport. I came home to take a nap. I ran out of flu medication. I've been trying to this steam treatment and so far it's been working a little. I take a bowl of steaming hot water and put my face over it and drape a cloth around my face. It's supposed to clear the congestion in my troat, nose and pressure in my ear.
It's a working day tomorrow so I think I should start sleeping early these days.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

oh yeah, one spot of good news after getting back from Bali. In my drowsy haze unpacking my suitcase. I was looking for something and I looked into the remote control holder on my sofa in my room and I saw something black deep inside the pockets.

I reached down to pull it out to see what it was. It turned out to be my lens caps! Woopee! Deep down I knew that lens cap was somewhere around. I wonder how on earth it ended up in the remote control holder. Now I've learned two things:

1. Get a proper working table to clean equipment
2. Do a proper search if I loose anything.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I'm back from Bali. Not feeling too great, I got sick on my last day there. I had a terrible sore troat and running nose. Those guys there were chain smokers and I'm allergic to it. I came back yesterday. When to see the doctor in the office as soon as we arrived from the airport. She gave me some medication and I've been drowsy every since. Today I took the day of but I had to still go to the office to settle some stuff. I had to drive to KL to see Chui Yan's sister at her office too to settle some of my legal documents.

I was so drowsy driving back, I had a slight accident parking my car in the house. I drove in too far and knocked my front license plate on the wall. Part of it fell of, luckily I could glue back all the shattered pieces.

Anyway, I spend the whole night uploading the pictures into my flickr account. It's a free account so it's almost maxed out from all the pictures I've uploaded. Next I think I'll upload the videos into my youtube account.

I had to change to template of this blog just so I could fit in the pictures. I encoded the wrong size from flickr. They were too large for the original template. I had to pick the template without the sidebar. Looks a whole lot neater now doesn't it?

This was first day of arrival on 12 November on Monday at the Bali international airport. The hotel send a few cars to come pick us up.

My first impression of this was that there was a toll booth right outside the airport. Turns out to be the booth you pay your parking ticket at the airport. Whether you're just here to pick someone up or not, you have to pay.

We arrived at our hotel, Novotel Benoa in Tanjung Benoa. It was straight to lunch for us as we were starved. Ezzah and Ifa came a day earlier on Sunday and they greeted us when we arrived at the lobby.

Indonesian food buffet. The food was a little dry without gravy. I kind of like dishes that are stir fried. It was acceptable to my pallet as I was hungry.

One of the desserts I saw there was this thing wrapped up in a leave.

On opening it, it turns out to be glutinous rice with minced fish in it. It was kind of sweet.

After that, we all checked into our room. As you can see... the rooms was quite nice. This is the standard room and from what I understand, the suites and private villas they had were even nicer.

My bed was on the left, my roommate Ally Iskandar was on the right. The only complaint I had from some of my other colleagues was the airconditioner. It wasn't centralized air conditioning so they had indidivual airconditioning in each room. Some weren't cold enough.

Our room was right at the edge of a building so we didn't have a great view outside our room. Ours was facing another block. Me and Ally spend most of our time in the room either sleeping or watching CNN.

I didn't take a bath as we didn't have time. The water from the shower smelled a little wierd. I have a feeling they used desalinated water as it smelled salty.

The toiletries was pretty basic but I like the attention put into displaying it.

The whole resort was very green. There was a lot of trees blooming with flowers everywhere... just like this one outside my room.

They put this flower stalks in the corridors. At night they emit a very strong fragrant smell. Reminds me of the flower you smell when there is a pontianak nearby. Gave me the slight creeps when I was walking alone at night.

Our brainstorming strarted right after lunch and we had some time to freshen up in our room. Aziz Hassan started with his presentation on how his plans for Majalah 3 for next year.

I had some time during the tea break to take a peek at the pool near the beach. It was beautiful.

We were divided into 3 groups. Some of the group members here were discussing their ideas for a program. I think it was for Nona or Wanita Hari Ini.

At night, the whole resort looks totally different. The lighting they used gave the place a surreal look.

IMG_2107 Even the stone carvings at night looked different with the unique lighting they used.

We when out for dinner to another resort. My colleagues were worried about halal food as most of the island was Hindus. We were brought to a Holiday Villa, which I think is owned by Malaysians.

Walking through the resort to get to the beach.

We were given a warm greeting on arrival at the Holiday Villa. Shahnun here, like everyone else was given a flower to wear on their ear.

The path to the dinning area was dark and dimly lighted.

Pali, Aziz Ismail and Shahnun walking to the dining area. Everyone had a flower to wear on their ear. Cute.

IMG_2113 It was the same type of food we had during lunch... all Indonesian fare for buffet. My colleagues said it was really nice. I'm not too keen on Malay food but if it's edible to me, it's nice.

Food presentation at the buffet table was nice.

They had dishes and rice.

As I mentioned, most of the dishes were quite dry. Like this fish for example, it was grilled with little gravy.

Dinner was pretty casual. We had dinner with the lady who we contacted earlier before coming to Bali. She was a friend of this guy I had interviewed for the Winners program I was doing. She was a Malaysian who was running a travel agency in Bali.

The dinning area was right at the beach. I didn't see much of the beach as it was dark.

Ezzah and me after dinner. The background is quite nice with a small pool but it was took dark to be seen in this photo.

We managed to take a group photo at the hotel lobby.

They had a small stage with a nice background at the lobby.

Our tour guide name was Ketot. He was talking on the microphone the whole journey in the bus. He started his introduction with "nama saya ketot..." We all made fun of that. After dinner, our next stop was to see a traditional Balinese dance, Cekak.

We sat around a stage to watch the show.

The lady next to me was the Malaysian lady who ran the travel agency. The guy next to Ezzah was the choreographer of the dance.

The Cekak dance is based on the Ramayana. It's a classical Hindu tale. The villagers have been praticing it even since they became Hindus. It's part of their oral history tradition. The interesting thing about the place we when too was that it was a cultural centre collectively owned by the farmers who own the land surrounding the place. The younger generation come here when they are not farming to learn the dance.

Since we brought a camera along, it came quite handy as Pali started shooting the dance.

This is the bad guy in the dance.

We had a photo opportunity after the dance to take photos with them.

Me and Ezzah posing with the dancers.

The lighting is a little of in this photo. The dancers are supposed to be in the background.


After the photo session, we were invited to learn the dance. Nurul Syuhaida was game enough to give it a try.


There was also a gamelan group playing the background.

This was the backdrop of the stage. If you look at the centre of the picture, you can see the padi field.

The centrepiece of the stage was a candle stand.

The next on Tuesday, our brainstorming session started again at 8am. Aziz Ismail presenting his ideas for Malaysia Hari Ini.

In between breaks, we had one of the fitness instructor come in to do stretching exercises for us.

Shafinaz here having too much fun during the exercise.

Another picture with bad exposure.

It was comical watching some of the people stretching who has never exercised before... like myself!

Pali putting bottle caps on his eyes for the camera in between presentations.

Naim lying on the floor didn't want to be photographed being too casual.

Ezzah, Noraini and Che inn.

Inaz turn to give her presentation for Nona.

Everyone gave their full attention at each presentation as we were eager to hear what they had planned for 2008.

We all sat the floor. Here's one of the latest attraction at Bali, a sleeping Buddha.

Another sleeping Buddha.

Ally was out like a light through parts of the presentation. He wasn't feeling well so his flu medication made him drowsy.

After a long day, we had time to take another group photo right outside our conference room.

Adam Salleh from Harian Metro was invited to give us his input. Sometimes at brainstorming sessions like this one, we often get tunnel vision and it's good to get outside views.

We headed to the beach right after the brainstorming to take another group photo.


I noticed the beach at Benoa was kind of icky at low tide. There was seaweed on the shoreline.

There was a lot of boats parked nearby. You could also see planes making their landing approach as the airport was right across the inland lake from Tanjung Benoa.

Some of then decided to head of for a massage, some stayed behind on the beach to play games.

I decided to take some photos of the beach.

ifa: "tak cantik gambar ni, ambil sekali lagi"

me and Ifa by the beach. She was all dressed up like in her Bali gear.

Part of them were playing volleyball. Quite a fun game to watch.

A closeup of the seaweed on the beach.






The sand was fine on the upper parts of the beach. Reminds me of the beaches in Langkawi.

I must say that I'm biased. I prefer the beaches in Malaysia compared to Tanjung Benoa. They have a lot of fantastic 4-5 star resorts on Tanjung Benoa but the beach was nothing to shout about.


The pathways in the hotel was very rustic looking with a lot of Balinese architecture. I shot this photo a few times trying to get the horizon right.

Nope, not levelled yet.

Ah! Finally, it's almost levelled.





Our hotel lobby.


They had this flower decoration all over the resort. I wonder if there's an orchard industry just to grow this flower to replenish their supply.

I shot this one again without the flash. Looks dull.

One of the many stone carvings in the resort.

I came back to the beach and I invited Ifa to take a walk with me to see the other resorts along the beach.



A group of children we saw who were watching the volleyball match.


This dog was wandering the beach and came to have a look at us.

Nurul getting ready to take a shot.

Cute doggy.


As we walked on to the other resort, we came upon this structure. I think they used it for weddings by the beach.

I tried this with the flash, still no difference.

A tourist saw Ifa taking my picture. He thought Ifa and I were a couple and offered to take our picture together. Ifa tried to explain we weren't together. I found it amusing and I just played along and had the tourist take our picture anyway.

The doggy enjoying the sunset.







A road runs through the resort. They have a guard to help visitors cross over.

At night, we had dinner at the hotel's BBQ. It was also the surprise birthday celebration of two of my colleagues who were celebrating their birthday together.

Saying a little prayer.



Zainal feeding birthday boy number 1 his cake. I like the expression on Zainal's face.

cake for birthday boy number 2.

Later on, we all took a drive to Kuta area to do some shopping. The roads were really small but they had a lot of international brand name shops there. I stopped to take picture in front of the many nightspots there. Interestingly, there's also an Airasia advertisement in the background.

This is one of the main corners leading to the beach. It was next to Hard Rock. I didn't buy much on my first night out at Kuta. I only bought a hand towel for Chui Yan. They had a lot of imitation goods there like Petaling Street.

When we finally got back to the hotel, it was already midnight. I saw Hisham sitting at the lobby and he invited me take a walk along the road to see the other resorts. We stopped at Grand Mirage to see their lobby. It was impressive.

IMG_2248 The next day the session started early again. Our DOO, Datuk Anthony had arrive to give us his input.

The last day of the presentation, we all were required to do our own version of the Cekak dance we saw. Since we were all creative people, we put on the funniest dance with comic impressions of the bosses. It was so funny. They finally gave out some of the awards. Here, Inaz is receiving a presentation award.


After the presentation, we were heading out to dinner again! Mazidul and Pali posing for a photo.
Orang kuat 360.

My group also won a presentation award. Each of us got a Bali keychain.

We were taken to the Kuta beach to watch the sunset. Shahnun noticed that the Bunga Raya there was different from the ones in Malaysia. He held it up here to show me what it looks like.

Kuta beach during sunset.







Shahnun pretending to be a surfer.

We were taken to Holiday Villa at Kuta for dinner. Their main lobby looks like a chinese mansion.

The pool at Holiday Villa Kuta.

Waiting at the buffet line.

I took a peek at their menu, they also served Malaysian food here.

After dinner, Shahnun showed us this club he visited before. It was called Kama Sutra. It was one of larger clubs compared to Hard Rock.

Shahnun and Hisham getting ready to enter the club. It was a bungalow build by the Kuta beach.



The paintings on the wall had positions described in the Kama Sutra. There was no nudity in the painting. We arrived at the club at 7:30PM so it was virtually empty. It only starts to pick up at 11PM onwards.







We bought souvenir t-shirts from the club. This nice hostest was very friendly and she gave us a mini tour of the place.

Our driver picked us up and on the way we stopped by the Bali bombing memorial to take some pictures. This is the site of the former bar that got blown up. You can see some of the pictures of the victims hanging on the fence.

The memorial is right in the middle of the Legian area.

The Indonesians have their own names for diferent countries. Like Selandian Baru, it's actually New Caledonia, an Island of the coast of Australia. It's a former French colony still with ties to France.




The memorial is at a corner overlooking the busy Legian area where most of the clubs are.

Some of the clubs I took picture of as we drove by.


The streets in Kuta and Legian are small. Some are even smaller than this one.

One of the larger streets in the Kuta area. They have large brand names in the shops lining the streets.

The only shop I saw with 'normal clothing'. The rest were all surfer clothes with Billabong type fashion.



Horse carriages that got tourist around the area.

A Dolce and Gabbana shop. I like their poster... they have a cameraman in his underwear shooting a model. Hrmm... most interesting.

Something Chui Yan might have like. I didn't get it because it's hard to tell what she would like.


Nurul trying out her bargaining skills.

A lot of the taxis there were Toyota Vios. They have some really nice taxi's over there!

IMG_2311 Street urchins we sat while passing through the Legian area.

This is one of the popular night spots we passed along the way in Legian.

We came back to the hotel at 11PM. There was a band playing at the lobby and we sat down to enjoy the music. Inaz, Pali and Ally joined the band for a sing along session.

The next morning, we had to check out to catch our flight back home. A school nearby was having their sports day I think. We saw a group of kids running along the road.

The rustic pool by the beach.


We had some time in the morning before we when to the airport so I took some time to take more photos around the hotel.






There were quite a lot of pegions walking around the resort.

They had quite a few of this topless paintings in the resort.

A lone flute player welcoming guest at the lobby.

I saw this strange crossing sign. It looked more like a gorilla crossing. Anyway, I when to a shop nearby the resort to get a massage for only 60K Rupiah. It wasn't a great massage. In Kuta, I had a massage for 165K Rupiah and it was done by 2 massuers at once. Was very painful and not as great as I expected. I think I still prefer the place I go too in SS2.

Finally, most of us checked out to go home. Some had to leave later in the day.

Overall, it was a very productive brainstorming. We had some pretty clear set ideas for next year. Our DOO said we had to work hard and play hard at the brainstorming. I worked hard and ate a lot mostly. Now I'm just trying to recover from my flu.