project APAD

wandering the states with no money, no one for company, just a lens and hopefully some beautiful memories

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Japan Trip!

Man, it’s been long overdue, so here goes :


Random Intro Picture

Over the winter break I had the good fortune of going to Japan and Hong Kong with my family. We’ve been there before, but it’s a big place, unlike Singapore, where you can see the whole place (or rather, what we have that others don’t, which isn’t much, anyway) in a few days.

The first thing that struck me in Japan was the complexity of the subway maps. Now, since I go to seoul alot, I’m no stranger to complex subways, but this was something new for me. Not only were there more lines, they were hideously interconnected, which meant that you often had to change lines a few times for only 5 or 7 stops. ]

Not only that, it was shocking to me that in a country like Japan, the subway lines aren’t even universal. There are a few major operators running through central tokyo : JR east (which is really a train company), Todai and Tokyu (if im not mistaken). Fine and dandy, as long as the experience is seamless for the passenger, right? Well, it isn’t. All this adds up to a daily line dance of people running for trains that are never late, getting off every 2 stops, and changing not just lines but even operators.

Not the thing you want to be doing the morning after a long flight. Thank god for kanji, though.

First place we went was Tsukiji, the fabled market for all things seafood. You really didnt think I’d go to tokyo for fashion, did you?


One of a few hundred, Tsukiji, Tokyo

Tsukiji lived up to its billing for all things fresh. The casual tourist might be disappointed to find out, though, that the bulk of the place isn’t really catered to tourists at all. There are sections of the market that are outright restricted, while others may only open after the morning peak period. Make no mistake though, this is the place to get seafood from. Tuna might only come in 30 dollar blocks, but it' will be the best tuna you will ever eat in your life. It is no joke.


Tuna, Tsukiji, Tokyo

One of the more unique sights in Japan is the proprietary shophouse. For essentially the same goods, there can be tens of the same small shops competing amongst each other. it’s the exact antithesis of the american corporation. I think it explains both the quality of japanese goods in general and also why their stuff is so expensive and uncompetitive. Walking around japan, you truly feel that they take pride in what they produce, in contrast to the chinese obsession with plagiarism and undercutting, and the western corporate culture. Unfortunately, with such a thinking, economies of scale go out the window. But in a utopian world, wouldn’t japan be the pinnacle of achievement? Where else in this world can you find seafood fresh enough to eat raw, cars half the price but equal the performance of some european makes, and shops where goods are just left unattended because so little theft goes on? As a society, as a culture, there is little fault to be found with the Japanese.

And day after day, you wish that Singapore didn’t have to enact any laws just so that it can pretend that its people are all as courteous as the japs.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

2 June : My Last Day.

The impending heat of summer and the sweat that builds up with every day that passes is a sign that it’s time for my adventure to end and for me to head back home. albeit very reluctantly. it’s been a month and i’ve made no secret of my longing to have some familliar routine in my life again. i mean, all this constant moving around is some kind of constant, but you know what i mean.

so i had the pleasure of watching a helicopter land on the south lawn of the white house today. that was pretty cool.. not something you see everyday.


Copter over the Washington Monument, Washington DC.

Today I saw a few memorials that will forever shape my political thinking. I’ve been thinking alot about how my country is run while in the states, and while I disagree with much, it’s not like im wholeheartedly embracing someone else’s ideology, either. I will probably write a long essay this summer. I might even become politically active. Never say Never. It’s been awhile since i felt conviction about things. and today 2 have dawned on me.

1) If war breaks out, I will quit school to be a war photographer. at least, in a place where tons of asians are fighting, so i can at least blend in.

2) I want to write about my thoughts about the PAP. lol. i probably will not publicise those articles, for obvious reasons. but still, im sure that i can come up with something rational and argumentative rather than some of the crazy nonsense the opposition routinely puts up.


The Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC. Determined, Gentle, Weathered. The sculptors did a great job..

Most of the world embraces Democracy as a fundamental truth. Few know it as the pragmatic consequence of the rejection of monarchy in the 18th century by the american colonies. While power to the people is undoubtedly the best and most enduring form of governance, America seems to think that the whole world “deserves” to live the life they have earned. This moral high ground is obvious from excerpts, from records, from just about anything. Taken in this context the actions of this nation become alot more justified and acceptable.

Just one thing, sir. Not everyone thinks as you do.

It is such an exciting revelation to be able to understand things “from the inside”. being able to see both sides really puts things into perspective.

my journey into america has finally come to an end. i’ve learnt, laughed, lived, lost, and loved. it’s been a hell of a ride, and i go home with a mix of happiness and sadness.

it’s finally time for me to bid all a fond goodbye.


Washington Monument, Washington DC.

I’ll post a final post tmr..

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1 : Washington, DC. Is it already June?

I swear the bus was full, but I was the only non African-American on the bus. not even a caucasian.

Well if you were expecting DC to be some parade of pomp and glitziness, in some parts it is. paved paths line the various buildings around capitol hill, with a bunch of free Smithsonian museums to boot.

but there are parts of DC that do not reflect well on the city’s standing as the capitol of a nation. it’s just weird. new york seems more busling than this place.

anyway, first up was the national archives, where the originals of the declaration of independence and the bill of rights are held. FREE! not to mention utterly impressive. it just makes me wonder, is our constitution not much to shout about? why arent we setting up museums for our history for people to take note of?


National Archives, Washington DC.

Next up, the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. Housed alot of rare planes, but the real gems are in virginia. like A SPACE SHUTTLE. and a SR71. unfortunately no idea how to get to that airport in virginia. maybe i’ll ask someone tomorrow.

In this picture i would like to show you guys the reverse thrusters in a RR(Rolls Royce) engine. now when a plane lands everybody sees the flaps come up. does does create more drag to slow the plane down, but that’s like saying that you stop a car in a short distance by lowering the windows and putting your hand outside.


Reverse Thrusters, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington DC. You are looking at what is inside that “shell” engine pod that you are familiar with. Try to picture how the Left-to-Right flowing air gets directed out through the grille at the bottom. Those are angled slightly forward as well.

What really happens is, in an engine, the exhaust kinda closes and the side covering retracts to channel the air out the sides and slightly forward. to my non-sciency friends, directing the exhaust forward is like throwing a heavy ball forward and feeling yourself get pushed back. This explains the huge noise and vibrations you hear at landing. try to look out for the retracting shell the next time you fly. it’s not that hard to see.

personally, i find it amazing.

lastly, capitol hill, where congress takes place. didnt really go in, wasnt really interested anyway.


Birds In The House, Washington DC.

most exciting part of the day? talking to a family of chinese in the hostel. turns out that the daughter just graduated from harvard (WOW) and all that. they were playing some really chinese-y CCTV show on the tv though, which is kinda :S lol…

tomorrow’s my last day of sightseeing. can you believe it? Project APAD is actually ending.. sigh.


Lime Green Chair, Washington DC.

I might actually miss this country.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday May 30, Monday May 31: Philly 2

Ok, so I had an awesome chessesteak today. finally.

as with all fast cuisine, it has the benefit of staying the same with relatively lousier ingredients. this doesnt apply to say, steak, which definitely needs a good cut of meat and some skill to cook. however, if you know how to slice beef thinly, if you can fry and onion and melt cheese, then you’re on the way to making a good cheesesteak.

as i told a friend, making a cheesesteak with fresh beef is abit like making tuna mayo with sushi grade tuna. it does elevate the dish to another level, somewhat, but it’s almost a waste of potential.

Okay, I have a confession to make. I am in love. With cobblestone and red brick.

Seriously, why dont they build with these things anymore?


View from Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia, PA.

Had the fortune of ducking into a seaport museum that costs 5 bucks on a hot summers day, but the highlight really was that you got to go into a 1960’s submarine. which is always pretty awesome. i vaguely remember visiting a sub once, and also a LST during my army days, but still.


Torpedo Tubes, Philadelphia, PA.

American history is really intriguing. but i think i will blog about that big topic some other day. i’ve been forming a bunch of ideas in my head now… i should document it for posterity.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday, May 29 : Philly in Black & White


103rd Street Station, NYC.

After my experience with the photos of Cartier-Bresson I’ve been trying alot to walk in a 50mm lens and take the world in black and white, and that’s the philosophy that i’ve carried over to philly. fortunately or unfortunately, only time will tell.

B&W has been a staple of my photography routine for awhile now. in fact most of my self-declared best photos are in B&W. it mirrors the way i see the world, in many ways. freed from the complications of colour, one is free to explore shape and form, tonality and texture. often, one already knows the approximate colours of the objects in focus and the brain subconsciously does the extrapolation, leaving the eyes free to observe. Writers need only words to construct a world, sure it is not impossible to document it with grayscale?


Budden! , Philadelphia, PA. Look for the word “Budden” in the second paragraph. apparently, Singaporeans weren’t the first to use the word “Budden”… it might even be a colonial relic, shock horror. lol.

Quick fact : Philly was the first capitol of the states, before DC was formed. this means that it, along with the rest of the coastal towns, retain much of that 18th century colonial flavour, comparable to cities such as Boston, MA and Savannah, GA.

This also means that it is absolutely slow if you’ve just come down from New York. I’m starting to see why a true Yankee would probably look like a hyperactive nutcase in Philly. (Not to say that New Yorkers dont behave like that in general, lol.) Much of what I said about Portland holds true here : Nothing to shout home about, but I still think that a city is better off too slow than too busy.


I Wish We Were On This Chair Together, Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA.

There are only 2 things left on my itinerary that I truly still wish to see, the National Archives and the Smithsonian Aerospace Institute. That, and the usual things people see in DC. seriously not much else. I think I’m already done with philly, lol. Just SOME GLORIOUS CHEESESTEAK YO!

Home looms large. I’m pretty okay with everything, I guess. just another step in this transient existence that still gets to me. Better to be alone or to deal with the drama that people bring? I’m no longer too sure.

We travel the world wanting to learn more about it. Nobody ever mentions the things we learn about ourselves.


Try #6, Philadelphia, PA.

Friday, May 28, 2010

28 May, philly and still no photos.


been waiting for a call for 3 days.

was at moma today. there was this exhibition about space, relationships and people. also, tons of naked people.

i found the henri cartier-bresson exhibition alot more inspirational as well as entertaining. man, if only i could take photos like he can. :(

tomorrow. tomorrow i must document philadelphia. it seems like a nice enough place.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday, May 27th

I didnt take any pictures today either, but i was out with a good friend who i haven’t met in awhile, who happened to study in columbia. Had the good fortune of touring east and west village (i think) with her and one of her friends.

-philosophical rant alert-

how do we view this world and how do we express it? put an artist, an engineer, a mathematician, a biologist and a writer in a room. ask them to show what they feel about the room.

the artist is likely to draw, the writer, write. the engineer chooses some item with a blend of style and functionality, while the biologist might pay some attention to the cleanliness of the place.

my point is, our consciousness, it is defined by the tools and senses by which we view this world. thinking out of the box, in this respect, is akin to thinking with tools you dont have. that’s why it’s such a valuable skill.

i had never noticed this before. then again, i’d never spoken to a friend doing liberal arts before.

growing up an engineer, we try to use math to model this world. we derive fun from fixing things up and making them work, we are more or less the bao-ga-liaos of society. i’d never truly understood how math and science shaped how i viewed this world or shaped it.

C++, meet charles dickens. charles dickens, meet C++.

in the months since i’ve been extremely judgemental. even i know i’ve taken the high ground on so many things, and it feels wrong.

but a day with a good friend – what a difference it can make.