Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle! I want to ride my....

The first promotional video I made for the Singapore Amateur Cycling Association (SACA). I was so inspired by the gathering of the different biking disciplines (or tribes) under one roof in 2003 that that moment had to be documented.

Designed most of these posters too with the help of my shifu, Ah Bong!

Howard Hall Productions!

Ok, these Howard Hall videos have definitely inspired me to put together me long-overdue Galapagos video, many thanks to Davy Koh for forwarding me this link!

Me thinks high def underwater videos are the way to go! Am salivating already!

I want to be Howard Hall's slave! Hire me, hire me!!! :P

Monday, June 26, 2006

Creepy Crawlies

Ok Siva, what the heck is this incredible emerald-green winged creature that I bumped into while huffing and puffing my way up the Cameron Highlands Jim Thompson trail?

One moment, it was a little grasshopper-like insect. The next, it spread its wings and started crawling very slowly on the sandy floor. Intruiging!

Since i'm putting me toes into the realm of the land creepy crawlies, this is a spider that made its home in one of the petrol kiosk stops up north from Perth. Lovely little Eight Leg.

And something closer to home, this slender spider crossed me path while I was rekkeing the new proposed bike park at Ubin in the Western part of Ubin.

This brings back fond childhood memories of my conducting experiments at home as a sadistic kid...ok, so it was part of my private science experiment. I'd catch spiders and flies the size of the spiders and chuck them in the same bottle to see who wins the battle? Does size really matter? Well, I did a search on the web (no pun intended) and found out that the spider doesn't always win.

"Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly.....but little did the spider know......" (food for thought)!

Maybe my next post will be about cockroaches! I know some folks who can't even stare at a picture of a flying cockroach! Guess Fear Factor's major out of these guys! Hee hee!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Comic Soccer

Thanks Mag for sending me this link! This video serves as a reminder to us soccer players that NOT ALL really really good soccer players are invincible! They DO fumble!

This made me recall the time I played soccer at NUS back in the early 90s. Someone kicked the ball directly into my eye from only a few metres away! (can't remember which eye though....maybe it affected me brains too)....but thanfully, no major injury, I can still see.

The next day, after a job interview, I could see a "waterlevel" rise in that eye. Before I knew it, I was blind in one eye! Gulp!

My bro-in-law introduced me to an eye doctor, who confirmed that I was suffering from an hyphema (bleeding of the eye) . Prescription? To relack for 2 weeks without moving my head too much to let the blood coagulate and heal! So, me put on me Stevie Wonder glasses and stayed put for 2 friggin' weeks! Was told it could lead to longer term effects for me eyes, but am crossing my fingers (and hopefully not me eyes)!

So trust me, it ain't fun when you get a soccer injury that causes REAL injury!

Since we're all suffering from the World Cup fever, think will write a little about my experience when I watched the US vs Germany game in Korea during the last World Cup! :)

Team Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr reports!

Ok, Team Grrrrrrr comprises Chiku, AhmatChi and Chi-B** (a multiple personality team).....(that's him on the left, and Lopez on his taken by Janice)....

It didn't take much persuasion to get this one-man team to take up the challenge of the solo Nomad Adventure Sprint category for the Eco-X race over the weekend!

Amazing thing was that he drove all the way to KL and back, ferrying the Angels, their race gear and their bikes! To think that one of the things on his mind while struggling back to the finish line was none other than "oh no? How will the Angels get their change of clothes? I have the car keys?" thoughtful of ya, Chiku! You truly ARE our bossley!

Team Grrrrrr reporting

The air horn goes off and the Kiasu category (Excapade) racers disappeared off into the distance at the start of their mountain bike leg. The Sprinters were then turned around to face the other way and without much fanfare, we headed off towards our first CP, some walking, others jogging, and one little lady pounding along.

I started jogging and fell into my natural rhythm of what I figured would be a sustainable race pace. Govinder, a Navy fella introduced to me by Ming and Ken, joined me and we were about 5th from the lead. Slowly but surely, we caught up and became the first two sprinters. Learning from previous experience, I knew that the bottle necks would be at the waterfall, abseil and rafting sections, especially if you start having newbie sprinters in front of you, and if the Excapade teams caught up.

The plan was to stay in front so that we could clear these sections without much of a queue. As Govinder was a much faster runner, I asked him to go ahead while I kept to my pace. When I reached the car park, I saw him gesturing that he had found the path to take.

Mistake number 1 - I assumed that he had found the right path and followed him without checking my instructions.

So we head off into the jungle, attacked by leeches and getting ever further from the river. I called a stop to it after about 15 minutes citing that we should be right next to the river instead of heading away from it. We turned around and headed back down to the river. We met up with a group of 3 women sprinters who were lost so we took them under our wing and attempted to find the path.

This was quickly done and by the time I reached the waterfall, there were more than 10 sprinters in front of me! So much for my plan of staying in front. These sprinters were mainly beginners and watching them try to ascend the waterfall was painful. It was wet and slippery and people were sliding all over the place banging themselves silly on the rocks. I was impatient to ascend but the marshals would not let me cut the queue.

There was a lady who was stuck at a section for 20 minutes before she relented and moved to the side so others could pass. As the minutes ticked by, I kept glancing at my watch figuring that the fastest of the Excapade teams would reach us within 1 hour and 45 minutes. If I wasn't already on the waterfall by then, the hopes of climbing it would fade pretty quickly as the Excapade teams came fast and furious.

Mistake number 2 - There was a gap in the Sprinters where I could have gone up because they had run out of slings and prussicks. But only if I had the right equipment on me! Unfortunately, although I had a harness and 2 crabs, I was missing the slings and prussick cord.

Since I didn't, I just sat around listening to some girl scream about leeches attacking her butt yelling, "Take it off! Ahhhhhh! Help!" I was disappointed when I saw the first male Excapade team turn up as I knew that the others could not be very far away. True to form, Team Slack soon turned up and so did Team Angels. I knew then that the Angels were the first women's team to reach the waterfall. It was great seeing them but at the same time, I knew that I was not going up that waterfall.

Soon enough, after about a 1.5 hour wait, the nice ang moh lady came around and took away my slings saying that they were needed at the abseil site. Damn, I had already reached a point where I was fourth in line to go up the waterfall! I got a No Go written on my passport and headed for the abseil section with Govinder. As I left, I saw Team Slow Smurfs make their way up towards the waterfall CP. I shouted out some words of encouragement to them. I told Gov to go ahead and after two "no lah, I'll wait for you," I would not see him again until much later in the jungle hike.

So I jogged/walked until I reached the start of the jungle hike. It's lonely racing alone because you have no one to push you on. Singing to myself just didn't cut it.

Before the jungle track, I caught up with and passed the 2nd male team to reach the waterfall. Unfortunately, they weren't interested in chatting with me. By the time I reached the jungle track, I had caught up with another group of women sprinters who had skipped the waterfall climb. I chatted with the last one named Joanne. She was from KL and had been persuaded by friends to join this. Wee little girl so she needed help with getting up that slippery muddy slopes from hell.

Bamboo and thorny palms everywhere. Steep. Off camber path. Mud, mud and more mud. At least the conversation was interesting. This never ending hike was a real pain. I left Joanne to the company of her friends, overtook them, and bumped into Gov hiking with two other women sprinters, one of which was cheerfully screaming about bugs, thorns, mud and other stuff. I needed the peace so headed to the front and stayed ahead.

Pretty soon, Team Slack caught up again and passed by. They looked strong and were going pretty fast. A little later, I was passed by a team of 4 Frenchmen. I didn't know you could form a team of 4? Or maybe it was two teams of two?

I reached the abseil CP and submitted my passport for the Sprint abseil. I was well out of water by then and was getting dehydrated. Luckily for me, Gov had water in his hydration pack that he hadn't drunk from and had kindly offered it to me. He must carry that just for training.

I started filling my water bag when Team Angels turned up looking none the worse for wear. We talked and I gave them a few packets of rehydration salts. The effusive sprinter lady, who had turned up, started screaming her head off about a leech. I think it was Rebecca who asked her not to scream so loudly as it was only a leech. Her calmer friend took aim with a can of OFF and sprayed enough to make the leech fall off. Soon, the Angels were off to do their abseil while I waited in a queue for my equipment.

When my turn came, I climbed to the abseil point and quickly finished the "ho hum, move along, nothing to see here" abseil. Really boring compared to the abseil in the Perak race.

Once down, I collected my passport and dashed off towards the rafting point. By the time I reached it, I was stuck for another hour because there were no sprinters or rafts to be found. There was another women's team there and I ended up chatting with one of them named Pauline. She mentioned that she knew Rina and Rebecca from before. One of her team mates had taken a spill off the bike and had some major road rash. Out came my first aid kit and after a short while, with help from another member and an all male team, her wound was all dressed and she was ready to raft.

Time passed by quickly because in addition to chatting with Pauline about her future ultramarathon attempt in Chile, I was discussing with the all male team about the techniques of mountain biking. They were from Singapore and had told me that they sucked at mountain biking.

By the time the rafts arrived, I was teamed with another two sprinters and we started down the river on our raft. I sat at the rear while the guy sat in front. Another girl sat in the middle. I have been called bulky by some who shall remain nameless but I can't believe that it was because of that that our raft kept getting stuck on the rocks. Exactly beneath where I was seated. :-(

As we made our way down river, the guy in front lost his stick. I threw mine to him and we continued for a little while before getting jammed sideways in a rock. It got a little dangerous at this point because during the manoeuvre to free the raft, the force of the water on the raft was so strong that it forced me under water for a while. Upon surfacing, the raft was well and truly stuck.

The three of us working in concert could not budge it. It took a guy from another team to come and help us dislodge it. In the process, we lost our steering stick. Luckily, I saw one stuck vertically in the river and grabbed it managing to free it. My male rafting partner also nearly got decapitated in another incident. Too much excitement for one day.

I decided to head to the front and steer. It was much better that way as I had more body weight (ahem) to use to steer the raft. We helped another team get free before getting stuck again due to the actions of a race helper who was standing in the river. He reached out to grab our raft and in the process, turned it enough to get it wedged sideways in some big rocks. This was a deep area of water, at least up to my neck and the other two could not stand at all. I pushed them towards the bank while the race helper called three other Malay men to help. In the process of getting the raft freed, they broke one of the bars that held the raft together at the back.

Back on the raft, I was now in front, girl in the middle with the guy at the back holding the raft together by straddling it with his legs. As we floated down river, I felt the raft slowly giving way. I did not know why until I turned around and saw the guy wincing in pain as his soft bits got caught in the ever widening bamboo poles. The girl in the middle was also getting pinched and she was falling through a split in the middle of the raft. I decided then and there to abandon the raft so as not to risk any unnecessary injury.

I told them to jump off when it was shallow and we watched the raft tear itself into two pieces joined at one end and slowly spin down the river. Having no idea where the end of the rafting section was, we made our way onto the main road. I decided to jog the rest of the way back to the finish line and left the other two to walk back. They looked tired and a little sore from the experience. Before leaving them, I told them what landmark to look for to do a right turn towards the end CP - the Tenaga Nasional power substation. As I started jogging back, it was about 1.5kms before I passed another two male teams who appeared out from a side road. That meant two more kilometres left.

The two thoughts in my mind were that the teams that I came up to KL with (Teams Angels, Slack and Smurfs) might be a little worried about my wellbeing, and that I had the key to the car with the Angels' clothes and shower stuff in it! That made me move from a slow shuffle to a faster jog.

I arrived back to a warm welcome from Team Smurfs, Max, Gov, and the rest. First thing out of my bag was the car key so that the Angels could go shower. I was tired. Mostly from the event, but also from having to wait at the bottleneck CPs for quite a bit of time. I think the waterfall route could have been better for the Sprinters if there was an easier alternate route that the Sprinters could switch to once the Excapade teams caught up.

Would I do it alone again? Probably not. Too effing boring. Would I ever do another adventure race? At this moment, I think not. Too hard on my body. But that may change once the body has recovered and my memory of the pain has faded. Maybe I should write it down so that I don't forget. Like what I'm doing now. I dunno about you people but I can barely keep my eyes open today and walking down stairs hurts my quads and glutes. Oww oww oww.

The end.

[Merciless : I'm sure we ain't seen the last of Team Grrrrrrr race aches might be a little daunting, but he'll be back for more! Muah hahahahaha!

Check out
Janice's race report and album too! The Angels are compiling ours so look out for it!]

Monday, June 19, 2006

Not Chicken Little, but the Big Cock talking!

A couple years back, I bit the bullet and left my bread-n-butter job to pursue this thing called "filmmaking".

I was lucky to have crossed paths with Pin Pin when she needed to put together a small production team for her "Moving House" documentary! Learning from this great local masterfilmmaker was an eye-opening experience!

Then came my first foray into moviemaking. I hadn't seen Colin for years, and so it was great that they needed a draftsman (you know, the black and white stuff you draft so that others can sign their lives away? heh heh!)

And so, TalkingCock - The Movie (of Talking Cock fame) was my first taste of local filmmaking - in a most unorthodox fashion! To learn more about how Colin and Joyce went about with their craft, read this!

I jumped in round about the middle of production, and before you knew it, one thing led to the next and I was doubling up as treasurer (errr, what does a legally trained person know about numbers? hmmm), van-driver, clapper, coolie etc. etc.....since there was not much of production time left, my involvement spilled into post-production....sound, music and movie soundtrack production....which involved doing fun things like scouting around for good local music (esp calling up your talented musician kakis and telling this "hey, this could be your lucky break!), hanging out at liquidfire (know it sounds like a club, but it's actually da cool music studio with lots of cool sound equipment), and seeing a movie come to fuition! It was also the time when my hokkien improved by leaps and bounds (esp in the forbidden vocab dept)!

The movie did not play in the local theatres as long as we'd hoped, but hey, it's not too late to catch it again! It's screening again this Wed 21 June 2006 @ Gallery Theatre, National Museum!

Check out the Schedule for this movie and other local films including Pin Pin's Singapore GaGa....

Support our local filmmakers! :)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Evolution of a BikeTrail - The Video

This was one of 4 videos in my Kiara CD which kickstarted my video-editing moonlighting career! Heh heh! Was half way through editing Kiara CD2 but gave up halfway when my computer kept crashing on me! :P

Wanna know more about the mysterious bikerdudes in the video, go to the related blog : Evolution of a BikeTrail

Goodwill Hunting

Related Blogs :
Dances with Sharkmen
Dances with Sharkmen 2

Dances with Sharkmen 2

Cont'd from Dances with Sharkmen 1

My Chek Jawa video gave me confidence; what I was doing could make a difference.

At the David Doubilet and Stan Waterman presentations back in 2002, I was introduced to Victor Wu by a diver friend codename : Fat Allan. I learnt that Victor worked for an NGO called WildAid and he was the sole representative in Singapore. His speciality? Sharks!

As a kid, I grew up eating sharks fin soup. No questions asked. It was a dish that was served at special occasions, an expensive dish fit only for an emperor. I never asked how it got there, how it was killed, what happens to the rest of the shark!

It wasn't til I took up diving and started watching National Geographic and Discovery Channel that I learnt more about this dish that I'd been consuming all these years. Meeting Vic, someone who's dedicated his life to a great cause right here in Singapore, was awe-inspiring! And Singapore, a country where sharks fin is fast becoming a staple for any sort of occasion with a cause to celebrate, needs a hero.

Fat Allan and I spent some time discussing with Victor about how we could help the cause against shark-finning. We came up with a game plan to conduct a survey to collect data about your regular Singaporean's knowledge about sharks and their sharks-fin eating habits. We devised a list of questions which we'd solicited strangers on the street to fill in during WildAid public events. We also sent a mass email soliciting answers from family and friends. This project was eventually abandoned when someone broached the issue that the data collected probably couldn't be used as we did not engage a professional survey company. And most of the friends / relatives forwarded were probably conservationists, so we would effectively be receiving data from the converted!

What else could I do?

In early October that year, WildAid embarked on a Whaleshark Balloon Tour in 2002 which saw a life-sized 16 metre helium-filled whaleshark tour 3 major countries. The "Axis of Evil" (as definned sharks would have coined them) where sharks fin is in high demand : Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. The tour was to end at the Cites 2002 meeting held from 3 - 15 November 2002 in Santiago, Chile. Important decisions for the protection of shark species were to be voted on at this meeting. It was the first time I'd ever heard of CITES!

Victor had taken footage of local celebrities in Taiwan and Hong Kong and asked if I could help with the Singaporean leg. I snuck out during lunchtime and ran towards the Singapore Cricket Club where a press conference was held. Lo and behold, our celebrity was none other than Gurmit Singh, whom I'd video-ed at several Camp Sunshine events organised for terminally-ill children. Good on ya, Phua Chu Kang! I captured footage of Gurmit speaking passionately about whalesharks at the Padang where the balloon was anchored.

But I still lacked footage of a real-life whaleshark swimming in its natural habitat! I'd seen whalesharks and other sharks countless of times during my prior dive trips, but I hadn't taken up videography back then! Well, if I didn't have the footage, I can't wait for it to fall from the sky! Go out there and grab it!

The end of the year marks the start of the monsoon where whaleshark sightings are almost guaranteed during weekend dive trips to Anambas. When veteran diver Davy Koh mentioned there was a trip leaving late October 2002, I immediately jumped on that opportunity! Despite my second-hand housing equipment going on strike on me, I managed to capture decent footage of the little whaleshark that miraculously appeared as if an answer to my prayers! A delightful report of the trip was written by a fellow German lady technie diver by the name of Rose.

Armed with sufficient beauty whaleshark footage, I did a short promo piece called "The Kiss" which was screened at the next WildAid event held at Hard Rock Cafe, Singapore. Victor then spoke to the audience about what transpired at the CITES meeting with accompanying footage. In hindsight, HRC was probably not the best place as the noise got heavier and the crowds got rowdier.

Victor passed me a bunch of tapes, including footage of local Indian fishermen hunting and killing whale sharks taken by internationally reknown filmmaker Mike Pandey in 1999, and of the "tofu" shark (as it is known in Taiwan) being prepared by a chef in Taiwan. We went through a several drafts of the a script incorporating the whaleshark balloon tour video and the CITES outcome. I thought I didn't have sufficient footage of the whaleshark killing and almost engaged a cartoonist friend to re-enact those scenes. I dropped the cartoon idea as it just took up too much time.

Next, how to source for original music which fits the bill. Leonard Ng, a fellow lawyer by profession, is a prolific musician and had produced a couple of CDs. I have always loved his songs, and I didn't think twice about using the other songs in his album for this video. He was always generous in giving his support. I was such a slave to his music that I plonked his songs on the editing timeline and then began to choose the images. I would listen to his CD repeatedly on my way to work and picture in my head how to fit footage to music. I also approached another musician, Neil of local band NightSound, for the closing song. For the fillers, I just rented a Korg Karma and tinkered around with the range of musical instruments.

Next on the list - how to convey the message to the audience? Voiceover or words? I always preferred the former, as the latter was too high a variable and could make or break the mood of the short film. I called upon my copywriter friend, Camelia, who conducted extensive research on the topic before spending a couple of nights in front of my computer discussing which words to use.

When it all came together, I tested the impact of the video on my then housemate and a couple of friends. The silence and teary-eyed look on their faces at the end of the screening convinced me....the video mattered! :)

Vic has since moved onto another NGO and sadly, without a replacement for the Shark Conservation Program. I really suck at marketing and am quite a pathetic public speaker, so I'd jsut have to let my videos do the talking....and others like Siva who was able to bring the video to the masses with his superb oratorical prowess.

If you feel moved by the message about the plight of the sharks, please forward the video to others you feel the need to share it with.

Friday, June 02, 2006