{ 366 } 31.01.2012 . the tiny tasty chewy sweets

i don't usually snack, but love this tiny tasty chewy sweets!

{ 366 } 30.01.2012 . the lions

the lions visited the office
happy chinese new year, everyone!

{ 366 } 29.01.2012 . 7 veg rice

seven vegetables' rice on the seventh day of chinese new year

{ 366 } 28.01.2012 . nian gao

年糕 nian gao
made from glutinous rice, and traditionally eaten during chinese new year 

Postcard from... the Duomo

{ May 2011 - Florence, Italy } 

The official name is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore or Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower in English. However, it is simply known as the Duomo. The facade of the cathedral in green, pink and white is beautiful, elaborate and yet soothing in its simplicity of colour. 

The dome is a masterpiece, and the gothic interior is vast and simple, yet filled with elaborate frescoes. This cathedral in Florence, Italy is in a class of its own.

{ Click here for more postcard from...  posts and other travel tales from Italy }

{ 366 } 26.01.2012 . happy buddha

dinner at chong tian hotel, penang

{ 366 } 25.01.2012 . sunset

sun setting behind penang island

{ 366 } 23.01.2012 . happy dragon year

happy dragon year!

Off to Cameron Highlands

image by harriotc 

Off to Cameron Highlands for Chinese New Year!
This is probably the first time that my family has planned a trip away from home on Chinese New Year. Could this be a start of a new travel ritual?

Wishing everyone a prosperous year of the Dragon! 
Happy Chinese New Year!

This is a scheduled post. Cut off from the virtual world for a week! 

{ 366 } 22.01.2012 . let the games begin!

what's chinese new year without some mahjong games?

{ 366 } 21.02.2012 . see you, singapore!

going home for the chinese new year

The signs of artistic Florence

{ May 2011 - Florence, Italy } 

Florence is the birthplace of Renaissance. From Renaissance masters Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci*, to fashion designers Roberto Cavalli and Guccio Gucci, many artists had once called Florence home. So, with all the marvelous art that surrounds the Fiorentini, it would not come as a surprise that they are an artistic and creative group. There is just an artistic air in Florence. You just have to see the road signs all around city.

Of course, not all graffitis are encouraged.

And this I love, just because I think the car is cute! There are a lot of small tiny cars on the Italian roads, one smaller than the next, to manoeuvre around the narrow streets. 

Even the city's coat of arms looked cooler than the rest. 

The artistic Florence was mellower than all the other cities that we went to in Italy. It has such rich history with countless masterpieces, and yet the people are friendly and generally relaxed and easy-going. If there is a city that I would choose to live in, Florence would be it.

* Trivia for the day - Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Leonardo are the names of the four ninja turtles from the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

{ 366 } 20.01.2012 . mandala

this colourful circle, called mandala, is a sacred buddhism art made by sand
tour of the jade buddha for universal peace in ngee ann city, singapore

{ 365 } 18.01.2012 . travel souvenirs

Statues of naked men

{ May 2011 - Florence, Italy }

I have seen more statues and painting of naked men and women during the trip to Italy, than I have ever seen, and will probably ever see. You just need to scroll through all the photos I have posted under Italy to see some of the many that I have seen. And Florence, the birth place of Renaissance, probably has more statues and paintings of naked men and women, not to mention, of Gods, Goddesses and their children, then any other cities in Italy.


If there is one masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture, it has got to be David by Michaelangelo. The 17-feet marble statue of a standing male nude, is definitely an exceptional piece of sculpture. It could probably be due to the position in Galleria dell'Academia that houses the sculpture, or just the tall white polished marble. But I stood right in front of it, and walked around it, a couple of times, awestruck by the imposing and yet relax statue. Muscular and yet gentle.

Photos were not allowed in the gallery, but there was a replica where the original David once stood, in Piazza della Signoria. After seeing the real sculpture, the replica was somehow not as impressive.


Piazza della Signoria

In this artistic city, many of its piazzas are filled with sculptures, and even fountains with sculptures. Even if you are not one to spend lots of time in galleries, you should take a walk in Piazza della Signoria. The piazza has many marble statues of, unsurprisingly, naked men. Apart from a replica of David, Loggia dei Lanzi at one of its corner, is an open-air gallery with many art masterpieces that can be enjoyed for free.

Here are just some of the many sculptures in the piazza.

The Fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannati (left)
Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna (right)

Perseus with the Head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini

Hercules beating the Centaur by Giambologna

::: Footnotes :::

{ Galleria dell'Academia } The official name is Accademia di Belle Arti (or the Academy of Fine Arts), or better known as Galleria dell'Academia. The main reason to visit the gallery is to admire the marvelous naked statue of David. The gallery is open on Tuesdays to Sundays, from 8.15 am to 6.50 pm. The queue to the gallery may be quite long, and if, like me, you are not willing to queue up when you are on holiday, do make a reservation online with a booking fee of €4.00 above the €6.50 admission ticket. 

{ Piazza della Signoria } An open L-shaped square right in front of Palazzo Vecchio, it houses many statues, one more impressive than the next. If you do not wish to spend money to see David in the gallery, you can see its replica here. However, be warned that the replica was not as impressive as the original! There are also many sculptures at Loggia dei Lanzi, an open-air sculpture gallery.

{ 366 } 15.01.2012 . passion fruit

passion fruit is such a weird looking fruit! 
but it does taste good...

Sbandieratori in Florence, Italy

{ May 2011 - Florence, Italy } 

Where Rome was massive, Florence was compact. Where Rome has its ancient treasures, Florence has countless Renaissance arts. If Rome is the political centre, then Florence is the artistic city. If Rome is the pulse and heart of Italy, then Florence is the soul.

Walking from the train station towards Piazza del Duomo, we caught a glimpse of the green and white facade of the Duomo from a distance. The basilica looked so different from all the ones we have seen in our travels in Italy thus far, that I knew that Florence was going to give us something new.

And, the best part was that there was an event happening right on the piazza. Sbandieratori, it's called. The art of flag-throwing was from the medieval times, and we were lucky enough to be right there when they started performance, with luggage in tow. Still not sure what the point of the whole thing was, but this I know - two groups of Italian men in tights, waving and throwing flags towards each other. What's not to like?



{ 365 } 14.01.2011 . cupid . eros . amor

{ 366 } 12.01.2012 . no shaking of butt

always wondered what the sign actually mean -
no shaking of butt on the escalator?

{ 366 } 11.01.2012 . durian dessert

finale to a scrumptious dinner

{ 366 } 10.01.2012 . wickedly good

wicked, the musical, that is. 

while, i could not finish the book, the musical was light-hearted, 
with just enough violence and evil to keep it in check. 

the music was beautiful, and catchy enough, 
that a couple of songs kept replaying in my head after the show. 

the set was impressive,
the cast (from Australia) amazing.

wicked was wickedly good

{ 366 } 08.01.2012 . which door to sherlock holmes?

a movie with robert downey jr and jude law should not go wrong
it was funny, but i wasn't sure if sherlock holmes was a man of action?

Spending a day with the gentle giants

{ Chiang Mai, Thailand - Feb 2011 }

I didn't expect to fall in love with them. They are huge - I am probably just the size of their leg. They are strong and have always played an important part in the logging business. However, I went with an open mind, but thinking that I'll probably be keeping my distance.

While still at the deck receiving an introduction of the park and safety instructions, a mischievous young one destroyed the fence, and used his trunk to steal some fruits on the deck. Now, I don't usually endorse bad behavior, but it was so endearing that I could not help but smile.

Some form of activities with the elephants are on the list of almost every visitors to the northern city of Thailand, Chiang Mai - be it a ride on the elephant, a show where the mahout showcased the elephants agility by playing football and painting or just admire them behind the fences. After searching the many parks in Chiang Mai, I decided that I would do something different - to go to a park where all they want to do is to provide a sanctuary to the broken, injured and traumatised. Where visitors help the mahout to bath and feed the elephants, not ride them. And so, the visit to the Elephant Nature Park was booked.

The visit started with a walk around the vast area that made up the park. We were introduced to some of the elephants that had found a haven in the park, all thanks to a lady called Lek, who may be small in size, but big in her heart. We had the chance to see her around the park, caring and tending to the elephants.

Most of the elephants have very sad stories, which the mahout shared with us. After the use of the Asian elephants were banned in Thailand, many of the owners found themselves stuck with a huge animal with insatiable diet and no means of earning money from them. Some elephants found themselves right in the heart of cities like Bangkok doing small tricks for some treats. Others were bullied, injured and left to tend for themselves.

We then helped to carry some fruits and vegetables out for the elephants. The store room had so much food to feed the 35 elephants they have in the park. It was then time to feed the elephants! I basically just took half the watermelon which was bigger than the size of my hand, stretched out my arm and the elephant would use his trunk to take the fruits into his mouth, and immediately wanted another one! They all ate so quickly that I did not even have time to rest. It was really an amazing experience to be so near them. We fed the elephants a few more times throughout the visit, and each was better than the previous as I became more accustomed (and less afraid) of their size.

It was then time to bathe the elephants. Off they went into the river and we were given buckets to splash water on the elephants. Well, it would be better if I get to scrub them. Then again, it would have been a waste of time, as right after the elephants got out from the water, they started spraying sand and covering themselves with mud!

It was also quite funny seeing one of the elephant scratching his butt!

We then spent some time roaming around the elevated area (where we could see the elephants from a safe place) and enjoyed some quiet time enjoying the beautiful area. We were also shown a documentary on the park, on some of the elephants that they had rescued.

All in all, I loved my day spent in the Elephant Nature Park. It was an amazing experience being with the elephants up-close, without the fences and gates in the zoo. Now, I should plan more trips where I get to be near the animals in their natural surrounding - maybe a trip to Sandakan for the Orang Utan is next!

::: Footnotes :::

{ Elephant Nature Park } Visit their website http://www.elephantnaturepark.org/ for more information on the amazing work that they do, the story of each of the elephants they have in the park and the details if you wish to visit the park.

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