TRAVEL • FEB 2017
It was seven years ago when I first set foot in Hanoi, and this second trip had me struggling to retrace the charms that I so remember the city to have. Perhaps the gradual awakening of the economic powers has opened the floodgates of modernity, or perhaps it was just my considerably more well-travelled self now upping the standards for approving what memorable travel experiences should consist of, but the car-bike ratio has definitely skyrocketed, the streets considerably cleaner and neater, and the chaos not quite as overwhelming. There were thankfully still some authentic experiences to savour, like the street vendors, the glorious pho, and drip coffee on short stools. So still a fun trip for the eight of us? Definitely!
TRAVEL • SEP 2016
The capital of Iceland may not be the most exciting of European cities, but we couldn't be more thrilled starting our grand Icelandic adventure in an urban setting by marvelling the quaint, laidback town and its eclectric and colorful houses. The trip was planned with at least two full days to explore the various spots of the cities, and to drop by the few cafes and restaurants that we have bookmarked. There was also time spent on hunting down Mr Mime.
It was the promise of mystical palaces and majestic forts and colorful cities that lured us here, and the beautiful state of Rajasthan certainly did not disappoint. With Jaipur, the Pink city as our starting point, we ventured deeper into Jaisalmer, the Golden City, and then Jodhpur, the Blue city, and finally Udaipur, the Lake city, each one of them unique in their own ways.
TRAVEL • MAY 2015
Turkey sets me off at a part of the world that is until now been alien to me. While I'm used to identifying a travel experience based on the association to very distinct cultural elements of a country, here's one place that can be pretty confusing when it comes to that.
Sights of women dressed in black abayas are common amongst their modern counterparts sporting the latest European fashion trends. Echoes of prayers from nearby mosques chime in to the latest Western pop culture-influenced music from bars and trendy cafes in town. Our intepretation of Turkey seems to take on different sides as we traverse from one street to the next, and from one neighbourhood to the others.
This charming crossroad of the East and the West, our journey has just begun.
The minimalist movement has taken over Instagram by storm. A huge group of ardent believers are dedicating their effort to producing sets after sets of clean, uncluttered, almost OCD-like images that celebrates the simplicity of life around us.
This is a movement that I have just recently picked up myself, and while Turkey, with its cacophony of mess, is most certainly not the best place to start, it was nevertheless a fun experience attempting to intepret my surrounding in a whole new way.
The eastern block of Europe has until now remained as this forgotten, faraway place that I have continuously put at the end of my long list of to-explore priorities, with Asian cities dominating most of it, but a recent work assignment brought me right to the heart of it.
And so the sights of glitzy modern Europe give way to a scene that exudes this special kind of modest old-school charm that borders on neglect and dilapidation. Somehow the careless graffiti, cracked pavements and rattling trams form the perfect compliment to the rich history of the city. It's the kinda beauty that you tend to appreciate more after having spent time rubbing through the smut.
Tying together a few loose ends of places that I've always wanted to explore.
I wasn't sure when exactly Saigon joined this whole industrial vintage cafe rush but it couldn't have been more than 3 years ago when I last left the city feeling accomplished for having spent a quiet afternoon being seen in Highlands Coffee. With its abundance of old buildings and vintage ware (some still in use), I suppose it is not hard at all to get something going, and I'm certainly delighted to have found a string of charming cafes dotting the entire District 1 area.
The grand trip of the year brings us back to the embrace of India where we embarked on a spiritual trip to the heart of Mother Ganga. In between navigating around generous lumps of cow dungs and the throngs of eager pilgrims and other locals alike, enlightenment is perhaps a blink of an eye away. Life begins and ends at the gentle sloping ghats along the banks.
The tiny island continues to attract with its assortment of quaint well-preserved neighbourhoods and friendly folks. That's a place I almost called home.
And here's my first attempt at doing a more proper videography project during a trip.
A small set of pics emerges from yet another photoshoot assignment to this charming little dot, mainly from Gardens by the Bay (thanks to Latif who brought me there) and Chinatown, where I stayed as usual. This also mark the first travel/journalism shot using my new fullframe baby, of which I have absolutely only praises for.
The grand 17-day cuti-cuti cheena was at least 6 months in the making, taking the gang quite a few sessions of pouring over info, and sites, and recommendations to finalise things, and still there were a few drama that managed to unfold right as the departure date drew near, threatening to bring us back to ground zero with this highly-anticipated trip.
But I'm glad that we made it in the end, not just one or two of us, but the entirely gang of five who made the original pledge to explore this part of China together.
Hmmm what can i say about you. Your lake is apparently famed over generations of tourists yet I find it rather overrated, your food perhaps not half as tasty as compared to the exciting flavours of sichuan, your sky is as blown out as Malaysia, your leaves are not golden at all despite it being Autumn, and your people, oh my your people in this part of China are equally loud and choking from an over-abundance of phlegm in their throats. But thank goodness for the saving grace that is Xi Tang and it's abundance of narrow lanes, old houses and a charming collection of old-school charm that continues to live on, though amidst of a hectic tourist flavour.
The other side of Hyderabad is one that is far away from the constant honking of the autos and bikes, from the exhaust-choked air and from the maddening crowd. Here's a little spin-off album from my two-week long business trip that tries to recapture the surreal feeling that hit me every time I drag my tired soul back into the comfort of Westin, and sink my body into its infamous heavenly bed and one that is testimonial to the large social disparity that is India.
A spin-off from the 3-week long trip to the Netherland come this little weekend album, from the charming UNESCO heritage town of Brugge. Everything is almost perfect here, the cobblestone pavements, winding canals, romantic bridges. Everything but the weather. Darn.
Continuing the tradition of my recent group trips is this portrait version of our travel stories, documented during the 9-day journey across central Vietnam, of which camwhore backdrops include quaint backlanes (as usual), elaborate tombs, charming shopfronts and expanses of rice fields.
The charming Li river is home to perhaps one of the most well-known (and well-photographed) sceneries of China, but looking beyond the kartz topography and throngs of visitors, my camera found a more charming piece of the everyday life of the people of Li, which seems even more real and heart-warming than the reflections of limestone structures on the river on a clear, sunny, chilly day.
Oh well, with hazy skies and fast receding water level towards the end of the year, I guess I didn't come here for typical Chinese painting stuff, to start with.
And I just realised that this is officially my first travel album from China! Here is to countless decades of future exploration of this huge charming piece of beautiful land.:)
The charming UNESCO heritage sites of Borobudur and Prambanan, coupled with the quiant town of Yogyakarta, explored in the company of fellow camwhoring friends. And now I returned with not one, but two albums to share. The first to be published is this heartpatrick signature travel album. And please please stay tuned for the portrait album. :)
My eighth trip to Bangkok is a journey of pleasant rediscovery of the hidden treasures tucked deep in Yaowarat. It seems like I always won't have enough time to cover everything but doesn't that just give me more reason to return? :)
Third album for April 2008, and my first travel abum of the year! Oh gosh, it almost feels like I haven't been travelling for ages! I have to admit Bangkok doesn't excite us that much anymore, and I regretted my decision of not bringing my SLR there. Gosh all the wasted photo opportunities during Songkran. Perfect excuse to be back again next year, I know. ;
TRAVEL/ SPACES • JAN 2017
It's fun to be able to start exploring a new city as soon as you land, and the glitzy, dreamy, new-age installation of the Space-Time Tunnel at Baiyun Airport made it just too easy for us to begin our taste of how progressive the modern design movement in China has been.
TRAVEL • SEP 2016
It was not that many years ago when Iceland was just this faraway, mysterious land that I could never have dreamt to explore. And then Eyjafjallajökull erupted in 2010, disrupting air travel for over 8mil passengers, and with this strange twist of fate, also putting the magnificent island on the to-go list of tourists from all over the world. This is our version of the Iceland saga, one that took us on a 12-day clock-wise round island trip covering many key sights and some off-the-beaten-track spots too. Special thanks to our principal trip planner Lee Jing Cheong for pouring his heart into creating this beautiful itinerary while his rather clueless travel mates just sat back and enjoyed the sights and experiences.
TRAVEL • JUL 2016
It's interesting to note how the passing of time changes our preferences and our priorities in life. In particular to my travel experience of Bangkok, it was from rushing from one touristy spots to another and spending the entire weekend in Chatuchak, to predominantly covering the thriving cafe scene, artsy flea markets, and exploring buildings with strong architectural elements. Our accommodation preference has also switch from staying in boutique hotels to charming airbnb units. That, is the theme of my 13th visit to Bangkok.
IThe sweet, beautiful Rajasthanis, to dedicate an album to them is perhaps as effortless as finishing a satisfying cup of hot masala chai in one gulp. While it's definitely common to find the opportunistic ones who were out to give our tourist buck a few spins, once we got out of the tourist hotspots, we found a whole community of genuine locals who were eager to break their daily routine for some small chat about the Gods, the Forts and everything in between.
As a spin-off to the main album, this subsidiary album focuses on the old ways of living in Beijing, and on the string of attractions that have continued to capture the fancy of cultural fans from around the world.
There's something about the visual of a lone person against the backdrop of a big wide space that makes me want to break into a song, or in the case of my street photography, a frenzied high-speed shutter to capture this almost poetic moment. Rare as it may for this opportunity to appear especially in a crowded city like New York, my tendency to stay away from the rat race and venture deep into the neighbourhoods did help.
My twelfth trip to the city of angels, and I'm not sure why I'm still counting anymore. The agenda has seen some much-needed refresh, with the last few being the need to check out the latest list of hipster cafes in town.
A little sneak peek into the atmospheric christmas season over in this part of the world.
My eleventh trip to Bangkok, but who really is counting? Yet I have found another slice of the city life to experience, this time in the form of chic hostels and artsy cafes. And so the pull of the city of angels continues.
A census from year 2011 puts the number of Nepalese workers in Malaysia at 400000, yet many times this quiet, unassuming group of labourers and general workers in the service industry remains but just some nameless faces, a mere backdrop in our bustling urban life.
In this journey deep into the homeland of our Nepalese friends, we stayed away from the beaten tracks of the usual tourists and ventured into the local neighbourhoods instead to experience the street scenes, uncovering a group of warm and friendly folks, who, just like us, have dreams and aspirations, and with loved ones who too left the country in pursue of a better future.
The next time you come in contact with a Nepalese, try a local greeting that is close to his heart. While that may not necessarily nurse his aching longing for home, at least you have reminded him of the purpose of his hard work here.
In the Lonely Planet travel book of India, Kolkata has but a mere 5 pages of coverage, yet the six days spent venturing deep into its various districts bear no justification to this blatant disregard of what must have been the most magical and fulfilling experience that I have had in the longest of time.
The first two things that caught my attention about Kolkata are its charming tram ways, the only one that is still in operations in the whole of India, and the yellow ambassador cabs. Coupled that with an entire city that is magically locked still in a vintage era many decades ago, I'm totally sold. It was a street photography trip turned vintage goodies shopping spree as I made the pleasant discovery of old alarm clocks, switches, fans and typewriters all going for dirt cheap prices.
And in this third trip to India, the locals proof yet again that they're the friendliest street photography subjects that you'll ever get in the world. The daily life can be a string of painstaking chores, but they always have to pose for you.
Continuing the tradition of recent travel albums, a dedicated camwhore album is a must especially against the breathtaking backdrops of Yunnan and Sichuan.
My third songkran celebration, and the first one that sees my skills having grown sufficiently OK to be able to cover this chaotic event with my gears, protected by a waterproofing skin good even for underwater photography, which I have to say, is rather frustrating getting used to. And the fact that I'm shooting with my camera means I can't be shooting with my watergun instead! Not good, when all I want is to have some fun without thinking about exposure, and focal length and composition! :">
6 years has passed since my previous visit, and HK remains charming as ever. While I failed to detach myself from the hectic city life during the previous trip, I made amends this time by dedicating two full days to the exploration of the outlying islands, particularly the famed idyllic fishing villages of Tai'O and Cheung Chau that are worlds apart from that of downtown Kowloon. And oh, please excuse the number of vertical horizon and levitation portrait shots peppered throughout. :">
Heartpatrick's top travel destination of year 2011 has come and gone, and with it, the unveiling of the old-world charm that is Tibet.
Loaded with peculiar treasures in architectural marvel against a backdrop of sweeping landscapes and a rich religious culture, this blessed land certainly does not disappoint, yet I return home with a sad realisation that the Tibet experience, originally thought to be spiritual and enlightening one, is unfortunately not quite different than that of the other overly-commercialised Chinese attractions.
The invasion of China is a well-thought plan, starting with its throngs of unruly, loud, spitting, sometimes rude, and often crude nationals who flood the place as tourists, businessmen and workers, then the ugly tasteless structures and buildings housing the standard affair of chinese outlets not excluding karaoke lounges, health spas that make up the new part of Lhasa town, the bold bombastic propoganda displayed all over the place, the ever-presence troops of gun-yielding Chinese soldiers patrolling every corner of the old town, the ear-piercing Chinese folksongs blasting through squares, and finally the Chinese flag parading the iron claw on the highest point of Potala Palace, just to make a point.
This is certainly not the Tibet that I have traveled so far for. Perhaps I have not ventured deep enough into the hidden villages where Tibetans still practice their lifestyle and cultures, venture off the beaten track of Chinese tour buses and agencies.
For now, the mysterious smiles of the native Tibetan kid in traditional wear have pretty much evaded me. But at least I would have a reason to come again. For the time being though, I will nurse my sore expectations, this beautifully painful journey that is the rape of Tibet.
Almost a continuation of my wetnam trip, the most part of my 3-week long business trip to the Netherlands was featured by the rather uninspiring bucket-loads of drizzle, cold wind, moody skies, and frost-bitten fingers that were denied the gloves in favour of shooting. Well at least, I had my first taste of snow, even though it was what they called wet snow, the type that melts and disappears as soon as they hit the ground. The Hague was almost like how I have left it during my first visit many years back, but back with better gears, it would be shameful not to revisit some of the places that I have liked.
Narrow maze-like lanes, charming churches and airy squares, and quaint neighbourhoods, never forget the reason why I got hooked to Macau during my first visit a few years ago, and this time I'm back to properly explore every turn and corner, in the company of my fellow camwhoring friends.
The first travel album of Year 2010 brings me (and Mum) to the middle of the charming old quarters of Hanoi in the midst of Tet new year preparations. Another eye-opening trip indeed, including that of a two-day-long diarrhea where I spent time getting acquainted with the hotel toilet bowl - well all part of the experience of course. :)
A journey of rediscoveries of the everyday life of Taipei folks, this time in the company of Mum, and against a backdrop of a constant drizzling and a moody sky that got completely dark everyday at 530pm. *SULKZ* And no thanks to the aftermath of the typhoon season, we had to drop our plans for Alishan as apparently the good stuff will take a few years to be restored.
Ah.. finally a purely relaxing holiday of which the main agenda includes water fights during Songkran. Gladly left my chunky SLR behind, but my ithcy finger nevertheless snapped away with the trusty Canon compact.
Gosh it does seem like ages since I last published a travel album! After like a half-year break, heartpatrick.com finally return to its roots of travel photography with a rather sizeable collection of photos from the eye-opening trip of a fabulously chaotic fest that is Ho Chi Minh city.
The first album for July 2008, is my second vacation album of the year. Manila isn't exactly your ideal city getaway, but it was nevertheless a fun trip, especially with some good company! This album is done entirely with my Canon compact again.
TRAVEL/ SPACES • JAN 2017
Guangzhou may be famous for its booming wholesale market, but the third largest city in China is also fast placing itself on the map for urban and archi photographers with a string of modern buildings that showcases China's progressive arts movement. Working alongside these modern day marvels are the delights of the cantonese cuisine and a burgeoning thirdwave cafe culture, giving the city a rather well-rounded experience.
TRAVEL • NOV 2016
Almost a decade since I last visited Taipei. The city was almost exactly like how I have left it, to my slight disappointment. Perhaps the exposure that I have had while exploring the many other countries and cities in the last ten years or so has risen my expectations of what I want to see in an urban environment. It was a relaxing trip nevertheless.
TRAVEL • SEP 2016
The sweeping Icelandic landscape, though magnificient by itself, is the perfect canvas for a lone human figure tracing its every peak and valley and its wide expanse of nothingness. Thus the scene is set for this edition of shots that plays with the minimalist theme of human versus nature.
TRAVEL • APR 2016
Typing up some loose ends on the few key charming locations that I covered during an assignment trip down south.
My first travel album on the new Olympus OMD baby, and what better place to test its capability than Hong Kong's sweeping urbanscape of over 7mil-strong population. Things have not terribly changed as compared to my earlier trip four years ago, but my focus has. This round is mostly about the charming public housing estates made famous by instagram. My only wish is that I had the luxury of time to comb each and every one of them and squeeze all the photography opportunity dry, but that may require that I be based there for awhile, perhaps not something that I would not entertain.
Tying up some loose ends from the random shots that I got from a few afternoons here and there in between an assignment to Bali.
Continuing the tradition of big travel projects, here's a compilation of our portraits taken during the ten-day journey through Rajasthan. With just the three of us this round, we are definitely missing the impact afforded when we go out in full force, all eight of us.
The check-in to Beijing, China's massive capital of over 11mil people, was greatly motivated by the need to admire the thriving modern arts and culture scene there, though its setting against a historical backdrop that stretches back three millennia was quite a unique contrast. The modern architecture circuit is easily followed by searching for all the SOHO developments in the city, and along the way, hutongs and their new-found quirkiness make for an interesting distraction that is worthy of an afternoon here and there.
This album focuses on the modern take on the city as well as the on the creative reimagination of the old.
Finally, the sinking of my eager teeth in the Big Apple has arrived. This giant metropolis of which magical images has been ingrained firmly in my memory via its portrayal in all forms of media imagined, to be able to actually experience it with my own pair of eyes is strangely surreal.
TRAVEL • MAY 2015
As the camera and image quality of photos shot on smartphones improve over the years, I'm finding more and more occasions during my trips where I have reached out for my phone for those photogenic moments rather than my SLR. And what a waste it would be to just have the shots be kept in the camera roll of my phone instead of in my portfolio. So here goes. :">
The grandeur that is the Angkor Architectural park, spanning a few hundreds of square kilometers, is perhaps only matched in scale by the brutality of the Khmer Rouge genocide in the late 1970's that wiped out one fourth of the country's population. And thus the perfect contrast of Cambodia's rich history is presented.
The exploration of the matcha country continues with Kansai region.
GODS & GHATS VIDEO COMPILATION (INDIA: KOLKATA/ BODHGAYA/ VARANASI)
Varanasi has always been on the top of my to-do list for India, and I'm glad that I'm able to now check that off in the company of my beloved travel mates. I have also successfully kept the video-taking momentum going throughout most part of the trip to have enough footages to compile these short clips as a compliment to the album that will come next. :">
Shanghai, a metropolis of over 23million people, yet never have I felt as disconnected with the locals as when I was in this city. The title of the album itself is perhaps an antithesis of what I have published in this set, showing my need to escape from the maddening crowd who once again proved that they absolutely do not fancy the idea of having any types of cameras being pointed their way.
Continuing the tradition of Heartpatrick's travel album, is an subsidiary album of holiday portraits, of which poses should only be attempted in a place like India, where locals beg to model alongside with you, and would do anything to appear in your shots.
The mysterious city that has eluded me in year 2011, first due to the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear-scare, and then followed by work-related commitments, has finally succumbed to my persistent need to uncover its shroud of quirkiness and new-world contrast. And so I explored it to my heart's content, though I'm far from being done.
Took advantage of a 2-week business trip to the Hague for more exploring of the quaint European towns and cities around, and I came back with a bundle of joy that caught a local scene in its best festive mood.
A spin-off trip should always just remain as one, i.e. a transit point that should never ever be overshadowed by the main agenda of a holiday. Yet despite the breathtaking experience of Tibet, the few days spent in Chengdu before and after Lhasa were unexpectedly fun, in fact, in many different aspects, more fun than Tibet. haha. Exploring the few attractions that I had time to go, this city reminds me of old-school Kowloon or Taipei.
India! Finally a strange, new piece of unchartered land begging to be explored. The first thing that any photographer will notice as soon as they pull out their gear is just how camera-friendly the locals are. In fact, they don't just stop everything they do to pose and smile obediently at the sight of your lens, but will even go to the extend of chasing you down and beg you to have their pictures taken. Definitely a refreshing change from the stark contrast of unfriendly stares and curses that you get in some other parts of Asia.
In their own heart-warming, though a little crude, way, I have been touched. My arms, by eager kids who grabbed on to check out their photos on my camera, my back, by edges of carts pushed along an impossibly crowded open-air market at the old city, my face, by the pinch of a local who must have only seen a chinese face on TV before this, my ears, by the constant honking of impatient motorists, my hair, by the gentle swirl of a wandering hijab.
And finally my heart, by the impossibly friendly locals who flashed their smile and greetings my way, who pointed their cameras and camera-phones at me and my colleagues, who rushed over to take photos with us, and made me feel like both a celebrity and a National Geographic photographer. :P
To Hyderabad, and beyond.
The permanent feature of our 9-day trip to Central Vietnam was this constant, persistent drizzle that was thankfully not heavy enough to keep us and our cameras off the streets, but disturbing enough to kill some mood of exploration and camwhoring amidst a seriously ill-prepared wardrobe selection that consisted mainly of shorts and tshirts.
Nevertheless, as with most trips, the company made all the difference, and we did return loaded with memories, learnings, tons of pics, and stuffed baggages. :)
ITINERARY: Saigon > Hue > Hoi An & My Son > Danang > Saigon
My ninth trip to the city of angels. Seems like just yesterday when I first set foot on this vibrant colourful city. Bangkok is just as charming as I have left it two years ago, and I'm back this time, with better gears, and sharper, keener eyes, to revisit some of the places that I have gasped at, to try and do justice to its charms. And to fall in love all over again.
A spin-off from the Hanoi trip was a 3D2N side-trip to the rolling highlands of Sapa dotted with rice terraces and native tribes eager to sell you something. I didn't arrive at the right month, so er the terraces were just barren unfortunately.
Of course, in the company of my fellow cam-whoring friends, no travel is complete without a dedicated portrait album. :)
Here you go, my first travel portrait album, taken while camwhoring from the quaint sidelanes of Yogyakarta town to the charming temple ruins of Borobudur, Prambanan, Ratu Boko and a few others of which names I think I will soon forget haha. But of course thanks to photography, the memories of the great company from the trip stays on. :)