My random ramblings.

Posts tagged “London

2011 with my iPhone

Hello! Happy New Year!

I thought I’d compile some photos taken with my phone throughout 2011. I hardly use my phone camera but there were moments this year when having my iPhone was a real godsend, like the time when my stupidity got the better of me and I forgot to charge my DSLR before a photo expedition, or when it was just more convenient to take photos using my phone camera.

These were taken in Southend. I still get annoyed at the thought of not having charged my camera, but at least I got some good shots using some cool apps on the iPhone. Plus it’s not too far away to go back and take some proper shots. In a way I’m glad that I learnt this lesson early on rather than it happening when on holiday!

Here’s the facade of a fish and chip restaurant in Southend. The fish and chips were nothing out of the ordinary, but the prices were quite steep. Who wouldn’t capitalise on their coastal connections?

These are some photos of the pier. We walked on it later in the day but the freezing spring temperatures spurred us towards an early return.

This is Smithfield market, meet meat packing smack in the centre of London. Who would have thought a place that breathes so much masculinity with its meat trucks and men dressed in bloody overalls would be painted in pastel colours: pink and green! I used to walk past this everyday when my work was based in central London and loved its character and pizzazz.

What is this? No, it’s not a movie still from Transformers 4. This is an ice-kacang machine…a block of ice is placed into the pit of its bowels to churn out shaved ice.

This is my favourite stretch of the north-south highway in Malaysia, called Changkat Jering. With 270 degrees curves and tunnels carved through hills, it is like your very own ‘Need for Speed’ game. In fact, it is indeed a race circuit to some mad drivers!

I finish off with some shots of Ipoh, a landlocked city in Malaysia. It’s not exactly a touristy place, but I love some of its old buildings.

Chilling in Camden

During summer this year, Camden Town became our most-visited, chilling hotspot in London. If we didn’t know what to do over the weekend, we’d go to Camden. If we were meeting friends in London, it would be in Camden. If friends from abroad were visiting us, we’d take them to Camden. What was so alluring about Camden?

Camden Market. I’m no urban planner, but Camden Market sure scores high marks for knowing how to attract patrons by clever manipulation of its layout. You see, there are two or three ways to get into Camden Market (as far as I know) and they all require you to weave through a trail of stalls selling all kinds of food! The food list boasts an impressive ethnic variety: nutella pancakes, pulled pork wraps, spinach and cheese crispy pancakes (my favourite), Caribbean goat curry, barbequed pork ribs, seafood paella… I can go on and on. I tell you, they’ve got you hooked from the moment you step foot into the area!

If you’re like me, all that choice would surely confuse you, so what do you order? I’ve gone round and round the stalls trying to decide what to order, and I’m sure there are many others out there faced with the same predicament when in Camden Market. While you’re wandering around the market, the stall owners try to entice you with some samples. By the time you’ve gone around, the samples can actually fill you up! Ahh free food…could this place get any better?

Still, the glutton that I am, I end up ordering something. After filling our stomachs, we’re ready to explore the rest of the market. The Stables Market is tucked away in one corner. It’s built in the former Pickfords stables and horse hospital which served the horses pulling Pickford’s distribution vans and barges along the canal. Massive life-size horse statues greet you at the entrance of the market, and you’re unlikely to miss the huge horse bust at the other end of the market. Cue photo moment! Inside the market, there are shops selling everything from vintage clothes to incense and retro posters. It’s quite difficult to return empty-handed after going through all those shops!

Another one of Camden’s quirks is its buildings that front the main street. They are adorned with what I can only think of as big, bold wall art! The photo on this blog explains it all – my words will do no justice in describing it!

Hmm…what else could you do in Camden? You could people watch! If you’re into street photography, this might be the place for you as you’re bound to see some very interesting characters! The heavily tattooed man, a gothic girl, Bob Marley lookalikes, the backpacker tourist…they’re all there.

Anyway, how would I sum up Camden Market? It’s a hip, hippy place and you couldn’t possibly get bored of it! 🙂

Notting Hill Carnival 2011

The Notting Hill Carnival in London is the largest festival celebration of its kind in Europe. It has been held every August bank holiday since 1966, initially set up on a small scale by the West Indian community and latterly transforming itself to a full blown Caribbean carnival.

The carnival is one of the most vibrant in London, with colourful parades, booming music and swaying hips lining the streets of West London. It is a haven for budding photographers like me, as it provides an opportunity to capture the vivid colours, the people in grand costumes and the street celebrations that are the next best thing to the Rio De Janeiro Carnival …all at my very own backyard.

Being there amidst the crowds, I was transported back to my teenage years of witnessing the processions during Thaipusam, a Hindu festival that is celebrated every year by Hindus. It is characterised by the same vibrant colours, loud music, street dancing and food; but the difference lies in the fact that Thaipusam is a religious festival whereas the carnival is a cultural celebration.

It was quite amusing to note that not much has changed in the way I experience these processions in all these years. (I reckon that’s a good thing, because it means I’m still young at heart!) 😉 My disdain still exists for loud, booming music. I had to cover my ears when the lorries went past us, playing music so loud I bet they set new thresholds in the decibel scale. Back then, my cousins and I used to be surreptitiously on the lookout for cute guys (surreptitious because our parents used to be standing right next to us!), this time round my friend and I were (openly) eyeing well-sculpted, bare-chested men taking part in the processions! I still have a thing for roadside stalls, as there is something about munching while walking and having unlimited food supply every 100 metres! Sweet desserts used to dominate my palate during Thaipusam while it was sugar cane at the recent carnival. Back then we would religiously end our Thaipusam walkabout at the temple, whereas this time I ended our carnival walkabout after religiously taking some photos!

Here are some photos I took at the carnival.

Riots in London

Forgive my seemingly cavalier approach to the use of adjectives in this blog, but given the circumstances it’s anything but. It is senseless, ridiculous, inhumane, crazy, merciless…perpetrated by a group of deranged, moronic, violent, thuggish brutes.

In days to come, hopefully by which time the rioting and looting would have come to an end, the media will no doubt undertake a post-mortem of the situation. Questions would be asked to ascertain the cause of the rioting:

  • Was this the result of an underlying racial undercurrent between the police and some minority groups?
  • Did the economic downturn and unemployment trigger the unrest?
  • Was this caused by growing frustration among deprived communities in London over the lack of political will to address issues faced by them?
  • Was this inevitable, given the lax state of immigration laws over the past 20 to 30 years?

The answer could be ‘yes’ to all of the above questions, however it does not justify the mindless rioting that is going on. So what if the police treated some minority groups differently? Would the actions of these thugs convince them to do otherwise? It would only substantiate their prejudices further. Why can’t the minorities of a nation realise that they have a big responsibility? A responsibility to conduct themselves as truthful, honest, responsible people as they act as ambassadors for their race and that their whole race is judged by their conduct alone in a foreign land?

Did the economic downturn and unemployment trigger this? Perhaps the effects of a poor economy are more palpable to deprived communities, however that does not give them reason to go berserk on the streets, causing grievous bodily harm to others and looting others’ property and possessions. The lives and safety of innocent people are at stake here.

Has there been a lack of political will to address the issues facing deprived communities? Some papers suggested that the budget cuts have caused the closure of youth clubs and the likes, which may have aggravated the frustrations felt by these groups of people. Somehow, I can’t quite imagine these people making use of any available youth groups to improve their lives. If this was the root of their frustrations, they would not have resorted to this kind of violence.

I am quite certain that the issue of immigration in this country will come to the forefront again. Whilst the government is already curbing immigration, the negative repercussion of past policies that allowed an influx of migrants unchecked is inexorable.

Ultimately, we have to stop blaming every problem on outside forces and the failure of the state; and ask ourselves: Where is justice as meted out in the good old days – with longer term sentences and – even capital punishment? Why are people no longer resilient and self-sustaining, causing them to become ‘deprived’ and impoverished? What happened to personal responsibility?