Moving On and Moving Forward

by cedhausen

2014 was not supposed to be a good year for me. Well, according to Chinese astrologists who predicted that the year will be a challenging one to those born in the year of the horse, which I am. I refused to buy into it, and while I’ve endured some rough times, I certainly wouldn’t blame it on the stars. We may be victims of circumstance, but we are masters of our fate, and I decided that 2014 would end with a bang. I’ve seen the sun dip below the horizon at Uluwatu, watched it rise at the top of Borobudur, and have been struck with awe by the vibrant city of Singapore. Three different places in three months. I’d say I’ve done pretty well for myself.

I don’t think I’ve ever explained why I chose to name this blog “Pilgrim of Beauty”, have I? To me, beauty exists in many forms and through various mediums. With instant photography, it can be difficult to appreciate beauty because of an oversupply of it to feed the demands of a high-definition(ed) public. Let’s not even begin with the “Beautify” feature on some smartphones that promises translucent skin… on the screen. There can be beauty in the simplest of things, most overlooked things: the coffee table in the corner, the symmetry found in apartment blocks, the freckles on the skin, the blades of grass, the silhouette of a stranger… a cat, maybe. In a world where newspapers sensationalise the awful, I look towards the beautiful. It is my form of escapism. Well, along with immersing myself in a good book or magazine. And these things teach me to be a more grateful human being, to be alive and to be blessed with the opportunity to see, experience, feel amazing things… There’s always something beautiful waiting to be captured.

Clichés must be true if they are reinforced so frequently, so I do subscribe to the saying that beauty does lie in the eye of the beholder. I can’t expect to delight everyone with every single one of my photographs; every person will have their favourites, maybe none. I’m not the world’s best photographer, but I can learn from the best, and I hope to continue improving my craft. The only way is up, and so this blog serves as my own personal report card as I navigate this world as a pilgrim of beauty. And I thank all who are kind enough to think my work is worthy of any attention as they follow me on this journey of self discovery.

Okay, that was more words than intended, but not unnecessary. It’s rare for me to be this pensive at four in the morning, so I’ll quickly move on to the Photo of the Day:

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I’m a little aghast that I’ve not talked about Singapore’s National Library! The picture above was taken at the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library inside the building, which, compared to many other libraries, appear more spacious and doesn’t feel like a library stack.

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The large, towering windows provide the illusion that the place is larger than it is, allowing for a profusion natural lighting to illuminate the entire room. Also, if you zoom in on the picture, there’s actually a sign on the left pillar that strictly forbids any form of photography inside the library… I guess I found that out a little too late. I wonder why though… I understand how a flash can be distracting, or the noise of a shutter / camera beep to be disruptive, but in the absence of these, I’m not exactly disturbing the peace that envelops the library’s patrons.

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It’s such a great place to take photos… and I do realise I favour black-and-white shots of the library here. The following images shall break that inclination:

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So the second one isn’t of the library but was taken from the library. A shopping mall called Bugis+, its most distinct feature is its crystal mesh façade that lights up at night. Singaporean malls are a sight to behold, inside out, and it’s not difficult to appreciate the effort developers have put into designing a distinct identity for each of these malls.

Now before I digress into mall design (which could be a mortifying essay itself), here’s one last picture of the National Library:

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This was taken with my GoPro as I couldn’t fit the whole building into the iPhone’s frame, which tells you how immense the building is. That seemingly-obvious-observation-deck you see above the building is called The Pod. Despite its position and design, it is not a viewing gallery (unfortunately) and is only reserved for functions and events.

Since we’re in the vicinity, have some more photographs of windows taken around Haji Lane and Arab Street. You know I can never get enough of these:

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It’s difficult to hate quirky, especially in those whimsical colours.

Walk a little further, crossing Beach Road, and we arrive at the Concourse:

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A marriage of form and function, the octagonal-shaped commercial and residential property was designed by architect Paul Rudolph, a student of Walter Gropius who pioneered modern architecture. Don’t you think the arrangement of the windows look like Stormtrooper helmets?

Here’s a pretty looking condominium in the area:

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Okay, to be fair, this looks like any other fancy condo, but I still couldn’t resist snapping a photo of it. It looks like it’s been made out of crystalline Lego blocks!

And now, the last couple of photographs depicting Singapore, taken inside the Marina Bay Sands Casino:

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Why I chose to end depicting Singapore as a gambler’s paradise, I don’t know. And while I’m not allowed to take photographs inside casinos… anywhere, I’d be damned if I left the country without at least showing you how the inside of this temple of greed looks like. Here’s another shot for perspective:

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This is a vertical panoramic shot of the interior, which is why there’s this bit on the ceiling that looks severed (I think that was just about the time when a floor supervisor sternly informed me in Mandarin to not take photographs inside the casino). Maybe I should’ve used one of these images as the Photo of the Day. Just look at the colour! Wrapped in gold to symbolise the promise of wealth and carpeted in scarlet for red has always been a lucky colour for the Chinese. It doesn’t take a wild guess to know where most of the biggest players come from.

But, this is the last extensive post on Singapore, for now, so I might as well end it vibrantly. If you’ve stayed with me thus far, I guess the ultimate reward would be these photos for though they were taken clandestinely and hurriedly, I’m pleasantly surprised by the finished products.

Alright folks, it’s always getting late with me, and so I bid you goodnight. I hope the “visual guides” on Singapore thus far have succeeded in coaxing some of you out there to visit this beautiful country (Coming from a Malaysian… I wonder if I can be charged for treason?). See y’all on the last day of 2014!