Images of Asia

Wednesday 23 November 2011
You probably notice by now that I ping pong between various diverse topics but never settling on one. I hope you guys don't mind me doing this. I have trouble talking about fashion all day long because even I get bored of the never ending fashion trends.

I love food but I have to draw a line somewhere or else I'll end up looking like a porker. My aunts and grandmother who live in Borneo never fail to make a comment about my weight gain whenever I visit them. I'm no longer 17 and my metabolic rate ain't what it used to be so of course, I'm chubbier. I've found out that reverse psychology works beautifully here. "Auntie! So nice to see you. I know I'm so FAT these days". Immediately, I get the   "Aiyah, no-laaah. You look fine. Too skinny no good. Makes you look old". 

Traveling is a passion of mine. I must be getting on in age because I miss my own bed if I'm away for more than 2 weeks. I was digging around in an external hard drive when I found these old photos. Some of them would've been more than 16 years old. Looking at these images brought back fond memories of my crazy adventures. If Lil L attempts to do the same when she's older, I'm going to chain her to her bed until she's 30. Okay, maybe 40.

sepilok orang utan
Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Sepilok. 1999
I was determined to visit the Orang-utan Rehabilitation centre at Sepilok, Sabah (North Borneo). I nearly peed in my pants when an entire troupe of massive Macaques got really aggressive towards visitors. One of the staff had to run off to get a gun. Apparently, one attacked a staff the week before and injured him badly. The macaques also bully the gentle orang-utans by pushing them around and stealing their food.

Tambunan, Sabah 1999
The staff at a local hotel couldn't understand why I wanted to visit a small laid-back town in Sabah. I was obsessed with taking photos of paddy fields. I grew up seeing them whenever my family went on long distance drives but the fields seemed so exotic to me now that I've lived abroad. A really nice bloke felt sorry for me and came by in his car at 5am just to make sure I got to see sunrise! Poor guy, he was barely coherent since he'd gone out with his buddies all night and hadn't slept.

birds singapore
Birds, Tiong Bahru 1999
I must've been the youngest person at Tiong Bahru. The average age was 50. The old gentlemen would meet at a cafe, hang their bird cages up while chatting and admiring each other's birds.

lion china
Forbidden City, China 2000
The lion guarding the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Portrait of Mao, near Forbidden City 2000
I don't know what it's like these days in Beijing but there were tons of local tourists from the villages visiting Beijing, all gawking in amazement at the sights. We got chatting to a German couple. Suddenly, there were flashes everywhere and people clamoring over hubby and I to get photographed next to the blonde couple. It was a rather surreal experience.

forbidden city
Forbidden City, Beijing 2000
It was pandemonium at the Forbidden City. The local tourists would clamor all over you. One nearly strangled me with his camera strap in a hurry to take a photo despite the fact that he was behind me. I had enough of the madness and ruthless crowd and decided to wander off.

Bidayuh lady at Anna Rais, Kuching, Borneo 1999
A few old classmates and I decided to check out a Bidayuh longhouse at Anna Rais, approximately an hour's drive from Kuching except that it took us far longer than that. The 3 of us have NO sense of direction whatsoever despite being locals. Sad but true. This amazing 90 year old (at the time) was still tending the fields in her advanced age.

Remnants of old Colonial times, Malacca 2008
Malacca or otherwise known as Melaka by Malaysians is an old commerce port centuries ago where important trade took place. The signs of colonialism is evident in the architecture as the town was once ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and finally, the British.


  1. Wow, these photos are beautiful. Was there a particular reason for your travels?

    My favorite photo is of the elderly woman. You captured her humanity.

  2. These photos are beyond amazing Marlene! I love the birdcages. It's very interesting that there is a place to sit and admire everyone's birds. I would like that. :)

  3. Anna, I went back to Borneo for a holiday and thought it'd be neat to photograph my country of birth. I knew I'd never return to live so I wanted a snapshot to document what it's like. As for the elderly lady, we spent a bit of time chatting through an interpreter. She was a gentle and wise soul.

    Kim, it was wonderful to sit back and listen to the birds chirping away. Some were amazing singers.

  4. Looks like you've had some amazing travels! I love orangoutangs- so freaking cute! And my family is the same way with weight gain- I'll have to try your strategy :)

  5. hey thanks for dropping by my blog! haha i find a bit of reverse psychology always works. your photos are GORGEOUS. esp that one of the old woman. I just look at that and think"wise woman". that photo of the birdcages at tiong bahru made me a little ashamed that I've not really stopped to appreciate all these beautiful sights that I've grown up with in Singapore.

  6. Gosh, you were a wonderful photographer even back then! I love all of your pictures! The pictures from the Forbidden City look so serene (and I know it's a mad house there from when I visited)! I'm amazed that you could get a good picture of anything with all the tourists there!

    And LOL@ reverse psychology! It does work, especially with Asian folks! :)

    Oh yes, and my outfit pics are NOT my work pics. I'm much more conservative at work - and no jeans!

    Happy Thanksgiving Marlene!

  7. I'm loving all your photos! They are so clear! What camera do you use? Malaysia is my hometown and the pictures bring back good memories!
    Those orangutans are so cute as well!
    I miss holidays!!

  8. These photos are amazing! I would love to travel to Asia one of these days. You are so talented and these photos came out beautifully. Thank you for digging them up and sharing them with us. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends!

  9. These photos are amazing! Traveling is one of my passions too!

  10. Marlene? :) (How nice I don't have to call you choco, chocolates).

    The demography of Tiong Bahru is getting a little different these days..there are a lot more young families in view of the new housing there. :)

    But actually I've always thought that Borneo is part of Indonesia...never knew it was also part of Malaysia.

  11. beautiful pictures!!!! i wish i can also visit those places one day. take care. xoxo, Haus of Gala

  12. skippysays, let's just say they're EXTREMELY vocal.

    Shu Han, thank you! You're a walking encyclopedia when it comes to food. It's funny how we often travel afar but never explore our own backyard.

    Sam, you're so sweet. Thank you! I dare not go back to Forbidden City. The local tourists are vicious! You should totally wear your outfits to work. They're fabulous!

    katattack, the grainy ones were scanned from negatives. I had a Canon SLR. The rest were taken with Canon 300DSLR. I tend to use pretty basic Canon camera body but I invest in good lenses. Hope this helps.

    Thu, I'm so pleased you like the photos. There are so many more countries I've yet to explore. I've always dreamt of going to Vietnam. One day.

    LV, thank you! So glad you like them.

    chicology, LOL! I guess it can be rather weird calling me choco all the time :P How things have changed. The Tiong Bahru that I know of was very old fashioned. I saw more elderly folks rather than young ones back in those days. Sabah and Sarawak belong to Malaysia. The little itty bitty dot by the neck of the seahorse shape is Brunei and the tummy is Kalimantan which is part of Indonesia.

    prettymeggy, thank you so much! The two countries are fascinating. Do explore Borneo if you get the chance. Of course, I'm rather biased ;P

  13. You certainly have travelled all over! These photos are amazing, and I cannot believe that woman at 90 was still tending the fields... Thank you for sharing and I hope you have a great rest of the week!

  14. Thank you for sharing these breathtaking beautiful pictures. Happy weekend! :)

  15. i'm italian but born in philippines.. i would love to travel and see Borneo i'm sure i would love it :)
    as for languages, sometimes i got crazy, but everyday i'm learning.. its easy to learn one language if you live in the country :)
    take care.. i'm following you now.. can't wait to learn more from you!
    xoxo, Haus of Gala

  16. You've been to so many amazing places - I'd love to have a passport like yours one day :) Is traveling much harder now with children? Would you recommend to get a lot of it done beforehand?

  17. Kat, I wouldn't be able to do what I did if I have Lil L with me. The logistics nightmare, the amount of junk I have to lug around (the younger they are, the more stuff you have to bring) and enough patience to test a saint..... If I were you, I'd do the less child-friendly places first.

  18. What amazing pictures! You certainly are well-traveled! I love seeing all the interesting places you've been.

  19. That image with the birdcage is fantastic. What a great way for the elderly to meet with their birds.



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