Archive for March, 2014

TVB’s ‘Storm in a Cocoon’, the best drama in first quarter of the year.

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2014 by vincentloy

‘Storm in a Cocoon’ (守業者) is a 2014’s Hong Kong TVB pre-modern series of 32 episodes that revolves on a large silk factory run by a wealthy businessman, which is later passed on to his third son, Ka Yeung while the latter encounter various challenges to take care simultaneously the huge business, family,friends and his love. The series starred Steven Ma, Tavia Yeung, Evergreen Mak, Maggie Shiu, Natalie Tong, Elliot Ngok, etc. It’s good to see the return of Steven Ma, a very great actor to TVB drama.

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The plot first started with the return of Ka Yeung (Steven) to the family after five years becoming military doctor. Not long after the great news, her second sister died and he team up with Bing Bing (Tavia), one of his silk workers to investigate the murder. More stories unfold within the family that is already full of conflicts, and later problems emerged on the business too. The plot is quite interesting as there seems to be a lot of things going on (fighting within family to get to the top, business politics, complicated relationship within silk workers, and also the usual romance parts).

What’s exciting from this particular drama is that it has a lot of twists. TVB tend to put in a lot of surprises into their series recently but most are very much expected and nothing really turns out surprising in the end. However, ‘Storm in a Cocoon’ is proven to be the exception. First, some parts had me curious and guessing who is the person behind all these. That got me engaged to follow up with the coming episodes to know the answer. That’s a good thing. I had quite a few shocks here.

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Steven Ma and Tavia Yeung. Both delivered exceptional performances as the main leads in the story. I’m still wondering why Steven Ma has never been awarded TVB’s Best Actor yet. I hope his time will come this year eventhough the early airing of the series this year may be a disadvantage. There is a huge number of supporting casts here, and all did very well too. And do you notice that you now see Elliot Ngok in almost all the series this year? This year, I already saw him continuously in ‘Outbound Love’ (as a photography-loving father), then in ‘Gilded Chopsticks’ (as an old emperor) and now here in ‘Storm in a Cocoon’ (as a rich businessman). Anyway, he is a very superb veteran actor. Always nailed all the supporting roles he had taken.

I watched the final two episodes just now. Hmm…I felt that the conclusion is too ‘simply’ done; the main villain gets caught and then killed so easily in just the first few minutes of the finale. Then, the lack of budget (typical for TVB series) made the flood scene to be not intense at all. And the part where Bing Bing gets on the floating signboard while Ka Yeung couldn’t and just stay by the side reminds me of Jack and Rose’s scene in ‘Titanic’. Haha. Luckily, the final few minutes that replay the flashbacks and depicting reunion of Ka Yeung (lost his memory) and Bing Bing are very touching and save the day. Overall, this is a fairly good series. There were still some boring scenes, and annoyingly too many characters dying, but with a fairly good plot, great casts, nice theme song and many ‘worked’ twists, I still consider this series the best in this first quarter of the year. (I prefer serious drama more than comedy like ‘Gilded Chopsticks’). Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Storm in a Cocoon’ a total of 7.7. Haha…I realized the title of this drama tells the many problems (symbolize those with storm) Ka Yeung has to go through and in the end, he literally faces the real storm too (hence the title).

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Movie review: Hello Babies (2014)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2014 by vincentloy

I knew I was a bit too late for have just recently watched ‘Hello Babies’, one of the several Chinese New Year films from Hong Kong this year. It is released on February, and by now, only I had a chance to watch it. This Cantonese movie tells the story of a couple whom decide not to have children in order to maintain a peaceful lifestyle, but they are then forced by their wealthy uncle to do so to inherit his fortunes. The uncle had to do this too to show off to his long-time enemy whom will becomes grandfather soon. This leads to various issues relating to reproduction in a hilarious and heart-warming manner.

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The movie starred Raymond Wong, Eric Tsang, Sandra Ng, Ronald Cheng, Fiona Sit, Karena Lam, and also features cameo appearance from Raymond Lam, Miriam Yeung and Louis Koo. In previous years, Eric Tsang had his own ‘I Love Hong Kong’ franchise to run during Chinese New Year, while Raymond Wong had his ‘All’s Well, Ends Well’ franchise. This year, both of them joined hands to make a single film, and it is expected to be the best, combining ideas from both of the two multi-talented stars. However, after watching ‘Hello Babies’, I was quite disappointed.

First of all, the story should not focus too much on reproduction and adult-relationship matters. This isn’t right for children. Chinese New Year movies should be suitable for people of all ages and to allow families into theatres to enjoy and laugh during the holiday. Luckily, ‘Hello Babies’ still delivered positive messages and most importantly, didn’t fail in comedy aspects. Sandra Ng is again the biggest factor for me to laugh from this movie. She is really a talented comedy actress. She made everything hilarious whenever she is present in a scene. I also did watched her in ‘Golden Chickensss’ movie (also released early this year). She nailed every roles. Ronald Cheng and Fiona Sit is a great pairing too when it comes to comedy.

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Had nothing more to comment since that when I watched this, there is no longer Chinese New Year mood around. The festival is over for almost two months now. I watched it just to spend off my boring past weekend. But it did gives me a good entertainment. However, when I compared this to ‘Hotel Deluxe’ movie last year (suddenly remembered this CNY movie), I have to say ‘Hotel Deluxe’ is much better and funnier. This year’s CNY movies were mostly disappointing. ‘Hello Babies’ is considered already the best CNY movie from Hong Kong this year. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Hello Babies’ a total of 7.0. Hoping that Hong Kong will produce better CNY movies next year.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Let us be part of the Earth Hour 2014 tonight.

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2014 by vincentloy

Today is the last Saturday of the month of March. And that means the time of the year comes again for us to switch off non-essential lights tonight from 8.30pm to 9.30pm (for an hour) in support of Earth Hour. If you still didn’t know, Earth Hour is a global movement organized by World Wide Fund of Nature (WWF) first started as only a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia back in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide, and the one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement.

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The movement now entered its 8th year with increasing cooperation, unity and efforts worldwide in showing commitment to our beloved planet Earth. As usual, many famous landmarks across the globe will turn off lights tonight including Sydney Opera House, Taipei 101, Burj Khalifa, Eiffel Tower, Statue of Christ the Redeemer, Empire State Building, St. Peter’s Basilica, Niagara Falls, Hagia Sophia, Beijing National Stadium, etc. While in my country, Malaysia, Petronas Twin Towers, KL Tower, City Hall Building, Sultan Abdul Samad Building and along with many other places will be in the dark tonight too. But I still find the efforts here in Malaysia are still not enough.

From 8.30 to 9.30pm tonight, I would be having my dinner outside. There would be no one in the house and all the lights would be off. Hence, I consider I have done my part in support of this wonderful programme. What’s extra that I could do now is to spread the message out and invite others to join me on this movement (have did it now by writing this post). Turning off lights for an hour remains a symbol, which shall lead to us being more aware of the need to love and protect our planet. Hence, we have to act beyond that particular one hour.

This is the first year that Earth Hour has a superhero as its ambassador. Spiderman is the one, and Andrew Garfield together with the other casts of ‘The Amazing Spider-man 2’ movie (scheduled to be released soon this year) will be at Singapore to take part in an event to switch off the lights of Marina Bay Sands tonight. Will there be another superhero turning up as the movement’s ambassador next year and who would it be? Superman? Batman? Iron Man? So, superhero is on board, and it tells us to use our own power too in support of Earth Hour.

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Let us be part of this Earth Hour 2014 movement. Remember, 8.30pm to 9.30pm tonight (local time) on 29th March 2014.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Architectural Insight: Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2014 by vincentloy

Have been back from Bali for almost a week already, and yet, I still couldn’t get off my mind from the splendid design and beauty of Alila Villas Uluwatu. It is one of the many villas and resorts I have explored in that particular company study trip to Bali last week. I had written a post on my outcome of learning various interesting details and designs from Bali (can scroll down for the post)  and now it’s time to expand and concentrate solely on Alila Villas Uluwatu , since it is the most outstanding based on my opinion.

The villas, located on the cliff near Jimbaran Bay on the island of Bali, Indonesia facing the southern Indian Ocean is designed by WOHA, an award-winning Singaporean architecture firm. It opened in June 2009, comprises of a 50-suite hotel and 35 residential villas. When I visited the villas, I am fascinated by:

(a) its picturesque setting (on a cliff facing the ocean) and how well it engages the site. Once you step pass the double-volume hotel’s lobby, the ocean’s horizon view is directly in front of you. Perfect view especially during sunset.

(b) its humble one-storey main block to greet visitors with many beautifully-proportioned cut-out boxes, each framing specific views onto something interesting. Playful yet elegant. A bit of disappointment is that the white facades look dirty and old.

(c) its interesting construction details. Impressed by the steel columns with lighting within, the sliding glass panels kept hidden at the side when not in use, treatment to corners of spaces, interesting outdoor-feel washrooms, blend of materials, iconic wood lattice works, etc. And I saw a door, frameless on all of its sides except a bold frame on its swing side, indicating users on where to push for the door to open.

(d) its poetic atmosphere. Its location helps a lot to bring up a very relaxing and pleasing environment beautified with the lovely design of the villas. We have floating boxes of interesting lattice works. We have infinity pool. We have beautiful ornamental pond. Many else. Lighting at night further enhances everything.

(e) its environmental-friendly design approach. After a bit of research on this particular villas, I realized that it is indeed a very ‘green’ building. Rainwater collection and water recycling systems, design following natural contours of land, huge overhangs for natural cooling, efficient grey water system, materials sourced locally, naturally ventilated public areas, low-energy lighting are some of the sustainable approaches by the villas.

Okay..enough of words. Here are some of the many images I took of the villas during the trip:

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You may read more info about the architecture of Alila Villas Uluwatu from this link: http://www.archdaily.com/59740/alila-villas-uluwatu-woha/. I couldn’t see the private villas and suites from the public spaces, the position where I couldn’t go in any further as I’m not the hotel guest. Those places were not visible from the front public spaces, as those are meant to be private. Staying one night there would cost you from at least 1000 USD to over 3000 USD. Only the rich can stay there. I wish too. When I stop by at this heavily-guarded villas (for maximum security and safety since it is located quite far away from town and in a secluded location within the forest), I saw a couple taking wedding pictures. Great choice of place for your wedding shoot. A romantic setting.

‘The design investigates the potential of the fusion of vernacular architecture with modernist design by combining the delights of traditional Balinese pavilion architecture and rural landscapes with modern dynamic treatment of space and form.’

(Copyright reserved to all images in this post)

Pritzker Prize 2014 winner: Shigeru Ban.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2014 by vincentloy

Notable Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban has been named the recipient of Pritzker Prize for the year, the highest honour to a living architect presented out annually. He is the second Japanese architect in a row to receive the coveted prize, following on from last year’s winner, Toyo Ito. He is also the seventh Japanese architect, and overall the 37th recipient to have received this award. Congratulation to Shigeru Ban.

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Now, here’s a bit of his background, and particularly his design approach that matters. The architect began his career in the office of Arata Isozaka, after being educated in America at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, and then New York’s Cooper Union School of Architecture. He is best-known for projects such as the Cardboard Cathedral (first image below) in New Zealand, and the Centre Pompidou Metz in France, but is also highly respected for his pioneering use of cardboard in disaster relief projects around the world. He founded his own Tokyo practice in 1985 with little experience and went on to complete a number of residential projects in Japan such as Three Walls (1988), Curtain Wall House (1995) (second image below) and Naked House (2000).

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His first designs for paper-tube structures were used to provide temporary homes for Vietnamese refugees after the Kobe earthquake in 1995. Since then the architect has travelled to sites of natural and man-made disasters around the world to develop low-cost, recyclable shelters for affected communities. He has also used shipping containers as ready-made elements for permanent and temporary structures.

“Shigeru Ban is a force of nature, which is entirely appropriate in the light of his voluntary work for the homeless and dispossessed in areas that have been devastated by natural disasters,” said jury chairman of the award’s selection, Peter Palumbo. “But he also ticks the several boxes for qualification to the Architectural Pantheon: a profound knowledge of his subject with a particular emphasis on cutting-edge materials and technology, total curiosity and commitment, endless innovation, an infallible eye, an acute sensibility, to name but a few.” Last year Ban completed a temporary cardboard cathedral for Christchurch (2013), after the city’s former Anglican cathedral was destroyed by an earthquake. He has also designed an art museum for Aspen, Colorado, that is set to complete this summer.

Shigeru Ban has my respect and admiration. He truly deserves the award. He is not only a successful architect, but also a great humanitarian. He utilizes the knowledge, skill and creativity he has in architecture to help people by building a better world to them through his innovative and ecological design.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web. Most information in this post are from this source: http://www.dezeen.com/2014/03/24/shigeru-ban-wins-pritzker-prize-2014/).

Plane MH370 ‘ended in the southern Indian Ocean’

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2014 by vincentloy

We were all feeling very anxious and shocked yesterday when the Prime Minister called for a sudden media conference at night. He must have had something very important to inform to the local and international media on the latest status in locating the plane MH370, a Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing that went missing on 8th March 2014 (early this month). And yes, it was a heartbreaking news announced yesterday since it went disappeared for almost three weeks ago.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, informed yesterday that based on convincing findings and calculations from UK investigators and British satellite firm, Immarsat, it is confirmed that plane MH370 went down in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean, west of Perth. It is a very remote location far from any possible landing sites, further dashing hopes of particularly the families and relatives of the passengers on board the ill-fated aircraft. Most Malaysian newspapers today were in black and white on front cover in tribute to the MH370 and its 227 passengers and 12 crews.

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I am truly saddened by this latest update. It’s seriously hard to accept but I believe many had already expected the worst. While currently, there were various reported sightings of floating objects at the Indian Ocean, but none of them were confirmed to originate from the plane as of today. The global search and rescue (rescue is no longer in programme as it is impossible to survive on the rough ocean for over two weeks by now) operation by 27 nations is to continue till the debris and the black-box are found. The most likely cause of the crash according to my own opinion now after this recent announcement is suicide attempt. But I won’t speculate any further.

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Today, I heard that a huge protest or demonstration is held in front of Malaysia’s Embassy at Beijing by the families, relatives and friends of the passengers whom are now concluded to have perished along with the aircraft. They were angry and demanding for clear answers. Yes, I agreed that Malaysia should take the responsibility for its inefficient way of handling the matter but it should not be blamed as the ‘murderer’ as some reported. No one wanted this to happen. I seriously understand the feeling of the passengers’ next-of-kins but kindly calm down and think reasonably. I believed everyone tried their best to locate the plane now, and gives everyone the answer.

I was quite depressed today, as my mind couldn’t get off from this very sad news. Now, the only thing we can hope for is that the plane’s wreckage and its black-box could be found very soon and that all questions are to be answered clearly. Wishing for miracle too (survivors, maybe?) but to be honest, the possibility is almost zero. The passengers’ families and relatives shall move on. My deepest condolences to them. Rest in peace, MH370.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

My company study trip to Bali (20/3/2014 – 23/3/2014)

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2014 by vincentloy

I’m back from Bali and I’m grateful for have had a safe flight home (in my mind, still very saddened over the disappearance of plane MH370). There goes the end of my weekend spent at Bali, Indonesia for a company study trip this year. The trip was for us to discover and explore on beautiful architecture in Bali island, particularly from the villas and resorts there. We, in a group of five, reached Bali on Thursday’s night (20/3/2014).

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On Friday (21/3/2014), we spent the morning touring around Seminyak town and the surrounding village to have us see how is Bali in first glance. We were amazed by countless vast paddy and also ‘kangkung’ fields (image above), and of course intrigued by the clean beach. In the afternoon, we started going around, looking for villas that are interesting from architectural point of view. We first stopped at C151 Smart Villas (first image below). And it was raining cats and dogs. After that, we stopped by at The Samaya Villas (second image below). Couldn’t get to see inside of villas (unless you purchase a unit to spend a night in but the cost is extremely high).

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By late afternoon, we managed to go further down to Uluwatu to take a look at Villa Alila Uluwatu (image below). Out of many villas I have researched before this trip, this is the most appealing to me. And I am impressed once I reached there (despite going through very unconvincing narrow and lengthy road down inside to reach the villa). It perfectly engages the setting, had many details for us to study, and also a great design overall. I think I would write a post later on, highlighting on this Villa Alila Uluwatu alone. At night, we had a great seafood dinner at the famous Jimbaran Bay beach.

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On Saturday (22/3/2014), we went to Nusa Dua, a huge guarded area dedicated only for hotels, resorts, villas, tourist accommodations, etc. I believed the security there has been tighten very much due to the past bombing not long ago. The villas we checked in there were Amanusa (first image below) and also The Bale (second image below). It’s kind off poetic to take the steps up to the villas at The Bale. Would be very nice at night (couldn’t see it). In the afternoon, we spent few hours shopping for souvenirs at Kuta and also checking out the famous Kuta Beach (third image below) and its nearby Hard Rock Cafe.

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Finally, it’s Sunday (23/3/2014), the last day of the study trip. We toured around small narrow roads within Seminyak in hope of finding more beautifully-designed villas. We dropped by at W Retreat and Spa Hotel (a luxurious hotel) (first image below). Besides that, we had also discovered that there are many ‘hidden treasures’ there as we stumbled upon various interesting structures (homes, small villas, etc) at way inside, far from the main road. After that, we checked out a newly built residential project called Terrace 8 (second image below). Interesting design of the terrace houses (it’s actually bungalow-sized). And before we left to Denpasar International Airport for our flight home, we had a brief stop at the Beachwalk Kuta (open-air shopping mall) besides Sheraton Hotel (third image below).

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We reached KL at night, and there goes the end of the trip. Had learnt quite a lot. A great thanks to the company (my employer) for treating us for this trip. Eventhough we couldn’t manage to go to several popular tourist destinations (like Tanah Lot temple) but I will leave that for future as I wish to visit Bali once again soon, but next time not as an architect, but as a full-time tourist. It would be great to relax and enjoy there.

(Copyright reserved to the images in this post.)