Archive for pictures

29th SEA Games Kuala Lumpur 2017 opens with surprisingly good opening ceremony!

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2017 by vincentloy

The 29th South East Asian (SEA) Games Kuala Lumpur 2017 has officially opened with a magnificent opening ceremony held just now in Bukit Jalil National Stadium. I am not in Malaysia but I am glad to be able to watch the ceremony live just now from YouTube. It began on 8.17pm (20:17 time for this year of 2017). I didn’t have high expectation of the ceremony, as you know, it is Malaysia. I remembered that our opening ceremony for 1998 Commonwealth Games was nothing exciting and I don’t even remember a single moment from the ceremony in 2001 when we last hosted this SEA Games.

Then, I am left surprised. The opening ceremony just now was actually good. Not to the point that it was incredible or out of this world, but it is still a great show. We of course cannot compare this to Olympic-level ceremonies. This is considered breathtaking at SEA Games level. The ceremony is short (just two hours) and I’m fine with it. The official speeches were short (good too). The first half of the ceremony is dedicated for all the official procedures like flags parade, athletes parade, and oaths taking. Then, came the second part that I’m looking forward to which is the performance segment.

I’m surprised that the role of the creative director is given to a Chinese this time. Cool. That’s a wise decision. I’m not intending to be racist here but giving major role to a Chinese in Malaysia is a very seldom occasion. Give us a chance and we will deliver. And he (forgot his name) delivered. I’m amazed by his ability to combine the traditional shows with contemporary elements for the performances. It’s hard to do that and he accomplished it. I can still experience the unique diversity of Malaysia (and ASEAN overall) through traditional dances and outfits, but at the same time, listening to vibrant modern music and seeing high-tech colourful lighting and projection all around. The choreography and synchronisation aren’t at the best but the effort is there. The presentation appeared to be like a mess for a time but overall, the energy was there.

Before watching the show, I have fear that the ceremony will be overwhelmed with very traditional dances and songs. I’m now certainly in relief. The songs during the performance are also great and complements to the energetic atmosphere of the almost fully-packed stadium. As for the stadium, I love the newly refurbished stadium. It looks awesome with the new skin cladding and modern LED lights. A major disappointment of the ceremony would be the cauldron. It’s just a huge chunk of cylinder mimicking ‘oil lamp’ (the broadcaster said so). That part is supposed to be intense and exciting. The end result is not. Lack of effort on this crucial part of the ceremony. And I don’t even know the last torch bearer. Apology but who is she? The last torch bearer is supposed to be someone who is the most excellent in world sports. By the way, where is our beloved Datuk Lee Chong Wei? He is not appearing at all in this ceremony. He is the best choice for that spot.

Last but not least, the concluding fireworks is awesome although I wish for more. Generally, the ceremony is great and is a good effort but it lacks ‘wow’ moment. There literally isn’t any ‘wow’ moment in the show. All the ‘suspended in the air’ show in the ceremony fall short of excitement too. The idea of having LED lights installed at the side of audiences’ seats reminds me of the same situation for London 2012 ceremonies. Well, I’m fine for this idea to be reused again to make the show better. Now, the games begin and we will see if Malaysia could reach its target by winning over 111 golds and topping the medal tally. The games will end with a closing ceremony on 30th August 2017, which is coincidentally the eve of the country’s 60th anniversary of independence celebration.

(Images in this post are from The Star Online and YouTube screenshots)

5 days 4 nights CNY 2017 trip to Hanoi, Vietnam

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2017 by vincentloy

Hi…I’m back to my blog after disappearing for almost a week. My trip to Vietnam with my family has just ended. When I returned home yesterday, it’s already February and half of the Chinese New Year festival has already passed. Time flies, especially when it is enjoyable time. Here below is my highlight of the trip to Hanoi, Vietnam from 29th January 2017 to 2nd February 2017 (5 days 4 nights) with many lovely pictures to share.

29th January 2017 (Sunday)

The flight to Hanoi was at around 9am and so we have to be at the airport by 6am (3 hours earlier). Hence, we have to wake up at 4am (still middle of the night) and has to leave home by 5am. That’s so early and the consequence of it is that we had lack of sleep for that night. The flight to Hanoi took a little over 3 hours and the best thing this time during the flight is that I’m able to catch breathtaking aerial view of KL city as well as Genting Highlands.

We realised that the time in Vietnam is one hour earlier than in Malaysia. Our first destination in Hanoi is Ba Dinh Square. It is a plaza (main square of Hanoi) that has the President Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (he was the first president of Vietnam) and the Parliament House. Next, we walked and visited the nearby President Ho Chi Minh’s Residence with exhibition of his office, presidential cars and the One-Pillar Pagoda.

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Then, we went to take a view of the West Lake and visited Zhen Guo Temple which is by that lake too. I don’t smell any air pollution but the sky there is cloudy and foggy all day long (same for everyday of the trip too). That is not good for taking pictures.

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30th January 2017 (Monday)

Today we took a 2 hours and 30 minutes bus ride to Ninh Binh province. There, we took ‘sampan’ (traditional boat) ride at Tam Coc, which is often referred to as the ‘Halong Bay on the land’. It is as though we have entered the lost world seeing the river and the hills around you over there. One interesting thing are that the people used their legs instead of their hands to drive the ‘sampan’ and we got to pass through several dark low-lying caves while on the ‘sampan’ on the river.

 

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Then, we went to the Bich Dong Temple and Pagoda that sits on the side of a hill. After that, there’s another 2 hours bus journey to reach Halong Bay and we immediately settled at hotel once we reached there. We stayed at villas of the hotel named Royal Halong Hotel. On the evening, we visited the casino in the hotel which is very small.

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31st January 2017 (Tuesday)

Perhaps the most exciting day of the trip as we head to the main attraction of Vietnam, Halong Bay. It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. We boarded a small cruise ship and toured around the vast region of the bay where thousands of islands with different forms rise from the sea. We then ride a thrilling speed boat to explore the bay further. We also visited Tien Cung caves where there are interesting rock formations beautifully illuminated in the caves by the bay, and climbed a hill to catch an aerial view of Halong Bay. That view is majestic from the pavilion on top of that hill and that means our tiring climb to the top is rewarding. Visit to the bay ended with a seafood lunch on the cruise itself.

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In the afternoon, we visited a Pearl and Mineral Geological Museum. It’s not a museum. It’s basically a place with many people persuading you to buy their stuff. This is one of the disadvantages of following tour group. Then, we visited a small indoor night market where the locals sell their products like woodworks, paintings, fake goodies, souvenirs and snacks but we are not interested on them. We also managed to watch a water puppet show (famous in Vietnam) in our hotel.

1st February 2017 (Wednesday)

Today we took a 4 hours bus ride back to Hanoi. Once reached Hanoi, we had a wonderful buffet lunch in a huge restaurant and it is super crowded with tourists. I could have taken a lot of plates of food but couldn’t do so because of the huge crowd queuing to get them, and the excessive tourists from China made it worst with their rude behaviour. After that, we visited the Hoan Kiem Lake with a Turtle Tower on a small island in the middle of the lake. There is also a temple besides the lake and a red bridge.

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We also took trishaw ride to explore the 36 Ancient Streets, a cluster of traditional streets in the busy capital of Vietnam. The tour guide gave us plenty of time to do shopping there but there is nothing we love to buy over there. Hence, time is like wasted. What’s more disappointing is that the rest of our tour group members decided to skip a tourist destination just to give them more time to shop at the 36 Ancient Streets. The place we skipped is the Temple of Literature (First University of Vietnam). What a waste…thanks to the ridiculously foolish tour group members.

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2nd February 2017 (Thursday)

There is no more tourist attractions for us to visit today. Just getting a bit more rest in the hotel room while enjoying the view of the city in the morning. After checking out from the hotel, we immediately went to the airport for flight back to Kuala Lumpur. Back to home at around 6pm.

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The tour group we participated here is by Golden Deluxe Travel company. The price for one person is RM2200 and that not includes additional RM150 for several additional arrangements during the trip (speed boat ride at Halong Bay and trishaw ride at 36 Ancient Streets). The tw0 hotels we stayed are very good and comfy and their breakfasts are excellent too. The food served outside is generally acceptable but we just couldn’t adapt to their tastes and styles. We do not dare to try the outside food that they served by the side of road due to poor hygiene. We only bought some snacks and a decorative magnet home. Generally, Hanoi is a great place to visit and the main attraction, Halong Bay is truly exceptional.

(Copyrights reserved to all images in this blog post. Kindly request permission if you wish to use them.)

 

Nomination list for the 89th Academy Awards.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2017 by vincentloy

Here below is the full nomination list for the 89th Academy Awards alongside with my predictions and thoughts. The awards ceremony will take place on February 26, 2017.

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BEST PICTURE
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

Predicted to win: Moonlight

My choice: La La Land

Opinion: 9 nominees for best picture this year. Academy voters love to vote for movies dealing with serious or heartfelt issues, and to cope with strong criticism last year for being pure White in their nomination list, I’m quite confident the Academy this year will award their most prestigious best picture prize to a movie about Black people. Deep down in my heart, I still wish ‘La La Land’ to win as it is a musical masterpiece.

BEST DIRECTOR
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Predicted to win: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

My choice: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Opinion: This one looks like a lock for Damien Chazelle who has been sweeping all precursor awards for his directing work in ‘La La Land’. Since I think it is unlikely for ‘La La Land’ to emerge as best picture winner, it is highly likely that Damien will take this best director award as a consolation.

BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

Predicted to win: Casey Affleck (La La Land)

My choice: Casey Affleck (La La Land)

Opinion: Casey Affleck is the clear frontrunner as he has been winning multiple best actor prizes for his subtle yet strong performance in ‘Manchester by the Sea’. Denzel Washington is a dark horse contender here. It’s good to see Andrew Garfield on his first nomination here as he is one young good actor. However, this is not the time yet but I’m sure he will be rewarded in near future.

BEST ACTRESS
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Predicted to win: Isabelle Huppert (Elle) / Natalie Portman (Jackie)

My choice: Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Opinion: This is a very competitive and tough race. I’m surprised to see Amy Adams get snubbed for her solid work in ‘Arrival’. That slot has been given to Ruth Negga. I think this will be a three-way fight between Isabelle (Globes best actress-drama), Emma (Globes best actress-comedy or musical) and Natalie (Critics Choice best actress). And Meryl Streep may just take that advantage and sneak in to clinch her historic 4th win. This is also her record-breaking 20th Oscar nomination.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Predicted to win: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

My choice: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Opinion: Mahershala, Jeff, Lucas and Dev are the four lock-in for this nomination. The fifth slot goes to Michael Shannon. Hugh Grant from ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ and Aaron-Taylor Johnson from ‘Nocturnal Animals’ (Globes best supporting actor) couldn’t snatch that fifth slot unfortunately. Academy will certainly vote for Mahershala Ali since they are now determined to make sure their awards are as diverse as possible.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Predicted to win: Viola Davis (Fences)

My choice: Viola Davis (Fences)

Opinion: For the diversity reason mentioned earlier and also to compensate for Viola Davis for losing few years ago, this is certainly the year for her. The other four nominees are simply here just to fill in the remaining slots and to be audiences for the ceremony next month.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women

Predicted to win: Manchester by the Sea

My choice: Hell or High Water / The Lobster

Opinion: I don’t really find any greatness in ‘Manchester by the Sea’ for its script. I would then prefer for ‘Hell or High Water’ to win since it would stand no chance in other categories or ‘The Lobster’ since this is the only category it is nominated in.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight

Predicted to win: Fences

My choice: Arrival

Opinion: ‘Fences’ will win here because there is no other categories for it to shine and I feel that this movie must be rewarded for Academy to achieve their diversity objective. My prefered choice would be ‘Arrival’ for its unique approach to an extraterrestrial-themed film and also for its briliant plot with deep subject and mind-fucked plot twist.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Arrival
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence

Predicted to win: Arrival / La La Land

My choice: Arrival

Opinion: Hard to choose from this 5 nominees. I pick ‘Arrival’ because I do think this is the only category in high possibility for this particular movie to get rewarded.

BEST FILM EDITING
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight

Predicted to win: La La Land

My choice: La La Land

Opinion: All the way for ‘La La Land’. The brilliant editing work in ‘La La Land’ is very obvious from the start (continuous shot of musical sequence on a congested highway) to the end (alternate reality of the two leads over the years) of the movie.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Predicted to win: The Jungle Book

My choice: Doctor Strange

Opinion: ‘The Jungle Book’ is predicted to win due to its realistic talking animals and the beautiful scenery throughout the whole movie. My own choice would be ‘Doctor Strange’ for its exceptional and out-of-this-world visual treatments.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
Passengers

Predicted to win: La La Land

My choice: Passengers

Opinion: No one has predicted ‘Passengers’ to get nominated at all in the Oscars and yet it does. I enjoyed that film and I’m glad it receives a nomination here eventhough I think it is unlikely for the movie to win. The heavy favourite ‘La La Land’ is going to take this award home but I actually don’t think the production works for ‘La La Land’ are that amazing.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land

Predicted to win: Jackie

My choice: Jackie

Opinion: If Natalie Portman didn’t win best actress, then this is the only category for ‘Jackie’ to win. The movie shown to us some great costumes in 1960s.

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad

Predicted to win: A Man Called Ove

My choice: Star Trek Beyond

Opinion: Academy doesn’t like blockbuster movies that much, hence ‘A Man Called Ove’ suddenly stand a strong chance to win. I’m also surprised that ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ and ‘Deadpool’ didn’t get nominated here.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers

Predicted to win: La La Land

My choice: La La Land

Opinion: Also surprised to see ‘Passengers’ get another nomination here. It looks like ‘Passengers’ is getting surprising love from the Academy and I’m fine with it. But I don’t think it will win anything. At least getting some nominations is already a great news for this under-rated movie. ‘La La Land’ is certainly going to win this for its beautiful and inspiring background music.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
“City of Stars,” La La Land
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

Predicted to win: ‘City of Stars’ (La La Land)

My choice: ‘City of Stars’ (La La Land) / ‘How Far I’ll Go’ (Moana)

Opinion: Two nominations for ‘La La Land’ in this category alone. Would it be harmful to the movie as the votes are split to the two songs in it? Probably. ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from ‘Moana’ may just sneak in and take this award.

BEST SOUND EDITING
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully

Predicted to win: Hacksaw Ridge

My choice: Hacksaw Ridge

Opinion: This is the only category that ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ has high chance of winning. Let it win then. The sound work in the movie is brilliant.

BEST SOUND MIXING
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Predicted to win: La La Land

My choice: Hacksaw Ridge

Opinion: ‘La La Land’ should win this without any heavy competition. ‘Sound mixing’ and ‘Sound editing’ will be distributed equally to ‘La La Land’ and ‘Hacksaw Ridge’. I still think the Academy should just combine ‘sound editing’ and ‘sound mixing’ into one award.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia

Predicted to win: Kubo and the Two Strings / Zootopia

My choice: Kubo and the Two Strings

Opinion: ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ gets nominated in best visual effects’ category too and also shortlisted last time for best costume design category eventhough didn’t get nominated in the end. So, this movie stands a higher chance now to win this one, giving a strong competition to earlier frontrunner ‘Zootopia’. ‘Zootopia’ still has the chance to win due to the appeal from its box office success.

No predictions and comments for the remaining 4 categories above.

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made in America
13th

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Tanna
Toni Erdmann

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Extremis
4.1 Miles
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Ennemis Entreniers
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights
Sing
Timecode

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper

What do you think of the nomination list? Do you agree to my predictions and thoughts? You may post your comment and it is very welcomed.

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There are some surprises in the nomination list as expected since the Academy likes to give us some shock every year. But the shock this year is not that much as most of the list are predicted from earlier on. ‘La La Land’ gets the most love from the Academy with most number of nominations at 14. The movie sets the record for film with most Oscar nominations and ties with ‘Titanic’ (1997) and ‘All About Eve’ (1950). ‘Arrival’ and ‘Moonlight’ each gets 8 nominations. ‘Hacksaw Ridge’, ‘Manchester by the Sea’ and ‘Lion’ each gets 6 nominations. Surprising entries into the list with multiple nominations include ‘Deepwater Horizon’ (didn’t expect it to be nominated at all in any categories), ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ (only expected it to be nominated in one category – animated feature film), ‘Passengers’ (didn’t expect it to be nominated at all in any categories) and ‘A Man Called Ove’ (only expected it to be nominated in one category – make-up and hairstyling) with two nominations each. ‘Deadpool’ is snubbed as I expect this movie to get one or two nominations.

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

New tall buildings rising in KL and latest skyline images of the city.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2017 by vincentloy

Since I’m back to Kuala Lumpur last November and some visits to the city since then, I have noticed some new tall buildings in the city. Some are still under construction but are already visible from far and making an impact to the city’s skyline due to their massive heights. Some have already topped out due to speedy construction and some have been totally completed and opened. So, there must be addition of few more buildings over 200 metres in height in the city of Kuala Lumpur.

But when I check out any latest list of the tallest buildings in the city online from Skyscraper Center, Emporis, Wikipedia, and other sources, there hasn’t been any much difference which is so not right. The list differs in each websites I browsed and I couldn’t really find one that truly reflect the current statistic of the city’s buildings. That is disappointing. Some new buildings are missing in this list and some others on the other list. They should have an accurate and updated database compiling the correct and latest information on this. I also found out some new buildings are listed there but without much essential data present like its height.

Here below are some of the new buildings in the city that are around or over 200 metres in height and should be apparent in the list of tallest buildings in Kuala Lumpur but are not:

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Vortex KL Suites and Residences – Emporis stated it to be 235 metres tall and still under construction. But actually this 58-storey tower has been completed. Skyscrapercity put it at 260 metres high but I don’t think that is correct by looking at its picture.

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Ritz-Carlton Residences KL – Also called as Berjaya Central Park, it is 48 floors high but there is no height data for this building at all.

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Le Nouvel Residences – the taller tower is 49-storey high with Emporis stating a height of 199 metres, just 1 metre short of 200 metres mark.

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Elite Pavilion – this one is going to be 230 metres tall and has 50 floors when completed. Its construction pace is noticeably fast and it is going to be topped out this year.

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Platinum Suites Tower – Skyscrapercity put this tower at 51 floors high but Emporis states 57 floors and 231 metres tall. I don’t think Emporis’ data on this one is right. I knew its top floor swimming pool level is on 51st floor which is also the tallest swimming pool in the city. It also claims to be the tallest condominium in the city, a title previously hold by The Troika Tower 3 at 204 metres.

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From left to right for first picture and from right to left for second picture – Sentral Residences Tower 1 & 2, St. Regis Hotel & Residences and Q Sentral. These new buildings in KL Sentral Development reach around 200 metres in height respectively and has already been completed except for the Sentral Residences Tower 1 & 2 that are still under construction but have already topped out. However, almost none of these buildings are featured in any list out there for the tallest buildings in the city. Emporis stated that Q Sentral is 49 floors and 199 metres high (but no data in Skyscraper Center), both Emporis and Skyscraper Center stated that St. Regis Hotel & Residences is 48 floors and 205 metres high (so I assume that is the correct data), and Skyscraper Center stated that Sentral Residences Tower 1 & 2 to be 52 floors and 200 metres tall each (but no data in Emporis). Weird right?! Conflicting or incomplete data everywhere.

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KL Eco City Vogue Suite One – This project is expected to be completed by this year and it has topped out to its final height of 243 metres. Emporis states that it has 60 floors while Skyscraper Center said it has 63 floors. Whatever…! When completed, it is going to be the tallest residential building in the city and the whole Malaysia. This is a bit further away from the city area as it is in Mid Valley region. Now, the 310-metres tall Telekom Tower is not the only skyscraper standing in that Mid Valley region.

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Four Seasons Place KL – This one is finally making huge progress after many years of delay in construction. When completed next year, it will be 65 floors high and has a height of 343 metres tall, a much taller companion to the adjacent Petronas Twin Towers (452 metres tall and current world’s tallest twin buildings).

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W Hotel & Residences – Emporis states that it has 55 floors and 235 metres tall but Skyscraper Center states that it has 50 floors and is 232 metres tall. Conflicting data again. This skyscraper will be completed this year.

These buildings above are only those buildings in final stage of construction, topped-out or newly completed in KL that is over 200 metres tall respectively. Skyscraper projects that are still in early stage of construction are not included here such as the PNB118 Tower that is going to be the tallest building of the country when completed at 630 metres high. There is still no visible progress of this skyscraper project after so many years. I’m sure it is going to be completed later than the targeted year 2020 deadline.

Some cool latest pictures of Kuala Lumpur city skyline below before I end this post. Click on the images for a larger and more breathtaking sight.

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(Images in this post are from Skyscrapercity.com)

Bye Rio….Rio 2016 had been a great games.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2016 by vincentloy

Sorry for a very late post on the conclusion of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Rio 2016 has concluded with a wonderful closing ceremony on 21st August. I only have the time to write about it over two weeks later as I’m away for my workshop and trip to Taiwan. I have just returned home few hours ago and I’m already quickly getting back to update my blog here with the post on the concluded Rio 2016.

I didn’t manage to watch the closing ceremony but from what I have seen from news and reviews about the ceremony, it all looks pretty well for Rio. There was rain but that didn’t dampen the spirit of ending the games with a big bang. Here are some images of the closing ceremony with the original source from http://www.mirror.co.uk:

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I also heard from many others that the Tokyo 2020 introduction segment overwhelmed compared to the rest of the show with appearance of iconic Japanese creations like Super Mario, Doraemon, and even Japanese Prime Minister himself was there for the performance. I’m sure Tokyo will deliver a very exciting games in 2020. As for Rio, I’m already surprised that they can still pull it off despite all the challenges and negativity surrounding the country. I believed the closing ceremony was still a good one (don’t expect something spectacular or out of this world level).

As for the overall medal tally, United States topped the list as expected with 46 gold medals which is way far ahead compared to other countries. In second place is Great Britain with 27 gold medals. China came in third place this time, having grabbed only 26 gold medals. As for my country, Malaysia, eventhough we failed to collect our nation’s first ever Olympic gold yet, Rio 2016 still marked Malaysia’s best ever performance with 4 silvers and 1 bronze. It is of course disappointing of not winning any gold again despite the many opportunities this time, but we knew our Malaysian athletes tried their very best. Still a big congratulation to Malaysian team in Rio 2016!

Eventhough the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was over, there is still this Paralympic Games that is going to be held in this month. After that, only then we can change the focus from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Tokyo, Japan, the host city for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Now, we have to wait another 4 years for the next edition of the Summer Olympic Games. The fever of catching up to intense competitions from various sports is over. Well, time to focus back on my study then…

Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games officially began with a splendid opening ceremony.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2016 by vincentloy

I purposely woke up before 7am this morning to watch the live broadcast of the opening ceremony of the 31st Summer Olympic Games, Rio 2016. The ceremony which took about four hours in Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil saw attendance of over 78 000 spectators and also audiences from around the world watching from television or from the internet. This is the first time the Summer Olympiad is held in South America.

Before the start of the games, the organizers had mentioned that they would spend very little on the ceremonies due to the financial crisis of their country in recent years. And because of that, I have very little expectation since this kind of ceremonies should not be taken lightly as it is a very strong platform to showcase the best of the host nation that can offer and present to the world. But in the end, I still insist to watch the opening ceremony to see what they can do with limited budget. And surprisingly, the outcome is that I’m quite impressed with the opening ceremony that had just concluded an hour ago.

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While it is expected that the organizers would still be depending on light projection on the floor for most part of the performances’ segment, the ceremony also shined from some very creative concepts presented. The first presentation that led to the countdown to mark the commencement of the opening ceremony was a bit of a letdown when there is no connection between the 10-second timing display to the performers on the stage. Fortunately, things get better soon with brilliant presentation to display the history and the multicultural state of Brazil. However, I find that the performances’ segment was a bit too short and the parade of nations kicked in so fast.

Over 200 countries are participating in this games and this is the first time a team for the Refugee is created to compete in Olympics. Not to forget to compliment Brazil to have this ceremony as a platform to create awareness on climate change and global warming issues. Even the Olympic rings were presented from artificial trees and they are all green (of course) which also coincides with the main colour of Brazilian flag. As for the Olympic flame arrival and cauldron lighting section, it’s a bit underwhelmed because it was done like without much thought (my impression was ‘like that only?) and I also find the animated mechanism behind the floating cauldron a bit awkward eventhough it still looks beautiful. The fireworks display at the end from the stadium was also a bit plain.

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Rio de Janeiro did delivered a grand and fabulous opening ceremony and I’m quite amazed of how they can do this with small budget (it doesn’t look cheap at all). However, it could not match the greatness we have seen from London 2012 (lesser ‘wow’ but very meaningful and touching) and of course the Beijing 2008 (full of ‘wow’ and grand). This Rio 2016 opening ceremony still delivered some ‘wow’ factors but appeared less energetic and vibrant despite all the iconic and colourful Brazilian costumes and dances. So now the Rio 2016 games has officially begins and will continue till 21st August 2016. There will be over 2 weeks of intense and interesting competitions from various sports to watch, contested by the best of the athletes from across the world.

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

Chinese New Year 2016 Trip to Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2016 by vincentloy

I’m back to Malaysia! In fact, I have actually returned home yesterday from my wonderful Chinese New Year vacation to Australia, but not having the energy to immediately write a blog post about it yesterday. Hence, I do it today. That was my first time visiting the country and I have covered its two largest cities; Sydney and Melbourne in a 8 days 5 nights trip with my parents under a tour group.

7th February 2016 (Sunday)

  • Arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for flight to Melbourne in the evening. In the plane for about 7 to 8 hours.
  • Reached Melbourne International Airport the next day.

8th February 2016 (Monday) – First day of Chinese New Year festival.

  • Start of the city tour around Melbourne with first stop being the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, largest church building in Australia. The main feature of the building would be its tall towers and huge colourful window panels.

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  • Next stop is Fitzroy Gardens where the Captain James Cook’s Cottage is located. Description about this historical cottage is in the image below.

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  • Walk around at Chinatown in the afternoon and also later in the evening.

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  • Visited the Shrine of Remembrance, a monument building with exhibition space beneath in memory of the soldiers perished in the past two World Wars. A walk in the exhibition space exposed visitors to the history of World War I and II, as well as contribution of the Australian soldiers in the wars and their effort for peace.

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  • Visited the National Gallery of Victoria where many art displays (sculptures, paintings, installations, antiques, etc) are exhibited in several floors of the building combining works from both East and West.

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  • Also visited the Skydeck 88, the observatory (88th floor) at Eureka Tower, the tallest building in Melbourne. Had a ride in the very fast elevator inside the tower that brought us up straight to 88th floor in a little over 30 seconds only. Enjoyed breathtaking view over the city of Melbourne including the city’s main business district, sports park and Melbourne Cricket Ground, etc.

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9th February 2016 (Tuesday)

  • A long journey in the bus to the Great Ocean Road, a road built by the former World War’s soldiers in dedication to the perished victims of the wars. The road is all along the hills facing the beautiful coastline of southern Australia.

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  • Took a helicopter ride (this 10-minutes ride costs us around RM1000) to have an aerial view of the 12 Apostles at Port Campbell National Park. Out of twelve, only eight apostles remain today. They are limestone stacks at the shore off the national park.

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  • Also visited the Loch Ard Gorge nearby, the place where a ship ran aground hitting into the land in 1878 with only two survivors left from the tragedy.

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10th February 2016 (Wednesday)

  • Wine tasting in a wineyard. It’s a bit inappropriate to get drunk in the early morning. Well, not drunk at all since we only get to taste a bit of the four types of wines presented.
  • Visit to a lavender farm. Pleasant aroma from the lavender which can be made into many different uses but I’m not that comfortable with its strong smell.
  • Had buffet lunch in an exquisite German Cuckoo Restaurant.
  • Boarded a Puffing Billy Ride, a one way ride aboard Australia’s oldest steam train to enjoy view across the Dandenong Forest in Yarra Valley. I’m sitting not in the train but on the side like what most other people did too. It’s more fun like that.

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  • Heading to Phillip Island in the afternoon to view the famous Little Penguins Parade later in the evening. At around 9pm every night, these small penguins will return to their home in the island from the sea. They are so cute. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed and so I didn’t get to take any photos of these penguins.

11th February 2016 (Thursday)

  • Took a domestic flight from Melbourne to Sydney. In the plane for about one to two hours only. Reached Sydney International Airport.
  • First stop in the city is the Sydney Fish Market, an indoor and outdoor market selling fresh seafood, fruits, vegetables, drinks, etc. Our lunch; a giant lobster served on top of a bowl of noodles and sliced abalones in XO sauce. The meal costs us around RM1000.

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  • Passed by many happening streets in Sydney and The Rocks.
  • Boarded the Harbour Cruise in the afternoon. Cruised along the beautiful harbour of Sydney and enjoyed fantastic view of the city skyline, the harbour and of course also the two most iconic attractions of the city; Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. An image of both of these landmarks defines Australia.

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  • Visited the Botanical Garden. This is the place where Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair is located. It is a huge stone chair for Mrs. Macquarie, the wife of the former Governor of Australia. The chair was for her who likes to wait for the return of her husband to Sydney in the past after each working trips at there while enjoying the view of the harbour.

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  • Passed by St. Mary’s Cathedral, largest church building in Sydney and second largest in Australia.
  • Had buffet dinner in Star City Casino. Also had a quick walk in the casino but didn’t have the time to try my luck there.

12th February 2016 (Friday)

  • Visit to Koala Park Sanctuary. The park is home to a very adorable koala, several kangaroos, a wombat, bats, peacocks, sheep, birds, etc. Took picture with a koala but not allowed to touch it, fed several kangaroos, saw a sleeping wombat (couldn’t see its whole appearance), and watch a sheep shearing demonstration.

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  • Visit to Katombaa region and viewed the beautiful forest valley of Blue Mountain. Also saw the famous Three Sisters Rock at the Echo Point. There are several stories behind the unique-looking rock of which you can search easily online. Even Queen Elizabeth II had visited this place 62 years ago to view the rocks exactly on the same day with us (very coincident).

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  • Visited the Scenic World attraction nearby; ride on a cable car down and took a walk in the forest on a raised platform and saw an underground mine, took on an electronic train ride up to above the hill to exit the attraction. The train ride has the steepest incline railway in the world where at one point the angle is beyond 60 degree. An awesome ride for youngsters like me but a terror ride for the elders.
  • Pass by ANZ Stadium, the main stadium for the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games in the Sydney Olympic Park.

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  • Back to the city and had dinner at Darling Harbour.

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  • Visit to Sydney’s Chinatown which is much more happening than the one at Melbourne.

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13th February 2016 (Saturday)

  • Visit to Market City Building where the Paddy’s Market is. Bought some souvenirs (shirts, magnets, a replica of Sydney Opera House and a wallet) in there.
  • Visit to Queen Victoria Building where many branded shops are located inside this classical-styled building. Bought some chocolates there at Haigh’s Chocolates, a very famous chocolate brand in Australia.

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  • Walk along and around George Street, a very happening street with many shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, etc.
  • Arrived at Sydney International Airport for flight back home to Kuala Lumpur in the evening.

14th February 2016 (Sunday) – Valentine’s Day.

  • Arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on midnight. Left airport in the early morning with a taxi ride back home. Trip officially ended.

The trip that costs my family nearly RM 25 000 is over and we do really have a great time over there in Australia for this long vacation. This trip marked the first time I’m taking a helicopter ride, the first time I’m seeing penguins, kangaroos, koala and wombat right in front of my eyes and the first time I’m eating a lobster. I really enjoyed this trip and it’s sad to leave Australia. Wait…I’m going back to the country this Friday (but will be on Perth then,…no more Sydney and Melbourne) to commence my postgraduate study.

(Images in this post are only a very small part of a collection of about 400 images I took during the trip. If you want to have a look at all the pictures, you can click on this link: https://www.facebook.com/VincentLoy/media_set?set=a.10153981288749337.1073741835.553754336&type=3&pnref=story. I have uploaded all the photos in my Facebook account. Copyrights reserved to all the images.)