Go Green for our kid’s sake!

WILL THERE COME A TIME WHEN WE DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT? Where everything is in a stable and healthy condition…..

I’ve read from an article many years back that environment researches are well-funded by rich businessmen who owns big industrial companies.  At first I thought, wow, it’s really very noble of these people.  But on second thought, it’s quite ironic.  And then later, I asked myself, why in the world would they fund a research that could someday recommend for the closure of their not-so-friendly-industry.  To my surprise, the reason is not noble at all.  These people live by the saying, “…know the law in order to find a way around it.  If the research output will not put their businesses in jeopardy, well and good.  If it does, then they will know how to twist and bend the information such that it will work for them. After reading that article (maybe in Reader’s Digest, I just could not be certain), I felt desperation creep through me.

Sometimes in my most somber, contemplative mood, I find myself groping for ideas on how to effectively solve environmental problems (superwoman effect).  At other times I find myself stuck at the abyss of hopelessness. Deep in my heart I fear for my kids.  Will they get to enjoy a fresh morning walk?  Will they get the chance to see morning fog (the real one and not industrial smog)?  Will they be able to sit on a tree branch singing, playing, or to just simply chill out?

I don’t know if it’s just me or other parents feel the same way as I am about this.  Summer is asthmatic.  It irritates me so much to see smoke belchers.  Whenever we go to the beach, I am dispirited by the sight of rubbish floating in the water.  It makes me think how can a highly intellectual homo sapiens be this stupid. Oh well, there is a big difference between intelligence and wisdom after all.  Don’t you think so?

What do you think of environmental issues? Do you feel it is too big for you to deal with, and you’d rather leave to the “authorities”?

 

Koh Lipeh

One of the best islands I’ve been to in Thailand is Koh Lipeh.  Koh meaning Island, so the island of Lipeh.

My friends and I had a blast. We always have smiles in our faces every time we reminisce those moments.  We went there by super speedboat. It was damn scary. It felt like we were just gliding up and down the big waves.  There were few times when it felt like the boat was falling especially after a big wave.  I had the same feeling when I first went on a Ferris Wheel back in my primary years, which I swore never to ride again. Anyway, the ride was super fast.  It could dry your mouth, and blow your saliva into the air whenever you speak. My gosh… the wind was so strong it could distort your face. LOL!

Thankfully though we got there in one piece!

As you approach the island this beauty will welcome you.  This long stretch of super white, powdery sand is Pattaya Beach.  It is Lipeh’s main beach. The sparkling, crystal clear water is good for snorkeling right from the beach.

There are so many cottages to choose from. There are cottages near the shore, and the expensive ones up on the hill. The locals and resort owners are welcoming, you can even bargain.  The cordial owner allowed us (4 guests) to rent a cottage which is good for two. So we were able to do more activities on the island than what our budget could afford.

Night life in Koh Lipeh is as exciting as Krabi.  There are many restaurants and bars to choose from.  They are not very strict about the number of drinks you order. As long as you order something, they are a OK with that.

Other time-worthy activities that will give you good memories for a lifetime are snorkeling and island hopping.  It’s a whole day activity where a long tail boat will take you to different islands from any point in Koh Lipeh to surrounding islands.  You can snorkel at the middle of the sea, or swim once you reach the islands. Be sure to bring your underwater camera. There were many corals and fish. The water is clean and clear.  It’s totally an experience of a lifetime.

Or if you don’t feel like doing these, you can just stay on the island..lay down by the beach and watch the beautiful sunset.

 

The best time to go there is August to April.  From May to July, sea waves are gigantic.

I am so glad I was able to do this.  It felt good. I feel good recalling those days. The relax and care-free feeling chillaxing in Koh Lipeh which lingers long after gets you through another semester of hard-work.  I would say Koh Lipeh is one of the best places to unwind away from the hustle and bustle of city life such as that of Phuket, Bangkok, Hatyai, and Nakhorn Sri Tammarat.

Have you been to any place in Thailand? Which one did you enjoy the most?

I’ll Return Back Your LOVE

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The Canon 55-250mm IS Zoom Lens Review

For more head on to Thailand and Beyond

After such a long time i finally got the time to sit down and write about another under rated Canon lens. This lens can also be considered a kit lens since there are certain packages where they include this together with the Canon 18-55mm IS and the camera body.

So… this is my take on the Canon 55-250mm IS zoom lens.

First up this lens is definitely for beginners and… photographers who are in a very… and i mean very tight budget!

I have been using this lens for over 2 years now for 2 reasons. One, i haven’t gotten the money to upgrade (LOL!) and Two,  it is a very good lens that going”third-party” is not worth it and the only upgrade i have in mind would be a Canon L lens. There are a lot of third party lenses that could have replaced this lens in my line up but the question is… “What for?” This lens delivers the goods! That is what is important. For the span of over two years that it’s been with me i believe this has been used more than any of my other lenses. The focal range is pretty much perfect for me. At 55 mm it’s quite wide enough for a small group shot and at 250 mm the reach is decent enough to get a distant shot or a tight shot with a decent blurry background.

Taken at 250mm.
Blurring the background at 250mm

 

This is still my walk around lens in “street events” even though I already have a Canon 24-105mm f4 IS USM L walk-around-lens that i bought early last year. During street events there are so many interesting things that can happen and having a semi wide to a very long reach is an advantage. And at close range blurring the background becomes an easy option as well. Some would ask… “Why didn’t you get the Canon 18-200mm IS lens then?” Well i have to be honest. The money i had with me that time was just enough to buy this lens. I was on a tight budget (still am ^_^). This lens costs 8900 Thb when i bought it. (It’s even cheaper now) The 18-200mm on the other hand was over 2ok Thb. So during that time i had no choice. But luckily, a blessing in disguise, this lens turned out to have better IQ than that of the much more expensive lens. (I have tried the 18-200 as well and will do a review of it also soon.)

Did i mention that this lens has IS? The Image Stabilization in this lens works. Having a long focal range, this lens is good to have an IS. The longer sibling of this lens, the Canon 70-300mm USM non IS is a bit more expensive than this one (12,000Thb) and i have tried it myself…but without the IS  it did not give me the confidence shooting it. Another sibling would be the Canon 70-300mm IS USM but is waaaay too expensive at 18,000 Thb. I was thinking, “if i’m gonna spend that kind of money i’ll just have to save a bit more for a 70-200 L USM lens  f4(22,00 Thb).

I know… i know.. you have the image quality in mind now. When i said it delivers the goods i really meant it delivers the goods. This lens is sharp! At 55mm f3.5 this lens delivers a sharp image and will get sharper at f8. It holds the colors nicely in place so don’t worry about color fringing. At 250mm at f5.6 it’s still  fairly sharp and gets even better at f8. It has very minimal barrel distortion or pincushion.

So now you might be asking “If this lens is that good then why is it that it gets shunned by a lot of photographers?” Well that question brings me on the this len’s negative side. Of Course this lens being a very cheap lens will have some manifestations of its cheapness. Let us start with its build quality. 1. Plastic mount, the barrel itself is also made of plastic which may turn off a lot of photographers.  2. No weather sealing.

Other reasons why many photographers don’t like this lens is….. 3. its rotating barrel tip, quite annoying if you like filters,  4.focusing is not fully manual so you would have to turn off the AF when you want to manually focus. 5. There is no distance scale window. 6.Focusing is slow especially at 200mm up. 7.The tiny motor is fairly quiet err.. noisy.. 8. The IQ though sharp it has this shade of darkness to it but nothing that lightroom or photoshop could not fix…  9.The bokeh it produces is oval-ish in shape. Unlike the L lenses that produces rounded bokeh. 10. Can only be mounted on crop frame sensor Canon DSLRs.11.No free lens hood when bought. ^_^

Notice the Oval-ish bokeh at the back ground

These are all the down sides of this lens i know. I have managed to gather all these negative comments of this lens from different  reviews i found on youtube or some blogs by photographers who “HAVE NOT USED THIS LENS IN THE REAL WORLD!!!!”

Once again i will be restating what i said earlier. This lens is for beginners. A first zoom lens so to speak. So let us try to take on the down sides that really matters one by one.

1. Cheap build quality. True… because this is a very cheap lens. But, trust me… this lens is tough enough to survive me for more than 2 years. The rubber grips on the focus and zoom rings did not even warp or deform despite the use and abuse. And i have not had any mechanical problems with it ever since I bought it. (but i never dropped it though ^_^)

2. Rotating barrel tip. I have never used an ND filter or any kinds of filter on my zoom lens so it was not really a bother. For beginners i do believe that you would be more focused on framing and having fun with the background blurring or what not rather than pissing yourself with the rotating barrel tip.

3. No full manual focus ring, no distance window scale: Once again… as beginners it is most comfortable to use auto focusing. Speaking for myself  i seldom used manual focusing. So i leave it on AF and i am very happy about it. ^_^.. And i never have ever needed a distance window scale.

4. The plastic mount: This lens is so light that putting a metal mount on it would be like using nails instead of pins for your Justin Bieber poster. ^_^

5. For some photographers size matters so they get turned off when they realize how small and light this lens is. LOL! Meh… I don’t need to confirm my manhood by the size of my lens! Do you?

one last thing… I read one review by this blogger who said that… “It’s a shame that this lens can only be mounted on a crop frame Canon DSLR. that is indeed true because this is a good lens….. but if you can afford a full frame DSLR… you can afford to buy a much better lens. ^_^

That’s about it.

I hope this review helps.

Leave your comments and your own opinion about this lens. If i may have made an error in this review kindly point it out and i will work on it ASAP! Cheers!

 

Ryan D. Photography ^_^

 

For more information on Photography, Cameras, and Travel please head on to Thailand and Beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gangnam Style

 

The most viral video/song in the internet now is GANGNAM STYLE.  These past days I observed Summer doing a funky dance move, and singing a quite strange song which  I can not make the words out. I was really confused if it’s her own Thai or English make-up-words.  She was having fun laughing and giggling as she danced and sang.  When we posed for a family picture, she had her hands positioned similar to when she dances.  I was intrigued, but she really can’t pronounce the words  properly.

At work, i was quite intrigued when my students were singing a similar tune.  They told me that it ‘s GANGNAM STYLE.  When I got home that day, I checked the internet. OMG!!! There are already like so many different versions, renditions,parodies of it already and believe it or not these videos got hundreds of  thousands to at least a million views.  The most popular next to the original of course is the Thai version.  Other famous versions are that of the Philippines and India. There might be others that are also popular that i have not seen but from my vantage these versions filled the top search slots.

A lot of people have praised this world wide hit wonder but of course it will never escape a lot of detractors giving their piece of mind about the matter. These people giving their thoughts about the song and about the people who dance to it. These negative inputs range from taste in music to racism so on and so forth. You can even see a lot of verbal altercations in the comment section of youtube. LOL!

But for me and my husband it’s about having fun. As long as the lyrics don’t mean anything awful, like most songs of today contain, it is ok for us. and perhaps our favorite version is the Thai version which talks about life of the “PROM  D” or “from the province” We don’t know what the korean song means really but we do hope it is not saying anything awful.

Oppa GANG NAM Style!!!!

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Car Wash Girl

When Summer was young, my husband was wondering when  she’s  going to help him wash the car.  He wanted it to be like a family event.  It is not an easy task.  It is tedious. So the more helping hands the better.  It is also a good venue to bond together as a family and teach my daughter the value of cleanliness.  More importantly, teach her how to save money.  Here, a good car wash is really expensive.  It ranges from 350 to 1,500 baht depending on whatever premiums you want to get.  Even if we have it washed for only twice a week, that is already 600 to 3,000 baht off the budget.  We would rather use it to buy food and/or spend it on gas, and drive around, which we LOVE to do.

So instead of going to the car wash, here is Summer, helping her Papa wash the car.  She loves it.  Her task is to wash the soap off by spraying water.  She likes it.  She likes even more when she gets soaked.  I don’t know the explanation behind kids liking to get soaked.  When I was young I do my own laundry, I like it when my entire arms are soaked in soap and water (we did not have a washing machine then).

For me kids, even at an early age, should be given responsibilities.  Ones that they are capable of doing of course.  Otherwise, instead of inculcating the value of  being responsible she will grow up just the opposite because she can not do the task and ends up frustrated. This way she will feel good about herself for accomplishing something.  This will be able to practice her ability to make decisions. This will also develop her psychomotor skills.

Generally, this is a very good learning experience for Summer.

Can you  suggest of other responsibilities kids like Summer can handle?  Just leave your ideas below.

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Krabi Tour

Krabi trip is never complete without its famed island hopping.  The islands worth checking out are Tup, Poda, Phranang, and Chicken Islands. Snorkeling in these islands is really a pleasure.  The fish are “friendly”.  They are going to crowd around even without food.  The sceneries  are fantastic and  picturesque.  It’s as if I stepped into a travel magazine or postcard.  The water is clean, and the people are nice.

During low tide, you can actually walk from Tup to its adjacent Island.

While swimming in Tup Island

 

Tup Island

 

 

The shape of this island explains why it’s called Chicken. This is also a great snorkeling site.

Chicken Island

 

Swimming with the fish at Chicken Island

 

We stopped over at Poda Island for lunch.  It is quite bigger than the first two Islands.  The white fine sand is great to the feel, and it is as powdery as that of Koh Lipeh‘s.  A towering rocky Islet is facing Poda Island at one side, which looks like a bow, port side of a ship. And if there are long-tailed boats docked in front  will make it picture perfect (at least for me).

A scenic view at Poda Island

 

Most photographed view in Poda Island

 

Phranang Island, where the “sacred” phranang cave is found.  Our last stop.  The tour guide told us that the locals considered it as a sacred place.  They believe that the cave protects them from any harm.  With this we psyched up ourselves to tone down a bit from our holiday mode. When we got there, it was THE BIGGEST SURPRISE of  my life. The cave is full of gigantic replica of the male genitalia.  OMG!

Me and …..

 

Oh boy! Me and one big…..

 

Ao Nang also offers little conveniences in life.  It has Starbucks for coffee lovers, and Mc Donalds.  There are a lot of Convenience Stores for those who are on a tight budget.  Hostels range from 300 baht to 700 baht per night on a low season and 500 to a whopping 2500 baht per night on peak seasons.

We also went to Ao Thalen to Kayak.  It was a fun, scary, and exciting experience for me, somebody who doesn’t know how to swim. We kayaked the entire length of Ao Thalen Bay, witness scenic views, explore some of the caves.  My muscles were really sore. But it was a feat on my part.  My friend and I were able to complete it without help from the guide.

Kayaking at Ao Thalen

 

 

Into the Cave…

 

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“The Nancy Pose”: Songkla Zoo Photo Contest

“The Nancy Pose” was chosen as one of the preliminary winners in the Songkla Zoo Photo Contest!

 

I mentioned in my previous post that this is my favorite picture of all the entries, and titled it myself.

We saw the picture from the zoo’s facebook page.  I was very happy.  But my husband most especially was beside himself with excitement.  He was jumping and dancing. He said as an amateur photographer, it is already an honor to be chosen in the preliminaries.

As we read through the description though, we found out that the name of the photographer with which the picture was awarded to was not my husband’s.  It was named to another Filipino expatriate, who is a friend of ours. OMG! Welcome to Thailand.  It is so ridiculously amazing.  You just do not commit such mistake with this kind of event.  Before you release something publicly.  It has to be checked and re-checked by not just one but two or more authorized personnel.

Well anyway, all is well that ends well.  The zoo authorities were sorry and immediately corrected the mistake. Check out Songkla Zoo facebook page.

The final verdict is scheduled next week October 15 to 21, 2012. The event will take place in Lee Garden’s Hatyai, Thailand.  We are so excited with the final ranking of the photos.

I will keep you posted.

Don’t forget to drop by then.

I’ll Return Back Your LOVE

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Philippine Cybercrime Law

Have you heard of the Republic Act 10175 or better known as Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 ? This is trending now.  It is known all around the globe.

It was originally intended to prevent cybersex, online child pornography, identity theft and spamming. Well this is good! But what is suspicious and repugnant about this is the inclusion of libel as a cybercrime.  To make things even worst, Government officials are given new power to pry and seize data from people’s online account.  Any “libelous” comments online including facebook, twitter, and blogs are punishable by up to 12 years in jail. The inclusion of libel as a cybercrime and the prying thing I think should be modified.  They are not directly relevant to the original purpose of this law. That is if they do not have any hidden agenda.  We should practice responsible journalism.  But the 12 years jail punishment, the searching and seizing of online account are definitely too much.

I just have one question;

What are they doing to prepare the country for the 2015 AEC?

 

2015 Asean Economic Community: Boom or Doom

The 2015 AEC is fast approaching! DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA WHAT IT IS? WILL YOU JUST LET IT UNFOLD BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES WITHOUT KNOWING HOW WILL IT AFFECT YOU, OR HOW YOU CAN MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU?

Its time to wake up people and be involved. Please read through and share your thoughts.

The 2015 Asean Economic Community brings mixed reactions and confusing thoughts among us.  Some talk about it with optimism.  While others, who know  about the taxation system and red tapes in the Philippine politics doubt its success.

I was reading the AEC blueprint.  It says about one market for the Asean where there is free flow of goods, capital, services, investments, and skilled workers.  All tarrifs for intra-Asean goods will be eliminated.  There will be custom integration which requires modernisation, harmonised system, and especially transparency, which is so difficult to achieve.

For me, all of these are exciting and something worth looking forward to.  But as I gave it a more serious thought, a lot of questions come to mind.  How would the peso fair in the Asean market?  Will there be loopholes that can be used by the Oligarchs to monopolize the economy? Does it mean lower prices since there will only be single tax for all goods? Are we ready for honesty and transparency? How free are the skilled workers? Does this mean no more visas, and people can just come and go? What will happen to expatriates?  Will there be changes in the laws regarding immigration, expatriates, and residency?

This is a big leap for all of us.  It is something that we should get ourselves involved with.  This is no time to sit back, to be aloof, and wait for everything to unfold before us.  We have to know every single details about 2015 AEC.  It is only in this way we will be able to make it work for us.