TTDI: A Photo Series

Hey guys! Not much to write about, so here are some photos for a change. These were taken when I went poking around the neighbourhood near my workplace during lunch break. Not sure if the places are empty because of the pandemic, or whether they’re always this dead lol. 

Enjoy! 

Location: TTDI MRT and TTDI Plaza 

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Where To Get Royalty-Free Images for Your Blog / Website

As much as possible, I try to use my own images on this blog, because a) it sucks when people steal my photos without even crediting where they got them from, and b) I want to avoid potential copyright infringement suits because you never know when you might get ‘unlucky’. Just because it’s rampant practice, it doesn’t mean you’re safe coz ‘everyone else is doing it’.

But there are times when I am unable to get particular photos for my posts – and that’s where free stock photo sites come in. Some of these have stunning imagery, and cover a wide variety of subjects, from food and travel to lifestyle, so they make great resources for bloggers.

Here are a few that I use: 

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PIXABAY

There are over 1.7 million images on Pixabay, including photos, illustrations, vectors and even videos and music which you can use without attribution (although it is a nice gesture to include credits and linkbacks) for personal and commercial purposes. That isn’t to say that some copyrighted images don’t find their way to the site, but the company manually checks each submission to ensure that they adhere to the requirements as much as possible. To download photos in high-res, you will need to register as a user.

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PEXELS 

Another easy to navigate stock photo site is Pexels. which also has over 1 million photos free for commercial use. It has a ‘popular collections’ page which looks similar to a Pinterest board, and allows you to easily search according to keywords. There are some rules to photo usage, especially in regards to people as subjects in photos; for example, identifiable individuals may not appear in a way that is offensive, and they may not be used as an endorsement for a product. Sale of unaltered copies is also prohibited. You can download images without signing up for an account.

*Pixabay and Pexels are both owned by Canva.

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UNSPLASH 

Unsplash’s high-quality imagery is a popular choice for editorials; we also use them for the print magazine that I work at. Images are neatly sorted according to category (architecture, food, people, etc.) to make searching easier, and there are photos of current events from around the world as well. There are also search tools to help you search by type, based on the tone of the photo, as well as orientation (portrait, landscape).

TOURISM BODIES 

For travel content, national tourism organisations are a good bet for high-quality photos, and you definitely don’t have to worry about copyright strikes if you’ve credited them properly. I use all of these regularly for work. Tourism Malaysia has an online library of photos divided according to the different states and categories such as culture, food and events. Other tourism organisations that have good resources are Australia, New Zealand, Japan, (although it is quite troublesome as you have to individually fill up a form for every photo, and you have to wait for five minutes between photos to download imagery), Singapore and South Korea. The downside is that you often have to register accounts and some have waiting times / procedures that you’ll have to follow so that they can track what you’re using the photos for.

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FOODIES FEED 

Foodies Feed is an excellent resource for food bloggers, although the number of photos is rather limited (about 2,000). The imagery is high-end and will not look out of place as a front cover of a food magazine.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS 

Photos from Wikimedia Commons are not always stunning, but they do the job of helping you to visually illustrate something on your blog posts. You are also more likely to find a photo of something more obscure (say, an off-the-beaten-path destination). Photos are easy to embed from the site itself, without having to download them. However, it can still be risky to use as I don’t think the photos are vetted properly, so there might still be copyright issues.

FREESTOCKS.ORG 

Freestocks.org is not as extensive as Pexels or Pixabay, but still offers a great selection of imagery in various categories, such as fashion, food and drinks, architecture, nature and people.

A list of some other sites, although I don’t use these very often:

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Reshot – This site seems to have more ‘niche’ and unique images rather than generic pictures – almost like someone’s Instagram feed.

Styled Stock – If you’re looking for feminine-centric styled photos, this site offers plenty.

Life of Pix – shots by professional photographers, so you can be assured of editorial-worthy quality.

Gratisography – looking for photos that are out of the ordinary that will capture your audience’s attention? A bunny mascot dancing in the subway, for example? You can find it at this site.

 

 

What are some of the stock photo resources that you use? Share them in the comments below! 😉 

2019 In Pictures

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s time to do a recap of the year again (feels like I just did 2018’s!).

It feels rather wistful to be saying goodbye to 2019, not only because it’s the end of the year, but also of the decade. The 20s have been extraordinary. I wonder what’s in store for my 30s?

JANUARY 

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2019 wasn’t off to a good start. My company took on another client but without hiring additional staff, everyone’s tasks and responsibilities doubled. The physical and emotional repercussions of pulling late nights and always feeling like there’s never enough time to finish everything took its toll, and for the first time in my career, I broke down at work. It was embarrassing.  My inability to pull off tasks given perfectly made me feel incompetent and worthless. In hindsight, I should have known where to drawn the line, but not wanting to disappoint a good boss and her faith in me, stressed myself out to breaking point. It’s something that I need to learn to handle more adequately.

I went to a cat cafe to destress. Watching and being near cats calms me. They’re my favourite creatures, although circumstances at home means I can’t keep any yet. Perhaps in 2020?

FEBRUARY

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Not everything was doom and gloom, however. While my job can be stressful at times, I’m also thankful for the opportunities it has afforded me. After a rough January, February saw me flying to Melbourne to watch the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play, which was phenomenal. I grew up reading the Harry Potter books, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a new story brought to life on stage.

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I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Melbourne. The most memorable moments include visiting the Lyon Housemuseum, a private house-museum that blends an art gallery with a living space, exploring the laneways of Melbourne on foot, riding a helicopter (for the first time!) to see the 12 Apostles, and spotting real-life koalas and an emu upclose.

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MARCH

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Got to experience Malaysia’s first private onsen bath!

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Did a story on unusual libraries in the Klang Valley, such as the Little Giraffe Book Club, housed in a refurbished old kampung house, the curated Rumah Attap at Zhongshan, and the Japan Foundation Library, dedicated to all things Japanese and more.

APRIL

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N came to visit from Manila, and we went on many little adventures, like watching a drum performance and visiting Cameron Highlands.

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Went for a short work trip to Singapore, and managed to squeeze in some time for sightseeing with a high school close friend of mine.

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Brought N for a work-cum-holiday trip to sunny, beautiful Phuket. It was my second visit and the crystal clear oceans and sandy beaches were just as breathtaking as the first time. But what made it even more memorable was time spent with a loved one. ❤

MAY

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A work trip brought me to Siniawan in Sarawak, also called the ‘Cowboy Town of Borneo’. The place has an extraordinary back story, the people are warm and hospitable, and the pace of life is just so different from the hectic hustle and bustle of the city. KL-ites are often so absorbed with life in the city that we fail to realise that there is so much more to Malaysia than our little bubble.

JUNE

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Went to watch The Phantom of the Opera with the editor. It was my first time watching a musical, and the performances blew me away.

JULY

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Got to see digital reproductions of Da Vinci’s works at the National Visual Arts Gallery. Considering that such exhibitions don’t come to Malaysia very often, I think it was a great effort by the local government and arts and culture organisations to bring this to the country.

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Had a lot of fun doing a story on unique cafes, such as this one which has a 2D concept.

AUGUST

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Had an interview with Hong Kong celebrity chef Alvin Leung for the opening of Fuhu at Genting.  I was nervous af because he seemed like one of those chefs with a fiery temper. It turned out okay, but the interview never made it to light because it got axed at the last minute, which was a shame.

SEPTEMBER

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N came to visit again. We were planning to get our marriage registered in Malaysia, then change his tourist visa into a spouse visa, which would allow him to stay for another six months. Unfortunately, we were thrown into a loop when the marriage registration date got pushed to November instead – so he had to exit the country in October and come back in November again. A lot of time was wasted in the process, but we did get to spend more time together and explore new places.

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Another work trip – this time to Japan, to cover the Toyosu Fish Market. It wasn’t exactly a ‘glamorous’ assignment, but it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable assignments of the year, apart from Melbourne. It was fascinating to be offered an insight into what goes on behind the scenes at the world’s largest seafood market, and in our spare time I got to explore parts of Tokyo as well.

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OCTOBER

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Brought N to Sekinchan so he could see the green paddy fields.

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Had a Masterclass with Chef Nobu of Nobu fame.

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Won a social media contest for Tapas Club, where we got to sample some of their excellent wines and small eats. I am now an addict of their garlic shrimp.

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Finally went to Bangkok! Almost everyone I know has gone to Bangkok, and they gasp every time I tell them I haven’t, since it seems like I’ve been to many places but not this one so close to home. N and I took it easy rather than rushing to different places, which I think made it more enjoyable. The museum alone was worth the trip (the history nerds that we were, we spent six hours in the place). N departed for Manila from Bangkok, while I made a lonely trip back to Kuala Lumpur.

NOVEMBER

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N came back for our civil marriage registration. We went to the immigration department to inquire about applying for a spouse visa, but was disappointed yet again when told there was a cooling period of six months, and that he wouldn’t be able to apply until May 2020. Which meant he wouldn’t be able to extend his visa, and would have to fly back to Manila (again).

It gets harder to separate each time, but this is a path we both committed to taking, and no damn bureaucracy is going to dampen our spirits. We maximised our time together by taking some pre-wedding photos in Ipoh, which we did on our own to save on a photographer.

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Brought him for a work trip to Seremban, where he rode an ostrich for the first time.

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DECEMBER

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Went with N to Melaka. It was nice to bring him to places and play tourist in my own country. We slept in a capsule hotel for the first time; an experience I’m not likely to repeat anytime soon.

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Our annual office Christmas party was tinged with a hint of sadness this year, as it was the last one we were having as a complete team. The media industry isn’t doing so well right now, and my company did not escape unscathed. At the beginning of the year, we were up to our necks with work; at the end of it, having lost a major client, half of the team would be let go. I was one of the lucky ones to be retained, but without the support and guidance of my editor, whom I also consider a mentor, I think it will be a very challenging year in 2020. I suppose I should be thankful for still having a job, but I believe the media industry is in a serious rut right now. For the next year, my goal will be to try and upscale my skills and diversify my portfolio. It’s a do or die world, and I’m not getting any younger.

Well there you have it! 2019 all wrapped. It’s the night of New Year’s Eve as I write this, snugly wrapped in my blankets with a fresh face mask and scented candles in the room. Gone are the days of going out for fireworks and partying the night away, but that doesn’t mean I’m not celebrating it in my own little way.

Happy New Year! 

 

Flickr No Longer “Free”?

As someone who posts hundreds of photos for this blog, Flickr and it’s 1TB storage has been a lifesaver – I would have gone over the WordPress 13GB limit within weeks :’D

Unfortunately, the company has recently announced that it will rescind the 1TB storage beginning January 1 2019, limiting users to 1,000 photos for free accounts. Which spells bad news (for me, at least) because even though I’ve only been using it for less than a year to link to my blog posts, I already have over 2,000 photos lmao.

The only option would be to upgrade to a Pro account for 50$. It’s a fairly reasonable price considering you get unlimited storage, but that would mean more expenses running this pet project that I don’t really get money out of lol. On the other hand, I DO want Flickr to be a viable, long-term and sustainable business – I can just imagine the pain of having all my photos deleted if ever the company shuts down.

One way around this would probably be to create new email accounts every time, upload to the 1,000 limit and then move on to a new one – but it’s too much of a hassle.

So, hello, added expenses!

 

Chinese New Year @ Sunway Pyramid – Spring Flower Market

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It feels like a never ending string of festivities – with Christmas and New Year’s just over, we’re already gearing up for Chinese New Year (which falls on Jan 28 this year!). Ushering in the Year of the Rooster at Sunway Pyramid is a Spring Flower Market, featuring dozens of beautiful flowers and plants for sale.

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Auspicious plants to have in your home for the New Year – neat little bamboos arranged in a cluster. Bamboos are considered lucky and represent strength. Some are twisted to form auspicious shapes like the number 8 (8 in Chinese sounds like ‘prosperity’ – making it a favourite number for special occasions)

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Fake decorative peonies. No less pretty though!

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Colourful orchids in a variety of hues and patterns.

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One of my favourites: look at that vivid colour!

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Also on display: terrariums.

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Aside from orchids, there were also other flowers. Sorry, my knowledge of flora is limited so I have no idea what these are.

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Over at the other concourse, the mall had set up a Hong Kong style ‘avenue’, with posters of old HK movies and prop-filled shopfronts. To mark the year of the rooster, a giant chicken sat atop the structure.

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Bel, Jo and I took our customary CNY reunion photo at the photo booth, with a backdrop of a traditional herbalist’s store.

Happy CNY!

Travelogue 1#: Thean Hou Gong Temple KL

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Today is Chap Goh Mei aka Chinese Valentine’s Day, the last day of Chinese New Year. Traditionally, Chinese maidens threw oranges into the sea/rivers in hopes of getting a good husband.
…The above story is totally unrelated to the picture of angku tat my auntie made. Look at the shape of that thing! Weird.

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After lunch, we went to Thean Hou Temple in KL. They’re celebrating their 120th anniversary this year and the place was jam packed with people since it was Chap Goh Mei festival.

(Above) Statue of Guan Yin. Water spouts out from her little bottle.

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They also had lanterns on display depicting the 12 Chinese horoscope animals. Too bad it wasn’t night time.

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A 2-storey lantern with a cow sitting on top of it.

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With all the lantern decos, it would be beautiful to visit at night but it would be even more full of people at that time, so we went early.

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Give a donation and take joss sticks for praying from this counter/box. Its up to you to determine the amount to donate.

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Statue of Mazu, Goddess of the Sea.

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The roof of the temple with elaborate carvings of deities and the bodhisattva depicted in them.

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Wishing lights shaped like lotus flowers. Light them up and pray for your prayers to come true.

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“Kam” or gold money which signifies wealth and prosperity.

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After praying, devotees put the joss sticks in this huge urn.

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Lots of pretty wishing lights.

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Monks performing blessing rituals and tying holy strings, to protect it’s wearer.

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One of the deities, the Yellow Jambala.

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Cousin performing a bathing ritual for the deity, for good luck and good fortune.

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The calligraphy pen I got from praying to the Wen Chang Di Jun. Put it on the study table and it will help to achieve better results in your studies.
Supposedly.

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My cousin got this from the fortune telling booth. The line was super long, we had to wait like, half an hour to get one. In those TVB dramas, people usually shake the container with a lot of wooden sticks until one falls out. Nowadays it’s become more modern. You just thump the rotating device and one will jump out. LOL
So this was her fortune for the year.

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A lotus flower bud

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Magnificent temple architecture

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Shrine at the top of the temple. You can see almost the entire view of KL from up here.

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Intricate phoenix statue

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And the customary dragon statue.

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This angle is nice, coz it looks like the dragon is emerging into the sun.

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Over at the function hall some creative lanterns were on display, such as these twin dragons made from recycled soft drink cans!

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Another eco-friendly lantern, made from recyclable plastic bottles. So you get to have fun, AND save the environment at the same time.

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The outdoor stage area was already filling up around 5 pm, since people wanted to get good seats for the night’s performance. Cute guys in lion dance pants were seen walking around all over the place teehee

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Boiled herbal eggs and quail eggs

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Troupe of little boys with their big bad drums. Really talented kids!

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Animal zodiac signs in the outdoor area.

And that concludes our visit to the temple. Time to nom!

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We went to a vegetarian restaurant in PJ New Town. The house specialty here is charsiew. Of coz its not real char siew la. But it tasted delicious. ^^

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And my personal fave: buttered frog legs. (they’re not real frog legs, a reminder)
Trust me, I grew up in this area. It’s so nostalgic to be back here again and reminisce of all the places I used to hang out at. Mum used to take me here all the time when I was a kid and she was working with Popeye at the land surveying office(from 1994 – 2002, i was basically a local in this area)
The restaurant’s name is NEU vegetarian restaurant, located near the MALAYSIAN INSTITUTE OF BAKERY, just a few blocks away. It’s been around since foreva, so try asking around for the way coz i dunno the exact address. :p
That’s all. Toodles!