House Renovation

At the end of 2007 and in search of a new home, we looked around from Taman Tun Dr. Ismail to the myriads of new and confusingly named Damansaras but somehow Lake Fields always had a spot in our hearts due to its contemporary design and finishing. At that time, the realtor had 2 units from us to choose from: a Feng Shui friendly one (which had the entrance to the powder room sealed and hence not facing the main door) and another one which didn’t. In the end, Feng Shui played no part in our decision and we chose the one that was nearer to the guard house and the water tower. We figured then that the clear unblocked path from the main door to the powder room would work out well in cases of emergencies that couldn’t wait. 

Flash forward to roughly 7 months ago, which is the amount of time required to “complete” a purchase of the property (which warrants another rant), we appointed a contractor to perform some renovation work on the house for us. Perhaps “some” is relative as the work turned out to be quite major indeed. In addition to sealing the powder room entrance (after reassuring ourselves that the odds of the sort of emergencies that would actually occur in which such a configuration would serve to be beneficial is quite infinitesimal), we decided to include a show piece in the house.

One idea that immediately struck us was that our new place has a double volume living area. This would look very nice if the house that we got was a corner unit like below:-

But unfortunately, we got a non-corner unit so it unexcitingly looked like this:-

Which wasn’t too bad but we wanted to explore what we could do with all the space. That was when the thought of building a loft came to us. The more we thought about it, the more we fell in love with the concept of having a loft overlooking the living room. To build the loft, our contractor first built the structure of the platform with wood (as a mold for the concrete) and reinforced the stucture with intenal steel wireframes.

Next, they poured the first layer of concrete onto the structure. The holes in the walkway are for the downlights below. The white pipes contained electrical wirings.

Once the initial layer is set, another layer is added on top to even up the surface.

The whole concrete structure was allowed to dry. (I resisted the temptation to run into the area to jump up and down).

And penultimately, they’ve added the railings recently which made it safe(r) for me to climb over there to perform my jump tests. I did and the new loft was strong enough to withstand my jumps.

The whole process of building the loft took place over the span of 4 months. The final step will be to add in the wood railing and the timber floor which will take up another 4 to 6 weeks.

Hopefully, we will be able to move into the new place before June this year (fingers crossed so very tight!)

Historical Penang


Cheah Si Sek Tek Tong, originally uploaded by CeeKay’s Pix.

Georgetown is probably one of the most historically interesting city in Malaysia. Though I was born there, I had never truly visited the historical heart of the city, until lately.

On July 8, 2008 Penang and Melaka were given World Heritage Site status by UNESCO because of their “remarkable examples of historic colonial towns on the Straits of Malacca that demonstrate a succession of historical and cultural influences arising from their former function as trading ports linking East and West”.

When I was in Penang last week, I saw for myself why this island truly deserved this international recognition. I’ve tried to capture and reproduce the mood and atmosphere of the place through these pictures but nothing can really substitute the particular buzz of the place as much as being there in person.

Do check out the rest of the picture set at my Flickr page.

Penang Botanical Gardens


Red Ant, originally uploaded by CeeKay’s Pix.

I’ve visited the Penang Botanical Gardens this morning and took some really interesting shots. Nothing really drives home the existence of a parallel micro universe of insects going about their daily routines better than the view coming through the camera’s viewfinder.

As joggers jog and people walk, these critters were working very hard cutting down leaves, transporting food to their hives, eating and collecting flower syrup.

After this morning’s excursion, I shall never look at a tropical garden park quite the same anymore.

New Macro Lens

Bougainvila, originally uploaded by CeeKay’s Pix.

Finally, I bought a Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di 1:1 macro lens today! After months of deliberating, the choice was down to 2, namely the Tamron and the Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G ED IF VR.

Both are really superb lens not only for taking extreme close-ups but also as a prime fixed length lens for everyday shooting. Reading online reviews and forums didn’t help as people who bought the Tamron, swore by it and likewise for those who bought the Nikkor too.

What pushed me to the Tamron was basically the price. I paid RM 1420 for this lens in Click N’ Snap in Komtar, Penang. They were also kind enough to throw in a free UV lens protector after I told them that another shop around the corner was selling at RM 1350. When asked about the RM 12xx price tag that everyone was talking about in the forums, I was informed that Tamron had raised the price of their lenses 2 months ago.

Compare this price with the asking price of RM 26xx for the Nikkor, getting the Tamron was really a no brainer!

First impressions of the 90mm were generally very good.

It takes really sharp and well saturated photos. The bokeh is very pretty. Unlike other reviewers, I didn’t find the autofocus to be too slow but if you want it to be faster, use manual focus instead.

If I have to nitpick to find a single fault with this lens, I can only point to one: build quality of the AF/MF slider (which has a “rough” snap whenever one switches from auto focus to manual focus).

I am going to take more photos later today and I shall post the more interesting ones on Flickr.


Chayan and Grandma, originally uploaded by CeeKay’s Pix.

Babies are designed to tug at your heart strings. They are the most manipulative (but cute), calculative (but cute) and cunning (but cute) little beings that will always get what they want.

Their inability to verbally articulate their desires are complemented by 2 powerful ways of expressions:-
1. Their seemingly effortless mastery of the ear drum crushing cries
2. Their well timed and often well executed disarmingly charming smiles

This Chinese New Year, Cheryl and I met with a lot of babies. Some were big, some were small while others were hairy and others were bald. But all in all, we had a ball will all the babies running in the halls.

Yes, officially, I love babies now…

Japan Holiday Photos

Mt. Fuji from Mt. Komagatake, originally uploaded by CeeKay’s Pix.

I posted more pictures from our recent trip to Tokyo. It took a while to upload them because I had to clean them up in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

When I first downloaded the photos into my notebook, I was very disappointed because all of them were tainted with dust and lint, especially shots against a single color backdrop like skyscape.