Wednesday, May 31, 2017

GOD OF WAR 《荡寇风云》Review

[Movie Invite]

Movie Synopsis

During the 16th century, Japanese pirates proliferate along the Chinese coastline. In 1557, the pirates take over Cengang in Zhejiang. After months of futile advances, Commander Yu (Sammo Hung) finally defeats them under the leadership of newly promoted General Qi (Vincent Zhao). The pirates, however, manage to escape. 

No sooner has Qi identified the key weakness of the Chinese army than he starts remapping the coastal regions to eradicate the pirates. When he finds the villagers of Yiwu loyal and courageous, he drafts them into his own army which soon becomes a formidable force against the pirates, with tactics developed specifically against them. In 1561, the pirates regroup and once again attack the coastal cities of China. With both the cities of Xinhe and Taizhou under attack, Qi's army is caught between two fires. 

Even though most family members of his soldiers are located in Xinhe, Qi makes the tough decision to go to Taizhou and leaves his wife in charge of the fight against the pirates in Xinhe, knowing that the defeat of the pirates’ elite team in Taizhou will bring long lasting peace to the coastal cities. 

But one month into the battle of Taizhou, there is still no clear winner and loser....


It is no secret that movie-goers generally have a lower expectation when it comes to Chinese movies. Sometimes it is bad acting, sometimes it is over exaggeration and at times bad CGI! However when I knew Sammo Hung is acting in this movie, it did up my expectations a little but I was still pleasantly surprised that the show was pretty decent, and the flow of the storyline and the battle strategies kept me engaged.

I initially thought that Sammo Hung (Yu Dayou) was the lead since he appeared in the center of the publicity poster but it ended that he was merely supporting the younger casts, who included his own son Jimmy Hung as well. Was really hoping for more fight scenes from the real lead Vincent Zhao (Qi Jiguang) and Sammo Hung against the enemies, but I guess we will have to make do with the one pole fight between the two.

As with most, if not, all war movies, emotions did run high at many points in the movie. I felt it especially at the scene when the men had to say goodbye to their families when they made their way to the battle ground and not knowing if they will make it back alive. I wonder why it is NC16, as I thought that the fight scenes were quite subdued and not as gory as I would have expected. Some cartoons shown on TV depicted worst. In any case, it is worth watching with your loved ones for sure! 

Thank you having us over Clover Films!

Monday, May 29, 2017

When They Start Asking For A Pet


You are not going to take away my JJ! 
Stacci would ask to pet any dog that she came across during our Perth trip recently and had also brought up the question of having a pet of her own to which I answered, "when we get our new house and when you grow older." After telling her that, she keep wanting my reassurance by repeatedly asking, "I can get my own pet when I am older, and when we get our new house right?" Yes, she really wanted a pet puppy of her own but at her age now, she will never understand the amount of responsibility that comes along with pet ownership. Well as I knew that Hasbro will be sending the kiddos a little "pet" but I kept it a secret from all the kiddos to surprise them. Coincidentally Steffi also told me over Facetime that she wanted a toy dog as a gift from Australia!

The first thing that the kiddos noticed after I picked them home from the school a few days back, was JJ, My Jumpin’ Pug sitting on the sofa. Definitely made their day finding this cute new addition to the family and they cannot resist stroking the soft fur and patting JJ on the back and making him sit. The jumping and barking also excited Louie much! If you ask me, this is definitely so much more realistic in terms of build, feel, action and sound as compared to the random (albeit cheaper) toy dog that you will be able to find anywhere. This will be a temporary relief for me, as I will not be asked about having pets for the time being. It shall be a test for the kiddos as well, to see if they can share the pug! 

Thank you for sending the little one over, Hasbro Singapore! The kiddos loved it to bits! This little fella (retailing at $79.90) is part of a whole range of FurReal Friends from Hasbro, and is available at Toy "R" Us, Isetan and major departmental stores!

Perth Adventure - Full Day Wave Rock, York, Wildflowers & Aboriginal Culture

[Media Fam Trip]

It was our first time to Perth, and because I do not drive, some places of interest would be difficult for us to visit on our own especially when they are so far away. Luckily for us, we signed on with ADAMS Pinnacle Tours for a few day tours to make this Australia bonding trip with Stacci totally worthwhile! For the first tour, we headed East from Perth city to Hyden to visit the beautiful Wave Rock formations. Although we had to wake up pretty early to catch the free hotel pickup by the company, it was no loss as we managed to catch up on our sleep during the trip that clocked 792 kilometres in total! I really cannot imagine myself driving for so many hours!

We first alighted at York, the first township founded in the Avon Valley for a short break. I felt as if I was walking into another Universal Studios theme park when I stepped into the town. Except that this time everything from the streets, the buildings, the retail businesses and the people were real, and not just props or actors. And if you find Perth City a little slow and relaxed (like myself), this place would have been the epitome of a sleepy town! Having said that, the town does exude a certain old charm that visitors will appreciate as well, and I must highlight that this is an excellent place for photography buffs with its many beautiful vintage buildings!

As we continued our journey further East along the Wheatbelt Highway towards the agricultural towns of Corrigin and Kondinin and stopped by the Dog Cemetery. It is the final destination where men's best friends, the working dogs were laid to eternal rest. On one hand it was kind of sad reading some of the tributes on the tombs but it also goes to show that the dogs were loved.

It was lunch by the time we finally reached Hyden, and we had ours (included in tour) over at the Wave Rock Cafe. It was buffet-style with lots of greens and a nice hot tray of chicken in spiced gravy and rice. The chicken was tender and flavourful, and Stacci finished up her plate with nary a complaint. Depending on how fast one ate, you are free to explore the mini wildlife park within the same compound, or  the Antique Lace Collection as well. We loved animals, so we chose the private park and Stacci got up close to the different birds, rabbits and we even spotted koalas in the park!

After the hearty meal, we finally made our way to the rock formations at last, which was the real highlight of the tour. One may have seen photographs of the wave rocks but nothing beats seeing it in person. To the left of the wave rocks, one can also find the Hippo Yawn, which looked exactly like a hippo yawning as the name implied! For the adventurous, scaling up the wave rocks on the left of the wave rock, or climbing up the stairs on the right to reach the top for a breathtaking view of the horizon, would be a great option for sure! Enjoy the view and the breeze at the top, and find great instagrammable photography spots for that awesome photo as well! If you like plants, look around closely at the patches of moss on the rocks and you can also find some pretty sundews too!

Before we made our way back to the city, we also paid the Mulka's Cave a visit. Knowing that someone had made this cave home, made this visit meaningful and even spiritual to a certain extent. And to be there and imagine how it would be like to be exposed to the elements made me appreciate our modern comforts so much more. The drawings and handprints were made out to us by our friendly guide, who also explained how the inhabitant would have spent his day and retired in the cave for the night. It was great that we were allowed to get into the cave, get close to everything and even feel the stones and walls, but unfortunately it also meant that other less civic-minded visitors can as well, with some of them vandalizing the artefacts and leaving their writings in the cave too. What a shame!

To be absolutely honest this tour felt a too rushed for me, with lots of stuff packed into a day. But it was like any other day tour packages offered elsewhere, everywhere that I had ever been to. It also doesn't help that Australia is so HUGE with places of interests spread out across the land. My view is that if you love to take things slow and savour everything that a place had to offer, this may not be for you.

Having said that, unless you wish to drive the few hundred kilometres yourself and explore places at your own pace, this "quick" tour would have to be your best bet for a well-organized and comfortable ride to learn more about the history of early human settlements in Australia, and view the wonderful works of nature along with great commentary by the coach driver cum guide.

Do note that you can actually opt for a 2-day tour that comes with almost the same itinerary with the exception of a night's stay over at Wave Rock Motel on the first night. This package will allow you to take it slow and easy, instead of having to rush back to the city on the same day. Find out more about tour here!

This post is part one of our Perth adventure and brought to you in collaboration with ADAMS Pinnacle Tours.

Check out our Pinnacles visit and Valley of The Giants tour too!

Friday, May 26, 2017

RAWR! Dinosaurs Unearthed

[Media Invite]

Dinosaurs are definitely creatures that the kiddos are familiar with, be it from books or movies, and they sure enjoyed their rides over at The Lost World in Universal Studios Singapore, another one of their favourite places. This June holidays, we popped over to Plaza Singapura for a host of Dinosaur activities held in partnership with Science Centre Singapore from now till 11 June 2017.

Shoppers can look forward to a host of workshops such creating your own Dinosaur Mask, preparing a model of a Flying Pteranodon or Light Up Dinosaurs while learning how the circuits work! These workshops take place every half-hourly on all the days from 11am - 7.30pm (no 1.30pm and 4.30pm slots). You can purchase vouchers for the activities ($5 per activity) at the information counter and receive a program booklet as well. Activities are meant for kiddos 5 year and up.

All the paid activities take place in this corner.
There will be special shows at 1:30pm, 4:30pm and 7:30pm on the weekends of 27 & 28 May, 3 & 4, 10 & 11 June where one can learn more from Jim, about the lesser-known dinosaurs such as the Mamenchisaurus, the Yangchuanosaurus, the Herrerasaurus, the Omeisaurus besides our very famous T-Rex!

The stage where the show will take place on weekends.

For those kiddos who want a little more action during this period, they can also go on DinMoov rides between 11.30am - 8.30pm daily at a cost of $5 per ride, or pay $2 for a ride on a moving dinosaur.

This $2 dino ride only moves up and down. 
Besides the paying activities, the kiddos can also have free play in the sand pit and get their hands dirty trying to excavate some dinosaurs. Then of course there are also photo opportunities with the dinosaurs and backdrops too!

The kiddos' favourite play area.
The prizes in the sand pit.

Thank you Plaza Singapura for having the kiddos over for the dino fun!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

More Than A Photographer

Those who know me, knows that I love taking photos of my family, especially that of the kiddos. However, when it comes to photo editing and enhancements whatsoever, I am only able to rely on the Snapseed app on my mobile device. But I have to tell you, that app is da bomb and it is free to download too! Ok back to the topic, it so happened that when my wife was pregnant with Louie, she took on a maternity photoshoot package with home-based photographer, Zheng Liting from A Nic Tay Production. My wife was really happy with her work (and my wife isn't an easy person to please), hence we booked her a couple more times to take photoshoots of the kiddos as well, because she really trusted her.

You can see from the samples of work done for our family, that her work does not merely consist of photographing the subjects, but includes photo art and enhancements as well. Do you still remember when Neoprint booths sprouted everywhere and it was all the rage then? Well, some of the photos had the same kind of magical feel, albeit much more professionally taken of course! Do note that her packages only includes digital touch ups and colour tuning though, and fine art (if any at all) will be complimentary and out of goodwill. It is truly dependent on how well the model performs and how much she is inspired by the subject! This is because it really takes a lot of effort and time on her part to do any fine art. 

Feel free to contact her directly at A Nic Tay Production and let her know you got to know her through us. We earn no commission but who knows it may help us snag a session for Stacci! Lol....