The SIA Brat – In New York City, United States of America

[Riding On Bikes In Central Park]

New York Pass; to buy or not to buy? Good question. The trick is to weigh the pros and cons. First, go to their website and find out which attractions do you have access to free of charge after purchasing the Pass. Second, you determine the cost of those attractions and add them all up. Third, compare and decide. Simple. Well, when you have 3 people making a decision on the matter and the lack of time to do the necessary research, then it’s not quite that simple. Eventually, we did get the New York Pass and I totally did not regret the decision. I don’t quite know the exact savings we had by purchasing the Pass, but we did and we also had a very useful guidebook that helped us plan our days.

Now Central Park was on all four of our to do lists even before we stepped foot on American soil. So when we finally had the time to explore New York City, Central Park was one of our first stops.

Central Park is a public park so why would this have anything to do with the New York Pass right? Bike Tours. Something that we could do for free because of the New York Pass. Because we purchased the Pass, we could enjoy a free bike tour of Central Park at 9am or a 3hr bike rental. As we weren’t familiar with Central Park at all, we decided a guided bike tour would allow us to really see the park without the hassle of worrying if we’d get lost in this massive nature wonderland. After all, at 843 acres, 2.5 miles long and 0.5 miles wide, Central Park is needless to say, MASSIVE! You could live in New York City for months and not experience all that Central Park has to offer. And my friends and I only had a week.

So off we went, riding on bikes in Central Park. It was so fun! While I didn’t get a chance to truly relax and enjoy the park, I was able to see most of what Central Park had to offer to New Yorkers. And Central Park made me fall in love with New York City even more. Maybe these photographs can help you fall in love with Central Park too.

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Exploring Central Park on a bicycle makes for a very good workout session and it also allows you to see more of the park in a shorter time span. After experiencing how huge the park really is, movies really don’t do Central Park justice, I realised how glad I was that we travelled around Central Park on our bikes, and for free too!

While biking around Central Park isn’t the only means of transport around the park, it was the first one I tried. I know that you can tour Central Park on a horse-drawn carriage, but I found out that you can also go on a private Vespa Tour or if you can’t ride a bike and want to cover more ground, perhaps you’d like to try a Pedicab Tour? On my next visit to Central Park, I’d take a day or two to walk around Central Park to see it more closely. Perhaps I’ll go on one of the many walking tours they have in Central Park as well.

For now I’ll just go through my old NYC photos and dream about my next trip there. But more about my week in New York City will be coming up in the My Week In New York City – April 2012 series so do look out for it.

What do you think?

What is the best way to explore Central Park? Which part of the park is your favourite? Are you a fan of bike tours? I’ve already done a bike tour in Paris and New York City, which other country or city should I explore on a bike? 

My Week In New York – April 2012 The SIA Brat - In New York City, United States of America New York Pass; to buy or not to buy?

Harry Potter’s got a theme park and now that Hunger Game is wrapping up the film franchise next year, there have been talks about the possibility of a theme park for that series as well. Although a Hunger Games theme park isn’t a sure thing yet, there will most definitely be a touring exhibit. But what is so fascinating about having a theme park attraction? I believe it’s the allure of finally being a part of the world instead of just looking in from outside that world.

Film goers and book readers around the world have been immersed in the world of Harry Potter since the first film was released in 2001. There are fans who want to board the Hogwarts Express, zip through Gringotts, drink butter beer at the Three Broomsticks, or walk down Diagon Alley. And with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios Orlando, they can do that! They watched and loved the films, now with the theme park, they can actually be a part of that world! (cue the song from The Little Mermaid – Part Of Your World)

A world that once was fictional is now real. Well, as “real” as can be. That’s what attracts people to theme parks. Theme parks allow visitors to escape reality and be a part of the fantasy world they know and love. It’s all not really real, you argue. True. But people would still pay good money to go to these theme parks. If they weren’t, Disney would not have been able to open and maintain 6 Disneyland theme parks till today!

I am a huge fan of Harry Potter. Unfortunately, I’ve not yet had the chance to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida. But it’s definitely on my travel bucket list!

Although I’ve not visited the Harry Potter theme park, I grabbed the chance to go visit The Making Of Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour when I was in London earlier this year. It’s no theme park, but for a film and television buff like myself, it was akin to Charlie Bucket seeing the inside of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It was so fun! The tour was supposed to last 3 hours, but my friends (who didn’t have a choice but to be sit around and drink “butter beer” while waiting for me) and I spent at least 5 hours there. Here are just some of the photos I took there…

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Coming back to the subject of a Hunger Games theme park, I’m really not sure how they are going to create a theme park out of the series. After all, The Hunger Games aren’t really ideal since it’s a dystopian world where kids kill other kids for the amusement of others. Not exactly fun family orientated amusement park material. Not unless you want to pay to get knocked off your feet, injured, or worse, killed. But, I’m sure they’ll be able to come up with something. The lure of money is too great for them to not try developing a family friendly theme park for The Hunger Games.

The other upcoming Young Adult film franchise is the Divergent series. Wonder if they’ll make a theme park for that as well. As it is I read that a theme park attraction for Alien and Life of Pi is also set to open in Malaysia in 2016!

Of course theme parks and touring exhibits aren’t the only ways one can enter the world of film. Visiting the actual location where the film or TV series is filmed also draws a lot of tourists and fans alike. In fact, I’m planning a trip to New Zealand this December and I’m definitely visiting the Shire in Matamata. Woo hoo!

What do you think?
Have you been to Hobbiton before? Any tips? Do let me know as I am still in the planning stages of my trip. Do you think it’s a good idea for The Hunger Games series to have a theme park? What kind of rides and attractions do you want to see at a Hunger Games theme park? What other film series should have their own amusement park?

Enter A Whole New World Harry Potter’s got a theme park and now that Hunger Game is wrapping up the film franchise next year, there have been…

In 2007, I went on a school trip that gave me the chance to tour Japan for almost a whole month. We stayed at hostels, small traditional inns and even got the chance to experience 3 home stays with locals who volunteered to take us in and show us around their town. That was an eye opener for me. I had never stayed in a stranger’s home before. Yes, my parents did have friends overseas who would…

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Let there be light! Starring out of The Pantheon's oculus.
Let there be light! Starring out of The Pantheon's oculus.

Let there be light! Starring out of The Pantheon’s oculus.

The SIA Brat – In Rome

Looking up is something I love to do. And of all the trips I’ve taken in my life, this is one of my favourite views. Why? Because of the magnificent design of The Pantheon’s dome!

I mean look at that! Don’t you think the coffering on the concrete dome of The Pantheon is gorgeous! And amazingly, it was completed and…

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Personally, I prefer to go to museums on a weekday. On weekends there are usually too many people and I will feel rushed. On a weekday, you get peace and quiet, and all the time in the world to enjoy the photographs on display. So take a day off and go to the ArtScience Museum to see Annie Leibovitz’s A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005 Exhibition before it finishes in October. But if you want to go for the guided tour, then you’ll have to go for the exhibition on Sunday at 11.30am. Either way, if you’re into photography or celebrities, you should drop by Annie Leibovitz’s exhibition.

Though they weren’t displayed at the exhibition, these are some of her works that made me sit up and notice Annie Leibovitz’s work. (Source: annieleibovitz.tumblr.com)

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Who is Annie Leibovitz? She is an American portrait photographer who has photographed celebrities and well known personalities such as Demi Moore, Leonardo Di Caprio, John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Nicole Kidman, Al Pacino, Brad Pitt and President Bill Clinton. You’ll get to see some of those portraits at the exhibition. But besides those, you also get a glimpse of her life through personal photographs of her family, her close friends, and her children.

My personal favourites beside her portraits are the landscapes she took of Monument Valley in the American West and of Wadi Rum in the Jordanian desert. I wish I could show them to you however, photography is not allowed in the exhibition.

When I first realised that we weren’t allowed to take any photographs in the exhibition, I was a little bummed. Then Clarabelle, a friend and a artist (click on her name to check out her portfolio), took out a small sketchbook and offered it to me. “Wanna play” she asked. I looked at her confused. I guess I should have understood there and then but I didn’t. She explained that she would look at the image before her and try to capture the essence of the photograph. Then she would play and have fun in her sketchbook. Basically, it’s one artist’s interpretation (Annie Leibovitz) reflected in another artist’s work (Clarabelle Chong). It doesn’t have to be an exact drawing of the image, just your interpretation of the image. Cool right? Well I thought so. Her sketchbook is her playground and her camera. I was hopeless at drawing so I just watched her draw and enjoyed the wonderful photographs at the exhibit.

She drew quite a number of portraits and with her permission I snapped some photographs of her works after we left the exhibit.

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We didn’t manage our time properly and didn’t get the chance to finish the exhibit, but we hope to go back there again together and check out the Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction exhibit as well.

Even though the staff there said that we would be able to finish Annie Leibovitz’s exhibition in 45 minutes, we spent nearly 2 hours there and still didn’t manage to finish the exhibit. So take a day off, that way you can take your time and look at the detail in each photograph.

Here’s a tip:

Singapore residents get special rates so bring your NRIC or Driver’s License to enjoy a discount.

Also, if you have a full day at the museum, ask for the Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction + Annie Leibovitz A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005 combo deal. If you’re a resident, it’ll cost you $24. But if you purchase the exhibits individually, it’ll set you back $33. So effectively, you’ll save $9! Not a resident? It’s okay, you save $11 on the 2 exhibit combo!

According to the ArtScience Museum, you’ll save $2 for every ticket you book in advance online. However, bear in mind that when you book from Sistic, you have to pay booking fees of $3.

There are other discounts too so do check out the ArtScience Museum website for more details and promotions.

And if you’re not sure where to buy tickets on the day itself, here are the locations of Marina Bay Sands’ Box Offices:

ArtScience Museum Lobby
Concierge Desk, Hotel Lobby Tower 1
Retail Concierge, The Shoppes L1
SkyPark Ticketing Counter, Tower 3 B1
Theatre, The Shoppes B1

Oh and do note that Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction is here until 28 July 2014 and Annie Leibovitz A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005 is here until 19 October 2014. So go before 28 July to enjoy the combo packages.

The Brat Reviews Annie Leibovitz’s A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005 Exhibition Personally, I prefer to go to museums on a weekday. On weekends there are usually too many people and I will feel rushed.

For someone with the memory of a goldfish, taking photographs to remember my holiday by is very important. That’s why I brought 2 8GB SD cards and even bought a new 32GB SD card just in case I run out of space. I had wanted to capture the beauty of Greece without having to worry about the lack of space you see.

I started using the 8GB card for my travels in Thessaloniki and Santorini first. And surprisingly it lasted me till our last day in Santorini. While at the top of Ancient Thera, I had to quickly change SD cards so I took out the spanking new 32GB card I bought and continued to snap away.

Now you must be wondering what does this have to do with some missing photographs. Well, it’s related because I lost the 32GB SD card with my photographs of Ancient Thera and Athens.

After I came home from Greece, I kept telling myself that I needed to transfer the photographs into my external hard drive. But I kept procrastinating and never got around to it. Now I’ll never have the chance to. You see, I have no clue as to where I last saw the SD card and can’t remember where I might have dropped it. I was devastated! Not just because it was a new SD card, but also because all the photographs I took in Athens are forever lost to me.

So how is it that I still have pictures of Athens? Well, luckily for me, I was hooked on Instagram at the time. With my DSLR, I don’t actually have to take any photographs with my iPhone. However, I found it easier to take a photograph for Instagram using my iPhone. So on top of snapping pictures with my DSLR I would take another one using my iPhone so I could share my travels with my friends instantly.

If not for Instagram, I would have nothing left of Athens to remember by. Whatever photos I do have of Athens were taken with my iPhone for my Instagram feed! Granted not everything was saved. Still, having something is better than nothing at all!

Here are my photographs I posted on Instagram while travelling in Athens…

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So the moral of the story is, if your friend takes a longer time snapping multiple shots of the same thing using a DSLR and a camera phone, don’t rush her. It could be all the photographic memories you are left with of that trip, especially if your friend is a scatterbrain like me.

Thanks Instagram!

Have you heard of Skimbaco Lifestyle’s Instagram Travel Thursday series? This post is a part of the Instagram Travel Thursday series hosted by SkimbacoLifestyle.com. And if you’re not sure what to write check out the posts by Not A Ballerina and House Of Anais. All photos in this post were published on my Instagram account. You can also participate on Instagram using #IGTravelThursday!

The Mystery of the Missing Photographs For someone with the memory of a goldfish, taking photographs to remember my holiday by is very important.

The Brat Reviews Maleficent (2014)


Poster from http://www.shockya.com

Director: Robert Stromberg
Written by: Linda Woolverton
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Sharlto Copley
Duration: 98 minutes

A coin has two sides. Well, so does the story of Sleeping Beauty.

We all know what happens to Princess Aurora on her 16th birthday in the original 1959 Disney animation Sleeping…

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My Bucket List – The Travel Edition


It wasn’t so long ago that I was enjoying myself in Greece, and it took all of 2 months before I started to feel the need to take to the skies and travel again. I was still feeling the pinch from my Greek adventure, so I considered going to Bali.

Believe it or not, I’ve never actually been to Bali until just a few weeks ago. In fact, there are lots of Asian countries and cities that I’ve not…

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The SIA Brat – In New York City, United States of America

[Museum Fun: Twisted Metal]

If I had been better at physics and maths, I might be an architect today. Alas, maths and science aren’t my strong suits so becoming an architect was not a feasible career path for me. That said, although I am not able to create architectural works of art, I appreciate them and enjoy taking photographs of building that fascinate me.

New York City has an eclectic architectural style. You can tell the boroughs apart just by looking at the surrounding buildings. Although I only managed to explore two thirds of Manhattan, I was not disappointed because I got to see so many architectural landmarks during my week in New York City. And one of the most fascinating buildings that has always piqued my interest is located at 1071 Fifth Avenue on the corner of East 89th Street in the Upper East Side – The Guggenheim.

I love the design of The Guggenheim. But it’s not the facade that I’m fascinated with, it’s the skylight in the centre of the museum that I adore. Look up while standing in the centre of the lobby of The Guggenheim and you’ll see what I mean.

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I’ve been wanting to go see The Guggenheim for the longest time. I think it shows considering how I went a little nuts playing with the different photography apps on my iPhone.

Since we were already at The Guggenheim, my friends and I decided to explore the museum and enjoy the exhibits on display. So we walked the spiral pathway all the way to the top floor of the museum. That was when I had my first taste of Abstract Expressionism.

The artist whose works were on display at The Guggenheim was John Chamberlain. I was fascinated by the way the metal pieces of various shapes, sizes, and colours were twisted together to form something new and very interesting. I won’t claim that I fully understand what the artist was trying to portray or say with his sculptures, but I could appreciate the work that went into the pieces.

I wish I could have taken some photographs of his works but photography is not permitted anywhere except in the lobby. I’m sure there were plenty of people who ignored the rules and snapped away, but I kept the shutterbug in me at bay and resisted the urge to photograph the pieces that I liked.

Even though I didn’t take any photographs, with the help of Google, I managed to find a few of my favourite John Chamberlain works for you to see. These photographs are not taken by me so if you want to see the original post, just click on the image and it’ll take you to the site.

John Chamberlain’s Onecaratstud during the Frieze art fair at Regent’s Park, London, in October 2010. Photograph: Ian Gavan/Getty Images

What a beautiful stud it is. I love the colours and the way the metal pieces twist and fold together to become this.

Miss Remember Ford, 1964. Photograph: http://web.guggenheim.org/exhibitions/chamberlain/

The first car I remember being driven around in was a Ford. It lived out it’s full 10 years with my family. In fact, the first car I ever drove after getting my driver’s licence was my mum’s Ford. I was devastated when my parents traded the Ford in for a Hyundai Matrix. It was an Auto car and I didn’t like it. Yes, this piece (Miss Remember Ford, 1964) reminded me of the Ford I miss so much.

I love shiny things. And I love the form of this piece. I can’t explain it, but there’s something about the curves on Hano, 1970 that draws me to it.

Women’s Voices, 2005. Photograph: http://web.guggenheim.org/exhibitions/chamberlain/#

It’s shiny, need I say more. But more than that I love how the metal is crumpled and crimped. There’s so much simplicity in the base, but when you get to the top of the structure, it’s so complicated yet so beautiful. It’s a shiny mess on the top, but in that chaos, I find myself trying to find understand its complexity by following each strand, piece by piece until I get to bottom. Why go through all that effort? To find where it all began of course. Then it dawns on me. I totally see why the artist calls this piece Women’s Voice. Do you see it too? What do you see?

John Chamberlain, Choices, installation view, 2012. Photograph: http://nowherelimited.com/john-chamberlain-choices.html 

Not everyone likes modern art and I can understand why. It’s a personal preference. For me the joy is in finding meaning from the pieces. Art is subjective as is film, television, music, and writing. I won’t say I know how to critique art, but I learn to appreciate how the pieces make me feel. Every art piece produced, modern or classic, has its own meaning for the artist. So why wouldn’t it be true of the audience or the consumer too? Each person will have their own interpretation and appreciation of an artwork. Some will hate it, some will love it.

That week in New York City, we never entered another modern art museum. I would have liked to have gone into Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) if we had the time. But one of my travelling buddies wasn’t a fan of modern art. So the furthest we went was to the MOMA gift shop. But it’s okay. New York city is by far my favourite city in the world. I’m sure I will find be back there one day. In the meantime, look out for my next post in the My Week In New York City – April 2012 series and read about my adventures in the concrete jungle.

What do you think?

Are you an art lover? Do you prefer classical or modern art? What are you thoughts about John Chamberlain’s artwork? 

My Week In New York City - April 2012 The SIA Brat - In New York City, United States of America If I had been better at physics and maths, I might be an architect today.


Natasha Bedingfield - Soulmate (by NBedingfieldVEVO)

Have you found your soulmate yet? What is your definition of soulmate?

Check out my thoughts about the subject matter here.

Source: youtube.com