Categories
Asian

Thai Lunches

The Thai restaurant across the road from the office loves us as customers. We go there for lunch at least twice a week. Funny thing is that we tend to order the same few dishes, but often get different tasting food, depending on the chef that day, what his or her definition of “hot” is, and the alignment of the planets and moons.

One of the few dishes that never fails, however, is the Phanaeng Curry (“Panang” as is spelt in their menu). It appears to be the one almost universal constant in taste and spiciness level. Always served tongue-scorchingly hot, with pleasant level of spice and thickness of the texture in the curry.

Categories
Vespa

Vespa

An old riding friend of mine got in touch today, after coming across my phone number buried in his contact list. I suppose he might be doing a sweep of his friends list. He asked if I still have the Vespa.

We haven’t been in contact for a while. Turns out, he had previously bought a Vespa, sold it, and is now buying another Vespa. I laughed to myself. I know very well that feeling – once a Vespa rider, always a Vespa rider. No other two-wheeler compares.

Just the other day, I was getting ready to ride to work when a guy pulled up outside my house. He walked up the driveway, introduced himself and complimented me on my Vespa. He said that he’s just bought one recently and is really enjoying the ride. Strange then that he was driving a car that day, but still…

And it’s a common story in this global Vespa community. Years ago when I rode a different Vespa, I get compliments on the bike all the time. People admire them. When Vespa riders ride past each other on the road, they smile to each other. It doesn’t seem common for Vespa riders to wave, like motorbikers do sometimes, but the smile is way friendlier, don’t you think?

Of course, if cost is not an issue, I’ll own several different motorbikes and scooters of various makes and models. If I can only have one, however, it’s going to be a Vespa.

Vespa Sprint 150
A modern incarnation of the classic Italian scooter – Vespa Sprint 150 (2016)
Categories
Animals Pentax DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 Pentax K-5

Whale of a Time

Back in 2006 when I toured New Zealand, I stayed in Kaikoura for a few days over winter hoping that the weather would clear up enough for the whale watch cruise ship to be able to go out for whale sightings. It didn’t happen.

Fast forward, oh, 13 years and that chance came out of nowhere. It’s also the really rare time where I deliberately chose the SMC Pentax DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 lens for “serious” photography. I don’t have any other long lenses, so that made the decision really easy!

Whale Tail
Whale Tail

As the saying goes… the best camera (or lens) is the one that you have with you at the time. This may be the cheapest store-bought lens that I’ve ever paid for, but it’s taken one of the most memorial-to-me photos I’ve ever taken. Yes, it’s the typical cliché image of a diving whale, but it brought back vivid memories of that trip, which was a Christmas present for me 🙂

Categories
Baking

Einhornkacke

It started a couple of Christmases ago when I had to try my hands at baking. You see, I was invited to a German Christmas gathering and I had to bring some home baking as per tradition. Or so, I was told.

I’ve never baked ever in my life, except for the few attempts at mixing some premixed bread flour with yeast and water, and switching on the bread making machine. That’s not baking, but rather more a primary school science experiment. Even then, I wasn’t always successful.

Panicked, I asked a German friend for help. She recommended a foolproof recipe that can’t possibly go wrong. It was for Alpenbrot (“Alpine Bread”), essentially a chocolate and cinnamon biscuit with a hint of cardamom and cloves. Very Christmassy, and very tasty, too!

It was however a very dark looking thing, and looks like animal poo before it is cut into the correct Alpenbrot shape. German Friend #2 named it Katzenkacke – cat poo. The name stuck.

Einhornkacke (“Unicorn poo”) is the evolution of Katzenkacke. It is Alpenbrot with rainbow candy sprinkles. Yum!

Einhornkacke Unicorn Poo
Named by a German friend as Einhornkacke (“Unicorn poo”)

Of course, if you know Alpenbrot, you’ll notice that the shape is all wrong. This is because I wanted to maximise the cookie dough per oven tray, and that’s why it’s rectangular. It’s the mind of an engineer, says German Friend #2. He should know, he’s a German engineer.

Categories
Holiday Snaps Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Pentax K-5

Pentax K-5 and DA 18-55mm

It must quite a few years ago since I last shot with my 9-year-old Pentax K-5 and the kit lens, a SMC Pentax DA 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 AL WR (to give it its proper name…). I tend to just shoot with a “compact” Fujifilm X100T these days, as I love the Fujifilm colours and rangefinder styling, and even when I do shoot with the Pentax K-5, the lenses that I stick on them tend to be prime lenses (having also own the optically excellent SMC Pentax FA 31/1.8, 50/1.4 and 77/1.8 lenses).

An upcoming trip to Europe got me thinking about shooting with zoom lenses again, instead of the fixed-lens Fujifilm X100T which had been my go-to travel camera over the years. Today, I thought I’ll try to get reacquainted with this fancy new zoom lens wizardry.

Now, I know that the kit zoom lenses (I also own the SMC Pentax DA 50-200 f/4-5.6 ED WR) aren’t the sharpest tools in the catalogue, but are they decent enough for travel photography? I hope to make some test shots and determine that. Here are some shallow depth-of-field shots with close-focus at f/5.6.

Here’s some wider depth-of-field shots, with medium-focus at f/5.6.

And here’s a single low-light shot in a dimly-lit museum.

These shots were taken with the shorter, more travel-friendly 18-55mm lens. I don’t think they turn out too badly, certainly better than what any of my cellphones can capture.