For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.


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Nature VS Concrete

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with my university friend, Darren, who has been interested in photography ever since our university days. It is definitely fun and relaxing to do a photoshoot with a friend! He had a ready theme in mind, and I was there to execute his vision. His theme was, you guessed it. Nature VS Concrete. It was to be a juxtaposition of these two elements which seemed to be entwined in an eternal battle with it other, but complement each other so perfectly in photography in their altercation. Indeed, photography, just like acting, is a lot harder than it looks. I learned a lot from him, for modelling is not exactly my line of work. The placement of hands and body curvatures; I didn’t have an idea about anything, no matter how many times I’d binge-watched different countries’ versions of ‘America’s Next Top Model’. Now I realised, deep thought is put into every seemingly effortless pose.

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The last two poses were almost identical, but one interesting thing I found out on the shoot was how a photographer’s eye works from normal people’s. I had liked the first one, indeed, I was enraptured by it because of the softness of my gaze, I have never really seen myself looking that way before. Yet, as a photographer, Darren quickly pointed out that the angle of my hand on my head was awkward as my fingers couldn’t be seen, though he agreed my look was on point! What do you all think? 😉


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Dreamworld – Big 9 Thrill Rides (SBTS)

Final episode of Science Behind the Scream took me to Australia, Gold Coast, again. This time it is at the biggest theme park in Gold Coast, Dreamworld. I have heard from so many people about the exciting, heart-stopping rides in Dreamworld such as the Tower of Terror II, so I was beyond thrilled to have the chance to finally experience the rides firsthand.

In the final episode, I had to challenge the famed Big 9 Thrill Rides, and challenged them I did. I have listed the rides in order of their thrill factor, from least thrilling to most. Just to make it clear, this list is my own personal preference of course.

Tail Spin, is a fun ride where you strap yourself into one of the mini-aeroplanes and then get rotated on an inclined circle circumscribing 1.0m off the ground to 22m high, at highest speed of 33km/h. You can choose to glide along or be like me, spun 360 degrees by controlling the carriage wings. But one thing to note, the carriage wings do require some skills to control before you can achieve the dizzying 360 spinning effect. It took some practice for me and a few takes before I could start the plane spinning. I ended up with pretty sore arms in the end, but I felt totally accomplished.

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Hot Wheels SideWinder, is one of the tallest, high-speed (90km/h) gravity rollercoasters in the Southern Hemisphere. The fun part is the music that pumps through the carriage throughout the ride, amplifying the adrenaline pumping in my blood.

The Claw,  propels its riders nine storeys high (approx. 27.1m high) and swings them back and forth like a giant pendulum up to a speed of 75km/h while twisting 360 degree full circles. It swung really high indeed, and I could see most of the park when I was high in the sky, but because of its relative low speed, the thrill factor was moderate at best.

Pandamonium, apparently has 2 lines, the ‘not-so crazy’ line and the ‘seriously crazy’ line. I only took the ‘seriously crazy’ line of course, whereby I was sent soaring 8 meters high round and round, side to side and upside down at up to 3.8 G-forces. It was a pretty fun ride, especially since the safety harness keeps the riders firmly in place, unlike the similar ride in Taiwan Lihpao, Energy Storm, where the harness was made up of a thin metal rod that couldn’t prevent me from sliding perilously to the edge of my seat during the 360 spins. Now I could scream and laugh without fearing for my life.

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Mick Doohan’s Motocoaster, has a track with varying elevation and sharp turn-corners, reaching just over 72 km/h. The tracks almost seem to emulate an off-road rugged course a motorbike racer would take. The highlight of the ride are the life-size replicas of 500cc racing bikes. It is the first time I get to ride a rollercoaster with my legs astride and hands on the handles of a bike. I definitely felt like a hot biker chick.

WipeOut was again, another ride similar to one that I took in Taiwan Lihpao, Galactuc Spin. But the ride’s thrill factor definitely was more than severals notches higher. Its two independent rotating arms lash out in erratic 360 degree twists and turns that reach 14.5m high. And just when I thought the ride is beginning to end, and I finally can get a breather, a second tidal wave surged and the arms break into spasmodic whirls again.

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WipeOut on the left and The Claw on the right behind me.

Giant Drop, was officially declared the ‘tallest, vertical free-fall ride in the world’ by the Guinness Book of World Records in their 1999 edition. I was sent up the tower rather slowly, till I reached about 39 storeys (119m high). There the carriage just halted, suspended in mid-air. I was nervous, and babbled whatever little I could think of to the camera, because truthfully my mind was a blank. I didn’t know when the carriage would drop, and the wait felt like eternity. When the imminent drop came, the speed went up to a whopping 135 km/h, and my body lifted from my seat during the sharp descent.

BuzzSaw is the highest inversion ride experience in the Southern Hemisphere. It began with a slow and suspenseful 46m vertical ascent until I was dangled upside-down 15 storeys in the air before the carriage free-falls through a 360 degree heart roll, plummeting down a final vertical drop at speeds of up to 105km/h.

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Tower of Terror II, was the first ride in the world to break the 100 km/h barrier. The carriage blasts backwards rocketing out of a 206m tunnel at rapid speed hitting up to 161 km/h in just 7 seconds. I tried my hardest to keep my head to the headrest but the G-force was too strong. At its peak at 100m high, I was able to admire the entire park’s scenery for several seconds before plummeting back to the ground…face first screaming in exhilaration into the tunnel.

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The spine-chilling, blood-curdling entrance to Tower of Terror II

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At the back side of Tower of Terror II you can see a tiny carriage at the top. That’s the Giant Drop. Yes they are at the same tower.

With all this ranking you might think Tower of Terror II was my favourite ride, but strangely no. It was… (drumrollllllWipeOut! Why? Tower of Terror II, whilst being the most thrilling, was the shortest ride as well. BuzzSaw too, had a relatively short ride time despite its high thrill factor. But WipeOut lasted pretty long, and the crazy rotating arms really sent us passengers literally spinning over the edge. I am all for the length of the ride, because that to me, would justify the waiting time. Well, though I didn’t have to wait for the rides in Dreamworld because of awesome filming privileges. But still, as a normal ticketing customer, one definitely looks for value for the price they paid, and the time they waited. With an average waiting time of 2 hours for each ride during peak days, wouldn’t you want the thrill to last longer as well?

Now, just wanna throw in a few shots of my free time in Gold Coast. For you can’t really say you have been to Gold Coast without visiting its famous beach. It was fortunate we managed to end early on the last day so we could make a quick visit to the beach before the sun set. Now just soak in the beauty of nature. Wild, dangerous, gorgeous waves crashing into soft sand. And when the waves retreated, you could see the reflection of the sky above.

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Everland – A Lovebirds’ Eden (SBTS)

Before I get into my experience in Everland, I need to make a quick statement on why my face seemed swollen on certain shots, if anyone has noticed. After a few nights of wondering what was causing my face and neck to itch terribly and break out into rashes that I could luckily cover up on the first day, but however turned into a swelling that no amount of cosmetics could hide, we finally figured out the cause. And it was the bedsheets!!! After requesting for a change, even when the hotel receptionist insisted that they change it every day, the next day (which was the final day in Korea and filming has already ended!), the swell finally subsided and my face and neck no longer itched. I had wanted to look like a Korean beauty in my Everland filming, alas, a pig head is forever recorded on film!  Oh well, such is life. On a bright note, I saw cherry blossoms! They still weren’t in full bloom, but I managed to capture a photo of one up close. So lovely and fragile.

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Now, moving on to Everland. Everland is based in Yongin, a city in Gyeonggi-do province, South Korea. It is South Korea’s biggest theme park, and the ride that everyone stresses is a must-ride is the T-express. It is the steepest wooden rollercoaster in the world, with a drop angle of 77 degrees and maximum speed of 104 km/h, it is the second best ride I have ever rode in the series and in my whole life. What’s the first? Arkham Asylum. Want to know why? Check out the Movie World post to see why Arkham Asylum tops my list!

But back to T-express. I have always wanted to ride on a wooden rollercoaster ever since I was about seven, and finally got my wish fulfilled. It didn’t disappoint me one bit. Despite its lack of inversions, the thrills it provided more than made up for it. The first drop was really high, and the speed made me feel like I was plummeting to my screaming doom. I loved it!! Also, because it is made of wood, the ride is particularly bumpy, and I loved this very organic, nostalgic feel to it. As modern coasters are all made of steel, the rides do feel a little too smooth in comparison.

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The crew with our Korean fixer and the most adorable, lovable little contestant in this series. We felt so bad for him when he had to challenge me on T-Express for this ride can be a little daunting even for adults, not to mention a little boy barely 11. He was a brave little soul to have conquered the odds!

Other than this iconic ride, Everland is a great place for all wildlife lovers with its Lost Valley dotted with animals that you would only see on National Geographic or in Africa. You get to travel in this convertible amphibian vehicle which turns from a bus to a boat the moment it gets into the waters, and get really up close with this particular giraffe which has absolutely zero guards around humans as long as it can get its food. This giraffe will stick its head into the window just to grab pieces of lettuce from the park keepers. All my life, having just seen giraffes on the screen, it was quite amazing to see one just inches from my face… I was quite terrified to realise just how big a giraffe really is. Other than this fascinating experience, I got to see a few exotic animals that I haven’t seen before and was quite taken by them. Everland is indeed is a huge theme park, to be able to ride in rollercoasters and experience wildlife rides all in one place is pretty much impossible in Singapore, where even finding adequate space for housing is a problem for our tiny nation.

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Fennec Fox: found in North Africa and Asia, it is the smallest and cutest fox in the world. They’re the size of a chihuahua! I really wanted one as a pet. 

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Black-Tailed Prairie Dog: Cute little rodents native to the grasslands of North America

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I was mostly attracted to the interesting bit of information that states that white-handed gibbons are the only apes that stick to their mates and further adds, “These happily married couples sing of their love in a duet.” This park is definitely marketed to couples.

Aside from the caption above, you will soon see why I proclaim it as a lovebirds’ paradise. Besides being inundated by a rainbow of tulips because it was tulip season, Everland also has rose gardens with four romantic themes. The rose gardens with its various themes: Victorian Garden, Maze Garden, Venus Garden, and Cupid Garden, were all not in bloom yet, as it was still early spring. But with the installation of artificial white roses that light up at night, along with romantic Cupid statues and photo-taking booths specifically for couples, love songs filling the air, many young couples can be seen posing for their selfie sticks.

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At this beautiful moment we had actually been wishing that the LED lights were warmer as we were freezing to death. 

 


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LegoLand Malaysia – Art of Building (SBTS)

LegoLand Malaysia is a kid’s paradise. Most adults would probably not enjoy this amusement park  much, since it seems primarily targeted towards children. Unless of course, you are an avid fan of Lego. Still, there are some pretty spectacular sights to see, such as the famous MiniLand, and the Star Wars MiniLand. Star Wars MiniLand will be fun for any Star Wars fanatic, especially since the exhibits are coupled with lights and sound effects to recreate the different Star Wars worlds. But I was definitely more enraptured by the landmarks of Asia, as they are real places that I can actually visit one day. After seeing the lego-sized versions of these beauties, I was compelled to see them in their true resplendent forms. Hopefully, someday…

…Meanwhile let’s admire what the nimble hands of creative individuals can recreate using merely Lego bricks.

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The pristine white of Taj Mahal (Agra, India)

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The magnificent ruins of Angkor Wat (Angkor, Cambodia)

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This is home, truly. 

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The Forbidden City with The Great Wall of China as its backdrop! (Beijing, China)

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Floating Karaweik Hall glided in gold (Yangon, Myanmar)

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The beautiful scenic temple Tanah Lot (Bali,Indonesia)

 

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Topping of with, a cool Jedi and her light sabre! 

 

 

 


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ChimeLong Paradise – Welcome to Paradise (SBTS)

ChimeLong Paradise is a theme park enthusiast’s paradise. It is located in Panyu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, and is the largest amusement park in China with over 60 attractions. It is really well maintained; I didn’t catch a single sight of any trash anywhere, much less spit. It really defied my imagination, because I must admit, my imagination was a bit, well, truthfully, very much inclined towards the negative side. I had thought the worst, since it was China, and all the horror stories about China’s lifts and escalators occurred just before I went there. And if normal facilities like lifts and escalators could malfunction so terribly, what about rollercoasters with all its twists and loops??? I was pretty much afraid that it would be my last amusement park ever, but once I reached there, it dawned on me that my fears were unfounded.

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My fears abated, my enthusiasm skyrocketing, I started to ease into my first ride, which turned out to be the most stimulating ride in ChimeLong. It was the Dive Coaster. It peaks at 60 metres and its speed is highest at 110km/h! I was required to raise my hands in the air while peering down into my ere long 60-metre high descent and say my lines just before the vertical plummet. My first try was a fail, because I said the lines too fast before the rollercoaster dived down, but how could I really estimate well on my first try right? But I got it right on my second try!

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Behold the scream-inducing machine behind me. Dive Coaster in its tall glory.

The 10-inversion rollercoaster was a little drier in comparison, surprisingly, because it does look really quite intimidating, but once the coaster started to move, the ride seemed rather slow, and it really felt quite slow when I was in it. I found out that its maximum speed is only 72km/h, so despite the many inversions, the relatively sluggish rate at which the coaster moves dampens much of the fun.

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More of my big face than the 10-inversions rollercoaster, oops.

Actually, one ride left an unprecedented deep impression on me, and that is the Bumper Car ride. I hadn’t played bumper cars ever since I was a child, so it was a really fun drive down the memory lane.

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I guess Christmas made the theme park even more inviting and further allayed my fears.


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Ocean Park – Marine Marvels (SBTS)

It’s been a while since I updated mainly because my Internet had been down and also because of my work. But I’m back! Finally!

When I went to Ocean Park to film, the focus was mainly on the animals and education on the conservation of these beautiful creatures. So I only got to ride on two rides, The Flash and Hair Raiser. They were both fun in their own ways, but Hair Raiser is faintly more thrilling with its top speed of 88km/h and being so near to the South China Sea that at times it felt like we were at the edge of a cliff and plummeting into the sea. Wheeeee.

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Although it was a pity I couldn’t try out other rides, I loved the old school carnival style of Ocean Park, especially the big clownish mouth entrance of Hair Raiser. Of course, since I am avid lover of National Geographic, it was a marvel to be able to witness the magnificence of the animals surrounding me, particularly dolphins, since I had always wanted to see them in real life. Dolphins are such beautiful, intelligent creatures.

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The closest I got to a dolphin XD

Though, bearing in mind of the recent Silverback Gorilla Harambe’s incident, these animals, however beautiful and intelligent they may be, they still belong to the wild. You can take them out of the wild, but you can never take the wild out of them. It is definitely tragic that such a rare animal is lost forever, but I believe we will all learn a lesson from it. Whether he really meant to harm the child or he was protecting the child, we will never know ( I was quite befuddled, as there were instances of him treating the child tenderly, but the dragging of the kid as if he were just a rag doll, well when I saw that I was pretty much horrified). I think they likely pulled the trigger because of the way he dragged the child about (which is highly likely just his way of pulling his hand to pull him up to safety), it could have caused serious injuries to the kid. I don’t believe the child’s mother was at fault, I have been lost in a shopping centre before when I was a kid, it wasn’t due to my mom’s negligence she’s a great mom, but there will definitely always be a time when a child can just slip away from a parent in the blink of an eye, especially for a parent who had to take care of multiple children. The zoo on the other hand, should really look into the barrier between humans and animals, because ultimately, we all have our own territories that we belong to. Trespassing causes tension and might lead to violence if handled incorrectly. If the barrier had really been adequate, how could a child slip in so easily? So zoos should really start to examine how to strengthen the barriers between animals and us to prevent the future occurrence of such a devastating loss.

Oh well, enough of that incident, because I don’t really think there is a black and white to this anyway. Everyone has their own idea on who’s right and who’s wrong, the blame game never really ends. Moving on, I was blown away by the massive dome of the Grand Aquarium. At 5.5 metres wide, it is the largest dome in the world! I definitely felt like Ariel underneath the dome that weaved shimmering blue watery light into the grounds. I almost broke into ‘Part of Your World’ rendition, but stopped myself just in time. My mind was still singing though. I had a great time prancing around under the dome, pretending I was swimming with a gorgeous tail.

I wish I had more time to cover more rides, but filming in Hong Kong was so hectic as I had to film 3 episodes including the first 2 Disneyland ones so there definitely wasn’t time to explore other rides out of filming. But I did have a visual feast with all the majestic animals showcasing their sheer beauty to me.

 

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The only shark I will ever dare to hug.

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Selfie with a panda.


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Movie World – Battle between Heroes and Villains (SBTS)

I have always been a fan of superheroes, and lately, super villains as well. There is something just so intriguing about villains. I happened to catch a few minutes of Gotham, and Robin Lord Taylor’s rendition of Oswald Cobbleworth drew me in like moth to a flame. Cory Michael Smith as Edward (Ed) Nygma was good too. I only saw a few seconds of their chemistry onscreen (in a commercial), and boy was it sizzling in a sinister way. Sadly I don’t have much time to catch up on this drama. But I digress.

Warner Bros. Movie World Gold Coast is definitely for comic hero lovers like me, where you can see superheroes in the flesh. And if you are a fan of the dark side as well, let me tell you this, the Joker and his partners-in-crime are absolute fun. They are hilarious and slightly mental, totally true to their characters.

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The show opens with me riding BATWING Spaceshot. It has a height of 61 metres and is at its fastest at 64km/h. It is a pretty fun ride whereby you can up the thrill factor easily by swinging your hands up in the air, and you will feel yourself lifted off the seat as you fall. Don’t be afraid, for you are still very well protected by the safety belts. Life your hands up high in the air and let the adrenaline flow!

SUPERMAN Escape accelerates from 0 to 100 km in just 2 seconds (!), and if you have seen the show you probably might think that Superman Escape is the best ride, but despite the cool effects within the tunnel and the super jet speed of the coaster, I was blown away by ARKHAM ASYLUM rollercoaster instead.

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When I was just a little girl, I often fantasied about what will I be. Mainly super heroine, or a fairy princess.

ARKHAM ASYLUM reaches a top speed of 85km/h, not as fast as Superman Escape, but it is the 5 inversions (1 roll over, 1 twist, 1 sidewinder and 2 in-line twist) of the rollercoaster made the rollercoaster clearly as mad as its name. If you listened closely there were times when my shrieks went off the meter, nearly spoiling our poor sound-man’s ears. These ear-splitting screams occur whenever I thought my legs were going to ram against the rollercoaster track ahead of me, as my legs were suspended. Somehow, this particular rollercoaster creates the illusion that you are always going to collide into the tracks, making it extremely thrilling. Also, this rollercoaster ride is perhaps the longest ride I have taken so far, as compared to other rides, they are usually done after a major slide, like the Superman Escape, but Arkham Asylum seemed to go on and on. So it would definitely be worth two hours of waiting!

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See this eldritch building against the ominous sky? I love it.

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They didn’t allow me to wear shoes for this ride (proof of how it insane it is). Luckily I painted my toenails!

Oddly, the final challenge, which usually is the scariest rollercoaster that I would have to ride in the show, wasn’t that scary. With a 121 degree-drop, GREEN LANTERN Coaster has the steepest drop of the Southern hemisphere, but its top speed is only 66km/h, so it is quite mild. If I had taken either Superman Escape or Arkham Asylum I don’t think I would have even said a single audible word during the challenge, much less think up multiples of 7.

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One ride which wasn’t featured in the show but totally worth mentioning is the SCOOBY-DOO Spooky Coaster. Its top speed is 45km/h. As far as spooky goes, it is only Scooby-Doo standard, which is very bearable for me. But the roller coaster has awesome state-of-the-art animatronics, many sharp twists and turns and some unexpected drops, which were great fun!

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I didn’t think to take any pictures of Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster, so here are some behind the scenes photos instead! This is one where I’m pretending to sing.

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Such cooperative villains. But their replies were often peppered with sarcastic remarks and sly smirks, they were always in character, especially Harley Quinn. So cool!

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That’s all, folks!