Monday, November 30, 2015

Our first visit as N.E.mation! 10 Ambassadors & The Legendary Milo Thief

Since the very first time experiencing N.E.mation! 5 five years ago, I have always been amazed by the creativity and determination of all the teams in every N.E.mation! challenge. And they only seem to get better and more creative every year! The sky's the limit for these impressive kids!

What is N.E.mation! you ask? Well, N.E.mation! an annual digital animation competition organised by the good people at Nexus for youths to express their thoughts on Total Defence. These students, having no prior experience in animation before the competition, have been able to produce amazing video clips that were screened on free-to-air television! This year, the theme is "Together We Keep Singapore Strong", and as always, the winning team will win a trip to visit renowned animation studios is the USA!

This year, good things come in pairs, because I will be combining forces with my Man Man, Colin Chang, a.k.a. The Minute Man SG, as the ambassadors of our 2 teams! [The Man: "Hello Everybody!!!"] So throughout the rest of the N.E.mation blog posts, whenever you see square brackets with italic words in it, it's Colin speaking!

So without further ado, let's introduce the M&M [The Man: "That's short for Mint & MinuteManSG!"] teams!

Team Cedar3 #NE10C03

Our first team was a team of bubbly girls from Cedar Girls' Secondary School! Say hello to Tanya, Shyn, Kayla and GL from Team Cedar3! [MinuteManSG: "Cedar rocks!"]

The girls shared with us an interesting story on how they got their group name. Initially when they were submitting entries for the qualifying rounds, they were using group names that represented their school. E.g. Cedar1, Cedar2, Cedar3, Cedar4 etc. And after they got into the finals, they didn't know that they could actually change their group name, so they stuck to Cedar3!

But I think it's fated because they were the 3rd Cedar team, and they picked ambassador number 3 (ME!) during the drawing of ambassadors, and guess what is my favourite number? 3!! So it's no surprise that our group chat is called...

[MinuteManSG: "Why is 3333333333 smaller than 3? I don't understand??!!"]
It's a girl thing, you won't understand.

When we first got to their working area, there was no a single soul in sight. [MinuteManSG: "They must be eating snake!"] But before we could draw any wrong impressions of them being lazy and "eating snake", James brought us around the back of their working area to another room at the back, where we saw this...

The girls were busy tracing and drawing out some of their props using a projector!

[MinuteManSG: "What happened to your camera? Is it spoilt?"]

No, we intentionally blurred out the pictures so that we won't spoil the surprise for our readers when the video comes out! [MinuteManSG: "Ohhhhh..."]

[The Man: "Say cheese!"]

Anyway, while Tanya, Shyn and GL were busy drawing away, Kayla was in charge of the BBQ!

[MinuteManSG: "Wah! Still got food! I thought no food and drinks allowed?"]

Well, actually there wasn't really a BBQ, but she was given the very important job of making sure the projector didn't turn into an actual BBQ!

Keeping the projector cool is hard work...

[MinuteManSG: "I guess we can call her the projector's biggest fan!!"]

OMG... *Rolls Eyes*

We managed to peel them away from their work for a short chat to get to know them a little better!

Our first official proper photo together! Yay!

Chatting with girls from Team Cedar3...

Did you know that these girls were one of the youngest teams among this year's finalists? Not to worry girls! Don't worry about who is younger or older, just take it as all of you are finalists in this years N.E.mation! 10 competition, and every single one of you are standing on equal ground!

They even shared with us their timeline and schedules required to complete the project. Having only 3 weeks to produce a full length animation clip from scratch is really no joke, and I admire the passion and dedication these students must have to make it come true!

During the chat, we asked them what did they want to achieve at the end of this competition. The girls shared with us that they'd love to make more friends, sweethearts :)

As we were nearing the end of our session, we spotted the girls trying to move a huge piece of wood into their working area. They were having some difficulty trying to get it in without damaging the protective plastic sheets on the floor... naturally, our 2 muscular men came to the rescue! Woohoo!

[MinuteManSG: "M&M Movers to the rescue!"]
That's James, I used eye power instead... 

And to end it off, here's a little teaser for all of you. Can you guess what they have drawn here? It's going to be a part of their completed project!

[MinuteManSG: "I know! I know! It's some branches from a big starfruit tree!!"]

Cedar3 regularly pens their updates HERE.
Maybe they'll tell you what they've drawn.
Go read!

Team ZLS #NE10C10

Our second team that we were introduced to was Team ZLS from Guangyang Secondary School!
[MinuteManSG: "Guangyang Secondary rocks too!"]

Lutfi was not in the picture because he was overseas, 
but don't worry, we'll take another full group photo next week!

They too had an interesting story on how they formed their team name. The original trio who came up with the idea that got them into the finals were Zhi Xiang, Lufti and Shao Jun. So they took the first letter from each of the names to become Team ZLS!

They have a new unofficial Team name though, it's ZLSS.

[MinuteManSG: "But where did the last S come from? Why the sudden plural form?"]

Well, after getting into the finals, they enlisted the help of another of their schoolmates, Shofia, to help them with their drawings and animations! Hence the unofficial name ZLSS is formed.

[MinuteManSG: "Oh! Why don't you share how they met for the first time!"]

Oh yes! Shofia was previously from another team sent in by Guangyang Secondary, and both their teams were working in computer labs that were side-by-side, but divided by a glass panel. So the teams wanted to wish each other good luck, but because they were separated by a glass panel, they actually typed in their good luck message on someone's phone and used that to communicate through the glass panel! That's so smart and creative!

After a quick introduction, team ZLS guided us through their storyboard. I can't believe how creative our students can get these days! They portrayed their story in a very different and interesting way! This shows how much our students can achieve if we just give them enough space to explore and get creative! For someone with an attention span as short as mine, it's a miracle I stood and listened to the entire story with amusement.

Shofia also showed us how they used the Wacom tablets to bring their characters to life on screen! It was so interesting that I had to have a go at drawing something, even though I can really draw!

Can you guess which one was drawn by me?

[MinuteManSG: "Wow! That's a cute drawing of a girls head! Impressive!"]

Hahaha. Well, actually I only drew the heart shape and coloured it in with my name. The girl's head was actually drawn by Shofia! She's so talented right?

[MinuteManSG: "Oh. In that case, I'm taking back my compliant and giving it to Shofia."]

Here's a preview of some of the characters that you will be seeing in their completed video. I love the ah gong and ah ma the most!

If you realised from the pictures, team ZLS are a little shy and they don't readily jump into photos! But did you know that although Zhi Xiang seems like the smallest and quietest member of the group, he is actually the group leader of team ZLS?

[MinuteManSG: "This just proves that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover!"]

By now, you should have been able to guess that their clip has something to do with soccer. And it was made even more evident by the soccer ball that was sitting under one of the tables of their working space. All the boys in the team love playing soccer and Shofia loves watching! 

So it was only fair that we asked the boys to show of some of their soccer skills! Colin sportingly volunteered to pass the ball around with Shao Jun...

Shao Jun displaying his soccer skills with a fancy flick

[MinuteManSG: "Phew. Ok. I think that was enough exercise for 1 day."]

It was so much fun to see them pass, flick and juggle the ball with such skill and ease.

Their storyline is really very creative and we can't wait to see the end product. We are sure that this is going to be a very impressive video!

And of course, how could we just had to end the session with the mandatory wefie! Everyone say Lufti!!

[MinuteManSG: "LUFTI!!!"]

Members of Team ZLS pen down their thoughts HERE.

The Legendary Milo Thief

During our chat with the teams, we heard rumours of an illusive Milo Thief, who would steal packets of ice milo from the N.E.mation fridge. However, no one has been able to spot this sneaky fella or catch him in action... until now...

While we were preparing to leave, from the corner of our eyes we spotted a blurry image zoom past behind us. With my quick reflexes, I whipped out my camera and managed to snap a couple of photos using the slo-mo mode... and managed to catch him red-handed!

[MinuteManSG: "What the... You didn't tell me about this..."]

Although we couldn't identify him due to his disguise and lack of clarity in the photos in the photos, I'm sure we will be able to apprehend him next week!

[MinuteManSG: "Well... Er... I think... I know that I... I mean... this guy should not have stolen the ice milos from the fridge, but... Er... I think we should give me... I mean him... a chance to explain himself. He probably has a very good reason why I... I mean he... had to resort to stealing..."]

And of course, a very special Thank You message to James!

Oh, and if you are wondering how we managed to snap some of these lovely photos with all 4 of our arms in the picture, well, the ever helpful James from Animagine kindly volunteered to be our assistant cameraman for the day. Thank you so much James for taking these wonderful shots as well as gracing us with the honour of being able to come back again this year to be team ambassadors of N.E.mation! 10!

Don't forget to stay tuned for more updates as we check on how our teams are progressing every week! See you next week!

For more stories, videos, photos and updates on N.E.mation! 10, visit

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Over-Spent HongKong Trip from Day 2 - 5 in Tai O & Within Hong Kong Island

I guess my post-holiday trauma for my Hong Kong trip last month has finally simmered down.
As much as I enjoyed certain aspects of this holiday, that would have to be my travel mates and the beautiful Tai-O village, I am still quite traumatised by how much I've splurged on for this trip. 

I think what surprised me most was the cost of our meals and admission tickets for the mainstream tourist attractions. It was only until the 3rd or 4th day that I came to realise I should be dividing the currency exchange rate by roughly 5 instead of 20 (Taiwan's about 20).  

For something which I thought I was spending S$10 on, it was actually S$40!
Which explains how damage sprouted out of control. 

To round it up, here are the places I visited in Hong Kong from Day 2 - 5 and some items I've spent on (estimated value).  Check out the rest of my damage on top of the amount I spent in Day 1. Unless it's for a business trip or a short getaway to the quieter parts of Hong Kong island like Discovery Bay (which again is an expensive place), I don't think I'm going back to Hong Kong anytime soon. 

Now just before the picture-bombs begin,
THANK YOU Colin, Yongwei, Smith and Chris for keeping me sane and bringing me so much laughter throughout the trip, best travel kakis! I couldn't have survived the 5 days without these fun-loving people. In fact, this trip was made most memorable and fulfilling solely because of the company I was with.

THANK YOU for the fun and love!

Day 2: Tai-O Fishing Village, Big Buddha & Ngong Ping Crystal Cable Car

Colin and I decided to check out earlier from Discovery Bay > Sunny Bay > Tung Chung station.
Travelling time: About 30min.

The baggage storage area is NOT at the MTR station.
You'll have to cross the overhead bridge to the opposite shopping mall to deposit your baggage. We took another 10-15min to find the lockers for the baggage. Then another 10-15min to settle the luggage storage.

1. The coin-changing machine next to locker is not working.
2. You can only use coins for the lockers.
3. You have to give EXACT change.
4. The lockers only accept HKD$10 coins.
5. The customer service counter does not provide any change either.
6. Shop owners are not willing to provide change for you. Colin finally found a kind soul at Life convenient store to help us with the change.

HIGHLIGHT: Please bring exact change if you wish to use those lockers.

The lockers were spacious and clean on a lighter note.
We used the Large locker, enough for 1 x biggest-sized luggage.
For the jumbo size locker, my luggage only occupied about half of the space.

Estimated size of my luggage: 

Total cost for 6HR luggage storage: HKD$80 = SGD$16
(Estimated Currency exchange rate from Singapore Dollars to Hongkong Dollars is about 5.0)

The mall to store your luggage at Tung Chung MTR Station: 

There are TWO bus terminals at Tung Chung. 
1. One is next to Citygate Mall. 
2. The other one is a 2min walk pass Ngong Ping Cable Car Station. 

To go to Tai-O Fishing Village, take bus 11 from the bus terminal further down as you walk pass Ngong Ping Cable Car Station.  Tai-O is about 40min bus ride away with plenty of scenic views.

Alight at the entrance of Tai-O fishing Village. 
Easy to know when to alight because the name of the stop is reflected on the LED screen in front of the bus.

It says 'Tai-O Ferry Terminal'.

My favourite HK bus journey.  :)

20min bus ride to visit the village and catch views of the Wild Dolphins.
Ride: HKG$20 per person (SGD$4)

Tai-O is a beautiful place to chill and take lots of ootds.
Experience a different type of holiday when you dine at any of their river side cafes.
The place is so small you can finish exploring the whole village within 1 hour by foot.

From the Tai-O, take another 15-20min bus ride and you'll reach the Ngong Ping + Big Buddha. 
My first visit there and i like the peace and serenity in the area. 
We also walked further in to explore a deserted village and wisdom path. 
A breezy place despite Summer. 

Visit Ngong Ping: FREE.

Please DO NOT eat anything from this stall right at the entrance of Ngong Ping Village.
Not nice and expensive.

We had a bowl of Sesame paste, cold Tao Huay & 3 Siew Mais. 

Siew Mai: Hard
Taohuay: Blend
Sesame Paste: Blend

The cleanest chinese ingot i've ever seen!
Actually it's the first clean one.
The ones in Singapore and Malaysia will be vandalised with lots of 4D numbers.

Crystal Cable Car Single Trip: HKD$180/pax  (SGD$36/person)
Q-time: 10min

*Afraid of heights*

Day 3: Mongkok, Eaton Hotel

For the rest of the trip, Smith took us around most of the time and we're thankful for that.
We were mostly exploring the streets, local culture and staying around ur area - Mongkok.

Eaton Hotel is pleasantly affordable, clean and spacious.
It comes with free access to their gym, roof swimming pool and massage chairs.
About SGD$120 per night.

It is located just opposite Temple Street, 5minute walk to Mongkok, 5min bus ride to Tsim Sha Tsui and the public transport to the airport is just across the street!

Stay at Eaton Hotel if you're going to Hong Kong!

Xi Chap Lala is THE BEST FOOD ever!
Smith and I alone whacked 1 plate each.

SGD$10 per plate.

Hui Lau Shan: HKD$35 per cup = SGD$7
We had the mango ice 2 days in a row.

Day 4 & 5: Ladies' Street, Tsim Sha Tsui, Lan Kwai Fong, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Temple Street

Mostly touch-and-go visiting.
We ate non-stop.
Minimal Shopping.

Shopping Damage
1 pair of normal leggings at Trendy Zone: HKD$210 = SGD42
1 3/4 pvc/leather skirt at Trendy Zone: HKD$450 = SGD$90
1 x Vivienne Westwood watch: SGD$450

*Hole in the pocket*

I LOVE the food sold at Leng Leng eatery in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Address: Shop 22, G/F, New Mandarin Plaza,, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Expensive or not, you decide. 
As for me, I don't mind lavishing on the food again because it's really very yummy. 

Rough Food Pricing
5 Curry Fishballs cost HKD$20 = SGD$4

Large Pig Intestines: HKD$12 per stick (SGD$2.40)
We bought 5 sticks and finished it in 5 minutes.

We spent about SGD$50 for a few sticks & a bowl of Che Zhai Noodles.

Enjoyed the live band performance along the street of Wan Zhai! :)

Managed to step into Causeway Bay once in my lifetime just before last train. :)

The pricing for their set breakfast at Australian Dairy Co. has risen to HKD32 per set instead of HKD$29 last year. 

Scrambled eggs
Macaroni Soup
1 cup of Tea/coffee

Service: still as bad as forever.
They never seem to allow you to browse the menu.

Steamed milk for HKD$26 (SGD$5) per bowl. 

The mantis shrimps were so yummy but cost a bomb.
Cravings satisfied though.
Those I find in Singapore can never taste as fresh.

HKD$100 per shrimp (SGD$20 per shrimp)

We decided to try their mcdonald's just before we board the airport bus opposite Eaten Hotel. 

Mcdonald's value meals are about HKD$35 per set (SGD$7).
About the same price as Singapore and some even more expensive.
Look at the menu, do the math.

They taste about the same as that of Singapore's.

Mummy Chris and I choping the seats while the boys went to get mcdonalds.

The packaging is too cute to resist!

Box: Actual serving.

The box of chicken looks so stingy so we tried to stack potato croquettes and nuggets underneath to make this picture look fuller and more appetising!


The cheapest way to Hong Kong International Airport is perhaps taking the public transport A21.
 The bus ride is about 1hr from Temple Street and cost HKD$33 per trip (SGD$6.60).
We waited 30min for the bus.

Very packed and some of them had to stand.
We're fortunate to get some seats for ourselves.
It's a double-decker and you can only place your luggages at the lower deck.

Someone is extremely happy to be coming home.


Colin and I spent a total of about SGD$3800 in total for this 5D4N HK trip. 
For the first time in my life, I felt the pinch.

Bye Hong Kong!
See you in a long long time.