Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sultan Mosque (Masjid Sultan) Arab Street, Kampong Glam, Singapore

“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” – Moorish proverb

Sultan mosque, also known as Masjid Sultan, located along Arab Street in the Kampong Glam area is the traditional heart of Singaporean Muslim life. The grand Sultan Mosque has the familiar onion dome and Moorish styling of the Arabic Muslim influence.

The street leading up to this impressive view is lined with sidewalk cafes, restaurants, fashionable boutiques and souvenir shops.

Check back for more of my Singapore adventures!

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Looking for Sunshine at Sentosa Island - Singapore, Southeast Asia

At my hostel I got to talking to a group of guys and after I found out that they were from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia I mentioned to them that after Singapore I was going to fly into their city.

“Why do you want to go Kuala Lumpur” they asked?

“Well, to see the Petronas Towers, visit the Batu Caves and try out some of the local food” I replied.

“You won’t find our city that interesting,” one of the guys pointed out, “Kuala Lumpur is just like Singapore, but dirtier.”

When I asked what they were doing in Singapore for the weekend they all exclaimed in unison, “Universal Studios!”

Being a native Southern Californian, theme parks is just a part of the California lifestyle and something I was always accustomed to as we would spend our family summer vacations visiting Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Magic Mountain, Universal Studios, etc. Walt Disney pioneered theme parks (not amusement parks) when he opened the original Disneyland (and the best one in my humble opinion) in Anaheim, California in 1955.

When I told the guys I was from California and I use to visit Universal Studios in Hollywood all the time because I use to be an annual member, their mouths nearly dropped to the floor.

I was immediately elevated to rock star status.

“The original Universal Studios,” they asked?

“Of course” I nonchalantly replied, “everything we do in California is original, those other versions in Florida are just cheap imitations.”

I then told them I use to live in Newport Beach which was minutes away from Disneyland where I was also an annual member to the park. At that point they were ready to get on their knees and worship the ground I walked on.

And walk away I did as I had to leave the hostel that morning to meet fellow Flickr member Charlie Kwan as he graciously took me on a photo tour of Singapore. Charlie was a wonderful host for he arranged for a friend to drive us around so we could get off at various places around the city conveniently and without having to worry about parking. Thank you Charlie! Be sure to check out his photostream Charlie Kwan

The last stop of the photo tour was Sentosa Island where Charlie dropped me off as he had a prior engagement that afternoon. Sentosa Island is located about fifteen minutes from the city center and features beaches, golf courses, resort hotels, spas, a marina and Southeast Asia’s first and only Universal Studios theme park.

It was overcast that day and the sun made an appearance ever so briefly. I did get a glimpse of Universal Studios Singapore from this lookout tower.

I never did go inside the theme park. Why? I have been to the original one in Hollywood, California!

Check back for more of my Singapore adventures!

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Feeling uncomfortable in a foreign country - Little India, Singapore

Feeling uncomfortable in a foreign country - Little India, Singapore by Sam Antonio Photography
Sri Veerama Kaliamman Temple a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Kali.

Feeling uncomfortable in a foreign country - Little India, Singapore, a photo by Sam Antonio Photography on Flickr.
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” - Clifton Fadiman

Singapore is more than just the Marina Bay Sands Resort. Venture around this compact city-state and you will be amazed by the amount of diversity. On a leisurely walk around the city I would come across a Mosque, Christian church, Buddhist temple and a Hindu temple all in one morning.

Singapore maybe diverse when it comes to its culture, food and religion, but one thing they are uniformly known for is their stifling heat and humidity. Coming from a Mediterranean climate of Southern California it took some time to get use to (it took me over a month to condition my body for the Southeast Asia climate).

In Little India is the Sri Veerama Kaliamman Temple a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Kali. I could tell you about how it was built in 1855 by Tamil laborers or that the goddess Kali is the destroyer of evil or that in 1942 the locals took refuge in the temple to protect themselves from the invading Japanese army. All I can remember was that is was a very hot day and even hotter inside the temple.

I stared at amazement at the intricate details of the statues along the walls then my mind would wander off about the dangers of dehydrating.

It started to sizzle in the temple.

I listened to the little bells the devotees would ring as they entered the temple to ask for the God’s mercy upon their prayer requests.

As more devotees entered the temple it now became a sauna. I desperately needed a drink of water otherwise I probably would have passed out on the floor and nobody would assist me since they would probably mistaken me as another local prostrated on the ground deep in prayer.

The heat was now escalating to a point of suffocation.

Fatigue began to set in due to the overbearing heat and carrying my heavy DSLR camera surely didn’t help matters, but the pungent smell of the temple kept me awake.

Did I tell you that it was scorching hot inside the temple?

I wanted to head back to the safety of my air-conditioned room, but I reminded myself I did not come halfway across the world to seek safety and security. If I wanted to be comfortable I would have stayed home driving my own car, eating processed foods and paying for over priced Starbucks coffee.

No, I stayed behind and sweated it out. As a result, I witnessed this Hindu priest blessing the devotees. With my wide angle lens I was merely inches from this ceremony that I can almost say I was a part of it.

Looking back I am glad I chose to be uncomfortable that day.

Check back for more of my Singapore adventures!

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Waiting for a soul to drift up into my view at the Abdul Gaffoor Mosque - Little India, Singapore

“A picture can express a universal humanism, or simply reveal a delicate and poignant truth by exposing a slice of life that might otherwise pass unnoticed.” - Steve McCurry

73 Dunlop Street in Little India is the location for The InnCrowd Hostel and my temporary address while I was in Singapore last year.

Just footsteps from the hostel, also on Dunlop Street, is the Masjid Abdul Gaffoor (Malay) for the Abdul Gaffoor Mosque. I would walk by this beautiful mosque everyday to and from the hostel. I would have my camera at my side but never found the perfect moment to make a photograph either because the light was terrible or maybe it was due to my obsession to always look for those “Steve McCurry” moments.

One afternoon I walked by the mosque and the elements of light and composition (I crouched down low to frame the mosque with the footwear in the foreground (when entering a mosque one must be barefooted)) happen to come together. The only thing missing was the human element to portray a “slice of life.”

I remembered a quote from photojournalist Steve McCurry when he learned to watch and wait on life. “If you wait,” he realized, “people will forget your camera and the soul will drift up into view.”

I waited patiently for a “soul to drift up into my view” and I was rewarded with this storytelling image as this young girl ran across my frame.

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Friday, January 31, 2014

I flew over 20 hours from California to Singapore to see the world’s largest surfboard?!

My first night in Singapore and the heat and the humidity became unbearable. The back of my shirt felt like it was superglued to my skin. This was not Southern California with its Mediterranean climate.

My introductory walk around Singapore invariably led me to Marina Bay Sands. I looked up and glimpsed at a gigantic surfboard on top of three hotel towers.


Did jet lag cloud my perception?


Did I just fly for over 20 hours from California to Singapore to see the world’s largest surfboard?


No, it was just the world's largest public cantilevered platform, part of which overhangs the north tower by over 219 feet.


The three 55-story hotel towers of Marina Bay Sands are connected by a 2.47 acre sky terrace on the roof, named Sands SkyPark. The SkyPark is home to the world's longest elevated swimming pool, with a 478 ft vanishing edge.


In California we say, “Surf's up!” What is Singapore’s version of that?


Happy Travels!


Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography


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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Singapore my gateway to Southeast Asia!

Singapore my gateway to Southeast Asia! by Sam Antonio Photography
Welcome to Singapore!
Singapore my gateway to Southeast Asia!, a photo by Sam Antonio Photography on Flickr.
Last year I started my six month Southeast Asia journey in the beautiful city-state of Singapore. The moment I landed at their world class airport I fell in love with the city. What’s not to love? The diversity of cultures and religion, the amazing food, clean streets, low crime and the fact they hang (that’s right hang) people who are involved in any drug smuggling crimes. My type of city.

The moment I arrived at my hostel I met John from England. He had been in Singapore for over a week and offered to give me a quick tour of the city. We covered Little India, Burgis Market and the Clarke Quay. We had dinner at a great hawker stall and then headed out to the Marina Bay Sands Resort with billion dollar views and the construction costs to match it.

This is a photograph of the ArtScience Museum (part of the Marina Bay Sands Resort) with the Singapore skyline in the background. The funky frame above is part of an illuminated pedestrian bridge. I shot this with my table top Manfrotto tripod as I didn’t bring my normal Manfrotto tripod for space considerations and for the reason that I wanted to focus more on street photography with an emphasis on portraiture (later on my trip I bought a proper tripod while in Angkor Wat, Cambodia).

I hope my Singapore photographs convey the beauty and splendor of the city-state and that my Flickr friends and Singaporean photographers Rebecca Ang, Charlie Kwan and fiftymm99 find them as an accurate portrayal of their lovely city.

For the next couple of weeks (perhaps months) I will be posting photos from my amazing Southeast Asia journey. I hope you find them amazing and amusing, much like I did when I originally composed them.

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel - San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

I lied.

I said in my last post I was going to start sharing photos from my Southeast Asia journey I embarked on last year.

Lying maybe too strong of a word. Let’s just say I embellished the truth.

Here is a blue hour photograph from my trek to Mexico last year after I came back from Southeast Asia. This will be my last photograph (I promise) and from now on I’ll be updating you guys with photos from my Southeast Asia trip.

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If colonial architecture and cobblestone streets sound very appealing then the beautiful Spanish colonial town of San Miguel de Allende fits the bill to be your home away from home (many Americans do). San Miguel de Allende has one of the largest American communities in Mexico with over 7000 residents. It is large enough to warrant its own U.S. consulate.

The ‘wedding cake’ towers of Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel dominates the perfectly manicured main plaza, El Jardin, in the old historic center. I spent many evenings sitting on a bench in the plaza admiring the gorgeous architecture and striking light, all the while consuming my favorite Mexican meal Tacos Al Pastor!

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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