Travel Journal

The Key Master In Joo Chiat – Singapore’s Vanishing Trade

The Key Master in Joo Chiat - Singapore's Diminishing Trade

He looked very focused when I saw him sorting out the keys on the floor. He didn’t seem to have problem looking at them from a normal reading distance. At his age of 78 (I believe that’s what he told me his age), he certainly still have pretty good eyesight.

Mr. Choo Kok Foo is a key master who has been servicing his customers for 40 years. He starts working at 10am and finishes at 5pm. I met him recently in Joo Chiat. Not sure if that’s the same place he has been at for these past 40 years, but you can find him at 92 Joo Chiat Road now. He allowed me to take some photos and I started talking to him in my broken Hokkien. He gladly answered my questions. There were some that I didn’t understand though. He also proudly showed me a newspaper article that featured him some time ago.

I will be going back there to give him his printed photos.

More photos below.MORE +

Kampong Buangkok – the last surviving kampong in Singapore

Kampong Buangkok -

I finally went to visit this place after knowing about it for few years. It’s the last surviving kampong in the modern mainland of Singapore. The place is very accessible. It’s off Yio Chu Kang road, near the Church of St. Vincent de Paul and it’s already surrounded by high rise apartments and landed houses. Not sure, how long more it will stay this way.

I met a nice gentleman, Pak Jumadi, who was cutting a fallen tree and was kind enough to tell me a story of this place. He and his family moved there about 50 years ago. He was only 12. Though he does not live there anymore, he still comes to visit his mother, who does not want to move out, when he is free. He told me a little story about this place. In the 1950s, it was called Kampong Selak Kain. In Malay, it means hitching up one’s kain or sarong. Sarong is a piece of cloth (kain), usually worn by the Malays, wrapped around the waist and it usually covers the legs till the ankle. The place was flooded quite a lot in the old days, hence the people living there had to hitch up their kain or sarong as they waded through the flood water. The place used to be a swamp, hence it’s also called Kampong Paya sometimes.

Buang Kok was actually the name of the narrow street (Lorong) there. In the photo above, you can see the old street sign, Lorong Buang Kok 1954, which the resident there keeps. 1954 was the old postal code of this place. Singapore has had six-digit postal code system now.

He invited me to sit in the veranda of his mother’s house and drew a map and explained to me about the place. Lorong Buang Kok was about 2.5 km long, he said. In Malay, they call that distance 2 batu.


This house, according to Pak Jumadi, was already there when his father moved to this place. It could be the oldest house there. Nobody seems to live there anymore now.




And this used to be a big fish pond, he said.


That’s Pak Jumadi in his yellow rubber boot that he wore when he was cutting the fallen tree.


He politely declined when I asked if I could take his picture, but he said I could take picture of his back  :)

I may visit this place again when the weather is dry. I would like to get into one’s house and have coffee with them. Enjoy the rest of the photos below.


A Simple Village Life in Rajashtan

These images were shot in a small village off the highway from Ajmer to Jaipur, Rajashtan, India last year. All were shot with Leica M9 and Voigtlander Color Skopar Classic 35mm f/2.5, except for the last one.

These people were very friendly, inviting me and my friend for afternoon chai and I was free to walk around including going inside their houses. You probably can’tktell, but cow dung was used to build their houses, especially for the wall and the floor. They mix the cow dung with clay, mud, sand and water. The image below shows the woman painting the wall made of this mixture. Can you see the little boy standing on a chair with a pail of paint on his head?


The train from Agra to Lucknow

My friends and I took the midnight train from Agra to Lucknow in India when we were there October last year. We started the trip from Agra Cantonment Railway Station, which is the main train station in the city of Agra. We arrived early and I had a couple of hours to walk around the platform and shoot. It was quieter than I expected, but it could be very busy during day time, I believe.

The images were taken with Leica M9 and Voigtlander Color Skopar Classic 35mm f/2.5 unless otherwise stated. The black and white images were shot in color and converted to BW in Adobe Lightroom. The first nine images here were taken at Agraa Cantonment Railway Station.MORE +

People of Kishangarh Rajashtan

People of Kishangarh, Rajashtan, photographed with Leica M9 and Voigtlander Color Skopar Classic 35mm f/2.5, except the last one, which was shot using Olympus E-P3  and 12mm f/2 lens.

I stayed one night in Pushkar during my trip to India in October last year. My friend and I went out in the morning to Kishangarh, a nearby town from our hotel. Many locals started their day by having tea on the roadside. It was a nice little town with friendly people. We stopped at the shop in the photo above to have our morning tea. The locals were curious and kept looking at us with their smiles, while we were having our tea. :)

Enjoy some more images below.MORE +

Barbers in India

I did think for a moment that my blog has become an iPhone Photography blog since I have been posting lots of iPhone photos in the past couple of weeks. But it’s not, it’s still a general photography blog and I still love my rangefinder M9, just as I like my iPhone 4s. But, you will see more iPhone photos here.

So, it’s weekend guys. It’s the time of the week, that we usually go around doing our errands, including having our hair cut. If you are in India now and happen to be in the city of Jaipur, Pushkar, Lucknow or Kishangarh Rajashtan, try one of these barbers. And from my previous posts, if you need barber in Bangalore or Hoskote, check them out too.

These are all shot with Leica M9 and Voigtlander Color Skopar Classic 35mm f/2.5.

Please send my regards to them.   :)

Have a good weekend and enjoy more photos below.MORE +

Pre Pushkar Fair

I was in Pushkar, Rajashtan, about one week before the Pushkar Fair last month. Too bad. Pushkar Fair is the camel and livestock fair held annually in Pushkar, Rajashtan. Too bad I was one week earlier, but I was able to see a little bit of it, as there were already families and camels at the fair site. They have come from nearby villages to participate in the fair. I assume they came early in order to choose the best location to set up their camps. MORE +

One Morning in Jaipur

I shot these in front of our hotel in Jaipur, Rajashtan, in the early morning of our second day there. People started their day by having tea, setting up their roadside fruit stalls, sweeping the street, etc. under a cool October morning weather.

All photos taken with Leica M9 and Zeiss Planar 50mm ZM f/2. The first few were taken by shooting into the rising sun. Enjoy!MORE +

The Old Delhi

I am back from India today. Covered Delhi, Jaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar, Agra and Lucknow. I was traveling light and it was quite liberating. I fit my Leica M9, four small lenses and Olympus PEN E-P3 with 12mm lens, into a small Domke ‘school bag’ (F-803) and I could walk for hours without breaking my neck and back.

First up here are few photos I took in the late afternoon at the Old Delhi, near the Red Fort, on Diwali day. The road was packed with people, rickshaw, bicycles, motorcycles and cars and continuous sound of horns. One of the best locations I went to shoot at during this trip. I would love to go back to the Old Delhi again one day as I only managed to cover one lane as we didn’t have lots of time.

I will post more later, but for now, enjoy these four photos from the Old Delhi. All four were shot with Leica M9 and Voigtlander Color Skopar Classic 35mm f/2.5.MORE +

Inside a Barber Shop in Bangalore

I have been very busy since I came back from India. So, my apology for being quiet here in the past one week. I am back now and excited that I may be able to go to India again in October. Not for work !!!!!  I also have other thing I am excited about, but can only share when it really happens. For now, only hoping it will happen.  :)MORE +

At the Brick Factory

I visited a brick factory in Hoskote, Bangalore Rural District, but unfortunately the workers had stopped working for the day. Instead I met these very friendly people who apparently live inside the factory compound. They also work there. I asked my driver to ask them if they would allow me to take their pictures. They said yes. So I took few shots of them. MORE +

Hello From Bangalore

Hello from Bangalore! Arrived safely and on time earlier this afternoon. Hotel was nice but far from the city even though it’s close to where I will be working from on Thursday and Friday. The wet markets I went to in 2006 are all far from here, but I will spend time shooting there this coming weekend. MORE +

Street Photography in Singapore

It rained hard on Sunday morning. I came early to our church in Katong area as I needed to run some errands. While waiting, I shot some street photos. Can you see the rain drops in the photo above? See one more below.MORE +