Monday 30 January 2012

People & Photography: Tom Ang, Books & App

Image from Tom Ang
An Asian who definitely loves Hong Kong (and many other countries in fact), Tom Ang is a highly-experienced photographer with over 42 years of photo-shooting who taught in the University of Westminster for over 12 years, a best-selling author who has written 21 books and more, a true passionate educator!

Here are just some of his best.

I came across this book while loitering in a Joint Publishing flagship bookstore and I found this book Digital Photography Masterclass and I loved it! It only costs $150 after special discount, it was fully written in English and there are numerous descriptive words and photography terms to learn, wonderful photos beautifully colour-printed on every page, wonderfully suits the taste of any English and/or photography lovers.
Image from Tom Ang

I really wanted to get it, but because it was really thick and I didn't have hands to carry, so I haven't bought it. I have yet to return to the bookstore but I  will definitely get it next time!! If you have even a bit of interest in photography, I highly recommend you go to your nearby bookstore and pick up any one of these books and give it a go!!!

Image from Tom Ang

Before I sign off, iPhone users will be happy to get this little gift from me (actually Tom Ang), and that is Tom's Photography Tutorial App with 85 tutorials of the book How to Photograph  Absolutely Everything. It is NOT free but it is not expensive either.

Here's the link:

More about his books after I have get my hands on them.

loiter -- (vb) [I] to move slowly around or stand especially in a public place without an obvious reason
give it a go -- (idiomatic) to try or to attempt
get my hands on sth -- to succeed in obtaining something


Tom Ang Official Website

Tom Ang @ Wikipedia

Tom Ang Photography app for iPhone @ Tom Ang

DK Tom Ang's Digital Photography @ App Store

Friday 27 January 2012

Sport & People: Bobsleigh & Steven Holcomb

Bobsleigh or bobsled, I dare to say is a sport rarely heard of in Asia, but it is an thrilling competition in the Winter Olympics. I bet there are many things to learn from this sport on another freezing cold day in Hong Kong.

On text, it is pretty difficult to describe what the sport is, according to Wikipedia,

"Bobsleigh or bobsled is a winter sport in which teams of two or four make timed runs down narrow, twisting, banked, iced tracks in a gravity-powered sled. The timed runs are combined to calculate the final score."

So, there is no one better than Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion Bobsledder Steven Holcomb to teach us about his beloved sport,

And how does it look like from Steve's perspective?

Truly exciting isn't it? It may look easy but the training and the danger that one has to go through is anything but simple. Once loses control and fatal accidents are almost guaranteed.

Those of us who live in Asia won't be able to enjoy the fun of this sport unless you visit the countries up North (and be professionally trained), but watching experts like Steve in front of the monitor is still very cool and most importantly safe, unless your friend pranks you with some edited horror videos just as you get into the mood of watching.

Success really doesn't come easy, especially for Steve, and he tells you why.

Keratoconus, from Wikipedia, "is a degenerative disorder of the eye in which structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than its normal gradual curve."

Image from Wikipedia

Even though Steve suffered from Keratoconus, he fully recovered and he did win the gold medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics 4-man bobsled for The United States! Congratulations to you Steve, (Hope you don't mind the late words) and thanks for following us!!!

Types of Bobsleigh races:

  1. Four Man, 
  2. Two Man, 
  3. Two Woman
Do "Like" this entry and the English Playground, and catch more Steve on YouTube!!!

banked -- (adj) from bank (n)[C] sloping raised land, especially along the sides of a river
gravity -- (n) the force which attracts objects towards one another, especially the force that makes things fall to the ground
beloved -- (adj) slightly formal loved very much
fatal -- (adj) A fatal illness or accident, etc. causes death
prank -- (vb) from prank (n) [C] a trick that is intended to be funny but not to cause harm or damage
keratoconus -- (n) [U] a degenerative disorder of the eye in which structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than its normal gradual curve."

People: Welcome Steven Holcomb To Our Playground!!!

Bobsled @ Wikipedia

Steven Holcomb @ Wikipedia

Steven Holcomb @ YouTube

Go Pro Bobsledding with driver Steven Holcomb @ YouTube

Scary Maze Game® Reaction[Monitor Punch] @ YouTube

2010 Winter Olympics: Steve Holcomb - Bobsled @ YouTube

Keratoconus @ U.S. National Library of Medicine - The World's Largest Medical Library

Keratoconus @ Wikipedia

List of Olympic medalists in bobsleigh @ Wikipedia

People: Welcome Steven Holcomb To Our Playground!!!

Must have been the last entry that I wrote which draws the attention from Steven Holcomb, Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion Bobsledder and probably our first Star English Player, into subscribing to The English Playground's Twitter page.

Image from Locky's English Playground
Since we have already started the topic on skeleton sleigh and we are in the ice field, I'm going to dedicate the next entry to his favourite sport for our English Players to learn a bit more.

Once again, Welcome Steven!!!! Thanks for subscribing!!

Do "Like" this entry and our English Playground!!

Listening & TV: Skeleton VS Mini-Cooper @ TopGear @ Locky's English Playground

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Listening & TV: Skeleton VS Mini-Cooper @ TopGear

Image from

Nothing to do in the holidays? Too cold to go out for fun? Want something informative yet fun and even exciting to watch? Here it is!!!! From TopGear Season 17 Episode 1!!!

After watching the show, you should have learnt the following words:

The Marauder
Image from ridelust
moan its passing, Johannesburg,  dashboard, nip off, torque, astonishing, get carried away.

Jeremy with BMW 1M
Image from  richardsf1
hatchback, subsequently, capture the magic of the original, 
3...2...1... Mini cooper Lancer VS Amy Williams
Image from richardsf1
Stomping ground, gold medalist, skeleton bob(sleigh), scraping the ice, 
Jeremy E-Type Jaguar
Image from entertainmentalley
Jaguar Growler
Image from 0-60mag
convertible E-Type, humiliated, understated tribute

Enjoy the excitement!!!!!

Do "Like" this entry and the English Playground!!


moan -- (vb)[I] to make a long low sound of pain, suffering or another strong emotion
nip off -- (phrasal verb) sever or remove by pinching or snipping; "nip off the flowers"
astonishing -- (adj) very surprising
be/ get carried away -- (phrasal verb) to become so excited about something that you do not control what you say or do
hatchback -- (n) [C] a car which has an extra door at the back which can be lifted up to allow things to be put in
stomp -- (vb) [I usually + adverb or preposition] to walk with intentionally heavy steps, especially as a way of showing that you are annoyed
scrape -- (vb)  [T] to remove an unwanted covering or a top layer from something, especially using a sharp edge or something rough
convertible -- (n) [C] (also soft topa car with a soft roof which can be folded back
understated -- (adj) not trying to attract attention or impress people
tribute -- (n) [C or U] something that you say, write or give which shows your respect and admiration for someone, especially on a formal occasion


TopGear Season 17 Episode 1 @

Bobsleigh @ Wikipedia

Amy Williams @ Wikipedia

Skeleton Race @ Wikipedia

Top Gear S17E01 Review @ Richard’s F1

James May Vs British Gold Medalist - Top Gear - Series 17 Episode 1 - BBC Two @ YouTube

Monday 23 January 2012

Message: Happy Chinese New Year 2012!

The English Playground wishes all English players a highly energised and healthy Chinese New Year and be as strong as the Chinese dragon!!!

Image from
Image from WWF

Do go to the resources below and revise the Chinese New Year vocabulary!!!!

Don't forget to "Like" this entry and the English Playground!!!

Food: Chinese Delicacy @ Locky's English Playground

Food: Festive Puddings @ Locky's English Playground

Vocabulary: Chinese New Year Flowers and Plants @ Locky's English Playground

Friday 20 January 2012

Animals: A Market Proposal for Saving Whales?

A minke whale is processed in Hvalfjörður, Iceland. Photo: Dagur Brynjólfsson/Flickr
Image from Wired Science

Is putting a price tag on all animals right to do? If whales have a price tag, can they be saved?

I was reading this news article titled A Market Proposal for Saving Whales the other day and was quite disturbed by the photo above, a murdered minke whale, which got me to think, why are people so cruel?

The article suggested putting a price on the right of killing whales and allow the price to float according to the market demands, similar to the carbon emission trading, thus transforming the genocide into a battle of cash. Ideally speaking, it should work, but the question is, what if the whalers buy the rights and decide to execute their rights -- to kill the whales?

A cute free minke whale should look like the one below, and not the one above. The sight of killing such a majestic warm-hearted animal is disheartening and simply a disgrace to mankind.
Minke whale. Photo: Martin Cathrae/Flickr
Image from Wired Science
But am I wrong?

Many others believe that killing anything on this planet is a right as long as it is legally right to do so, as such the law is the guide book to their actions, a definite line drawing what's right and wrong, a boundary which decides the life and death of all other living things.

Moral values? It Is an abstract subjective concept.

We humans, all 7 billions of us [1], cannot stop killing the remaining 103,000 minke whales and classified them as Least Concerned of the conservation status on the IUCN Red List [2], and there are still the sperm whales, dolphins and others.

Unlike fish, these animals have very slow reproduction rate, usually one calf in one pregnancy, and some reach sexual maturity slower than us, meaning that it takes some of them at least 13 years before they have the ability to reproduce [2], let alone the rare chances of finding the right partner in the huge oceans.

Poor whales, can we just look at how few there are and stop the killing without thinking about law?

Why can't all whale-slaughters become whale watching (tourism)?
Whale watching off the coast of Bar Harbor, Maine
Image from Wikipedia

genocide -- (n) [U] the murder of a whole group of people, especially a whole nation, race or religious group
majestic -- (adj) beautiful, powerful or causing great admiration and respect
disheartening -- (adj) to make a person lose confidence, hope and energy; to discourage
be a disgrace to sb/sth -- to be so bad or unacceptable that you make people lose respect for the group or activity you are connected to
calf -- (n)  [C] (plural calvesa young cow, or the young of various other large mammals such as elephants and whales
slaughter -- (n) [U] the killing of animals for meat
whale watching -- (n) is the practice of observing whales and other cetaceans in their natural habitat.

A Market Proposal for Saving Whales @ Wired Science

Carbon Emission Trading @ Wikipedia

[1] World Population @ Wikipedia

[2] Minke Whale @ Wikipedia

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Movie: We Bought A Zoo Review

Image from

I can't wait till Wednesday to publish this! I must do it today, while it is still available on cinemas!

How can any movie be so simple yet so touching??? I really can't believe it! I still can't imagine how the scriptwriters and directors did it! Absolutely unbelievable movie!

I'm talking about a movie which might not have caught the attention of many because it is not an action movie, but if you ask me which movie is better than Mission Impossible 4, I would say, this one, We Bought A Zoo! This is the movie with scenes I wouldn't imagine myself sobbing and crying in.

Those loves: a rescuer's love towards animals, the painfully ever-lasting love towards a deceased wife, a widower's love towards his children, they are all remarkably portrayed in this 124-minute movie!

Image from collider
The "Borne" star has finally taken a giant leap in his acting skills in this movie. Previously I don't even like Matt Damon, but this brave father character of Benjamin Mee completely changed my view of him. He actually did a great job in this family drama which is based on a true story set in Southern California.

Image from collider
The daughter, Rosie, was the cutest of the movie, she's smart, caring, sweet, and she knows her head tilts! Definitely going to make a great star when she grows up. Similarly, from a 10-year-old child star to a glamorous woman, Danish descendant Scarlett Johansson doesn't dress in any sexy dresses but her sexiness comes from her speeches and her eyes, but I wasn't even interested in her sexiness anyway, just the relationship of her with Benjamin Mee.

Image from collider
After watching this movie, I must agree with the fact that people were really beautiful in this movie, not of their faces, but of their hearts. People all sacrificing themselves for the sake of the animals, friends and public.

But what I really like about this movie, are those flashbacks which everyone would expect to be a simple video-editing skill of cut-rearrange-and-paste, but it wasn't!!! They merged the memories with the reality (in the movie)! Real-time flashbacks!!! That was excellent! I love this technique!! The part in which Benjamin sat on the kitchen floor looking at the old photos of his deceased wife, and the last part when she appeared in the cafe sitting on a chair she and Benjamin Mee first met, they were simply tear-drainingly warm!!! And the dialogues in this movie, so well-written, so good!!!!!


When I wrote, Movie: Must-watch & Can-Watch Movies 2011/12, I have never expected it to be so good! I must admit, I was wrong!!! Very wrong indeed!!!!!

If you really decide to watch this movie, do not miss the part near the end when Benjamin climbs over the fallen tree overlooking a line of visitors to the zoo, because the real Benjamin Mee, Milo (Dylan in the movie) Mee and Ella (Rosie in the movie) Mee can be seen as the first family in line to enter the zoo!

Have you watched this movie? What are your views? Do leave your comments!

Don't forget to "LIKE" this article and the English Playground

deceased -- (adj) formal dead
widower -- (n)[C] a man whose wife has died and who has not married again
descendant -- (n)[C] a person who is related to someone and who lives after them, such as their child or grandchild

We Bought A Zoo @ IMDb

We Bought A Zoo Trailer @ YouTube

We Bought A Zoo Trivia @ IMDb

Movie: Must-watch & Can-Watch Movies 2011/12 @ Locky's English Playground

Monday 16 January 2012

Travelling & Living: Day 3 in Taipei

Cable car of Maokong
Image from Locky's English Playground
Day 3 in Taipei, cold, windy and cloudy at MaoKong station, the temperature fit the mood of Christmas Eve but the lighting is not quite as good for photography, nor for waking up from a cosy warm bed.
Eyes of Maokong Gondola
Image from Locky's English Playground
Anyway, it was quite a bit of waiting till any form of human beings were allowed to enter from the freezing cold wind blowing entrance to the non-wind blowing indoor, then some more waiting till the crystal cable car was ready (about one in every six cable cars), then finally my legs were hanging a hundred meters or more above the tree tops.
The view from inside the cable car looking down
Image from Locky's English Playground
It was quite scary and the cold wind was still directed at my butt, but it was worth it, in a sense that the same facilities will cost me HK$300+ but in Taipei, it was the same price as the non-crystal cable cars!
Taipei 101 from the cable car
Image from Locky's English Playground
After thousands of metres of cable car ride, I survived and came to this food centre! Tourists had only one thing to think in this situation and it is a 3-letter word.
Signs listing restaurants and tea houses
Image from Locky's English Playground
Since I was a tourist too, I was definitely not going to lose out. "Food food! Here I come!!!"
Image from Locky's English Playground
To my surprise, the types of food available was stunning!
Some kind of oiling deep dried food
Image from Locky's English Playground
There were deep-fried food, tofu, noodles, hot dogs,
Chicken legs and desserts in front of the lady
Image from Locky's English Playground
more deep-fried food, hot and cold desserts, traditional Taiwanese drinks,
Best pork sausages I had!!!
Image from Locky's English Playground
and the best pork sausages I had in Taipei so far!!! I had 3 of those!! Amazing stuff!

Image from Locky's English Playground
After the stomach was kind of filled and the core body temperature was raised, it was time for some walking  around and getting those fatty pork transformed into heat. Basically, there was not much to see in Maokong; the signs were not lying a single bit, all you really get are restaurants and tea houses. Maybe someone will come for the scenery and food, but can't you find that somewhere else?
A romantic tea house
Image from Locky's English Playground
But on the other hand, maybe it is worth it, depends on who you go with. The scenery was not really stunning, but it was very green and laid-back. Having cakes and tea inside the warm nicely decorated tea houses is pretty nice!
Miyazaki style cafe
Image from Locky's English Playground
And after some city sightseeing, I don't see why anyone wouldn't want to have a cup of hot tea / coffee at this Miyazaki-style truck cafe?
I was at the zoo!!!!
Image from Locky's English Playground
Sun was halfway down and on the return journey, it was a visit to the zoo!!!
First encounter with a panda, EVER!!!!
Image from Locky's English Playground
And I had many very first encounters with many animals! Especially with a panda! It is my first time to see a real panda and it is the most energetic panda I have ever met!!! He was like on drugs, hugging a piece of wood, throwing and fetching it, rethrowing and refetching it, up and down the trees and ponds, then more wood games! All in 5 minutes! He really was so cute!!!
Outside the zoo exit
Image from Locky's English Playground
Time to leave and dine, the next stop was Shilin Night Market,
Shilin Night Market
Image from Locky's English Playground
People overcrowded the place, making it near impossible to walk slowly or turn around once you are in the sea of man.
Old couples doing business in their push carts
Image from Locky's English Playground
Not to mention that it was also very difficult to take photos, lucky that my 7D performed really well allowing me to study the photos in details when I got back to the hotel.
Some candies made from peanuts
Image from Locky's English Playground
The lighting from the shops enhanced the photo quality by a lot, and I didn't even have to use a flashlight to shoot pleasant colour photos!
Good-looking deep fried something
Image from Locky's English Playground
I was surprised to see that Oden, a type of Japanese food, everywhere! It must be one of Taiwanese's favourites in Winter.
Image from Locky's English Playground
As for ubiquitous beverage / dessert, is the blacker than black grass jelly drink! I bought one and it tasted fine!
Grass jelly  drink
Image from Locky's English Playground
Another one is Aiyu, literally "Love Jade", never had the chance to try,
"Aiyu", love jade?
Image from Locky's English Playground
but definitely the next time, as it looks really cute, like big blocks of jelly!!
Image from Locky's English Playground
Actually, after the first round, I wasn't able to find space or time to get anything to eat, so before the second round of walking, getting some huge chicken pieces at the new Shilin Market site.
Image from Locky's English Playground
And here's the famous huge deep fried chicken chops!
Huge Chicken chop
Image from Locky's English Playground
The chicken chop tasted great the first few bites, but the crumb was really thick on both sides, so almost 20% through the eating, I decided not to eat one of the sides of the crumb.
Lamb skewers
Image from Locky's English Playground
The huge chicken piece was almost the only food I could pick from the new market, and eventually, going back to the old street seemed more attractive, and the lamb stick was another snack I had.
Deep-fried Milk
Image from Locky's English Playground
This deep fried milk is nice too! But it would taste even better if it was before the main course.

But in fact, there was no main course that night.

Image from Locky's English Playground

The curry beef kebab was the most filling of the night, and it tasted great!

laid-back -- (adj) informal relaxed in manner and character; not usually worried about other people's behaviour or things that need to be done
ubiquitous -- (adj) formal or humorous seeming to be in all places
kebab -- (n) [C] (also shish kebaba dish consisting of small pieces of meat and vegetables that have been put on a long thin stick or metal rod and cooked together