Wednesday, 28 September 2016

One Sunny Day in Adventure Park

“Just living is not enough... one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”
Hans Christian Andersen

To live a life that is gratifying in most respects requires a good insight, a warm approach to what is at hand, and a clever anticipation of what is yet to come.  But the secret to happiness, as Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes has once said in the past, is learning to appreciate the moment and taking great pleasure in being right where we are, right now, doing what we’re doing.

Just recently, my co-workers and I had gone off to a picnic at Pacific Adventist University (PAU). That day, we also agreed on checking out the Port Moresby’s Adventure Park that was just a walking distance across PAU.

This is the entrance to the Park. That fountain in the middle was not functioning when I took this photo. Later on that day, it was shooting water in every direction. I guess we just came in a little early. While I am not a fan of basking under the sun, those who do will probably drool over the place for getting such a generous serving of sunlight. At 9:00 am, on a clear weather, the heat is still tolerable in Adventure Park but wearing a cap or a brim hat is probably the next important thing to bringing a camera.

Like the trails that I found in Port Moresby Nature Park, most of the trails here are bordered with plants and lofty trees. There are a couple of bench and tables on the sides to which we can sit down and get acclimatized to the surrounding temperature  before going further to other areas around the park.

I love that the leaves form an arc overhead, they remind me of saber arch where the bride and groom shall pass under during a wedding ceremony.

There is a pond with enough water to float a yacht located in the center of the park. These paddle boats moored to the shoal can be rented for a minimal price. I actually thought it would be much easier to get across the other end of the park by way of this boat rather than walking around the pond, but I figured I hadn’t been in a boat since 1999 and I was a bit thalassaphobic.

But I consider myself to be a fairly good swimmer. During my younger days in Cagayan De Oro City, my two older brothers and cousins have enjoyed the liberty of swimming back and forth from the edges of Cagayan De Oro River to a small islet on its center in many occasions. I have swum with them once after getting a good assurance that all of them would save me if I drowned. I managed to have done the same without drowning.

In retrospect, it was worth the try.

 The Cagayan De Oro River. Photo Credits: Kuwentos 

In this picture says, “Tree Kangaro, an icon of PNG.” I’m actually more inclined to think of the Paradise Bird as an iconic representation of PNG but I guess the Tree Kangaroo is a good contender.

Thriving within the large aviaries are the Victoria Crowned Pigeons or the Royal Bird of PNG. These are really big pigeons that looked more like a peacock than a pigeon. The feathers on their heads are formed in such a way that it characterizes a crown.

Going deeper through the densely planted aviaries, I came across these birds that were being fed at that time. These birds are called the Goldie Lorikeets.

These are the Stella Lorikeets. Like the Goldie Lorikeets, these birds are also full of colours but the dominating shade is red. Those wooden boxes attached to the walls serve as their house, which encourage breeding.

Metal arch trellis are mounted on chosen footpaths to encourage the growth of vines and to cast a shadow of comfort to those would walk underneath.

Here’s a resident tree kangaroo munching on his breakfast. Each of these has a dedicated space of more than 20 square meters of fenced ground and a tree to climb.

Here’s a Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo, resting on a branch with its tail dangling down. Let’s assume that this particular kangaroo is a male and in the meantime, let’s pay no attention to other visual factors that might link it to being a female so we can conveniently refer to it as  a cute little “him.”

He was resting obliviously like this when walked past underneath. How many of us would sometimes wish that we were a happy-go-lucky kangaroo like him?

Uhm, how about a panda, anyone?

Here’s how these tree kangaroos are well taken care off. Large roaming space and big tree to hang onto.

In an apparent bid to make the habitat of the denizen birds to be as natural and as comforting to them as possible, the aviaries are built to be large enough to allow such trees to grow inside. These trees get a regular trimming to prevent branches from protruding through the ceiling.

When I was a child, I thought of an ideal Christmas scene as a snow-laden street with various Christmas lights hanging on every corner. This is usually with a presence of someone who is plump enough to dress like Santa Claus who gets munificently compensated to hang around and to greet everyone  with “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas” in a loud but gleefully modulated voice. Such a scene is not always without a piƱata of one or two reindeers. Now that I think about it, this is the first time that I saw a deer alive.

Here’s a wild flower that I found in the park. They say that our personality is reflected by the kind of flowers we tend to like. Say, for example, if one is more likely to get drawn to the colour of red rose, then one is probably an enthusiastic person and oftentimes the life of the party.

I like pink orchids and I like to sleep.

And here’s a diorama of an epic battle featuring an unfortunate herbivore dinosaur that has fallen prey to the ferocity of blue Velociraptors. The ‘raptors are predatory carnivores that opportunely munch on anything that walks on Earth including the T-Rex if given the chance during the Cretaceous period.  As opposed to what we see in this picture, no one really knows exactly what a dinosaurs’ colors originally were. However, recent studies suggested that the most probable color they might have had, like the T-Rex in particular, was purple.

Barney was the closest to the real thing after all.

Walking around the park during a hot and sunny day is like one of any strenuous activities that may occasionally require the doer a rest and go somewhere less hot; like a bench under a tree, for example. The metal fixtures in this photo are actually garden tables retrofitted with planes on both sides to serve as seats. They looked like floating seats actually.

While kuya Levi is relishing the refreshing outcome of being a benchwarmer sitting in a lackadaisical manner, my thoughts are with the tables. Regular tables have flat and solid surface but I noticed that these ones were crafted with chain-link surfaces, which I find a bit baffling.  When I say baffling, I mean baffling enough to make me think of the following questions in mind.

Was it designed this way to...

... let the leftover foods or breadcrumbs fall down easily and feed any living things below?
... keep bird droppings from piling up on the table tops?
... let us see our legs if they are being bitten by mosquitoes?

The pond is probably the heart of this park, and sitting closely to it feels like I’m part of the picturesque view.

A park is not without a recreational equipment. Here’s a caring dad tending to his kids on a swingset. It’s probably one of the sweetest things a father can do for his children.

Although a picture is not the best way to depict an amusement ride in action such as a spinning Ferris wheel or a rotating carousel, these two were operating nicely when we walked past by. One can go to these rides for a minimal fee. We did not try and board one but I would convince my friends to try these out on our unscheduled next visit.

Positioned near the parking area next to the roadside are these life-sized statues of various animals. In the wild, it is not common to see a panda resting next to a Siberian tiger but perhaps it is for some educational reason that they were placed altogether in one setting.

This fenced area is an orchid garden and a bird sanctuary. From the looks of it, I suppose that a large fraction of the park’s landscaping job is dedicated to this area. If it were not for our protesting tummies, we would have gone there and had a look of what were inside. But it was time to head back home and catch some sleep and check out our favorite TV dramas.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Review of Mont Marte Products and Panda Watercolor

It’s not always that I get to see myself sitting down in front of my laptop and thinking of how I should begin my review for a newly acquired sets of art tools. After a few sips from a cup of an already cold Lipton tea, I am feeling more relaxed and sleepy and the prospect of coming up with a catchy introduction is slowly slipping away from me.

Luckily, the presence of a few *kamikaze mosquitoes is keeping me awake.

*Kamikaze mosquitoes - Mosquitoes that bite and die after a good slapping.
Last week when I went to Theodist here in Port Moresby, I saw this product sitting on a shelf along with other products that belong to the same category. I originally thought of this as some kind of unnecessary invention. With the help of a little creativity, I might be able to build a similar DIY brush washer made of, uhm, an empty bowl and a few clothes peg.

I think that should be easy.

But not quite so. This brush washer from Mont Marte is not as simple as it looks. We can see in the middle that it has a screen mesh with a holder. I suppose that this is to filter out sediments and keep them in the bottom of the container once you scrape off your brush on it.

There’s a spring coil at the top. Its purpose is to hold different sizes of brush handles and it can really hold any size. Brushes with a really thin handle can also fit in if you try and place it at a correct angle (slightly angled to follow the spring direction). 

Oh yes, the whole thing is made of stainless steel. I shouldn't be worrying about corrosion any time soon.

Another nice art tool that I’ve picked up from Theodist is this set of Mont Marte Calligraphy Brush. In some Japanese or Chinese movies that I've watched before, I remember to have seen a scene of someone painting Chinese fonts on more than one occasion. These brushes are very similar to what were used in those movies. If there's one peculiarity that makes this brush stand out from the rest, it would be its ideal shape that allows for a dynamic and round stroke.This is probably the reason why it is also being referred to as "Chinese brush."

The box is elegantly styled with silk cover to present itself with a classy look.

There are 8 different sizes of brushes with holes to which those two handles can be screwed.  I bought this for the purpose of learning how to paint with watercolours. Two years ago, I indulged myself in art and started teaching myself how to draw anime-inspired portraits with pencils which had later progressed to learning how to do colour pencil portraits. After getting the hang of it, I thought that maybe I should also learn watercolour painting.

And viola, here’s a noob “me” buying these brushes.

These brushes go well together with the brush holder/washer. As you can see on the right side, there’s also a thin brush that I intend to use for painting small details. All these brushes are unused yet at the time of this shot.

The spring on top is designed with having two things in mind: to keep the brush tip in the water and to keep it off the water to dry. I like that with this, I can easily transition between the two options. I prefer to do the latter after cleaning the brushes and leave them suspended there for the next use. When the brush is dangling by the spring, the water droplet forming down on its tip is also helping it to retain its pointy shape.

We can think of this picture as a stalactite hanging in a cave. They occurred with pointed tips due to the precipitation of minerals caused by water dripping through the cave ceiling. This action is responsible for shaping stalactites and stalagmites over time.

Here’s a Panda watercolour brand. I bought this from Tango Department Store. Judging from its very affordable price, this brand is meant for student use I guess.  

Luckily, I consider myself as a wishful watercolour art student and this is just enough for me.

This particular watercolour brand is surprisingly easy to mix and use. The colours dissolve well in water and like how any other watercolour should behave when diluted, the intensity of colour is affected by how much water droplets you apply on it. You can see in these two plastic palettes how I have come up with new colours from combining stock colours.

And here’s what I came up with from using these three different art tools. Why bird, you ask? It’s because this is what I think, one of the easiest thing to paint. I have once shown my first watercolour landscape painting to a professional painter. Although I know that it wasn’t a good one, he pointed out my flaws in a suggestive but polite way. He told me to paint small or still objects first. That way, he said that I could slowly but progressively learn how to see and render things effectively. He also said that each object could possess a hundred colour and I must first learn how to compose shadows. 

 Pretty good suggestions, I must say.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Picnic in Pacific Adventist University

Our itinerary to Pacific Adventist University involves waking up early, sealing off our foods in a picnic bag and heading out to the route that usually traverses the vastness of Port Moresby’s uninhabited landscape under the shades of a dusky morning. The starting point of which antedates from what I regarded as a usual Saturday night dinner in our accommodation comprised of me and just a few co-workers.  I sometimes refer to this dinner as an impromptu congregation of sleepy managers.

Surprisingly, when someone asks, “Who wants to eat a sweet corn?” Almost everyone will cheerfully agree and will say “yes” to “Tara sa PAU.” (Let’s go to PAU)

True enough, the main reason as to why we find it enticing to visit PAU is due to the nature of their produce comprised primarily of fresh-from-the-garden vegetables, and of course, sweet corn. Before we move further to discussing the intricacies of measuring vegetable freshness, which is by the way, an interesting thing to do when a refractometer is at hand, let’s just go and check out the road to 14 Mile.

This is the entrance to PAU. If all goes well, you are sure to arrive here in just about 10 to 15 minutes of driving from Gordons. On quite a few occasions that I’ve been here, I have gotten used to counting the varying number of guards manning this gate. But for security reasons, this young blogger will choose to keep it a secret.  Upon reaching the gate, it is mandatory to roll down the car windows and inform the guards of your destination to which they will suggest cheerfully that you take the road on the right side.

Choose the “right” road and you’ll never get lost in PAU. Sounds right enough.

Floating in the air are dust particles perturbed by the sweeping motion of the passing vehicles. The road to the market area is paved but is yet to be cemented. While it’s too tempting to keep the windows open and let the morning breeze freshen us, the passengers of this undertaking, it is best to keep them closed if there are other vehicles in the lead that go to the same direction.

If the volume of the cars parked in this area can speak for itself, it would have told me that we had arrived a little too late. On the bright side, it was nice to know that a lot have come to visit PAU which is a good thing for the local community.

The drawback to arriving late is that all of the freshly harvested sweet corns for the day are already sold out by the time you have arrived. Anyway, here’s an interesting thing that I found in PAU. My guess is that, this is a station for washing vegetables. Those two circular shelves might be manually rotated by hands and the vegetables on them would go through the running water coming from that suspended hose.

I was actually observing how those automatic sprinklers were keeping the plantations irrigated but the sight of this gigantic yellow backhoe raising itself sideways and rolling one of its metal tracks at a time is an equally amusing sight to see. The technique is an apparent attempt by the driver to rid the machine of the hardened mud that got wedged in between crevices of the caterpillar tracks. It was a success, by the way.

Green leafy vegetables as well as edible flowers like the pumpkin flower in particular, are marketed here for a much lower price. For example, a pile of leafy sprouts tied in a bundle is sold for K1.

If the majority of people that go to PAU are aiming for sweet corn, I am more attracted to a big possibility that I can always find bitter gourd sprouts here. Well, not really always but if one has to rate its availability to some degree, I would say, it’s about ninety percent of the time.

Kaukau or kamote is K10 a pile. I can’t say if that’s a bargain but the pumpkin on the far side is only sold for K1 each. Recently, I have come across an easy way to eat pumpkins. The recipe is simple: slice it to smaller portions, remove the seeds, wash the slices, sprinkle with seasoning like salt and bake it in an oven until its texture becomes soft enough to eat.

Easy enough right?

This particular table has on it some necessary ingredients for making pinakbet. What’s pinakbet, you say?  

From Wikipedia 

Pinakbet (also called pakbet or pinak bet) is an indigenous Filipino dish from the northern regions of the Philippines. Pinakbet is made from mixed vegetables steamed in fish or shrimp sauce.[1] The word is the contracted form of the Ilokano word pinakebbet, meaning "shrunk" or "shriveled".[2] The original Ilocano pinakbet uses bagoong, of fermented monamon or other fish, for seasoning sauce, while further south, bagoong alamang is used. 

These are the typical vegetables that can be found in a Pinakbet recipe.  Photo Credits: Glorious Food Glossary) 

And here’s what a Pinakbet is supposed to be when it’s done. This is actually a Dinengdeng Sa Patis At Alamang by Luweeh’s Kitchen but the recipes and the way it is cooked is very much similar to pinakbet.  Photo Credits: Luweeh's Kitchen Tokyo

Here’s another variant of pumpkins found in PAU. Both of the elongated and the spherical in form are sold for the same price. There are also young coconuts that have been partially skinned.

When you’re done shopping vegetables, it is safe to assume that everyone is welcome to roam around the fields that belong to the school provided that one is keen on respecting the area. What I mean by that is that the visitors must at least know and maintain civility when visiting the place.

 It is not always that we can convince Levi to go with us on a picnic trip. He prefers to rest on Sundays.   But anyway, here he is, sitting on a bench that is close to a pond. I believe he was pointing at some birds flying around when I took this photo.

PAU is home to some naturally occurring wildlife and most of which are birds. In this photo are different diversities of life that have once co-existed with one another. This is the first time that I’ve seen a bird’s nest, a wasp’s nest and an ants’ nest being so close in proximity to each other in the same tree.

The bird’s and the wasp’s nest are abandoned. I’m assuming that, by some nature way, these three must have found themselves embroiled in a fierce battle against each other; and the ants had won in the end through their sheer number alone. 

The buildings around the school campus are usually bordered by big trees such as this.

These bush fowls skimming the area are a bit used to human presence. I tried and took a photo of them in a stalking manner: by that, I meant that I had closed-in the gap that extend from me to them by progressively switching between tiptoeing  and pausing like a statue until I got close enough to scare them away.

The place is so spacious and it’s easy enough to avoid bumping into each other. From not so far, our attention was attracted by a familiar scent. Perhaps Levi and I had a keen sense of smell, for when we looked for the source, we found ourselves looking at a huge tree and under which we also found these two bushes of Sampaguita.

Pinoy In PNG would like to specially give our thanks to these Sampaguita plants which had helped us greatly in locating this forlorn tree. It was a perfect place to eat the food that we have packed earlier.

Because of our unwavering commitment to keeping our environment clean, we have packed our food in food containers. We did not use disposable utensils that will contribute to pollution. We also brought our own water containers and a couple of drinking glasses.  They are all safely returned to the comforts of our home.

No tetra-packs or disposable plastic bottles were used in this picnic.

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