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Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Writer & Photographer: Rui Tan (Instagram @ryosuke_rui)
Translated to English by Eve

I remember sitting on a tuk-tuk for almost two hours, worn and weary, to arrive in this village.
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Perhaps it was neither a tourist season, nor a popular check-in tourist spot, the boats stayed ashore, patiently waiting for the right time to set sail again. Colourful paints, mud stains, rocky chairs, these were the special traits of these boats.

The river water was not crystal clear, after all not every river is perfect like that. Yet as a tourist, I was stoked! I really liked going to places where I could observe the livelihood of the locals, instead of places that are crowded and popular for check-ins.

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The boatman was calmly navigating the "Rainbow Boat". You, who aren't here to witness, could never imagine how the narrow turning points had to accommodate a few boats at the same time. The boatman's skill was put to test at every turn. The boats were kissing each other, mud-coloured water splattered and stained my clothes, my smile was immediately frozen! The boat ticket was USD $30 per person. Even if there is only one passenger, the boat operates too.

Sometimes the boat moved quickly, sometimes it's slow. The bumpy ride was a real test for my photography skills in shutter speed, exposure and ISO.

Forget it, set it in automatic mode, keep using the same lens! Anyway, I belong to the self-abandon type!

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

I was stoked again by the view.

These houses on the river were so special! Lean and tall pillars were supporting the worn houses.

The scenery at low tide is absolutely different from high tide. The locals said when the river rises, the water level is taller than me! Hey, nonsense! High tide of the river can be as tall as six meters, so houses have to be built taller than that. While clicking the shutter, I began to imagine human excretions dropping directly into the river... Oops.

一些画面挡住了我继续幻想下去!有旅客从窗户乱丢垃圾!哔哔哔,警察勒?! 看清楚才发现是一群旅客一齐的分撒着零食给当地的小孩,像财神爷般地大方。看得我下巴直接脱臼!小孩冒险着想去捡零食,有些零食随波逐流地飘到河中,小孩们也不罢休。我心都揪了。心想要是有人撒食物给我,我就先咬断他的手!
A few scenes interrupted my thoughts! A tourist threw rubbish out of the window! Beep... beep... where is the police?! Then I realized it was a group of tourists distributing snacks to the local children, generously like the God of Prosperity. My jaw dropped! The children were riskily fighting to catch the snacks. Some snacks flowed freely along the river but the children did not give up. My heart tightened, if somebody were to throw food to me in that careless manner, I would bite his hand!

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The boat passed by places that we could observe daily lives of locals. Just simple daily life. A life to work hard to support the family. A life to carry on despite not being in the best situation. A life without shopping, karaoke, cinema, and without iphone.

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

At one point, the boatman let us go ashore to visit the village. I'm not sure if every boat has the chance to do this, because I noticed we were the only tourists.

On the river bank, I could only describe this place as under-developed, and full of dust.

I walked, took pictures, and played with the local kids. Just a reminder to you, show the kids your photos. I kept forgetting and it was so rude.

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

A teacher's wage is only $300 USD per month. The children go to school in the morning, and then go to a tuition class in the afternoon to learn English. The class is free, so children might come and go as they wish. Of course please donate if you can, because education is very important.

Remarkably, the children in this village did not beg, they also wouldn't chase after and persuade you to buy scarf or postcards. The only thing they sell to a stranger is a smile, that's all.

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
At last, the boatman took us to the ocean. Floating in the middle of the ocean was a small eatery. I didn't pay attention because I was busy... looking for a safety jacket! It was scary! Then the boat drove slowly back to the river, but my mind was filled with the scene of crocodile in the river...

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Follow Rui on instagram @ryosuke_rui

Change is progress

MaGIC academy Cyberjaya Course

We went to MaGIC academy for a session about Digital Disruption and mindset shifting. The speaker AJ shared some interesting insights on how technology is hugely changing businesses. All of us are shifting what we used to believe in. Massive disruption is going on now, beyond my imagination. I have to tear down what I know, what I believe and look at things differently.

Change is inevitable for growth, but not just for businesses or corporate culture. Let's talk about personal change.

We all have things that we want to change, it could be our eating habits, time management, emotions or environment.

Most of the time we know the problem and what we should do about it. So why is a change so damn difficult? Why do we often stick to the old habit and belief?

Old habits are our old friends. We like to stay comfortable with them, feeling contented and grounded. Sometimes we are defined by them too. Change is scary, unpredictable and can be ego-disrupting. Whose ego like to be challenged?

But honey, the stubbornness isn't going to bring you anywhere.

The key to change, I think, is to be open and vulnerable. Vulnerability is not a weakness, it is recognising our emotions and seeing the reality, instead of putting a mask of bravado - the false confidence intended to impress or intimidate. Put aside our fragile ego, and embrace the opportunity to grow.

"Change - if there is no struggle, there is no progress." - Frederick Douglass

Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre, Cyberjaya

Breaking the habitual loop

Jalan Tun H.S. Lee & Jalan Sultan Kuala Lumpur

Messy, as well as happy, sad, great, bad, is a relative and conceptual idea that we are fed. When we perceive something, we go automatically into a judgemental mode to react. Our reaction might be based on our past experience, what we're taught or what we need to do to fit in. This is totally humanly okay, but the inertia of going automatically into our habitual concept and reaction, is not okay. We miss the opportunity to listen, to comprehend, to connect and see the situation as it is. We see it as what we want or were trained to see. We compare, we judge. We go into the same loop again and again.

At this point our immediate reaction will be, "Here it goes again!" While feeling it comes from an external source, there're more to be done internally.

Jalan Tun H.S. Lee & Jalan Sultan Kuala Lumpur

When the same loop is arising, and you are about to jump in it... if you could just pause for 10 seconds before saying what you usually say, feeling what you usually feel and thinking what you usually think... or a few milliseconds... you'll be surprised. Because essentially things are starting to look new, interesting and fresh.

Things can't be both boring and interesting, or both annoying and pleasing at the exact same moment. When you pause for that ten seconds, you get to choose. Path A is the habitual self, path B is the mindful self who sees it as it is. Not necessarily something new and fresh, but I'll try to respond differently.

Will the outcome be the same? I don't know, but the process will not be the same.

Newton's first law of inertia: an object at rest remains at rest, or if in motion, remains in motion at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force.

A habitual reaction, or THE LOOP, is recurrent in us unless preceded by a conscious mind, a pause and a few breaths.

Jalan Tun H.S. Lee & Jalan Sultan, February 2017

Tips to Photographing Kids


This is a guest post by
Lifestyle Blog for Creatives
Jenna Montroy

Well looking at my photos you might think I have a really calm and cooperative child. That's so far from the truth, she's beyond crazy and rambunctious and has an attitude like an 18 year old.

I try to work with Warin Marie Photography for most of my blog posts however with over an hour in driving distance between us now that isn't always possible. Some of our previous experiences have been super easy and really fun with our child models and other times we want to rip our hair out. I'm pretty sure on numerous occasions we've looked at each other and said "we are never doing this again!" However we continue to put ourselves through it time and time again.

After a year of doing this I have rangled up some of my best tips and tricks for you when photographing children.


If you're a mom you already know Food saves lives. No joke! I rarely leave the house without snacks in my purse, why? 'Cause you need them. Kids when they are hungry are not fun. They get hangry and just mean. Make sure you pack snacks.


Yup it totally works and I have no shame in bribing my child, sometimes you gotta do what ya gotta do. I will bring items that she loves with us to the photoshoot and if she does what she's asked she gets what she wants. It can be a bit of a catch 22 however it usually always works.


Always bring something to distract their attention in the direction you want. If they are little maybe it's a toy or a shiny object. For my daughter when she was around 2 years old we brought bubbles with us. When she was smaller it was a squeak toy that caught her attention. Now that she's getting older it's a bit harder but she still has a few toys that are her favourite.


Make sure you pack a backpack full of patience with you. 99% of the time it will not work the way you want it to and that's ok you have to be willing to adjust and adapt to what's happening. Try and be as easy going as possible and remembering to just breathe is a good too.


Kids get bored easily so keep changing up your scenery if you can. If you're trying to capture photos outside, go for a walk and move to a different location. Utilize what you have, play in that pile of leaves, go foraging for foliage, etc. Do whatever you can to keep them happy to be able to get that perfect image.

It's not always going to work. There have been days for us that just don't work out and that's okay with kids. You have to be prepared for anything, just try and remember these tips and you should be able to get at least one good shot.


Warin Marie Photography:
Chaos and Creative Blog:

This is the first guest post I received from an International blogger, Jenna is from Canada! I'm thrilled and beyond grateful for her generosity for sharing her tips here. Her Instagram feed is super adorable and cozy, you can see more of her talent in event styling and her bits on motherhood at @chaosandcreative or, thank you so much for sharing with us!   --- Eve 

Stop finding the perfect one

Evetopia valentine 01

So, you want to find the perfect person? All the singles ladies, your men must have the coolness and wit of Benedict Cumberbatch? And for the guys, your lady has to be elegant and composed as Blake Lively?

I hate to break the fun, but I think there is no perfect one in relationships. Perfect people are Flying Spaghetti Monster - they don't exist.

Perfection goes away

Even if we do start with that perfect one (or so we think), it will collapse in the first few months. The fateful day will arrive when you start to live together.

It is that moment when you will start to realize, it is not at all that pleasant. They are just like any other humans - they fart, pick their noses, not making their bed, misplace things, don't listen to you, leave a lot of hair on the floor, always forgetful, hurl mean words and throw unpredictable tantrums.

That sucks.

Making our way

So how do we deal with the later flaws of our significant other? Here is a great one-liner from the movie Me Before You:

"You don't change a person. You love them."

Love is where we came from. Deep in our hearts, we seek comfort and comfort stems from love. In order to love, we have skills to pick up. Learn how to react and communicate better. Pick up on how to talk and listen. Note the differences between men and women. We can’t get anything from a relationship, if we do not know how to love.

Love is all you need

Thank goodness there is no perfectness to chase after. In the end, love is the only way to be better together - till death took us apart.

“Better Together” - Us the Duo

Thank you for reading. To know me more, head to Medium (@jeevakanow) for my musings about life.


Thanks Yong Hao for sharing with us his piece of writing. Happy Valentine's Day to those with a valentine. For those who are single, love yourself and may you surround yourself with love. You're worth it. - Eve 

How I take and edit my portrait

Evetopia How I take and edit my portrait ; photography VSCO

I shared a post on December about "How to feel more comfortable in front of the camera”. I talked about finding your best angle and a style that you like. The stats showed that it's received unexpectedly well, which is quite... unbelievable.

Today Ill try to explain step-by-step on how I take my portraits. Some of my friends thought that having a DSLR with a good portrait lens (35mm) is a must, hmm yes it's really useful, but you can also take a good one using your phone. This portrait was taken with my Huawei P9 Lite and the outcome was pretty decent. Lets get started.


For this post, I chose my favourite theme - the Oriental to show you. I'd done some portraits of myself or friends in cheongsam before (Portraits of the Ladies and Oriental). It's our tradition to wear cheongsam (or qipao) every Chinese New Year. This outfit is very flattering and makes a woman more sophisticated and elegant (*wishful thinking*)

Of course you can also set a minimalist, natural, colorful, happy family or romantic couple theme. Why do you have to set a theme? Is it necessary?

Evetopia How I take and edit my portrait ; photography VSCO

2. Choose your outfit

By setting a theme, you know what outfit you are going to wear, how you will take and edit the photos. In most of my portraits, Im wearing white or light-colored outfit not only because they're simple to mix and match, they make you look good in any occasion or backdrop too. This also applies to travel photos. I think wearing light-colored outfit can easily help me to create outcome that I want.

This trick also applies to the uber popular OOTD shots, if you have a theme, be it a simple, glamorous or cool theme, you know where to find the right background and how to edit your photos.

Evetopia How I take and edit my portrait ; photography VSCO

3. Find the right backdrop

For this qipao look, I wanted to create a mystical, cool and vintage portrait (*wishful thinking, I hope I did*). I know that my facial features work better with this direction, instead of trying hard to look bubbly, cute... and horrible. All in all, a minimal and clean backdrop is ideal.

My sister Wai Shan took these photos for me. The first portrait with a wall of Chinese calligraphy behind me was fine, but it doesnt really give the cool vibe I was looking for. And it was shot against the light and hence slightly dark. For the second one, I wanted to have a monochrome portrait but it looks very stiff and scary. Toooo cool for a Chinese New Year portrait, ha.

The third one was the best. I stood right in front of a row of green bamboo leaves. Its simple and minimal, yet the leaves add interesting surface and texture to the photo, and the portrait doesn't look too flat.

You can try this for your own headshot. Play with these few options: stand in front of a plain white wall, a wall with patterns or a wall of plants. You'll notice a huge difference on how each of them give different feel to your photos and which one actually complement your face.

Evetopia How I take and edit my portrait ; photography VSCO

4. Edit photo with the right filter

Sometimes adding photo filters does wonders. I use the super popular VSCO app for most of my photos. The filter I used for this one is A5 Analog, and I adjusted Highlight and Skintone. 

For Wai Shan's portrait, I used the same technique for her portrait too. She used HB2 +12.0 filter, which makes the colours more saturated. You can see how different filters give different feel to the photos.

Other apps that you can use for portraits are Facetune (to adjust skin tone) and Cymera (to liquify). Of course you can also use super-surreal editing apps like Meitu, Snow and Snapchat to look like a porcelain doll. Just play with different filters and see which one you like best.

Evetopia How I take and edit my portrait ; photography VSCO
Evetopia How I take and edit my portrait ; photography VSCO
Shan, VSCO HB2 filter.

Keep playing. Trust me, it's easy. If you have any question, ask me in Facebook.

Initially I wanted to make a video of these steps to give you a better idea, but I dont have the equipment and editing skill to make a decent tutorial. If any videographer is kind enough to collaborate with me, drop me an email:

Hope this post helps you to take photos that pleases you. Have fun experimenting!

On Death

New life growing from death. There is not one without the other. Credit.

I have never seen something like this before.

I visited my uncle who had terminal cancer. His bed was placed in the living room. And her 5-month-old granddaughter was in her rocking bed a metre away.

A new-born and a dying person within a metre, literally from cradle to deathbed.

This is the first time I have seen life and death so close to each other.

I see that death is not only a figure on the news. It does not only happen in the movies. Death is non-negotiable, uncontrollable, and inevitable.

We are tirelessly working on career, family, relationship, talking about society and politics… but not being alerted of the simple fact: we are going to die. Death is more imminent that any parts of life mentioned above. 

We have lots to improve - we need to talk and think more about death. So much so that it is perfectly normal for having a morning ritual in front of the mirror, telling to yourself:

“Good morning love, you are going to die.
What should you do today?”
Don’t get me wrong. I am not here to deliberately wave the flags of dying fear. I am certainly not here to disrupt the positivity and aspirations of life.

Quite the contrary. I think it is possible to be well aware of death without taking away the essence of being alive, as Steve Jobs eloquently puts death in his Stanford commencement speech:

“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

So, go on and live. Make the most of it. Find out why we are here. Relax. Work and strive hard. Get hurt. Enjoy the moments. Find our pack and love them. Go to the nature. Make mistakes. Educate our minds. Take a different perspective.

Say our goodbyes. Stop worrying. Expand our comfort zone. Make others feel good.

Live up to our purpose.

Amidst our daily comforts and pains, we need to be persistently live with a greater aspect: our death. There will be a time when we will be horribly deteriorating and lost our command on our bodies until our demise.

Despite all of our trials and tribulations, death will be the elegant conclusion of our existence.

We are merely a part of a bigger speck. None of us is going to make it out alive.

The Hubble Deep Field. This is space, just from a patch of night sky. Credit.

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
― Mark Twain

Thank you for reading. To know me more, head on to my Medium (@jeevakanow) for my musings of life.

Cheers to the #talkaboutit documentaries

Gogu and I, photo by Dinesh

We followed Dinesh around the area while he shot on his film camera. Chow Kit is usually seen as a dangerous area, but I didn't feel that way, on the contrary, I find Chow Kit interesting. It's more lively and friendly than many other places in KL. Cafes and shopping malls are much cooler and neater, but sometimes I questioned if over-planning or manipulation is really the sign of modernity and intelligence. Chow Kit is messy, but full of life. Like, real, authentic life.

This photo was taken six months ago and I only got to see it now. We walked to Kampung Baru and saw some cute houses. Dinesh asked us to sit together and then he pressed the shutter. If this was taken digitally I'd have checked the photo thoroughly and asked him to reshoot if I think my face looked round or hair too messy. Control issue, babe. But this was on film, so nobody knows or has control over the outcome. I think this is the essence of the art - focus on the process and let go of the expectation.

See and experience every moment. No matter where you are. Can't wait to let you see the documentaries we made.  
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