Ice Age – Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand Trip #8

April 29, 2011 at 12:34 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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We only reached Franz Josef in the afternoon to check into the motel. Though we knew that the guided tours to the glacier are very popular, we didn’t pre-book online as we weren’t sure of our timing. But luckily we din book any…cos I started to feel sick the day before…probably caught a cold at Kaikoura while looking at the birds and waiting for sunset.. 😦 Nevertheless, we decided to try our luck at the Visitor Centre, but were told only the longer tour trips which required higher fitness level, and cost much more, were still available. It didn’t come as a surprise given that the place was a very popular tourist spot, but I was still feeling very disappointed. My temperature was still quite high so it was not wise to join the group.  After a short rest, we decided to go explore on our own as we read that the walk towards the glacier terminal face was quite accessible.

Climate and topography have combined in Westland Tai Poutini National Park to create 140 glaciers within an area of 200 square kilometres. The Franz Josef Glacier is one of the largest. A glacier is a huge moving mass of old winter snow compressed to ice, descending down valley about 100,000 times slower than a river.

From the carpark, we could already see the beautiful view…

Three walks begin here…

But they changed the first walk from 50 minutes one way to 1 hr 30 min return…

This way please….


We passed through these temperate vegetation…

…before reaching here to get a first glimpse of the glacier…

Information from the signage

“The glacier has a wide block of land at its head. This can hold massive
amount of snow and ice, all year round. Ice is squeezed into a very narrow,
steep valley. Because the valley is so narrow, the ice is able to funnel
a long way down into a temperate forest zone.” 

If ice melts from the lower glacier faster than ice accumulates in the upper glacier (or névé), the glacier will retreat. If ice melts from the lower glacier slower than ice accumulates in the névé, the glacier will advance.

According to the sign, “Despite small advances about every 20 years, the
glacier has generally retreated for most of the last century. However,
over the last 25 year, the glacier has been in a state of advancement.”
At the top right side, a 1867 photo showed the ice was close to the base at
Sentinel Rock. In 1939 – 49, a lake remained in front of the glacier, and
tourists had to row a boat amongst icebergs to gain access as shown
on the right third picture! So romantic! Hahaha…

Tisu Boy couldn’t wait to get closer…These rocks formed a bridge for
crossing over when the water level is higher…There were colourful
sign posts to guide you along

Small waterfalls at the right…

The crimson coloured forest in summer is native Rata, sometimes called
the South Island Christmas Trees. It flowers in a seasonal wave, starting
on the lower slopes in late November and finishing on the upper slopes
in February, as seen in our picture. The retreating glacier creates ideal
conditions for Rata to spread in the mineral soil which is rocky, thin and

Lichens, mosses, shrubs and trees take hundreds of years to recolonise
ice-scoured rocks… 

There were many of these stones stacked on top of another at every little

The terminal face looked near but seemed so far also…took forever to reach it…probably also because we stopped for photos here and there…

Look at the size of people…we had a long way to go…

Folks with deep pockets can opt to fly over the glacier in a chopper…

Rocks are on the move around here, with a rock slide on December 1997
burying part of the access road and car park

We were lucky cos the sky cleared for a brief moment and we were able
to catch a glimpse of the summit… 

There…finally we reached the terminal face of Franz Josef Glacier…How
I wished I could hop over to touch it!

But beyond this point was no entry unless you were in a guided group as
there was danger of icefall and rockfall here. I
n February 2007, two tourists
were injured after being hit by falling ice when they ventured too close.
Even with experienced guide, mishap could also happen as Mother Nature
is so unpredictable. In June 2010, an Australian tourist died during a guided
hike of the glacier. When we were there we saw a couple of guided groups with
gears going in…so envious! Should have booked one! 😦 I miss the snowy
mountain landscape… 

Melted water from the glacier formed the Waiho River here. The Waiho is
wild and unpredictable, as it can rise and change course within minutes,
and can tumble huge boulders or chunks of ice for kilometres

It was close to 6pm and already the sky was getting dark…Had to head back soon…

Another long walk back to the carpark…

Took another last look….now the cloud had the summit covered up…
Itchyfingers were lucky….

Also see related posts:
> The Kueh Lapis – Punakaiki, New Zealand Trip #7
Changing Landscape – Arthur Pass, New Zealand Trip #6
> Seal with a Kiss – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #5
Freezing Sunset – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #4
Alfresco Dining – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #3
A Roller Coaster Ride – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #2
Mass Exodus – Christchurch, New Zealand Trip #1

The Kueh Lapis – Punakaiki, New Zealand Trip #7

April 20, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Checked out of the motel at Greymouth early in the morning as Itchyfingers decided to drop by somewhere we read on the guidebook. As we drove along the coast, we stopped to take a look at the beautiful sea.

Nice layering effects of the waves…er…did I see something familiar?

Zooming in with the telephoto lens, these look a bit like the Twelve
in the Victoria state of Australia! Hahahah… 

About 40 minutes from Greymouth, we finally reached our destination…

The Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes! Pancake Rocks? Such cute
name right? 

A round trip will take about 20 minutes…

The park had well-laid path for wheelchair assess

At the side of the path were these taller than human plants with long leaf
blades. These are called the
New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax). Leaves
and the extracted fibre were used by the Maori to make clothing, sandals,
mats, baskets, ropes, fishing lines and nets. Float or rafts were constructed
out of bundles of flower stalks. The plant was also highly valued for its
medicinal qualities

Too bad we were too early, otherwise when the plant flowers in Spring,
it will attract many nectar-feeding birds

Besides the Flax, there were a lot of these tall trees..

Called the
Cabbage Tree (Cordyline australis), this is another useful
tree for the Maori

Then there were also these tall palm trees…

Nikau (Rhopalostylis sapida) is closely related to the tropical Betel
Nut, Date Palm and Coconut

A closer look

See the layerings on the rocks? Don’t they look like Kueh Lapis? Hahah…
of course in New Zealand they won’t know what is Kueh Lapis lah, so they
called them Pancake Rocks…hahahha. The Pancake Rocks are actually

limestone formation caused by erosion of the sea

Don’t you think this looks like a side profile of a man’s head with punky
green hair?

A sign explaining the natural occurence of the limestone

But as to the strange layering effects, scientists are not completely sure about it…It just shows that human still have so many things to discover and learn from nature…

The making of the Kueh Lapis…hahah

Plants among the layers…

Were the gulls trying to have a slice of the “Kueh Lapis”? Haha…

The Variable Oystercatchers (Haematopus unicolor). No lah, he’s not
handicapped…His other leg was tucked underneath the body 

Wow this looks like Frankestein! Hahahah….And was Mr Frankestein
growing “beard” on his “chin”??

Bull Kelps! 

A closer look at the kelps

I keep seeing faces among the Pancakes…How many faces can you see?
Use your imagination!

Boardwalk leading to the various blowholes…

Very well-maintained

Who was the itchy finger to do this weaving on people’s plant!!?! I saw two
of these! 

This is called the Surge Pool where you look down on a dramatic spectacle
as the sea powers in underneath, sometimes through a huge build-up of foam

This is the 
Chimney Pot Blowhole which is supposed to emit columns of spray
as the sea gushes in through a narrow rock channel. But we din get to see
any…Think the tides were not strong enough at the time…

We soon reached a viewing platform to the biggest blowhole, Putai. Putai
is more a fissure than a hole. 
When the sea thunders through the caverns
below, a mixture of compressed water and air escapes upward as a wall
of spray, visible for a long distance on stormy days

Din really see many spectacular sprays but the formation was beautiful

Walked down a few steps here

These “Kueh Lapis” should be manmade ones….

Nonetheless, life still managed to thrive…

Another pancake limestone forming faces…Can’t figure out?

Check out the sign!

We were glad that we made the last minute decision to come to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes for the short excursion. Certainly very interesting, though didn’t get to see many spectacular gush of waves at the blowholes. When we saw the guidebook, they showed a picture of a person standing on the Pancake Rock itself. But after coming here, we wonder how and where did the person walk up from? Hmm….

To much of our delight, at the carpark just before I closed the car door, I saw a bird walking out from the bushes in front of our car! At first we thought it was the Kiwi! But then it looked bigger and the bill certainly didn’t look anything like the Kiwi….and the Kiwi is supposed to be a nocturnal and secretive shy bird. Was even more surprised when it wasn’t really afraid of people and Tisu Boy managed to get some photos of it…

It was later when Itchyfingers checked out at the bookshop that we realised
this is called the Weka (Gallirallus australis), a flightless bird from the 
rail family, endemic to New Zealand. A lifer for Itchyfingers! Time for a
Kueh Lapis for celebration!  

Also see related posts:
Changing Landscape – Arthur Pass, New Zealand Trip #6
> Seal with a Kiss – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #5
Freezing Sunset – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #4
Alfresco Dining – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #3
A Roller Coaster Ride – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #2
Mass Exodus – Christchurch, New Zealand Trip #1

Biennale @ Kallang – Singapore Biennale 2011 #2

April 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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In Itchyfingers’ posts on the last Singapore Biennale in 2008, we categorised and highlighted some of the works which we thought were either beautiful, interesting or thought-provoking. We also expressed our dismay at some of the less than satisfactory pieces which we felt either made no sense (at least to us!) or looked as if little effort was spent on the thought process or execution. There were a couple of works which won our thumbs up, earning them the “Die-Die-Must-See” award. But this year, we couldn’t find any piece (at least at the Kallang Airport) that impresses us enough to be worthy of the “Die-Die-Must-See” honour…hahah…Fortunately, there are still some gems…

The “Golden Fingers” Award – Michael Lee, “Office Orchitect”
This is a series of architectural models of a fictitous architect called K S Wong (if you are Singaporean, you will know what does “K S” mean..hahah). No doubt the intricate models were laser-cut by machines, by the final setup has to be done by hand…which was quite impressive.

There was also a biography of this fictional architect on the wall…one would
think that the architect really exist until he reads this

This model of the “Terrace House” has openings where you can see
these interesting layers inside…

This is called “Sponge Block Square Plaza”

Closeup of “Syonan Fukusou Koujou”. Experiments with thousands of
toothpicks as well as on-site observations of the Eiffel Tower led to this
design, which was initially called “My Lavatory”

Missed out the name of this piece, but I find the little houses on the free
flowing organic shape interesting

The “Man Vs Wild” Award – Jill Magid,”A Reasonable Man in a Box”

I was curious when I saw these words on the wall at the door

The moment we stepped into the room, we were taken by surprise by a
shadow of a monstrous scorpion that popped out! It then crawled and
displayed its pincers and massive stinger

I was curious what was the idea behind the huge insect…but hor, after
reading this…do you know what the h*ll the artist was trying to say? 😮

In any case, Itchyfingers just found the projection on the wall interesting and fun…couldn’t help but tried to do a Bear Grylls stunt… 😀

Man Vs Wild! Battle between Tisu Girl and the formidable Scorpion! Hahaha!

The “Best Sound Effect” Award – Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, “Frequency and Volume”
At one of the blocks next to the terminal building, Itchyfingers entered a dark empty room. There was nothing in the room except a row of tables with some machines on them. Initially we had thought it must be another one of those abstract installation so we just wanted to give it a miss and proceed to the next room. But just as we walked across the room, a loud sound scared the h*ll outta me and at the same time, our shadows were projected on the wall…

Tisu Boy’s shadow being cast on the wall…with some high pitch radio tuning

At the same time, the computer screen showed Tisu Boy in line form..

The artist uses “the shadows of visitors to tune into different radio frequencies, translating human bodies into antennae and providing a constantly shifting visual and sonic rendering of Singapore’s radio spectrum”. Quite interesting, combining art and technology…

The Giant and the Dwarf…Itchyfingers had fun running around the gallery,
triggering different radio frequencies before other visitors joined in. It was
fun to see them also being shocked by the loud noise…

The “Best Transformation” Award – Charles Lim, “All Lines Flow Out”
From far they look like two gigantic drumsticks. But go closer and you realised that they were made with dried leaves that the artist collected via our drain system.

Transformation from leaves to drumsticks…hahah…

A plastic ball among the leaves…who threw it in our canal??!?!

The “Most Patriotic” Award

The artist made hundreds of sketches on our local architecture…some of
them may no longer be around anymore…Can you recognise any of these?

The “Almost-Can-Make-It” Award – Gosia Wlodarczak
The artist calls her work “frost drawing” – “freezing specific moments into lines that coexist and interact with the constantly shifting world outside.”

“The lines are endlessly active and fertile, creating dense webs made up of
fragmets of images and objects, faces and text”  Look carefully and you
may discover many interesting shapes and objects…

Looking at the lines against the blue sky

I thought it would be better if the lines were to invade the ceiling, walls
and the floor to better utilise the space…but I guess the artist was running
outta time…hahah

There were others which caught Itchyfingers‘ attention but we couldn’t find a suitable award for them…hahah…

The “German Barn” by Elmgreen and Dragset in the old hangar of Kallang
Airport. The barn represents a rural lifestyle and form of labour that is
fast disappearing

The moving image of the sea was mirrored on the four sides within this
box…and we wondered where the projection came from…

So it was a LCD tv screen that was installed as the base!

Two floors of exhibition spaces were dedicated to works of students from
primary and secondary schools. Some were interesting, but as it was so
stuffy at the Kallang Airport venue, we didn’t spend too much time looking
at all of them…

This particular one from a primary school kid caught our eyes…My goodness..
at such young age, he is already faced with such tough life choice! 😮

Perhaps it is better not to worry so much…Er, that’s about all there is
for this exhibit…

Coincidentally, found this row of smiley faces on the gate…wonder if
they were original from the time when the airport was functioning or
added on later when the building was used as the Peoples’ Association

There were also some work which really made Itchyfingers scratch our head until they bleed once again and still dun understand what was the artist trying to do…Here are just some of them…

The “Best Vent-Your-Anger” Award – Mike Nelson
When you are angry, you need an avenue to vent your pent-up frustration. What better ways to do it than to vent it on some discarded boxes?

A mutated box…

One is not enough…you will need a whole room of them to calm those
angry nerves…Careful of those fingers!

What to do about these boxes after the show?

Reuse as lucky draw boxes…! Er, but there is a hole at the side…hahah

The “Super Waste Paper” Award
First impression counts. To make an impact and create a lasting impression for visitors, it is good to have a big piece of work on display. However, the first thing that welcomed visitors at the Kallang Airport was these gigantic rolls and rolls of papers wrapped in wire gauze left standing around the room. At the side was a fake printing machine…well…what can I say…? It did leave a lasting impression…one that means “waste of paper”.

Nice meh?

The “Like-that-Also-Can” Award – Nedko Solakov
If we have not heard of this ‘work’ from the friendly staff at the Japan Creative Centre (JCC) when we visited Singa-Planet early in the morning, Itchyfingers might, like many others, just missed this. As the artist is terrified of flying, he cannot come over to execute his idea. So he got another Singapore artist to fly to him to discuss his idea and help him to execute it. It sounds so bizarre that someone else can do you job for you…how is the person gonna replicate your style?

The same stairs that led us to the “Forbidden Spiral Staircase”. I started to
look out for the artwork…

Then I saw these ugly scribbling on the wall…I knew I was supposed to
look for some “big words” according to the friendly staff at JCC…but this…?
They looked more like vandalism…Obviously there is no ‘style’ to replicate…

Then we were supposed to look for some tiny words…which I finally found…but I was really not too sure if these were indeed the “artwork”…

I really thought these were the works of some pranksters…

Until I saw these that I confirmed this is indeed the “artwork”…

Really…like that also can? Well, at least it gave me this picture which I
kinda like. The guy taking photo of his girlfriend was the same couple who
climbed up the Forbidden Spiral Staircase…You are not supposed to venture
out of here too…naughty…tsk tsk tsk…

The “Like-that-Also-Can” + “Super Waste Paper” Award
Something as lame as putting a few cans of paint + photocopying a whole stack of paper can be called art certainly deserves a double award from Itchyfingers

A whole stack of paper wasted…oh wait, maybe Itchyfingers missed the
point… The real “art” piece is actually the piece of stone!?! 😀

The “Super Hairy” Award – Sheela Gowda, “Behold”
From the “Best Sound Effect” room, pass a black curtained door and you see these black rope-like thing on the floor and hanging from the ceiling. It reminded us of Tropicana by E Chen from the last Biennale. But this one looked so dirty, dark and gloomy, and the room (or was it the black velvet curtain) smelled musky, that Itchyfingers felt like committing suicide with those black ropes hanging from the ceiling…hahah…. 😀

It was only when I read online that I realised that these arepainstakingly
woven from short lengths of human hair to become a four kilometre-long
rope holding aloft steel car bumpers in a precarious pas de deux, inverting
the conventional casting of the human body to its metal machine cohort.”
What the…?? Four kilometre-long of hair? A bit gross right?

The “What-the-H*ll-is-This” Award – Ceal Floyer, “Overhead Projection”
An absolutely cannot-make-it piece – a light bulb being projected on the wall with an overhead projector! There were two doors to this ‘exhibit’ and while Itchyfingers had our fingers still fixed on the door handle with our faces contorted in disbelief, the other door was opened by another Causasian visitor. He merely popped in his head and also showed a “what-the-h*ll-is-this” expression before popping his head out.

Waste of electricity to turn on the projector to show this lightbulb. I dunu
about you, but having just returned from another overseas trip visiting
many wonderful world-class museums, Itchyfingers simply cannot
appreciate this sort of ‘art’…

These are just some of the works that Itchyfingers share here…we may not have understood the concept or rationale behind all the works to fully appreciate them. There are many others that we might miss as the venue was really a bit hot and stuffy to stay longer, unless the work is particularly interesting. Do drop by the Kallang Airport and judge it for yourself! Admission at the Kallang Airport exhibition is free.

After scratching heads till it bled, pondering the rationales behind the many
work here, it’s time for a wash! Hahaha… 😀

Also see related posts:
> Taking off at Kallang – Singapore Biennale 2011 #1
The “Why-Din-I-Think-About-It?” – Singapore Biennale 2008 #4
The “See-Liao-Catch-No-Ball…”!  – Singapore Biennale 2008 #3
The “Die-Die-Must-See”! – Singapore Biennale 2008 #2
The “Die-Die-Must-See”! – Singapore Biennale 2008 #1

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