Hiking Bukit Shahbandar’s Extended Hills Before Attending a Wedding Reception

Normally, Saturday morning is one of the busiest days of the week when we juggle school runs, tamu (fresh market) shopping, breakfast, more shopping when the supermarket opens. But because it’s the last weekend of the school holiday and shopping’s done a day earlier, it meant we were able to organize what we couldn’t since the start of the year — an extended Bukit Shahbandar hike, which is basically twice the distance of the regular 9 Pondok trail but a lot more intense. But it’s not just the extended hike that I am writing about. It’s also that on the same day, after hiking an exhausting 6 km jungle trail, there was an hour’s drive home, leaving us about 3 hours to grab lunch, shower and rest, before another hour’s drive back to Bandar Seri Begawan to attend a Chinese wedding banquet.

See larger version of photo: Group photo at Bukit Shahbandar Lookout (Canon PowerShot G11)

See larger version of photo: Group photo on extended trail of Bukit Tangahan (Canon PowerShot G11)

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11 hours later, with barely an hour of shuteye, we were on the road again for another hour’s drive to the Centre Point Goldstone Ballroom for Sharon and Yazid’s wedding banquet. It was a great opportunity to catch up with so many people we hadn’t seen in a while. We reached home close to midnight, ending a very productive day collapsing in bed super exhausted.

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Having a bit of fun with props posing for the photo booth camera.

I almost always make it a point to have a camera with me when I hike, regardless if it’s a short hike at Sungai Liang or half the morning in the Shahbandar forest. Being a photographer, I think it’s a habit to do so but more importantly, as you’ve seen from the two group photographs above, you just never know who you’re going to meet during the hike and what better way to remember these chance encounters than to have them photographed and shared.

The Quickest Way to Upload Photos to Instagram from Windows PC

Friends who are fervent Instagram (“IG”) users have urged me countless times to share more photos on Instagram. I signed up an account sometimes in April 2012, shared my first photo I took at a client’s dinner and dance party. Fast forward three years to present day, I have shared a lowly total of 80 images. Here’s the thing: it’s not that I don’t want to share more, it’s that I find the lack of direct upload (Instagram does not provide an API for such purpose) from Windows a major inconvenience for me. I manage a huge repository of images in the Windows desktop environment and I’m not fond of the tried and true method of emailing myself the image files each time I have images to upload.

After several years of on and off hiatus, I found what I consider to be a very convenient method to quickly get my images from desktop to the iPad where I have IG installed (big screen and all). Between the PC and iPad, I use an incredible free networking app called Dukto that lets Windows/Android/iOS devices effortlessly see each other for the purpose of text and file transfers (I like it so much I paid for the pro version on iOS).

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The left screenshot is my Windows 7 desktop while the right screenshot is the iPad. Once the images are prepared on the desktop for Instagram upload, it’s just a matter of dragging them to Dukto container. Within seconds the images are wirelessly transferred to the iPad.
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Because Instagram doesn’t provide an API for any third-party app to play nice with it, there is no direct sharing to IG. Next best alternative is a free and highly popular companion app called InstaSize. Within the Dukto iOS container, clicking Open in InstaSize immediately loads the image for customizing options before it opens in Instagram app for take off.
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You can do loads with InstaSize but I use the app mainly for transit to IG. Non square images are automatically “instasized” to fit in the window and I usually just choose black for border colour where appropriate. Click on the red arrow and image opens in IG where you enter your caption and hashtags — within seconds it’s published.

I am hopeful that someday soon we can do away with the intermediary steps to easily share images. Meanwhile this is my account https://instagram.com/janshim/ shimworld-instagram-instasize-4

April 2, 2015 | If you haven’t already read about this, Google has released a Chrome app Arc Welder that lets Android apps run on Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome OS. As you can see from my Facebook post right below, I tried running Instagram on my Windows 7 64-bit and everything worked as though it’s running on an Android device.

First Sunday of 2015: Hiking Bukit Shahbandar (Again)

If there is one thing more uncertain than predicting the weather before a hike, it is coming up with a blog title that differentiates one from the other. We hiked the 9 Pondok trail on the first day of the new year and three days later we’re back hiking the same trails. Another day, another adventure through the forest and rocky terrains except with fewer company than our last hike. Also, Jong (red tee) a Miri resident who trained exclusively on these hills for his successful 2014 Mount Kinabalu climb joined us for the first time this year. Our morning began with a drizzle as we left our house in Seria that quickly escalated to a heavy rainfall by the time we reached the Seria By-pass. There was turning back or changing of mind because of bad weather — we remained positive, optimistically hopeful that the weather would clear up by the time we’re near Jerudong — it did, to everyone’s delight :)

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A group photo here at the intersection to Pondok 7. This trail is very popular for hikers that prefer a slightly less intense hike, by passing the more challenging and often slippery trails (when wet) that connect Pondok 4, 5, and 6.
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A cloudy morning makes for a dramatic photo moment. I am not too fond of dark clouds but I’m far less fond of environmental portraits with washed out sky. Lighting the subjects here is another matter with the PowerShot G11’s tiny flash just isn’t up to the task. I had to meet things halfway by exposing for the clouds to retain as much detail as possible, setup flash for slow sync and shooting RAW to pull brightness from the otherwise underexposed faces. You only need to look at our shadows to see direction and intensity of sunlight. Click on image to view larger version.
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Jong who was once upon a time the face for Muffin & Co. is incredibly fascinated by Shahbandar’s flora, in particularly the pitcher plants or ‘monkey cups’ as they’re commonly called, or even “somboi-somboi” as they’re called in local Bruneian context.
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Whether you choose to hike 7 or 9 Pondok trail, Bukit Shahbandar offers trail runners and hikers a variety of terrain to keep things interesting. I would get bored rather quickly if there was only one kind of terrain — an hour to get there from home and another hour to get home — would be quite the buzz kill.

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The short rocky trail between Pondok 6 and 7 has some amazing scenery with Pondok 7 offering a higher vantage point overlooking the rooftop of two (maybe three) huts in the distance.
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Descending from Pondok 8 the hike to the last hut, is met with a steep, rocky climb all the way to Pondok 9. Alternatively, there’s a by-pass side trail for anyone who wishes to give this a miss.

see MapMyHike for trail map and workout stats of this hike.

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If this part of the climb looks vaguely familiar to you that’s because it is — scroll up to see my blog header image and that’s a wider perspective. Quite deceptive to think that’s the top of where Pondok 9 might be when in fact it’s only the start of the climb. Like the Pondok 5 lookout photographing people and exposing them correctly here is also quite challenging considering the camera is aimed directly at the bright sky the natural tendency of camera’s automatic metering is to underexpose rendering shadow areas (of trees) and faces dark. Once again, the G11’s DSLR controls saved the day! Click on image to view larger version.