I know I sound like selling "snake oil" but its really very special thing we are doing. Come and experience it.
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Chinese version from Wan Pau
English version kindly translated by Boo See the best while cycling - Interviewing Woon Taiwoon
Woon Taiwoon works in an IT company as a designer. When weekends comes along, he transforms into the best guide to show you around Singapore on a bicycle.Around 2006, some friends and him started a cycling group to explore the joys of riding on his blog. This group soon became LoveCyclingSG (LCSG) which grew into a big group.
He blogged:" Cycling is fun but it will be even more exciting when you ride with friends. It has nothing to do with the bicycle or the expensive bike parts but it is the experience that counts. Cycling also increases your appetite!"
Wanbao is interviewing Taiwoon to find out why he is willing to spend his time to organize rides, his life views and work experiences.
LCSG started between 2006 to 2007 because then he was working at Philips and he wanted to look for a good meal near the office during lunch time. Some colleagues that he lunched with rode a bike to work but he rode his bike to lunch instead. Then when he left the company, he met up with his ex-colleagues during the weekends instead. He was encouraged to blog about his experiences and about the people he met.
Taiwoon did not expect that these articles that he wrote to be very well received. As he blogged more about his riding routes every weekend, more people joined him and it became a group effort with some folks leading, taking photos and some just enjoying the ride.
In September 2010, the old Kallang Stadium was being demolished. They decided to visit it one last time and recorded what was left of it."Everything was almost gone but the memories were still around. The signs, the walls and the art tugged at our heartstrings. The wooden benches were almost all gone. Seeing all these made us really sad. But oh well, to make way for the future, what needs to be gone has to be gone. Goodbye Stadium and thank you for the memories. I'll remember you forever."
The group also visited the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and also the old bakeries around Balestier. Taiwoon also brought the folks to Potong Pasir where the old desk of Mr. Chiam See Tong is.
To him, these are part of Singapore's memories. In his blog, there are many photographs which document all these memories.
He thinks that by riding a bicycle, it is a vastly different experience. This is because your riding area could be a radius of 10km while if you walk, you probably only explore 2 to 3 km. Of course if you drive a car, you can go further but you see different things. Riding is different as you can slowly absorb the surroundings and sights.
Taiwoon said :" We want to record the details and capture the moment. When we look back at the photos that we have taken, we will appreciate them like a fine wine."
As Singapore grows at a very fast rate, and with the current generation putting priority on being first in everything, Taiwoon misses his childhood days and finds comfort in going back to his old playground at Toa Payoh.
He said: " To ask ourselves, do we want to go fast or go far? I don't know. However, friends around my age are a little disappointed and emotionally detached with Singapore's current achievements. An architect once told me that he had already stop donating money to his alma mater because it is the money that pushed for the destruction of the old school buidings."
Taiwoon wants to use his cycling memories in a more positive way. "Singapore has to go through big changes and this is her history. However, we should keep our little memories of the history which I am writing about. By capturing that tiny moment in time, we get to keep our home and what we treasure." said Taiwoon.
Currently, Taiwoon is working in Dell and in charge of designing printing products. If you think he only talks about the technical aspects, you are wrong. He is very clear that the user of a product is still human. Hence the product designer needs to understand the user's habits and wants. "What I am doing now and what I have learnt in school is totally different. During school, we learnt how to make things perfect. Although that is very important, I feel that the product should have a meaning afterall. The product should make people very comfortable to use it and somehow I need to link the product and user." said Taiwoon.So how is his work related to cycling?
He explained, "Although it is not directly related, but cycling taught me alot. Every Sunday when I get in touch with the cyclists from all walks of life, it helped me to understand different people. Everyone is unique with their own backgrounds. For example, you are a reporter but this is just what you do. It is like you are a product designer and you need to take care of how the product can bring in profits. However, the designer also need to seek out a solution and come out with a design that can be both beautiful and profitable."
In the design world, we gather and talk about winning products. This is, however, a problem as the designer can only talk about the design and easily forgets what was his original idea which was to create something for the people."
The Sunday rides allowed Taiwoon to get in touch with so many kinds of people which included retiress, business owners, students and this made him very humble.
"My job is related to the design of printers. This product has undergone many big changes since 20 years ago. People no long need a printer which just prints on paper but the humble paper still exist till now. Now, we are trying to undestand how the mobile world works as the people needs to print on the go. Hence the most important thing is to find out the behaviour of the users. If we use this as an example on the bicycles, you will see that the bicycle used to be just a cheap form of transport. However, it has many other uses as well. To some folks, it is now a hobby. So if you ask me, the bicycle helped me to understand the relationship between people." said Taiwoon.
Taiwoon grew up in Toa Payoh and attended Pei Chun Public School and was not the top student. However, he is very grateful to the school and the principal. He mentioned that he used to be more interested in playing table tennis than in studying. Being in the school team but as he did not have a fantastic result, he had to attend extra classes at 6.30am which was conducted by the principal. He finds that the school has a really traditional culture and hence he has sent his daughter to the school as well.
He did not make it to his first choice of secondary school but this did not stop him from working harder. Taiwoon was well taken care of by the teachers and made it to Temasek Polytechnic for a design course. After that, he went on to take up a product design course in RMIT in Melbourne.
As Taiwoon's interest grew in design, it became part of his work. His life is now filled with both his passion for design and cycling.