CNY Reunion in Bintan – Can’t believe my old dame did it!

The Wong/Cheng/Chua Family CNY tradition continues. From Sentosa to Desaru to Kukup, this is our 4th CNY staycation tour. Despite organising this 4 months ahead, we had the smallest turnout. Due to the bad timing, Uncle Asty and my sister’s family couldn’t make it.

The weather was terrible. It was cold, stormy and windy throughout our 3-day stay. What a waste, we booked 2 big villas by the pool and beach! It was impossible to do any sea sport, the waves were huge and choppy!

The ferry ride from Singapore to Bintan was quite an adventure. The sea condition was really bad. Just 15 minutes into the ride, things got chaotic pretty quickly. The ferry rocked violently and many passengers vomited. A Chinese man who sat beside me went berserk. Frantically, he unlocked the emergency door and went out to the open deck. He was spotted by other passengers who alerted the captain.

Stranded inside the villa, there wasn’t much to do. Everything was exorbitantly expensive here – food, shopping and activities. We came well-prepared with lots of food and booze. For some strange reasons, UnionPay Debit Card holders at the resort enjoyed 30% discount! That was quite a substantial saving! Thankfully, cousin Leon from Xiamen has his China card with him! We enjoyed a very sumptuous CNY dinner at the Kelong!

Bored and grounded indoor, I flew my drone out to take some aerial footage of our villas. The wind was too strong for the DJI Phantom but I managed to control the drone within range. However, there were 2 gigantic broadcasting towers beside our resort. Out of the sudden, I lost all transmission to the drone and it drifted away. The wind took it higher and further. It was horrific to see my drone drifting away and I couldn’t do anything about it. Somehow, the towers interfered and blocked my signals. For a good 20 minutes, I lost total contact with the drone!

Elkan and I ran out to search for the drone. Chester saw us running out of the villa and joined us. Thankfully, I managed to reconnect with the drone. From the live view on my iPad, I piloted the drone back to us just minutes before its battery ran out. What a scary nightmare!

On the second day, we went out to the Activity Centre. We had so much unexpected fun! We did archery and air-rifle shooting. Felicia and Elkan were sharp-shooters. It was Felicia’s first attempt on the air-rifle and she hit the target!

The highlight of the day was my mother. While we were leaving the Activity Centre, we saw a couple of kids soaring down the flying-fox. Surprisingly, my 70-year-old mother wanted to try it! (Even my timid boy wanted to play too!) The staff thought we were joking when we bought the ticket for my mum. They said my mum could be their oldest customer ever! They were expecting my mum to back out at the last minute but my old dame proved them wrong. She leaped and soared! What a joy to see her doing the flying-fox. We were very impressed! My mum rocks and she has balls!

What an unusual CNY reunion! No sun but we had so much fun together! It was a great break for me, to be away from work and having quantity time with my relatives, parents, wife and our little monkey! Enjoy the photos and Vlog below:

The annual Chinese Feasting Festival is back!

I am finally off for Chinese New Year! No more work and meeting, just having great reunion time with my family and good friends in Singapore! This year is a little bit special, I get to stay in Singapore for over 20 days!

Fate has been very kind to me too. Over the last 3 days, I bumped into 2 very old friends – Stella and Rosline (aka Baoxuan) who were coincidently my secondary school friends! I also managed to gather all my dear Katong friends for a small reunion breakfast at my favourite joint. I really miss the old days when we ran our small boutique agency. Time flies, Caffeine has been in Katong for over 1 decade! Amazing!

I would like to thank Karen and Charlie for hosting such a wonderful Wahbiang Gathering! It was nice to meet a couple of friends who I haven’t seen for over a year – Duuk, Yifu, Charlie, Ivy and Kalinda! It was a great party but the reunion time was too short for me to connect with every single one of you! We miss the presence of Lusia & Sam (who are now recovering in USA), Mannc, Joey, Lilian, Serene, Tracy (in KL with family) and Joanne! Despite the heavy downpour, we had a great time! The kids were pretty well-behaved too!

While I enjoy all the reunion with my families and friends, I don’t really like the ritual of eating/drinking at every CNY meeting. It does seem awkward and rude if we do not offer or accept any food/drinks during the gathering. It is really difficult to keep my weight down during this fattening feasting season. Perhaps I should just restrict myself to 3 gatherings per day. It is not even CNY yet and I felt my tummy bloated already!

I wonder, how many more Yusheng (鱼生) I have to consume before the end of this feasting season?

Enjoy the Vlog below:

Drone-unfriendly Yangon

“DRONE!” an airport staff yelled out. Within seconds, I was surrounded by a group of hostile-looking airport custom officers. This ritual repeated itself from the very first hour I landed in Yangon to the last minute I left the country. The Burmese authorities take drone very seriously. It was as dramatic as having a bag load of drugs or explosives.

I wasn’t alone. While I was debating with the custom officers about their laws on drone (which there isn’t any official law on drone), I was shown a list of drones that were detained by the Burmese custom office over the past 1 month! There were at least 10 DJI drones being detained inside Yangon International Airport right now. I do not blame Yangon for being so strict on drone-flying. There are indeed some black sheep in the drone community who are either dumb or just simply irresponsible.

Honestly, I wasn’t too worried about the detention of my drone. I was only frustrated by the way they handled my case. You see, there were 5 security checkpoints (airport entrance, custom office, departure hall, immigration counter, departure gate) on the way to the departure gate. And at every check point, I had to endure and repeat the same unpleasant tussle. Each officer gave a different reason to detain my drone (detain for investigation, no permit for leaving the country with drone etc). Thankfully, I kept the official release letter from the custom office and I was able to walk away from all these senseless confrontation. Trust me, getting the drone out of the country was 10 times more stressful than getting it detained in the first place.

Despite the ugly episode at the airport, Myanmar left me with many good impressions. This is a working trip, Chowpo and I flew in a day earlier to explore the City of Gold. Thanks to the friendly hotel staff who helped us to plan our short 1-day tour, we managed to visit most of the city’s key recommended attractions – the Shwedagon Pagoda, Bogyoke Aung San Market, Aung San Suu Kyi house, National Museum, Chaukhtatgyi Temple.

Myanmar is a buzzing country with lots to discover. It was unlike anything I had imagined about this place, Yangon is definitely a city in motion. With so many hardworking local and international talents, I have no doubt that Yangon will progress and grow through time. I saw so many Singapore home-grown brands well established here (Charles and Keith, Ya Kun, Fish & Co, Popular Books). There are just so many untapped golden opportunities and best of all, beautiful wonders to discover. I wished I had two more weeks to explore the other parts of Myanmar.

Check out more photos and vlog below:

Tracy ruined my surprise! (Trip to Singapore)

Tracy did it again! My secret surprise trip to Singapore has been leaked out by her unintentionally. Urghhh… I got a big surprise when I received my son’s text message minutes before I boarded my flight to Singapore. Elkan knew! Urghhh…

Luckily, I managed to save the nice surprise for my old folks, nephew and niece. Surprise costs little money (but lots of effort) and never fails to tickle the hearts. It is a gesture that runs deep in family. That’s why we never disclose our travel plans to any family member. Occasionally, a loved one appeared right where one least expected. That spark of surprise is an indescribable and priceless feeling. And I remember them all no matter how cheesy they were.

It will be a packed week of meetings all the way before CNY. I had 4 short days in Singapore before I flew off to Myanmar. I managed to balance a great schedule between work, friends and family time. Had lunch with Joanne and Juliana, meeting with Jimmy, Desmond & gang and dinner+dessert with Lionnel. I woke up early in the morning at 5am to catch sunrise with Felicia by the barrage. And Elkan and I spent the last 2 nights fixing up a new Wall·E Lego (with electrical accessories) that I bought specially for him!

Time to pack and leave for Yangon. Enjoy the Vlog video below.

Hong Kong’s coldest winter since 1957

Back from sunny Bali, we have just experienced Hong Kong’s coldest winter in 60 years! Just 4 weeks ago (around Christmas week), I was grumbling about this year’s warm winter. I hate to admit this in front of my Hong Kong friends (who usually overdressed in winter), this is no ordinary cold spell, it is indeed freezing cold!

To experience this once-in-a-lifetime natural phenomenon, many Hong Kongers (frost chasers) went up to Tai Mo Shan (Hong Kong’s highest peak) last night and early this morning. It was so chaotic that it almost become a national crisis. Many people were injured and trapped at the icy peak. The jam was so bad that even the firemen and medics had to go on foot to retrieve the people. The rescue mission was hampered by poor condition as some of them slipped on the icy road too.

I have survived the harshest winter in Mongolia (at -45°C) and braved the coldest artic wind in Abisko, I thought this is not a big deal for me. I totally underestimated Hong Kong’s coldest winter. Donning my usual gear (a light jacket and t-shirt), I went up to the Victoria Peak to experience the cold. The combination of strong wind, rain and high humidity was a deadly one. I was seriously unprepared for this!

Overnight, the cold frozen everything in its path. Leaves coated with ice sheets and icicles hung along the branches (and concrete steps). The environment was so unreal. I have never seen a frozen tropical forest! To see icicles hanging on green vegetations was a rare sight! Lucky for us, there weren’t many frost chasers here at Victoria Peak. In fact, it was very quiet and we had all the space and time to experience this rare phenomenon.

Fun aside, I hope the cold spell will be over soon. Unlike the northern cities, most housings in Hong Kong are not well insulated against such cold weather. It was freezing cold inside my own apartment. My fingers were so cold that I couldn’t text properly on my smart phone.

The bad news is this will not be a one-time occurrence. Haven’t you read about this? We are in fact entering a ‘solar minimum’ or some call it a mini “ice age”. Winter is not just coming, it will be colder and longer. Global warming might not be a bad thing after all!

Work Play Fun ~ Bali

We have been talking about it for years and we finally made it to Bali for our company trip! I am extremely blessed to be part of this winning team. I still remember those lonely months when we first started in 2008. We had less than 7 people in the team and now we have grown to nearly 40 people! I am proud to celebrate another key milestone with my lovely team mates here in Bali. Also, I haven’t been to Bali since my last visit 14 years ago! It is one place I love to visit again!

Unfortunately, 8 hours before our flight, news agencies around the world flashed headline-warnings on possible terrorist attack in Bali. Apparently, the Indonesian government received a warning letter that Bali will be the next target after Jakarta bombings. I have also received multiple messages from different friends about this news. The timing was terribly bad and I felt extremely unsettled on my way to Bali.

Thanks GOD, everything turned out just fine for my company and me. Weather was good and we were safe throughout the 4D3N stay. However, the first 2 days in Bali were not so great for me. Many of us stayed up late preparing for the workshop. I was up till 5am working on my team’s presentation. By the 2nd night, my body shut down early due to exhaustion. Guess I could not keep up with the young ones.

What I disliked most was the resort – Club Med Bali. The staffs were friendly and nice but the facilities were pathetic! The room I had was old and dirty. The resort was overcrowded with tourists. Pool wasn’t big enough for everyone. WIFI was very slow and I mistaken the 19-inch TV as a computer monitor! The bathroom was full of ants and the air-con wasn’t cold at all! It felt like those old NTUC Chalets in Singapore. Worst of all, toothpaste wasn’t provided in the room (unless you asked for it) and shopping at the resort was just as inconvenient! For cash payment, I have to pay at the resort reception instead at the shop. In short, it is certainly not worth our money and I will never come back here again.

Despite all the whining, I had a great workshop (Tracy won the top prize to Singapore!) and accomplished 2 new firsts with my lovely team mates – white-water rafting (over a 4m ripple drop) and para-sailing! They are perfect antidotes to heal the “terrorism-anxiety” in me. Just when I was about to enjoy myself, it was time to leave for Hong Kong. There were many other things to discover and experience in Bali. Definitely, 4D3N was never enough for all of us.

Enough said, hope you enjoy the photos and the long 13-min VLOG below! (Shot by DJI Osmo, Phantom 3 Professional, HTC RE, Canon EMOS 3 and iPhone 6s! Now you know why I need to pack so many things!)


Vlog – My favourite “playground” in Shenzhen

Just before I leave Hong Kong for 4 long weeks of travel, I headed down to my favourite “playground” in Shenzhen today. Nope, I am not talking about the KTVs or the sleazy massage parlours. Check out my VLOG below!

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