Magic with Jeff Teo (Magic at the Fringe, Hong Kong)

What an extraordinary magical night! Big thanks to Hong Kong’s Celebrity Magician, Jeff Teo who gave me an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime, money-cannot-buy experience!

“Magic at the Fringe” was sold as the only live magic cabaret in Hong Kong. Featuring some of the region’s top promising magicians, the 90-minute show delivered tons of humour, surprises and magical moments! Last night, Chowpo, Tracy and I attended its inaugural performance at Fringe Club, Lan Kwai Fong. It was full-house packed with 60 people. Some of the audience were well-known magicians themselves!

Thanks to the kindness of the Teo Family who invited us, we got the best seats in the hall. Hosted by a well-known international (and humble) magician, Harry Wong (aka Harry Gor Gor), the show exceeded all our expectations. Harry was a great host, he energised the crowd with tons of “suggestive” jokes! He was extremely funny, candid and very spontaneous! I thought I was attending a standup comedy show instead!

Harry did an excellent job to introduce and showcase 4 young and very promising magicians. They were Fung Ip, Harry Harrius, Jeff Teo and Armando Cheung. These magicians wooed the audience with their captivating performance.

I was invited by one of the magicians, Jeff Teo, to go onto the stage. I was reluctant to do so but he insisted on a “gentleman”. Once on the stage, I was told to perform a magic trick. I was very nervous as I have no idea what he wanted me to do. Just when I was getting really uncomfortable standing in the spotlight facing the crowd, magic happened! Within that short timeframe of 5 minutes, Jeff successfully transformed me into the world’s “2nd best magician”.

Thanks to Jeff’s act, my first 5-minute fame wasn’t that bad afterall. I guess I do have some good showmanship. My only regret was I should come in my pretty suit and pant! Enjoy the video clip below! I am looking forward to their next show next month!

CNY Reunion at Kukup

Wow, how time flies! It is March already! It has been exactly 2 months since I last blogged. The past 2 months were incredibly hectic for me. Thankfully, CNY arrived early this year and I spent 10 good days with my family back in Singapore.

This CNY, the family picked Kukup (a mangrove fishing town) as the family’s reunion destination (and the reunion grew from 16 to 20 – thanks to the new company of Uncle Peter and Lita’s family). Kukup is a short 1.5hr drive away from Singapore. Compared with our last CNY reunions at Desaru and Sentosa, I must say this is the most relaxing family retreat. We stayed at a brand new 3-bedroom chalet. Each bedroom houses up to 9 beds! We were its first occupants, everything inside the chalet was brand new!

Unlike our last dining nightmares at Desaru, food at Kukup were delicious! The chalet provided 4 meals a day! We had lots of steamed fish and prawns every day. Life at Kukup was slow, quiet and breezy. There was basically nothing much to do here except sleeping, eating and fishing. The fully air-conditioned chalet was equipped with its own karaoke system and mahjong tables. This was exactly what I needed – a long carefree, lazy afternoon nap. The space here was so big that there was ample space for everyone to sink in. The adults were playing mahjong and the children were running around the compound. My cousins and I were sharing the latest gadgets (I finally got to try on the Google Glass!). And I successfully managed to teach Felicia how to scoot!

On our 2nd day, we planned a small tour around the small town. There is a mangrove nature reserve opposite our chalet. We took a ferry out ($5/adult) to visit the mangrove nature reserve and a nearby kelong.

Sunset by the Malacca Straits was calm and beautiful. By nightfall, big fireworks and sky-lanterns lighted up the quiet skies. Suddenly, the sleepy mangrove town came alive. Felicia, Elkan and I flew our first sky-lantern. This was a short but relaxing reunion and I am looking forward to next year CNY already!

Blissful Festive Reunion

I never like counting down to New Year. It is the day when I bid farewell to my loved ones.

After spending 8 days of home-quarantine, I finally get to spend some quality time with my parents, wife and child. Having chicken pox at 40 was a dreadful experience. It was a good test of one’s character and endurance. For me, the timing was just bad. My sickness coincided with our Christmas family trip. I wasted one good week at home. Fortunately, I was thankful that I managed to recover in time before their departure.

Every gloomy cloud has a silver lining. Auntie Amy, Joanne and Scott were in town too! I was so excited to receive them on my first day of freedom! Tracy and I went to the airport to welcome Auntie Amy and Joanne & family!

With Auntie Amy and Joanne & family in town, the gathering got merrier and noisier! Both my Aunt and mum started their nagging rituals on poor Elkan. I managed to avoid the old ladies’ bombardments by joining Joanne, Felicia and Tracy. Dad was happily chatting with Joanne’s dad who was also his ex-colleague.

There were 2 days when Auntie Amy and Joanne & family went away. Auntie Amy flew to Xiamen on 28th Dec to surprise her son and Joanne brought her parents to Macau and Zhuhai. I didn’t plan anything special for my family. My old folks didn’t want to travel far. Mum and Dad weren’t feeling well as they weren’t used to the cold weather. So, we spent a lot of time dining and shopping around Central and Soho areas.

Felicia and Elkan fell ill during their last 2 days in Hong Kong. Felicia was having the same symptoms as what I experienced (Felicia went to A&E and was diagnosed with chicken pox on New Year’s Day). She lost her appetite and her body was unwell. During both their absence, Auntie Amy and Joanne & family returned to Hong Kong. Chowpo volunteered to drive my family and friends around Hong Kong on 29th and 30th of Dec. We had lunch at Stanley Market and sight-seeing at Sai Kung. Later in the evening, we had farewell dinner at Central.

Felicia, Elkan, Auntie Amy and my parents left Hong Kong on the eve of 2015. Joanne & family, Harshad, Tracy and another Hong Kong auntie came to IFC to send them off. It was another teary farewell at the airport express station. Separation makes us cherish every reunion. Elkan kept reminding himself not to cry but he eventually broke down just seconds before he boarded the train. He was suppressing his sadness the entire morning and when he broke down, I gave him a tight hug and told him it was okay. Departure was never easy for anyone of us. That is why I am always so hasten to say goodbye.

I was blessed with the company of good friends. Tracy, Chowpo and Harshad were there for me at every farewell. And this new year’s eve, I had the company of Joanne & family. We welcomed the first minute of 2015 on a rooftop watching fireworks over Victoria Harbour.

On New Day’s morning, Joanne & family joined me to welcome the first sunrise at the Peak. The weather was fantastic, we walked a total of 10km that morning! By 1pm, Joanne’s parents were so tired that they went back to the hotel to take an afternoon nap! It was also this trip when Joanne bumped into friends on the street. Amazingly, she bumped into 3 different friends in Hong Kong! It is just unbelievable how small the world is!

Finally, I bid farewell to my last visitors yesterday. Joanne and parents flew back to Singapore last evening. I started to miss all of them (my parents, wife, son, auntie and friends) already! As I walked past their hotels this afternoon, I could feel their presence. Guess it will take me quite a while to get back to my usual working pace.

Thank you all for being there with me this Christmas and New Year (in sickness and in health). Thanks for everything! See you soon my loved ones!

Christmas Without the Polkadot Man

It is great to see my loved ones enjoying themselves during my “chicken pox” absence (19th – 27th Dec) this festive season. Thanks to Felicia, Tracy and Chowpo for taking such good care of my old folks and boy. Here are the photos and blogs by Felicia. Enjoy!

BLOG BY FELICIA (20th Dec – 23rd Dec)

Harbin Ice Exhibition & Lychee Valley (21st Dec)

A bright sunny day was the perfect day out for us to enjoy the cool weather! To make it cooler, we took the MTR and headed to the Harbin Ice Exhibition at Yuen Long.

The exhibition site was quite crowded with lots of carnival booths. Elkan was excited about the cold while the old folks were worried if the huge ice cage would be too cold for them. This is my father and mother in-law’s first experience of -10ºC. We were each handed a thick down jacket to keep warm just before we enter the exhibition. 

Although temperature wasn’t as cold as it was at the real Harbin Ice Festival in China, Heilongjiang, but it was cold for us as we didn’t have the proper winter wear. There wasn’t many sculpture pieces inside. Some nice ones are the igloos and the slides. Elkan took his grand parents to the slides. They had fun like little kids!We quickly swept through the rest of the sculptures and headed for the exit. It was great to be back at the outdoor of 16ºC.Elkan and me decided to have a short race on the paddle go kart and it was really fun going for a few rounds on the race tracks. Not easy keeping up with Elkan’s speed now!

Next we headed to a nearby organic park, the Lychee Valley. A small park with kids playground and lots of fruits farms. Unfortunately it wasn’t the season for most of the fruits. Maybe another trip again soon!

Lantau Island, Tai O & A Surprise Sammi Concert! (22nd Dec)

Thanks to Chowpo who accompany us to Lantau and visit the Big Buddha. It was also a meaningful day to visit there as it was the 冬至(Winter Festival).

The fun of the day was the cable car trip up the hill. Apparently, my father in-law was afraid of the ride but he went along with us and bravely stepped into a crystal cable car, which is a glass-bottom cable car! Bravo!!

After a healthy vegetarian lunch, we headed downhill to Tai O. Took a short boat ride out to the sea, but we didn’t have much luck to spot any pink dolphin. At least the sea breeze was enjoyable.

The day ended with a sweet surprise! A Sammi concert for me with Tracy!

A spectacular performance with lots of gunfire, hot dance and special guest, Eason Chan! We were amazed with how the stage transforms, changing the whole dimension of the centre stage, not just once but a few times. And creating a stage within the stage! Eye-opening for me!

Dine by The Peak & Shopping at Central (23rd Dec)

Chowpo brought us to a nice restaurant with a great view for Dim Sum the next morning. It was pleasant and relaxing lunch. The food was great!

After lunch we took a short ride up the the peak garden. The higher peak which most tourist would give it a pass. The air was fresh but the wind was chilling.

We spent the afternoon shopping along the streets near our hotel. And visiting nice christmas decorations in the shopping malls. Hong Kong malls never fails to surprise us with beautiful decorations.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

I had the worst nightmare before Christmas. And it happened 5 days before my year-end holiday. It ruined all my secret Christmas holiday trips with my parents and loved ones!

A week ago, I was perfectly normal. One minute, I was attending a meeting at work, the next, I was shivering with a high fever kicked in. It was a strange new experience. There was no symptoms. I had no flu, cough or sore throat. My body just shut down with this sudden high fever. I decided to stay away from work (my first MC in 2 years!) and took a day off to rest.

The next day, I went to see the doctor. He too, couldn’t provide me with any medical reason about my fever. He gave me the usual fever and pain-killer pills. He suspected a virus attack and asked me to rest for 2 more days. It wasn’t any typical fever. It came with severe headache and body-aches. I lost appetite and I had difficulties breathing. It was extremely uncomfortable and it was driving me crazy.

On the third day, I started to notice some rashes on my chest, arms and back. There were a couple of tiny red bumps near my elbow. One of them looked like a blister. Instantly, my worst fears surfaced in my mind. I was swearing and cursing in the shower room. Felicia asked me what happened, I told her my suspicion. I made a trip down to the clinic and showed the doctor the new symptom. After checking my body, he confirmed I had chicken pox.

My heart sank. The first thing I thought of was my wife and son. Like me, they never had chicken pox too. It will be devastating if the entire family was infected at the same time!

I came home and asked both of them to pack their bags. I immediately checked them into a nearby hotel for their remaining days in Hong Kong. I cancelled all our air tickets and hotel bookings. Originally, I planned a surprise 1-week Christmas vacation (for my parents, Felicia and Elkan) at Taiwan.

Having chicken pox at 40 was a humbling life experience. The books were right. Chicken pox is no small feat for adults. I sincerely urge all adults who never had chicken pox to take a chicken pox vaccination jab. Trust me, it is bearable but I wished not to experience such tortures again. The sickness took a heavy toll on my body and mind. The first three days were the worst days of my life. It was worst than what I experienced in National Service. I am extremely weak and under extreme pain. The pox spread everywhere (on my palms, in my ear and even inside my mouth). Thankfully, Tracy had chicken pox before and she took great care of me throughout this tormenting ordeal. 

It was extremely difficult for my loved ones. To avoid any contact, they cannot visit me and can only drop food/gifts by the door. Finally, after 10 days of house-arrest, my body has recovered and I managed to have a short Christmas dinner with my family and friends this evening.

It wasn’t the Christmas I have expected. Still, I appreciate this experience. It taught me the value of good health and family bonding. To my parents, wife and child – Thank you for being so patient with my sickness. Thank Felicia for dropping lovely meals by my door step. Thank Tracy for fetching me medicine, food and water 24/7. Thank Chowpo and Harshad for accompanying my parents and popping by to fill my apartment with so much warmth and sunshine. I am sure in another 2-3 days, I will be able to go out in full. On a positive note, I am finally immune, this will not come back (cross my fingers) to haunt me for a long long time. Thank you all for all the beautiful gifts and good-wishes. Looking forward to more happy moments with all of you in the coming days! Happy Poxing Day!

Camping at Wan Tsai (西貢灣仔)

It has been almost 20 years since I last camped outdoor. Thanks to my colleagues (Sean and Wing) who invited us, Felicia, Elkan, Tracy and I had our first family camping experience last Saturday. When I told my friends that I will be camping at Wan Tsai, many of them assumed I will be occupying Central on the highway. Unknown to many, there is really a campsite by the name of Wan Tsai (not Wanchai) and it is located at the far northeast of Sai Kung. It was a long ride from our apartment in Central. First, we took a cab to Wong Shek Terminus at Sai Kung Country Park. From there, we then took a 20min-ferry to the campsite.

The Wan Tsai campsite is a good site for beginners. It is located just right beside the pier, so we need not to walk very far with the heavy gears. There are lavatory and shower facilities around the campsite and they are very clean! There were many other campers around so we felt very safe.  Felicia, Tracy and I were so inexperienced and unprepared for the trip (we brought all the outdoor toys, snacks and bottled drinks but not the basic survival gears!). Lucky for our more camping-savvy friends, they came with the right tools and gears. The weather wasn’t that good. It was misty cold (at about 10-12°C) and it rained in the wee hours. We managed to survive the long cold wet night with some really good warm supper and breakfast. I never expect a cozy night sleep (the tent we bought was too short for my body length) and this was a very good experience for all of us. With better cool days coming ahead, I am sure we be doing more outdoor camping in the next few weeks!

Coincidentally Taipei

This was one amazing trip of fateful coincidences. Tracy and I were supposed to use these discounted air tickets to meet Lionnel and Joey in Taipei. Due to a Super Typhoon, we had to cancel our September trip at the last minute. Without any plan in mind, we picked a random date in mid November to exhaust the tickets.

It seemed that Fate had other plans for us. Coincidentally, 2 weeks before our November trip, I was informed that two of my best buddies in office (Chowpo and Vanliza) will be flying to Taipei for business on the same travel dates as ours. We were so happy to know that as Tracy and I didn’t have any special plan for our postponed trip. I changed my hotel booking so we can all stay around the same vicinity.

Since we were part of the same business unit, Tracy and I decided to lend Chowpo and Vanliza some help on Friday evening. We accompanied them to the client’s office to move some props. There, at the lift lobby, another delightful coincidence occurred! I bumped into an old client-friend, Mandy! She was so excited and surprised to see us! What a small world! We started chatting non-stop outside the lift door. We haven’t seen each other for almost 4 years! It was great bumping into her!

The next morning (Saturday), we were supposed to make a trip to visit another friend at Taizhong. At 7am, I received a surprise text message from my Cousin Bin! His family and he were all in Taipei! I supposed to join them for breakfast but one thing led to another. Coincidentally, Cousin Bin was staying at the same hotel I originally booked (but I changed another hotel to be closer to my colleagues). He was planning a 1-day tour along the northern coastal towns of Taipei. I checked with the ladies and we decided to tag along!

It was an awesome gathering! I was so happy to meet Cousin Bin and family! It was so unreal! The excitement was indescribable. Perhaps all these were fated! Cousin Bin booked 2 cabs for us. We went to visit Yehliu Geopark (野柳), had lunch at Jiufen Old Town (九份), hiked across a suspension bridge at Shifen Waterfalls (十分大瀑布), and released sky lanterns (天燈) at Shifen Old Street (十分老街). It was an extraordinary day with so many delightful moments! I was so glad that my friends and cousin enjoyed themselves.

Surely, no any other pre-trip planning can match what I experienced this trip. Tracy and I weren’t expecting anything special after our disappointing cancellation last September. This postponed trip was simply amazing and fulfilling! Fate certainly has its own unique way to connect people. Thanks God (and the power of social media) for this wonderful arrangement. This is indeed one of my best Taiwanese visits ever! And yes, life is beautiful. May all our wishes (on the sky lanterns) come true. Enjoy the photos! 


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