September 28, 2008 Leave a comment
September 27, 2008 Leave a comment
Right after saying goodbye to Meijie, Tracy and I joined our clients and colleagues in Beijing for our 2nd Asia Event. We were there just in time to enjoy the cold season. The temperature fell to 11 degrees on Tuesday night. After enduring 4 months of hot and humid summer in Hong Kong, this is exactly what I love about China – its 4 seasons. Boy, I sure miss those cold months in Shanghai…
My last trip here was 2004 (with Felicia & little Elkan in mummy’s tummy). Olympic did changed Beijing a lot. It is now a very clean and beautiful city. It houses some of the most intriguing architectural marvels. There are lots of greens and the roads are very new and wide…Overall, it feels like a giantic Singapore ~ A Mega-Garden City. Everything is great except its traffic jams. That is the biggest flaw of Beijing. The jam is so bad that it affected my moods and impression of this "so-called world class city".
This week, China is making global headlines (for good and bad reasons) – First, China just topped America as the most carbon-emitting nation (eee…talk about "Green Olympic"). Just today, China’s spacemen did their first ever space-walk live on national TV. Still, it cannot distract this week’s biggest and hottest topic – China’s milk scandal is sending shockwave to the world. Plastics (or melamine) is found in some of China’s major milk-products! My goodness…gone are my favorite "Big Rabbit Milk Candy", "Oreo Biscuit", "Pizza Hut", "Heinz" and other big local brands. Perhaps we should start putting health warning stickers (like those on my cigarette packs) on all China-made milk products ~ stating "Milk Damages Health, Endangers Lives" or "Plastic-cosmetically Milk".
This is a pretty short trip for us – only 4 days (And yes, our event is very successful!) – During our free time, we went around the city, taking photos of the new Beijing. Most importantly, we managed to meet up with Hovman and visited his house. Oh yes… I miss the affordable good Chinese massage! (Thanks Hovman for recommending such a good place for massage!)
September 27, 2008 Leave a comment
After 2 years of constant nagging, I managed to get some of the “handful of brothers” to visit me. Barely 5 weeks ago, Gareth and Ivy came with the big typhoon. And last Thursday,Meijie (My 16th HK Visitor)finally dropped me a visit in Hong Kong.
Surely, I was very excited to see my buddy. Why? He has been my closest pal since Secondary School days. We grew closer during those days when we part-time as waiters at the Singapore Swimming Club. We even spent 1 week backpacking in Perth. Over the last 15 years, Meijie is my constant Kopi-Kakis. (Question is: How he maintained his size while I ballooned non-stop). There were 4 years when Meijie was away (for study and for work)… Despite his working stint in Thailand, we met every month (during his monthly book-out weekend from Pataya).In fact, I was dying to see him in Shanghai – so I can show him the blink blink and bang bang. But he was so reluctant to fly over. Now, I am just 3.5 hours away (plus a tempting birthday redemption) – there is no reason why he cannot come and visit his old pal.
Argghh… the timing was pretty bad. The night when Meijie flew in – I was like a zombie. My 14hrs/day workload was certainly depressing and I guessed Meijie can see how badly I looked that night. I was trying to stay awake…and keep him “entertained”. Haaa… in the end, he had to join me to do some late night hunting for my event props at Wanchai. Carrying a heavy luggage, I made Meijie walked up and down Hong Kong’s unforgiving slopes. By 12am, Meijie was complaining about his 1st hour here.
Back at my house, Felicia prepared a surprise for both Meijie and Tracy (who also flew back on the same day). Elkan stayed up till 12am just to welcome his favourite “Uncle Lionnel”. When Elkan saw both Meijie and Tracy, he screamed and jumped like a monkey out of the cage! He was uncontrollable!
Meijie spent 5 nights at my house. Having a tiny spot in our living room, he endured all our late nights and early mornings. Meijie and my family even sat through the rain from 10-12am – waiting for Tracy and me to wrap up our event at the Peak.
More dramas, fights and laughters exploded over the weekends ~ Meijie seen it all. He even slept in my office!
Overall,we had such a good time in Macau and around Hong Kong. I just wished I am not so busy and “too sticky into my job”… I felt a little bad that I neglected my friend. Even in my dreams, I dreamt of chatting with him – nagging him to get a girlfriend. My only regret is I am not pushy enough to bring him to those “dirty massage”.
Meijie flew out on Tuesday ~ together with Tracy and me (except we were all flying in different directions – Tracy and I were heading up north to Beijing for another event and Meijie is heading back south – just in time for Singapore’s 1st Night Grand Prix.) We sent him right to his gate. Under some pressures of Mr Joe Chua, Meijie entertained me with a “Elkan Crying Byebye”.
Buddy, please come again. Perhaps Christmas. This time, it is on you. I shall offer you 10 Pineapple Buns. Oh yes, thanks for fixing my Xbox – You are our Global IT Director, mate!
September 15, 2008 Leave a comment
Gareth left something here during his last visit in Hong Kong. He left me craving for these "babes". In fact, Gareth has been showing me all sort of firearms since our secondary school days. Back then, he "brainwashed" me to join his "hydro machine-gun" club. We were only 14. We spent all our pocket-money on our 1st machine-operated water guns. Yes…who have heard of such innovation back then in 1989. (Guess what, our machine guns were confiscated by our teachers after just 1 day!)
When I was in Shanghai, Francis reignited my passion for guns (and roses). In total, we bought a lot of such toy-guns in Shanghai. (The funny thing is we bought those guns at roadside fruit stalls! And the hawkers acutally hid those toys underneath their fruits!!!) Sadly, I couldn’t bring those babes over to Hong Kong (too restrictive). 4 weeks ago, Gareth showed me the gun shops at Mongkok (coincidently just behind YMCA Hotel – the one where my parents stayed). Last week, I decided to go back there to get my 1st gas-powered BB gun (aka air gun/rifle). "BB" stands for "Ball-Bearings" – except that in this modern days, BB comes in plastic alternatives. Back then, it is really made of metal lead. Pretty deadly.
Dun get me wrong, I am not a hardcore collector. Just curious and wanted to know its fire-power. Pretty cool and feels very solid. The cylinder and shells look real. One shell only holds 1 BB. The impact is pretty good. (Francis would love to own one of these too! I bet!). Mine isn’t the professional series – so it is only a mere HKD289. There are many good ones – costing as much as HKD3,000. Man, it is sexy to own one of these real stuff. And the shop staffs even teach you how to dismantle and clean..and oil them.
On second thoughts, no. I had enough of my NS. Man, really hate those nights of oiling and polishing my gun!
September 14, 2008 Leave a comment
Mid-Autumn Festival has been always a special day in my life. Like Christmas, it has a special place in my heart.
Mid-Autmn Festival used to be a big and important gathering at my late-granny’s place – when all the adults and children gathered. The elders played many rounds of mahjong and the children (my cousins) roamed the dark streets with their own lighted lanterns. It was the only "official" day of the year when children were allowed to play with matches and fire. (My elders were very strict with us back then – they allowed us to hold joss-sticks but never allow us to lit up a candle.)
The streets where my late-granny stayed were dark and deserted. Once the sun set, a group of us will gathered and planned our "adventure". We will explored the "unknown" back alleys of the neighbourhood. We will purposely avoid all the main roads where they were brightly lit (our excuse: too dangerous, got cars). The fun and exciting part about Mid-Autumn Festival isn’t about the awful unhealthy oily and sticky mooncake – but the "exploration of the dark alley" with our humble candles and paper-lantern. (Haaa…rule of the night – must bring extra candles – those cheapo candles lasted only like 10 minutes max).
Of course, the adults will never knew where their little rascals have gone to. I remember one year when I led a few neighbourhood kids to explore the dark, smelly and rat-infested drain system. We walked and walked…along the algae-banks of the canals.. (Singapore has a very extensive underground canal system – like the underground CTE expressway – it cut across streets above us. Most of the time, we were very amazed at the exit point. Our expressions were typically like this "Ooooh…so this is a short cut to the Parkway Parade" or "this is the hidden passage to our school".
Of couse, these "shortcuts" and underground routes stayed deep in our heads. When we needed a quick escape from any neighbourhood rich brats or when we were running late, we will ran and jumped into these "system". Pretty safe and smooth. And no ERP for sure.
Sadly, during my late-granny’s final years (between 1994-1999), the gathering got smaller. Only the 4 of us (my parents, my sister and I) came to spent this day with granny. The kids in the neighbourhood had grown up..and many of their grandparents had passed away (gone were their gatherings too). The street of Koon Seng was deserted and quiet. There was hardly any sign of festive mood – even my cousins weren’t there anymore.
Granny and dad (as usual) took out the foldable table out from the storeroom. Both of them placed the table just right outside the gate. Under the dim yellow lights, granny setup simple offerings for the Gods. (A red cup of joss sticks, a plate of mooncake, a plate of green pomelo and some cups of rice wine.) My sister and myself will light up "old lanterns" (recycled from past years) around the compound – ground-floor, 2nd floor, gate, swing, barb-wire fence…
No, my sister and I were young adults then… No more running the streets or drainage with lanterns. Just seating there, enjoying the peaceful night with many beautiful lanterns illuminating the dark quiet sky. Very nostaglic, I would say. Very fond memories.
Granny, mum and dad said nothing those nights. Year after year, it became an unspoken custom for my family. Our family and my granny will spent this night, sitting by the swing, enjoying the floating lights. It was beautiful and special. Even till this very day.
1999 Mid-Autumn Festival was the last night we spent at her house. (Still remember I dragged the wahbiang clan along with me.)
It is this kind of night when I miss my family, my granny and my childhood. Now, I am spending this special night with my wife and boy in Hong Kong. Yes. It is a very special festival for me and my family. It was also the day we chose to register our marriage.
Tried to escape the conjested shopping malls – We headed down to the beach on the other side of the island. Guess what, it is still as crowded! Surprisingly, there are a couple of good findings about HK beaches:
a) Wow, it is an eye-treat - the girls and guys are awesome! Sexy hot bods!
b) The water is quite clear and clean!
c) There is "shark-net" – I think it is to protect the sharks from those "sharkfin-crazy" HongKees.
d) The sand is so so so so powdery and smooth!
e) There are rocks and hills along the beach – the scenary is so "naturally nice" lor.
f) It cost only HK80 – you get someone to setup a big umbrella and 2 chairs for you.
g) You see all kinds of funny looking floats
h) There is no shower room – you shower in open public and go to the toilet to change.
i) Stay very alert – too many volleyballs and dics flying your direction!
What is so damn wrong about East Asia? Why are we seeing the same kind of news lately? Ex-leaders facing charges of corruption…leaders who quitted under pressure…and leaders who rally no support in their own yard.
Leaders of today do not wage war (over land, gold or women) with others. They come with a different set of skills. Leaders today are excellent PR artists, distractors and enterprising masters who engineer perceptions and realities into their people’s heads. They control our minds with scary thoughts of "terrorisms", "viruses" and now "green-house effects". Leaders who are unable to sponsor the rising oil prices are now promoting their citizens to go green. Leaders who want to rally their people’s support – create fires in their own yard. Leaders who want to distract, turn their people’s attention into neighboring woes and sad stories. Leaders who want to look good only publish unimportant worldy news as headlines on their own newspapers. The good news often belong to themselves while the bad ones are often on others.
This is the generation of information-savvy leaders. They are publicists. They are super businessmen who know how to crack the code without being caught. They helped a couple of poor people to glorify and justify their existence. They said they are the core of the balance yet they are also the one who can bring chaos if they are to be displaced. They have friends in the military who can take any good opposition down without any hesitation. They are the new law.
Under such turmoils (shift of power, economical downturns, terrorist threats & rising oil prices), how can the people in Asia prosper and progress? Or is this a trend of leadership for the new century? Or worse, these unlucky bad leaders are just the "tip of a massive ice berg"?
September 4, 2008 Leave a comment
Over the last 6 days, life was extremely hectic but fulfilling in Taipei.I had both extremes (hard work and good times). I woke up everyday at 5:00am and arrived at Taipei Airport minutes before 7am. Yes, it was "Mission Impossible" but my good team mates in Taipei saved my days. After 6 long days, the project is finally delivered – accomplished with distinction! I was the last one to leave Taipei this afternoon. I came back to Hong Kong with great relief and satisfaction. "Yes! Another gold for the agency!"
Made many Taiwanese friends this trip. And
they are extremely friendly. (Oh dear, I can’t believe I am saying
that!) Even my limo-driver (hotel-airport transfer) insisted to buy me lunch and beer! My Taizhong supplier not only introduced his wife and in-laws to me and also offered to be my tour guide to "anywhere I want to go"! The
beautiful models I worked with were so sweet, sincere and warm! Gosh… the
"kampong spirit" is so strong here! Every night when I took taxi out for dinner, I met and chatted with different personalities. The cabbies were so candid and open about their lives – one even wet his eyes and poured out his sad stories to me last night!
Sadly, I was stranded at the
airport all the time and didn’t really tour much – but managed to
squeeze out a couple of hours in the last 2 days for some
"shutterbug" snapping. (Blurrrp! Taiwan food + mei mei are so so nice!) Yes, I love Taipei!
September 4, 2008 Leave a comment
Duuk and Kalinda celebrated their "August End" birthdays! Wow…even MC, Jimmy and Karen were there! Mmm…can see some big changes in our friends… Karen looks slimmer…Meijie looks more "compatible"….Joanne had a makeover….Duuk & Juliana look "fuller", Gareth fatter…only MC and Jimmy didn’t change much. Still so young ever! According to Joanne, they were so "high" that night – lots of drinking and "babies-making" (Oh yes, that is exactly what Duuk got for all his birthday wishes!)
Opppss… forgot to mention Kalinda… <again, I know she will hate me for this> – Well, I couldn’t recognise her in these photos… she looks happier and younger here.