Surprise, I’m back!

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The last time I planned a surprise home trip, Tracy accidentally let the cat out of the bag.
So this time, I warned her the night before my flight not to disclose anything. Guess what, I bet she behaved oddly during her daily chat with my son. Despite keeping the cat deep inside the bag, my son smelled a rat and told my wife he sensed a “surprise” heading their way. 45 minutes before I arrived at their doorstep, my wife sent me this terrifying message “Elkan asked me if I am planning any surprise. Are you planning a surprise?”

Staring blankly at her message in disbelief, I almost nuked Tracy for the leak. However, it wasn’t her fault this time. It was simply the telepathy connections between both father and son. The “Force” in him somehow sensed me nearby. Unbelievably amazing!

Despite their intuitions, I managed to give them a pleasant surprise at the door. The second I stepped out of the lift, Stella spotted me! Luckily, she remained calm and composed. I waited for a few seconds before Felicia and Elkan walked past the door. They froze the second they saw me standing by the gate. What a delightful scene!


It was a very short and packed 3-day business trip.
 I had a few meetings to attend and also came back to check out Singapore’s latest “not-so-friendly” self-checkout supermarket. Guess we are still not ready for “Smart Nation”. Stop wayanging and move faster, Singapore!

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Managed to spend an evening with my parents and a short reunion with my Wahbiang Clan. I was longing for durians but it wasn’t the season. Felicia urged me to try the McDonald’s incredibly crazed Nasi Lemak Burger. Thankfully, the craze has subsided and I didn’t have to queue to buy one. Verdict – there wasn’t any rice (Nasi) but the authentic chilli flavour with the tendering juicy chicken made it super yummy! No wonder it drove Singaporeans crazy months ago!

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Just before I took off for Hong Kong, Elkan gave me a nice treat at the airport’s arcade centre. For once, I beat him in electronic games. Of course, he cried foul because that was a very very old classic game we played! And yes, his old dad topped the score on the board!

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Now, back in Hong Kong for almost a week. Looking back, it was a sweet surprise after all. That “Kodak moment” was indeed priceless and memorable.

Last night, I received a sweet moving note from Felicia. “Every time I walk past the doorway, I am hoping to see you again.”

See you guys very soon. In exactly 2 weeks!

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Bride’s Pool Hike

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It was China National Day long weekend and we were dying to go somewhere new. Hiking season has just began and I wanted to take my drone out for a spin. Chowpo showed us a new site that none of us has been – an UNESCO Geopark site where there is a sizeable waterfall.

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We took almost 90 minutes (taxi, car, taxi) to reach the starting point of Bride’s Pool Nature Trail where we spent a good 60 minutes hiking in circles, searching for the entrance to the falls. We were actually stopped right at the rapids where the stream will lead us to the falls but we totally missed that! Before we knew it, we exited the trail on the other side of the very small geo park.

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Just when we were about to leave the park, Tracy and Harshad spotted the falls half a mile away. It was located right at the spot where we aligned our taxi! Chowpo, Harshad and Tracy were too tired to walk back to the falls.

Smiling deep inside, I took my drone out and flew it effortlessly to the falls.

“Mmm…what a nice dynamic view from the top. 🙂 ” I thought.

That is the reason why I carry a drone to all my trips, there is always an easier way to enjoy the great view.

Flight, don’t hike.  Enjoy the vlog.

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Sex and the City (of bikes, cheeses, weeds and clogs)

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My new start-up life is hectic, no doubt, but I am enjoying the freedom and satisfaction in the remarkable pursuit of creating tomorrow’s innovation. My team and I were indeed very lucky that our product generated so much interests and demands. Since July, I was on the road to numerous cities, meeting new people and making countless presentations.  It was indeed time-consuming and I didn’t even have a decent break when my dad, mum and family were here.

A few months ago, I had a few business invitations to demo our new innovation to a couple of potential partners and clients in London. Suffering from aero-phobia, I never look forward to any long-haul flight. I was hesitant to go. Knowing a couple of close business friends will also be there in London during this “post-summer-holiday” seasons, I dragged myself on board a very bumpy 12-hour long flight.

Escaped from the endless violent typhoons and heat waves in Hong Kong, I had a marvellous and rewarding time in London. It was unreal to dine with my old friends  (Ricky, Olivia, Vicky & Cynthia) from Hong Kong (who have now moved to reside in London) in the unusual cold weather of London. Christy, Chowpo and Bianca also joined us for some light city-touring and dining. This was Chowpo’s first taste of Europe and I extended 4 more days to show her around.

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While in London, I was contemplating a short 3-day trip to Iceland to fly my drone. After checking with Olivia, a 3-day trip was a little too short. Also, there wasn’t any return air-ticket. Just when I was about to book a train ride up north to visit the distilleries at the Highlands, there was a failed bombing incident in London subway and another fire incident that disrupted the key railroad to Scotland.

In the end, I decided to take a train to Amsterdam (a city I intended to visit during our last family trip to the Artic Circle).

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Amsterdam is an unique and intriguing city. At the first glance, it was like a giant Venice with bigger canals, wider alleys and killer bikes. However, Amsterdam is more than just the “Venice of the North”, in my opinion, it is the unofficial “Sex and the City” or the “City of Weeds, Cheese & Bikes”!  Frankly, it was the infamous Red Lights Districts that enticed me to this city. Certainly not the power of Van Gogh or Anne Frank. And 100% not the windmills and Dutch Lady in heavy wooden clogs..

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For 4 days, Chowpo and I explored Amsterdam on foot. We walked nearly 100,000 steps (average 25K steps a day) – an incredible personal record and feat for both of us. We experienced all kind of weathers throughout our short stay – sunny blue sky, grey raining cloudy and even white foggy mist!

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First stop, we went window-shopping along the infamous Red Light Districts and visited its sex-themed museums. Wow! Big eye openers indeed! Many of these brothels are just located right beside a holy church! No wonder there are so many confession rooms in the church. On a serious note, the Dutch society is very liberal, after all, they are the first nation that legalised gay-marriage. There is nothing shameful or taboo about sex. It may be such openness that most Dutch households don’t close their curtains even when there is no one at home. It was quite an unique experience walking by and peeping into their beautiful homes.

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This is definitely a big Disneyland for the adults. There are so many sex-themed shops and coffee joints (selling weeds, space cakes and magic mushrooms)! Unfortunately, to the disappointment of many, we didn’t try the dope at all. Not even a puff. Why? At first I was tempted but after I listened to the horrific tale of Christy and Jeff that I lost all interests in those “magic tonics”. Maybe next time with my brothers-in-crime, I might.

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With only 800K residents, Amsterdam is certainly a big tourists magnet. Despite its kinky and naughty reputation, this city of slanting and crooked buildings charmed me deeply. We saw people chilling out by the edge of the canals and sun-tanning on the decks of their boat houses. What a pleasant and relaxing lifestyle! Unlike the stereotypes I heard about Dutch people, the people we encountered were generally warm, chatty and very humorous!

Here are some of the attractions we visited during our short stay. 

1) The Heineken Experience Tour

Like most Amsterdam’s tourist attractions, this place was overwhelmed with crowd. Beware of the crazy long queue and it is important to get a “quick-pass” to enter. For Heineken fans, this will be a great place to discover the heritage and brewing process of the world’s most favourite beer. There were so many interesting digital engagements and not forgetting 2 big bars for you to enjoy the beers! Remember to create your own “Personalised Beer Bottle” on the way out.

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2) WindMill, Cheese & Clog Factories (Zannse Shans, Volendam & Marken)

We joined a big group of tourists (50 of us) and explored the country-side of Amsterdam. Just a short 1-hour bus-ride away lies the famous Zaanse Shans windmills, the quaint fishing villages of Volendam and Marken’s Dutch cheese farm. Despite the big travel group, it was actually very enjoyable and relaxing. The tour guide was so chatty and fun to hang out with. The entire tour took about 4.5 hours. It was basically a touch-&-go tour, with little time to explore more at every stop.

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3) Canal Cruise (60-min Relaxing Ride)

There were many canal cruise operators. We got ours free when we signed up for the Windmill Tour at “Grab-You-Guide.Com”. The cruise comes with an open glass top ceiling. One important tip for the shutter-bugs – DO NOT BOARD THE CRUISE WHEN IT IS 80% PACKED. The next cruise is just 15 minutes away, board the next cruise so that you get a good window seat to snap the photographs.

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4) Sex Museum 

Located near Central Station, the Sex Museum is worth a visit. In my opinion, there are so much more to see here than the Museum of Prostitution. For a low price of Euros 5 bucks, it is worth every sense.

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5) Van Gogh Museum 

Having seen one of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London, I wanted to see the other version here at Amsterdam. In the end, I was so drawn into the sad tales of this extraordinary artist. This is another star attraction with a long queue. The Van Gogh Museum is worth a visit. With over 200 paintings, 500 drawings and more than 750 letters to discover, the museum reveals the colourful life of one of the world’s most iconic and misunderstood artists of our time. (No photography and bags allowed in this museum).

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6) Amsterdam Duck Store 

If you like the giant floating Rubber Duck by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, you will like the rubber collections at Amsterdam Duck Store. With so many duck characters to choose from, I couldn’t resist my shopping addiction. In the end, I walked away with 2 DuckVaders and I am now thinking if I should get a “Donald Duck Trump” to expand this rubbery dust-collection hobby.

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So, this is it! A short European “Eat, Play, Work” trip. Back to work and presenting more demos. Haven’t blogged for almost 5 months, I am getting rusty with my vlog and blog. This time, it took me more a week to put all the photos, videos and stories together.
This was more than just a business-vacation. This trip brought out the happy vlogger and excitement in me. Finally, I am back on the road once more, with my Osmo and Mavic Pro.  More happy trips ahead!

Never too late to say “Thank You”

Note: Wanted to write this “Thank You” note on the last day of my job (30th June) but I was moving house and all my gears weren’t intact then. And by the time I settled down my new apartment, I had to start rushing for deadlines and multiple business trips. Never had time until now to start gathering the photos and thoughts to pen this. Well, this was never meant to be a “Goodbye” blog… All I want to say is simply ~ “Thank You”. 

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2017 is an amazing year of changes.

First, I surprised many (including my old folks) when I made an announcement to leave my decade-long cushy agency job to co-found a new tech start up with a few partners. It was indeed a big decision but the feeling felt so right. With the departure of 2 of my beloved co-founding partners of the agency, it didn’t take me very long to make up my mind to leave too. After all, it’s time to chase my own dream.

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I wasn’t alone and I had many great help along the way.
I was very lucky and blessed to have many great partners and friends supporting my new venture. Saying goodbye to a “family” that I have seeded, shaped, nurtured and grew for over 10 years wasn’t easy. On the last day of my 11-year job, I received a touching token (a miniature gondola of all my favourite friends+wishes)  from these great friends who have been laying every brick of success in this agency with me throughout the years. Indeed, it was a very meaningful and lovely farewell gift. (Thank you Celia, Bianca, Wing, Chowpo, Aaron and Tracy for organising the farewell gift!)

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I originally planned to take a 3-month break touring outside Hong Kong. As things with the new start-up were progressing so fast, I had no choice but to postpone my holidays until mid September. There were a few weeks when I was working round the clock that I lost sense of time. It also coincided with the moving of my new apartment. With the slow unpacking, I simply had no gears, space and time to blog.

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Thankfully, things are getting back on track this month and it is time for me to post what I should have done 3 months agoA long overdue “Thank You Note” to my wonderful company of friends, families and soulmates who have been there with me every day for the past 11 years of my life at the agency. Especially to my lovely wife, son, mother, dad-&-friends, Chups and Auntie Amy (and not forgetting my brothers from Chicago, Taipei, Tokyo & Singapore) who were here with me throughout the past 3 hectic months. I love you all! Thanks for everything!

And yes, the blog is back! Time to travel, blog and fly my drone! On the road again!

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Now he can fly … and land!

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Yes I know, I have been away from my vlog and blog for 3 long months (since Valentine’s Day). So many new changes and exciting things happened at work, I just didn’t have the time for my usual monthly narcissistic rants. (Can’t wait for my next good break in June-July.) 

Things are finally in order and I dragged my lazy buddy, Harshad out today to test flight his newly bought drone. Actually, it wasn’t that “new”. Harshad bought a new drone back in January (a week after he crashed mine) and he kept his new gadget in his drawer for months! We have been postponing our drone date for countless of times since February. It was terrible, inexcusable.

In the end, it was our dear buddy, Scott and his lovely family who got us out. Scott and family arrived in Hong Kong 2 days ago! We decided to fly the drones opposite Scott’s hotel (at Tsuen Wan Park) after our reunion lunch.

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Since the last time Harshad crashed landed my drone (see blog), I believe he suffered some form of drone-phobia. He was very nervous before taking off his maiden solo flight. His hands were shaking for a while. After some basic operation guidance, I left him flying on his own while I took mine to the sky. After a few minutes of clumsy (trial-&-error) operation, he was flying pretty comfortably. He took off and landed the drone all by himself. Right on the dot, no crash-landing, all good.

Good to see my buddy in his usual arrogance after today’s flight. Harshad just need more practices before the next family adventure with the Chuas. 🙂 Enjoy the short vlog.

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A Strange Day of Messages

Today is Valentine’s Day and my social media feeds were bombarded with tons of mushy photographs and public declarations of love. I was stuck at home, down with a really bad flu, feeling miserable.

I was out of office for 2 days. The medicine I took was extraordinary strong and it made me so drowsy that I slept through the day. Later then I realized I took a lot more dosages than required. It was supposed to be once a day for 3 days. I took 3 times a day! No wonder my head was spinning the entire whole day.

This morning, I greeted Felicia “Happy Valentine” but she didn’t reply “Happy Valentine”. Instead, she replied me with a pictorial message.



Those were the first 2 messages I received at 8:22am. Geee, that’s the first watch I bought for her back in 1993! My gosh, she kept it so well!

At 9:02, I received another message.



This was taken back in 2009! Our first Valentine DIY breakfast! So appetizing and yummy!

At 10:02am, Felicia sent another message. 

Hahah, it was an old photo of my mischievous boy! By now, I spotted a pattern in today’s messages. They were all old photos/items from the past. At 11:02am, she sent me another photo.


And another photo at 12:02pm.



“Wow, so many printed love today” I replied. “Yeah. You should create a blog full of his funny moments and your layout. Each a day.”

“Hope they keep u company since u r home alone :)” she said.

At 1:02pm, another pictorial message popped up on my screen. This time, it was a video link.



At 3:12pm…4:02pm and 5:02pm (when I was dozing on my bed), more pictorial messages popped up on my screen.



“Heheh. Nice. You can published a book on all our stuffs..” I wrote.

“That a full time job! Haha.., I can do that when I retire. Compile for our grand children. “ Felicia replied.

At 6:02pm, 7:02pm and 8:02pm, she sent me a photo every hour. Those were old gifts and photos of yesteryear.



By then, I realized her photographs were sorted and synced with the timing of the day (breakfast, lunch and dinner).

At 9:02pm, 10:02pm and 10:22pm, Felicia finally wished me “Happy Valentine” with the last 4 images. It was at 22:22 when she revealed the most important detail that I missed. All her photos were sent on either the second / twelfth / twenty-second minute of every hour.



“Heheh… Happy Valentine’s Day!!😘” Felicia wrote. “I hope you enjoy a long day with me today :). From 08:22 to 22:22!”

My wife outsmarted me again with another surprise. It was another creative version of her very long Valentine Greeting (read Longest Valentine Card). Except this time, it wasn’t inscribed on paper, it started digitally this morning at 0822 and ended right on the dot of my favorite magical number 2222.

Thanks for brightening up my gloomy sick day with all these sweet surprises. Thank you my lovely, creative Valentine!

CNY Reunion in Batam – The Rain Goddess Strikes Again?

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9 days ago, I flew back to Singapore to attend our annual family reunion tradition. Seemed like a long week of break but good times passed by so fast. There was never enough time for everyone. Just when I was done with all the CNY formalities and was about to settle down well into my holiday mood, it was time to pack and leave.

 

This was our 5th Staycation CNY reunion. Auntie Amy started this tradition back in 2013. Since then, we have gathered at Sentosa (2013), Desaru (2014), Kukup (2015), Bintan (2016) and this year, the Wong and Chua families gathered at Batam Island. I am sure the location for our 6th Reunion (2018) will be an interesting one since we have covered all the nearby resorts. I wondered where will we go next year.

Infamously known as the “Rain Goddess” (雨神), Auntie Amy’s wet spell seemed to have worn out this year. For the first time ever, we got to enjoy a slightly normal reunion (it rained only for a short while this year!). All our past reunions were cursed with dreadful stormy weathers whenever Auntie Amy was around. Last May, when she visited me in Hong Kong, the city experienced its first ever typhoon in spring. That’s how she got her notorious divine nickname.

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We stayed at Batam Turi Beach Resort. Built along a long stretch of rocky beach, cascaded on the slopes of a quiet hilly forest, there was so much room for everyone. It was a wonderful place to relax as it wasn’t over-crowded with noisy travel groups. The pool was pretty quiet throughout our stay. There were 2 long jetties that stretched out to the sea where resort guests can enjoy a relaxing breezy scenic stroll.

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During the day, the families spilt out to enjoy their own personal activities. The old folks took afternoon nap while the kids played in the pool. Leon and Chester went out for a run and Elkan and I explored the forest nearby. Without so much free time to spare, I flew the drone around the resort to stalk my relatives.

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At night, the Wong & Chua Bar opened outside my old folks’ chalet. Thanks to Chester’s recent drinking spree, this year, we were “highly motivated” and bought many bottles of red wine and whisky. Most of them were drinking red wine, I had to clear most of the whisky by myself. By the end of the first night, I found myself e-scooting dangerously in the dark down the steep slopes back to my chalet. Thankfully, I made it back without a scratch. I certainly made my dad worried when I failed to reply his message that night.

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The second night, the bar doubled up as a small family makeshift gambling den. The gambling table was so small that we kept dropping cards through the floor of the slitted chalet. It was pretty hilarious when we had to stop the games and sent a few of us under the chalet to recover the cards in the dark. 5 Wongs vs 3 Chuas, outnumbered but not beaten, dad and I emerged as big winners after 24 rounds of disruptive blackjack. (Thanks to the blessing of a wild trespassed fruit bat (蝙蝠=变福) which showered my seat with droppings 5 minutes before the game.)

The families spent a good relaxing 3 days 2 nights at the resort. Other than the usual, costly beach activities, there wasn’t much to do. Felicia and I chilled out by the balcony, looking out to the sea. Elkan was lying on the bed, inside the chalet, glued to his games and online chats. Dining at the resort was expensive and limited, so on our last evening, the families hired 3 cabs, took a long 45-minute ride to the nearest shopping complex (Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall) for massage, shopping and dining.

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Strangely, the old folks seemed to enjoy this year’s reunion, citing it as the best gathering ever. I guess it must be due to the unusual good weather and the endless liquor-sessions. For me, this was certainly the prettiest and coziest resort we have stayed so far. The food was decently good and the environment was even better. No overcrowding during morning breakfast buffet and at the pool, it was all peaceful and calm.

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My only complain – the stay was too short for us to explore the island. Another 2 more days would be better. At least, I will have more time (and opportunities) to convince my 2 gadget-hungry cousins to buy my spare drones. After all, the Rain Goddess was weak on her spell this year.

 

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