Road to Pandora – The Surreal World of ZhangJiaJie 张家界

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The Glass Bridge of Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon (张家界大峡谷) has intrigued me since its opening in 2016 August. After watching so many comical videos online, I was curious to see if I am gutsy enough to walk across the 430m transparent glass bridge. I decided to visit the famed bridge in 2016 Christmas but Tracy booked us a flight to Vietnam instead. Finally, after a long 18-month procrastination, we finally made it to Zhangjiajie this Easter holidays (thanks to the swift and decisive action of Chowpo).

It was a tourist’s nightmare to travel during the Chinese Tomb-Sweeping holidays. Everywhere was packed with Chinese travelers. Knowing my fear to fly, my wonderful and considerate travel companions accommodated me on a longer route to Zhangjiajie.

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The entire journey took us over 12 hours. First, we crossed over to the border of Shenzhen. From Lowu, we took a 30-minute taxi ride to Shenzhen North Train Station where we boarded a 3-hour speed train to Changsha City (the capital city of Hunan Province). From Changsha City, we then took another 15-minute subway train ride to downtown where we hopped on a 7-seater van that we rode for another 5.5 hours before we arrived at Zhangjiajie National Country Park. We started our journey at 7am and by the time we arrived at our hotel, it was almost 10pm.

Weather in April is always tricky and unpredictable. My friend Hovman was at Zhangjiajie just a few days before us and he warned me about the blazing scorching sun. I packed very light clothing and even brought along a pair of shorts. To my horror, the temperature plummeted from sunny 28 degrees to 7 degrees overnight. It was so cold and wet. A deja vu of my Easter holiday at Xian 4 years ago.

Expectedly, I got the unhappy stares from my two female travel companions who took my advice to travel light. The next morning, we made a desperate run to the nearest shop to buy winter jackets and shoe covers. (This explains why in many photos, we were seen wearing the same design of 3 different colours.)

The hotel we stayed wasn’t exactly 4 stars as it stated. It reminded me of the typical Taiwanese home-stay accommodation (民俗). The bed was hard and there were ants, spiders, and bugs crawling on the walls and floor. Shower room was uncomfortably small. The shower head was installed right above the toilet bowl. A big group of noisy family resided right beside our rooms and they were extremely rowdy.

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Early next morning, we arrived at the infamous famed Glass Bridge where many macho men failed to conquer. It was still drizzling and we were warned of the slippery glass surface. Every visitor was given a pair of protective shoe-gloves to prevent damage/scratches to the glass surface. Security check was strict here. Any heavy, sharp or large object that poses a risk to the glass bridge is prohibited. I had to leave my walking sticks, DSLR, drone and gimbal video camera behind. I can only vlog the entire experience using my mobile phone.

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From far, the glass bridge looked like any suspension bridge. Spanning over 430m across, it was once the world’s longest glass bridge (currently the second place to the new 488m long Hebei’s HongYaGu Glass Bridge). Suspended 300m on 2 vertical cliffs, the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge still holds the record of being the world’s tallest glass bridge.

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Despite my fear of flying (acrophobia), I suffer no acrophobia. I have absolutely no fear taking the walk of faith. It was a surreal experience to walk across the mountains and canyon river on the solid glass. It felt very safe and sturdy. There were still many visitors chose to walk across the bridge on the metal sidewalks.

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Getting rid of the horde of unwanted photo-bombers was easy. All it took was a couple of heavy loud jumps in the middle of the glass panel, the nearby crowd will immediately back off in fear.

After crossing the bridge, we took a 2-hour scenic riverside hike at Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon. It was a gentle hike with lots to see – the unique rock erosions, the cascading falls on the side of the cliffs, the turquoise lake and lots of old abandoned bandit caves. At the end of the hike, we took a short boat ride to the exit of the park.

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After a tiring morning hike, we had a relaxing tour in the afternoon. Our guide brought us to another iconic attraction, the Baofeng Lake (宝峰湖) where we sat on a 30-minute scenic boat ride around the spectacular basin. There were little wooden huts scattered along the rocky bank where local performers sang (山歌) for the audience on the boat. Even though none of us understood the songs or its story, it was indeed a unique waterfront musical concept.

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By evening time, we were so exhausted. Our muscles were sore and aching badly. We visited the night street market opposite our hotel and retired early for the night. What a tiring but rewarding first day.

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On the second day of our tour, we checked out of the hotel at 7:30am and made our way to the most famous site of Zhangjiajie, the Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve (天子山). Gained worldwide fame by the blockbuster movie, “Avatar”, the quartzite sandstone towers of Tianzi Mountain inspired the surreal world on Pandora.

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True to its divine reputation, Tianzi Mountain didn’t disappoint. The 8-minute cable car ride over its enchanted sandstone obelisks was an unforgettable, priceless and mesmerizing experience. Nature is indeed the Grandmaster of Art, perpetually sculpting these majestic pillars through time. I was very lucky to be able to fly my drone over the sea of “stone forest” and see Nature’s masterpieces from different angles. (At the same time, my drone flying stunt attracted lots of tourists who also want a glimpse of what I saw through the drone’s camera lenses.)

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After a long stop at “Pandora”, we hiked further to experience another multiple world records breaker – the BaiLong Elevator (百龙天梯). Installed on the side of a massive cliff in 2002, the 335m-tall BaiLong Elevator currently holds 3 Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest outdoor elevator, the world’s tallest double-deck lift, and the world’s fastest (pax & speed ratio) lift. Each lift can take up to 50 passengers and it takes only 66 seconds per trip. At a ticket price of RMB72/pax, that’s about RMB1.10 per second. This is the most expensive elevator ride I have paid to descend. Still, it was worth it, considering the knee-torturing steps down the mountain.

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At the base of Tianzi Mountain, we took a slow sightseeing train to view the sandstone pillars from another perspective. The entire 5.8km journey took less than 20 minutes.

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Our last attraction of the day was a 2-hour outdoor folk musical at the base of Tianmen Mountain (天门山). Debuted in 2009 with Tianmen Mountain as its stage backdrop, the Fairy Fox Musical is very similar to another real-scene show directed by world’s renowned director, Zhang Yimou (张艺谋) at Li River, Guilin (丽江, 桂林). Having watched both musicals, I preferred the songs and special effects of the Fairy Fox Musical more. The tragic love tale between a Fox Spirit and a woodman was easier to comprehend compared to Zhang’s Liu Sanjie Musical. Overall, it was emotional, beautiful and magical.

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Just when we thought we ended our second day of activities, our tour guide surprised us when she checked us in a very new and clean “love hotel”. Although the hotel was filled with family groups (with young children), the hotel decor and amenities (circular bed and big jacuzzi tub) were very suggestive. All of us had a great laugh over Wechat the second we walked into our individual room. Every room has a unique portrait of a naked lady. I enjoyed the thoughtfulness of our tour guide, after all, I am desperate for a good hot tub to ease my muscle aches.

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We woke up even earlier on the third day of our “not so free and easy” tour. At breakfast, Chowpo told us that she couldn’t walk anymore. She wasn’t used to the long strenuous walk. With the aid of 2 walking sticks, she paced herself slowly and painfully along the way.

Unfortunately for her, our hike at Tianmen Mountain was more strenuous than any of the hikes before. Our helpful and friendly tour guide plotted a route that minimizes walking. To survive this hike with the least effort, we need to take 2 cable-car rides, 10 super long escalators and a very scary drift-driving roller-coaster minibus down the mountain.

We started our hike on the world’s longest cable car ride – Tianmen Mountain Cableway (天门山索道). Covering a distance of 7,455m, the entire ride took 28 minutes and it accented to a height of 1,518m! That’s twice the height of the world’s tallest building!

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While we were in the cable car, a few of us stood up to shoot the scenery outside. It caused a minor panic among the other passengers as our abrupt movement caused the cable-car to sway side by side. As the cable car accented, the temperature dropped drastically. We felt a sudden chilly draft entering into the cable car. Throughout the journey, we need to adjust the pressure in our ears. Without any doubt, It was a breathtaking and scary ride! Certainly not for the faint-hearted passengers. I personally thought to ride the cable car ride was 10 times scarier than walking on the glass bridge itself!

At the peak of Tianmen Mountain, we hiked a short distance to the second glass bridge of our trip, the West Glass Skyway (玻璃栈道). There are currently 3 glass bridges on Tianmen Mountain (east, west and Panlong Cliff). As the distance to the other 2 other glass skyways was a few hours hike away, we decided to give them a miss.

Compared with the Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, the 60m-Glass Skyway on Tianmen Mountain was much more terrifying – both psychologically and physically. First, it is built almost 5 times higher than the Glass Bridge at 1,430m above ground. And it hangs itself with lesser support by the side of the cliff. There is no additional harness that supports the Glass Skyway from the top. There aren’t solid sidewalks for those who want to walk on solid ground. It is a narrow one-way route and jam builds up easily. We found ourselves sandwiched between a group of slow shutterbugs and a group of terrified thrill-seekers who wanted to bail out frantically. Surely, this is not a good place to be stuck during a catastrophe or a mad panic attack.

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Thankfully, most of the glass floor was scratched so badly that it looked almost frosted. So visually, it wasn’t very intimidating. Nevertheless, there were still many terrified “cliff-huggers” who crab-walked across the Skyway. A terrified old lady grabbed my arm unapologetically as she looped over me frantically on the bridge. She continued holding on to the other strangers’ arms as she made her way to the exit. Another strong hunky man in his 30s found himself stuck on a tiny stone slab as there was no more solid floor ahead and he was desperately begging his friends to U-turn. Drama on this bridge was much comical than scary.

After surviving the dramatic glass walk, we proceeded to the next thrilling walk – the Cliff-Hanging Walkway (鬼谷栈道). The cement walkway was built on the sidewalls of the vertical cliffs. The 1.6km long, 1,400m high walkway offers beautiful, unblocked panoramic views of the valleys.

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We finally arrived at the final pitstop of our long scenic hike at Tianmen Mountain Temple (天门山寺) where we took a return 20-minute chairlift ride back to the summit of Tianmen Mountain (near the cable car station). From there, we then took a series of super long connected escalators, through the mountain, down to the entrance of the colossal “Heaven’s Gate” (天门), which is also the world’s highest elevated natural arch. There, we saw the infamous 999-step “Heaven’s Stairs” (天梯) where only the strongest and bravest souls ascend the treacherous climb to the gate of heaven. Well, the path to and fro Heaven is never easy.

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We decided to leave Heaven’s Gate the lazy way – by another long flight of escalators. Just when we thought all the terrifying commutes were over, we were dead wrong. I boarded the most horrendous ride of my life. It was like a deadly hell ride to the real Heaven’s Gate. The minibus sped down the notorious winding Tongtian Avenue (通天大道), maneuvered extreme 180-degree turn at every bend. For a few times, I thought we were going over the cliffs. I could see the fear on the faces of all the passengers. The 99-bend road wasn’t fun for me. Lesson learned – the lazy path is often full of deadly traps, twists, and turns.

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Just before we headed back to Hong Kong, we planned to spend our last night at another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient town of Fenghuang (凤凰县). Located 3 hours drive away from Tianmen Mountain, the 300-year-old Fenghuang ancient town is a beautiful, cultural-rich riverside settlement with well-preserved ancient buildings and colorful ethnic Miao villagers. I can’t compare Fenghuang with Amsterdam or Venice. Or other similar water towns (like Suzhou Tongli 同里古镇 or Zhouzhuang 周庄) in China. The old water town is just different, it is charming, unique and mysterious in its own way.

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What impressed me most was the clarity of the flowing river and the locals’ way of life. Despite the dense settlement on its banks, the local kept the stream clean. Day and night, I saw local washing vegetables and clothes by the river banks. The streets were filled with little makeshift table-stores of local souvenirs and handicrafts. Price was surprisingly low, there was no need to bargain. The stall keepers were peaceful, humble, honest and friendly, unlike the typical aggressive ones I met at most Chinese street markets in first-tier cities.

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Sadly, this ancient town is undergoing major upgrading for tourism. Some parts of the town are overly “urbanized” and it loses its authenticity. For readers who are intrigued by this town, do come by soon before it loses its identity.

How I wish I could extend a few more days to explore this unique place. We did a very short 2-hour tour of the town before we took a long dreadful 12-hour return trip back to Hong Kong.

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This is a very rewarding and fulfilling Easter vacation for me. Thanks to our wonderful and thoughtful Chinese tour guide, this 5-day-4-night trip is more than what I expected. All I wanted was to satisfy my humble curiosity to walk on the new Glass Bridge but the long winding journey enriches me with many unexpected new discoveries and delightful experiences. It is a place where I truly escape from the chains of the city vacuum, where my mind wanders and interacts freely, appreciating life in a different time and space.

Pandora is indeed a unique world full of man-made marvels and natural wonders. It is not far away and it is a great place to discard the avatar in us. There is no place like Zhangjiajie.

An eventful road trip – Lost car, Area 51 and sliding down the world’s tallest glass slide

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4 days, 2,000km – that’s the distance we traveled on the road. Thankfully, I had a great road warrior who chauffeured me to so many amazing locations. Having been to Las Vegas and Los Angeles many times, CP was so familiar with the cities. She was a fantastic driver and an awesome tour guide. Most important of all, she brought me to sumptuous authentic Asian restaurants every day. I definitely can’t survive on burgers, pizzas, and pasta.


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Right after CES, we took a 5-hour long drive from Las Vegas to Santa Monica where we visited the iconic Pacific Pier Park along Muscle Beach. There is something magical about this old tiny amusement park on the old wooden pier. Despite its ordinary rides and unattractive game stores, it is undeniably charming.  Facing the vast empty pacific ocean, the park lights up like a colorful jewel at night, transforming the sleepy centennial pier into a beacon of joy. It is an enchanted park with so much laughter and happy people.

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Next, we took a short drive to LA downtown where we visited one of the world’s most iconic and glamorous boulevards – the Hollywood Boulevard. Having seen the Walk of Fame on TV/cinema so many times, I was looking forward to a posh, bright, legendary-looking sidewalk. In reality, it was a dull, dim shabby sidewalk, littered with bars and souvenir shops. It wasn’t grand or legendary at all. Well, what you see on TV is often more glamorous than the actual stuff.  That’s exactly how I felt about Las Vegas City too.

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CP and I had our first nasty shock-attack when we couldn’t find our rental car in the CVS (stands for Consumer Value Store, an American retail outlet) parking lot. We just finished our dinner next door and was about to shop at the CVS when we realised our car was missing from the parking lot. We searched frantically for our car around the premise and went to report our loss to the CVS security guard.

To our horror, what happened next was an unbelievable 1-hour painful and sickening experience.  The security guard actually told us that our vehicle was towed away. Just as we were demanding for answers, we were led to a small signage (that wasn’t even obvious and legible at night) that stated: “non-customer car will be towed away”.  We argued that we had the intention to shop at the CVS right after our dinner but the guard couldn’t help us. He brought us to meet the store manager.

I had a big heated argument with the store manager. She said our car was no longer in their possession and we should contact the tow company. She said it was our wrong-doings for not reading the signs. I argued we just arrived and the signs were not visible and legible. There was also no mention of fine or penalty written on the sign. These people were unreasonable and useless. In the end, we had to pay Uber USD30 to fetch us to the tow company and fork out USD357.70 to recover our “stolen” car.

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There are so many ways to deter unwelcome parking. CVS can always install a gantry that charges vehicles for overtime parking or even wheel-lock any unauthorized parked vehicle. No, they have to tow the car far far away and ignorant victims like us have to fork out close to USD400 to redeem our car. This is such a sick, low-class bad practice. And truly, shame on CVS’s terrible attitude and the way you handled the situation. For the least, make the warning sign BIGGER. It felt like a very very bad scam to con money out from new visitors. What a terrible LA experience!

Next morning, we put aside our nasty car experience and headed out to a much happier place – Universal Studios. Not a keen fan on roller-coaster rides, I skipped all the scary attractions and went straight for the more experiential+educational 1-hour Studio Tour ride. It was indeed an amazing and exciting ride where I visited the familiar locations where scenes in Back to the Future, Jaws, War of the Worlds, Bates Motel (Psycho) and Desperate Housewives were shot. What an eye-opener.

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We can’t leave Los Angeles without taking a selfie at its most famous Hollywood Sign. As many roads were blocked by its prestigious and rich residents, we found a popular “Hollywood Sign-Spotting” location on Google Map. It was an open space with lots of parking lots (without the fear of being towed away) and offered a clear view of the famed sign. Indeed, it was a posh hilly neighborhood with big luxury homes, a strikingly close resemblance to the Peak of Hong Kong.

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Just before we made our way back to Las Vegas for our return flight to Hong Kong, CP and I discovered a new attraction in downtown Los Angeles. OUE Skyspace (a Singapore-invested property) is California’s Tallest Open-Air Observation Deck hosting the world’s tallest Glass Slide! Erected 1,000 feets above ground outside the 70-storey building, the 2016-installed transparent glass slide is certainly a unique ride not to be missed! Especially if it is one managed by a Singapore company! I am sure it is super and kiasully safe!

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Back in Las Vegas, we wasted no time and drove 2-hour into the vastness in search for the elusive and mysterious Area 51. Of course, my distinct chauffeur grumbled about my wishful, futile exploration. I just can’t leave Las Vegas without making a trip around Area 51.

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It was a lonely and quiet ride into the rocky desert. It was pretty spooky riding on some segments of the route without seeing any car. Far on the horizon, I managed to take some close-up shots of US restricted airbase sites with my paparazzi super-zoom Nikon camera. Disappointedly, I didn’t see many cars-in-black or men-in-black. Area 51 was located across such a vast area. I wondered what’s going on behind these hills. As there was nothing to see but vastness after vastness, we decided to take a short break at one of Area 51’s touristy stops before heading back to our next destination. The Area 51 Alien Center is one strange rest station with a real brothel. Now, that’s very alienated quirky (quicky) and exotic!

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We bought a couple of Area 51 souvenirs and spent the rest of our afternoon at the nearby majestic Red Rock Canyon. For a mere USD7 entry free, we drove right to the base of the canyon and hiked around it. There was no barriers around the rocky hill. We saw hikers climbing up the dangerous-looking rock.

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On our last day and 5 hours before our flight, we took a quick detour to visit another world’s famous iconic landmark – the Hoover Dam. While it has no connection with Herbert Hoover (America 31st President), it was no doubt a colossal engineering marvel of its time. CP tried to show me a water-trick at the dam but it failed terribly. I was laughing at her so badly that she felt really stupid. She was insistent about the water trick. I did some research on Youtube and realised she was right. Simply, it didn’t work for her because it wasn’t windy that day.

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That’s was it – our little short adventure after CES. A very colorful and eventful road trip. Won a couple of freebies and money at the casino, shop happily at US factory outlet stores! No alien abduction, no lost car and we survived many movie disasters (Jaws, explosion, flash flood, dinos, fire) at Universal Studios. The only thorn left was the unjustified loss of USD357.50. Thanks CP for the ride and wonderful tour. Let’s do it again next CES.

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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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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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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!

Falling in love with the new twin-lens camera. Nope, I am not talking about the new iPhone 7. (MiNT’s new Instantflex TL70 2.0)

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Exactly one year and 2 days ago, I blogged about the world’s first twin-lens instant camera, TL70 by MiNT. I had so much fun with the camera and wrote a couple of wishes on my blog. Guess what? One year has passed and the passionate team at MiNT (and FujiFilm) granted every wish I written that day!

While browsing on the web late last night, I found out that MiNT has launched a new Instantflex TL70 version 2.0 instant camera earlier this June. I couldn’t resist the temptation and visited the official product webpage. Impressively, MiNT has made a couple of big improvements in the new TL20 with an upgraded brand new magnifier and a 5x brighter viewfinder! Not just that, the new version 2.0 comes with new enhanced and improved internal mechanism. MiNT also introduced new accessories (leather strap & camera case) and lens set for the TL70 series!

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I was so excited about the new upgrade that I contacted MiNT on Facebook after midnight and the hardworking administrator replied! After making a few enquires, I decided to head down to MiNT this evening to check out the new camera.

The friendly staff, Jo at MiNT recognised me and gave me an excellent introduction about the new camera and its accessories. I managed to get a really good deal and without much hesitation, I came back with 2 brand new TL70 Version 2.0!

After snapping 2 cartridges of Instax, here are my first impressions: (Note: This is not a sponsored or paid blog by MiNT.)

In terms of design, the new camera looks identical to version 1.0 but the overall production quality and finishes of the new TL70 2.0 is much better than its predecessor. It could be due to the fact that I was one of the earliest users last year and I spotted some minor physical quality issues (misaligned leather, slight glue marks and fine light scratches). I remember the magnifying glass came off after just 1 day and MiNT exchanged a brand new one for me. But this time, everything is perfect.

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With the new enlarged magnifying and 5x brighter viewfinder, TL70 2.0 enhances user-experience by a big leap. Even under very dim lighting environment, I was able to focus, composed and snapped without any visual difficulty. Amazingly, my first indoor shot came out just perfect! I was pretty amazed by it! It is indeed a great improvement and it matters a lot!

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The new Lens-Kit comes with 3 ND filters, 1 close-up lens and a lens-hood. The lens are easy to attach and detach. At the store, I saw a couple of sample photos – the colours are so much richer and balanced. I personally like the “close-up” lens as it creates a shallower depth of field. However, user will find it a hassle to carry the lens in the original protection box when on the go.

I love the new TL70 EverReady Leather Case! Made from premium leather in Japan, the case comes in 2 colours – brown and black. I prefer brown but the current brown is a little too bright and light for me. In the end, I chose black. The leather case fits perfectly and the workmanship is excellent. I wish the case comes with lens pockets so I can easily slot in the lens-kit on the go.

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Overall, the TL70 2.o is a much reliable and better instant camera than its predecessor. It feels very good and it looks just as charming as before. With growing demand, I believe MiNT will continue to explore and enhance this series (with self-timer, +/- lights for over/under exposure including ND filter sensor, battery indicator, better glass optics and even adapters for 3rd party zoom lenses). With the newly launched Fujifilm Black-and-White Instax Mini Monochrome Film, MiNT sets itself in the right segment, empowering instant photographers with new endless instant inspirational creations.


Personally, I prefer this new twin-lens camera over the new iPhone 7. It is like falling in love again.


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