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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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!

Drone with Harshad

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!

Snowy weekend with Brother Yei and the World’s Most Famous Jigokudani Snow Monkeys

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It is official – I am finally off to enjoy my long overdue, postponed break. 17 consecutive days in total. Just before I fly out to Singapore for my annual Chinese New Year family reunion, I made a short detour in Tokyo to visit my dearest cousin, Yei. For the past 2 years, he has been inviting me to visit him. (Even my dad stayed over at his place for 3 weeks last summer!) I tried a couple of times to fly over but due to my unpredictable work schedule, it was just impossible. Finally, 2 weeks ago, I found a perfect time slot just for him! It is just one promise I have to fulfil. Yeah, that’s the power of bromance.

 

Yei was excited when I told him about my visit. However, I imposed one condition. He must bring me to some nice places to fly drone. I was certain he was frowning when he saw my request over Wechat. Flying drone within Tokyo city is a definite no-no. The penalty is heavy (as high as HKD30,000 for first time offender).

Being such a wonderful doting older brother, he specially arranged a trip for me outside Tokyo. Early Saturday morning, we travelled a few hundred kilometres up north, to a small town call Karuizawa. The bullet train ride was only an hour but it teleported us to another completely different world. Just before the train entered the tunnel, it was all bare, dry, urban concrete landscape. After a few short minutes through the tunnel, the world outside was fascinating. It was covered by a thick coat of white snow! What a big constraint! Wow!

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Of course, my cousin enjoyed the surprise look on my face. I never expect to see snow this trip. I always have the impression that snow scene like this can only be found many hundred miles up north like in Fukushima and Hokkaido. So, you can imagine my candid bursts of discovery-happiness.

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We spent the short day exploring the small sleepy town. I wasn’t fully gear for the snowy condition. I kept slipping on the icy roads. The cold was extremely brutal. I didn’t packed enough juice for my dying gears. Within an hour, both my iPhone and Samsung shut down. Worst, my iPhone went flat from 70% to zero (in less than 10 minutes) while I was flying the drone over the ski resort. Without the iPhone, I lost sight of my drone. Thankfully, the auto return home function worked and I managed to land the drone manually when it flew back. What a waste, there were so many unused drone batteries left in my bag.

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With no drone to fly, Yei and I went shopping. There were a lot of tax-free outlet stores beside the train station. We went to the old town alley and bought some local food products (honey, jam and snacks). Yei was sporty to entertain me when I asked him to talk to my Osmo along the trip. I continued to test his patience and guess what, he even didn’t mind when I “forced” him to take a mushy, lovely, uncanny “bromance shot”. What a great brother!

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Next stop, I travelled further up north to see wild snow monkeys in onsen (hot spring pool) at Nagano. The Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park is located 3 train stops after Karuizawa station. From Nagano station (¥16,000/adult return trip from Tokyo Station), I took another 45-min express bus (at Depot 24 right below the train station, cost ¥1400/trip) to Jigokudani Valley where I hiked another 2km (40-min) to the park’s entrance (park closes at 4pm during winter, ¥800/adult).

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Covered in thick snow, the hiking trail was beautiful. My trip was full of delightful surprises and discoveries. It was only upon arrival when I realised the important significance and uniqueness of this attraction.

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The Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park is actually the ORIGINAL and ONLY site in the world where you find wild snow monkeys dipping themselves in onsen during winter. All these while, I thought the original site was in Hokkaido! There are other venues where you can find snow monkeys in onsen but none of those are in the wild, they are mostly in zoos and parks. You can imagine that surprise look on my face again when I realised this was actually THE PLACE that I saw on TV and newspapers repeatedly over the past 20 years! What a surprise! (The right analogy would be like seeing a Chinese castle and only to realise it was the Great Wall!)

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Despite its popularity and fame, there weren’t many tourists around. It was just a small group of 20 over visitors. I spent an hour at the park observing these magnificent primates up close and personal! These snow monkeys sure know how to indulge themselves! The only difference between the snow monkeys and us – they got to enjoy the onsen for free! Best of all, they enjoy free meals (wheat and barley) provided daily by the park rangers too! (The real reason for the feeding is to prevent the snow monkeys from trespassing, stealing food and harassing the visitors at the nearby onsen hotels. The park rangers hope to contain their movement within the forests.)

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Drone flying is not allowed as I learnt that there were many open air onsens where visitors dip without clothing. It will be extremely unpleasant for them to see a drone in the sky. Disappointed but I respected the privacy of the estates. Nevertheless, I had a relaxing time hiking in the snow and an awesome close encounter with these famous primates. What a great way to end this volatile Year of the Monkey!

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All in all, it was a short and great reunion with my cousin. Time was so short and precious that I didn’t even have time to meet my other lovely friends residing in Japan (Ernie, Martin and Mica!)

Back in Tokyo, Yei treated me to many top-class dining. Being a foodie, he loves good food, especially those awarded with Michelin Stars. Thanks to him, I put on extra kilos. Nevertheless, it was a really new experience for me to try so many new odd-looking-but-yummy dishes. I was never a foodie, so all these fancy dining concepts were refreshing strange for me.

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Yei flew back to Singapore this wee morning. Thanks for being such a wonderful, generous host and a dear brother. See you bro this Friday in Singapore! And not forgetting another mischievous monkey is waiting for me back home!

His virgin flight and crash!

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What a great sunny cool day today but it took me quite a bit of effort to “lure” Harshad to go out with us. In the end, it was the temptation of drone-flying that he accepted my invitation to join us for a short “droning hike” at Kowloon Reservoir.

I thought we were heading to a new place. We ended up at the notorious Monkey Hill (Kam Shan Country Park). There were so many curious and aggressive monkeys around, I never like coming here. Tracy got “robbed” by a monkey 5 years ago when we last hiked here. I was worried for the safety of my small drone. It is never a good idea to leave a drone on the ground with these “snatch thieves” around.

Keeping my word, I handed the controller to Harshad. Within seconds, he took the drone to the sky. Confidently and superbly in control, Harshad operated the drone like a pro. (That’s my evil plan to get him hooked so I can convert him to another drone buddy!). Just when he was flying in ecstasy, he crash-landed the drone. Nothing serious, except a small crack line on the camera lenses. Of course, that didn’t dampened our mood, Harshad successfully attempted his second flight.

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It was not bad at all. Harshad managed to capture quite a lot of good footage. He just need to fine-tune his turning and panning. All good. Now, I may proceed to step 2 – to get him buy this drone which he had just crashed. Sales take time, especially with my Indian prince.

Sunset at Hong Kong’s most beautiful peak – Tai Mo Shan (大帽山)

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8 long years in Hong Kong and I totally missed it. I never knew the sunset view at Hong Kong’s highest peak was so stunning. It simply took my breath away! All these years, I have completely overlooked it. Not until I saw the beautiful photographs on Aaron’s Facebook. Best of all, the 2nd-tallest coastal peak (at 957m tall, almost double the height of the Victoria Peak) of China is accessible by car. Its peak was just a short 30-minute drive away from Central! For lazy people like, there is no need to hike for hours to reach the top.

I underestimated the cold weather at the peak of Tai Mo Shan. Hiking against the cold strong wind, I was trembling in my shorts and slippers. Normally, I had high tolerance against cold weather but this was too much for me to bear. Even the batteries of my iPhone and drones weaken drastically. My shivering body kept telling me to descend the mountain but the beautiful view kept me going.

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There weren’t many hikers, I saw less than 10 people. It was the best time to fly the drones. I had 6 fully-charged drone batteries to last for at least 2 hours. The “strong wind warning” kept flashing on the screen. Mavic Pro was fairly stable and its nimble motors managed to keep it afloat steadily throughout the flight. In the end, it was my iPhone who let me down. Its battery went flat and I lost vision. Thankfully, Mavic Pro’s Return Home feature landed precisely where it took off.

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I stayed at the peak for another 15 minutes and watched the sun set. The night view was even more beautiful. With the last light out, the fog set in and the temperature dropped. A pity I wasn’t warmly dressed to last through the night. Time to make my way back to the city. I will be back for more – with better camera gears and most importantly, a hot pot of tea.

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