CNY Reunion in Bintan – Can’t believe my old dame did it!

The Wong/Cheng/Chua Family CNY tradition continues. From Sentosa to Desaru to Kukup, this is our 4th CNY staycation tour. Despite organising this 4 months ahead, we had the smallest turnout. Due to the bad timing, Uncle Asty and my sister’s family couldn’t make it.

The weather was terrible. It was cold, stormy and windy throughout our 3-day stay. What a waste, we booked 2 big villas by the pool and beach! It was impossible to do any sea sport, the waves were huge and choppy!

The ferry ride from Singapore to Bintan was quite an adventure. The sea condition was really bad. Just 15 minutes into the ride, things got chaotic pretty quickly. The ferry rocked violently and many passengers vomited. A Chinese man who sat beside me went berserk. Frantically, he unlocked the emergency door and went out to the open deck. He was spotted by other passengers who alerted the captain.

Stranded inside the villa, there wasn’t much to do. Everything was exorbitantly expensive here – food, shopping and activities. We came well-prepared with lots of food and booze. For some strange reasons, UnionPay Debit Card holders at the resort enjoyed 30% discount! That was quite a substantial saving! Thankfully, cousin Leon from Xiamen has his China card with him! We enjoyed a very sumptuous CNY dinner at the Kelong!

Bored and grounded indoor, I flew my drone out to take some aerial footage of our villas. The wind was too strong for the DJI Phantom but I managed to control the drone within range. However, there were 2 gigantic broadcasting towers beside our resort. Out of the sudden, I lost all transmission to the drone and it drifted away. The wind took it higher and further. It was horrific to see my drone drifting away and I couldn’t do anything about it. Somehow, the towers interfered and blocked my signals. For a good 20 minutes, I lost total contact with the drone!

Elkan and I ran out to search for the drone. Chester saw us running out of the villa and joined us. Thankfully, I managed to reconnect with the drone. From the live view on my iPad, I piloted the drone back to us just minutes before its battery ran out. What a scary nightmare!

On the second day, we went out to the Activity Centre. We had so much unexpected fun! We did archery and air-rifle shooting. Felicia and Elkan were sharp-shooters. It was Felicia’s first attempt on the air-rifle and she hit the target!

The highlight of the day was my mother. While we were leaving the Activity Centre, we saw a couple of kids soaring down the flying-fox. Surprisingly, my 70-year-old mother wanted to try it! (Even my timid boy wanted to play too!) The staff thought we were joking when we bought the ticket for my mum. They said my mum could be their oldest customer ever! They were expecting my mum to back out at the last minute but my old dame proved them wrong. She leaped and soared! What a joy to see her doing the flying-fox. We were very impressed! My mum rocks and she has balls!

What an unusual CNY reunion! No sun but we had so much fun together! It was a great break for me, to be away from work and having quantity time with my relatives, parents, wife and our little monkey! Enjoy the photos and Vlog below:

Short Reunion in Shanghai

Right after I bid farewell to Elkan and Felicia at the gate, I hopped on the next flight to Shanghai with Chowpo. It was a very short business trip. I was glad that I was able to juggle my time between work and leisure. With only a couple of hours free, I managed to meet up with some of my close friends (Calvin, Echo, Johnny, Ming, Francis & Doreen) and cousin Yei. Thank you all for squeezing some free time to meet up dine and drink with me. It was certainly a very fulfilling reunion (I gained another 2 sinful kilograms)! I guess we have to think of new “gathering activity” the next time we meet. I cannot eat and drink at every gathering. Nevertheless, thanks for showing me all the new attractions of Shanghai. Special thanks to Johnny and Ming who treated me to such a beautiful scenic dining place. Hope to see you guys soon! It is always good to be back!

Back to Shanghai

Shanghai holds a very special spot in my heart. There are just too many good memories residing in Shanghai. It has been almost 4 years since I have relocated my life to Hong Kong. This is one overdue trip which I have postponed far too many times. I am glad to be back this Easter.

So many things have changed since my last visit in April 2010. Wider roads, cleaner walkways, taller skyscrapers, bigger malls, newer cabs, larger subway network, longer bund and 2 new Apple Shrines. Huai Hai Road and Pudong underwent a big facelift.  Standard of living has certainly gone up a little. Food and shopping are not as “attractively priced” as before. Even the westerners at the bars are different now – the boys are speaking fluent Mandarin to their local “宝贝”. I was pretty impressed.

There is no special itinerary planned for this visit. Simply rest and relax. Weather was terrific, it was sunny and cooling. This trip, I spent a lot of time with my cousin Yei and managed to catch up with some of my old Shanghai friends (Echo, Francis, Johnny, Ming, Andy, Yang Jun and Calvin). Almost everyone popped me the same question “When are you coming back to Shanghai to settle down?” I guessed they know how much I love this city. Yei and I spent 4 good days chatting and chilling out at the cafes. (Yei was the first and last person I met this trip. Together, we discovered a new chill-out place “老码头” next to the bund. This place is going to be the next 新天地.)

Tracy and I visited some of our favorite haunts – We strolled at 复兴公园 and ate brunch at 田之坊. We even brought Harshad to our previous residence at 海月花园. There were times when I could not recall the street names. I had to guide the taxi drivers to the spot. Slowly, the memory came back to my mind. I snapped photos of these places and whatsapped Felicia. She too, misses all these places.

This is a great rejuvenating holiday for me. Short but very refreshing. I really don’t mind flying back to Shanghai for another short weekend. Hopefully this time I get to eat at my favorite restaurants.

Spirited Away

(Photo Taken: Tai Kang Road, Shanghai)

Colours of Spring

(Photo Taken: West Lake, Hangzhou)

Life @ Spring

(Photo Taken: Hangzhou Wetland Park)

Agents O

(Photo Taken: Shanghai Ogilvy Office – Meet the elite agents from Singapore, Malaysia and India. We kill, no talk.)

Wicked Shanghai Ads

In Love With Shanghai Again

BACK IN SHANGHAI – It was a last minute plan. Mum-in-law is here and I have to clear some outstanding leaves from last year. It is 10 solid days of holiday. Thought of spending some quality time with Felicia while mum-in-law baby sit our little boy. Then again, it is always my dream to backpack from Lijiang to Mount Everest. I couldn’t resist the offer proposed by my new friend, Jo. So many destinations in mind but so little time. After 3 days of bouncing itinerary, we decided to settle for Hangzhou and Shanghai and save the Mount Everest trip for mid-year. (It was April 1st when I contacted my friends in Shanghai about my visit – and all of them thought it was another April’s Fool joke from me!)Coming back to Shanghai is like a trip back home. I have so many good friends and families here. It is a familiar feeling. Even the DVD shop aunties recognized me. I love the city’s dynamism so much. And now with the World Expo, Shanghai streets are so clean and green. It just get better every visit. There are so much new things to see and discover. (Suddenly, I feel like moving back and settling down in Shanghai as my home for good! What a dangerous thought!)

A very short stay indeed but with the right combo of travel mates – Harshad, Josephine, Felicia and me. No Elkan to distract us. Josephine is such a darling – she is a sunny cutie with that prima-donna edge. We enjoyed cracking jokes with her. Harshad, as usual – a traveler’s nightmare. No scary inspection at the Chinese customs – but he was “checked” again due to so many impossible reasons! He must be cursed! Tracy? Many asked. She was enjoying a 12-day backpack in South Africa! Imagine her doing bungee, sky-diving and cage-diving with the sharks!

We filled our 4 short packed days with lots of activities. Well planned and timed, we managed to show our HK and Malaysian friends Shanghai’s very best attractions. Thanks to Hovman (for sacrificing 2 hot nights with Jo), Echo, Cousin Yei, Rebecca, Alicia, Johnny, Ming and Calvin – who managed to accommodate us in each and every way.

Here are our best moments in Shanghai and Hangzhou!

Day 2-3 (Hangzhou)
Peach Blossoms – It is the perfect season to visit Hangzhou. We visited the West Lake, the West Lake Wetland and the famous Lingyin Temple (which was built in the 400AD). Great weather and beautiful blooming to look at. The only setback we had was the lousy driver we hired. He was a nice old chap but he was very blur and lost. The road from Shanghai to Hangzhou was filled with life-threatening moments. Twice, I caught him dozing while he was driving! He wasn’t very familiar with the roads in Hangzhou and we wasted good time circling the city. In the end, it was Felicia who lost her calm by suggesting us to drop him for our night tour. Hovman called him “Mr Holland”!

Harshad was indeed charming. Many times in China (Dongguan or Macau), we saw Chinese girls ogling at him! Same here in Hangzhou, he got lots of fans staring at him. It wasn’t the “alien-stare” but “stares of admiration”. I wondered what kind of charm he was carrying. I suggested Harshad to put a “Crescent” on his forehead – that would make him even more popular with the locals! (We saw many Indian-like-Gods in Lingyin Temple anyway!)

Later that night, we met up with my new colleague Selina (mmm..who was there with a mysterious date!) and we had dinner, night-shopping and drink till 1am. I am back to my usual self…Tried hooking her up with my golden bachelor buddy.

Day 3-4 (Shanghai)
Immediately right after our Hangzhou trip, we checked in our luggage and headed for the new bund. (According to our great Inglish Harshad, it should be pronounced as “boon” – as it was named by the German.) The new bund was only completed last week (after a long 37-week renovation).

The next morning – We met some of my old colleagues (Alicia, Calvin and Rebecca) for a quick lunch at my favorite Jade Garden at Maoming Road. After lunch, Echo played host and drove us around the city. We brought Harshad and Josephine to Yu Garden (where we had the giant soup-dumpling) and Mo50 (a lofty area of art factories, graffiti walls and galleries). Later that evening, Johnny and Ming bought us nice Thai food at Hengshan Road. And we ended our last night in Shanghai strolling the enchanting designers’ alleys at Tai Kang Road.

When it was time to say goodbye, there was a subtle sadness in me. Surely, I miss my friends, my cousin and those places that I used to frequent so dearly. This is the place where I witnessed the impossibles and the wonders of the Chinese. This is the place where I learn the importance of kinship and friendship. This is also the place where I made many life-long friends.

24 hours in Shanghai

This must be the best time to be in Shanghai. Cool cozy Autumn weather with warm loving friends. It may be a short 24-hour stay but I have everything covered – right from the 1st minute I stepped out of Pudong Airport. A very well accomplished trip for both my business and personal agenda. Really, life can’t be any better for me! I had a great gathering with Cousin Yei & Summer, Echo, Johnny and Ming, Calvin and a couple more familiar faces at my old Shanghai office. It is just so wonderful to be able to do so much things within 24 hours.

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