Missing the Rain Goddess this CNY

Photo1

Never underestimate the rain-power of my Auntie Amy. Wherever she goes, rain follows. She is indeed very powerful, she even brought typhoon to Hong Kong in May when she visited me 2 years ago. It wasn’t even the typhoon season. Yes, strange weather occurrence happened with her around. (We went having BBQ that night and every time she walked over to the BBQ pit, cats and dogs pour! In the end, her own sons commanded her back into the room.)

So, you can imagine our joy when Auntie Amy announced that she will not be able to join us this CNY. Finally, after so many years of rainy CNYs, we were going to enjoy our first sunny (rainless) lunar new year! It was a mixed feeling of joy and sadness. Auntie Amy’s absence brought out the sun but dampen the festive atmosphere. Without the usual noisy Cheng Clan, we had a very quiet CNY reunion gathering this year.


Worst of all, it didn’t help to make plans early. 5 months ago, I booked a big 745m²-ocean villa at Montigo Batam (that can house up to 6-8 pax) for this year’s CNY gathering. In end, only 4 of us went – just mum, wife, son and me. The Cheng Clan had relatives visiting from the US while Dad recently underwent an eye operation 2 weeks ago and he was unable to travel.

It wasn’t that bad. Afterall, we have all the big space to ourselves. And yes, we had plenty of sun and great weather. Just a little quiet for such a big villa. Guess this is the price we have to pay to send the Rain Goddess away.

Photo14Photo12Photo2Photo13Photo11

Mum & Elkan were so excited the minute we arrived at the villa. As usual, mum, son, and wife love taking selfies. We realized we had 2 outdoor private swimming pools instead of 1! The 3-bedroom villa also comes with a big indoor spa pool that is big enough to house 2-3 adults. It provided all the comfort and privacy I needed. It was so quiet, peaceful and relaxing out here. I finally have all the time and private space (plus the sun) to tan up my superwhite body.

Photo9Photo3Photo5PhotoPhoto7Photo6

While wife and mum were chatting in the large family hall, son and I spent a lot of time playing mobile games + suntanning together by the poolside. I had a spare bedroom just to house all my toys and gears! Mum tried the virtual goggles (streamed real-time from the camera of my drone) while I flew the drone around the resort. We didn’t see a lot of people around the resort except during breakfast when we saw hundreds of guests. There was such a big crowd and long queue at the restaurant during breakfast that we had to travel out to the nearby town center to get our meal.

Photo4Photo8Photo10Photo18

It was a short 3D2N stay at Montigo. Quality and happy time flew really fast. We went back to Singapore, just in time to spend a short CNY reunion with the Cheng & Pohs clans and an early birthday celebration with my dearest dad!

Photo15Photo17

This was a short home trip for me too. I didn’t manage to meet up with all the usual CNY groups (missing Hovman, Kendrick and the Katong boys). Just a handful of dear Wahbaing buddies and lovely cousins.

Photo16

Despite having all the sun and great weather this CNY, I do miss the usual big noisy rainy gathering. It was all too quiet this year. It was so un-CNY. Okay, Auntie Amy, you are welcomed to bring rain to all our parties and gatherings from now on. Guess no rain no gain, the more the merrier. Looking forward to your presence (with more people) next CNY.

Time to go back to Hong Kong for more work and meetings. More gatherings with my buddies in China next week.

旺旺。

Wahbiang Melaka Trip (Blog by Felicia)

melaka-dec-2016_meijie2

BLOG BY FELICIA. VLOG BY ELKAN (31st Dec 2016)

Wahbiang have been planning for many years (at least 10 years!) to go for an overseas trip together. But it was never fulfilled due to work and family commitment. Timing was an issue as we needed to plan way before for applying leaves and making sure our kids could join us too. And we also needed to make sure it fits everyone’s budget.

Finally during Sam’s birthday gathering, just a comment from Joanne who missed the chendol in Melaka, we decided we should just all go to Melaka! With a long weekend, favourable currency exchange for Malaysia Ringgit, and such a nearby destination, it was the perfect short getaway. We were all planning to have lots of yummy food. There were requests for chendol, Peranakan food, chicken rice balls, Hokkien mee, wonton noodles, chilli crab, etc. Basically it was all about food!

Gareth, Sam and Lionnel came alone with no kids, no hassle. Joanne, Karen, me and our two boys, Alston and Elkan. Thanks to Sam who gave us a morning call at 5:48am which was way too early for a 9:15am coach. He was really excited about this trip!

melaka-dec-2016_feliciamelaka-dec-2016_karen1

Many travelers were taking the coaches to Malaysia. There were almost 1-2 coaches arriving at the deport every 15 minutes. Our coach was delayed. By the time we cleared the long queues at both the customs, it was already 12 noon. We were all very hungry by then and it made us look forward to our dinner! Gareth was drooling at the thought of food.

Finally, we arrived at Melaka at around 4:30pm. After checking in and dropping our bags, we headed out to find the dinner place (Restoran Tong Sheng) which was very popular in Melaka. Indeed, there was already a queue by the time we made our way there. From the Singlish we picked up from the conversations around us, it was obvious that the queue was mostly made up of Singaporeans. So typical to see Singaporeans in long queues especially for great food! And we were part of it too. Haha… 😀

melaka-dec-2016_meijie1

It was a long one hour queue before we could get our seats. Our tummies were rumbling, our legs were sore and tired, and the boys were bored waiting. But the spirits were high! We had in mind what we wanted to eat, mostly imagining the satisfaction after this mouth-watering meal. I must say the food was really tasty, especially the cheese bee hoon with prawns and the dark soya sauce hokkien mee. The otah with steamed egg and fried sotong were our favourites too. We were so bloated after the heavy dinner but it was satisfying! Especially the bill was way below what we expected. Worth coming back again, definitely.

After such a heavy meal we still couldn’t resist the temptation of desserts…. we had to have waffles with chocolate, chocolate molten cake, hot chocolate drinks, coffees and teas. Simply sinful!

The next day, most of us got up early for breakfast at the hotel. The food was good but we were still hoping to get out for more local food. Unfortunately, Gareth was not feeling too well. He was disappointed that he couldn’t seem to eat too much now. So much food, not enough time to digest. His mind wanted… But he’s stomach didn’t allow! We had to give him a boo as he was the one who excited us with plans to eat, eat & eat!

Right after breakfast, we took a stroll to Jonker Street. Surprisingly, the weather was quite cooling and windy too. The azure blue sky was dotted with fluffy white clouds and the trees swayed gently. Very unlikely to be so pleasant. Usually it was very hot and humid in Melaka. We were definitely enjoying the good weather. As we arrived at our destination, we see long queues at the chendol hawker stall by the river and the chicken rice balls. The street was busy and bustling with food vendors and the colourful trishaws.

melaka-dec-2016_felicia2melaka-dec-2016_joannemelaka-dec-2016_karen

Our first stop – wonton mee. At 12 noon, they have already sold out their noodles! Thankfully the stall aunite said she could buy some kuay teoh from the neighbouring stall if we were ok with that. We were more than happy. The wontons were very yummy!

Next stop – Chendol. This chendol stall was what brought us here on this trip. Joanne was looking forward to it. As usual, there were long queues in the shophouse. We managed to get a small table and ordered 4 bowls to share. Standard not as good as before, probably due to the overwhelming orders from the customers. Some of the diners had to stand outside the shophouse to eat.

Along the way back, we were still munching Nonya kueh, Chinese cookies, cheese tarts and egg tarts. Bought lots of goodies for our families back home.

melaka-dec-2016_joanne2melaka-dec-2016_joanne1melaka-dec-2016_felicia1

After a long day of walking and eating, time to rest. While some of us went for a massage, Lionnel & me bought the boys back to the hotel for a relaxing swim. The boys had lots of fun at the pool and in the hotel room too. Sorry Auntie Karen they destroyed your whole bathroom 😛

Dinner time! My Melaka Auntie recommended a more home-cooked style dining place to us. It was a small shophouse near a bridge over the Melaka river. Very friendly folks. The elderly lady boss was very kind to help us save cost, afraid that we might over ordered our food. A boy who looks barely 12 years old was helping serving dishes to us. Needless to say, our boys are so fortunate.

The oyster omelette was not up to expectation as it was a slightly different style from our Singapore version. But the rest of the dishes are very good. The boys loved the dark soya sauce hokkien mee. The steam pomfret was very fresh. Another happy meal for our tummies with couple glasses of beer for Sam, Joanne, Karen & Lionnel. Unfortunately, Gareth was starting to feel unwell again. He was feeling heaty and feverish. But he was still determined to have his Corny Dog and root beer at A&W after dinner! Way to go! Buuuuurp…..

And yes, we all did had a quick meal at A&W. We were so full that we had to walk around the mall to help with the digestion. We took a long walk across the mall and went to a snack store and bought more goodies for the folks back home. After that Sam spotted a Bak Kut Teh store and suggested we go for it. But we were too full, so we decided to add that into the next day’s food itinerary.

melaka-dec-2016_meijie

It was indeed challenging to have a hotel breakfast and Bak Kut Teh and a Peranakan lunch, as planned before we board the Coach that travels back to Singapore at 2:30pm. We managed the first 2 but had to forgo the Peranakan lunch as there was a long queue and we didn’t have that much time left. So we headed back to our hotel for a simple meal at the cafe. Bought lots of egg tarts and bread for the long journey. Afraid there might be long queues at the customs again. But thankfully, it was a smooth ride back home and no traffic jams or queues too!

By now, Gareth is feeling much better after a good night’s rest. And since we returned back to Singapore early, he suggested that we should have dinner before we go home. Haha… not letting go any chance for a good meal! And we were happy to have Charlie, Lusia, Jacob & Christy join us for dinner! It was another nice steamboat meal. Feels like a Lunar New Year dinner.

Such a joyful and fun food trip! Thanks for all the spontaneous response and fun jokes we had throughout the trip. We missed our other Wahbiang friends. Looking forward to another trip soon! Enjoy the Video! 😛

melaka-dec-2016_joanne3

Wahbiang birthday bash @ Hotel 25 (Blog by Felicia)

Our monthly gatherings for Wahbiang birthday buddies has always been a great get-together and catching up with everyone in the clan. It gets tougher each month as we are constantly looking for suitable venues. From a small group of secondary school friends, we have multiplied to a big clan!! At the moment, we have about 17 kids and one more on the way, coming in Sep!

In the good days, hangouts were often at the coffee shops along East Coast Rd, Dunman food center or prata along Changi Rd. As we all settled down and started our families, our Eunos flat eventually become and weekly gathering venue. Simple activities of potluck dinners, gaming, mahjong session and most of our guest also stayed overnight on our sofa! That’s how eventually we called our flat, Hotel 25 (our block number). The good old times!

After we moved out of our flat, we catch up more often outside our homes. This month, since our flat was empty, being our usual haunt way back almost 20 years ago, I tot would be a great place for the Wahbiang clan and the kids too! Thanks Joanne for kick-starting and helping to organize July’s birthday gathering! The date was set, venue picked and food delivery ordered and the party starts!!

Elkan and me were excited about the party and that we were staying over for a night! It’s like a staycation for Elkan. He gathered some toys, clothes and his sleeping bag while I prepared the cutleries, snacks and toiletries. All packed in a luggage and off we head to Hotel 25!

With the convenience of online food delivery, everything happens in a click! We had DIY popiah and kueh pie tee, laksa, the famous Golden Pillow and side dishes. The clan came and the whole house was blasted with activities! Our kids were running around, lots of laughter, petty quarrels among them and our strict Auntie Karen at the top of her voice to keep the kids well behaved! Guess Hotel 25 is too small for the kids to play.

Good to have Erny to join us. We have occasional guests who often due to work or taking care of the younger kids, couldn’t make it to our gatherings. She mentioned that the last time she came, I was just pregnant with Elkan! How time flies! We were boys and girls, turned man and woman and now daddies and mummies.

Goodbyes at the end of the party was reluctant for Elkan. As we walked out with Lionnel & Joey, Duuk & Juliana, and the kids, he was looking a little upset. At the carpark, he kept sneaking into Duuk’s car so that he could hold up a few more minutes and play with the boys.

It was a great evening and a big thank you to all that came and made our home so cozy and filled with life and energy again!

Happy Birthday to the July babes, Juliana, Joey and Edelynn (MC’s younger girl)! Joanne, we missed you!!

The annual Chinese Feasting Festival is back!

I am finally off for Chinese New Year! No more work and meeting, just having great reunion time with my family and good friends in Singapore! This year is a little bit special, I get to stay in Singapore for over 20 days!

Fate has been very kind to me too. Over the last 3 days, I bumped into 2 very old friends – Stella and Rosline (aka Baoxuan) who were coincidently my secondary school friends! I also managed to gather all my dear Katong friends for a small reunion breakfast at my favourite joint. I really miss the old days when we ran our small boutique agency. Time flies, Caffeine has been in Katong for over 1 decade! Amazing!

I would like to thank Karen and Charlie for hosting such a wonderful Wahbiang Gathering! It was nice to meet a couple of friends who I haven’t seen for over a year – Duuk, Yifu, Charlie, Ivy and Kalinda! It was a great party but the reunion time was too short for me to connect with every single one of you! We miss the presence of Lusia & Sam (who are now recovering in USA), Mannc, Joey, Lilian, Serene, Tracy (in KL with family) and Joanne! Despite the heavy downpour, we had a great time! The kids were pretty well-behaved too!

While I enjoy all the reunion with my families and friends, I don’t really like the ritual of eating/drinking at every CNY meeting. It does seem awkward and rude if we do not offer or accept any food/drinks during the gathering. It is really difficult to keep my weight down during this fattening feasting season. Perhaps I should just restrict myself to 3 gatherings per day. It is not even CNY yet and I felt my tummy bloated already!

I wonder, how many more Yusheng (鱼生) I have to consume before the end of this feasting season?

Enjoy the Vlog below:

My 164th Hong Kong Visitor – A very dear buddy from India!

Always happy to know a friend is in town! And even happier when it is a friend who I haven’t met for almost 10 long years! This weekend, an ex-colleague (from VOXmedia) and a dear friend from India arrived in Hong Kong for the first time! Raghu and I used to work in a Singapore company where he was a SA and I was leading a small design department. We last saw one another in 2004 before the company crisis. Over the last 10 years, we stay in touch briefly on Facebook. He was one of the nicest and most sincere guys in the company! And boy, I am extremely happy to host him in Hong Kong!

Thanks to my blog, it seems that Harshad has a fan-base! Raghu mentioned briefly about Harshad and I asked Raghu to teach me some really “bad words” in Hindi so I can abuse my brother from another mother. I asked Tracy to call Harshad but my dear clumsy house mate dialled Harshad’s mother in India instead! When I heard a lady on the other end, my first impression was “Gosh! It is Harshad’s secret girlfriend!!!”. I started to tease her but all she replied was in Hindi. From the tone, it seemed she was pretty pissed and I handed over the phone to Raghu. He spoke with her for a while and from his face, it seemed pretty serious stuff. Only then we found out that was Harshad’s mum on the other end! Of course, we laughed madly and she didn’t find it amusing at all! What a joke!

The weather was cooling and I brought them to the Victoria Peak for a short scenic hike. In the late afternoon, Kevin (another ex-colleague) arrived from Beijing and joined us for a quick drink at my office in Central.

It was a great gathering. Raghu hasn’t aged a bit (see photo below dated 2002). Later that night, I went home and dug out all the old VOXmedia photographs dated back to 2002. Goodness, it is true! Raghu is almost the same as I last saw him 10 years ago! Must be the beer and whisky or the magical Indian gene!

Great to have you here, buddy and see you soon! Oh yes, I must connect you to Harshad!

Wahbiang @ Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Hengqin Zhuhai

After 18 months and many unsuccessful attempts to organise the Wahbiang Tour this June holidays, a small group of us managed to find time for a small gathering in Hong Kong last weekend. Juliana and Karen flew in with their boys and joined us for an arduous trip to the new Chimelong Ocean Kingdom at Zhuhai Hengqin (横琴长隆海洋王国).

This was quite an unusual and unique travel group combination. It was an interesting traveling experience with the company of four tough women and three very mischievous boys. I was the only man in the group. I know how chaotic it can be whenever you travel with a group of naughty kids and tiger-mums. Knowing we have to take multiple transports and cross 2 cities to the final destination, I was prepared for the worst travel experience but this group proved me wrong. Everything was very smooth. Everyone was on time and there was no delay. The pace was fantastic and it was pretty enjoyable! Best of all, I got to know the kids and mothers better!

How to go to Zhuhai Chimelong Ocean Kingdom from Hong Kong / Macau – Heading out to the new attraction can be challenging. There was no direct ferry connecting Hong Kong to Zhuhai Hengqin Port (珠海横琴口岸). The most direct route would be taking a 75-min ferry (cost about HKD220/adult) from Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal (港澳碼頭) to Zhuhai Jiuzhou Port (珠海九洲港). From Zhuhai Jiuzhou Port, take a 40-minute taxi (cost around RMB65-75) to Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. Using this route, the total cost for each pax is about HKD300. The whole journey takes about 115 minute.

We took a cheaper and slightly shorter route. However, this route took us a total of 5 transfers, compared with only 2 transfers in the earlier option. First, we took a 60-minute ferry (cost about HKD185/adult) from Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal to Macau. From there, we took a free 15-minute shuttle bus to Venetian Hotel where we transferred to another free 5-minute shuttle bus to Lotus Port (莲花口岸). There was no queue at all at this Macau-Zhuhai border. The distance between these two border-checkpoints is about 1km and we paid HKD5/pax for a 5-minute border shuttle bus. At Zhuhai Hengqin Port (珠海横琴口岸), we took a 7-minute hotel bus (free if you have the hotel vouchers or if not it will cost only RMB8/pax) to the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom Hotel. 



There were taxis outside Zhuhai Hengqin Port and it cost RMB30/ride to the hotel.
 There are many guys asking you to hop on their cab, do negotiate the price. If unsure, ask the local custom police for help. Using this route, the total cost for each pax is only HKD225. The whole journey takes about 100 minute.

At the Zhuhai Hengqin Bay Hotel (横琴湾酒店), China’s largest ocean ecological theme hotel lobby intrigued us with its gigantic spectacular dolphin pillars. Houses over 1,800 spacious and luxurious suites and 4 big swimming pools, the hotel is connected to the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom by a 1,000m water canal. Visitors can take a private cruise from the hotel to the theme park.

Despite the grand interiors, services and hotel standard, in my opinion, was only so-so. Check-in queue was long and it took me over 30 minutes to get my room cards. Food charges were rather costly and the quality was satisfactory. There were a couple of convenient shops in the hotel but the prices were 200-300% more than usual. There was little signage around the premise to guide you to the key locations in the hotel but the hotel staffs were at every turn to guide you. Swimming pools closed at 8:30pm and it was quite a distance to our rooms. The only thing we liked was the hotel room. It was really spacious, clean and the beds were very comfortable.

We decided to watch the Hengqin Chimelong International Circus (横琴长隆国际大马戏) on Saturday evening and visit the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom on Sunday morning. During our free time, I brought the ladies and boys to Gongbei Port (拱北口岸地下商场) for lunch and shopping. We bought so many things! Both ladies and kids loved it!

Comparing with the Guangzhou’s Chimelong International Circus and Macau’s House of Dancing Water, the Hengqin Chimelong International Circus was appalling. Some of the acts were out-dated (even the kids were able to see through the magic shows), there were only 2-3 worthy acts. Judging from the overall applauds, only the Duo Golden Men Slow-Mo Act was astounding. There was no high point in the show, it was flat from the beginning to the end. It was not worth to pay RMB680/adult for the VIP seat. In fact, if you have watched any of the other 2 circus in Guangzhou or Macau, you can simple skip this and save some money. (Check the photos, I only captured those acts that were worthy.)

The next morning, it was pouring cats and dogs. We were at the theme park entrance 10 minutes after its opening hour at 930am. Despite the heavy downpour, there were thousands of visitors at the park!

At the entrance, we were greeted by a gigantic “Manta Ray” LCD roof canopy. It was massively impressive! Officially opened in March 2014, the RMB20-billion 132-hectare theme park houses 8 different zones. (Loop starting from the right: Ocean Main Street, Dolphin Cove, Amazing Amazon, Ocean Wonders, Polar Adventure, Colourful World, Mount Walrus and Hengqin Sea). Zoned in a circular format, it was very easy to navigate around the theme park – even without a map.

At Dolphin Cove, we came face to face with bottle-nose dolphins in its underwater enclosures.

Next stop at Amazing Amazon, Karen and Tracy took the park’s most scary roller-coaster ride, the Parrot Coaster. At a height of 50m, it is the third tallest ride in the world. Running at a distance of 1,278m, this is also the world’s longest and fastest “wing coaster” ride with a top speed of 108km/h. The girls didn’t know about all this fact before they queued up for it. All we knew was Tracy sprained her neck during the ride.

The Ocean Wonders is majestic and record-breaking! Here lies the world’s largest aquarium (yes, it topples the Singapore Sentosa’s record). Boasting a total water volume of 12.87 million gallons, the attraction holds another 4 new world records for “Largest Underwater Viewing Dome, Largest Aquarium Tank, Largest Aquarium Window and Largest Acrylic Panel”! Impressive marvels!

Here, we took a kid-friendly Deep Sea Odyssey ride. It is an unique 2-seater capsule ride that goes inside the aquarium and volcanic land.

At Polar Adventure, temperature was at 10-14 degree Celsius. We were soaking wet and cold from the rain and we didn’t stay long in this enclosure. Here, we saw the beautiful Beluga whales and the polar bears. At 11am, we went to the Polar Theatre to catch the talented Beluga performance! Like dolphins and orcas, the Beluga whales are very talented with an IQ of 6-year-old. After the show, most of us felt sad for these peaceful mammals as they should be freed and belong in the wild. While it is a good enclosure for the kids to learn more about these magnificent creatures, there should be more sustainable model to house and protect the animals.

Our last stop was at Mount Walrus (we skipped the Colourful World and Hengqin Sea). By then, the adults were fairly drenched and tired. We contemplated at the Walrus Ride and in the end, we all decided to give this a miss. At 3pm, we left the theme park and made our way back to Macau for dinner and a few rounds at the casino.

Like all Wahbiang gatherings, the trip with Karen and Juliana was an enjoyable one. After spending 2 solid days with the kids, I discovered new things about the kids. Zechariah isn’t a shy and gentle boy, he can be a very cheeky, active and adoring child. Alston and Elkan become good travel buddies and they share their toys and iPads. There weren’t any fighting among the kids, just the usual “catch and play” sessions. The ladies took turns to watch over the kids during the travel and shared parenting tips with one another. While the rest of the Wahbiang clan weren’t here, we talked a lot about them throughout the trip.

This trip opened my eyes on future Wahbiang trips. As long as the parents are able to manage their own children and be very discipline in the timing, it is highly feasible to plan a trip with kids and adults. While it might be difficult for every adults and kids to bond with everyone, it is still a wholesome get-together session for the clan – as long as we know how to manage ourselves and learn to divide and conquer.

Let’s plan for the next Wahbiang Trip soon. Looking back, the Perth trip is certainly ambitious but it is still possible. Let’s start with something small. Thanks Karen and Juliana (and kids) for the reunion and all the happy moments! Bet you ladies are well “China-trained” now!

Birthday Girl from Singapore

I was blessed with many Singaporean visitors over the past 3 weekends! Gareth, Felicia, Elkan, Joanne and Sherane were all in town! The two beautiful (non-stop-laughing-crazy girls) cousins dropped by specially to Hong Kong to visit us last Saturday! Felicia, Elkan, Tracy and I were so happy to receive them! We planned a small birthday dinner for Joanne on my favourite floating sea-food restaurant at Causeway Bay. It’s great to have good company in town! Just last night, I bid goodbye to my lovely young aunt, Yin San and uncle-to-be, Wei Siong. And in less than an hour later, Kalinda’s younger sister was walking a few blocks away from my apartment and we decided to catch up for a short bite!

%d bloggers like this: