Warm Farewell, Lucky Find & Joyful Ride into 2016

No countdown or staying late for the fireworks, I slept very early on New Year Eve. Mum and dad flew back early this morning. Felicia and I woke up at 6am to send them off.

While many others were still in their beds after last night’s countdown celebrations, Felicia and I were blessed to catch the first ray of dawn on New Year Day. We felt very refreshed and energised. It felt really good.

Mum and dad were already waiting at the entrance of the hotel by the time we arrived. They woke up earlier than both of us. We took a cab to Hong Kong Airport Express at IFC where they checked in their bags.

While waiting for them outside the check-in counters, I went to a nearby bin to spit out the awful phlegm that was irritating my throat (I am still down with this nasty cough and flu). Just before I was about to spit, I spotted something familiar inside the bin.

I recognised the rim of the wheel. It was a hoverboard!

Why was there a hoverboard inside a bin at IFC Airport Express in the early New Year morning? I looked around to check for its owner. No one seemed to be paying any attention to the bin. I was the only one beside it.

Curiously, I took the entire hoverboard out of the bin. It was wrapped in a white cloth. It looked very new and clean except for some slight scratches. Some one had deliberately dumped this. Possibly just minutes before I came by.

I turned it on and stood on it. It worked perfectly! A pity to leave it inside the bin. Well, finders keepers! I will most likely keep this in the office.

When my parents and wife saw me standing on the hoverboard, they were extremely surprised. My dad immediately warned “Later, it will explode!” 

I suspected the owner planned to check the hoverboard onboard the plane but was rejected as all airlines forbid any electric-vehicles/hoverboard on flight (due to the danger of large lithium-ion batteries). There have been more than 10 cases of hoverboards explosions and fires. It must be a very heart-breaking dump for the owner, especially when the hoverboard was well-protected by a bag (and it looked so new and clean). I felt really bad for him/her to discard something like that on New Year Day.

If my logic is right, then there will be many new hoverboards or segways being discarded at the check-in counters. The airport may be a good place to start hunting for discarded goods. (There are already many expensive lighters, perfumes, liquors being thrashed at custom check-in every day. I wonder what happened to these discarded items?) Maybe someone should start a “Cash-convertor” stores at all customs.

It was a quick and warm farewell. Mum’s teary but she hid it well. And I spotted it, ha! Sigh, I will rerun the same heavy-hearted farewell 2 days later when Felicia and Elkan are flying back to Singapore. Damn, I really dislike farewell.

Felicia and I came back home before 9am. I decided to surprise my son with my new find. It worked! His expression was priceless! (See video below)

Since it was New Year Day, we decided to do something different, new and healthy! We spent the rest of our day cycling from Tai Po Waterfront Park (大埔海濱公園) to Shatin. The weather was fantastic! It was sunny and cooling! Believe it or not, this is our first time cycling together in Hong Kong! This is a great place! I love the scenery and the cycling route. I never expect Tai Po Waterfront Park to be this beautiful!

In total, we cycled close to 20km (3 hours). It was very crowded this afternoon, there were a few near-accidents due to those reckless overtaking bikers.

What an unusual New Year Day for me! Previously, the house would be very empty, cold and quiet by now as Felicia and Elkan used to depart before the new year. This is the first time in 10 years my entire family is with me on New Year Day!

Summing it up – A warm reunion and farewell, a lucky find and a very very happy, sunny ride! Guess 2016 will be a lucky, smooth and joyful year for me! Happy New Year to all!

 

Who needs Santa when you have Mermaids for Christmas!

I only slept for 3 hours last night. We have a wonderful Christmas Eve. I took tons of footage and photographs. By the time we finished our little Christmas countdown and video-edit, it was already 4am! Tiring but every second is priceless!

This is the first time I celebrate Christmas with my parents and Auntie Amy’s family overseas (outside Hong Kong to be exact). It is certainly great to have them around during this festive seasons. Our usual end year travel becomes noisier with joyful chattering, laughers and lots of blissful nagging.

As there is no public holiday in China during Christmas, Leon took 2 days off to accompany us. I felt guilty as he was working in between during our visit (and he paid for all our expenses!). Qiaoqiao and him planned a special Christmas Eve dinner for all of us. Knowing I am an avid blogger, he promised it will be a “spectacular” dining venue for me. I really appreciate their kind thoughtfulness and love.

We set off to the one-and-only-must-visit tourist attraction of Xiamen, Gulangyu Island (鼓浪屿). The island is only 2km2 and is home to about 20,000 residents. Gulangyu is famed for its mishmash of architecture and alleys of local eateries and souvenir shops.

The 20-minute 3-deck ferry from Xiamen was all packed with visitors. My first impression of the island reminded of Taipei Jiufen. Rustic with lots of sweet surprises at every turn. The old colonial buildings and confusing narrow lanes, Gulangyu is like a mini Venice of the East. There are just so many things to see and explore. We saw many Taiwanese eateries and souvenir shops. Price was surprisingly reasonable and we could bargain with the shop-keepers too.

Leon’s princess Zhuzhu was the star/spice of the day. She won our hearts with all her comical poses, little pranks and mischievous tantrums. Annoyingly adorable!

Thanks to our great hosts Leon and Qiaoqiao, we had the most unusual Christmas Eve countdown at a very unique restaurant. The dining place they booked exceeded our expectation. Surrounded by full-height glass- walled aquarium with many fishes, it was like dining under the sea. The buffet hall is incredibly huge with a wide range of dishes! I covered less than 50% of the spread. (Cost: RMB395/adult)

In my opinion, it wasn’t the wide selection of food that attracted the big crowd. I believe it was the magical enchantment of the restaurant’s resident-mermaids that lured everyone here. It was certainly very distracting to dine beside an aquatic stage filled with sensual aquatic dancers from Russia. The mermaids performed many graceful routines that drew almost 80% of the diners to the tank. They were eye candies and I have deep respect for them. One thing is for sure, this is not an easy job, especially performing in such a tight space. These mermaids are professional! Who needs Santa when you have Mermaids for Christmas!

What an eye-opening and mouth-watering treat from my dear cousins! Certainly, this will be one unforgettable Christmas Eve family dinner ever! We had the best of everything – great food, great dining concept and most importantly, with the presence of great company of family and friends.

This blog is dedicated to Leon and Qiaoqiao for being such a wonderful and thoughtful hosts! Thanks for the generosity and time! 

Road to Xiamen

What a dramatic and rocky start of the day.

First, we hijacked someone’s transport unintentionally (at the Shenzhen hotel) and we had issues with our train tickets. We nearly couldn’t make it to Xiamen (not again!!!). It was a close call and almost a deja vu. 2 years ago, Tracy and I were didn’t make it to Xiamen and we ended up in Xian! For a moment, I thought fate was replaying itself when the ticket officer told us they couldn’t issue the tickets due to a typo. Luckily for us, we managed to replace the invalid tickets with 2 “standing-tickets” and boarded the train just in time. What a frustrating morning at the train station. Not to mention a terrible driver who smoked and talked on the phone when driving.

The train from Shenzhen North Station to Xiamen North Station took about 3.5 hours (1st Class Seat: RMB181/adult). Traveling at a top speed of 215km/h, the ride was extremely comfortable, clean and smooth but don’t expect any in-train entertainment or fine dining. My only complain is the frequent ear-pressure that can be very uncomfortable. The train crossed many wetlands, streams, hills, farms and gigantic electrical towers.

This was supposed to be another “surprise visit” masterminded by Auntie Amy. We wanted to surprise my cousin Leon and family but my auntie accidentally let the cat out of the bag 2 weeks ago (and she thought her son was dumb enough not to see through her trick). Last week, my cousin Leon revealed to me that he knew about the surprise and asked me to carry on with the act. Now, this is getting quite complicated and confusing. To surprise or not to surprise?

Leon picked us up at the train station. My parents were so delighted and surprised to see him. We spent a couple hours back in the hotel to unpack/chat/rest/recharge and the grannies started their chattering and nagging ritual the moment I flashed my gears & toys. Usually when I travel, my hotel room is always empty. It is so good to see my room packed with lots of people. It was chaotic, noisy but full of family love and warmth. For a second, I thought it was CNY (and not Christmas)!

We didn’t spend much time touring Xiamen today. It was purely family gathering and dining. Leon treated us an awesome/sumptuous dinner with many “never-seen-before” dish decoration. In total, we had 20 over dishes! Thanks bro for the wonderful hospitality and generosity!

There is something unusual with the weather. Winter isn’t that cold in Xiamen. At a cozy 24°C, there is no need for us to wear any thick winter clothing. The weather is just perfect for me! Hopefully the haze clear up by tomorrow so I can start flying my drone and explore this small dynamic island of Xiamen.

What a tiring and eventful day. I am looking forward to a great and relaxing Christmas Eve tomorrow!

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