A typical day in New York City

Here's a typical day in New York:

Lunch at NY's #1 steakhouse at Peter Luger. My friend DT is getting married this Saturday and she's rewarding all those who've traveled all the way to NYC for her wedding (yup, I unashamed to put myself in that category) with a superb steak lunch.

We ordered tomato and thick cut bacon as appetizers... and main course was the porterhouse steak for 4 people (2 orders for 10 people). I have to say... the porterhouse was much better than I expected. When cooking that big piece of steak, it's very difficult to get the temperature just right. Kudos to them, cus they got it right. I enjoyed the sirloin part much better than the filet - it had more flavor. Compared to the one from Chicago Gibson's, the filet lacked a bit of flavor. It still melted in your mouth though. Good steak. Must bring PNGF here.

Did not try any desserts... because...

Our eating oddesy continued at Junior's, NYC's #1 in cheesecake. Good strawberry cheesecake. We tried a slew of other sweets (Apple crisp, original cheesecake, banana split, strawberry shortcake, and the milk shake below).. they were all very good. The only downside was that I couldn't move afterwards.

I dropped by the supermarket to buy some veggies and made fried rice at home. This is the first time I am making fried rice! I took a look at some onlien recipes (thank god for Internet) and made some adjustments to it. Got some good tips from fried rice expert PNGF and went on my way... to make a slightly sloppy fried rice. The problem was that the rice was too wet to begin with (even after days of refridgeration) and required a long time to cook. I've identified the KSF (key success factor) and will make a kick ass fried rice next time. The key is still the rice.

Alas, the fried rice was for PNGF only... since I had dinner plans with my ex-Bain HK colleagues MB, CL, and RW. To reminicent about our HK past, I picked a very cheap and good Cantonese restaurant on the out skirts of Chinatown - Congee Village. It was very good. During dinner, MB pulled out two Peter Bjorn & John tickets that he planned to scalp cus his wife can't go... and RW's jaw dropped to the floor claiming that "he's the biggest fan". Since MB can't go, CL (who still works for Bain) has a midnight call with her European colleagues, it was RW and me! To a concert. Who would have thought!?

It's too bad I didn't re-read a photo post on concert photography and didn't bring a monopod. I could have taken much better pictures. By the way, Webster Hall acoustics weren't very good... and PNGF immediately confirmed it afterwards. See? I have decent ears.
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I think I meant atypical day instead of "A typical day"... =)

Loving the city! MOMA today!


To the armpit of America

Visited ex-AG colleague AL in Millburn NJ. Apparently, NJ is the armpit due to geographical location. Imagine Long Island / Cape Cod being an arm extending out of America, then NJ is right at the arm pits. Of course it doesn't help that it's first impression to all visitors from NY is miles and miles of un-managed swamps.

As you can see, Millburn is no armpit at all.

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AL and I used to be part of the LTFU crew, which was a close second to the Wing Squad in terms of random groups with common purpose that I have become a member of throughout the years. We got lunch at the marvalous Millburn Delicatessen - get the sloppy joe with any meat; it's very very very good - and enjoyed a good conversation beside the lake. Good times all around.

And... uh... I'm starting to feel the need to do something. What? It took me three weeks to feel antsy about free time.

Boys will be back

As I mentioned earlier, PNGF and I went to a screening of "The Boys are Back". I thought it was an excellent movie.

One quick clarification... apparently all white people look alike to me. I thought Ron from Harry Potter was in the movie playing a character called Harry. I thought that was quite funny. Well, turns out it is a different person altogether.

Back to the movie. It's really about parenting, which is why even though I liked the movie, I wouldn't recommend it to everybody. Clive Own's character has been so busy with work that he routinely ignores his young son Arty (he' already ignored Harry, his first son from his first marriage). The death of his 2nd wife forces him to become a real parent - hilarity and chaos ensues.

Not being a parent, it's difficult to understand the pressure they are constantly under. There is so much a child cannot understand and therefore so much a parent cannot tell a child. And, as always, it's always too late to realize these things (as a son). My parents rock.

Movie is highly recommended if you are a parent. Otherwise, can skip.


Home Cooking

You know the biggest difference of life on leave vs. life at work? I eat home cooked meals! Over the last year, I probably ate at home about 20 times... either at my parents or at PNGF's. Now? I cook almost every day.

I have to confess that I did not make the above (Vietnamese meatballs). But I did make 沙茶牛肉 yesterday. Great success. No pictures though.
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Statue of Liberty

ET came visiting NYC last weekend, so I took him and his wife out to Statue of Liberty. Years ago, I visited the top of the statue (the crown) and remember being amazed at this metal structure that was completely hollow.

Nowadays, the government doesn't allow tourists up the statue any more due to structural problems. Who knew?

Instead of climbing the statue, we settled for the audio tour around the island. The lady on the machine talked way too much, but we paid just enough attention to get the gist of the history. Actually, it's quite a good deal. For $20, you get a ferry ride to both Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island... and you get the guided tour to both islands. Now... if only everybody had the free time I had.

Yeah, I can't decide whether she's a he either...
We took our time around Statue of Liberty but rushed through the exhibits of Ellis Island, where all the immigrants were admitted and their future decided (for them). More time would be more fitting for such a historic place. Until next time... I have plenty!

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I predicted the market crash...

Way back in December 2007, I already saw this crisis coming. Oh yes.

See proof.


1st week in NYC...

Hmmm... let's see... what does one do with free time?

  • Met up with MBA friend AW... who now has a son O! With super chubby cheeks! By the way, Tea Box Cafe at Takashimaya has really good and healthy food... until the green tea creme brulee
  • Line up for free cone day at Rockefeller Center; actually, I cut in line because I found PNGF and her colleague taking a 30 minute break from work already lining up. Sweet!
  • Learn about classes at ICP
  • Cook vegetables at home... contrary to popular belief, I can actually cook
  • Met up with Tufts friend HW at Gramercy Tavern; absolutely delicious cheese filled meatballs... oh, and the ham sandwich wasn't bad either. Can skip the chowda... I miss the Chinese soup already
  • Wandering to B&H to find some photography equipment (too expensive)
  • Wandering more to Max Brenner at Union Square for hot chocolate... get the Italian... still a bit sweet, but quite amazing!
  • Cook tomato fried egg at home; it's my second time coming this dish... first was in grade 8. GRADE 8! Great success, Borat style.
  • Met up with PNGF at Norma's, Le Parker Meridien - yup, another Le Meridien (see review of Shanghai Le Meridien) visited
  • You know, the Chocolate Waffle with Peanut Butter and Toffee Crunch filling deserves its own bullet point
  • Maybe a second bullet point... mmmmmmmmmmmmm
  • Bumped into SPCC friend AL (now AT, apparently) in Rockefeller Center... what are the chances of that!?
  • Met up with AG colleague ZL in Rockefeller Center... nice offices!
  • Met up with PNGF to eat at a Pizza Parlor, who claims to be the most famous pizza in the world. I beg to differ, though the Hawaian wasn't bad.
  • Watched a movie screening with PNGF - The Boys will be Back. I thought it was an "excellent" movie, though PNGF only thought it was "fair"
  • Ron from Harry Potter makes a major screen appearance! As... you know it's coming... Harry (in the movie, was that too confusing?)!
  • Walked by Serendipity 3 on the way back home. Last time we went to Seki Sushi and walked by it was closed due to health reasons... boo... twas overrated overall. Pecan pie was a big soggy and the frozen hot chocolate... I don't understand the fuss.
  • No practicing of my awesome cooking skills tonight. Yay!
  • Lunch at Payard with PNGF; I've never heard of it but it was a pleasant surprise
  • The Chocolate Mousse also deserves its own bullet point
  • Hm... what else happened on Friday!? Went to get a free pint of Ben and Jerry (yay!) courtesy of JK. Mmm... coffee heath bar ice cream... drool again
  • Met up with Booth buddy RY at a coffee shop
  • Cooked beef with vegetable. Great success again! Beef a bit dry but the sauce was right
Saturday (now)
  • Learned about the newest female products on hand, courtesy of brother JL. Why didn't I think of this?
  • Lunch with PNGF at her favorite Pho place in Chinatown... twas good... but no pupu platter
  • Walked around Empire State building in anticipation of a tour with ET later tonight or tomorrow
  • Pinkberry with PNGF after her guitar lesson... yum yum
  • Bumped into long lost family friend in PNGF's apartment elevator - he's here to see apartments - what are the chances of THAT!? I'm starting to feel that NYC is a very small place
  • Blog


Visiting the holy land of sushi...

It was a blast from the past to see KB in Tokyo and have her bring me to the Holy Temple of Sushi - aka Tsukiji - to get sushi breakfast. As I've said before, this was a complete accident trip and wouldn't have happened if I didn't get bump off a flight due to weight restrictions - yes, I'm still deeply offended that someone would tell me I'm not on the flight due to weight restrictions.

Good restaurants in Chicago and New York are great... but they don't compare to Tsukiji at all. It's not that the food is so much better... it's just the entire experience of it.

I didn't attend the morning tuna auction at 5am. I did get up at 4am wondering if I should do it or not. I glanced at the clock and decided no. I was going to meet KB at 6:30am and that's probably good enough.

As usual, she arrived at 6:50am. I should have known. Just like old times. As I stood outside the subway, however, loads of tourists came up to me and asked if I knew where the market was. Um... turn around, it's right there, mate.

No tuna auction... but hey, I can take pictures of the bustling market! If I had more time (and no companion), I'd spend much more time to talk to the fisherman and take more pictures. Fascinating market where you have to be careful while you walk cus little motor hangers are running around like mad men. I got honked at more than 10 times. All sorts of fish and seafood are on display. Next time, I'm definitely doing the tuna auction.

Here are some of my favs:

I was told this following restaurant is the holy grail of sushi. Well, the line was too long. We went to a nearby one where photography is not allowed (Sigh). But the tuna/uni rice bowl was delicious. Especially the uni. Mmmm.... Uni. Next time, I will visit this store too. (And KB told me about the best sushi restaurant she has been to in Ginza... that's on my list too)

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#1 sin gluttony

Tsukiji will come, don't worry. I wasn't allowed to take pictures in the restaurant... but took a few in the markets. I think it deserves a second chance where I can spend more time in there... and maybe even attend the 5am tuna auction.

Anyway, my trip to NYC brings me through Chicago:

Gibson's - great steak as usual. Some would argue that I've been so deprived in Shanghai and Hong Kong that even Denny's steak and egg would have done the trick. Nice one. But no. I've traveled to NYC a few times to get steak at Shula's and Delmonico's. I've at least had above average steak. =) Gibson's never disappoints. I had the 24-oz porterhouse which was made perfectly. The filet mignon side was slightly better than the tenderloin side. Otherwise, our attention turned to the massive turtle pie - an ice cream pie that feeds about 10... there were only three of us. I forgot to bring my camera though. sigh.

West Egg - Rod's country fried. Nuff said. West Egg used to be where we hung out Sunday morning after some crazy Saturday nights. Good times. The food is so-so but the nostalgic value is high. Yay! Was nice to see MK at our usual spot.

Marche - I told myself I wouldn't have steak again due to the 24-oz Gibson experience. Well... when the waitor started describing the bacon wrapped burger with truffle fries, I couldn't resist. The burger was okay, but the truffle fries really did the job. Mmmm. I think this is the first time I paid for Marche food... it used to be a big recruiting restaurant for various consulting firms. Good times. PP and BSLW attended. Great to see old friends at familiar spots.

Hot Chocolate - well... I did once say in my Chicago restaurant review that I "regret not going to Hot Chocolate" No more regrets now. All the food had great presentation... the taste, however, was mixed. The namesake hot chocolate was really good although the whole marshmallow was too sweet (see below). Get the medium and only melt half the marshmallow. ML said the half and half (with espresso) was very good. The food was disappointing. The farmers omlette was quite good but nothing surprising. I guess this was a case of high expectations. Oh well. Bumped into Desi and his family at the restaurant and finally met the super pooping baby. She was very cute. Good times again.

Penelope (Citysearch review)- ah, finally I made it to NYC. Somehow, PNGF duped her friend EL to wait at a popular brunch place and hold the space in line. Nicely done. Two words: Nutella French Toast. Okay, that was three words. My god that was good. I already love NYC.

Pomme Frittes - I've seen them everywhere but never had the fries there. Well, somehow, this turned into our dinner. Interesting business model though, since they charge $1 for the sauce. I wonder if they can lower the price for potatoes and charge more for the innovative sauce they make. Ketchup is free... but the Vietnamese Pinapple mayo is pretty good. And I would want to try the Mango Chutney Mayo and Honey Dijorn Mustard next time.

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Well, whenever I do a long haul, I'm bound to watch some movies despite my innate ability to fall asleep on flights.

Flash Point (导火线): Watched this with my dad the night before I flew to the US. Always nice to see some old school fight scenes from Hong Kong. Donny Yan does another incredible (though the same) job in creating these amazing choreographed fights with his various opponents. He really reminds me of Jet Li, but without a cute side. Director Ip Wai Shun leaves a good impression on me again. I've seen his name a few times in movies and have always liked his work on blending tradtional Hong Kong kung fu with all sorts of other fighting arts - in this case, it was a lot of Mongolian wrestling and some Thai boxing. Highly recommended for the fight scenes. Don't expect a story line.

Quantum of Solace: um... yeah... it was on the flight TV. I miss the old Bond... who just womanized every girl he came across and had cool gadgets. This one falls in love and has a conscious. HE IS A SPY! SPIES USE PEOPLE AND DON'T HAVE A HEART. Get over it and stop trying to make him into a person who cares about all his assets. And please bring back Q. I miss Q. Not recommended.

Frost / Nixon: Even if you aren't familiar with American history, this is a very worthwhile movie. I know what happened... but the circumstances around Watergate has never been clearly explained to me... and this movie wouldn't do that honors either. Anyway, this is a movie about two men fighting for their lives. On one hand you have the president who knows he is doomed but wishes the interview was his chance at redemption and resurrection. On the other hand you have a playboy who slowly realizes that he is stepping into the largest quick sand pool and is losing everything around himself. A classic duel. Plus you can see the Kevin Bacon "I'm trying very hard to look serious" face. Highly recommended.

Departures: I reviewed it last time and thought it was a good movie but not Oscar worthy. I stand by that verdict. I did want to revisit and discuss one topic: death. Why is it that people are able to forgive others when they are dead? When they are alive, all these anger and conflict are never resolved. And once one dies, poof, all is forgotten and forgiven. Is it in OTHER PEOPLE'S death we realize our own insignificance? Can we not realize that earlier? Can we not forget and forgive earlier? Why is that so difficult?


How to handle stress

48 hours after I supposedly left for Chicago... I finally arrive in Chicago.

I rarely stress out. The last time I did was when I was about to head to Thailand for vacation and riots broke out there. My manager commented at the time, "wow, I've never seen you so stressed out." Um, thanks for the support.

Here's one fellow who is quite stressed out
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Anyway, I thought I'd try to explain what goes on in my head when the situation calls for "stressing out" and "freaking out".

I was supposed to go to Chicago on Wednesday and stay for a few days before heading to NYC. I had it all planned out. Flat bed business class from HK to Chicago (thank you ML again and again!), expensive car rental (arg), Gibson's steak at night (DROOL), meet more friends on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Food food food. Catch up catch up catch up. Perfect plan.

Except that... "Today we have weight restriction; you cannot get on." What!? I'm too heavy? What weight restriction!? Haha... seriously, I kid you not. That's what the reservation lady told me word for word. None of the standbys got on the flight. SHIT, SHIT SHIT. There goes my aforementioned plan... even worse, the flights are going to be pretty bad the rest of the week. I might not even make it to NYC on Saturday!

Yup, this is a situation that calls for "stressing out" and "freaking out"... which I did for about a minute before calling ML and told him about the flight. He was surprised too. He checked his computer and then said "Tokyo Chicago tomorrow (Thursday) should be okay... but you have to get yourself to Tokyo first."

After two hours... here are the results:
  • Redeemed mileage ticket from Hong Kong to Tokyo
  • Somehow repacked everything so the weight is under the limits
  • Booked hotel near ST san's home for Wed night
  • Meeting KB san at 6:30am to have breakfast at Tsukiji
  • Meeting ST san at 11am to meet her baby as well as grab an afternoon bite
  • United business class from Tokyo to Chicago at 5pm (sigh, no flat bed)
  • Weekend rate for car rental (<$20 a day!) instead of full price weekday rental
  • Rescheduled Wed dinner to combine with Thur dinner - Gibson's still
Not bad, eh? Now that i am in Chicago after being left off a flight and rebooking everything, I think I actually got a better deal. Tsukiji, for god's sake! Anyway, at the time, when I finally caught my breath, I was actually quite amazed at the results - from not accomplishing a tight schedule to an alternative schedule that has great potential to be very good.

And therein lies the number one way to deal with stress: the alternative could be better if you make it so. Very often people dwell on the negativity and stress over it, like our turtle friend in the fish tank. If one way doesn't work, think about one that might. Work towards it, and maybe get out of the negative side and see the positives.

I am not going to lie and say I expected a perfect Tokyo itinerary. I could have been too late to redeem a same day ticket to Tokyo (turns out I beat the clock by 30 minutes)... neither KB nor ST could have replied to my emergency plead... I could have pricelined the car rental and can't take it back (plain dumb luck!)... so many things could have gone wrong.

But hey, it didn't. And that, my friends, is how to handle stress. Don't dwell, seek change, and make it happen. And... uh... a little luck.


Off I go

You may be aware that I'm taking a 6 month leave from my current employer. Yup, that's right, I've decided to explore the blogging photographer career. Not.

Everybody I've told about this is amazed that Bain would let me go for six months. Me? I'm amazed that they are amazed. In times where cost cutting actually involves heads and not just less freebies, why wouldn't an employer NOT encourage taking leave? (Employer voice: not paying ABC's salary for six months!? Sign me up!!) And to have the employee volunteer himself? Even better!

Since there are "involuntary attrition" at some of Bain's competitors, I should clarify that I asked for a 6 months leave. I haven't really thought about what I am going to do specifically, but I will definitely be in NYC to spend more time with PNGF. I want to take a photography class while I am there so I don't stand still doing nothing. I'm also trying to find something that would fill my time nicely while progressing professionally.

Honestly, it hasn't hit me yet. I will write more.

Off to Chicago first for a few days. Steak, here I come.


Miss Shanghai

No, not the beauty pageant... I mean I actually miss Shanghai sometimes. And with no doubt, I will miss my Le Meridien room the most. In fact, I'm thinking of buying a place in Hong Kong that has the exact room measurements so I can model my home after my hotel room. Sad? Maybe. See before you judge.

The hotel room is the junior suite in Le Meridien. I've been in the bigger suites but have always asked to move back to the junior suite (no, I did not try the presidential suite, as I did in the haunted Taipei Grand Hyatt) cus I like it so much.

In essence, it is a big studio separated by a TV. A rotating TV, to be specific. This way, the room still feels big and at the same time separates the living room from the bed room. Really liked the setting and the idea. Highly highly recommended hotel (if you get this room).

Rotating TV (from the sofa)
Rotating TV when brushing teeth

I've also miraculously lost weight in Shanghai. All thanks to this guy: the electronic weight. Amazing what monitoring your weight every day can do to your diet. Among the findings: Italian food increases your weight by about 2-3 pounds. A night sleep makes you lighter by ~3 pounds. If you have the "full" feeling, you will likely pack 3+ pounds vs. the night before. In winter, my clothes and shoes are about 5-8 pounds.

Speaking of weight loss... I had a bit of fun doing this... but here's a not-so-patented system. The DEWLEI (Canton people will understand the inside joke):

DEWLEI, pronounced Diu-Lei, or Daily Electronic Weight Loss Enforcing Indicator:
  1. Buy highly accurate electronic scale with at least one decimal place
  2. Place in bathroom
  3. Weigh yourself right before you go to bed, in your PJs or naked (Naked recommended)
  4. Record the weight on a piece of paper
  5. Go to sleep
  6. Wake up, go pee, and weigh yourself in the same clothes or naked (Naked recommended) - be careful not to take a shower yet
  7. Record the weight on a piece of paper
  8. Go to the office
  9. Open Excel
  10. Enter your weight - night and day weight
  11. Calculate 5-day running average for night and for day
  12. Plot it on a chart
  13. Think about the chart; think again;
  14. Do something about it
As an added bonus, if you are truly dedicated, think about what you ate and did that day as the avg goes up or down. That will help tremendously.

DIULEI, it works.

Okay, back to the blog. I'm treated as a royal in Le Meridien... but the most important treatment of all is the breakfast buffet. This is my little creation every single morning. Assorted fruits with assorted nuts and raisins. I add some cereal and dry oatmeal sometimes. LOVE IT. Too bad this will cost a fortune in HK (we import all our fruits). Oh well.

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Eating in Central

The one big problem with Chinese food is that it ain't pretty. Taking pictures of them don't do the food justice cus it's always one big stir fry. Unlike Western food where every food item is a standalone piece of art (or not), Chinese food is made to share and rarely presents a good photo opportunity unless you take the picture of the whole thing.

So, no pictures in this post.

Central - Hong Kong's central business hub has all kinds of lunch food that attracts all sorts of crowds. Restaurant name in bold.

兰芳园 has the best 奶茶 (milk tea) in Hong Kong. Iced or hot, you have to try it. Across for the store is 龙记 which has pretty good BBQ pork. Nearby next to the escalator is 蛇王芬 and they serve a kick ass snake soup. Also on the escalator route is the 豆腐花 (Soft and sweet tofu) place - it is a simple street side stall, no name as far as I can tell - where people sit on the side of the street and enjoy their dessert. 2nd best in Hong Kong by my count (#1 is in Lamma Island). On Wellington Street are one of the world's "most concentrated with good food" place: 镛记 is an award winning restaurant with 烧鹅 (roast goose) and 皮蛋 (duck egg) as their signature dishes. The roast goose has mixed results depending on the chef, but the duck egg is a must eat. Best in the world. Wonton noodles from 沾仔記 and their rivals 麥奀 (former beats latter) are awesome and dirt cheap. Also on Wellington Street is 莲香, one of the most old-school restaurants in Hong Kong. The service is suspect, but the food is proven. Get the 霸王鸭 while they still last in the early evening. One street up from 莲香 is the super good 九记. You MUST try the 牛腩伊面 (Beef brisket in Yi noodles) and the 牛爽腩 (I have no translation). Some like the curry beef brisket, but I find it to be too strong. Also super good is 勝香園 next to 九记, also serving a similar flair of cheap good canton food. One street down from Wellington is Stanley Street, where 陆羽 is. Best freshly made dim sum you can find in Hong Kong. They change their menu every week starting Saturday morning depending on what ingredients are best. So my advice is to go on saturday morning and order every dim sum you have never heard of before. Also on Stanley street is 南记, which is a chain serving decent spicy noodles for a reasonable price. Across from 南记 and the escalators, you can find a few 大排挡 which serves basic canton dishes that is very very good and very very cheap (hygiene not included).

Excuse me... need to wipe the drool off my face.

Other noteworthy restaurants: 小南国 (Shanghai food), 金華 (BBQ Pork), 黃枝記 (Congee), 翠華 (Beef noodel, currey beef brisket, fish ball, very yummy milk and butter bun), The Frying Pan (All day breakfast)... oh my god, there's so many... I have to stop.

In the past, I've covered some up scale restaurants such as Caprice, Zuma and H One. H One's brother, Harlans, serves a surprisingly good burger at HKD180 too. WaterMark, out in the pier, has a decent brunch buffet with a spectacular view of the harbour.


Oscar winners...

I watched 2 of them in the last week or so.

Slumdog Millionaire

I thought the movie was great despite its simplicity. Excellent editing combined with the heart racing beats that somehow fit well with the back streets of India. I watched it for the first 30 minutes, and thought to myself: this is how a movie should be made. By that I really mean even for a simple story such as Slumdog, you can play with the sequence, the timing, the music, some simple plots, and arrive at a much better product. Hm... was is Oscar-worthy? I'm not sure. I haven't see The Reader or Milk yet - I have a feeling those will be much better movies to think about. Oh, and Revolutionary Road, I hear that was pretty good too. Anyway, highly recommended.

p.s. PNGF likes the shit scene. I cringe.


The Japanese film won the best foreign film at this years Oscar. When my dad said the movie was going to be at 9:30, I never thought it would be AM! Apparently the prices are 50% off on Sunday mornings. Shocking. And the theater was a full house.

I won't spoil the movie for you... only because you would have spoiled it yourself after the first 30 minutes. Everything was so predictable (per all Japanese movies). Some good scenes that were quite funny and touching. Lovely music. But just a regular tear jerking movie, me thinks. What's wrong with Oscar competition this year!?

Oh, and my dad said after the movie: if you find wife, it should be like her (wife in movie). Okay, dad.



My other Oscar viewing is this animated movie, which I think is one of the best "movies" I've seen in years.


Bird watch...

Hm... I couldn't have imagined the pictures turning out any better!

It just took off... after 5 minutes of standing still
Hide and Seek
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Wetland Park

A few months ago, PNGF and I tried to visit the Wetland Park in Hong Kong. The park is tucked into a far corner of Hong Kong, so by the time we got there, it was closed already! Arg.

No worries... this time, not only am I waking up at 8am to go there, but I also have the architect himself (A very cool Raymond Fung) do the tour.

Having the architect lead the tour is a very different experience. For example, we learned that the bricks used outside the park have come from all over Hong Kong - part of old buildings that were demolished and the bricks just laid in the basement of some government.

In front of the park is a large piece of lawn. Raymond explains that he wanted it green, but the grass doesn't survive very well when people step on it... so they settled for a grass with yellow flowers that could be stepped on and survive. Good to know.

Lady taking care of the lawn
Much of the wetland park is outside of the building and on a natural trail. We, however, spent more time in the building. It's more like a natural history museum for wetlands... It really is a museum, except that they couldn't call it a museum because by doing so it would fall under the jurisdiction of a museum body, which they didn't want. Some government shit I never understood. Anyway, so they are called a park. Not called a museum. Fascinating exhibits and surprisingly high tech.

It was a nice and cool day out as well... so we did plenty of walking around as well. Bird viewing (another post), learning about the vegetation (no time for the architect!), etc etc.

Highly recommended for Hong Kong people. It's a nice day out from the city to learn about something useful. (Oh and nearby Tuen Mun has some excellent food!)

Water lily
Behind the wetland park building is the not-so-friendly Tian Shui Wai - a truly concrete place
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Dreaming a dream...

I spent April Fools Day wondering if my boss was joking when he said he'd fire me... okay, that was a lame joke. But I did wonder whether I should take him seriously when he said "I want this on my desk at 9am". 2nd lame joke! I'm on a roll.

Truth is, nothing happened on April Fools. Not even an in-office prank. No tin foil action. No crazy stickies. I was told we need to cut cost and the tin foil joke (i.e. wrap an entire office in tin foil) was going to cost about HK$62.8... oh well.

I did, however, have the weirdest dream. Read on:
  • There were definitely some preludes to the exciting part of the dream, but I can't remember them
  • Anyway, in the dream, I was in a large resort with Bain undergoing corporate training of some sort...
  • We were then asked to do some homework and submit it...
  • The dream skips ahead: I'm done with my homework and it's on my laptop. I'm walking around the resort and trying to get back to the classroom... except that the resort is like a maze. I'm lost.
  • Ah, there's the classroom door. The moment I walk in, I get an email from PNGF... she was involved in a plane crash but she's okay...
  • Now, I'm in full panic mode... and then my instructor, AW (who in real life is a senior analyst whom I worked with many times), asks for my homework
  • "What? I didn't print it out!? Fudge!"
  • AW says "You must submit it now"
  • I ignored her and wandered into the resort. Somehow, I think I can find PNGF there.
  • Can't find PNGF - I'm heading back to the classroom.
  • Lost.
  • I pass by the gym... and there are a bunch of friends working out there. Friends from HK, from Boston, from Chicago, all working out there. Hmmm.
  • There's a TV in the gym. Philippines president Arroyo is making an announcement about the plane crash - they're trying to reach the survivors. Me too me too!
  • Finally, I get back to the classroom. AW rushes me for my homework.
  • I ignored her again and turned to my partner NP (whom I'm working with now) and tell him about PNGF's accident and asked where I can find her
  • NP says "I'm sorry to hear that... how's Charlie?" (Insider joke... some people call PNGF Charlie by mistake)
  • Me: How do you know her name!?
  • I turn around and there PNGF is, with her glasses, and she says "Happy April Fool's Day!"
And then I woke up. Seriously. I didn't make up any of this.

Lion Rock

Hiked Lion Rock a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, it was foggy and we couldn't see anything. What we could see, however, was already quite breath-taking that it warrants another hike up on a clear day...

When we turned the corner to see this cliff...
Someone immediately wanted to climb up. Boys will be boys.
Sometimes, I take decent pictures... haha.
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