Monday, April 28, 2008

What is democracy?

"I disagree with your opinion, but I will defend your right to speak."

Read the above from an interview on EastSouthWestNorth.
Democracy for Dummies. Nice.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Something about HK you need to know...

Alice Poon: CBRA's Review of "Land and the Ruling Class in Hong Kong"

HK is supposed to be a free market but reading the above will show you that it is not what it seems.

HK vs Singapore

Read in the papers regarding the denied entry of a few human rights activist. That really breaks the myth of HK being a country with more freedom than Singapore. If being able to sell pornographic articles along roadside stalls equates to freedom then I am glad the folks in SG are still in power.

While they are happy to exercise the power to restrict the entry of these activists they seem unwilling to do anything to help the cleaners and security guards (aka Customer Services Assistants and Building Security Officers these days), clean up the pollution, help expats with the visa problems (or AT LEAST make it clearer so that people can reach China in time for their appointments and not waste that air ticket which already cost 200% more these days).

Oh... And these were the same papers which criticised Singapore for barring activists from entering Singapore during the IMF meeting a few years ago. Remember, those activists were on an official list given by the IMF. Singapore marked out an area for the protestors for their activities during the IMF meeting (right outside the meeting hall and got criticised for that because they got to protest under the sun... WTF!). They took so much pride in criticizing Singapore ("rigid system","no freedom","no human rights") and now I would love to see them use the same terms on their muppet leaders.

Compared to a blurred line drawn by muppets, I prefer the line drawn by highly paid civil servants. At least I know exactly where to stand. Love the expats and the everyday Hong Kongers I meet here but as long as those muppets are here, HK simply isn't a place one can tahan (Malay for withstand) for long.

1 year to launch...

Duran Duran - Redux

Finally managed to upload the photos and videos taken at the Duran Duran concert recently. Here's a few for your eyes... Great concert~

S out of town, G in town...

Managed to lift my lazy bum all the way to Elements for a lazy lunch and newspaper scanning. Also hopefully find a suitable beret for myself (see earlier post). The pollution was back but walking through the park downstairs I still got some hope for HK.

Decided to have a look around the rooftop garden and see if there was any restaurant worth sitting down for a nice meal and read my papers. A few decent joints but not any for a lonely Saturday afternoon lunch.

In the end decided on a cafe overlooking the ice skating rink. Always amazes me how they can fly over the ice with such ease. Tried it 2 times, fell once, probably never again. I think its a gift and I simply doesn't have that gift. I will just try my luck with golf...

Had a look at some Callaway drivers and really wanted to have a go at the driving range. At that point G called to tell me that he was done with Ngong Ping and wanted to meet for seafood dinner in Mong Kok. Seafood dinner in Mong Kok means going to that establishment I hate... Oh well.... Quickly ending the call I decided to leave me things at home before going out again. But before that I made a small detour to Waterfall to have a look at their driving range.
The driving range was decent. Small (at 100 metres) but with 20-metre markers it fits my requirements perfectly. I'm really new at this golf thing and knowing the approximate distance of my shot and control of direction is my top priority these days. And the best thing? Its less than a 10-minute walk away from my place. Now I need to get a driver... Callaway or Nike...

Met G at around 8pm, had dinner till 10pm. Expensive seafood dinner (around HKD1000) but he insisted on picking up the tab. Alright.... fine with me... Had a little walk around Ladies' Street after dinner. Managed to buy a cap. Its more of something between a beret and a cap. HKD40. I'm happy. Also bought a PSP game.

People ask me why I don't modify my PSP to play downloaded games for free. I don't know... maybe because I like the casing and I feel that the price of PSP games are affordables. These days I avoid buying anything pirated because I just cannot convince myself to do that. When I were schooling I told myself all those despicable developers (Bintendo, Microhard...) overcharged their wares. These days I am earning tens of thousands, those things cost hundreds and the prices are going down. I also don't wish to be a bad role-model for the kids... I think the last reason ranks the highest... "But everyone's doing it" "... the majority is not always right..." "..."

Ladies' Street is full of imitations. If the customs were to clamp down on that stretch I believe they will need a new warehouse in Shatin to store the confiscated goods. It is so rampant and yet one wonders why nothing's been done to correct the situation. For a start, I guess Ladies' Street without all those stores will not strike a nice chord with the tourism board...

All in all a great Saturday. And the best thing was S waiting for me at home~ ^^

Saturday, April 26, 2008

New content - A beret on my head

Just a thought while watching Mythbusters... I like the beret that Jamie was wearing and figured I would like to get myself a beret. Throughout my 30 months in the army, I spent 2 years wearing a beret. I thought it looked good but you don't go round wearing your beret in Singapore.... no no...

Let me see if I can find something over at H&M when I meet G later... Should be a lovely surprise for S... (^^)v

China-Tibet issue... let's look at it from another angle!

- 1:44am now...

Chanced upon this post by Private Beach. Nice observation about the freedom enjoyed by the present generation of Chinese. 20 years ago, many of the things taken for granted these days would have been unthinkable (Tiananmen protest in 1989). If China had better people making better decisions, then we will have uncensored reports coming in from every possible source, and every ripple effect from the threat of a French boycott(both ways) and the circus of a torch relay could have been avoided.

Picture this :
- China is a little boy taking his exam.
- The world is the invigilator in the examination hall.
- Tibet is a piece of paper in the boy's hand. No one knows if the paper contains the answers to the questions.

And this scenario :
- The boy dropped the paper and the invigilator saw it (news of riots in Tibet reached the world).
- The boy quickly stuffed the piece of paper into his mouth.

Invigilator's accusation :
- Boy cheated in exam (suppressed protest in Lhasa with unnecessary force) and wanted to hide the evidence of his cheating by eating up the piece of paper(media blackout and visa restrictions).

Boy's defense :
- The piece of paper was just a blank sheet of paper for his own scribbling purposes. Invigilator biased against him. Even if the paper was blank, the invigilator would fill it with answers and plant the crime on him(CNN...).

My verdict :
Don't eat that piece of paper! Let the invigilator see the contents of the paper but make sure other people in the exam hall see that it is blank~ By eating up that piece of paper, the boy has given the invigilator the chance to tell lies. Who will believe a boy who took a piece of paper into the exam hall and ate it up after the paper dropped onto the floor?

Finished my ironing... won't have to take out the iron for another 3 weeks~ Tutera's on now... shame on him for tempting me with all those fabulous parties which I can never hold... Or maybe we can get a house big enough for one of those parties...

Should I sleep now?... hmm... The bed's too big for one... or I'm just scared of sleeping alone?... ha...

1:15am Post...

- Its 1:15am now.

I'm watching Globe Trekker while doing my ironing. Did a bit of housekeeping as well (the state of the house passed my threshold level 1 week ago... oh well... ). Really productive with S on overseas trip... Sometimes the bed seems too small for the 2 of us but without her the bed is way too lonely for me...

S sounded happy with her meeting today. If everything goes according to plan she may land that regional (or even global?) position that she's been eyeing. That reminded me of something my mother told her last year. S wasn't quite the happy camper in her job and wanted to look for another job elsewhere. According to a spiritual medium (or was it a fortune-teller...?), she must not quit her job and must persevere in her job. And now she is reaping the fruits of her perseverance.

The instructions for me was kind of different... I was told to work in the north (from Singapore) for the next 10 years or so. Otherwise I will not be happy/satisfied in my life. I wonder if that means that I should not go back for the MBA in Singapore or I should finish it and come back to work in HK/China? It is not so easy to erase the thoughts off my mind since so many events have come true for me. Coincidence or not, I'm still rather conservative with my choices.

Whatever will be will be. I have made up my mind to finish that MBA with NTU-Waseda and whatever comes after that will be dictated by my destiny in life. Presently for me the most important thing is go back to school. I don't want to end this life regretting any decision I made. Surely an MBA is worth much more than the lousy crap of a degree I have now... I have already called up NTU's admissions office and informed them of my decision to take up their offer but the deferment will be a bit tricky... Hopefully everything will go as planned and I can start school next June...

Oh well... more clothes to iron....

Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy things~ Hope they stay...

2 happy things this morning. Firstly, the recommended increment for the staff was approved and everyone received their salary slip with the revised salary this morning! I got very little to do since I got no approving rights nor anything but just went through the adjustment of the recommendation with S. Some are really paid below market rates and it is justifiable for them to get this kind of markup as compared to the standard rates. With inflation and the weakening HKD I guess it is a good morale boost for everyone~ Of course I'm happy because no one messed up my new salary for my promotion~ ^^

Secondly, I received the offer from NUS. 4 applications and 4 offers. Its remarkable considering the type of degree I graduated with... It wasn't a crap degree but it wasn't from any of the top unis either. Although it is not the standard NUS MBA but the S3 (double degree from NUS, Seoul Uni and Shanghai Fudan Uni), I always feel that having the brand NUS in your qualifications will help in the long run. Especially so when you are thinking of a cushy job in the public sector in Singapore ( although I have heard of quite a few nations which will pay top money for talents from Singapore's public sector to work for them ).

And G will be arriving tonight so a great weekend to look forward to~ Hope things will stay this nice...

Do you SOKA?

Something I forgot to mention in my post yesterday. On the way to the warehouse I met an American on the train. He looked confused when he just boarded the train at MK East. He turned to me and asked, "Do you speak English?" Later I found out that he was trying to find his way to Guangzhou but the last intercity train has already left HK. He wanted to go Lowu and continue on from there so I briefly described to him the obstacles he may encounter.

During that short 6 minutes we managed to exchanged contacts and he gave me a brochure for the Soka Gakkai Association in HK. He actually came from Soka USA and was on his way to setting up an office in GZ. He also taught me a chant which was supposed to calm my soul and increase my vitality among other things. As I was on my way to solve the server problems (see earlier post) that encounter was really a godsend... It somehow told me that the gods are looking after me and I should remain calm...

If you've never heard of the Soka, please have a look here :
Soka USA
Soka Hong Kong
Soka Singapore

Buddhism and World Peace... I wish Moe all the luck that he will need in achieving his goals in China...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What a wonderful day... NOT!

Sent S to Kowloon station this morning and had breakfast at Mac. No hotcakes... what kind of a Mac doesn't server hotcakes for breakfast? Although feeling cheated, we sat down and had our breakfast. Alot of forgettable news in the papers this morning... China, Olympics, price increases... can't expect more from free papers.

While S made her way to the airport, I made my way to the office in TST. And the bad news started coming in... "We hear some noise coming out of the production server, can you check?" I checked and indeed 2 HDD managed to go down at the same time... I checked with Dell and my staff and decided that its a small problem. I can leave it to them and attend the executive luncheon at Four Seasons. I had never been to Four Seasons so I was kind of looking forward to the event.

Time for me to go and I took the ferry across the Victoria Harbour. The crowd was thin and the air was cool... To be away from the urban jungle (at least not in the midst of skyscrapers) for even that few minutes was a real joy to me. I figured I will miss commuting via the ferries. Its something uniquely HK~

Four Seasons was good. Good but not great. Maybe that's because I have seen enough agrand hotels in China. I only managed to finish the salad before office called... "The server doesn't look good, you'd better come back and make the decisions."

6:30pm and here I am typing away while the backup of the server is being executed according to my decisions. I could have made the decisions elsewhere, like at home shitting or whatever, but I think its more reassuring for everyone as well as for me that I am here. I like that attention. I don't like to disappoint. Let's hope we can leave this place before the sun comes up again...

The World Ends With You

Mel intro-ed me this game The World Ends With you this morning. Pretty sad yet romantic title... like telling lover what his/her existence means to you...

Back to the game~ its a highly rated game from Square-Enix combining elements of gameplay from previous games like FF and Kingdom Hearts. Not surprising since some of the creators are the same crew from Kingdom Hearts. One noticeable change is the setting which went from fairy-tale/fantasy/medieval to modern day Tokyo.

Don't think this kind of games will interest S... She's still stuck on Lost In Blue 3.... She's gonna be lost in there for a long time... Oh craps! My new DS is in her hands!!!... Think I will start playing The World on her old white DS then.... sigh...

Another bundle of cash...

Received another SMS from my brother yesterday. Seems like he need another S$1000 to tide over this period. Says its going to be the last time.

What can I do? Tell him I have lent him enough and shut him out of my life, or just treat it as if nothing has happened and send the money over? Actually it didn't take long for me to choose the latter option. It has never been tough for me to make a decision on whether or not to lend him the money. It is not even one of will-he-ever-return-me-the-money type of dilemma tormenting me. Its more of a will-he-ever-be-grateful and will-he-start-to-treat-mum-better kind of questions circling my head whenever he starts asking for money.

People may ask me why give (lend means it will be returned, give is more appropriate since I don't expect the money back...) if he is such an unfilial and ungrateful son. I guess its simply because he is my brother, and he probably has no one in the family to approach. He's probably too ashamed to borrow more money from my mother and sister.

There goes another S$1000... and its costing me more each time with the @#$%&!@#$ HK currency pegged against the US dollar...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

If only I am rich...

As if having one offer is not enough, the gods played an interesting game with me when offers from City Uni HK and St Gallen Swiss came in today... 3 offers, each with their strengths and demerits come knocking at approximately the same time...

The easiest and cheapest option (City U) is actually the one which I rate the lowest. St Gallen is too far although a scholarship means that the expenses will be more or less equal to expenses for NTU-Waseda.

If I were a son of a rich man/woman... I would have taken the St Gallen option. If I don't have a condo mortgage to honour... I would have taken the NTU-Waseda option. If... If only... I think I am left with City Uni... sigh...

Monday, April 21, 2008

NTU-Waseda MBA... should I go?

Opened my yahoo mail like any other day and saw an e-mail from NTU's admissions office. Then I recalled that they are supposed to reply me with the results of my application this week. Opened the e-mail and it read something like this :

"We are pleased to inform you that the Selection Commitee has recommended you for the offer of admission to the NTU-Waseda MBA programme. The orientation starts on 22 July 2008 and the new academic year will commence on 28 July 2008."

Everything in life is there for a reason. Some people go through years of suffering because of a moment of folly yet others strike riches because of 1 stroke of luck or a small window of opportunity. So what is this? I am really lost as to what I should do... a little divine intervention will really be appreciated...

Will you boycott Carrefour on 1st May 2008?

Today I came to work as usual and started reading up on the events happening in China, reading blogs after blogs about Chinese groups bent on boycotting French products and businesses in China (particularly Carrefour) and another group bent on boycotting the boycott. Those logical enough will realise that fellow workers will lose out if Carrefour goes out of business due to the boycott. Many suppliers are actually Chinese as well and their livelihood will also be affected by the boycott. Those affected by the Stockholm syndrome and overwhelmed by the flow of events are labelling those who don't join them as traitors.

A traitor is someone in the organisation/group working for the enemy. Someone who walks into Carrefour to buy a bottle of mineral water cannot be considered a traitor because he/she is not part of the group (Pro-boycott and non-boycott group). He/She can only be labelled a traitor when he/she joined the pro-boycott group but went into Carrefour to buy a bottle of water after realising its all too dumb and he/she was just too thirsty.

I don't even dare to think what happens if someone manages to walk into Carrefour on 1st May. Will the person be beaten to death the moment he walks out of the store? Will the employees in the store be subjected to abuses? I'm staying tuned...

2nd time at the course...

Had a wonderful weekend at the golf course. The first day was kind of a mess with force 3 storm slapping us left and right. It was tiring, cold and dirty playing in the rain but it reminded me of my army days walking in and around the forest during war-game exercises. My swing was pretty good on Saturday and the chips were generally going in the direction I intended them to go.

Spent a night at the rooms there and realised that it will not be long before the whole of Bintan can be cloned and placed right in China. The rooms are nothing like the business hotels in the cities but looked more like a room in a Bintan hotel. Pity they don't have villas with private pools... not that I needed more water after the rain on Saturday.

Had dinner at the clubhouse and saw some caucasians gamely took to the stage and belted out several classic English songs. I really admire their guts, which I had none though I was tempted to go on stage and sing something crazy... After dinner had a few rounds of 8-ball before we turned in for the day.

Sunday was all bright and shiny but my form took a deep plunge... I think the stiff body got something to do with it. It wasn't until the 15th hole did I find my form... Too late to rescue my score... Was treated to a great dinner (An abalone for each diner done by a reknown chef from Shanghai... yeap it was good) by W at Wanchai before we head home.

Couldn't have had a better weekend if you ask me. Taking a break away from the urban jungle of HK to a place filled with flora and fauna ( and a bit of rainwater ) is a great way to revitalise your mind and body... now if my body can get rid of this fatigue fast enough I might be able to go for driving range practise within this week... Damn I'm really hooked to this golf thingy...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Support SPCA

Chanced upon SPCA's website this morning. Figured that if one were to do a deed like releasing a captured bird to redeem karma (even though the bird will be captured within the next 5 seconds...), might as well do something for real and adopt an animal.

SPCA in Singapore : SPCA SG
SPCA in Hong Kong : SPCA HK

You can create a virtual pet on the Singapore site and have a feel of what its like to keep an animal. It is a nice idea but not even remotely close to the smells and work involved in keeping a real pet. Meet Rascal, the virtual dog I created.

And before you go and buy that baby labrador, think properly because it may not be HDB-approved...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Kitty Woods is in town!

Got my first pair of golf shoes from Adidas! This adicolor model allows you to change the color of the strips(a few sets of colored strips came along with the shoes)! At HKD620 it is cheaper than most shoes I've seen in the past few weeks from Fila and the likes (HKD2000 and above... gosh...)

Now hoping my body is conditioned enough by this weekend...

And a shot of the HK skyline... the pollution above HK island is becoming something of a regular these days...

Asia's World City - Most expensive rental in the world

The place with the most expensive rental in the world goes to none other than HK~ The news came in fresh from the post this morning. Not surprising considering the ridiculous amount of money people are willing to fork out for pigstys in and around HK area. What can you do in 500sqft of space? Alot - according to most Hongkongers who have never stayed outside HK. (btw, 500sqft usually means the area inside ur flat and outside all the way to the lift so its more like 300+ sqft... that's how things work here... World City... ) Usually they will try to pack 2 bedrooms, 1 kitchen, 1 bathroom and a living room in there~

Try doing the maths there and you can more or less figure out the kind of pigsty I stay in... For the same money I can easily get a 800sqft studio apartment in Singapore... btw Singapore managed to squeeze into the top 10 countries with the most expensive rental at number 9.

Demand plays well into the hands of greedy landlords... Expats who just won't take the MTR and must stay near Central will be the ones paying for it (or their company). I guess the rental will drop if people are willing to stay away but these kind of exodus will not happen because another person with the money (or thought its worth it) will jump on the opportunity to stay near Wanchai...

I have always wondered if it is possible to force the hands of the landlords by having a mass exodus of people from their Central flats. Highly impossible but interesting to see what the outcome will be like...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NTU-Waseda came calling~

5:30pm I received a call on my mobile and the woman on the other end was speaking in some language that sounded like Tamil.... After some time I gave up trying to tell her I don't speak Tamil so I ended the call. Less than 10 seconds later it called again and I let out some expletives which I cannot remember but was something between Hokkien, Cantonese and English and I ended the call again.

Next my office phone starting ringing.... "That person might be looking for me after all... since she has all my numbers.... no?" I picked up the phone and it was actually a lady from NTU MBA's admission office... She was trying to pronounce my name but ended up making it sound like Tamil.... Amused and just as embarassed I explained to her that since I am holding an office mobile I tend to get my share of nuisance calls (BULLSHIT!).

Anyway she explained to me that they have some concerns with regards to my working experience. Their requirements stated that applicants must have 2 years of post-grad working experience. Though I completed my studies in the end of 2006, I didn't graduate until last August. She wanted to have a short phone interview with me to assess my ability to take up the course even without the 2 years.

She asked me some questions regarding my goals and ambitions, my future plan, my past and present job, the schools I have applied to and why NUS. The phone interview lasted approximately 25 minutes. I think I did pretty well considering the fact that we started on very embarassing grounds and I was caught unaware by the suddenness of the interview (NUS e-mailed me prior to their interview).

She ended the call telling me that I should find out the results within 1 week and my chances are quite good but the committee will have to convene this week and decide since I am unable to fulfil the 2-year requirement.

Oh well... another waiting game...

Planes, Trains and Automobiles... 飛行機、電車&車?

My colleague had a dream about visiting Japan. After lunch she started calling up her friends and checking if they are interested in a trip to the land of the rising sun. She told me that she would like to bring her family to Hokkaido and see the flowers in their fullest glory in June-July. That actually spurned me into checking out car rentals in Hokkaido for her.

I've been to most of the places that I would like to visit in Japan. Tokyo, Yokohama, Hakone, Izu, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Sapporo and Otaru. I've even taken an overnight train, Cassiopeia, from Sapporo to Tokyo last year (One of my best holidays ever~ the first cabin no less). The only few places left will be Hakodate, Okinawa and Fukuoka.

But I still have one promise which I made nearly 8 years ago to my uncle and that was to bring him around Japan. In the end he decided he waited long enough and went to Japan last year with his friends... Then I promised him I will bring him to Hokkaido and go for a self-drive trip to explore the sights. He said OK but I ended up choosing Europe for holiday this year... I got to make it a point to bring him there next year... I don't want to end up with any regrets in my life, especially with my uncle...

Anyway, back to checking out the car rentals. Saw some really nice camper vans which can sleep up to 6!!! And that doesn't include the 3 in the driver's and passenger seats! Hopefully I can bring the family and uncle (probably with one of his friend) to Hokkaido. It costs some 160,000yen for a 6-day rental which is quite affordable considering the costs of travelling in Japan. (Train rides for a party of 5 adults and 2 kids will average around S$200/day for 2-hour train trips a day and less flexibility with all the scheduling involved)

I will never consider car rental in certain parts of Japan like Tokyo and Osaka but Hokkaido is definitely a place where I would like to drive, stop somewhere and enjoy the vast nature amphitheatre created by Mother Earth. See this for an example of the type of camper vans available in Hokkaido.

My precious... my precious...

The new EeePC 900 from Asus was launched this morning and from my sources it should be available for around HKD4,000. That is a good deal for a mobile system when you compare it to the likes of Kohjinsha and the rest. Start up in 5 seconds? Its a reality...

Just watched the trailer for the new Naruto game for PS3... its sexy... its amazing... its... am-i-watching-a-cartoon good... Now can we do the same for all the other animes like Slam Dunk, Bleach, Inuyasha and the likes? Will get the game for D simply because he is crazy over Naruto at the moment... Wonder if they can understand any of the crap those animes are talking about... From what I know they are all in Japanese and subtitled in English. Back in my days we used to watch Japanese animes subbed in Chinese. That explains the lousy Chinese standard of kids these days... not that their English is any better... sigh...

My whole body is still aching from the 1-hour session at the golf range last night. Hopefully I can bring the feel for driving to the course this weekend...

Monday, April 14, 2008

My apartment... is a hole...

Took the following pictures when I was back in Singapore recently... As you can see, my apartment is nothing but a big hole...

Don't expect it to be completed until later half of 2009. Just as well since I don't have that much money at the moment...

Duran Duran Weekend~

Woken up by the sound of my HP... it was a lady reminding me to attend the talk for Marriott's Vacation Club. "Ah huh... ok... ah huh" was all I could muster. I was never a fan of any timeshare program but the lure of a HKD800 food card from Marriott seemed too good to pass. S warned me about their hardselling tactics and we might end up paying much more for that HKD800.

The venue for the presentation was on the 41st floor of Times Square. Before we went up I told S that we must keep ourself composed and display a determination of steel. Easily said but so tough to maintain when they bombard us with all their hardselling tactics and incentives. A 90-minute event ended up to be a 3-hour mental torture as we worked out the sums and squeeze ourselves.

In the midst of it all S was lured towards the dark side and was half persuading me to take up their cheapest option. In the end we managed to walk out without a scratch and HKD800 richer. No joke but in our opinion the offer was really good. Too many uncertainties in the future otherwise we would have taken up the offer.

With the HKD800 food voucher we decided to have hi-tea at the Marriott! The spread was rather pathetic but the quality of the food must be one of the best I have ever had. The cheese were nice... the banana crepes which I had 2... Spent around 2 hours just sitting around and eating.

Next up was the transit to the outdoor arena beside Kowloon station for Duran Duran's concert and what a concert.... what showsmanship... what memories... With every song they belt out (apart from a few songs from their latest album) streams of images from my schooling days will refresh in my mind~

My favourites got to be Come Undone and Ordinary World. It was a real pity the rain came down 30 minutes into the act... but it managed to give the place an even more surreal feel~ I'm hoping the L`Arc~En~Ciel concert next month will be even better...

Friday, April 11, 2008


Want to give S a nice treat for a tiring week (more emotionally than anything...) and decided on dinner at R66. We decided to take the ferry from TST to Wanchai then walk on from there. Along the way we passed by this queue waiting in front of that humongous LV store in front of Harbour City...

The ferry is a cheap and convenient way to cross the harbour. Costing slightly more than HKD2 it will bring you across Victoria Harbour in approximately 20 minutes. The picture below was taken prior to boarding the ferry... especially foggy today... or should I call it smoggy? The trip today was uneventful and S didn't feel nauseous after the trip so it was good. I guess the unusually cool weather today helped~

Disembarking at Wanchai we had to walk for approx 20 minutes before we reach Hopewell Centre where R66 is located. One will have to take a lift to the 56th storey before transferring to another lift to reach the 62th floor.

The food wasn't great but it wasn't that bad either. The biggest selling point for R66 is the fact that it is a revolving restaurant and it is 62 floors up (R = revolving and 66 = time in minutes to revolve 1 round). One can be forgiven if he/she thinks that it is 66 floors up since most restaurants will use the floor level in their name, especially when they are so high up. But since this is HK where they have so many tall buildings, I guess R66 sure sounds better than R62...

Our experience at R66 was marred by the smog and the seat allocated to us. We couldn't see anything further than the cruise terminal at TST Harbour City, nor the top half of the tall buildings in Hong Kong. What we enjoyed was the ambience of the place, ahem meaning fellow customers keeping their volume down to a level where it is audibe only to the intended listener.

Most people talk about HK being a dynamic city, being full of life and vibrant, always reminding you that you are being alive... I feel that there is a time and place for dynamism (is there a word for this?) and a fine dining restaurant is definitely not! Unfortunately many Hong Kongers have proven to me that you can talk loudly and not be ushered out of the place in a fine diner.

Oh before I forget, they have a forgettable duo of singers who belt out oldies at regular intervals. I enjoyed it more when they were having their break and Kenny G CDs were being played...

Can't wait for the Olympics...

I was uncomfortable when China won the bid for the 2008 games but I wasn't that bothered since it was really none of my business! But now it is kind of getting on my nerves...

Initially it was all quite interesting because I will know exactly where the torch had landed... "More riots in XXXXXX today with protests...." Now when was the last time anyone can remember the route that the torch takes?

Now its kind of depressing with anti-China camp and pro-China camp crying for each other's blood. Its just a bloody torch!!! China's not going to listen to you just because you extinguished, kicked, bent or stole it~ They are just going to make more replicas... like how they make replicas of everything Europe and America is bringing in...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Traffic in SG

I've been reading blogs after blogs of complaints regarding Singapore's transport system. I suspect it has something to do with the new ERP gantries sprouting up all over Singapore... And people start grumbling about how the government is doing a poor job of planning the transport system. Of course its human to bitch, its human to want more, its human to be ingrateful... We should pay these idiots double of what they earn and send them to work in HK! hahaha~ IDIOTS!

The pavements you walk on, the kerbs that line the streets, the functioning traffic lights and the trees oh lovely trees strategically planted all over the island has been planned, budgeted and implemented to near perfection. If you can live with the less than perfect idiot like yourselves then you should really appreciate the things in SG.

Owning a car may be cheap in HK, but try to park in HK. I bet most Singaporeans have no idea that when you buy an apartment in HK it doesn't mean that you will get a carpark! You will still have to rent it for around HKD1800/mth (approx S$350). And wait till you try to park in the city... HKD20-30/hour block (approx S$4-5). Covered parking in the city for a month will be around HKD5000 (approx S$850). Add 350 to 850 then its S$1200... just for parking in a month. And that just covers the parking! I've not even covered the cross-tunnel charges!

Hong Kong has 3 tunnels (Cross, Eastern, Western) which connects the island to the rest of the territories. The most expensive crossing cost HKD45 (approx S$8) and thats just 1 way. Coming back will be another 8... S$16 for crossing 1 tunnel if you live and work on opposite sides of the harbour. And don't get me started on other underground tunnel crossings which link Kowloon to the new territories....

Throw in the crazy traffic, crazy drivers, crazy road signs and crazy small roads... and you say the government in Singapore can't plan...

Don't get me started on the 300sqft 2-bedroom flats they have here....

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

When is a coup d’état a coup?

A coup d’état is a coup only when it is successful.

Take the example of the events in Thailand. Thaksin was ousted and the generals of the coup took control. Even till now they haven't enough evidence to throw him into jail but none of the coup generals have charges going against them. In fact, they were showered with confetti when they rolled into Bangkok on their tanks. Now take a look at the Philippines. Coup plotters are being thrown behind bars for failing to take down Arroyo. Like those in Thailand, they believe that the president is corrupt and rigged the voting process.

2 Asian countries, 2 coup attempts, but totally different results. There were none of the embargoes, restrictions and whatsover on Thailand's economy after the coup. Apart from shaken confidences in the region, life has more or less returned to normalcy in Thailand. Only difference - Thaksin's not in power anymore. I suppose the same will apply to Philippines if the coup was a success.

A democracy means nothing if everything can be changed with a coup d’état. Why bother to vote? If you don't like the winner then just send the military in.

On another note, for all the things China has done (Selling weapons to Sudan, crashing of any uprising in Xinjiang and Tibet) no major powers in the world has done anything more than say something along the lines of "can you please keep a lower profile?" If Myanmar (Burma) were to do the same things they will be bombarded with all sorts of restrictions and embargoes. I'm not a fan of the junta in Myanmar but I feel that many of the countries in this world have discriminating foreign policies.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Olympic Flame is about peace?

Been reading the articles about the disruptions to the Olympic flame making its way around the world. Why didn't anyone think of something as easy as having a pail of water and running towards the bearer? From what I saw on TV a few of them managed to make their way to as close as 2 feet away. Surely a bit of planning (diversion tactics?) will allow the perpetrator enough time to snuff the fire.

No, I am not against China. I am just writing because I feel that if you want to do something, just do it right! No point spending nights in the cell without achieving what you set out for~ But lets see what Reporters Without Borders have up their sleeves since they promised something spectacular. Can't wait! *rubs hands with glee*

An interesting point came up when I went on to read about the significance of the Olympic flame :

"The modern torch relay was introduced by Carl Diem, president of the Organization Committee for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, as part of an effort to turn the games into a glorification of the Third Reich"

The route taken in the 1936 games passed through the cities of Axis nations. Friends of the Third Reich. The route of 2008? St. Petersburg, Pyongyang, Ho Chi Minh City.... yup, Friends of China~

Fly Away Island Boy!~

Booked the flight for 7pm but decided to board earlier so that we could catch the sunset. It was a tough decision since the lights and the night sky would have looked better. But without a tripod for the camera I wasn't sure if we could take decent shots with my digital cam.

Looking down I realised that Singapore has changed so much during the last 3 years. The floating soccer field and the stands were not even there when I left 3 years ago. The sunset still looks the same though...

On the other side of the bay, the integrated resort is being built at a frantic pace. The bridge linking the resort to the Marina Bay area is nearly completed and should see action by the end of this year. (Note: You can use the soccer pitch as a marker for the size of the IR)

And right below the Flyer is the grandstand for the upcoming F1 race in Singapore. It is still under construction but looking at the pace (They were working even though it was a Sunday) I don't think they will have any problems waving the checkered flag in 6 months' time.

The Singapore Flyer at night

A capsule making its way back to the station

The Yakult Rainforest - A park of sorts with miniature waterfalls and streams occupying the centre area of the visitor centre

I will most definitely make my way back to the Flyer for a 2nd flight. And I will make sure the next time I go back it will be only the two of us and after 8pm. The skyline is going to be so romantic...

* NEWS FLASH - NUS don't want me! *

Received an e-mail informing me of my failed application for direct admission to NUS MBA. My status now is "Waitlisted (After Interview)". That means my NUS dream has come to an end.... not that I will surely be taking up the offer even if they offered me, a failed application is still hard to stomach.

On the positive side, surely there will be some who will not take up the offer from NUS, right? I'm still in with a chance since I am on waitlist. But I wonder if they place every person they reject on the waitlist.... hmm...

Build-a-bear Workshop @ Singapore Flyer

The Singapore Flyer is the tallest ferris wheel in the world (will remain so until the one in Beijing is completed in another year). It is an essential component of Singov's (Singapore Government) plan to refresh the city skyline. It is so big and tall that you can even see it from planes landing in Singapore. Make it a point to look out of the aircraft window when it is approaching Singapore and you might even catch a glimpse of it.

Beneath the giant wheel there are souvenier shops and restaurants catering to visitors. Among them is a shop called Build-a-bear Workshop. The concept is simple. Choose everything you want for your soft toy - name it, cloth it, stuff it and clean it, then simply pay at the cashier. I'm sure its not the only shop of its kind in the world but it sure chose a good place to open one in Singapore.

Choose your bear, cat, dog, rabbit...

Give it a sound...

Stuff it with cotton....

Fluff it... basically means air-cleaning and brushing the bear clean after the stuffing process. Since you're paying so much you get the luxury of doing this yourself.

Dress it... choose a dress and matching shoes for your plush~

And finally you give the bear a name. At the end of the 5-minute process you will be able to print a birth cert for your bear.

It took us a total of 2 hours, 10 costume changes and approx S$180 before we finally left the place with 3 bears (not really bears but a cat, a sheep and a cheetah). Is it value for money? Really depends on how much you like soft toys and dressing up your toys...

I was more interested in the flight sim offered by the shop next door but at S$155 for a 30-minute take-off/landing package it was too much even for a flyboy like me...

A Tourist in the Lion City

3 days flew by but I sure made good use of them. First thing next morning was a nice plate of fried beehoon at Holland Village's food centre. The cool morning breeze and a copy of the Straits Times set a relaxed tone for the rest of the day. Had a good haircut next before setting off to meet my lawyer. A few issues about the apartment here and there before going home for dinner. Didn't find the time to meet up with any of my friends since 1) it was such a short weekend I'd rather spend it with the family 2) I only had 3 hours worth of sleep.

A typical road in Singapore with overhanging trees.

Woke up early on Saturday morning and went for breakfast at MacDonald's. There weren't any seats left inside the shop so we reluctantly took the outdoor seats. Experiences with outdoor dining prepped me for the worst... In HK I would have been covered in cigarette smoke if I was forced to take the outdoor seats. Througout my 2 hours there eating my breakfast and reading my papers, not a single whiff of nicotine was caught by my nose. It was amazing... it was nice... it was GREAT!

Drove down to Marina area for lunch. Along the way I took out my camera and snapped everyday sights. Pictures of the roads, the sky, buildings and people... things I never took the effort to appreciate throughout my years in Singapore. The road to Marina/Suntec actually has 6 lanes!

Wanted to have the high tea at Ritz Carlton Hotel but apparently it was of the 3-tier assortment offered by the Peninsula in HK and not the buffet type favored by Singaporeans. Hmm.... So we went restaurant hopping among the major hotels located in the Marina belt and ended up at Aquamarine in Marina Mandarin. They served an Asian buffet spread for their high-tea and I must commend them for the roti prata which they served. Thin crispy prata with thick spicy curry sauce.... lovely~

I will add the experiences on the Singapore Flyer in another post. Too many things to fill in there! For now enjoy the shot I took of a rainbow at one of Marina's water fountain.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Bro~

Its my brother's 34th birthday! Happy Birthday Fat Chef!

My birthday message to him (which he will not hear/see):
"Please treat mum better. She is not your ATM, nor am I. Now that I am going to send you an SMS to wish you happy birthday, please don't use this opportunity to borrow money from me! Though I am financially healthy, that doesn't mean you can keep borrowing money from us. "

We are not stingy people and we don't mind lending money to him, but the way he has been treating us... seems like we owe him something from our past life. Once married he devote all his time to his wife's family, spending weekends playing mahjong with his in-laws and allocate zero time for us. Whenever I have the chance to fly back I will try to find time and opportunities to just meet up. I guess the only time we get to meet is when he need money.

What is life without hope? Sure, life will be terrible without hope... but what if the hope gets shattered again and again?

*pray* Please don't borrow money from me...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Happier things

On a happier note, the floating platform @ Marina Bay will have artificial turf installed on its surface. According to Channelnewsasia, there is a possibility that the place will be available for public bookings come October 2008. Imagine playing soccer in the middle of the sea.... WOW!

Promotion time...

For most companies, the 1st day of April marks the start of the new fiscal year. It also marks the day when staffs are promoted.

Read Spike's blog this morning and found out the anguish he is going through now. A promotion without perks is bad enough, the failure to push through the promotion for his subordinates... salt on the wound. How they must be swearing and cursing behind Spike's back... even if they are not, he must feel awkward in their presence. A job promotion should be a tool utilised by a company's HR dept to reward star achievers. However, with the abundance of inept HR personnel and superiors flooding this world, the promotion is becoming a weapon for them to drive away capable staff (possibly unintentionally).

If anyone from HR or senior mgmt is reading this, please think from the prospective of the staff. You might think its a stroke of genius on your part to promote and not reward but the truth is YOU'RE AN IDIOT!

3 years ago I handed in my resignation letter the day after my promotion. On top of my promotion (affixing a "Senior" in front of my title...) I was given an increment of S$100 (approximately HKD460 in those days). Frankly speaking that level of increment was no different from another staff on the same pay level with a B+ or better for his/her appraisal. End of the day I was roughly in the same situation as Spike, change in title with no perks.

This time around I'm starting to understand why I'm feeling sulky. I've been an AM for so long. In another organisation I might have been the Mgr the moment I stepped in. The reason for the decision was 1 or more of the following :
  1. I was too young for Mgr (still young... i think)
  2. I was a foreigner in HK (still a foreigner)
  3. I was not trusted by the MD (he never trusts anyone)

Fine. And now that I'm a Mgr, nothing much has changed. Yes the title and salary has changed. But I don't feel the surge of happiness running through my entire body. Maybe I am being petty but why not you give someone the title and salary of a toilet cleaner (aka Toilet Supervisors in HK) and the job responsiblity of a manager for 3 years? That might be an extreme comparison but it brings the point across.

Or maybe that's not the reason I'm feeling sulky?

The recent D&D was a special event. All of a sudden the company decided to reward some of the outstanding salespeople in our company. I have no grudge against that since they are the hotshots bringing in the money for the company. But since our company is so stingy, most of the outstanding salespeople has already left the company. They did the next best thing(or so they thought) by giving the rewards to the freshies who took over their place (5/7 rewards went to new staff). WTF was that all about? Earning a promotion from a company that rewards indiscriminately just doesn't feel so great to me... Other than the person who recommended my promotion, those people up there who approved my promotion probably doesn't have a clue what I do on the ground.

That sucks right? But maybe thats not why I feel so sulky as well?
So why am I so sulky???

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Succession Planning

I am at a crossroad of my life. Here I am entering my 3rd year working in HK, doing the same old thing which I have been doing since the day I arrived. No doubt many improvements have taken place during the past 3 years here and over in China, somehow I feel that it is not enough to quench my desire for something... That's the problem. I don't know what I am lacking but I just feel that something is lacking in my life.

I probably already felt like this a month ago, thus the rush to take my GMAT and the frantic search for an MBA program. I thought that was the gap in my life~ But what happens after that? I will be probably back to square one and I will feel like this again, probably till the end of my life. Then it struck me~ or rather I remembered why I wanted that MBA. So that I can get out of this company and do something greater with my life.

No, the company does not treat me badly. In fact I just gotten a promotion and a decent increment. The size of the increment was actually decided by the local MD and another boss in Japan, and not by the useless Admin and HR manager we have here. To me that is a recognition of my work and the value they place in me.

But that is not enough. I always feel that a job must be fulfiling not only in monetary terms but also in many other aspects. To me job satisfaction ranks up there with the salary package. And so far the job satisfaction level here is quite wanting...

And now as I plan my next step in life (although still in a cloud of smoke regarding my next destination), I am preparing a succession plan for whoever will be taking over my position. I don't know if another job will come by soon or NUS/NTU will accept me but I try to make sure that the succession will come from within and not by recruiting a new fellow.

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