Monday, June 30, 2008
Group A - Portual, Czech
Group B - Germany, Croatia
Group C - Holland, Italy
Group D - Spain, Sweden
QF1 - Portugal over Croatia
QF2 - Germany over Czech
QF3 - Holland over Sweden
QF4 - Spain over Italy
SF1 - Germany over Portugal
SF2 - Holland/Spain (Tough call)
Final - Holland/Spain over Germany (Prefer the other 2)
Would have won good money if I wagered on both Holland and Spain to win the tournament. But hey~ the Gods may look at me and shift it all around~ Spain should thank me...
Swedan lost out to the Russians and the Czechs succumbed to Turkey. QF matchups for top half (Q1 and Q2) jumbled up due to underperforming Germans. In the end, I got half-point for the finals prediction.
Its really a year for either Holland or Spain. They showed so much potential. Its a matter of who can sustain it all the way and who lose steam first. Holland lost it while Torres kept on going~
Well done Spaniards!
So let's refresh my weekend... Kungfu Panda on Saturday. Not fantastic but darn funny at times. You must really hand it to Jack Black. Anyway he look like a panda so it shouldn't be too hard to get into the role. Dustin Hoffman... I prefer him in person... Glad I didn't spent HKD140/ticket for the super-duper overpriced tickets at the Grand Cinema in Elements. Shall try that when we have longer movies. The Mummy 3 or 三国-赤壁 might be a better show to burn my 140.
Sunday was golf-driving day~ 1 hour and 200 strokes later my arms could barely open a can of Coke. Watched some uncle whack the ball high and sweet and decided to 偷师 from afar. In the end managed to learn enough to whack the ball high and sweet! The direction's a bit awry but that can be adjusted~ Good day with the 7 and P. Improvement on the 4 but still alot of work left...
HK - What happened over the weekend :
1) Tour bus causing mayhem near the Peak Tram station, killing a 13 y.o. girl and injuring 32. Apparently the brakes were faulty, 3 weeks after coming out of servicing.
2) More rain and more rain. The wettest June in like many many years. Record breaking.
3) Oil prices at all time high.
4) HK A-levels - Less than 3/4 passed their English paper.
5) Woman killed by falling signboard. Be careful when you walk by any of those giant neon signboard all over HK. A 136kg signboard fell on a 47 y.o. woman. No chance for her.
HK - What we can expect tomorrow (1st July SAR Establishment Day) :
1) Lots of demonstrations and protests to celebrate 11 years since 1997.
2) Lots of chickens on the roads expected due to strike by live chicken industry.
Asia World City... can't get these type of activities in any other cities in the world~
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Thank you for your interest in Asean football and we have taken notes of your comment.
While we agree with you on certain level, we also have to point out that having home-and-away format all the way through would mean dragging the AFF Championship for several months and that will affect the players's participation for their respective clubs for an extended period which we are trying to avoid.
At the very least, the current format allows for the semi-finalists to have their matches home-and-away and that is a plus point. And even with the current set-up, the championship is already close to a month long. Thanks again for your comment."
I cannot say I'm not disappointed. On the other hand, I'm happy its not one of those computer-generated auto-reply which you will get from a few HK organisations.
E-mail's great~ If only I had e-mails when Singapore wanted to leave the Malaysia Cup....
www.FlyMig.com has several packages offering 30-minute flights on these thunderbirds. Now all I need is at least USD14,550 for a flight... not to mention other costs involved in bringing me there...
Friday, June 27, 2008
Nothing interesting in the news these days. A leaking HK international airport. Turbulence in Cathay flight causing injury. Flooding after the recent storms. Seems like HK is getting alot of bad luck... must be the Olympics...
Dream final, Spain VS Germany. Hope Spain wins something for the first time. Torres had a lousy game against Russia in my opinion. Didn't take his chances well. I just feel that he should be a game-changing reserve, not a starter. With his speed he should give the opposition an uneasy time. Last night he looked like he was there to tire out the opposition. Maybe international defenders are too much for him to handle.
Oh well~ Let's see what happens on Monday morning... Spain? Doctor?
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Typhoon 风神 is gone. The rain is still here though. Whoever designed pavements in HK better wake up his/her f-ideas and prevent them from turning into water catchment areas during heavy rain! As I walked to the mini-bus stop this morning, I had to traverse pavements with 3-inch reservoirs. And these are no small reservoirs, they stretch the entire length of the pavement at times! Take that route or the side of the roads which already looked like the River Nile...
Imagine this, a 7-minute walk to the stop with all the Hollywood effects :
1) Horizontal rains (who needs a water park?)
2) Umbrella-breaking winds (I don't mind the wind since it blows up a skirt or 2...)
3) The water splash whenever a car passes by (again, who needs a water park?)
4) The attack of the 1.5metre tall granny with her killer umbrella (血滴子-its either your neck or your eyes... give me the neck attack anytime).
The HK tourism board should come up with a water festival, something not unlike the one they have in Thailand, and declare the 1st storm from 2nd July to be a public holiday. I'll be the first one to vote for Donald (not as if I can vote...) if that ever happens.
*Still not appeased...*
Thanks to the rain I'm now Sockless in Office. Pants wet to my knees. Lack of sleep isn't helping my mood in anyway...
Oh yeah... well done to Germany. They finally upset the Upset-kings of the tournament. Not so well done to NowTV. They managed to show me 10 minutes of still images due to "problems with the uplink at the source".
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Come to think about it, the pool was pretty good because the water temperature was lukewarm. Outdoor pool like this will be freezing cold back in Singapore. 1 point for HK here.
Typhoon Signal No.8 was raised at around 11pm last night! Why so early? I couldn't even make out anything except for clouds above HK island. I waited till 3am for that ultimate typhoon experience and nothing happened...
5am and the storm came knocking against our window. And I do mean knocking! It sounded like 10 labradors trying to fight their way into the flat. I could see the typhoonic winds making waves across the building in front of us. At times I felt as if the building was swaying whenever another gush of wind came crashing against the building... perhaps the families living on the 48th floor can tell me more...
But curses of all curses the typhoon was over by 11:15am and the No.3 signal was hoisted. That meant that I got to make my way back to the office. Somehow this whole typhoon gave me the impression that every other typhoon in HK has given me, underperforming pricks! Just another few hours and I would have gotten the whole day off but NOOOOOOOO~~~~ it must stop 2 hours before the cutoff time! It's like a great foreplay and the man just came in his pants and the woman must turn to her electronic friend...
Anyway some photos and a video of the typhoon...
More photos of the destruction coming soon~
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
According to the MET Typhoon Fengshen is headed our way after causing massive destruction in the Philippines. Initially headed towards Fujian province, the typhoon has turned its direction and is now headed straight for Guangdong province.
Its better for the typhoon to hit HK than any area to the east. Reason 1 - I will probably get a day off. Reason 2 - HK can take a direct hit much better than the rural areas to the east. Reason 3 - I will probably get a day off. But then again, I've never came across a full frontal typhoon assault in HK before... and I may have spoken too soon when I said that HK can take a direct hit better...
In any case, top up the instant noodles, champagne and party kits~ I'm hopeful yet mighty wary of this one...
Monday, June 23, 2008
One particular issue about the show. Its wrapped around people with unbelieveable amount of money!!!! USD400 for a pair of shoes??? And insane number of designer clothes! And the number of sexual partners per lead actress in the show is like... I don't have the fingers for counting! Considering there are 12-18 episodes in one season, its already into season 6 or 7, and the female lead sleeps with a stranger every 2 or 3 episodes apart... they must have slept with a platoon of men, EACH!!!
Really if taken as TV entertainment its fine... but I can't help but wonder why I've never been to NY before...
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Presenting to you the Panasonic G500. My very first mobile phone which was given to me by my uncle approximately 11 years ago. No GPS, No WAP, No camera, No MP3, No NUTS but a helluva vibration~
Back in those days having a mobile phone really set me apart from the rest of my poly classmates. These days nearly every secondary school kid has one. Back then it was intended for my family members to contact me (I had a pager since 15, the mobile was an upgrade). These days the mobile phone is more of a status symbol for kids.
Already onto my 6th or 7th mobile phone since. Can you imagine what life will be like if we are still using these type of mobile phones? I can't...
Golf - Damage approx $20 for 1-hour
In Singapore we can always drive down to a driving range for a whacking session. Walk to Olympian City if in HK. For my non-playing friends this may not be an option.
Movies - Damage approx $30 (including snacks)
Always a show. Not always a good line-up though.
Swimming - Damage approx $10 (Free in HK until Olympics)
Cheap and healthy. Not if you don't like the waters.
Wild Wild Wet (Singapore) - Damage approx $40 (2 adult 2 kids)
Water park. More things to do than a swimming pool. Still no good if you don't like water...
Eating - Damage UNLIMITED
Food paradise. Really where your tummy/nose brings you. Be adventurous and try something new this weekend.
Shopping - Damage UNLIMITED
Popular with women. Not so popular pastime for most men. Easily go up to a few hundred dollars per trip.
Theatre - Damage WIDE RANGE
Whether a musical or a comedy, there will always be a theatre show in HK and SG. Again, like movies line-up may not always be good.
Weekend short trip - Damage QUITE HEAVY
SG - A trip to Genting, Tioman, Bintan or even Desaru for golf.
HK - Trips to Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Guangzhou or Macau.
Can only do once every few months. Gonna damage the bank account heavily. *Ouch*
Video gaming - Nil if you have the games...
Absolutely free. Can keep one occupied for hours if not days. Damage will come if you want that latest PS3 system or add new games to your array (unless if you are a game pirate then...). The missus and gfs are not going to be too entertained though...
There you have it, a list of things to do. Somehow its not going to account for too many weekends in a year...
Basically a continuation of the story from HBO, it talks about the friendship of 4 women and their relationships. The wedding of Carrie and John was particularly sweet (the one that worked) and the little feast they had after the solemnisation was just the type of gathering I had in mind for my own wedding. No relatives no hassles just a good spread of comfortable food in a big long table for 12 or so. I've always felt that traditional wedding dinners are too much fanfare and little interaction between the couple and friends.
The best lesson from the show came from the marriage counselling session for Steve and Miranda. The counsellor told them that no one can be certain that the partner will not do wrong again in future but if they love each other then they should forget the past and work on the future. Isn't that true! They were supposed to fix a venue to meet 2 weeks after the end of the counselling course. If they turn up then it will mean that they are willing to forget the past and work on the marriage.
The scene that nearly (NEARLY means not yet) brought tears to my eyes was on the Brooklyn Bridge where Steve and Miranda met after their separation. They were so in love with each other yet split up because of 1 bad mistake by the guy (Sleeping with another woman). I do have something to say for men though... If I remember correctly there was this conversation between Miranda and Carrie(can't remember if they were the ones) where they commented that men only know how to say "I'm sorry" when they do wrong. Given the positions are reversed, what will the women say? I'll be interested to know...
All in all a good show. Well paced even though its a length 140+ minutes. Good humor at times and also touching scenes all around. Tissues are highly recommended if you are easily touched.
Rating : 8.7/10
D and MIL flew off this morning. The unavoidable tears at the airport. Its the 1st time that D actually spoke out about wanting to stay here in HK with us. About 1 week ago he has been voicing out his desire to remain here in HK with us. In any case, there's only less than a year left for us in HK so there's really no point now. And it might be a blessing in disguise with all the international schools increasing their school fees this year. Though I'm quite supportive of home tuition, disruption to his studies and the need for a reliable caretaker when we go for overseas assignments are other key concerns. Guess leaving him in SG is the correct choice... but is it?
I wonder if this is because I actually brought up that option. Really won't know if he would have acted this way if the subject of studying in HK was never brought up. Only D knows the answer but he have no say in any decisions now. If he had said yes in April we would have arranged for him to start school in June. We can only hope that they can bear for another year...
This is the first night in many nights that I don't have to play GTA IV or Dynasty Warriors... and it kinda sux... big time...
In HK, government and chicken sellers are at loggerheads over a proposal to buy over the whole live-chicken industry at HK$1bil. Way lower than the HK$3bil suggested by the industry. What next? Being
And if you are one of the 40 evicted from the hotel in HK, there are more freebies for you! The HK Gov is sorry that the first option they offered was a night's stay in the Home for the Homeless but please contact them now and they will bring you to Ocean Park and Disneyland~ Please Call Them~~~ especially my fellow Singaporean who was caught in this dingdong fiasco~
Friday, June 20, 2008
Weather - The climate in summer resembles Singapore with temperature reaching the 30s and the humidity tempting 100%. Typhoons and storms are things to look out for during the hotter months(May-Sept). T-shirt + jeans + umbrella gear recommended. The temperature can go down to as low as 8 deg during the night during winter. A thicker coat will be recommended for those arriving from hotter places.
Language - All Hongkongers speak Cantonese. Although its a Special Administrative Region of China, the mastery of the mandarin language is still pretty much lacking. Most in frontline service industries can speak pretty decent putonghua but you can hardly make out any of the words spoken by senior citizens. The younger generation have a better grasp of the language due to curriculums in schools. Unfortunately, I feel the mastery of English is poor all around. Many Singaporeans may have an accent but most can communicate smoothly in English. More than once I have heard local staff talking to their Japanese managers in English, with cantonese thrown into the mix... Anyway, you will not die in HK with only English in your arsenal. It will just take a bit more effort.
Transport - Transport in HK will not be that different from Singapore. An Airport Express train ticket to Kowloon Station will cost HKD90, including free shuttle bus service from the station to major hotels in the area. Taxi will set you back by at least HKD260 but it can seat 5. The buses have one difference from Singapore buses. They have a flat rate so don't try to take a bus to get to your destination which is 2-3 bus stops away. In any case, you may have reached your destination given the time to wait for those buses. The green mini-buses are a different breed altogether. But if you are a tourist, I would advice against taking mini-buses. Take if you have a local or friend accompanying you.
Attractions - In terms of attractions, HK Disneyland and Ocean Park are the most famous theme parks around. My recommendation is go to Ocean Park once and thats about it. See the pandas, take the rides and watch the dolphins perform. Skip HK Disneyland if you want to have good memories of your last visit to the one in Tokyo. If you never been to the one in Tokyo but would like to visit, then skip HK D. If not, be enchanted by one of the smallest Disneyland in the world.
Other famous places will be the Avenue of the Stars (above Sogo Tsim Sha Tsui) where you can catch the nightly laser show over Victoria Harbour (Daily 8pm sharp). Highly recommended show. I get that show from my flat every night though... If you like the show, perhaps you would like to view it from the Peak. Take the tram up at around 5-6pm (the queue can be terrible during weekends) so you can see the sights while the sun is out. Visit the wax museum, have a meal, visit the Electronic Arts gallery or just go to the viewing platform for a great view of HK from the Peak.
And if you are a religious one, take the Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride to the biggest Bronze Buddha statue in the region. It is located at Tung Chung, a town neighbouring the airport. The 25-minute ride will reward you with a great view of the Bronze Buddha. The little theme shopping area at the end of the ride has nothing which you cannot find in any other shopping centre (Starbucks?!?!) but a short walk away there's a monastery where you can pray and have a decent vegetarian meal. Of course you can also take the walk up to the Buddha. Sidenote: The NP360 have its fair share of technical issues, including one case of a cable car which came crashing down during maintenance. You've been warned!
That's the end of Part 1...
D's pestering me to play GTA with him now... His last night here, can't disappoint my biggest fan.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
In 2003, I packed enough clothes, borrowed a bit of money from my mum and uncle and set off for Tokyo. I was kind of lost and figured a few months in Japan will show me the way. Figured the stint will help me with my JLPT2 paper that year as well.
I flew the cheapest flight I could find (midnight flight on Thai Air transit via Bangkok) so I reached Narita Airport relatively early in the morning. My accommodation was Cozy House, a hostel-like rental apartment. Its just outside Tokyo so the rentals and cost of living were relatively cheaper as compared to Tokyo central.
It was during that 3 months away in Japan that I really missed my family and friends back in Singapore. National Service was nothing compared to that 3 months because during NS I had some poly friends in the same unit as me and I also had weekends off to meet my poly mates and family. During that 3 months in Japan I was basically the only Singaporean I knew (in a hostel full of Frenchies, Japanese and Koreans). I also fully understood the cost of living in Japan. I was scrimping through, saving as much as possible by cooking myself and shopping only when the supermarket had their daily offers. Maybe that was because I wasn't working and I was living on some borrowed money. But when I looked at the Japanese living there, people who had jobs, many were living no better than me.
It was during that 3 months that all the beautiful images of Japan seemed like a fairytale... except there was no fairy in the story. Japanese hostel-mates warn me of drunks and murders at the nearby JR station... Yakuza walking around the town centre... Unruly Japanese youths...
Benjamin and Rie
One Japan stint later I went back to Singapore much more appreciative of the island. I found a job in my present company not long after I returned. My job allows me to travel around the region and I started visiting Kyoto once a year for meetings. I realise that I have become more observant of how people live in the cities I visit and no difference in my observations when I visited Kyoto. Kyoto, the city of ancient Japan, from another angle is a Japanese city struggling between modernisation and tradition. On the train from Kansai to Osaka you will realise that you will pass by alot of industrial areas and slums. It is only from Osaka onwards where you get the sight of ancient buildings and green scenary. Nightlife in Kyoto? Only if you like Gion. Will you want to stay there? Yes, but only for 2 nights maximum.
And this job brought me to HK. First year was a honeymoon. Mong Kok was my paradise with all the street foods, video games and sports goods. And HK with the Peak and Lan Kwai Fong always looked like the must-go place for tourists. We felt like tourists during our first year here, fascinated by every new sight we visited. Several trips to the Peak, LKF and hundreds of trips to Mong Kok later, we started to get sick of the food, the crowd, the pollution and the noise. Year 2 was bearable but this year I've been plotting my escape from this smog city.
I guess the 10-year rule still applies. So far the 2 places outside mainland Singapore where I've stayed for more than 2 months (Make Tekong 3 then...) none have managed to pass MY 10-year rule. And considering they are Asian cities, I really wonder how long I can survive in Europe, America or Australia...
These days I've been giving alot of thought into living in Singapore. It started with the rankings on living standards, then it ventured further as I look into how I will adapt to life in Singapore come next July. Of course, reading posts from fellow bloggers give me alot of inspiration as well. A very enlightening week...
From Anthony Bourdain - "Be a traveller, not a tourist"
From WhiteDuskRed - "Just travel, don't stay for too long"
A scene in GTA IV. Simple mission of driving some corpses. Really funny driving through the streets and hearing all those shrieks from passerbys~ Lovely~
One of the logistic servers died on me yesterday. Thought of activating a backup but reconfiguration and approval from HQ took so long that the idea was off. Even though we didn't use it in the end, I'm still glad we tried because since it was a brand new server there some settings and drivers lacking in the new server. In the end stayed till late (7:30pm!!! That's late for me...) while monitoring the situation and chatting with my buddy on MSN.
This morning, most dreaded monthly manager meeting. I avoided most of it as I was still clearing some of the issues caused by yesterdays downtime. As this is the only time all the managers will be gathered in HK, our little corner become very busy with all sorts of logistical and IT requests coming our way... All this work has been keeping me very busy today but it also brings 6pm to me faster~
Last I heard I will have another section in my department. Great. And a trip to Beijing in July. Not so great. A possible trip to HQ. Fantastic!
Well... enough of work! Let me jot down my gaming joy~ This section is dedicated to my dear buddy. We spent most of our 20s playing Dynasty Warriors on PS2. The game has so many reincarnations that I don't remember which version I'm playing on the PS3 now. All I can say is.... ITS GREAT! You can destroy towers, knock down drawbridges, fight on horses, swim across rivers and climb ladders~ Things which weren't possible in past versions. Completed the story mode for Zhao Yun and Guan Yu with D over the last 2 weeks and now we are hooked on GTA IV.
Again the game engine lets you manipulate many more of the objects in the virtual world. Of course there's so many more ways to kill a civilian~ I love it most when I am able to pick up a sniper rifle, shoot the pilot of the police chopper chasing me and watch it spiral into the sea. The free-aiming controls and allowing the player to hide behind obstacles during gun-fight are very nice additions to the game. Fully deserving of the 10/10 rating.
Oh well... another 30 minutes to go...
1) Bird Flu - No one area in this world is free from bird flu. My ultimate concern is the smuggling of chickens through alternative routes. With the way businesses works here you really won't know if the chickens you bought came via these channels. And I can't live without my chickens...
2) Sushi - 18 food poisoning and 1 suspension of operations later 4 more food poisoning... I wonder why the establishments in question were not suspended for at least 1 week... If you're coming to HK and feeling like sushi, give me a call and I'll tell you where NOT to get your sushi. Quite a pity because they serve pretty good sushi...
3) ESF fee increment - As far as I know these are government-subsidized schools. Apparently the 7% increase in tuition fees, which will take the fees to HK$58k/year, will help the school cope with the staff increments and new facilities. Parents are not happy because ESF already have more than HK$0.5b in reserve. And they also suspect that ESF has been funneling some of the money to their privately funded institutions.
I agree with increment. I don't agree with the rate of increase. If the school has a staff-student ratio of 1:1 then HKD3000 increase means each teacher will get another HKD3000 in increment. But I suspect the ration is more like 1:20 or even 1:30. With regards to new facilities, those should come from their reserves or some sort of Help-build-me-some-playground donation drive organised by the school.
I think a clearer breakdown of why a 7% increase is necessary will be more useful in pacifying angry parents. But most people have no choice here in HK. Either an international school (most of them are increasing their fees), ESF or local schools with under-par English education. If I were to keep D here for a year, I would rather pay someone to give him private tuition at home.
4) Hotel - Hotel in court case. Hotel lost and appeal. Hotel still accepting new guests during trial. Hotel lost appeals again and again. Bailiffs closed down hotel. Guests from China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, Italy, Argentina and SINGAPORE kicked out. Pretty much reminds you of Oasis.
5) Fuel - No positive news on reduction of fuel tax. More demonstrations on the way. Mental note to avoid Central and Wanchai.
I would love to get out of here... A golf trip to Thailand or Okinawa sounds like the perfect antidote...
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The rankings are based on the factors listed below.
-Political and social environment
-Health and sanitation
-Schools and education
-Public services and transportation
Scrolling through the top 50 (Singapore is in 32nd! Well done!), I can't help but notice the fact that most of these places are either well-planned cities and/or places with truly clean air. With that I don't think I need to explain why HK is not in the top 50.
The only places in the top 50 which I will relocate to will probably be Sydney and Brisbane. But then again I don't think I will want to stay in those places forever. One may argue that life in Asia is very hectic and welfare is not adequate to cover our lifestyle after retirement but that's also what makes Asia such a dynamic region. I guess our culture have a big say in how we live our lives.
Alot of Europeans prefer to rent their apartments and relying on pensions to tide them through their old age wherelse Asians prefer to buy their own flats so that they have something for their future generations when they pass away. I do see a trend whereby more and more Asians are renting, spending every cent of their paycheck and leaving nothing for their offsprings.
I don't know the profile of the survey participants nor the way the scoring system works. I prefer to look at it as a guide more than anything. At the end of the day its really where you feel most comfortable living in.
I guess the easiest question to ask yourself is this : "Am I ready to spend the next 10 years of my life staying in this country, with occasional holidays to other countries with the expected salary and annual leaves allowed?"
My cravings for Roti Prata, Bak Kut Teh, Kuay Chap and other Singapore delicacies tell me that I cannot stay away from Singapore for too long. If they have a hawker centre that sells authentic Singaporean food... then I might change my mind... And until my new apartment is ready, the HDB flat below will be the best apartment to live in Singapore for me...
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The infrastructure is there. The equipments are there. BUT working from home is simply not acceptable in this company. Since my appointment here 3 years ago I have introduced hardware and network changes which will allow this company to function remotely (albeit most of the time changes were forced upon us as most equipments belonged to pre-historic times). Oh well, fine, don't blame me when everyone cannot reach the office due to flooding in Kowloon! *evil laugh*
Talking about rain, I'm sure everyone is aware of the floods in Southern China. I guess the prophecy must be true...
And talking about flood... my tummy couldn't hold it up any longer so I went for a bombing run in the toilet. Not getting into details but when I was pulling up my pants, I nearly got my tie underwater..That woke me up. I'm mighty awake now.
Monday, June 16, 2008
13th June - Dinner with visitors from afar. Hotpot at Little Fat Sheep. They serve really nice lamb slices.
15th June - At the park feeding the fishes in the pond. I suspect we weren't the only ones feeding the colony. Kois, turtles and frogs... quite an aquarium there.
My favourite T-shirt at this point of time. The England soccer team in miniature form. At approx S$20/each, I might get a few more of these T-shirts. Will get the Liverpool and Gerrard design next time.
Update photo of my crays. 1 more died over the weekend. Left 2 out of 5 yabbies...
Saturday, June 14, 2008
All those people who donated via ICBC must be feeling cheated now. Unfortunately for them I don't think its so easy to get back any money they donated. Borrowing a quote from Ms Sharon Stone, I think Karma will take care of those a-holes who bought the Nike shoes with the donations...
Just checked the website for China's National Audit Office. Apparently, the abused funds were funds allocated for the well-being of the staff working in the disaster area. I'm still pretty skeptical about it... Why declare them as 雨衣、雨靴和雨伞 and not Nike球靴? One will not falsify claims unless one has something to hide...
Oh well~ In any case, the website is a good place to keep one updated about any claims of funds misuse and other illegal deeds.
"I'll be watching you!"
Friday, June 13, 2008
Top news on Channelnewsasia :
All physical activities in SAF suspended due to 2 deaths in 2 days
And you wonder why people get all teary when they send their sons to NS (Some people. My mum haven't any idea when I was going to be enlisted so)... When I was due for enlistment I got myself an insurance plan, just to make sure I leave something for my mother should anything happen to me inside. Truth be said, the number of deaths reported has been approximately 10 each year. I'm not going into statistics but I believe the fatal accident rate for construction and other high-risk industries are roughly around there somewhere.
But comparatively, somehow the deaths seem... wasted. Wasted because most of them were young Singaporean men (some were boys) giving the most valuable period of their lives to serve their nation. While boys in other countries engage in drugs, alcohol, higher education, orgies and other life-enriching activities, Singapore boys must sacrifice 2 years of their time to protect the nation. How many of us have ever wished that NS is an option and not a liability.
No matter what SAF do to their training doctrines at this point of time, it will not be able to bring the sons back to their parents. It is not possible to totally prevent deaths in the services but hopefully there will be less...
Defence Minister Mr Teo Chee Hean put it best when CNA quoted him saying that he was "saddened by the loss of two young and precious sons of Singapore."
Thursday, June 12, 2008
The many faces of National Service - Part 1
The many faces of National Service - Part 2
So many types of people coming together serving 1 common purpose. Each with his own interpretation of what NS is all about. Some of these people can be found in my working life and I have become like some of these people as well...
RANT 1 - Food - Having more restaurants doesn't mean there's more food. Just means people here cook less and eat out more. Lack of hawker centres also explains why there are more restaurants. SGD6 for a lousy plate of chicken rice without egg or vege. Does that sound cheap to you? For people like us who don't cook, we need a large selection of food. SG gives you that assortment with hawker price. HK gives you that assortment but you must pay by credit card.
RANT 2 - Transport - Transport is NOT CHEAP in HK. You can buy it for cheap but you can't keep it cheap. Parking cost up to SGD10/hour in some places. HK/Kowloon tunnel charges cost as much as SGD8/way. Taxi to airport cost around SGD40/way. Express train to airport cost SGD16/person from Kowloon Station. Mini-buses are cheap (SGD0.60-0.80) from my place to TST but double-deckers cost around SGD2... even for 1 stop! And most underground MTR stations have no escalators to ground level...
RANT 3 - Environment/Pollution - Its so bad I thank God for the rains which cleared the sky. I really don't care if people living in HK are swimming to school or work. That just highlights the pollution problem because the sewage system was choked full with rubbish. And you can be assured that the local government is doing everything it can regarding the pollution in terms of public consultation. After consultation with the public, which consists of mainly property tycoons and businessmen, they decide that its not economically feasible and come up with another round of consultation. Level 9 Typhoon where are you~ please blow those idiots onto 1 of those islets between HK and Macau~ Centurion trees have been chopped down in the name of development. The nearest thing they can conjure up to compete with the Botanical Gardens in Singapore is a swampland. Its really quite appropriate. Really.
RANT 4 -
RANT 5 - Free Market - Read this blog post from Gregory Charles Rivers(河國榮). He should be quite familiar to you if you watch enough HK serial dramas. Its an old post but the focus is on the paragraph on how supermarket chains manipulate the prices here. Pretty much like how the stock and property markets are manipulated. Free market basically means giving unscrupulous businessmen and landlords their way in fixing prices. Isn't that nice of them?
*pant pant pant*
Rant Experience + 2000 points...
Rant Level + 1...
The news this morning - Hong Kong culls all live poultry in markets after bird flu outbreak. Well done... now how am I going to get my chicken rice? It seems like the matter could be worse with the smuggling of illegal chickens from the mainland.
I'm angry... because I may not get to eat my chicken rice for the next few days...
On a happier note, celebrated our 2nd at Kamado (1 Peking, Tsimshatsui). The place have a great view of Victoria Harbour and if you are lucky you might get a private cubicle facing the harbour. We reached there at 6:15 (5-min walk from our office) and got one of those cubicles.
Of course, securing one of those cubicles also meant that we were bounded by the minimal charge rule which was around HKD550. It was fine since we intended to enjoy ourselves. In the end the bill came up to HKD780. Its alot for a meal but we did order quite alot as well. Here's the list :
- Sashimi Set
- Sea Urchin
- Grilled Oysters
- Grilled Potato cake with Cheese
- Kushiyaki Set (5 sticks)
- Salmon Head
- Seafood Pizza
- 2 non-alcoholic Cocktails
If you get the opportunity to eat there, I will recommend the sashimi set although it cost quite a bit at HKD280 (+HKD90 for the sea urchin). But you get REALLY GOOD sashimi slices, REAL GOOD! Also try to stay until 8pm so you will get the laser lights show over Victoria Harbour. Unfortunately I was nursing a terrible headache and we had to leave by 8pm because we didn't have any reservations.
All in all a great way to kick off year 3... I think I will miss the sushi when I leave HK. Sushi here are definitely cheaper and better than in Singapore. I have sushi for dinner at least once a week and I don't think I can keep it up when I return to Singapore. It is not the price that I'm concerned about, its more about the quality. Of course I can get that quality but I'll be paying crazy money for those... Well I'm concered about the price after all... There~ I have something good to say about HK after all~
HK don't have live chicken... I want my chicken rice...
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Group A - Portual, Czech
Group B - Germany, Croatia
Group C - Holland, Italy
Group D - Spain, Sweden
QF1 - Portugal over Croatia
QF2 - Germany over Czech
QF3 - Holland over Sweden
QF4 - Spain over Italy
SF1 - Germany over Portugal
SF2 - Holland/Spain (Tough call)
Final - Holland/Spain over Germany (Prefer the other 2)
I wonder of Ladbrokes will take my wager. Should be worth quite a lot of money if I wage S$100 each bet (Holland/Spain route).
The next thing to greet me was this Japanese spider crab.
We lapped it up with a serving of Japanese scallops done al-sashimi.
Caught my 7th straight match of the Euro tour and in my opinion it was the best match so far. Perpetual underachievers Spain has shown how fluid their passing and counterattacking can be when they are on their day. David Villa was brilliant with 3 goals but Torres seemed out of sync. Funny thing was when David Villa scored his hatrick he ran over to the bench to look for Torres... maybe Torres taught him a trick or 2? or they were just showing the world that they are good friends?
(Above) Just a random picture which I took last week. The backside of a racing Lamborghini on the highway leading from airport to HK island... And a forest of tall residential apartments on the right... that's exactly where I stay...
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
So why they hate Singapore? Basically because there's always competition between the 2 countries to see which one is better. Another because they don't like our MM. I can't say anything about this since HK is not even a country on its own and sometimes I don't even know what they are voting for. Legislations the people don't need get passed down while anti-pollution measures go through years and years of public consultation before it is deemed detrimental to HK's economy edge. Let's see how they maintain their edge in their Hazmat suits in the next 10 years.
I guess what I really want to write is how the image of a place can be mapped into a person's mind simply by the media and word of mouth. The things you hear and the things you read really can change the way you look at a particular person/thing/place, no? In Italy I was reminded time and again to watch out for pickpockets. That spoilt my image of the place before I even stepped out of the hotel. On the other hand, having first hand experience will permanently map the image of the country in your head. I got my 1st PSP picked from my bag in Dongmen and from then on everyone on the streets of SZ became a possible thief.
But what about Iraq, Israel, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Palestine, Serbia, Somalia ..... I look into my brain and all these places have bad press here and there but on thinking back, I have nothing but good things to say about the people I met in both Malaysia and Thailand. So why the bad image? Probably because its good news only when it is bad news. You will not know how nice the people are until you visit the place yourself and meet them in person. Won't know how nice the place is until you stayed in one of the local towns. Won't know how good the food is until you leave your hotel and eat what the locals eat.
My lesson for the day : Do not condemn a place until you have stayed there long enough to experience the place. I have stayed in HK for 3 years. I condemn the place. Fullstop.
You live in a barracks with ROC soldiers for 1 month, come up with battle plans, enjoy their specialty deep-fried chicken cutlets and steal peeks at the cute little attendants in the army grocery store. On the occasional nights off where we get to leave camp we head straight into town with whatever money we have to see more of the girls in the city. 3rd week there the actual show starts and people get send to navy ships to load up or drive straight into the battle.
I was one of the fortunate unfortunate few who get to board one of the vessels, a 40-year-old LST on her last trip. We were assigned a 2m-by-2m cabin with just a red light and a basin, and no windows. Too much of Red October and you will probably go crazy in there. My job was to do up and make changes to the disembarkation plans (Something similar to the landing craft sequence in Saving Private Ryan but on a division scale). Me and my fellow unfortunates were placed on 4-hour duty. That means 4 hours at battle station and 4 hours shit,sleep,eat etc. Leading us was a transport logistics captain who had a horrible reputation for being... horrible and I had only followed him for 3 months prior to ROC...
1st day noon : LSTs left port.
2nd day dawn : landing crafts left the LSTs.
2nd day noon : I got off duty since my job was completed. 24-hour free... on ship...
2nd day dusk : Still stuck on ship, running out of seasick pills...
2nd day nite : Asked cpt why we still on ship. Reply was "You fuck! If we disembark with them and enter the training area how am I going to go back for my bath?!"
2nd day nite : Enlightened.
3rd day dawn : Cock-eyed
3rd day noon : Some smart guy brought his pirated VCDs on the ship and played it out on the projector which was used to display battle plans some 48 hours earlier.
3rd day dusk : Cpt managed to convince the navy officer that we ran out of ration (BULLSHIT!) and got us some hot meals in the galley.
3rd day nite : Opinion of cpt changed 180 - 45 = 135 degrees
4th day noon : Disembarkation
Upon landing, an ROC humvee was waiting for us to send us to the training area. The cpt told him that we need to return to camp and the driver just complied. I would have complied... it was a lousy raining day... After a shower and more comfort food later we proceeded to the training area. Our mobile command post was on a hill, at the parking lot in front of a temple. What greeted us were sour faces of soldiers trying to find shelter from the rain. Many could be found sleeping in the front seats. I managed to find myself an empty seat beside my favourite warrant officer (he actually moved his ass to give me a bit more space... how nice to recognise his own big ass...) and stayed dry until the end of the exercise.
I gave 2.5 years of my life to my nation and the army gave me these kind of memories. Memories which only my army buddies and fellow soldiers will understand...
Will I do it again? NEVER!!!
Read in the Standard that the Democratic Party will be heading to Singapore. Their goal is to acquire the skills of setting up hawker centres, community centres and prevent heritage buildings from being destroyed. And we always thought that was easy. This after the Chief Exec himself visited the city state recently for the purpose of learning how to keep/train quality people working for the government. Critics of the Singapore political system visiting Singapore to learn about her policies. Wonderful.
Another day of bumming and another day of the same questions: "What do you want to eat?" The usual reply will be "I don't know". List out all the options and the reply will be the same... "I don't know". So I devised a revenge plan today~ Everytime D asked me something (and he certainly can come up with all sorts of questions...) I will simply return "I don't know". Now that will give him a taste of his own medicine! *evil laugh*
We walked past the Sichuan donation box on our way to dinner. D suddenly told me that we can donate the PSP to the children in Sichuan. His intention was that they would find some happiness in their distress. Then I told him they haven't the electricity and his next reply was "we just send the charger to them as well"...
After dinner he wanted to play Dynasty Warriors on PS3 again. I told him I got to do my ironing and also take down the dry clothings. He offered to help by folding it (so that we could start earlier). In the end I gave in by playing the moment we stepped into the flat. To his credit, he fulfilled his side of his promise after the gaming and showered. Quality of the job... priceless? Its so bad you just can't give it a price... Well at least he showed his integrity and its more important to me.
Now he's watching Naruto on the EeePC while I'm watching France vs Romania. Looks like its going to be a boring match... By the way, shinobi actually is the same as ninja, just another way of saying it. Thanks to D for this outstanding question which we never bothered to think about...
Monday, June 9, 2008
Bought 5 yabbies, 2 fishes and 1 crab.
Killed 2 yabbies, 1 fish and 1 crab.
50% kill rate...
Good for a fighter pilot, terrible for a pet owner...
Saturday, June 7, 2008
So S and her mum are having their holidays, leaving D with me. I'm all cool with that~ In fact I relish the chance with D alone. Its good to see how he behaves when left with me alone. So far so good... maybe because he just treat me like another big kid... Oh well~
Woke up at noon, had a light bread and tea meal before we made our way to Mong Kok. Before leaving the building, finally remembered to bring the coins I wanted to donate to the Sichuan rebuilding works at the podium. D helped me to drop them into the donation box.
D wanted a Naruto game for PSP. Tried my best but just couldn't find it~ We carried on to goldfish street to get some new fishes for the aquarium. New fishes doesn't seem like such a good term to use since there's nothing except for that 3 yabbies. Got 1 giant of a crab (giant compared to the yabbies) and 2 garbage fishes. The garbage fishes are supposed to clean up the tank... hope they don't end up as chopped up garbage... Also gotten some pebbles to line the bottom of the tank. Felt so dull after clearing the tank of the sand. Figured pebbles will be easier to maintain.
Before leaving home, D mentioned that he wanted to read about Romance of the 3 Kingdoms. This is all thanks to video gaming~ He's been Dynasty Warriors on the PS3 and it frustrates him because 1) its all in Japanese and 2) even when I explain the story to him, he still doesn't know anything about Romance to understand what I was talking about. "How can Guan Yu be so much taller than Liu Bei if they are brothers? And they don't even look alike!" (-_-;)... Anyway~ I'm always supportive of reading so we went to PageOne @ Festival Walk. Managed to get a 4-volume set of the novel at HKD133. A really good deal in my opinion. I also gotten a Thai language guide by Lonely Planet which cost HKD80. Its not a great way to learn Thai but I think I'd better get started.
We went home after some grocery shopping and I got down to cleaning up the fishtank. I only added the few more residents into the tank after the citizens settled nicely in their renovated aquarium. The fishes went in swimmingly. The crab... a bit of a drama when D tried to put it into the aquarium and gotten pinched! *ouch* That crab got a helluva claw... After that both of us were quite wary of that fellow...
Wanted to go for sushi for dinner but the rain came down again... "Rain rain go away~" In the end I had to make instant noodles since both of us are bummers. Watched Narnia on Disney Channel and wondered why I never watch it in the first place. Its kind of... nice~
Czech just won 1-0 again the Swiss. Boring match... Hope the 2nd match will be better else I'll be real pissed...
Friday, June 6, 2008
During my recent trip to Paris I was lucky enough to catch a ceremony to remember the fallen soldiers of the war. The most touching moment was when hundreds of war veterans (who must have been in their 80s) march towards the Arc Du Triumphe via Champs Elysee. Most of them wore their small uniform and everyone of them walked with much pride.
I wonder what its like to be them... to live through WW2, the Cold War, the Iraq War and put up with the stupid ringtones of mobile phones...
China is trying to open up and that is a good thing. Closing up like a shell once they feel threatened is normal. Anyone will do the same. It will take many more years before China manage to strike a balance between control and freedom.
Somehow I feel that preventing foreign media from entering China may not be such a bad thing. If you cannot stop the wild dogs from biting, you might as well to keep them out of your farm...
Thursday, June 5, 2008
My closest friends think I am full of shit. Ask any of my closest friends and they will give at least 1 vote. I'm full of shit. I just don't understand what I do to deserve that honor... To quote the best testimonial I ever received, from a friend who is languishing in the land of kangaroos...
"WhiteDuskRed is like a rock - solid, dependable and always there for a friend.
And like a real rock, just turn him over and you'll find alot of crap underneath... hahahaha... the amount of cok this guy can tok ah...
damn scary ah... never seen another person so full of shit 1...
Tok cok, also known as talking cock, is a Singapore slang for simply talking nonsensical things. And of course, like most of the testimonials I get, my shittyness must be described for all to see...
Another friend just told me its not the amount of shit I give out, its just the smell of my shit...
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Singapore is an island nation somewhere along the equator, stuck between Indonesia and Malaysia. It is not a province/SAR in China. I'm a Singaporean Chinese, much like your American Chinese. Under race we write Chinese but under nationality we write Singaporean.
It is illegal to import chewing gums into Singapore unless its for medicinal purposes. There's no real free speech (You can't go around accusing the PM of corruption in Singapore.). Inflation and oil prices are a problem. Singapore is a developed country according to most indexes.
I don't eat chewing gums. I'm happy with most of the things done by the government and when I complained loudly no secret police jumped on me. Inflation and oil prices are a problem here in HK as well. Singapore is a developed country according to my index.
Singapore is not a perfect country but when you compare it to every other country side by side you'll realise that it is not a bad country to live in. Yes the people bitch alot about rising prices and too many cars but that's because alot of them have never stayed in HK or Bangkok.
I've heard Hongkongers telling me that they will never step foot in Singapore because they cannot take chewing gum. Next I ask them, "Do you take chewing gum all the time?" They usually reply something like "Never" or "I may want to"...
Then there are those who tell me it was not right to cane that poor boy because he vandalised other people's properties. I'm wondering if they will be so nice to let that kid off if their own cars get spray-painted on. And if they are going to vandalise cars in Singapore then I'm glad the caning of that American kid managed to deter them from entering Singapore.
Alot of laws in Singapore are for deterrant measures but if the laws are broken then the punishment must be meted out. Singapore is a small country with little value so many will think that its rightful for Singapore to give way. China is a big country with real value so people just suck it in. Its the way the world works.
P.S. If there's any other thing that you think that you cannot do in Singapore, please drop me a comment. I feel that the government in Singapore do listen when you don't accuse them of corruption. The amazing thing is they listen and they DO work on it if it is a valid complaint. HK gives you free speech but its all talk and no action...
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
A 7-3 thrashing by Uzbekistan means that Singapore will need alot of goals in the coming matches to obtain a superior goal difference against Saudi Arabia for a 2nd place in their group. Fat hope...
Let's just enjoy the Tiger Cup~
Singapore Boy: "Aye kawan~ Play bola?"
Malaysia Boy: "Boleh! When we play?"
Singapore Boy: "Indo Boy how?"
Malaysia Boy: "You call lah!"
Singapore Boy: "Nah bei! Ok ok I call~"
Indo Boy: "Wassup~?"
Singapore Boy: "Yo! Sepak bola?"
Indo Boy: "Don't want! You 2 cross a bridge, I must take boat!" *slam down the phone*
Singapore Boy: "Indo Boy don't want leh. How?"
Malaysia Boy: "Then we play lor! Since got more Malaysian states we call it Malaysia Cup! Muahahahaha!"
Singapore Boy: "KNN....." *cry in a corner*
And one fateful year, Singapore Boy won both league and cup titles.
Singapore Boy: "Now we win both league and cup we don't want to play liao!!! We start our own league and your stupid league will always be inferior to us! Muahahaha!"
Malaysia Boy: "NOOOOOOoooooo~~~~~~~~~~~!!!!"
And that was how Singapore separated from the Malaysian League... No chance to see them play in the Malaysian League again but is it possible for Asean teams to play in a league competition on a home-away basis instead of the Tiger Cup which will only be held in 1 or 2 countries? That will ensure that every country can see their own national play and also see the national team of every Asean country.
I took that idea a step forward by sending my idea to AFC. Let's see how it goes...
Monday, June 2, 2008
HK$31m is definitely no small figure and the efforts of the celebrities must be applauded. Of course we must not forget the valiant efforts of the rescue/relief workers on the ground. But I do have one question. How much of their reserves/sovereign wealth funds did China activate for the rescue and recovery operations in Sichuan? With funds in excess of USD1.5trillion, 0.5% will be approximately USD 8bil. HK$31m is only approximately 0.05% of USD 8bil. What can HK$31m do as compared to USD 8bil?
And the photo of the day goes to these multi-flavored Yakult. Unfortunately they cannot be found in HK yet (At least not that I know of...). If I'm not wrong the different flavours are grape, apple, orange and pineapple. Some like it some hate it... I love the grape~