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HK 2014 Day 7 – My Family And Last Day Of Our Holiday

December 12th, 2014 by Wilfrid
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My four-year-old niece Bethany is extremely competitive. As it turns out, I do have a thing or two to learn from her.

Ever since she is aware of the concept of gender (one day she returned from a child care center saying boys have long long things), her instinct has taken over. When she was at her younger sister’s age, she was very much attached to me. Right now? It is all about girls power. She forms a team with my wife so as to beat me in all front. If I were at her age, I would have met her head on. Now I play along. It is a win-win.

Today was all about racing. So Bethany and my wife ran ahead of me as the group was heading towards the train station. Whenever she looked back at me, I always pretend to make an effort to race. When she was not looking, I casually chatted with my mother in walking pace. My dad, as always, was miles ahead of us reaching the station way before we did.

Then we made a wrong turn and having to make a u-turn. Which means all of a sudden I was way ahead of the girls power duo! At that very moment I was curious on how Bethany would react. That sense of wasted effort, so much disadvantaged when she was leading the race all the time. She did not think. Instinct has taken over. I could sense that fire of determination written all over her face. Without missing a single beat, she grabbed my wife’s hand and screamed, “Run!” even as I turned away and pretended to capitalize on this very advantage. I let the duo ran past me, of course. I hope Bethany has learned an important lesson in life to never give up. I too am very much inspired by her. She would enjoy watching Formula One with me when she has grown older.

My niece Lydia

My one-year-old niece – Lydia – is a natural charmer. It is impossible not to fall in love with her in first sight. She would all of a sudden gesture a flying kiss to a lady nearby. The stranger would first be taken aback (how cold real life is, come to think on it) and then reciprocate with a big smile. Lydia would then wave and say bye bye. Those who are briefly touched by her good gesture would agree with me that she is indeed a little angel on earth.

Inspiration Lake, Hong Kong

Because the police was clearing the areas where protesters had camped, we headed to Lantau Island and have avoided town. We did not enter Disneyland. That would have cost a bomb. Instead, we have visited the Inspiration Lake nearby that comes with a pretty decent playground. In fact, all the playgrounds I have seen in Hong Kong are pretty decent, built for kids of various ages in mind. Unlike the basic tiny ones we have in Singapore.

A playground near Inspiration Lake

In the evening, we popped by an Indian / Western restaurant at Tong Chong – a town next to Disneyland and a stone throw to the airport. My cousin works there as a bartender. It is hard to describe this cousin of mine. He is the youngest in our generation. While he may not have done particularly well in school, he has inherited his father’s trait of being extremely sociable. He holds his liquor well. He smokes like his father does. He says the right thing to make everybody happy. He cracks jokes. In short, he is a party man.

Today I get to see another side of his. He came all the way out from his restaurant duty to meet us at the station. The walk took a quarter of an hour. He handled the kids extremely well. Knowing nothing in the menu would suit a one-year-old, before he started work at four, he bought fish porridge from a shop nearby and has it heated up once Lydia was awake while we were having our dinner. He carried Bethany to the bar area and took her for a short tour of the kitchen. He even offered to pick up the bill, which we politely declined. I wish I have more time and opportunity to bond with this cousin of mine. But our paths seldom cross. Such is life.

Tomorrow my wife and I will return to Singapore. My sister and her family will stay on till next Wednesday. Cynthia and I both think it is a brilliant idea to have a family holiday like this one. Since my mother will be the only one to send us off from the hotel, at the station, we bid our goodbye to my dad. My dad seldom talks these days because he is too old to hear properly. But words are not necessary. His teary-eyed expression said it all.

Another view from Inspiration Lake

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HK 2014 Day 6 – Rather Pointless Gossips That I’ve Picked Up

December 10th, 2014 by Wilfrid
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Perhaps Singaporeans prefer to be alone and communicate quietly using our electronic devices. Or maybe Singapore just doesn’t have that many gossips. In contrary, you can quite easily pick up gossips or news simply by being out there here in Hong Kong.

Like this 15 years old girl found inside a rubbish bin, dead. She was with a man in his mid thirty, inside a hotel room likely to be in some sorts of S&M sex game while being paid for the whole ordeal. Or was supposed to. That is the gist of the story I got from a short escalator ride at Times Square. What was amusing to me turns out to be the insightful debate between the two women behind me. Was the young girl being rapped after she was dead (the quick correction came from the other woman saying that it was consensual)? And that the man was having sex with a corpse? What kind of man does that?

The other day while waiting for our Chinese medicine to be assembled for what seemed an eternity, a young man was gossiping about his younger brother to an older woman. The gist of the story is that his younger brother is in love with a girl who is rather successful in her career. So her criteria of a partner turn out to be pretty high. Like someone with a reputable profession such as a doctor or a lawyer. Or in a commercial world, director rank and above. On top of that, other criteria on housing and car. What happens to the notion of building a future together, the young man exclaimed. At that point, I really wanted to turn around, chip in and say, “Perhaps quite simply put, the girl is not that into your younger brother?”

I did not offer my thought. However I could not help but think, what if I were a girl, with a successful career, would I not set some criteria looking for my partner? I know as a guy, I did not. Then again, it is not a fair comparison I suppose. What do you think?

HK protesters occupying Causeway Bay

Occupy Central or the umbrella movement is still very much alive in Hong Kong. Some main roads are still closed with protesters peacefully camping in the open. I was in Causeway Bay and have witnessed the situation firsthand. According to the news, all may come to an end tomorrow. The authority this time is using law as the leverage since these protesters are being sued by the public. I will be in Hong Kong when this happens. No, I do not plan to dive into ground zero and take some pictures. My family plans to avoid the city center and head to Lantau Island for sightseeing instead. I seconded that in a heartbeat.

If I am to describe my holiday in three words, that would be eat, shop, and walk. We eat till we drop, shop till we drop, and quite literally so, walk till we drop. Today is no difference. Our luggage is getting fatter by the day while our wallets, thinner.

Cynthia and I at Lee Gardens HK

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HK 2014 Day 5 – Playground And We Had A Small Pig And A Giant Fish For Dinner

December 10th, 2014 by Wilfrid
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Playground has once left a bitter aftertaste to my childhood so much so that my prior fond memories have been thoroughly wiped off leaving that one scene I vividly recall. I was on a swing. I went higher and higher, faster and faster thinking I could reach the moon if I tried hard enough. How? I do not remember. But I flew off from the seat and landed badly onto the concrete ground. My mother was in shock.
My legs were covered with so much blood. There was so much pain. In my mother’s arms I kept crying till I reached home. Or was I on my dad’s? No doubt I had tons of playground related fond memories before that incident. But that painful and bloody accident was the very last thing I associate playground with. Since then, my scar has long faded. But memory remains.

The Peak, Hong Kong

Today, the entire family has decided to visit the peak. In the old days we were used to take the cable car. Now we take bus number 15 – the only bus that reaches the peak. Initially I thought we would hike up and go around the peak. Instead, we stopped at the new Mount Austin Road Playground. The decoration is pretty. Beautiful backdrop of fountains and buildings and this playground has attracted even couples for their wedding photo shoot.

One of the backdrops

My dad has decided that this is a good place for the kids to play. Hooray! I thought I could take a back seat at the bench and enjoy the fresh air and scenery. Hong Kong has been cloudy since we landed and at times drizzles. In a rare moment, it was sunny. The sky was blue. The weather was much warmer. At the bench I took out my bottle of water and my tablet ready to …

My younger niece Lydia just over a year old kept asking for me. That smile of hers melt my heart. Her sister Bethany three years of her senior kept asking me to be an alien and chase down young girls. The two girls went up the slide and down the slide, running all over the playground nonstop. The moment I tried catching my breath, they called for me. I had no idea that having kids can be so exhausting. I hope the two girls remember that once upon a time in Hong Kong, this uncle of theirs has spent time playing with them. That they have a much better memory of the playgrounds compared to mine.

Mount Austin Road Playground

In the evening, my family had dinner with my uncle’s. My uncle is my mother’s younger brother and he has two sons. I do not recall when was the last time the two families have dinner together, with everyone presents. We are closer to this uncle than another uncle of mine. The elder cousin was raised by my mother and with my sister and I. My uncle has sponsored my overseas education and now, my mother has helped to fund his business.

In short, the two families are very much intertwined in a good way.

Barbaric as it sounds, between ten adults and two children, we had one young pig, a huge live fish in excess of five kilograms in weight cooked in three styles, and a large clay pot rice with preserved meat. Plus fruit and dessert. Man, I am stuffed and am still feeling so as I type this journal.

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HK 2014 Day 4 – The Rhythmic Moaning That Rocked My Dream And A Visit To Grandma’s Resting Place

December 9th, 2014 by Wilfrid
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I was in a deep sleep with my arm wrapped around my wife when the loud rhythmic moaning sound from one of the hotel rooms nearby woke me up. The dream up until its immature end was nothing short of epic. It bettered the Korean drama Doctor Jin when a male doctor incidentally went back in time and attempted to change or rather preserve the history. It bettered another Korean drama that I adore called either The Great Doctor or Faith depending on who translated the title. A stunningly beautiful female plastic surgeon was kidnapped by an equally handsome male warrior from the past so as to treat a soon to be dead princess, and a series of adventure that follows. In my dream, a group of doctors – myself included – were put into another time line so as to – wait for it – save ourselves! But no. I did not get to dream the ending because our neighbors moaned so hard.

She went on and on. When the sound died down, I thought it was over only to hear the accelerated rhythm with more intense moaning sound. I could even tell the position the couple was in by the sound of it. Anyway, eventually, all came to an end. There was sound of the showering and then, the door was opened. Someone left the room. That was odd of course. A few scenarios came into my mind. Something is best left as imagination. With effort, I went back to sleep and seemed to have lost contact with my fellow doctors from another timeline. I hope the operation without me has gone well.

You can almost guess what my family had for breakfast. Dim sum. It was a rather late breakfast. By the time we called the bill, it was past noon. My sister has planned to meet her friend Amy because today is her birthday. The kids stayed home with daddy. My dad was being assigned to do grocery shopping. That left my wife, my mother, and I to stick with the original plan – to pay respect to my departed grandma.

It was twenty years ago when my grandma left us. I did not have much bonding with her mainly because the traditional side of her flavored the boys from her sons and not from her only daughter. As I get older, I also realize that my grandma is still my mother’s mom. The love my mother has for my grandma is no less than my love for my mother. Hence, in a way, I can relate.

Sha Tin has a mixture of old and modern buildings

The three of us bought some flowers from the wet market. I insisted on paying as a good gesture though technically speaking, my mother’s money partially comes from me. The temple is located in Sha Tin, a satellite city in Hong Kong. Back in the old days, it was a pain to travel to Sha Tin from where we live. Now, we took the subway and changed at Admiralty. Then headed north and changed at Mongkok. Thereafter, made another change at Kowloon Tong. There, we switched to the train, which very much looks like the underground version and aligned at Sha Tin. Sha Tin seems far from the city.

It was a pleasant hike up the stairs and into the temple. The main attraction are the Buddha statues at the main hall. Devoted ones burn joss sticks. Tourists take pictures. Further up, there are a number of open halls with three walls and no door. From the high ceiling to the ground, the walls are covered with rectangular jade plates of different sizes. Most belong to the standard size. Some are doubled, horizontally so. A few are quadrupled. Each plate has one or two photos in the center. In the midsection of three walls is a divider in the form of a small platform. My mother arranged the flowers and placed the vase on the platform underneath my grandma’s resting place, together with some food offerings. It was an emotional moment. I felt tears at the back of my eyes. I saw my mother’s eyes have grown red too. Today was my first visit to my grandma’s resting place.

A mall near the Sha Tin station

There are malls in Sha Tin. My mother took a bus back to home while Cynthia and I stayed for some shopping. There are so many shops in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is indeed shoppers’ paradise. I dislike shopping. But still, the atmosphere here got me excited. It takes a ton of willpower not to spend too much in Hong Kong.

Oh. There is a home for Snoopy in Sha Tin too.

Snoopy lives in Sha Tin, apparently

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HK 2014 Day 3 – Hotel Free Wi-Fi That Follows Wherever You Go And Shopping in Hong Kong

December 8th, 2014 by Wilfrid
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When I think of free Wi-Fi that comes with a hotel room, I imagine being able to access the Internet from inside the room. So when the young female receptionist on our first day of visit getting all excited to demonstrate how to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot using an Android device (that resembles a smartphone) provided by the hotel, the only thing that came into my mind was why go through all the trouble to connect to the Internet?

This morning I examined the hotel smartphone again. It looks like an ordinary phone, with a 3G connection. What if I am to bring this hotel phone out with me? That was when I discovered that this free Wi-Fi that comes with the room actually follows me whenever I go here in Hong Kong! Not only that, local call through this phone is free. Overseas call to seven countries including US, Singapore, and Malaysia is also free. Calling my room through the main line would have the call forwarded to this smartphone. Now, that’s pretty neat. The hotel does charge for high speed wireless Internet from within the room though. I think that is fair.

Today is Sunday. My sister has planned to meet some of her friends who also have kids. My wife and I then met with my parents and have lunch in Tsim Sha Tsui instead.

This landscape remains despite the changes in HK.

Tsim Sha Tsui is in Kowloon. There is a ferry service that connects my home district to Tsim Sha Tsui. The old pier was demolished with the new one built merely a couple of hundred meters to the right. If it was another country, whatever construction planned would have built around the old pier. But here in Hong Kong, where people are rich and land is scarce, relocating a pier by a stone throw is very much like playing the SimCity game – demolish and build it on the next block.

Tsim Sha Tsui has changed a little bit. There is a ex-marine police headquarter being repurposed as an upclass shopping area. Tourists love the shops. Kids love the Christmas decorations on the ground floor. There was a Christmas market in the backyard selling all sorts of food and drinks and more – from exotic cheese to champagne to handicrafts. I have spotted a turret on the high ground. Before I could check out its authenticity, we were shooed away by a young man wanting to take a selfie. In fact, so many people are into selfie these days. What happens to the good old days of asking someone to take a photograph for you? I love to be asked. There was a couple having their wedding photo professionally taken as well.

An ex-marine police HQ

It was not the first time we dined in that Macau restaurant. My mother is a big fan of Macau food, probably because she was once brought up in Macau. Between the four of us, we have ordered curry beef, baked pork chop rice, two roasted young pigeons, and two pork chop buns. To wrap up our meal, we have Portuguese egg tarts and coffee. It was a delicious lunch with a real good price. Throughout our meal, I was eyeing on the Boston lobster noodle for two promotion selling at a special price of HK$198. That is like S$34 or US$26. I thought the price is really good.

Shopping in Tsim Sha Tsui – the area for the ‘common people’ like my wife and I – is fun. In fact, shopping in Hong Kong is more fun than in Singapore. The variety is mind-blowing. I have checked some of the pricing against the online outlets, the retail price is fair. Unlike in Singapore whereby the markup is horrible.

There was an Audi roadshow in the middle of a mall. I was captivated by R18 e-tron quattro. That was the only car that no one was allowed to get in.

Audi R18 e-tron quattro

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HK 2014 Day 2 – Chinese Herbs and Local Artwork

December 7th, 2014 by Wilfrid
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Dim sum is a traditional Chinese meal. Very much like Spanish tapas whereby dishes are served in small portion, best to share with friends and family. Here in Hong Kong, we can have dim sum for breakfast, dim sum for lunch, dim sum as brunch and dim sum as afternoon tea. Never have I seen dim sum for dinner though. Our plan this morning was to leave our hotel at nine and meet my parents for breakfast. Dim sum style.

All was well except a tiny bit of issue with our hotel room. It was right next to the lifts. As hotel guests travel up and down throughout the night, we could hear the machinery at work and the opening of the lift doors at various levels. Opposite our room was a service lift and much activity started in the early morning. Now, I was stoned last night, oblivious to all the noises around us, including the noisy water pipe above. I was just too tired. My wife who usually is the deep sleeper of the house could not sleep well. So in the morning, we have requested for a room change, stating our reason, and the hotel manager obliged. This is great news. However, packing up our stuffs took time. And we were late for our meet-my-parents session.

What I love about Hong Kong dim sum is that there is a constant innovation in creating new dishes. Like those “flowing” black sesame buns. Or similar dishes in different shapes. Like those star-shaped green vegetable dumplings. For around HK$50 per person (S$8.50 or US$6.50), we can have a dim sum meal in a restaurant setting. Of course it was during off-peak hours and with discount. Still, it is good meal with a good price.

After our breakfast, my mother took us to visit a Chinese doctor who also owns a Chinese herbal store. Not that my wife and I are sick or something. My mother believes that Chinese medicine can enhance health. My wife and I have not seen a Chinese doctor before and I approached the entire episode with a curious mind, and later as I found out, a deep wallet.

Chinese herbs

As it turns out, the experience is extremely interesting. First, the doctor measured our blood pressure like a Western doctor does. Then he listened to our pulses by placing three fingers on first our left wrists followed by our right. It appears that by listening to our pulses, the doctor was able to diagnose our health status. The 60 years old doctor looks healthy. Rosy cheeks, great skin complexion (for his age), and he wore short sleeves on a winter. What a great living testimony that whatever he does seem to work for him too.

After the diagnosis, he proceeded to mixing herbs for my wife and I. Initially I attempted to count the number of ingredients used. I gave up in the end as it seemed to have taken forever. Perhaps up to thirty different types of herbs were use for each portion. These medicines don’t come cheap either. It was close to HK$2,000 in total (S$340 or US$260) for the two of us, five dosage each.

At one, we met my old friend Alex. Alex and I came from the same school in Hong Kong. By coincidence, we have attended the same university in UK, even the very same college. He was a few years of my senior.

Our first stop was Art Centre for lunch. The view was stunning, overlooking the harbor we could see the skyscrapers on the Kowloon side. We could even see the brand new Hong Kong Observation Wheel opened just yesterday. Alex had a full meal while Cynthia and I still feeling full thanks to our dim sum breakfast, we had scones in rose strawberry jam and cream instead. That was divine in a sinful kind of way.

Knowing our intend to shop for souvenirs for our friends in Singapore, Alex took us around to help pushing the local economy (kidding). We ended up in PMQ, which was used to be a quarter for married police and now, repurposed as art shops and local food outlets. In Singapore, we mostly import handicrafts for sales. Here, artists are using the store area as workshops to create works of art. The atmosphere is phenomenon. For the more successful ones, they open a bigger store nearby, creating art for sales. This reminds me of some artists we have met in Tasmania.

One of our favorite local art shops in PMQ

We have walked so much today and by five thirty in the afternoon, all we wanted was to be home. And home we were, waiting for my sister and family to arrive from the airport. Dinner was sumptuous. But that’s a story for another day.

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HK 2014 Day 1 – A Trip Back to Home

December 6th, 2014 by Wilfrid
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Last night, I was woken up at two – because my wife tripped over the luggage in the dark, fell badly or so it sounded – and I could not get back to sleep. So I booted up my computer and tried out the new patch from Marvel Heroes. All heroes have received an overall tuning and I was concerned about mine. By five I fell asleep on the sofa. By nine, I got out of the sofa feeling massively lack of sleep. Cynthia got out of the bed before I did. Her wound seemed manageable. It is good to know.

The flight was one in the afternoon. Singapore Airlines. My sister and her family will take the same one tomorrow. I always like spending time in the airport, breathing in the countless possibilities whereby people come and people go. Each has his own destination and destiny, intertwined in a singularity called airport.

We shared choc au pain and a gingerbread man in a cafe, both split into halves. I on the choc au pain and my wife, gingerbread man. God bless its soul.

Gingerbread Man

Inside the plane was freezing cold. Probably for the better. Not even the gems can thrive. I am not into in-flight entertainment, unlike my wife. And I continue with Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. I have started reading this book a long time back and have restarted from the beginning again because I have forgotten how it begins. It is a good book. Just that my life has so much distraction lately. The good news is that I manage to finish reading it today. I love all of Murakami’s books. This one is no exception.

Because of the ongoing protest in Hong Kong, the traffic around Central is still very much affected. We have landed at five-ish. By the time we checked into the hotel and have dinner nearby, it was nine in the evening. My mother met us in the airport. I feel blessed.

The hotel that Cynthia unknowingly picked is next to a Muslim cemetery. She had no idea. It is cheap, near to my parents’ home, and I was busy playing computer back when she was making the booking online.

I don’t mind the location really. It is at the very edge of my district that I have yet to explore. Across the street and down the stairs is a public swimming pool that my sister and I were used to frequent. Our mother was used to sit at the audience area and watched us swim, for hours. That was before she has took the dive – figuratively speaking – and learned to swim. I always have this impression that our mother has this immense love and patience for the two of us. Till today, I still feel blessed thinking of the good old days.

Three of us – my mother, my wife, and I – had clear braised beef noodle soup for dinner. The food is so delicious. Why don’t we have something like this in Singapore?

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The Good Ol’ Civilization

December 1st, 2014 by Wilfrid
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My first civilization in Civ 5

My first civilization in Civ 5

Back in the very early nineties, when I was studying in UK. During summer holiday when some of the foreign students – myself included – who were too poor to stay in the university campus or buy a return ticket to our faraway home, we have to be creative in how to save money. At times I stayed in my relatives’ places in Paris or Canada (flight ticket to Canada from UK was still much cheaper than back to Hong Kong). Other time, I stayed with my friend Florence’s boyfriend’s place in London. Her nephew was there too, together with another friend if I remember correctly. We would sleep on the floor. And in between booze and pizza, Star Trek VHS tapes and more Star Trek quotes, we took turn to play computer games. Unlike now whereby person computers and laptops are affordable to the point that each can own one, back then, we shared one.

We were nerds. We loved the simulation genre. We played SimEarth (or was it SimLife?) and saw whales evolved and headed to the moon (say what?) We also played the first generation of Civilization. I was very much captivated by Civilization, being able to plan out and manage the rise of a civilization. During that old golden era, if I remember correctly, world domination was the only way to win the game (Apollo program was another way?) We micro-managed the development of each city, advanced on science and technology, built weapons and more weapons. We raced and created nuclear warhead. World domination was within reach.

Today – actually it was four years ago – sees the fifth iteration of Civilization. I have picked up the game from Steam for old time’s sake. Besides, 75% for the entire pack is too good a bargain to miss. I have tried out the previous incarnation. Somehow, they don’t seem to measure up to the very first Civilization. It could well be nostalgia talking because I miss my old friends and the good time we had.

I must stay, Civ 5 looks good and plays well. I enjoy finding my way reading in-game tool tips or learning the game through making mistakes. I mean, these days, who reads game manual? Or better, who writes it? Some say MMO is addictive. I say turn based games like Civ 5 is even more so. There is always another turn and before you know it, you are burning midnight oil playing a video game. Oh yes, I am feeling young, again.

A close-up view of my capital

A close-up view of my capital

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The First Ever Formula E!

September 16th, 2014 by Wilfrid
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Formula E cars

So I have watched Formula E from the Internet, didn’t know what to expect. I mean, I am an avid fan of Formula One. Formula series to me is to push the frontier of technology that will one day be commercially viable on road cars. The future is going to be cars running in clean energy. Hence, there is much relevance in Formula E. A few random points for sharing.

  1. Like Formula One, Formula E has formation lap too! But it is excruciatingly slow probably because cars are trying to save on battery.
  2. These cars as you can imagine run very quietly with some really high frequency motor sound. It is very strange to watch a Formula E race. Like some kind of back to the future movies.
  3. First race was in Beijing. A street circuit. 25 laps in total, which is kind of short compares to F1.
  4. Somehow these cars look fragile to me. Some cars did retire. Minor accidents here and there. And then … OK, I shall save that to the end.
  5. Many familiar names on the grid as some came from F1 racing background.
  6. There were two woman drivers on the grind, which is unheard of in F1 sport. For that, I am impressed.
  7. The cars are very much the same. It is about … not tire management but battery management when it comes to race winning. And driver skill primary, of course.
  8. There are some good racing too, since it relies more on the driver’s skill to overtake.
  9. The highest speed I have seen was around 170 kph. Well, my Honda Civic 2.0 has gone faster than that.
  10. I think the battery power is 150 kW (~200 bhp), from what I heard the commentators said.
  11. Pit stop is weirdest thing in Formula E. Because one battery can only last half a race, a pit stop involves a driver driving into his or her team’s tent, get out of the car and jump into a second car with full battery! I think there is a mandated 1.47″ pit stop whereby the drivers cannot go faster (or be penalized). A driver can’t really jump another driver over pit stop. However, he or she could be held up by another driver who exits the tent too early and has to slow down on the exit lane. What?!
  12. FanBoost is another weird thing about Formula E. Fans – yes, you and I – can vote for our favorite drivers and the top three will get a temporary boost of power from 150 kW to 180 kW!
  13. The point system is very much like Formula One, except whoever set the fastest lap of the race gets 2 points. That gives incentive to unfortunate drivers who are a lap or so down for whatever the reasons to get back out and race.
  14. The last few lap of this Beijing race was super exciting. It was Nicolas Prost – son of the legendary F1 driver Alain Prost – leading the ePrix followed by an ex-F1 driver Nick Heidfeld. Onto the very last lap and the very last corner,, Heidfeld made an overtaking move from the inside. Prost instead of conceding the position banged onto Heidfield’s car and Heidfield’s car threw over the curb smashed onto the barrier and landed upside down. Amazing that Heidfield was OK. Then Lucas di Grassi, another ex-F1 driver snatched the win.
  15. Next race is two months later, in Malaysia.

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Let’s Talk About Birthday Cakes And A Birthday Card

July 12th, 2014 by Wilfrid
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My family has a tradition. Actually I think most families have the same tradition. They are big fans of birthday cards and birthday cakes. The only tradition I have is to take leave on my birthday. That’s about it. I can’t remember the last time I bought someone a birthday cake, or a birthday card for that matter. I am just not that good at expressing myself. Perhaps I shall start doing something on my sister’s upcoming birthday this August. Something more than buying her a birthday meal. Like every year since she has moved to Singapore.

A birthday card from Bethany

A birthday card from my 4-year-old niece Bethany. “Kau Fu” means uncle in Cantonese. That’s how she addresses me. Lydia is her younger sister’s name. I think she has signed this card on behalf of her sister. It is probably the sweetest birthday card I have received. Bethany loves to draw with me. In this card, from right to left: me, my wife Cynthia, Bethany (the one with long hair), his daddy Benny, my sister Lora who is holding the young Lydia. So sweet she is.

My sister and I often celebrate our birthdays on the weekend, ahead of the actual date as it is kind of strange to celebrate a belated birthday. Finally, after one long year of renovation – all because her contractor failed to extend working visas for his workers – if I may repeat, one-long-year, her new home is ready for moving in. Not that they really need the place right now because she is staying with her in-laws. But it is always good to have a home of our own. Besides, I would feel more inclined to drop by my sister’s place as and when I like. Right now, I feel as though I would be disturbing her in-laws. The future is bright and shiny. I would imagine spending a morning taking my nieces to the playground downstairs. And then sip morning coffee in a food court nearby. Or just lying on my sister’s sofa doing nothing, enjoying the large living room and their brand new hi-fi. Right now, this new home of their is more like a weekend ‘resort’. It could be my weekend getaway too. At least in my wildest imagination, it would appear to be so.

A slice of cake from my sister

My sister’s new home was far from ready to receive guests. Yet, she has organized a birthday party for me. I am very touched of course. And there was birthday song. On the actual date of my birthday, my wife and I drove to the west side of the country and met my sister at her work area for a dim sum lunch. It was like an excursion because Jurong seems so out-of-town!

Ever since my buddy TK is on a date with his gorgeous girlfriend Norra, Cynthia and I have hardly seen him. We were used to meet every week for movies. Now he has Norra and we have Netflix. It is all cool of course. For many years, Cynthia and I have been wishing our friend to find true love. They seem to be happy together and that’s all that matters.

What does it take to have a double date with our buddy TK? As it turns out, my birthday is the wild card.

We often celebrate each other’s birthday. He would buy us birthday meals and we would buy his. This year, as always, we took cue from him on where to dine. He has picked a pretty exquisite Italian restaurant. That was like … fine dining. The food was delicious. That piece of lamb. So very tender and tasty.

A birthday cake, courtesy of TK!

The best was that my buddy TK has ordered the dessert for everybody in advance, in secret. On my plate, there was a special message written with chocolate. The waitresses (read: plural) as they delivered our the dessert sang the birthday song out loud. I blushed like a red lobster. Seriously, that was my first time experiencing this. I was and still am moved.

Pat and I have gone a long way. She was introduced to me after I have decided one day I should get a life insurance. So I knocked on Prudential’s door and she was assigned to my case. Over the years, she is more than an insurance agent to me and I a client to her. We take turn to buy each other lunch, catch up on our family and work life. She lives a healthy lifestyle and has inspired me to live one. I often joke with her that it is of her best interest that I live long and healthy. A day after my birthday, when I returned to work, she drove by and deliver me a box of Royce’ chocolate. So kind of her. I am not a chocolate eater per se. According to my wife, that is good chocolate. I shall take the less bitter ones and leave the bitter ones to her. My wife loves bitter chocolate.

Then there are a whole bunch of warm wishes streaming from my favorite social media Google+. My mother-in-law who is now visiting Singapore together with my wife bought me a beautiful pair of Swarovski cufflinks, with two very pretty large blue crystals. I wear cufflinks on a daily basis. A perfect gift it is.

I am forgetful when it comes to sending money home for my parents in Hong Kong. At times I wish that they were in Singapore so that I can help to manage their expenses. To help me to remember, my mother once said to me, “Son, on your birthday, remember your mother. That’s the time to send money home.”

It is good to ponder upon that. Not the part about money. But the part about remembering my parents as I celebrate my birthday.

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