Monthly Archives: September 2007

Holiday Blog: 09/09/2007, Day 3 – Hong Kong

Mood: Full of Food!

Another breakfast of congee and fried dough sticks and I was ready to face another day in Hong Kong. What a life – sleep, eat, shop, eat, nap, eat, rinse and repeat. Love it!

After breakfast, I made my decision to buy my new digital camera from Broadway, one of the largest camera retailers in Hong Kong. As I was asking the salesman to show me all the different functions on my intended purchase (Canon IXUS 950IS), another salesman was trying to flog a different camera to me: a 12 megapixel Olympus FE300 with just about every conceivable function built into a very slim point and shoot digital camera.

For a split second, I was tempted to go with the Olympus. I had done a great deal of homework on the Canon, and knew nothing about the Olympus camera, nor anything about the brand itself. The 12 megapixel and Smile Detect function were very attractive, and the Olympus was only HK$100 more than the Canon. But then, I remembered my new friend Rich’s words: "Megapickles are a gimmick. You don’t need any more than 8. Actually you don’t really need any more than 5." So I went with what I knew and chose the Canon.

Dad, on the other hand, very impulsively bought the Olympus, much to Mum’s dismay. The rest of my day was spent teaching a man who refuses to read an instruction manual how to use a camera that was quite possibly far too advanced for him.

Amazingly, what felt like 15 minutes of transactions at Broadway turned out to be 90 minutes of to-ing and fro-ing. By the time we walked away with our bags of goodies (cameras + a truckload of freebies), it was time to head to the restaurant to meet Auntie Josie, Carolyn & JJ for lunch.

JJ had recently successfully passed his exam to become an orthopaedic surgeon, so we had cause to celebrate. JJ looked a little sheepish and humble when I congratulated him on his results. He really has matured into a fine young man.

Carolyn, on the other hand, looked a little world weary. She is in Strategic HR and the new job was taking its toll on her. Carolyn said that the stress of her job has made her ill again, to the point where her core temperature is so high that blisters were appearing on her skin and her face.

I was a bit worried about her and wondered if the job was worth her health. Carolyn isn’t sure if she will stay with the job for long, but for now, she would grin and bear it. I hope things settle down for her soon.

Dinner arrangements for that evening were made to include Uncle Charles, who was returning to Hong Kong after his charity commitments. We were going to a seafood restaurant in Say Kung which JJ had recommended. More food … yum!

After a bit of shoe shopping with Mum and a little nanna nap, Uncle Charles arrived at our hotel to ferry us to the restaurant. Although the interior of the seafood restaurant was nothing to crow about, the food was absolutely delicious. So much seafood!! Every conceivable crustacean was put in front of us – shrimps, prawns, crabs, abalones … the stream of food was endless! Just when I thought we were done, along came another dish, and another, and another.

I was grateful when the food finally stopped arriving that Carolyn suggested her and I go for a walk. I needed to move around to aid the digestion process. We caught up a bit more and made tentative plans to have drinks with all the other cousins when I was back in Hong Kong after my North American adventures.

The food made me sleepy and I looked forward to falling into bed. A long flight to Toronto lay ahead – just as I was getting over my initial jetlag.

Holiday Blog: 08/09/2007, Day 2 – Hong Kong

Mood: Busy

A loud buzzing cut through the pitch black silence. I jolted awake from what felt like 15 minutes of sleep to find the phone on my bedside table ringing loudly. The call was from Mum, asking if I was awake enough for breakfast. Still confused, my sleep deprived brain did well to focus my bloodshot eyes on the digital clock. 7.54am. Thanks Mum.

After agreeing to meet at 8.30am, I took my time getting ready. A long hot shower to de-plane my skin and I was ready for a sumptuous breakfast of congee and fried dough sticks.

The schedule for today was relatively easy going. After breakfast, we made preparations to pay our respects to my late grandparents. It is customary for me to pay my respects to the grandparents whenever I was in Hong Kong, so we walked around the corner to the flower markets for some pretty blooms.

First stop was to Dad’s parents, who are buried at the top of a hill. The gravesite has a pretty view of Hong Kong and we were blessed with clear skies for our visit. Dad always gets a bit choked up whenever he pays a visit to the gravesite – he was every close to his mother and I know he still misses her a lot.

Next stop: Mum’s parents, who were laid to rest in a crematorium in Kowloon. I was exceptionally close to my Goong Goong so visiting his and Por Por’s final resting place is always a moving experience for me. I wasn’t allowed to attend either of their funerals – they passed away in Hong Kong during school term and travelling was deemed too disruptive to my school work. I don’t think I will ever forgive my parents for not allowing me to say my final goodbyes. Anyway, on this visit, I made sure we bought a very pretty purple lisianthus for their plaque.

We headed to lunch thereafter. Dad knew of this Chinese restaurant in Mong Kok that was famous for their Char Siu, which he insisted I must try. A short ride on the MTR and we were there. Dad was right – the Char Siu was as good as his claims.

Just as we were finishing lunch, I received a message from Jamie, who was keen to meet up with me later that day. We agreed to meet in my hotel lobby to catch up over afternoon tea.

My folks and I spent the next hour or so wandering around, window shopping and getting quotes for my digital camera. Time flew by and before I knew it, it was time to meet Jamie.

As I sat in the hotel lobby waiting for her, I thought back to the first time I met Jamie. It was my first day at S&G Advertising in 1992, and Jamie was assigned as my supervisor. Neither of us were serious about working in direct sales forever – the job was a means to an end, and while the job didn’t last, our friendship did, and I always looked forward to catching up with Jamie whenever I was in Hong Kong. Jamie married her sweetheart Justin in January this year, an event that I was invited to but was not able to attend, so I was keen to see some wedding photos and hear stories from her big day.

Married life certainly agreed with Jamie, who bounced into the lobby, grinning and glowing.

Over a buffet of afternoon tea treats, we caught up on everything that had happened over the past 12 months. Jamie had a new job that she was finally settling into. She loves married life – she loved being at home with her husband and preferred to stay in than go out. I teased her about being a boring married old fart, to which she laughingly agreed.

It was really terrific to see Jamie so happy. Time passed quickly as we chatted away. Too soon, Jamie had to leave for a dinner engagement. We hugged and promised catch up again in the near future.

The rest of the evening was a relaxed affair. The folks and I went to dinner, and later, we wandered past a camera shop where we had earlier gotten a quote. Our second visit was well worth our while, as the salesman started listing a large number of freebies that came with the camera I wanted. Armed with that information, we went back to the hotel so I could sleep on it before making my final decision.

As we retired for the evening, Dad reminded me that we were having lunch with Auntie Josie, Carolyn and JJ the following day. I love my cousins and looked forward to catching up with them.

Holiday Blog: 07/09/2007, Day 1 – Sydney to Hong Kong

Mood: Tired and Jetlagged

Bloody APEC.

I had to start off my holiday blog with the above statement to justify how exhausted I was feeling even before I had set foot on a plane.

The Australian and NSW Governments had repeated warned Sydneysiders to be overly cautious about traffic conditions on APEC Friday – we were warned repeatedly to allow plenty of time to get to the airport on the day. So, to be on the safe side, a taxi was booked for 4.15am so as to be sure we would make our 7.30am departure.

I was literally just out of the shower and still dripping wet when my mobile phone rang at 4am – the taxi was early and waiting downstairs. Dressed only in my towel, I frantically pulled on my clothes and raced out the door.

My parents – my travel companions for the next 16 days – were equally unimpressed by the early start. As we sat in the speeding taxi heading to the airport on near deserted streets, we all wondered if we needed to be so cautious about the APEC roadblocks. The fact that the trip to the airport took only 15 minutes told us that we were naïve to believe Johnny Howard.

Try as they might, my parents weren’t able to secure a guest pass for me to follow them in The Lounge, so I spent the better part of the next hour wandering the deserted aisles, waiting for the shops to open. Thankfully, time flew by and before I knew it, it was time to board our flight – my folks in Business Class, me in Cattle Class.

Fatigue gripped my body and I promptly passed out the minute I was seated. My seatmate was a completely random girl – her odd behaviour was bemusing. She had 2 seats to herself, yet at various points of the flight, she would choose to snuggle up to my shoulder. Such a shame then that she wasn’t a hunky young man!!

Even more random were the odd breakfast and lunch combos we were served. My breakfast frittata was accompanied by a prawn cocktail and sticky date pudding, while my roast chicken lunch was served with a strawberry yoghurt and fruit compote. Hmmm …

The rest of the flight was uneventful. We arrived in Hong Kong to be met by a pre-booked taxi. Soon enough, we arrived at our hotel and I gratefully collapsed into my bed for a few quiet minutes.

The whirlwind continued almost immediately. No rest for the wicked as we hurriedly set off for Uncle Charles’ surgery to give him my gift of red wines (2005 De Bortoli Shiraz and 2005 Tempest Two Shiraz). It was great to see Uncle Charles, although I must say the grey hair made him look a lot older in the 12 months since I’ve seen him. We sat in his surgery and chatted for about 30 minutes, before we parted ways as Uncle Charles headed to his dinner engagement and we headed to meet Dad’s old friend Uncle Lam for dinner.

My memory of the meal is very hazy – I put it down to jetlag and too much wine. The food was fantastic but most of the dinner conversation was beyond me. I had other distractions too – I was waiting for a message from my friend Jamie to arrange a catch up before I jetted out to Toronto, the next leg of the trip in 2 days’ time.

By the time I returned to my big inviting bed, it was well past 10pm local time. I had been up for nearly 22 hours and was well and truly over it. With an early breakfast appointment with my folks in a few short hours to enjoy some yummy congee and fried dough sticks, I needed all the sleep I could get.

Hot New Cocktail – Pine-o-Cleen Shooter

Mood: Tired

I’m back!

I have a truckload of diary entries and over 400 photos from my trip, which will take me some time to edit and re-edit before uploading for your reading and viewing pleasure. I hope to have a few entries ready to go by the end of the week.

In the meantime, here’s a story I found in the SMH website which tickled my fancy. Oh, the number of times I wish I could serve a shot of Pine-o-Cleen to the twats that use to frequent my bar at 4am …

Fool is the barmaid for using the "but I didn’t know drinking Pine-o-Cleen could make you sick – it was just a practical joke gone wrong" defence … look who’s the twat now …

BARMAID SERVED DRUNK PINE-O-CLEEN SHOT
September 24, 2007 – 4:54PM, SMH Online

A barmaid served a drunk customer a shot of Pine-o-Cleen as a joke at a Melbourne nightclub causing him to become violently ill, a court has been told.

The Melbourne Magistrates Court was told the customer was served and drank a 30ml shot of the disinfectant served by barmaid Emily Craig, 22.

He vomited in the street outside the Evolution nightclub in inner city Prahran before an ambulance was called.

Ms Craig’s defence counsel George Balot told Magistrate Bill O’Day that the incident happened at 6.15am, on March 4 this year, and was a "misguided practical joke".

"I will be putting to you this was a misguided joke at an ungodly hour," he said.

"It is not a malicious act."

He said Ms Craig, who pleaded guilty to reckless conduct endangering serious injury, lost her job as a result of the joke gone bad, and was now working in administration.

He said Ms Craig, of Park Orchards in Melbourne’s east, had served the same customer three shots of water before she gave him the Pine-o-Cleen.

Mr O’Day described the prank as exceptionally serious.

"It could become very significant with health implications," Mr O’Day said.

"It is a matter of real concern."

The court also heard that the customer later had ulcers forming on his skin and was referred to his local GP.

The case was adjourned until February 4.

Holiday! Celebrate!

Mood: Excited

I’m off on my 3rd holiday for the year in the wee hours of tomorrow. I’m scooting to Hong Kong for my annual visit, and dashing through North America with break neck speed – 2 days in Toronto, 2.5 days in Vegas, and 3.5 days in San Francisco.

So, for the next couple of weeks, there won’t be any updates as I doubt I’ll be near a computer. However, I am taking a notebook with me, so I’ll be able to write down all of my adventures and recall them for you here at a later date.

Take care! Back soon!

Ouchie Wa Wa!!

Mood: Sore

I tried to fix the dishwasher this morning, and ended up almost one digit less.

The dishwasher has been slowing falling apart for a few months now. First the plate that covered the door handle fell off, then the dial for the controls broke. Today, the plastic part containing the mechanics of the dishwasher at the top of the door almost broke away from the door.

I thought I could salvage the part by re-screwing the top together, but first I had to try and get the screw. What I should have done was use the screwdriver to pry the screw out of the metal plate that is the back of the door. What I did was to push my finger in between the plastic part and the metal plate to try and push the screw out.

As I tried to get my finger into a better position, the metal cut into my finger.

I was very calm. There was no screaming. I went about putting my finger under cold running water to wash out any and all germs. The blood just kept coming. I wrapped my finger in paper towels to stem the flow, but even with the amount of pressure I was putting on my finger, it was doing nothing to stop the bleeding.

In the end, I had to pay another amusing visit to the doctor. Or should that be "another visit to an amused doctor". I didn’t need stitches, and a few bandages later, I was sent on my way.

Dishwasher: 1, Gee: 0 + a little less blood.


Chortles & Snickers

\Mood: Giggling Quietly

My mate Cameron sends me the funniest jokes. Here are some of the funnies for your reading pleasure.

*** === ( ^ _ – ) === ( ^ _ – ) === ( ^ _ – ) === ***

A blonde calls her boyfriend and says, "Please come over here and help me. I have a killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can’t figure out how to get started."

Her boyfriend asks, "What is it supposed to be when it’s finished?"

The blonde says, "According to the picture on the box, it’s a rooster."

Her boyfriend decides to go over and help with the puzzle.

She lets him in and shows him where she has the puzzle spread all over the table.

He studies the pieces for a moment, then looks at the box, then turns to her and says, "First of all, no matter what we do, we’re not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a rooster."

He takes her hand and says, "Second, I want you to relax. Let’s have a nice cup of tea, and then…" he said with a deep sigh.

"Let’s put all the Corn Flakes back in the box."

*** === ( ^ _ – ) === ( ^ _ – ) === ( ^ _ – ) === ***

THE NEW AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL ANTHEM
Australians all let us rejoice,
The weekend now is near.
We’ve worked all bloody week for this,
Dear God let’s get a beer.
Our desks abound in paperwork,
Our hands are stained with ink,
In desperate stage, we’ll fly the cage;
Advance to Friday drinks!!
With joyful strains, destroy our brains,
Advance to Friday drinks.

*** === ( ^ _ – ) === ( ^ _ – ) === ( ^ _ – ) === ***

Have you ever spoken and wished that you could immediately take the words back? Or that you could crawl into a hole? Here are the testimonials of a few people who did.

FIRST TESTIMONY: I walked into a hair salon with my husband and three kids in tow and asked loudly, "How much do you charge for a shampoo and a blow job?" I turned around and walked back out and never went back. My husband didn’t say a word… he knew better.

SECOND TESTIMONY: I was at the golf store comparing different kinds of golf balls. I was unhappy with the women’s type I had been using. After browsing for several minutes, I was approached by one of the good-looking gentlemen who works at the store. He asked if he could help me. Without thinking, I looked at him and said, "I think I like playing with men’s balls."

THIRD TESTIMONY: My sister and I were at the mall and passed by a store that sold a variety of candy and nuts. As we were looking at the display case, the boy behind the counter asked if we needed any help. I replied, "No, I’m just looking at your nuts." My sister started to laugh hysterically. The boy grinned, and I turned beet-red and walked away. To this day, my sister has never let me forget.

FOURTH TESTIMONY: While in line at the bank one afternoon, my toddler decided to release some pent-up energy and ran amok I was finally able to grab hold of Her after receiving looks of disgust and annoyance from other patrons. I told her that if she did not start behaving "right now" she would be punished. To my horror, she looked me in the eye and said in a voice just as threatening, "If you don’t let me go right now, I will tell Grandma that I saw you kissing Daddy’s pee-pee last night!" The silence was deafening after this enlightening exchange. Even the tellers stopped what they were doing. I mustered up the last of my dignity and walked out of the bank with my daughter in tow. The last thing I heard when the door closed behind me, were screams of laughter.

FIFTH TESTIMONY: Have you ever asked your child a question too many times? My three-year-old son had a lot of problems with potty training and I was on him constantly. One day we stopped at Taco Bell for a quick lunch, in between errands It was very busy, with a full dining room. While enjoying my taco, I smelled something funny, so of course I checked my seven-month-old daughter, she was clean. Then I realized that Danny had not asked to go potty in a while. I asked him if he needed to go, and he said "No". I kept thinking "Oh Lord, that child has had an accident, and I don’t have any clothes with me." Then I said, "Danny, are you SURE you didn’t have an accident?" "No," he replied. I just KNEW that he must have had an accident, because the smell was getting worse. So, I asked one more time, "Danny did you have an accident? This time he jumped up, yanked down his pants, bent over, spread his cheeks and yelled "SEE MOM, IT’S JUST FARTS!!" While 30 people nearly choked to death on their tacos laughing, he calmly pulled up his pants and sat down. An old couple made me feel better, thanking me for the best laugh they’d ever had!

LAST BUT NOT LEAST TESTIMONY: This had most of the state of Michigan laughing for 2 days and a very embarrassed female news anchor who will, in the future, likely think before she speaks. What happens when you predict snow but don’t get any? We had a female news anchor that, the day after it was supposed to have snowed and didn’t, turned to the weatherman and asked: "So Bob, where’s that 8 inches you promised me last night?" Not only did HE have to leave the set, but half the crew did too as they were laughing so hard!