home leave day 17 | marathon


I set the alarm for 4.15am but I was up before then. Excitement. I didn’t wake mm up, got all my running gear and was out of the door at around 4.40am.

It’s marathon day. Okay, I’m only on the 10k challenge, may be next year I’ll do the half. It was dark when I started, I stupidly signed up for the first race at 5.15am. In hindsight, it turned out to be a good decision. 91% humidity made for terrible running conditions. I had my camera with me, so I took my time. I’d wanted to try to break 1hr, and in those conditions I didn’t even try. I think my time was around 1:15, it doesn’t matter.

The later races were still going on when I got back to mm’s. Because of the traffic, she didn’t make it to mass, and we stole an hour or so more together time. I tried hard not to cry when we said goodbye. We’ve spent a lot of time in different countries throughout our relationship, it’s nothing new. I just don’t know what to do with our future.

Met parents, sis and niece for lunch. While parents went off to do their own things, I went ice skating with sis and niece. I was pretty out of practice, there were too many kids, I was done after half an hour. Tired from the running anyway.

I really didn’t want to go out for dinner, so home food it was. Thanks, Mum.

home leave day 16 | bbmm

Time is running out to spend with mm. Originally wanted to meet for lunch, but she was tired so I said let’s meet in the afternoon. A few more hours lost. We’ll have time, some other time.

Saw Up in the Air. Although I’ll never get millions of miles like the George Clooney character, there were a few similarities especially when I was travelling so much a few years ago, not least that I recognise that all admiral’s club lounges look the same. There was some serious product placement in that film — AA and Hilton and Hertz stand out. mm said she never wants me to become like that, I know she always worried whenever I travel.

Dinner at our usual korean place. We didn’t even need to discuss — korean for lunch and dinner were 2 different places, and it was automatic.

She showed me a couple of iphone games she’s been playing, and we eventually fell asleep at 1am.

home leave day 13 | food

hk231starter hk252dessert

The eating continues. I’ve been over my calorie goal, and no exercising, for more than 2 weeks. But, I’m on holiday, right?

Went with parents to the café marco for lunch buffet. Seniors get a discount so there were quite a few there taking advantage. It was well worth even the full price. Everything was so well done — salad, seafood, sashimi, 3 hot dish stations, extensive desserts, chocolate fountain, movenpick ice cream. Amazing.

After all the gorging, Mum and I spent our energy hunting for a wii. Went to the golden arcade, but the ones on offer there were too “fixed” — she couldn’t use regular disks, had to download into a flashdrive — I didn’t know where to do that. So we went back to 188 and got the proper version for a higher price. I got a couple of games myself too — lego star wars and sports resort.

Dinner with sis and my niece at tokio joe. I was stuffed from lunch but couldn’t pass up more fresh delicious japanese food.

home leave day 12 | work

hk172wanchai hk182temple

Went to the office after lunch. Talked for a bit with my colleagues but mainly it was spending time with mm. She was busy but was able to get away early so we can go to dinner. I had a couple of hours to spare, it was perfect to photograph the wan chai area. There are still old buildings and temples there, not sure how much longer they will be around. I’ve always always wanted to photograph the blue building, it’s kind of a mecca for photographers.

hk230rice hk224fish

For dinner, mm took me to a Japanese grill place. We had warm sake and the usual grilled food — ox tongue, fish, chicken wings. Our favourite turned out to be riceball skewers, the rice was grilled to perfection. Yum.

I had a legitimate excuse to stay with her tonight — I need to use her wifi to upload pictures. There’s no wireless at home, I couldn’t connect via ethernet, and Sis’ network was so screwed up by her network engineer friend that I couldn’t find a single connection. So, it’s over to mm’s place. One click and the airport was on. Of course that’s because she has my airport express and I set it all up myself. Heehee.

home leave day 11 | family

Went up to Sis’ place for lunch. She had an errand to run up to the Peak so I went with her — wow it’s so touristy. My niece wanted to play lego star wars with me, she’s soooo good. Kept telling me to “relax” and “I’ll take care of it”. I think I’ll need to buy that game too.


For dinner, went with parents all the way to the other side of town, to tai po, for clay pot rice. It’s just a small chachantang, but the variety was impressive and the food was good.

home leave day 8


Times Square CNY decoration is a giant vase and ball, very red but pretty nice. We took advantage of mm still on holiday to meet up there to check out glasses. I had my eyes tested. Sigh, slight presbyopia (old age eyes) has begun to set in, but not serious enough yet. The optometrist says I can survive as is for another year or so.

When we have no plans, we tend to want to go on a bus ride, so we took the #968 and ended up in yuen long. Had dessert, bought some snacks, walked the length of the main street and took the bus back out. No plan is a great plan.

home leave day 7


We were travelling with our bags today. Lunch at the Dragon’s restaurant where we had dim sum on the first day. There were a lot of people, so mm got us a private room — had to order a la carte, and a bit more expensive. Still good value.

More snack shopping — biscuits, sponge cake and all sorts. Bus was on time and today it was more a hassle, had to get off and on the bus twice for customs cos they weren’t in the same building.

Quick dinner of hainanese chicken rice and I was glad to be home.

home leave day 6 | hot pot

shun035hotpot shun046congee

Today’s itinerary can be summed up by these 2 pots. Lunch was at a local restaurant that specialised in “chicken and pork stomach” pot. There was a long wait for it, may be they had to cook the chicken? It arrived with the chicken in the soup, a bit like sukiyaki. It was again, fresh and delicious.

The second pot is fish congee. The fish was swimming fresh, the flesh went into the congee and the bones was steamed. A theme to the food here is everything fresh.

In between? We went to Walmart and bbmm went for foot massage. Weather is very very cold.

home leave day 5 | mainland


I can’t remember the last time I was in the mainland. Shanghai may be? That was over 6 years ago. Sounds just about right.

Basically, mm bought a flat and spent a lot of effort decorating it. So we went there, and my parents came along too. It was pretty straightforward to go — a 45min coach journey to the border, get our bags, go through 2 sets of immigration, get back on the coach for the remainder 2-3hr trip. Her place is nice, in her style.

We had a dim sum lunch, then visited the Qing Hui gardens right in the city centre. It’s not very big, surrounded by buildings and streets but once inside, there’s surprisingly a lot hidden. Turn a corner and there’s something new, another pond, another doorway leading to another exhibit. Pics: whole set

Dinner was the most scrumptious lamb hot pot ever. We had lamb, blood, skin, and all sorts of interesting parts, all in a hot pot. Plus rice cooked in coconut that was perfect. I didn’t charge my S90, so no pictures. Sigh.

Went to the supermarket nearby, got some snacks and sweets and milk and stuff. Got parents home, then we went for massage. It was late when we finished, and cold outside, after a quick (and not hot enough) shower there wasn’t much to do except crawl into bed.

home leave day 4 | canon s90

Lunch with mm’s family at the usual restaurant, with the usual food. Always so predictable. I didn’t have a lot of time last week to shop for the kids (I knew about the lunch late) so I made do with Jewel chicago shopping bags. heehee.

Met up with Mum to go shopping for one of the main items on my shopping list, the drool-worthy canon s90. It’s not that much cheaper, I bought it anyway. I’m bummed that the mbp doesn’t have connectivity, so I wasn’t in a hurry to try it out by going crazy with taking pictures. First impressions:

  • sharp looking, fast shutter, clear screen
  • familiar P, TV, AV settings
  • low light, f2
  • good zoom
  • lots more function than the common point-and-shoot
  • I keep missing the zoom, hitting the notch underneath the wheel instead
  • didn’t come with a case

home leave day 3 | v-day

Flight arrived early at 6.45am, I was one of the first off and was out through Immigration quicker than the bags. My duffel came out first (as in the first off the belt) but the suitcase only came with the non-priority bags, brrrr. Got on the train, called home, off the train straight to the taxi and I was home by something like 7.30am. It’s cold. No heating. Took a while to unpack all the food I’d brought back. Showered and got online. Very frustrated that I can’t seem to connect my mbp to the modem, Mum doesn’t have wifi. So now I’m stuck with the 2004 PC that runs like a run/walk marathoner at mile 22. Sigh.

The good thing was, I had steamed fish for lunch and everything my parents cooked was great. It is nice to see them.

Went out in the afternoon to meet up with mm. It is valentine’s day after all. She was tired and asleep. What else could I do but join her? I was jetlagged too. Eventually we pulled ourselves up, cos otherwise we’d sleep through the night. She took me to a conveyor belt sushi place that was very yummy. The plan was to walk around but my energy level was fading so I called it a day.

homeleave day 1

sunset at o'hare

I’m at SFO. The pic was taken at ORD. The flight was fine, only 4-ish hours. There was a delay of 30mins, so I stayed in the Admiral’s Club a little longer, but when I got to the gate they’d already started boarding and was at Group 3, drat. It was interesting and annoying to see all these people with their wheelies, trying to cram into the tight overhead spaces. Not many gamers of the system this time. Full flight, but I was comfortable, read a book, ate a choc chip cookie I got from training yesterday.

The walk from the domestic to the international terminal at SFO was quite far, but I got my new boarding pass very quickly once I found the counter. The stupidest part was at security. Which yo-yo had the bright idea that priority = first, business and families with children? Families with children do not know how to get through security quickly so who suffers? The same people who know, have paid for, and expect to get through security quickly. ARGH!!!!

So this is why I’m kinda in a rush here. I wolfed down a cup noodle, and just managed to check all my mafia and vampire wars stuff. Boarding to HKG soon.

there is no backend database

Three days of workday training complete. Lots of information to absorb. Very hands-on training. I was forever playing with the training system and doing exercises a step ahead. Heehee. The most important takeaways:

  • unlearn everything about past systems
  • challenge status quo and ingrained bias
  • keep it simple
  • everything is an object, there is no backend setup database
  • tenants
  • it all comes down to clear planning and knowing how to configure
  • supervisory org rules
  • use the search bar

commute contrast

Yeah, I’m still obsessed with the driving through snow thing. Overnight there was enough snow that I had to spend a good 10-15mins getting the car ready, and boy am I glad I shovelled the bit of the road around my car so I could get out. The drive took a little less time than yesterday, it was sunny so visibility was better.

When I got to the vendor site, I deliberately parked out in the open so I’d get the sun for as long as possible. When I left after 5, the snow on top had gone. There were huge chunks of ice where mud flaps would be and I kicked them off.

My parking space was completely covered. I had to totally dig a space big enough for the little car. The problem was that there was nowhere to put the snow, so I ended up piling it all in our backyard. It was kinda hairy, reversing back in, but I managed at the end.

i hate driving in the snow

I was supposed to be in Pleasanton CA this week for 3 days of training, but it got moved to Chicago. Or to be precise, a western suburb of Chicago. Instead of sunny weather, I woke up to 3-4” of snow, had to shovel my way out of my space and drive 1.5hrs to get to the training. Coming back was worse, still snowing, poor visibility and people driving without lights. I had to park on the street cos otherwise I’d have to dig my way into my space and dig myself out tomorrow morning. And now I’m looking outside and the snow is doing crazy brownian dancing it’s so windy outside.

I hate driving in the snow. I’m not used to it and I don’t have the right car for the conditions.

ski 3

The weather was nice so I went skiing again. I know wilmot well now. Got there just before noon, got my boots and skis and was on the slopes in no time. Systematically worked my way left to right, alternating between State Line and Fanny Hill (blue and black) before lunch and then Exhibition and Snow Bowl after lunch. I think Snow Bowl is the most difficult, it gets fast and steep in places.

Begun to get tired by 3pm. This time I feel my arms and legs getting a good workout, I was working harder today, going faster and trying very hard to stick to parallel. Now I’m sad cos I’m not sure if I’ll get a chance to go again this season. 🙁

registered for the chicago marathon


Registration opened on Monday but it took me until today to summon up enough courage to register. I hesitated because originally my plan was to move up to the half this year, and not the full. But I thought about it, what’s the worst case scenario? I forfeit the $135 fee. No big deal.

Reasons for doing it:

  • a worthwhile goal, personal milestone kind of thing
  • it takes place on 10.10.10 — a date to remember
  • I live here, people come from all over the world to participate, I don’t have to worry about hotels and stuff
  • (related) I know most of the course, it will help

Reasons for not doing it:

  • none, aside from not enough training —> unable to finish

Yes, it’s crowded, and some runners complain of being hindered by slower runners. I don’t think I’ll have that problem. It’s also a nice course in terms of elevation. On the runner’s world forum there was a discussion about elevation profile and someone summed it up nicely:


with the little bump at the end a small incline to the finish line. It’s so flat that no one has bothered to plot out the profile on various running sites. Someone else said,

The only marathon flatter than Chicago would be run on a treadmill

Come to think of it, that’s true. I haven’t even noticed, running around here and out to the lake, it’s completely flat. One more reason to run this one.

Haven’t thought about training. I’ll probably follow the Higdon 18-week program, with some adjustments. What I do plan on is one race a month. I’m already registered for:

April will either be another 10-miler, or an easy 5k like the ravenswood or wrigley. Corporate challenge in May is 2 days before the soldier field, so it will be a busy week. A few options in June and July, then the rock and roll half marathon in August.

It’s gonna be a BIG running year.