February 2011 Archives

in family first |

hk406sprdeerbeef hk410pigsowveg

Lunch was at Spring Deer, for shark’s fin. Not politically correct nowadays, but we enjoy it. There was too much for the 3 of us, but Mum was prepared with thermos flasks to take the extra home. We also had dumplings and crispy fried beef strips which went very well in these flatbread pockets.

Bought some sweets for office people and dinner was at home. I’d bought some pig sow’s vegetable very cheaply when I was mm, and we had it with black bean sauce. It’s called pig sow’s vegetable cos it grows so abundantly that the extra is used in pig food. Nice taste, I like it.

Packing is all done. Don’t really want to leave, although I do look forward to sleeping in my own bed.

in going places , on the relationship front |


Sunday lunch at the Star Fruit Tree restaurant where we had chicken and pigs stomach hot pot. Added lamb, chicken blood, winter melon, water chestnuts and a meat filled bun. Ate everything. I also got a chicken and 2 squabs to take home for my parents.

Back into town, stopped by the steamed milk dessert place then it was time to board the bus. We were too full to even go for a quick dinner. All in all we had one main meal a day during our trip, we definitely ate too much! Fantastic.

in arts and media , easily amused |

I think this deserves its own post. We saw diving pigs.

in going places , on the relationship front |

shunde101prawnveg shunde112roastchicken

Ran away with mm for weekend to mm’s home in Shunde. We met yesterday afternoon at the bus station, the 3.30pm bus took around 3 hours, including stopping for the straightforward border crossing. I daren’t take any pictures but there were at least 4 groups of young children who commute across the border every day to go to school. They were chaperoned, and then their mothers were waiting at the gate just over the Shenzhen border. Imagine doing this daily, wow.

We headed straight for dinner. I wanted lamb, but to our disappointment, the place is gone, only an empty shell of a building remained. We then headed to another nearby restaurant where we had seafood, veg and cheung fun. Equally good. The rest of the evening was spent getting foot and body massage, it was late when we got home.

Saturday we dragged ourselves out of bed and went to pick up a rental car. That was an experience. Because it’s not very common, the place couldn’t accept mm’s credit card so we had to go to the atm to get RMB10,000 in cash for the deposit. Eeek! The car was a BYD car, neither of us had heard of the brand before. It’s a fairly large salon that was just like a Japanese or Korean car. We drove to an outdoor restaurant where the speciality is chicken roasted in clay pots in a fire pit. Very succulent, with crispy skin. We could have the chicken whole or chopped up; we opted for the whole one so we could Henry VII it. The restaurant has its own farm, so the chicken and vegetables didn’t have to travel far.

After lunch we drove to chuan loo (giraffe) theme park. We thought it’d be a farm, but it turned out to be much commercialised with roller coasters and thrill rides and arcade games. The one interesting show was of pigs diving off a short platform. Hmm.

More massage in the evening and we were too full to have dinner. Bought a few cheapo DVDs, had popcorn, and mm fell asleep watching The King’s Speech.

in easily amused |

I’m going away with mm, and without internet till Sunday. GASP. I’m resigned to being without mafia wars, which will be a test. I’m taking the iphone, so I’ll re-play cover orange. I finished all 140 levels already. As a contingency, I also caved in and got angry birds.

in eating and drinking |

hk391camboprawn hk393camboballs

Woke up later than expected, by the time I got to the office it was 11am. Chatted with my department’s people, went out for dim sum with them at a nearby place. All very familiar and usual.

Got my hair cut and picked up my new glasses. Hair is a little shorter but a lot lighter but it’s not that obvious. Glasses have a darker and thicker frame, mum says I look even more studious, hee.

Dinner with Ricky at a famous neighbourhood Thai/Vietnamese restaurant. I can’t find its website, but here’s an English writeup of cambo. We had mostly the signature dishes — prawn sashimi marinated in garlic, lots of chili and fish sauce; “juice bursting” fish balls; satay; soft shell crab; fried rice. And a sticky thousand layer pudding. Ricky is living pretty close to my parents’, he grabbed a taxi and I took the bus home.

in eating and drinking , family first |


Originally we were going to a Japanese restaurant at the Peak, but sis called when we were waiting for the bus to say there’s a change of plan and we were going to saikou at LKF. It’s a new place, and we all ordered the mini rice set — choice of 2 small bowls from a selection of 6-8. I had uni fried rice and one with uni and salmon roe, it’s a uni type of day.

Afternoon was spent as Sis’ place sorting out her mbp. She says it’s old but it’s newer than mine, but she upgraded to 10.6 and it’s been slow. I was thinking it’s to do with all the files she has, I did disk utility, fixed some permissions and showed her how to organise her iphotos. She also wanted me to set up a fb account for her so she can try it out.

Dinner was with mm’s family, her mum’s birthday. At the usual restaurant and everything specially made by the master chef. I had a couple of bottles of tsingdao, heehee. I’m at mm’s tonight.

in techtalk |


I blame the American practice of locking phones. It’s so alien and moronic and all the other words for stupid. My iphone has been stuck in airplane mode since December, and I’ve been using my blackberry. I worked out the costs. If I get an iphone 4 in HK, even with a plan that I’ll only use once or twice a year, it’s still cheaper to get it and then get a SIM only plan in the UK.

So that’s my new toy. Not synced yet cos I didn’t bring my external drive. Not bothered, I downloaded cover orange, it’ll tide me over till next week.

in how the day went |


Went to bed at 10.30pm last night, woke up at 2.30am, and I was afraid it’d be another sleepless night. Next thing I know, Mum was knocking on my door to wake me up to go to lunch. It was 11.30am. Slept 13hrs, making a big dent in the jetlag sleep deficit.

Lunch was at Café Marco, then we went to the bank and did some errands. We were too full from the big buffet lunch that we didn’t need to have dinner. Played with my new toy till late. What new toy? Hahaha. More soon.

in being healthy |

hk383standchart2011hm hk386standchart2011hm

official result: 21.1km 2.28.22 (chip time) 2.27.39 (gun time)
nike+ time: 22.51km (13.99 miles, half marathon) 2.29.03hr 6.37min/km

flickr set: here

I’ve been running in the standard chartered marathon races since 2007, previously all in the 10k, this was my first half marathon.

I didn’t expect a good result, it’s been cold and wet, and I just got off the plane less than 48hrs ago. But once I was at the start line, I was fine even though it was 1am London time. The beginning was a scrum, it took at least 5k for the field to spread out so it didn’t feel like a cattle herd. It wasn’t that people weren’t fast, there was simply not enough room, at most 2 lanes of the highway.

Other than the lack of space, the organisation was impeccable. Aid stations every 5k with water, sports drink and wet sponges at every station, medical staff everywhere, officials who cheered us all on. There wasn’t much of a crowd until the last 1km, and then they were loud. I’d texted my sis about 3km in to tell her I’m 20mins away, and I slowed down at the end to look out for them but she couldn’t get through traffic. We met up after the finish line and my niece had made me a fantastic banner. So happy to see them!

We had lunch at the yacht club then she drove me home. Showered and chatted the afternoon away. Results come out in a couple of days’ time, not immediately. Ah well. I’ll edit the post when I see it.

ETA official results:
overall: 3194/4797
gender: 433/868

in eating and drinking |


I woke up at 3am and couldn’t get back to sleep again, blah blah. Lunch was at Wa Sa Mai Japanese restaurant. The story is that Mum called mm for a recommendation, as they all know I wanted to have Japanese food. So mm recommended this one, and got invited to lunch. Okay, is it freaky that my mum asked my gf to go out to lunch with the family? Heh. I had the sushi set and it was brilliant, came with appetiser, salad, miso soup, steamed egg and dessert.

Afterwards we went to get new glasses, it was just me, mum and mm. I was all done, picked my frame, got my eyes tested and all. They were still at it. Jetlag caught up with me and I fell asleep in the chair. Eventually they took pity on me and finished quickly. Quick dinner with Mum and I can’t be happier to be getting ready for bed.

in going places |

I was at the lounge over an hour, ate everything they had to offer. I got to the gate and got upgraded to business class. Hahaha, and I was just bemoaning my lack of status.

Flying west means losing time. By the time I got to my parents’ it was 6.30pm. Mum asked if I was tired, and I wasn’t. So we went out for dinner. Lobster, steamed fish, abalone and roasted goose. Very very nice.

in going places |


I’m at the airport lounge at Heathrow. It’s a funny feeling, I feel at home at lounges and yet today it’s particularly poignant. I start a new airmiles year and I’m two levels down from what I was 2 years ago. I do so much less travel nowadays, with the new job and general cost cutting. Gone are the days when I get upgraded to first class. now I barely get into the lounge and don’t get priority luggage. The flip side is less stress, and perhaps I’ll get settled somewhere at last. I know at least 4 people who will be happy about this.

in going places , on the relationship front |


Sunday lunch was at the Star Fruit Tree hot pot place. We had the chicken and pork stomach hot pot and added sliced lamb, chicken blood, winter melon, water chestnut and a meat-filled bun. Very full. I also took a whole chicken and 2 pigeons home. Snack and fruit shopping, and a short visit to the steamed milk dessert place and it was time to catch the bus. Didn’t need dinner, so we ended up with just one main meal a day.

in being healthy |


Didn’t get into the Great North Run. Ah well, might be a good thing, I was a bit iffy on having to trek all the way up north for that. Although, I’m trekking all the way to Chicago…that’s different (I try desperately to convince myself). I’m thinking of entering into the 2012 London marathon ballot, hope that I get luckier.

in mind babble |


Overheard recently at work:

A: did you hear, [our intern who recently left] got a job at Goldman Sachs
B: Where’s that? A law firm?

I did a double take. True, if you asked 10 people on the street, only a small percentage would have heard of GS. But we are in the same industry, they are a big player, so that was unexpected. To give Person B the benefit of doubt, they are fairly junior and will learn more about our competitors as time goes on. I just assumed that if I talk about Goldman, or JP Morgan, or (sigh) Merrill, people would be suitably impressed or, as the case may be nowadays, repulsed. To be met with a “who?” is disconcerting.

I was also reading the article in the NY Times about how Nokia’s engineering driven culture has put them behind the likes of Apple in terms of design and therefore sales of their smartphones. They are talking about hardware engineering vs software and design engineering of course. One of the commenters said that engineers know instinctively figure out how to use a device just by playing around with it, but they

don’t understand that the rest of the population doesn’t think like them. To them, the user interface they created makes perfect sense and the rest of the world are idiots for not understanding it.

So the lesson today is, assume nothing. I assumed everyone has heard of a leading investment bank, or to go back one step, everyone knows what an investment bank is; but that’s just not true. Engineers assume everyone know how to use the camera on their iphone. The reality is very far from those assumptions. People aren’t like us.

in on the relationship front |

I’m not purposely trying to ignore valentine’s day. I talked to mm this morning, and spent most of the day idly at work. Finished the cheese in the fridge, unpacked even more boxes to the point I can move the rocking chair to the balcony. Battled with the internet connection at home. That was my day. It’s not worth feeling special or celebratory or depressed about it.

in being healthy |


17.89km (11.11 miles) 2:02:29hr 6.51min/km

Had to put in a 10-miler before the HM next week. It was cold and dreary and drizzled throughout the entire run, but I went ahead anyway. Warmed up at the park, then ran down to the Regent’s canal, through Paddington and then to Regent’s Park. I just followed the road, there wasn’t much planning. Regent’s Park is nice to run in, so for long runs I’ll probably head over there.

I think I ran less than 11 miles. There’s a discrepancy between the nike+ and the garmin. 11 miles is nike+ distance, garmin shows around 10. Judging by my speed, I’d say the garmin is more accurate. My hands were so cold at the end I had difficulty opening the zipper of the spibelt. I bought some chocolate milk but didn’t like the taste, only drank half. I did get a cider though, and had it with my calves’ liver dinner.

in wheels in motion |


Don’t have a car yet, but needed to go shopping for big stuff. So I got a zipcar. Very simple idea — sign up for an annual fee, reserve a car, pick it up from its home location, drive, take it back home. Fees are by the hour all inclusive, no extra for petrol, insurance or congestion charge. There are a few zipcars within short walking distance, and they all have names! I got Gainsberg, a blue golf for £5.95 an hour. I have a feeling I’ll get to know this one well, the other car there is an A3 which is more expensive. I unlocked using my zipcard, and the keys are inside. Didn’t take me long to get used to the car, it’s a golf for crying out loud.

Took it to Brent Cross, where I bought a microwave and a dyson vacuum cleaner. Then it was to Tesco for cleaning stuff, coke zero, drinks and snacks. I’d booked for 6 hours, thinking I was too safe. By the time I got home, unloaded and brought the car back, it was 5 hours already. This is a very convenient way of getting a car, may be between zipcar and my bike, I can get by without my own car.

in being healthy |

5.16km 32.42min 6.20min/km

Middle of February and I finally got a run up on nikerunning. I left the sensor in the shipment so the (very few) runs I did for the first 6 weeks of the year were in the garmin, but not on nike+. The run last weekend couldn’t get uploaded because of my crappy connection and the huge amount of crappy flash on the nike site.

So now I can get going with peeling away the 687km I need to get to purple level. 426 miles. Hmm. Not impossible for this year, if I focus and not get lazy or sidetracked. Chicago is once again the goal. I registered already.

in habitat |

I made a start on clearing the second bedroom. This one is the toughest because it has a mountain of boxes from both the office and the spare bedroom in Chicago. Plus the desk, the sofa bed, the bookshelf and the filing cabinet. All told, there isn’t a lot of room to move around, let alone unpack each box. Books I’m keeping go back into a box and these are stacked in the corridor. I’m in bite the bullet mode, I’m giving up most of my books.

in eating and drinking |

Met up with CC for lunch at nearby pub. She had a club sandwich and I had a steak sandwich. Pretty tasty, came with sweet pickled onions which I even ate. She didn’t have to go back to work so she had an ale. I thought about it for half a second, and joined her. I’m guessing there may be some rules on lunchtime drinking. I didn’t feel any worse for wear afterwards, but I can’t see this being a habit. May be very occasionally.

in eating and drinking |


I’ve been subsisting on ncg soup, salad and cheese since I moved here. Seems so long since I cooked, and it will still be a while cos the kitchen isn’t set up. Sigh. Now is a good time to remind myself what I can do, and so simply. This is grilled scallops on rigatoni.

in techtalk |


I find that if I move the mbp to the living room, in certain spots near the window I get the blue dot on the stupid dongle, meaning I get a 3g connection that resembles what I’m used to. It has a tendency to drop and go back to useless green 2g, but I can hopefully get an hour or so connection and I don’t feel like I’m completely cut off.

in being healthy |


10.3km 1:09:25hr 6.48min/km

It’s not the lake or even the Embankment, but 30 seconds from my front door is the park and the running track. I can’t complain. The track is a standard 400m, I remember years and years and years ago I tried running around it and managed 200m. Snerk. I alternated between the track and doing a circuit around the park. The park circuit is just over 1km, so it gave some variety. There were dogs around but thankfully they were well behaved. I don’t know if it’s true, are British dogs trained to ignore people.

Between running without any knee support (I forgot the knee braces) and the unpacking, my lower back is absolutely killing me. Had to roller it very gently. So glad I unpacked my sports stuff.

p.s. this actually is a pic of the track. one of these days I’ll go take my own picture.

in how the day went |


I had a card from the post office of an undelivered package from a couple of weeks ago. Today was the last day they would still hold onto it so i had to go get it. The delivery office is a good 30mins walk one way according to google maps, so I decided to bike it. Didn’t enjoy cycling on Harrow Road, cars were careful, but I’m really not that good a cyclist. The package turned out to be the Sky router, which I have to return. Heh, I should have left it so it gets returned to sender.

In search of a decent internet connection, I ended up at the small local library. They have free wifi, which was okay for about 10mins, then it slowed to a crawl. It was fine when I used my “useless” dongle, it turns out that when it can get a fast 3G signal (blue light) it’s pretty good. Problem is at home i mainly get the treacle 2G (green light). I forgot to bring the power supply so I was limited to how long I could stay there. The battery life of a 4 year old mbp isn’t very good.

The best news of the day is that I finally cleared out enough space in the bedroom so I could put the bed up. It was difficult with just one person, had to prop up the beams with whatever I could find. There are small parts missing, probably fallen off during one of the many moves over the last 12 years. The screws are pretty worn too so they are tough to tighten. Sigh, next time I move, I should sell the bed and get a new one. Right now I don’t care. All I care is that I can sleep in my own bed tonight.

in wheels in motion |


To change my address, I had to get one of those new photocard driver’s licences. It was easy enough to apply online, they grabbed my photo and signature electronically from my passport and it arrived within a few days. For some odd reason it still has a counterpart in paper, which to me, defeats the purpose of switching to a convenient plastic card. Strange.

I don’t have a car yet, but I still have my 4 driver’s licences, it’s kinda hilarious.

in how the day went |

Originally I was going to celebrate CNY by getting Singapore noodles from the Thai place next to the station. Not perfect, but a good enough choice. The girls at work had a different idea, and we all went for cocktails. The place had 2-for-1 happy hour so we went a little crazy. During the evening I had a mojito, a caipirhina, a cosmo (I think), something with Baileys and ice cream, a Baileys & mint shot and a beer. Taxi home, naturally.

in |


Chicago go hit with 20 inches of snow, the third highest snowfall in the city’s history. Everything was brought to a standstill, and lake shore drive had to close, stranding about 900 cars with snow as high as the cars themselves. Time-out called it Chiberia.

in techtalk |


So that I’m not completely cut off from the world, I got a mobile broadband dongle from O2. ¥30-ish for a month, including ¥20 for the device itself. Absolutely useless. Speed is slower than dial-up just for gmail, facebook and mafia wars. I would click, then go do something else like clear the bathroom or bedroom. Another 2.5 weeks of this, it might drive me crazy.


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