The Little Princes

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Dad's Trip to Down Under

Other than his honeymoon with Mum to Hong Kong way back sometime in the late 1960s, my Dad has not gone for an overseas trip (Malaysia not included) to anywhere else. So I thought it would be easy to convince him to go for a trip since he very much deserved it after all these years. Well, not what I had expected ...

I had accumulated miles on my frequent flyer account and they are going to expire end of the year. Was initially thinking of sending him to visit my cousin in the UK but now is not a good time (i.e. Winter). So decided to get him on a trip to Melbourne to visit my youngest brother, Danny.

It actually took a few phone calls + lunch + lots of saliva before he was finally convinced. Basically he did not want to go as he didn't want to impose on Danny and was afraid that he would be "neglected" once he was there. But as things turned out, Danny was currently in between jobs and welcomed the visit. I told him to plan the itinerary + provide the accomodation while I settled the travel arrangements.

I only just finished redeeming the ticket and applying the Australian "visa" (a.k.a. ETA). Now our job is to make sure he knows how to get on/off the plane next week!

New Blogger Template

Yes, this is a new Blogger template that I am using, and it looks exactly the same as the old one! After trying several designs, I still like the clean and simple look of Minima.


There are plenty of new templates created for Blogger Beta on the Net. This example shows how to modify a template to create 2 sidebars (i.e. 3 columns).

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Blogger Beta

Just mustered enough courage to make the "plunge" to Blogger Beta. What's the worst that could happen ... lose my entire blog?!

Anyway, it took about 2 minutes for Blogger to migrate all the pages to Blogger Beta and it sent me an email notification when it was done. I think the Blogger Beta servers are not highly utilised as the access speed after migration was much faster.

The only major changes that I've seen so far is the change in the login parameters, change of user interface and the ability to add labels to your posts. Also, posting is much faster as it does not need to keep on refreshing the web page to tell you how much it has published.

When there is time, I will also play around with the new Templates. Cross my fingers and hope this new Beta remains stable!

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

My wifey's friend had just given birth not long ago. The last visit we had to her place she was telling us the weight loss benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Next thing we knew, we had bought a bottle of Organic ACV to try out. The bottle we bought is from the Organic section in NTUC. Cost is around S$10. The recommended serving is 1-2 tsp mixed in a glass of water before every meal (i.e. 3 times per day). For those who cannot take the smell/taste of vinegar, this concoction may not be for you! Food_

Anyway, hope it works for me. A quick search on Google for ACV revealed that it was not just for weight loss but is beneficial in other ways too.

一度赞 Instant Noodles

Wifey and her colleages has just shipped a huge stock of instant noodles back from ROC (several cartons of the stuff apparently!). Apparently, this brand is a hot favourite among our soldiers who go up there for training.

We tried one yesterday morning for breakfast and it brought back memories over ten years ago. At that time I was in ROC and we sneaked out of the camp to the provision shop across the road and had instant noodles! The noodles were the same, springy and it came with a super spicy soup (great on a cold ROC morning!) and authentic tasting chunks of stewed beef. Oh yes, and the shop assistant was real "chio" too!

Bon Appetite! Food_

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Afternote: As with all "instant" stuff, try to eat only as occasional snack!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Pre-dawn in Hong Kong

It is now 1:15am in Hong Kong. Fell asleep while watching TV earlier. Looked at my laptop and saw a few missed messages on Skype from colleagues at around 10pm+. Shucks, will probably be called a pig again on Monday. General_

Anyway, out the window is a pretty quiet HK as opposed to the scene in the morning. Directly opposite is a block of flats. Judging by the number of lights still on, there are slightly more people awake here than back home on a Saturday morning.

The streets are quiet. The silence is only broken occasionally when taxis and the mini-buses pass by. Hmm, I didn't know those buses operated 24 hours, guess there is still business and money to be made at this hour.

Managed to change my flight from 1830 to 1330. Saved about 5 hours so won't be hanging around here tomorrow. Flight is not too early so at least can enjoy the complimentary buffet breakfast tomorrow instead of rushing through it every day.

Better catch some more sleep now else can't catch any movies on the plane later. Kooshking, signing off.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

VivoCity ...

It was after work and wifey was in Suntec, so we decided to drop by VivoCity for a look last night. The place wasn't officially open till 1 Dec 2006, but already almost every other person has been there. As it was a mid-weekday evening, we thought there shouldn't be much people ... unfortunately that was not the case! General_

After spending about 2 hours there the following is my comments:

The Bad
1. Shops somehow don't seem to be organised logically; i.e. food, fashion, etc. seem to be mixed up
2. Large open spaces, although suppose to make one feel more relaxed, does not help if you are shopping. You actually have to walk further going from shop to shop.
3. The crowd. I guess the crowd should thin out a few months after the official opening, but now its pretty crowded. Even though it was a week night, we couldn't get a spot in Food Republic and the queues at the popular eateries were super long.

The Good
1. I like the "SkyGarden". It is a good place to sit down in the evening, relax, chat and enjoy the scenery and breeze.

Anyway, it was still an interesting evening. In fact, we actually met quite a few people we knew during that short space of 2 hours (one of my friends, an NUS classmate and a relative). Which brings me now to the more interesting part ... ;-)

The relative which we met is my wifey's uncle, who is usually very friendly. So yesterday we spotted him with a young lady which we initially thought was our cousin (i.e. his daughter). Went we went up to him to say hi, he was quite shocked to see us. He muttered a quick "Oh, Hi!" and quickly scurried away into the crowd. It was then that we realised that the young lady was not our cousin! Wifey and I were both caught by surprise. Who was that lady and why did he have to behave so suspiciously? Hmmm ...

BTW, Cactus if you are reading this, I already know what you are going to say!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Back in Hong Kong

It's last minute and before I could even post an entry on this blog, I am here. Here, yes, back in Hong Kong again.

Now, it is 11pm and finally some rest after a day of travelling and technical discussions. With cable TV in the background, broadband internet and the company of this blog, this is a good time for some personal reflection.

I had received several SMS, emails and Skype messages today from friends and family. Although they were not particularly urgent or important messages, it felt really good to receive them. Its little things like these that keep you going. I can't imagine spending a few days here without any communications back home, would probably go insane.

Anyway, tomorrow will be more work and hopefully return flights on Saturday will not be fully booked. Would really like to enjoy whatever's left of the weekend back home.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bed Bug Bites!

Auggh!! They must have got me when I was carrying the King sized mattress to the lift and then downstairs to the disposal area. I wonder if they lay eggs under your skin and then when they hatch they crawl out through your eyes and ears .... eeeekks!! General_

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Expensive Sausages

Yesterday was the day where I have spent the most on a pack of sausages. I was standing around the freezer in Cold Storage for at least 5 minutes and my curiousity got the better of me. I spent S$12.90 for a pack of 7 sausages.

Anyway, they were pre-grilled and were supposed to taste like they came out of a barbeque after sticking them into the microwave for about a minute. Well, I tried 2 of them today and they were not bad, although they tasted no where near anything that came freshly out of a barbeque ...

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Swiss Stuff

Bought some Rosti from Cold Storage and pastries from Swiss Bake. The Swiss Bake almond bar and beef pie were pretty good. I was a bit out of practice in cooking the Rosti. The flipping resulted in a "damaged" Rosti :-( General_

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Of Banks and Bed Bugs...

Had a pretty sumptious dinner over at my in-laws place and the topics of the day were Banks and Bed Bugs ... ! General_

Apparently my father-in-law was told to place a large amount of his savings into a structured deposit account, and was not well advised of the risk and the fact that his savings would be locked up for 5 years. According to him, he was told that he could withdraw them after 2 years (unknown to him this was only the interest, if any was even earned at all!). We chided him for signing up for the account without properly understanding the T&Cs (the T&Cs were in English but he can only understand Chinese!). Yes, the interest is attractive but the cash will be locked up for 5 years. Since they are elderly folk, what if there suddenly was a need for emergency cash for medical fees?

We were furious with the bank for not properly advising their clients. After reading through the general T&Cs properly, it seems like there is a way out. Monday, wifey will be going down to the bank to see if the application can be voided/cancelled.

Bed Bugs
Next topic was bed bugs. There was a small infestation some months ago and a pest killer company was asked to do the job of extermination. However, it seems that they did not do a good job. We spent some time after dinner examining the bedroom and found numerous bed bugs still around!

The next hour was spent disposing of the king sized mattress and dismantling/disposing of the wooden bed. Today's tasks seems more "siong" than yesterday's volunteer work! Had a good scrub after I came home to make sure I didn't bring any "friends" back.

Hazy Days

The past few days were hazy due to the smoke coming from forest fires in Indonesia. Today as I stepped out of the house to go for dinner, I realised just how bad it was from the visibility outside. This evening's PSI index shot up to peak at 150! General_

The NEA's online PSI information can be viewed HERE.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Being a good "Corporate Citizen"

It has been ages since I had done anything for the Community, so I guess its about time. We were to spend the evening accompanying elderly folk to the Chinese Garden to enjoy the mid-Autumn festivities. Things didn't really get off to a good start as there were some work committments to be sorted out before going. So ended up driving to the restaurant where the elderly folks were having their dinner (and getting slightly lost along the way). General_

The dinner was nothing to shout about. There were 6 elderly at our table with 4 volunteers. 2 uncles and 4 aunties, with one of the uncles dominating the conversation at the table. Was able to speak to him as well as 2 of the aunties who were surprised that I can speak Cantonese at this day and age. They were complaining that all their grandchildren can't even understand their own dialect.

After dinner was the "stroll" through the Chinese Gardens. Personally, I felt that we were "tekaning" the old folks, making them walk round the dark, hazy, hot, stuffy and crowded place. Hopefully some of them enjoyed themselves.

It was a challenge trying to take photos in the dark environment, handheld, and with a point and shoot camera. Furthermore I was a little "sianz 1/2" cos I thot I had lost my wallet (which was found later in my car after the event). Some passable photos of the event are available HERE.

Anyway, the best part was reaching home and getting a nice hot shower. Looks like I'm not really cut out to be a good volunteer, but hey at least I tried ...