Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Shanghai Delight

4 days after returning from Brisbane, I boarded the plane again. This time the destination is Shanghai.

The (extremely) early flight at 8:20am means that I had to arrive at the airport as early as 6:20am. I woke up at 5:20 to make sure I wouldn't miss the first Airport Express departing from the Hong Kong station. Met Ellen at the airport and she was 20 minutes late. She was apparently still in her dreamland when she suggested to meet for breakfast without even checking us in! After my usual routine of having the breakfast at Café de Coral at the airport and visiting WH Smith, we boarded the plane with the *Final Call* sign flashing. So no duty free shopping this time.

The Hotel - JC Mandarin

Made a fool out of myself when I asked the cab driver to take us to "Gaan Chuang Wen Hua" (錦滄文華) Hotel. The driver clearly didn't understand me. It was then debated between us (Me and Ellen, not the driver) as to whether "錦 " should be pronounced as "Gaan" or "Jin". It turned out that I was wrong - it should pronounce as "Jin". Ellen got her revenge over me after her similar experience in Taiwan.

The hotel is situated at the central business district of Shanghai with Plaza 66 opposite to it. The Shanghai office of my firm (as well as several big names) are all packed in Plaza 66, a state of the art building which have a large shopping mall selling expensive stuff downstairs. McDonalds and Haagen Daaz are nearby.

The hotel room is neatly decorated with a king sized bed and the longest pillow I have ever laid my head on. Located on the 19th floor, it has a nice view from the room at night when the lights on the streets are on.

Eat Eat Eat

Without the desire to go sightseeing or visiting museums, 80% of our trip was planned around eating. There are so many good restaurants around but our capacity of our stomachs are limited, but we did try our best to put in as much food as our stomachs allowed. Adopting the economic theory I learnt from my F6 class, I only stopped eating until the marginal utility of my having another bite has dropped to zero.

Below are a list of restaurants we visited during our 4 days trip:

  1. 港式茶餐廳
  2. 永和大王
  3. 金錨
  4. 南翔饅頭店
  5. 真鍋咖啡店
  6. 新吉士
  7. 永和大王
  8. McDonalds
  9. 黃浦會
  10. [a coffee shop]
  11. [日式燒烤]
  12. 楊家廚房
  13. 永和大王 (again!)
  14. Hyatt Hotel Coffee Shop
  15. 小金陵
  16. Coffee Shop at Airport

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You may note that "永和大王 " appeared several times on the list. That was by far my most favourite place to eat in Shanghai. I have experienced the best beef noodles in my life there - the soup was made of chillies and carrot, so it tastes spicy and sweet at the same time. Then the hot soya milk with the "油炸鬼" is the best food partnership. You can spend as little as RMB18 to enjoy the above combo.

"新吉士" and "楊家廚房" serve good Shanghainese dishes. According to a travel guidebook, the latter restaurant is a must-visit place for my favourite idol - Headmaster Tam. "黃浦會" is another nicely decorated restaurant at the "外灘" facing the Oriental Pearl Tower at Pudong.

The Charm

Shanghai is a beautiful city, especially when the lights are on at night. The yellowish lights on the European style buildings at the "外灘" must rank as one of the beautiful sights in China and the Oriental Pearl Tower and Jin Mao Building on the other side of the harbour added to the modern uniqueness of the city.

I was surprised by the number of skyscrapers in Shanghai. Although I am not an expert in building design (and never will be), I do find the numerous 60-storey upwards buildings scattered around the city have their own uniqueness. I think it is only a matter of time before it breaks into the top 5 most beautiful skylines in the world (which is now occupied by Hong Kong, New York, Seoul, Chicago and Singapore).
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Shopping?

Despite my best efforts to get a pair of new sportshoes, I failed. The prices of Adidas, Nike etc are much more expensive in Shanghai than in Hong Kong. Apart from the costs of travelling and food is slightly cheaper than Hong Kong, the money you spend on other items (especially luxurious merchandise) is as much in Shanghai as you spend in Hong Kong. So neither place is a shopping paradise. Anymore.

It turned out that the only stuff I bought is a pack of "Duck Liver" for my secretary and a mini Er-hu "二胡" for my mother.

Lastly…

We are already planning which hotel we are going to stay in for our next visit. Grand Hyatt at the Jin Mao Building is a clear favourite here.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Funny Signs in China

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The Retreat

I am back from the Retreat in Twin Waters Resort in Sunshine Coast, Brisbane. It is an eye-opener for me and for the 3 days there, I had to mingle with Aussies that I have never met before. My memory is getting poorer and poorer and it is no surprise that I kept forgetting the names of the people there - resulting in introducing myself to the same people again....and again!

It is nice to meet them though as all of them (partners or associates) have all been very friendly to me. Ego was non-existent at the camp.

Day 1

After an almost 9 hours flight to Brisbane, the HK team boarded a 7 seater for another 1 hour drive to the resort. It was good that I managed 4-5 hours sleep on the plane and I watched "Finding Neverland" for the rest of the 2 hours. After arriving at the resort, I had a quick shower before heading to have a quick bite. We then had our first activity - an discussion group on the topic "We can obtain the best knowhow by...". I feel it a bit surprised that everyone in the group was very serious about the session and there were a lot of constructive discussions and some heated arguments as well.

After the session I had a tennis game with Brian (an Aussie who lived in HK for the past 5 years and a nice guy) and although I was playing not as bad as I thought, I was soundly murdered by him. 1-6, 0-6. "Home Advantage" was my excuse of losing.

Then dinner at the Naked Italian followed by a games and quiz nights. I had absolutely no idea as to all the quizzes (I don't even understand some of the questions as those were tailor made for the Aussies).

Day 2

Day 2 began with the presentation of the discussion group we had on the 1st Day. Then there was the showcase presentation. It was basically a presentation by each office as to the people and the projects they were working on. We did a powerpoint presentation on the theme "Mission Impossible - Mission Hong Kong / Shanghai" with some very nice background music in the tune of Mission Impossible. The slides show our funny photos and some good one-liners. My line was "Laws were made to be broken". The Hong Kong showcase was well received which is great as there were a lot of efforts behind the whole thing.

Then it came the game "Survivor". I was surprised by the fitness of the Aussies - many female colleagues overrun me in the first game which involves a lot of running. Our team finished the competitions in the first place but was gunned down in the Tribal Council. One of the tasks in the Survivor game was to nominate something that "I have done something which no one here have ever done". It was interesting to note that the Sydney partner once drove train for a living, an associate once sang live on US TV at the Goldengate Bridge in San Francisco and another chap caught a crocodile while fishing...

The Talent Quest was the next activity on the night. We had some divided opinions as to whether we should perform our can-can showgirls dance. I was going for it and I have prepared to make a fool out of myself long beforehand. We had a voting 10 minutes before we were due to appear on stage - it was a "go" by a 5-2 majority. Our performance lasted for 30 seconds before it all went wrong. The stage was too small for us to perform our "moves". We were standing on the stage forgetting what moves were next before someone said "Let's move for the exit!" and we are done!
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Day 3

After breakfast, we checked out and headed for the airport. Another 8.5 hours flight saw me watched "Sideways", "Closer" and the last half hour of "Murder by number". That concludes the Retreat.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Got it!

Got the visa 2 hours before the close of business. Phew!

Am I staying or am I going?

Everything are prepared. The dresses, the can-can moves, the luggages, even the wigs and eye-lashes.
Except one thing….my visit visa! I am still waiting for my visit visa 5 hours before the Australian Consulate is bound to close for business today.
So I might not be going afterall!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

McMug

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Saturday, March 12, 2005

Cute little icon

Added this cute little icon to this blog. Feel free to use it for linking!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Survival Kit, Travelling, Football, Spurs...etc

It seems that I have not been updating this blog for quite a while, so I am putting together some random stuff here:-

- Many cool little games at Mousebreaker.com, which is really an essential survival kit for office workers. I can't live without it. Blast billiards and Striker of the Month are my 2 favourites. Anyone who can reach the 2nd save point of Blast Billiards please leave me a note how you do it!

- My travel schedule : 18-20 March on business retreat in Australia and 25-28 March on a leisure trip to Shanghai

- Rather unexpectedly, I have fallen into 2nd place in the Top Scorer Table for LSCOBA soccer league, with 9 goals in 9 games. The trophy was once in my pocket but then my rival scored 5 in one match to overtake me. I still have 2 matches to outscore him though.

- Speaking of football, I scored twice in a grassroot standard friendly match on Monday. This wasn't worth reporting, but then my first goal was scored from just outside my penalty area (a full 40 to 50 yards out at least).

- Last Monday, I went to the top floor of Princes Building to do some fitting measurement for the Talent Quest. And my ever-expanding waistline is now standing [proudly] at the staggering height of 33"!

- Watched one of the best football matches in recent years - Chelsea 4 Barcelona 2. Thrilling entertainment! Joe Cole arguably played the best match of his career so far.

- My beloved Spurs are doing not bad recently despite a slip-up against Southampton last weekend. Spurs will play away to Newcastle for a FA Cup semi-final spot. Newcastle is really banging on form but having already won 1-0 at St James Park earlier this season, I am confident that Spurs will at least earn a replay.

Monday, March 07, 2005

I am Sorry!

I am so wrong. I am really sorry. Words and tears can't describe how remorseful I am. It is my worst sin in my life, and I swear that I will never repeat the mistake for the rest of my life. I will be a good boy from today. Please forgive me!
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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Quality clip



Quality clip!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Weather

What's going on with the global weather? Snowing in Las Vegas, a 20
degree celcius difference in a day in Japan, not to mention the
Tsunami. To a lesser extent, Hong Kong is suffering from the coldest
and most humid March (ever)!

It seems that the cool wave shows no sign of leaving as it is
forecasted that the temparature on Saturday will again drop to 9
degrees. So I am having flu again which is like a monthly event for
me. Of course sitting frozen in a hot pot restaurant, worshipping
ancestors under heavy rain and playing football (and getting stuffed
2-6) aren't gonna help!