Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Havaianas Heaven in Brasil

I never consider myself a shopaholic but I do get out of control when there's something specific I really like.

Here's the latest culprit - inexpensive Havaianas in Brazil!

In particular I love the World Cup collection, as well as the variety of pins I can add to the flip flops.  The World Cup collection is really cool - for selected World Cup champions each has one style (except Brasil which has two) for the country with the number of stars printed on the flip flop indicating the number of times it won World Cup and the year(s) in which it won the championship(s).

I also visited the new concept shop on Oscar Freire, and lost myself there!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Phewwwww It Feels Good to Tell the Truth

Just now, I finally found a nice way to "reject" a guy without hurting any feelings.  It took more over a month to come up with the right gentle explanation.

I said: _______, I'm not sure if this is the right time to talk about this, since you are busy and I have to catch my sleep, but the older I get and the more failed relationships I've had, the more I believe that attraction alone is not enough to see someone seriously or semi-seriously.  Sometimes, something is missing, and one doesn't always know exactly what that something is... but the lack of that something makes it difficult to move forward.
He said:  Yes, I agree.
I said: I mean, I feel like you and I are from totally different planets.  I don't find myself particularly weird (!!) and you're probably not all THAT weird either (though yes, I do find you weird by my standards), yet somehow we seem so different.
He said: Yes I know what you mean.  In fact my friend Sami commented that on my birthday you didn't really seem to get me.
I said:  Yes, and likewise you don't get me at all.  We interact in such an awkward manner!  It's not because you're British, cos I've dated other ethnicities before...
He said: Anyways, no drama.  I'm getting busy here, have to run.
I said:  Sure, I have to sleep too. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Moroccan Mint Tea

My local colleague spent an hour briefing me on how to prepare a good pot of Moroccan mint tea.
What is needed?
1. Silver or metal Moroccan tea pot
2. Small glass tea cups
3. Chinese tea leaves - my colleague recommended this brand sold in Morocco from Mainlaind China which says "gunpowder" on the box
4. Handful of mint leaves and stalk, preferably large leaves with rough surface
5. White sugar
6. Kettle, quicker if electric one available
How to prepare?
1. Boil water in an electric kettle, ensure it stays boiling hot while you are preparing the tea.
2. For a tea pot which serves 8 small cups of tea, put in 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of Chinese black tea powder/ leaves.
3. Pour half a small tea cup of boiling hot water into the pot. Do not move the pot. Wait for 30 seconds before pouring the water into a tea cup to keep for later use.
4. Pour another half tea cup of boiling hot water into the pot. Hold the pot by the handle and swirl the pot for about 15 seconds then pour the water out and down the drain.
5. Pour the small cup of tea water set aside earlier back into the pot.
6. Fill up the pot with boiling hot water until 1.5 inches from the top.
Place the pot over small flame and wait till the tea comes to a boil and about to foam.
7. Remove from heat, put in mint leaves and about 8 teaspoons of sugar. Close the lid. Do not stir.
8. To serve, pour the tea into small cup. Then pour it back into the pot. Repeat once more. This procedure mixes the sugar and mint flavor with the tea.
9. Pour a little tea into a cup to taste. Add more sugar as needed.
When pouring mint tea, lift the pot high up so that the tea forms a foam. Good mint tea should have a little foam on the surface.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Beautifully Creative Restaurant - Maison du Gourmet, Casablanca


Rick's Cafe in Casablanca, Morocco - as appeared in the movie


Meet " Little Lamb" & "Sex.mp3"


Meet Little Lamb when he was 1. My business associate in Casablanca proudly told me over lunch how he could slaughter a lamb during the yearly Big Feast. Out of respect for local culture, I asked a lot of questions, and he excitedly explained in great detail how each family would buy at least one lamb 3 days before the feast, feed it, then slaughter it, skin it, drain the blood for a day etc before cooking it. He meant to send me before and "after" (skinned) picture, but the latter became "sex.mp3"!

He wanted to bluetooth to me two pictures of Little Lamb his family slaughtered during the feast. One file showed the cute little lamb, the other one was named Sex.mp3 which I couldn't open and was prob sent to me by accident. Was tough to pretend nothing happened and keep a straight face....!!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Authentic Moroccan Bath (Hammam) Experience

Am back in Morocco for work again this week. This time I am only staying in Casablanca, which is not the most exciting city based on my Jan experience. To make the most out of this work trip, and to keep myself awake to combat jet lag, I booked a 'spa' I read about in a travel forum - based on one review (big mistake!?).  Turned out it was a very local bathhouse - NOT a spa.  So I had a very authentic Hammam experience...  I had previously tried Hammam when I last visited Marrakech, but it was in a hotel so I was treated quite well and felt pampered. Today's experience was a totally different one!

There was nothing fancy about the bathhouse, basically it was like the fishmonger, with water all over the floor.  There were a few bath sections, all had many sinks and stools and buckets, some had shower stalls, some had a few marble tables for customers to lay down on.  The whole time there were a lot of other local women around me, completely naked, and 3 times my size.  I was surrounded by extremely fat women and I felt strangely embarrassed by being lean and toned!  The whole place was very similar to a fishmonger/ slaughter house indeed.  All the staff dressed the same, and had a cloth wrapped around their head.  Those middle aged fat ladies looked like big fat mamas working in a production line in a cafeteria kitchen or something.

The session started in a steamy room where I could only see a few sinks, some stools, plastic basins...and to my surprise there was actually a fat Moroccan lady lying naked on a bench behind the steam.  I was told to splash myself with hot water using the plastic basin, then smother on my body a thick layer of Moroccan black soap - a brown paste made with olive oil supposedly great for cleansing and moisturizing.  I did so, sat in that dark steamy room for 10 mins, rinsed off by splashing more hot water, and was then asked to go to the next room, to lay down on one of the 4 or 5 marble tables. Stark naked.  Like the other Moroccan women in that room, all were 3 times my size, very fat...

Then one of the big fat Moroccan mammas, (none of which spoke any English) ordered me to turn over face up.  She then started using the sandpaper-like glove to scrub me down to the bone!  There was nothing gentle about the scrubbing - I felt like a little piggy on the butcher's chopping board about to be slaughtered.  She scrubbed me hard on every inch of my body including my face...  Then ordered me to sit up, when she, without warning, splashed buckets of hot water down my head, onto my face, and all over me.  I said to myself, Moroccan kids probably first learned to hold their breath under water like this...

After this, another fat lady ordered me to lay down on the table again.  I was then smothered with very hot seaweed mud all over, including my private part (!!), and was wrapped up like a mummy with a huge plastic wrap.

After God knows how long - I fell sleep and woke up with tailbone hurting from the stone hard table - I was told to sit on a stool to be splashed with more hot water!  Finally, after another 2 rounds of splashing and shower, I had my Moroccan massage - on another marble table.  The lady put some orange flower oil on my body then used very fast massage strokes to massage me like marinating a chicken before roasting!  The whole Hammam experience finished with... guess what... a final hot water shower.

My Moroccan Hammam torture lasted for 2.5 hours.  I still don't know what I was thinking, paying someone around HKD 300 to torture me and order me around.  Yet, it was a strangely exciting experience :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dragonboat Race - 500m

Am travelling for work and in taxi to hotel. Can't wait to write a short note on my 2nd dragonboat race of the year which took place yesterday in Deep Water Bay.
It was a great experience racing with this amazing team "FD". It has great team spirit, some very experienced paddlers, very genuine teammates, and a great party vibe!! It was one of the sunniest days in 2010 so far, the sea was relatively calm. Despite being a 500m race - twice the distance of the Stanley races - it was surprisingly manageable and one of my 4 races had 'guests' from Fire Department which really made the boat FLY! To top it off, the event had a great DJ and our team was dancing to the songs before the races attracting a lot of attention! It was the most fun I had had at a dragonboat race!!!
Looking forward to the next race at the Stanley Warm Up!

Monday, May 3, 2010

2010 Resolution

If there's one thing I want to work on, I want to:

Accept that I am not perfect in everything, and that it's okay.

Accept constructive criticisms with an open mind, and a humble attitude, and try to learn from them.

I think that would make me a much better person.  :)