Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Paradise or Hell? Hotel Reviews

I recently wrote a hotel review on a resort I stayed at in Koh Samui.  In the review, I already stated that I was disappointed with the resort not because it was the worst resort ever, but that it was disappointing relative to the value one could get for the same price in other resorts in Koh Samui.  To name a few of the complaints I had:
Shower head was not working properly - weak water pressure (on the first day), sudden change of water temperature (extremely hot) every 20 seconds or so;
Poor staff attitude - No greeting of guests in hallways, no smiles, saying "no" to all requests or questions without giving alternative solutions or suggestions;
Poor housekeeping quality - Toilet bowl was stained with a brown "ring" of stain.  Housekeeping supervisor checked and told the customer relations manager that the toilet bowl looked very clean (even with the stain).  Open bottle of shampoo by the bathtub remains there, still without lid cover, after 5 days.
Noise - Each morning I could hear a few airplanes fly by.  At night, I heard repetitive noise similar to that of a laundry dryer.
Handling of complaints - Despite complaints of the room, I was not offered a change of room. 
Room quality - Design was fine, decoration was fine.  Speed-dial keys (to concierge/ room service/ reception, etc) not working.  Very humid room, the bedsheets and quit cover felt damp.  My lightweight cotton beach dress remained wet/damp for 36 hours after washing.

Then I received a message from an unknown Tripadvisor member, who wrote:
I travel extensively around the world and this in my opinion has to be one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in.
The hotel staff were fantastic, friendly and very efficient. The staff to us could not be any more helpful in every respect.They were happy and willing to help in any way.
I can only think that if they were rude to you, they were just responding to your attitude.
Our room 5211, was clean, quiet and extremely nice.
The food in this hotel was amazing. We enjoyed every meal we had.
The beach pool was full of people enjoying themselves. If you dont have a life, think you should get one.
If you think this hotel was bad, I suggest you stay at some others and relise that what you think is bad is not as bad as you think.
To write a review of a fantastic hotel such as Amari shows you really have no idea.
I was speechless after reading his message. I didn't think of the resort as hell, but certainly it was not fantastic!  I had read a few other reviews by American / European travelers and they called the place "dreamlike", "dream come true", "paradise".  While there were also some negative reviews similar to mine, saying it's an "okay" resort, "nothing spectacular", "average".  Most of my complaints were hard facts - things not working properly, lack of greetings, etc. - not subjective opinions.  Understandably, if someone has never stayed in a proper Thai resort before, or is a first-time traveler to Thailand, the measuring stick could be very different.

Ignorance is bliss indeed.

And She Lived Ordinarily Ever After

I was chatting with a friend and telling him how an ex of mine had recently judged me and had said that I should lower my standards and expectations to look for a guy to marry.  Then I wrote this during my chat session:
i don't intend to randomly find some guy to marry, get pregnant, post some ugly half naked pictures of me and my big baby belly online, and live my life ordinarily ever after w/ my ordinary husband and ugly baby!!
I laughed after I wrote this.  It just came out of my mind(?), fingers(?) naturally.  It was my true thought.

I am not asking for a glamorous life, an outstanding husband.  I just want what makes me happy, secure, comfortable.  Don't make me live your life the way you feel is "normal".  Don't blame me for my failed relationships like I didn't treasure them.  I am not an extreme feminist who wants to prove that I can live without men.  I am not trying to prove anything - I am just coping with life, circumstances, the best I can.  It is not my choice I am now like swimming alone in the deep end of the ocean trying to keep my head above the water.  I do hope I will eventually meet that special someone who swims with me and lets me know I am safe with him.  Before then, I can only learn to take good care of myself, and my family, and patiently wait for that person to come along.

To all those who successfully found your other half, I wish you success in your marriage and your family life.  Please, don't forget the time when you struggled to look for your partner before.  It was never as simple as making a phone call and say "hey let's be a couple".  In case you have already lost touch with the dating scene, it has not gotten any easier.  Please, be a little more sensitive and considerate.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rachael Yamagata's Elephants (Official Video)

My first time seeing this video as well though I learned about this song back in Jan. Enjoy. This is a deep, emotional, well-written song.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Things which make me happy - A Date with Myself


My long-awaited date with myself on a Friday night.  Nothing comes between me, an enjoyable book, a nice pot of mint tea, a light dinner (plate of parma ham, cheese, bite size farm bread with Moroccan fig jam), and absolute peace.....

Spending quality time with myself - priceless.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

AskMen.com (Good Reading Materials for Women): Top 10 Ways to Take It Down a Notch

Was talking to a male friend who psychoanalyzed me and concluded that I was an Alpha Female.  So I googled Alpha Female, and one of the top search results was an article on AskMen.com.  Quite an interesting article, which led me to browse around the site and came across this article:  Top 10: Ways to Take It Down a Notch

In case you don't have time to go through the entire article here's a summary:

Top 10: Ways to Take It Down a Notch
Some relationships progress so quickly that either party may secretly feel the need to slow down a bit - without breaking up - and avoid committing too quickly too seriously.  Here are top 10 ways to slow down a relationship:

#10 - Take her on group dates.
#9 - Avoid relationship milestones. If you haven't yet met the parents, avoid meeting the parents.
#8 - Throw yourself into your work.  A legitimate reason to not spend so much time together.
#7 - Take back your weekends.
#6 - Call less often.
#5 - Have post-date plans.  Make plans with other people after a date, to keep you from spending all of your free time with her.
#4 -  Be contrary.  Drop subtle hints or joke about possibility of not being together forever.
#3 - Talk about your future.  Talk about YOUR future, what you want to do with YOUR life, not your life with her.
#2 - Avoid sleeping over.  
#1 - Get out of town.

I find some of these articles very entertaining and at the same time insightful.  Though being a girl, it wouldn't be too nice to be at the receiving end of these "tips".  However, who says females can't turn these tips around and use them?!  I certainly learned a lot from the above list and wouldn't hesitate to try them out!

Travel Plans - Going Solo?

I was originally planning a trip to Spain + Morocco in late Sep with someone but that fell through today because my friend had other medium/long haul trips around that period and it would be too much budget pressure.

*taking a deep breath*
it means I will either have to abandon my travel plan or travel solo.

Only picture of me 
in Casablanca

Pathetic self-portrait 
in front of a tomb 
in a cemetery 
in Buenos Aires.

Tough call.  I have traveled to numerous places alone, whether for work or pleasure, and I fully appreciate the joys of traveling alone.  Though, when traveling to really far-off countries, it is much better value for money and more enjoyable to share the costs and experience with a compatible travel partner.  Not to mention it is invaluable to have someone play the role of your personal photographer during the trip.  It sucked having only one decent picture of me from Casablanca - rest were either awkward self-portraits (I hate self-portraits, they make me feel like a narcissist) or completely bad pictures taken by strangers with shaky hands or zero framing sense.

I haven't yet figured out what to do with this travel plan.  I don't like to travel with just anyone, or even any friend, for that matter.  My travel motto is: better to have no travel companion than a bad one.  Just like relationships.

Perhaps I might still explore the option of traveling only to Morocco alone, if accommodation won't cost me an arm and a leg outside of Marrakech.  Otherwise, I really have to think about what other economical yet exciting options are available.

Things that make me happy: Trilby Hat - Suncare

Being under the sun every weekend for hours due to my much loved outdoor lifestyle, suncare catches my attention increasingly as I get older and need to protect skin more.

Never really a hat person, I recently bought 2 hats for an upcoming trip to Koh Samui.  I played with the hats for hours at home, trying them with loose braids, tight braids, messy braids, chignon, ponytail, hair down, hair up, with shades, without shades, etc.....  Felt a bit silly but I had loads of fun!

I did a bit of research online and learned that trilby hat is supposed to be very versatile, and depending on the size and shape of the hat it looks good on almost everyone.  Some common tips I came across:
- Wear it slightly tilted
- Wear the front of the hat slightly lower till it is just about eyebrow level for a sexy look
- Wear it with a light and loose shirt over shorts for the perfect look
- Wear it with messy braids for a romantic look (didn't really work on me though)
- Don't wear it too high up, defeats the purpose of wearing a hat
- If you have big / curly hair, tie it back or to the side to avoid looking like a crazy woman

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Things which make me happy: Simple Wholesome Food

I love food, and I appreciate good food.  It's not always the more expensive, the more complex the better.  In fact, some of my best meals were the most simple dishes.

I remember going to a wine tasting dinner once, and had the opportunity to hang out with the chef from Australia.  My friend and I took him to dim sum lunch, and I was shocked to see the chef dip shrimp dumplings (hargow) in soy sauce, and commented that Chinese dim sum lacked flavor.  How can a chef not appreciate the natural flavor of vegetables, seafood, meat, etc.?  After tasting his multi-course dinner at the wine tasting, I learned that he liked using a lot of sauces and strong flavors in his dishes (mostly European), but to me often times the natural flavor was outshone, with the exception of fresh oysters dipped in lemon sorbet, which was sensational.

Things which make me happy - Smiling Flowers

Hope this lifts up your mood as it did to mine.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pantene Clinicare Hair Time Renewal One Wash Treatment

Never a fan of drugstore hair care products - because my hair is fine, processed and damaged by sun and sea water - I recently came across this Pantene treatment and was pleasantly surprised.

My hair was usually quite rough to the touch unless I blew dry it, and was frizzy, brittle and dull looking.  I got a sample of this Pantene treatment from a women's magazine, tried it and liked how the product felt so "foamy" on the hair when applied.  You apply this after normal conditioning, and wait for 3 minutes before rinsing off.  After 3 treatments, I could really feel the difference.  See my picture below - my hair is rarely this shiny and smooth if I don't blow dry my hair.

You can find this in Watson's and Mannings.  Sold at around HKD 79.9 for 10 tubes in one box.  It's a weekly treatment, but you can use more often if your hair is as dry as mine.

Things which make me happy - Quality Time with Friends

Spending time with friends, whether catching up, having fun, celebrating important days or milestones, or just watching them having a great time is priceless.  There are many things in life one can live without, but friends is one of those one cannot.

Things which make me happy - My Stuffed Toys

They each have a name and some of them always travel with me.  They have their own personalities and I hug them really tight when I am feeling blue.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bad Dream

This morning, I dreamed of breaking up with Kevin (all over again) who lived with me in the attic of a house.  In the dream, I went to find my friend, Dawn, for emotional support, and she walked me to the home I shared with Kevin (in the dream).

I vaguely remember it was a bit emotional, but far less than the actual breakup I experienced.  In the dream, I was trying so hard to think of ways to communicate with him, to calm him down.

I didn't cry after I woke up from the dream.  Just a hint of sadness, experiencing the breakup again.

I still feel very sorry about the breakup because I can be with someone else and in similar situations as before when I was with Kevin, yet not end up in fights at all.  Or any silly fights can be easily resolved within hours.  I feel very sorry every single disagreement seemed like such a big deal.  I feel sorry we didn't have a happy ending.  I wanted so much to have a happy life with him.

Now I'm in tears.



拍下/ 記錄令自己快樂的東西...

Tarte Cheek Stain


Most females I know cannot live without mascara and lipstick.  For me, it's blush.

Years ago I had a male friend bring back from US for me Tarte cheek stain, in Blushing Bride shade I think.  I loved it to death!  Unfortunately I cracked the container after some months and I had to give up the leaking tube.

When I was in Phuket with my female friend some months ago, I noticed she was using this product too, which I had forgotten for years.  So recently when a friend from US came to visit, I begged him to buy them for me.  As far as I know, they aren't available in Hong Kong yet.

It is like a stick of delicious smelling juice, and is perfect if you are after the natural blush-after-a-run (blush-after-sex) look.  Gel based, it is ultra moisturizing and gives your cheeks not only a very natural color but also a healthy glow which other cream based or powder based blush can't.  It is long lasting and you can layer it for more color, and the texture is very easy to blend with your fingers.  I got the product in Sunkissed and Tickled.  Sunkissed gives you a tanned, bronze look, and Tickled a subtle blush.  Since I am already very tanned, I use Sunkissed first, to add more color and add an extra layer of Tickled.  (If I use Sunkissed alone, I would look "fried" as it is a brownish shade.)

Hope you can order it online or find it in some rare cosmetic shop!

Martinelli's Sparkling Cider (available in Hong Kong)

**Dec 31 Note:  This is now selling in Citysuper at around $3x only, and in 價真棧 at around $24.  Much cheaper than in Americome.**

I highly recommend this sparkling cider made with carbonated pasteurized apple juice.  No preservatives, sugar or coloring added.  When attending meetings in Vienna earlier this year, I was offered a lot of sparkling cider during meetings everyday.  My clients would mix sparkling water with apple juice.  Was very refreshing, even for someone like me who normally did not drink any fizzy drinks.  I came across this one in Americome sold at around HKD 40 per bottle.  Love this!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fleece Flower Root Herbal Tea for Hair Growth 黑棗首烏茶

**Reminder (Oct 18, 2010): This is not a medical blog so for this and similar health food recommendations, please do your own research and check with medication professionals if needed.  As mentioned below in the original post, fleece flower root is reather "heaty" according to Chinese medicine and should not be taken if your body is heaty at the time.  According to the old man at the medicine shop, if a person is heaty, usually he/she finds his/her mouth dry and bitter during the day (not just in the morning), in which case one should have some cooling food or drinks (e.g. winter melon soup, sweet herbal tea like Chrysanthemum tea, etc.) to cool down the body.  He said that drinking Fleece Flower Root tea while one's body is heaty would make the person feel unwell.**

I've heard about 首烏 (fleece flower root) and its medical benefits to hair growth and shiny hair for years but never had the time to make this tea each week.

I've cooked this tea before and it tasted quite okay.  Supposedly you can feel the benefits if you drink it every week. 

The original recipe used red dates instead of black dates.  I was at the Chinese medicine shop where the staff, an old man, told me black dates would be better than red, because not only do they have the same blood replenishing (補血) benefit, it also could 去濕.  After some googling, I also read that fleece flower root is good for the liver, bladder, sperms (!!! yes!  ha), and improves sex drive.   This tea also will also improve blood circulation and give you a nice natural blush.

This soup can be slightly heaty.  Not suitable if you are menstruating or having stomach problems.

So here's the recipe:

Fleece Flower Root 首烏 - 1 兩
Dried Black Dates 黑棗 - 5 pieces  OR Dried Red Dates without Pits 去核紅棗 15 pieces
Sweet Dried Dates 蜜棗 - 5 pieces
Water - 8 bowls

Wash the ingredients.  Bring the water into a boil in a pot.  Put all ingredients into the pot, cover with lid, and boil over medium flame for roughly 1.5 hours to 2 hours, until water is reduced by half or a little more. 


Monday, August 9, 2010

Love/ Fear Relationship with the Sun

Rare picture of me covering up under the sun.
Getting old, have to take better care of my skin especially since I am outdoors every weekend.

Saturday, August 7, 2010




Today in Central I saw a pregnant woman in a very pretty sequined maternity dress leisurely walking in LKF.  I thought to myself, I don't mind being a happily content woman taking a break from work after getting pregnant either if my husband can take care of me.....

Frankly, I don't see it happening to me.  I always feel like my life is a tough one, and I have no one to depend on but myself.  So if I ever find someone I love who could and would be happy to take care of me, it would be like a gift from God.  Such an old tradition - husband happily taking care of wife and children - appeals to me and is my idea of a happy family.  My dad supported the whole family but he was never happy about it.  Perhaps that was the reason I wanted someone who would do it wholeheartedly.