Sunday, July 31, 2011

Solo Travel - Next Destination is Rome!

I love sudden travel ideas when I least expect to travel - this time it's Rome!

I will have 2-week break from work in September before starting a new job.  Originally I wasn't planning to go anywhere, since my next job will require a lot of traveling within the region.  Yet, someone pointed out correctly that my work travels will not be for pleasure, so I should still consider a real vacation to chill and get ready for the next challenge.

At first I was only considering places like Bali, Tokyo, Bangkok..... somewhere close and easy to get around.  Then I thought to myself, if I knew that place reasonably well, I could still relax there without the need to stress myself out having a jam-packed trip.  So, the idea of Rome suddenly flashed in my mind, a charming city I had visited back in 2009 and had enjoyed immensely.

Most of my friends like Florence more than Rome.  I personally love how dramatic Rome is, all those exaggerated doors and architecture, and I really enjoyed sitting in touristy or quiet piazzas doing absolutely nothing.  Having said that, I do like Tuscany as a whole.  I do wish I could visit Sienna again and some other Tuscan towns.

Back to my Rome trip.  A few ideas in mind:
1. Borghese Gallery - I regret missing this amazing gallery because I had forgotten to book online beforehand.
2. Sitting in front of the Trevi Fountain to eat gelato and do absolutely nothing!
3. Having many many cups of nice coffee!
4. Taking Cooking Classes in Rome to learn to cook Italian food.
5. Strolling around Porta Portese flea market on Sunday, hopefully finding some great bargains.
6. Sitting outside the Pantheon after dinner and do nothing.
7. Eat lots :)

Am looking forward to it!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Animal Photography


A lot of friends have asked me how I managed to take so many action shots of Curly as well as still shots where he looked right into the camera.

I am no professional photographer, so I don't have much to share in terms of technique.  Though I do have a few tips to share (with those who struggle with this):

1. STAY command for STILL shots - Absolutely necessary otherwise your picture will always be fuzzy and out of focus.  You need to be able to make your dog stay still (willingly - if forced down, your dog's expression will show it). 
2. TOY or TREAT to capture attention - For still shots, if you have a toy or a treat in one hand, not only will your dog be more willing to stay for the picture, but also he/she will more likely have a happy/ excited expression on his face.  In Curly's case, his eyes basically light up!  For action shots, it helps to throw a toy in the direction you want your dog to run to.  In many cases, you need to do it repeatedly to get the best shot.
3. EYE CONTACT for STILL shots - Cameras, phones are inanimate objects hence not the most interesting things to stare at for a long time while you try to set the focus or adjust the flash.  After you've done all the adjustments, try not to stare into the camera viewfinder or the screen of your iphone, but lower it a little so you can have eye contact with your dog.  This helps to capture your dog seemingly looking at the camera.
4. GET DOWN on your knees - Especially if you have small dogs, you get much better shots of your dog's expression and movement when you lower yourself (and your camera) to their eye level.
5. TV MODE of DSLR cameras for ACTION shots - iPhone is fine for still shots, but definitely not suitable for action shots.  If you have a DSLR, TV Mode can help you really capture the movement as if you've stopped time.  I love mid-air shots of my dog.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Being Good and Honest Does Pay Off

One of the many things in life I am extremely grateful for is that I have met a good number of friends through working with offices in other markets. 

Last year I was asked to take part in an internal regional project, where I was one of the few participants with good experience in the subject matter.  A workshop was held in Hong Kong and some 25 colleagues from other offices flew in to join.  During the workshop, in such group environment, it was quite apparent who had little knowledge of the subject matter (hence no valuable input), who had hidden agenda and tried to push for certain outcomes to please top management, and who were truly knowledgeable and tried to fight for what they believed was the right thing to do.  Through fighting together with someone from that latter group, I made friends with this fatherly figure based in Cyprus.  

A few days ago, company announced his promotion to a rather specialized role.  Today, I saw him on Communicator so I had chat with him.

I said to him, "congratulations on your new role! Of all people, I'm glad you're leading this, because you are a good person and you are honest about what you think is right."

He replied, "Tea Yee, you are a good colleague and friend. Let me give you one piece of advice - Being good and honest does pay off..... at a personal level at least. So continue to be good and honest."

I am very grateful for his piece of advice.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The following is a poem reformatted based on Kent M. Keith's "The Paradoxical Commandments".  The version below is called "Anyway" - reportedly written on the wall of Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta - and consists of eight of the ten commandments extracted from Kent M. Keith's original version.

I find this poem very meaningful, and very much in line with my own attitude towards life.  I hope to share this with all of you, so that in the future when others make you doubt whether your good intentions are worthwhile, you can remember this and stop questioning yourself.


People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Facebook "Friend"-ships

A friend and I had a discussion on friends’ mentality behind their Facebook status updates. 

Why do some people check-in wherever they go?  Why do some people post pictures of their babies, dogs and cats every single day?  Why do some people update round the clock what they are doing, where they are going, what they are eating?   

Are they just eager to share their happiness?  Are they seeking approval from others?  Are they trying to show-off an exciting life they have?  Are they bored?  Are they trying to portray a certain image, self-promoting?

We didn’t come to any conclusion.  It’s probably a mix of these reasons and others.  Regardless, we both have had the experience where we ran into an acquaintance whom we didn’t really know that well and yet – we actually knew a lot about their everyday lives through Facebook!  I experience this ALL the time.  They don’t really know me as a person, but they know a helluva lot about Curly, my dragonboating and trips! 

I have never been a private person, so I personally don’t mind people knowing about my stuff.  I wouldn’t say that Facebook connections/ friend-ships are necessarily superficial, I think it depends on what you do with all that “superficial” information you have about your friends on Facebook.  Sometimes, through those updates, you learn more about your common interests with that person, you comment on/ like their updates to show your interest and support.  Other times, through those updates, you realize you have nothing in common with that person, and his/her perception of life annoys you.  (And you try for the longest time to discreetly remove that person from your list.)   

With the launch of Google+, I have become more selective in adding people to my circles.  Given my Facebook experience, I think I have a much better idea who are better off left as offline acquaintance and who can be acquaintance-with-potential-to-become-some-form-of-friend.   

Sunday, July 17, 2011

獨立宣言 - 蘇永康

經有一個知己,十多年前以這首歌的歌詞形容我們的友情. 知己近來音訊全無.  希望他健康快樂.
歌名: 獨立宣言 
作曲: 李思菘
填詞: 黃偉文 
習慣與妳 緊緊擁抱 讓壯志消耗
沉迷地跳著舞雙腳怎走路 漸漸不知道
人生 像墮入幸福圈套
從前相當自豪 然而今天 擔心太早

害怕與妳 抱擁中衰老 柔情蜜意 擋著路途
何妨讓妳共我都退開一步 面對天下地圖
從此 獨立但並不孤高
轉個範圍再續情愫 天空海闊比溺愛好

毋需要一起等天荒地老 人生也不只戀愛這一路
平常在兩個世界各自尋寶 重聚互訴安好
離開與一起感覺一樣好 人生也不只戀愛這一路
情人亦各有各那路途 祝君安好 放開懷抱

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Forgive, Don't Be a Scary Angry Woman

At different points in our lives we get angry at people who treat us unfairly.  Those who hurt our pride, our feelings, or who wronged us. We find it easier to forgive some people but not others.  We sometimes choose to hold a grudge and stay angry for a very long time. Yes, I believe it is a choice to forgive or to hold a grudge.

Set yourselves free, my friends, and learn to forgive. Don't let anyone turn you into angry women with eyes of hatred. Accept the fact that they are who they are, whether stupid, inconsiderate, careless, hurtful, selfish, weak or indecisive, and forgive them for hurting you. Stop feeling the anger, and, forgive. Forgiving does not necessarily mean you have to resume your relationship with that person.  Forgiveness is being able to face that person and tell him/her, without feelings of anger or hatred: Yes, you were horrible/ insensitive/ hurtful to me, but it's alright.  It doesn't matter anymore.

Life is very short, my friends. We cross paths with many people who upset us whether intentionally or unintentionally as a result of their values, life experience, personality, maturity level, and the situation at the time. By letting go of all anger, insistence on justice and apology, we become free and stop living in the past.  We learn to truly accept that life isn't perfect, and people aren't perfect - neither are we.  By staying angry, and trying to emotionally punish people (making them feel guilty), we end up punishing ourselves and we can't truly move forward in our lives. 

This is speaking from my own experience.  I see a lot of angry friends around me, and I hope they can let go of that burden and be happy again.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mean Joke about Maturity Level of a 21-Year-Old

A 21-year old boy said I needed more time for my dog, myself, HIM (wtf?!!), and friends.
I said I'd need 36 hours a day. He told me to take a day off.
I wish life is as simple as it was when I was 21.  Skip school.  Give myself a day off whenever I felt blah.

Then I told my silly Dutch friend at work about this, on Communicator.  And he said:
who knows, he might be really adult for his age.... or at least in the eyes of his classmates whooohhahaaaaahhhaaaa

Cracked me up completely!  "At least in the eyes of his classmates"hahahahah  So mean!!!  But funny!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Don't blame my dog for me being single!

Someone connected to me on Facebook but barely knew me told me I shouldn't spend so much time with my dog and put aside the importance to meet men. What the f*ck? Don't blame my dog for my single status!

The lady meant well - I am absolutely sure - but sometimes people feel so bad for me that they try to find out the reason why I am still single. Quoting the lady: You are so pretty and kind and smart, it isn't possible you are single! If people like you are single, what's gonna happen to rest of us ordinary women?

Well I don't mean to disappoint, but yes, even pretty and nice girls can be very single and there doesn't have to be a reason for it. It doesn't mean that ordinary girls are even more doomed cos many guys actually are afraid to pursue not-so-ordinary girls.

But really, blaming my dog is not fair and it's judgemental! I actually spend my weekends hanging out (without my dog), and I often go out after I've fed my dog on weeknights. Certainly I am not single because my dog is eating up my time! If I am home, it's because I want some alone time or I don't have any friend to hang out with. Why blame my dog?!

If you truly care about me, as a friend, don't judge my life or way of living. I appreciate you feel nervous for me, but you gotta be patient. Have some faith in God. Or find me a nice man directly! Ha.

Friday, July 8, 2011

New Journey

Embarking on a new personal journey in a few months time. 

Mixed feelings - excited, nervous, worried.

I suppose like real journeys to countries you've never visited before - your basic travel skills and insights will never go away, and you adapt them to new environments and cultures to enjoy the new experience.

Okay, let me approach it this way and hopefully the worries will go away.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happiness is: Finding Your Space

Happiness sometimes comes from companionship, and sometimes from peaceful solitude.  I had a weekend of the latter.

To help ensure my dog's recovery after surgery, I moved him to the guestroom.  Normally he got to roam around my living room like he owned the place.  With the temporary - or permanent - home relocation of Curly, I finally had my time, space and home back.  No more toys and kibbles all over the floor.  No more jumping over hurdle to get into the kitchen.

I decided to get myself fresh flowers, nutritious food and beverages, not so nutritious food to spoil myself..... I made pita bread sandwiches for myself, added Amarula liqueur to icecream, spent some time sitting on the guestroom floor blogging, reading, napping beside my dog.  Finished two dvds and some TV shows as well.

I felt totally calm and at peace.  It's been a while since I last allowed myself to enjoy this.  I was afraid of going back to that happily single life, as rationally I felt I was supposed to seek companionship.

But guess what?  Based on my history, just when I became happily accustomed to single life again, I would meet someone who'd drag me out of my happy single space to adjust to a new shared space.  Let's see if history repeats itself once again.

Sleep Naked - Luxury Hotel Bed Linen Delivered to Your Home


For those of you living in Hong Kong and searching for silky smooth bed linen - 5 Star hotel style - at affordable prices, I highly recommend

To be honest, I don't know if people who go to bed in PJs (fully clothed) can actually feel the difference in luxury versus regular bed linen.  For those who do sleep naked, it makes a huge difference, speaking from experience.

This brand and online shopping service is awesome because the white bed linen really is of high quality (400 thread count for the plain and corded styles, 100% mercerized long staple cotton percale, sateen finish), prices are very affordable, there is no shipping fee for central areas (not rural) in Hong Kong and China, and the shipment arrives within a couple of days.  Mine arrived 2 days after I placed the order online!

There is only a few styles to choose from, in different sizes, but that's okay with me.  The plainness actually makes my bed look very clean and elegant.  I can always use cushions to decorate my bed.  While they have special sets (4 pillowcases, 1 fitted/ flat sheet, 1 duvet cover), I suggest you check the measurements of your bed first, in case you need to buy separately.  I did, because my duvet size was for double bed, yet my queen size mattress needs a king size fitted sheet as per measurements shown on the site.  Also,  I do not need 4 pillowcases.

They also sell towels, bath robes and pillows as well.  My next planned purchase is a foam pillow, 2 pillowcases and fitted sheet.... and maybe another duvet cover (as my dog chewed on it and it now has a big hole!!).

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!  It makes me feel like I am sleeping in heaven :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Chatting Up Firemen

The Fire Services team captain who often drums for us.
Our dragonboat team is a super fun and hilarious one, both male and female paddlers alike.  It's been 1.5 years paddling with them, seeing them every single week (or more), and I still have a tons of laughs with them, whether during practice or on race days.

Last week we had a race in Stanley and the firemen team came to help us out as usual.  We have seen them numerous times before, but we hardly had a chance to chat with them as the firemen had super fit bodies but were super shy!

So we girls were chitchatting last week between races and someone mentioned it was hard to start a conversation with those firemen.  I casually said, jokingly, "Oh that's easy!  How about,'is fighting fires a hard job?'  Or,'is the fabric of your fireman uniform breathable?  Must be hot wearing that in the summer!'  Or,'apart from fighting fires, what do you do as a fireman?'"  The girls giggled :P

Well, sounds like silly questions, but guys ask silly questions like that all the time to chat up a girl!  It works, no?

Revisiting: Fantasyland (Sep 2008)

My comment today on my own entry posted on Sep 18, 2008:

Took me a long time to find this original posting.  This fantasyland is still my idea of the perfect relationship, perfect life.  Yet, I still haven't found it, almost four years from your first disappointment.  Though, don't lose heart.  If this is something you believe in, and I know it is, keep searching for that person who equally, innocently yet devotedly, believes in it.  When you finally find him, you will be the luckiest woman in the world, because it takes a very strong and committed man to truly allow you into his life the way you do.  It takes a high degree of selflessness to truly view each other as one unit.  You are seeking for the finest character that can exist in a world of selfishness, thus you are bound to meet some wrong characters before you finally - hopefully - find the right one.  Be patient.  Keep your eyes open.  And one day, he will find US.
Thursday, September 18, 2008

There's a place on a faraway planet called Fantasyland. In Fantasyland, couples fall in love, and live happily ever after. They laugh, and play, and cuddle, look out for each other, go on adventures together... going to the forest to camp, going to the lake to fish, or just having picnic on the grassland. The sky is always blue, the clouds like cotton candy. The sun is warm... When it does rain, it is like colorful shooting stars and Disney fireworks! The couples are like each other's best friend, they never part, never lie, never betray or hurt each other. They protect each other and take care of each other when one falls sick. They do not question their love for each other. Whatever they do, it comes from the heart, not because of duty or obligation... Yes they do fight. Over what? Who gets the last bite of food... Who's first to warm up the bed in winter! Most importantly, they never part. Did I mention that already? Yes, they never part. They never let go, no matter what happens. There's no reason to let go. They're best friends.

I left my Fantasyland and I cried and I cried and I cried, like a baby just feeling the need to cry, without thinking what she's crying over. And I am crying again... I was led to believe such a relationship exists, and I was living it. When two people cared so much about each other, and had so much laughs and happy moments together, what could pull them apart? The "I" factor? "I" want this, "I" want that, "I" am more important than "you", "I" am more important than "we"?

I know this is the reality but I don't want to accept it just yet, not now. I thought he'd always been a "we" person but perhaps, he never was. Pls let me fall asleep and never wake up again. I don't want to live in this cruel world.

Revisiting: One phone call (Nov 2007)

My comment today on my own entry back in 2007:  
My dear, I wish I could travel through time and space to go back to 2007, and warn you.  That phone call should have ended everything, to stop your further heartbreak in 2008, when he came back and then left again.  You will never forget this phone call, and how broken you were afterwards.  It's okay to remember.  Just please also remember - one day you need to let go and stop hating him.  Given the choices he had, walking away from you was the easier and more rational one.  He didn't love you enough to stay, but that's alright - there's plenty more things and people waiting for you in your future ahead.  And more importantly, the beautiful memories you had with him will never fade.  Those memories will be yours and his to keep forever, and you will realize one day that most people live their whole lives without ever experiencing that.
One phone call (Nov 20, 07)

One phone call, and the world around me came to a halt. No sound, no feeling, no heartbeat. Like a momentary power interruption.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Revisiting: Things That Make Me Smile (May 07)

I think May 2007 was the time when Chico left Hong Kong and I met Stefan.  Clearly I was sooooo in love when I wrote this.  So cute!  Looking at my photo album of Things That Make Me Happy (2010-2011), I am relieved that the things that made me smile back in 2007 are still things I deeply cherish.  Even better, I have found a lot of new things to be happy about / to smile about.  Such as photography, at the receiving end of random kindness, etc.

Things that Make Me Smile (May 28, 07)

Something more cheerful this time: Things that Make Me Smile
  • Sunshine
  • Beach
  • Water
  • Thought of my bubbly mom and chilled dad
  • Thought of my "friendship" with my brother and him telling me for the first time (a few months ago) that he loved our family
  • Thought of my best friend Michelle, the times when we used to chill at my place in Toronto, when we went shopping together, when we had bubble tea, when I included a few Portuguese words in my email (she's Brazilian-Chinese)
  • Knowing I was in someone's thoughts
  • Smell of spring
  • 1st morning waking up in a foreign country
  • (2nd and 3rd and 4th....... morning waking up in foreign country)
  • Little kids smiling at me
  • My comfy bed
  • My huge plant "Tatiana"
  • Memory of someone saying goodbye to me teary-eyed, while wiping my tears with his finger
  • Memory of someone looking at me when I woke up from a nap and smiled
  • Sweet liquor
  • Nice, inspiring movie (that is not dark)
  • Connection with genuine, friendly, sincere people
  • Pudim de leite (milk pudding)
  • Long strolls
  • Fluffy animals
  • Support from friends
  • Support from family
  • Not following routines
  • Finding my new talent
  • Connecting with people from other cultures
  • My tan!!!!
  • Nature (everything BUT insects and reptiles and vicious-looking animals)
  • Outdoor activities (I'm talking about the action, largely excluding Sports haha)
  • Doing difficult yoga poses, esp arm balances
  • Music
  • Having the energy to hop and skip around
  • Good hair days
  • My apartment turned clean and clutter-free when I arrive home
  • Hot dry weather
  • Most things related to travel
  • Nice, engaging conversations
  • Great book
  • Re-reading breakup letters (written by me.....ha!!! ooops sorry, Ex's)
  • Looking at my silly old drawings and comic strips (mostly related to travel) / Thinking about the one I drew for my last Japan trip
  • Beautiful flowers (no yellow / purple / orange)
  • Refreshing colors
  • Nice clear sky
  • Kisses under the sun
  • Kisses in the rain
  • Me being a source of emotional support
  • Me lighting up someone's world
  • Someone I like looking at me lovingly
  • Someone I like trying to bring a smile to my face :)
  • ............................................................

To Play the Role of My Own Elder Sister

Being the only daughter in the family, I never had an elder, wiser sister who could listen and give me advice what to do.  I also never had much older friends who could tell me from experience what to do.

Chatting with my friend on MSN, I told him I started blogging since I was 19 and have had about 4 blogs since.  Some under my real name.  Some not.  I told him how embarrassed I would be to try and read my old blog entries.  So many question marks in those entries, asking WHY?  WHY?  WHY?   So lost, confused, angry, disappointed throughout my young adulthood.

Then we had an idea - it could be interesting for me to revisit some of those entries, and write a new response entry to them, almost like a third person, like my own ELDER SISTER responding to the younger sister's problems.

Let me try that.  Stay tuned!

Sprained Ankle - First Reaction

Today I walked out of Market Place supermarket in my fancy flip flops, suddenly sprained my right ankle, kneeling on the ground (as if proposing to the big guy who happened to be standing in the street in front of me).  It wasn't just a slip, I knew it was a real sprain and my first thought was: F*ck!  There's so much waiting for me to do!  My sprained ankle would be getting in the way!

Honestly, I haven't really planned much physical activities except for swimming tomorrow at the beach, but in hindsight it was really good that my subconscious wanted to do a lot, and wanted to be physically fit to do so.  At least my first reaction wasn't: Ah crap!  Oh well, not like I really need a strong ankle for anything anyways! 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Loving This Responsibility

Responsibility is a tricky thing - if you are ready for it it keeps you grounded and fulfilled; if you aren't, no matter how hard you try to accept it, one day you will still walk away because you don't know how to deal with it.

For me, I also went a long way before I came to accept and embrace it. It took me many many years to finally get a dog despite how much I have always liked dogs. I never felt I would be good enough to look after one, and was worried of all the sacrifices I would have to make. I wasn't ready for it until this year. During times of despair, I did question my ability to look after my dog and I have thought about giving him to Benny's mom, thinking he might be happier there. But after his surgery yesterday, seeing how much pain he was in, and how traumatized he was since I left him at the clinic, I realized how much he really needed me.

I am happy to have the privilege to be responsible for this precious life's happiness, growth, and well-being. This responsibility gives me meaning in life no adventurous travel experience can substitute. My sacrifices are all worth it.

And I am hopeful that one day I will also meet someone who enjoys having me as part of his responsibility.