Archive for June, 2013

My life in NZ in a nutshell – Part 3 (a): Hello, Queenstown!

Flying from Auckland to Queenstown was cheaper than from Rotorua so I travelled up to Auckland and did my first couchsurfing before flying.

From Queenstown onward, Suecing travelled with me for a month. The travel plan of LW and the gang always coincided with ours, so we met each other very often during that 1 month. Sue had written dutiful travel logs about our days in South Island so I am just going to write about the highlights of the trip in chronological order as well as to share informative and funny photos which still crack me up 🙂

Tracing our footsteps!

Tracing our footsteps!

1) Awed by the beauty of Queenstown

Before my touchdown, LW sent me a very POETIC (note my capitalization! Because this’s something so not her! Haha!) sms about how beautiful Queenstown was. When the plane was hovering above Queenstown, I felt like writing poems as well! :p

The blue blue Queenstown~~~

The blue blue Queenstown~~~

2) Had the most expensive burger in my life so far!

… at Fergburger!

In Ferg we trust :)

In Ferg we trust 🙂

Look at the commotion!

Look at the commotion!

After reading this, I reminded myself not to open my jaw too much!

After reading this, I reminded myself not to open my jaw too much!

To my future travel partners: let's take a photo like this (covering only private parts) somewhere! :p ;)

To my future travel partners: let’s take a photo like this (covering only private parts) somewhere! :p 😉

The codfather cost me NZD 14. Sue treated me Big AL, the most expensive burger on the menu on another day :)

The codfather cost me NZD 14. Sue treated me Big AL, the most expensive burger on the menu on another day 🙂

fergburger queenstown nz

The size of the burger was bigger than my face!

Part 1: Rotorua| Part 2a: Goodbye Rotorua! | Part 2b: Hello again, Auckland! | Part 3: Hello, South Island! (b) Te Anau (c) Milford Sound | Part 4: zucchini picking | Part 5: last bit of travelling (a) inmate days (b) (c) (d)| Concluding remarks

The chronicle of a 花痴: another nationality

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My new found love!

PS: The one aspect I am glad about my down under exposure is that I now have friends from many countries and this makes sharing of my花痴 experience more delightful! (Telling Thai friend I like Thai actor, more delightful, no? Haha!) :p

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1 | 2 | 3 | 45 | 6 |

China! – Part 5 (b): The food @ Beijing!

Kev brought me to the Quanjude (全聚德) Restaurant located along Wang Fu Jing St. (said to be 中华第一街!) to try on the famous roasted duck. This was the most expensive meal for my 20-day trip in China!

quanjude roast duck

The ducks!

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Each roasted duck is assigned with a serial number!

The most expensive meal of the trip!

The most expensive meal of the trip!

There are many ways to skin the duck! :p

There are many ways to skin the duck! :p

The restaurant claimed that it’s being acclaimed as “天下第一楼” (translation: the best restaurant in the world). I think the food served was just so-so and the acclaim is over-rated. I am not sure if my judgment contains bias as the juice scam irked me so much and made me left no good impression of the restaurant.

quanjude food

红曲鸭膀, braised duck wings seasoned with red yeast. Cold dish involving meat, not to my liking. When I tried this, I thought it’s the duck blood that imparted the reddish color! I also didn’t know it was duck wings! Pardon my ignorance! :p

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豌豆黄, yellow split pea cake.

quanjude food

炸鸭丝春段, having translation challenge here… erm… wraps with duck meat shreds?

sugar-coated haws

冰糖葫芦, sugar-coated haws. I had seen and heard so much about it from movies/series, finally had the chance to try it! I like it very much! Sour and sweet!

zhajiang mian

炸酱面, noodle with zhajiang (I can’t translate this, but it’s salty) sauce. Very nice!

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香辣萝卜皮, spicy radish skin, also very nice!

knife-cut noodle

刀削面, this noodle is special, because of the way the dough is being cut by special knife into the cooking pot straight, and not so much about the cooking method. To enhance visual effect, the cook of the restaurant I visited, even put the dough over his head and cut it.

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Local ice cream, flavor=Mongolian yogurt!

Huguoshi

Huguoshi

Beijing hu guo shi

Trying out local snacks at 护国寺小吃 (Huguoshi). So sorry, I wasn’t briefed about the names of the snacks! Blame it to Kev and Bin!

On the lower right corner, it’s 八宝粥, I believe there were more ingredients but with me being a glutton, I just can tell there were red beans in the porridge :p

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拌海带丝, seaweed shreds, another cold dish.

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姜汁皮蛋, preserved eggs with ginger juice. I prefer eating them with the ginger instead.

sashimi with orange

It’s my first time seeing the combination of sashimi + orange…. I was used to seeing sashimi + lemon only, and I just did google image, ok, my exposure and experience are stretched now! :p

kfc china

KFC menu in China

I like finding out the difference in local menus for fast food restaurants 🙂

Part 1: Tianjin | Part 2: Beijing | Part 3: Shanghai | Part 4: Hangzhou | Part 5: The food! (a) |

My life in NZ in a nutshell – Part 5 (a): My days living like an inmate

After informing S that both JL and I would be working until the end of January, I knew the chance was slim for me to land on another paid job so I was on the active look out for exchange jobs instead to occupy my last three weeks in NZ. I had wished for a relaxing 3-week either by the beach or somewhere with stunning scenery. I sent out five exchange applications (some were on behalf of JL as well):-

  1. As cleaners at a backpackers, Mangawhai
  2. As tour guide at a historic prison, Napier
  3. As painters at Riverstone Backpackers, Turangi
  4. As receptionist at Sunflower Lodge, New Plymouth
  5. As cleaners at National Park Village, Tongariro National Park
Where to after Levin?

Where to after Levin?

(1) provided positive reply a few hours after I sent the application. JL and I were delighted that we could spend time together by the beach and could be in our bikinis!

But I received positive reply also from (2) on the next day but the prison needed only me as tour guide. So it was either I go to Mangawhai together with JL or to part with her and head to Napier on my own. JL was quite disappointed when I told her I was more attracted to becoming a tour guide because that’s an experience I am not likely to gain elsewhere. In the end, JL was willing to take her chance to see if the prison needed extra pair of hands to clean or do some odd jobs and would go to Napier together with me.

On Feb 1st: My farewell message read:- 

“Good bye Levin! Good bye zucchini! I’m moving on with heavy heart, gonna miss the nice people in the team!”

M picked us up from Napier’s I-site and we were checked in to the “penthouse”, a room which was originally the residence of the superintendent and was converted to cell in 1960s to house the Mongrel Mob members. JL and I became 2 of the staff of the prison who slept in cells and used facilities originally utilized by inmates!

The "penthouse"...

The “penthouse”… On a side note: I am surprised I actually did not take photo of the interior of my room!

The construction of the prison building was concluded in 1862. So it's now 151 years old!  Someone was buried standing up on your left of the wall...

The construction of the prison building was concluded in 1862. So it’s now 151 years old!
Someone was buried standing up on your left of the wall…

I had 2 challenges ahead for my days in the prison:

  1. to memorize the tour guide script which was of the length of 13 pages of A4 paper (default font setting!) in a week’s time before giving guided tour
  2. To brave the eerie ambience of the prison…. *spooky music playing in the background*
*gulp* 13 pages!

*gulp* 13 pages!

Duty roster for my first week in the prison :)

Duty roster for my first week in the prison 🙂

Fellow colleagues were very generous with all the prison-is-haunted stories. Project supervisor A even asked me to listen to the electronic audio guide which compiled all the paranormal stories but I avoided that at all costs.

One morning, Alanna came to me, “Sam, I had a rough night. Do you know what happened last night?”

Me: I don’t. Tell me.

Alanna: I was listening to my MP3 in my room. I heard Charlie’s voice approaching, so I planned to scare her when she passes by. Then something strange happened: the songs in my MP3 player, they kept shuffling! At first I thought it was because I accidentally press the “Next” button since the player was in my pocket. So I took the player out and put in on my palm and the shuffling won’t stop! I got freaked out! Nick passed by my room at that time and I got hold of him. The MP3 player was functioning normally when Nick was in my room. After he left, it shuffled again! I got really freaked out and I moved to Charlie’s room immediately. I think this is my retribution: the you-know-what was trying to teach me a lesson for my mischief!

Me: Oh my god! You shouldn’t have told me all these! I don’t think I can sleep well in my room alone now!!! 

JL shared a room with me for a week and then she left for her onion packing job. Then started the realms of my (bad) imagination… and insomnia… I couldn’t sleep well at night anymore! I slept switching on all lights in the room. I also scattered my lingerie all around my bed because it’s said to be able to ward off you-know-what. I was so afraid when I woke up in the middle of the night and I’d see SOMETHING lying next to me… when the night fell, I would avoid walking pass the corridor adjoining the kitchen to my room, where Alanna’s room is located.

The hanging yard, the least favorite place for me...

The hanging yard, the least favorite place for me…

The white enclosure = burial site for comprises the first 2 men hanged at the prison...

The white enclosure = burial site for comprises the first 2 men hanged at the prison…

I really do not like this eerie mural in the mess hall!

I really do not like this eerie mural in the mess hall!

shower place

shower place

Since the shower units are semi-open air, staff are only allowed to take shower after the prison is closed for visit i.e. from 5pm onward. When I took shower, I always brought along my phone and played music aloud to drown out other sounds because I did not want to be aware of any strange noise… Besides I always took shower with lightning speed because my mind kept playing the scenes from Ju-on! Scenes like having a hand pressing my head while I was shampooing my hair!

I mean this scene!

I mean this scene!

Me! My attire and props for tour-guiding. I think I did pretty lousy job. Sorry for those who were guided by me :p

Me! My attire and props for tour-guiding. I think I did pretty lousy job. Sorry for those who were guided by me :p

Part 1: Rotorua| Part 2a: Goodbye Rotorua! | Part 2b: Hello again, Auckland! | Part 3: Hello, South Island! (a) Queenstown (b) Te Anau (c) Milford Sound | Part 4: zucchini picking | Part 5: last bit of travelling (b) (c) (d)| Concluding remarks

The chronicle of a 花痴: looking into his eyes is like looking into an abyss

I knew he was Amon in “Schindler’s List”, older reader in “The Reader” and Voldermort in Harry Potter series, but I wasn’t smitten just yet. Not until….

... I watched this!

… I watched this!

Ralph3

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥!

Him in the khaki attire and with tanned skin… Aw… ♥ ♥ ♥! Oh! Learnt a new term: suprasternal notch!

1 | 2 | 3 | 4| 5 | 7

Office fun and love 3

How can you make the office a more fun place to work in?

1)      Offer massage to your colleagues!

When I need to refresh my attention span, I always go to C’s and F’s place quietly and then shake their chairs left and right vigorously! Manual massage chair! Haha! :p

2)      Decorate your workplace!

I make sure the wombat kisses the cat every day!

I make sure the wombat kisses the cat every day!

I know this kissing scene is inferior compared to my favorite scene below, but it is still a pleasant sight! 🙂

I super like this!!!!

I super like this!!!!

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Hokkien is the official language for my company; pizza is the stable diet!

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Knowing that I am suffering tonsillitis, W prepared honey lemon juice for me!

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My floor underwent renovation. Post-renovation, we have to take off our shoes to enter the department. Now you have to choose your socks carefully! Reminder: color mismatch and holes are eye-catching! :p

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Stark contrast: spick and span vs. errr… no comment… That means I’m overloaded, ok? Haha!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Someone who always knows…

In Grey’s Anatomy, Season 5, Episode 23:-

Izzie has another brain tumor and has to make a life-and-death decision whether or not to undergo a risky surgery.

Izzie: If Derek cuts the tumor out, I could lose my memory, and if he doesn’t, I could die. I don’t know what to do. Alex, tell me what to do.

Alex: Iz, I can’t tell you what to do.

Izzie: Of course you can. You’re my husband. That’s what husbands do. They stomp around telling their wives what to do. It’s your job.

Alex: No, my job is to support whatever you want to do.

Izzie: I don’t know what I want to do. That’s why I’m asking you.

Izzie then attempts to put it to vote in favour of the surgery, talks to a close cancer patient, Meredith tries to offer advice as a friend while the rest as doctors.

Long story short, but none of these seem to help Izzie makes up her mind. Not until George comes to her.

George: You paged me. Are you okay?

Izzie: No. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I should have the surgery. I think I’m gonna die either way. You gotta tell me what to do.

George: You know what to do.

Izzie: No, I don’t. I don’t.

George: Yes, you do. You’re just scared to do it. This back and forth is just fear. But you’ve already made the decision. You already made it. You made it the second you decided to fight this thing. Just look…where you started. Look where you are now. I mean, now you’re this… Incredible surgeon… And teacher. You’re a doer, remember? You know exactly what you have to do.

This kind of plot is quite common in movies/series/books: XX has to make an important decision but has no clue what to choose. Then XX always meets YY who seems to understand XX’s strengths, body and soul and makes XX realizes XX’s heart’s desire by pointing out something with absolute certainty, no MAYBE, no PERHAPS. XX would be like struck by lightning, receives great enlightenment and proceeds to make the one decision that when XX draws a conclusion, you would have (good kind of) goose bumps because the decision sounds so right and unassailable on all fronts and also in XX‘s best interest!!!

goerge and izzie

Giving advice with certainty!

I want my George in real life! Save me all my struggles! Haha!

Meow’s guide to life – Part 1

Birthday gift 2013

Birthday gift 2013

Inspired by Sue’s birthday gift to me, I aspire to be more pictorial in expressing my ideas/stories in the future! 😉

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Do not limit yourself

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No money no talk!

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Switch on selection listening some times

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Bad hair = bad day!

Part 2Part 3

Yogyakarta! Jogjakarta! – Preface

Keeping in touch is just a buzz away.

The materialization of my Yogya trip was a story about keeping in touch 🙂

The very last time that I had proper interaction (you know, not just “Hi!” and then “Bye!”, but really catch up personally) with Billy was in 2007 when we did some siao stuff in the tunnel. Then we almost did not keep in touch at all after that! Until one day in Apr 2012, I read Billy’s MSN status as “北京有舍好玩?” and I nudged him, “I am at Beijing!” We re-established connection since then.

On 16 May 2012:-

Billy: sam, come Yogyakarta, haha

Me: Bila?

Billy: 19-22 april 2013

Me: with whom?

Billy: SS and one of my hometown lengzai lawyer

Me: hahahaha, need to emphasize leng jai la

Billy: kekeke. Sure need. He is really lengzai mah, no choice, must mention

MeI see see first,if chiang mai tak jadi, i join u guys!!!!

On the next day:-

Me: billy! really shou me play or not? i buy tix to yogja ya

Billy:  sure. come la

I then proceeded to buy my flight tix. Did I say I make decisions fast? Haha!

11 months later, the trip finally took place!

The trip provided a platform to catch up with Billy + SS and get to know 2 new friends: LB and Sophie!

The trip provided a platform to catch up with Billy + SS and get to know 2 new friends: LB and Sophie!
We took 8.2GB worth of photos for our 4D3N trip! Impressive or not? :p

Day 1: Prambanan to Wonosobo | Day 2: Dieng Plateau & Borobudur | Day 3: Yogya city

Singapore: the sun, the beach and the jellyfish! – Part 4

Loving Singapore!

Very soon after reaching Taur’s place, I told him, “Taur, 我不客气了,我要KO了!” I slept like a log and woke up around 5pm to get ready for the scheduled dinner together. It’s so sweet for Taur to google for me the remedy for jellyfish sting while I was asleep. He gave me some vinegar to apply on the wound and this did alleviate the pricking pain.

I had an unlooked-for birthday celebration at dinner place! Thanks, buddies!!! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (one  for each one of you! Haha!)

It's a wise move to put only 1 candle. Hehehe :p

It’s a wise move to put only 1 candle. Hehehe :p

Post-dinner, we headed over to the Esplanade. I’ll let the photos tell the story of what happened after that 🙂

There's "Hokkien Ryhymes" display at the Esplanade station

There’s “Hokkien Ryhymes” display at the Esplanade tunnel

the 2 of us=epitome of Sui Sui Buay Zhau Zui? :p

the 2 of us=epitome of Sui Sui Buay Zhau Zui? :p

Seo seo tio beh pio!

Seo seo tio beh pio!

Woon woon jia bee hoon

Woon woon jia bee hoon

The last time I visited the tunnel in Aug 2012, it was displaying some cardboard arts.

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These visual arts always fascinate me. It just feels good for me to marvel at the creative/innovative ideas. I like how Esplanade puts in effort to spice up the passage! 🙂

More pleasant surprises at the Esplanade: 3D painting

More pleasant surprises at the Esplanade: 3D art

Another 3D art

Another 3D art

at the DIY headband workshop: perpetuation of war between jellyfish and I!!!

at the DIY headband workshop: perpetuation of war between jellyfish and I!!!
Friends gave me their colorful wires so that I could have more tentacles! :p

Views from Esplanade Roof Terrace.  I was impressed that Samsung S3 captured night scene photo with such a good quality!

Views from Esplanade Roof Terrace.
I was impressed that Samsung S3 captured night scene photo with such a good quality!

A labyrinth!

A labyrinth!

A riddle that all 5 of us had no clue at all: There's a hidden golden lock in the labyrinth. If you look through it you'll see a clef. Which clef?

A riddle that all 5 of us had no clue at all: There’s a hidden golden lock in the labyrinth. If you look through it you’ll see a clef. Which clef?

First of all, we did not understand the meaning of clef. Then after a kid revealed the answer to us, we had to still look in dictionary...

First of all, we did not understand the meaning of clef. Then after a kid revealed the answer to us, we had to still look in dictionary…

Riddle: you can feel me, but cannot hold me; hear me but cannot see me; run from me but cannot escape me. I got this one right! *proud*

Riddle: you can feel me, but cannot hold me; hear me but cannot see me; run from me but cannot escape me.
I got this one right! *proud*

Out of the maze, it's our turn to be creative ..... in terms of posing :p

Out of the maze, it’s our turn to be creative ….. in terms of posing :p

Shampoo commercial! :p

Shampoo commercial! :p

Merlion looked very "obedient" from the back! :D

Merlion looked very “tame” from the back! 😀

Singapore, bye for now, I will come again in July! 🙂

PS: friends who whine about SG not nice and boring blah blah blah, learn to like it, else leave it, and enjoy all the little things! (Note to self as well!)

Part 1: before the tripPart 2: taking train | Part 3: the sun and the beach! (a) (b)|


I spot you, creativity!

Series #9 Light bulb reuse!

Reflection of the day

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Inside the glass bottle…

“I want to walk tall, believe in myself, have the courage to ask for what I want and need, and live a life that mattered. I want to wake up in the morning with a smile on my face and know that I am loved and that I belonged. I am desperate to feel worthy and I am hungry for the opportunity to live my fullest potential.” - modified from "The Dark Side of the Light Chasers" - Debbie Ford

Under the apple tree…

"If you are not spending all of your waking life in discontent, worry, anxiety, depression, despair, or consumed by other negative states; if you are able to enjoy simple things like listening to the sound of the rain or the wind; if you can see the beauty of clouds moving across the sky or be alone at times without feeling lonely or needing the mental stimulus of entertainment; if you find yourself treating a complete stranger with heartfelt kindness without wanting anything from him or her... it means that a space has opened up, no matter how briefly, in the otherwise incessant stream of thinking that is the human mind." - A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle

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Ich lese….

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The time keeper by Mitch Albom

The art of thinking clearly by Rolf Dobelli

The first phone call from heaven by Mitch Albom

Inferno by Dan Brown

For one more day by Mitch Albom

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

A study in scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

The five people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom

Have a little faith by Mitch Albom

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

To kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

A Fresh Start by John Chapman

Inspiring quotes!

If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other? (God in "Evan Almighthy")
“To love another person is to see the face of God.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain
Aggie: "But what about the people who hurt you? Don't you ever want to make them suffer?" Norman Babcock: "Well, yeah, but what good would that do? You think just because there's bad people that there's no good ones either? I thought the same thing for a while. But there's always someone out there for you. Somewhere." - Paranorman
"机遇总是偏爱有准备的人"
“You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry, don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” by Walter Hagen
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, body totally worn out and screaming "WOOOHOOOO what a ride!" - by anonymous
When you travel, it’s not like you take a part of each place away with you; rather, it’s as if you leave a part of yourself there, like a part of you forever belongs to that place – the time, the people, and the things you saw; and over time, it gets burned deeper into your soul - by anonymous