Wednesday, October 7, 2009

1008 - my work

since my trip to germany got cancelled at last minute, i decided to make good use of my time with new hobbies.

in high school, i thought music was cooler was i took music class instead of arts. well, none of the music has stayed with me, except the very occasional karaoke (sigh .... ). as for arts, i know i enjoy appreciating works. and the thought of being able to make something is very fascinating really. being efficient as always, i started taking ceramics class and chinese ink painting class.

yesterday, my first pieces of handmade ceramics work was completed! and my first ink painting was done too! i am obsessed, as i can't stop staring at my own work! i know it's really nothing spectacular, but having done something of your own is a total different pleasure from shopping for them.

it's never too late people. go pursue and you will feel as rewarded as i do now!

0903 - tokyo

i always say, travel is not about the places you go to, but more about the people you share the trips with. over the years, i have had chances to bring together friends from different corners and put them on the same trips. risking black faces and disagreements, things have turned out more than fine. and that gives me real satisfaction!

2 years ago, i brought along 3 friends to a rural part of japan, and all 4 of us stayed with my cousin hiukei - they have not met before, and i have not met hiukei for years. i knew they'd click, and we ended up with a full week of fun & laughter. my friend gut got along particularly well with hiukei, and they are both experts of japanese entertainment scene. so this time, without much prior planning, we decided to meet up in tokyo again to enjoy a few days of girls-just-wanna-have-fun!

we tried out geeky maid cafes in akihabara, we posed silly for sticker pictures, we stole advertisements featuring hot japanese stars, we ended up buying the same leather jacket, and we have all become owners of the same ricoh digital camera!

thank you gut for being my best travelmate of all times, and sorry for not being as energetic as before. i really can't remember how we could get to 4 districts and shop 12 hours straight. that's all history but i thought we had fun this time too, taking it slower.

and thank you hiukei too, coming all the way up to tokyo. a long way to go for you, having to challenge yourself with japanese grad school admission tests and all. my best wishes to you!

Monday, September 14, 2009

0902 - mum's bday

my mum is a virgo but she's probably the most un-virgo person i know. interestingly my mum-in-law is also a virgo - i m yet to find out the virgo composition in her ... haha.

we held a little birthday dinner and cake-cutting at home. cake-cutting is my mum's favourite, and apparently this is already her 3rd treat this year.

stay happy, mum!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

seoul plus - raw octopus challenge

as my 2nd iMovie trial, i have edited a special version of mike's battle with the octopus - and his eventual winning!


0824 - seoul

Seoul is a city that Mike has frequented in his past jobs, and he claims to know "real" korean food and korean (drinking) manners. So this trip is a chance for him to prove himself. For better judgement, we have also invited along our friends Dave & Eva. There cannot be a combination, as together we can eat soooooooooooooooooo much :)

Usually you would describe food as yum / weird / taste like shit .... for korean food i have come up with a new word - "confusing". korean food is really confusing! for the most basic, i can't even tell whether a dish is a hot dish or cold dish! then the tastes - when i think something looks spicy, it turns out sweet. when i think something should be sponegy, it turns out chewy. gosh!

The most confusing highlight was introduced to us by a korean buddy of mike's called 金明珠 (he's a guy). the dish is called 'fermented stink ray', and even local koreans would only have eaten it several times in their own life, as the fish is a rare species, and the way to prepare it is not so available in any restaurant or home. it looks like hamachi from japanese sashimi. once you put it in your mouth ... no taste but it's chewy in texture ... then after 10-seconds .... the fish will explode in your mouth ... the next thing you know, your mouth is filled with a taste which is like you having drunk a shooter of hair perm acid! (or as 金明珠 puts it, it tastes like amonia ... either way, you can tell how unbelievably gross it is).
R0015137 by you.

Though the food ventures are all the time too spicy, and most of the time too confusing, it was still enjoyable to be trying new things, meeting new friends and catching up with old friends.

DSC_9486 by you.

brandon's 1st swim - video version

back by popular demand - here's a video version, with my first time trial of the Mac iMovie tool! pardon my poor editing - i still have to figure out the background music ... i didn't mean to make the pool sound like a safari .... enjoy!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

0819 - brandon's 1st swim

upon fresh delivery of the baby neck floater from shanghai, and gifted with a sunny afternoon, my sister & i have decided to take baby brandon to his first swim. he's 8 mths and 1 day old, so should be man enough to take on the challenge!

he has his doubts at first, as he was inspecting the pool in quiet. but very soon you can see him enjoying the cool as we swing him slowly in floating water. then he grows more active, circling his little feet. and before you know, he's brave enough to go on his own and display a few olympian synchronized swimmer moves!

thank you for such a lovely experience. look forward to another swim with you!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

0810 - shanghai

shanghai is mike's 2nd home. so apart from the hairy crab season which is absolutely unmissable, he also takes the once-in-a-few-months' work opportunity to come home. and whenever he does, a few big family gatherings are always arranged.

if you look from above, you'd see a very different me in these gatherings - i keep a smile on even when eating, and rarely speaks a word - but no fake intended, 'cos the whole gathering is conducted in machine-gun speed shanghainese!

yet i enjoy it a lot being a pure listener & observer. this is a group of people, each with some rich history of their own and some interesting characters. grandma's 93 and so healthy she can almost run on her feet! it's hard to imagine that when she was young, she's been locked up by the government for the sake of her family of 10. how can she stay so positive and happy to this age? when she talks to me she always holds me tightly in her hands. not only did i feel important, i feel an inject of positivity and the wisdom of life into me ... thank you grandma!

then there are the aunts & uncles. the uncle who likes to suddenly pop some english to make conversation with me; another who is a professional cellist and told us off-stage secrets of eason chan as he was in the string quartet of eason's live in shanghai (!); the aunts would always cook us big bags of yummy secret-recipe shanghainese snacks so we can take home with us to hk ... a very loving bunch!

thank you all for teaching me new lessons in family culture!

Monday, August 3, 2009

0725 - my cousin mel

we stayed with my cousin mel on the last few days of our trip in vancouver.

mel has moved from sydney to vancouver not long after university. i would think that is a rather young age. but it seems like she is not afraid of anything. and despite the many complications she has gone through in past years, she has grown into a happily confident lady, and a professionally responsible nurse.

she has grown up in the most protective household of all times. apparently due to her weak body, everything at home needs to be cook steamed (aka tastelss). and TV time is non-existent, while homework time lasted all days & nights. and a single drop of sweat would freak her parents out, and has to be swiped off in 0.001 sec or she would get sick ....

there was a classic story. our families went on an excursion to the countryside together. my sister and i took little mel on a short walk, while the adults were having lunch nearby. i was sure i was holding her hands tight, but next thing i know, mel has fallen into a pond!!!!  i remember trying to pull her up with my full body weight (at 6 yrs old!). soon the adults were there to rescue. and i got into huuuuuuuggggggggggggeeeeeeeeee trouble for the incident.

all these years i thought she has mistaken the 青苔 on the pond to be a grassfield, so she wrong-footed on it and fell into the pond.

mel made a confession when we were in vancouver (after nearly 30 years!)

she had known that it's a pond. yet from cartoons she recalled a fairy flying over and standing on pond-top. so she wanna try the same for herself !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

maybe that's the reason why she's banned from all TV !!!!!!!!

it was good that despite all the bans in childhood she has not abandoned her aspirations. this little fairy has stepped into different ponds and fell, but she has picked up herself time and time again, with no looking back. i admire her being such a brave lady!

mel - thank you for taking us in, and sharing good times together!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

0717 - sisterhood

this part of my trip is rather special, as my little sister has suddenly decided to join in. so together, me, my sister, aunt & uncle have taken many roadtrips to visit nearby city sights.

roadtrips are story times. as we have lived apart, there is always so much to flash back, so much to clarify, so much to laugh about. 

my mum is closest to aunt 2. they still talk on the phone a few times a week, over trivial daily things. they love each other, but often get mad at each other over some use of words. well this seems to have been a pattern for them for the past 60 odd years, haha. from my aunt i learnt more about my mum, how she need not do any house chores because she was sick as a kid, how she used to (and still do) linger on the streets til late night and never wanna go home, how she took my aunt along on her dates and taught her to order the expensive items on the menu, how she always think she is more beautiful and younger-looking .... these all cracks me up.

my sister and i grew up rather independently. all memories seem to be dating back to primary school, when we went to school together and was sharing a room. since we moved to sydney, we have grown apart, blame it on the big house, haha, whatever. still those memories were good.

my sister has a baby boy now. i have promised to take him hiking, since she is afraid of the sun. i will tell him about his mum, just like how my aunt told us our mum's story ....

Saturday, July 25, 2009

0716 - montreal with aunt & uncle 2

my aunt & uncle have moved to montreal for 13 years. i never really found out the exact reasons, but i guess god brought them there, for they are there to run a church which serves the chinese community.

i moved to sydney as a kid, and have always been looking at the benefits of immigration from the kids' perspective - how it gives kids a much wider exposure in life, being multi-lingual ... etc.

in montreal this time, i learn immigration from the perspective of parents, strangely, for the first time.

what kind of courage was needed to start all over again at mid-age? to get off a plane from sunny 20C hong kong into -40C snowstorm? to leave family whom you can speak your mind, to land into a community where all speaks french? 

like many chinese parents, the courage came from the hope of a better future for their kids. and as kids like us reap the benefit of it all, we often mock about how our parents aren't trying hard enough to fit into the community, and are never thankful enough for what we put them through.

i really don't know how they did it, but my aunt & uncle have long gone from puzzle to pleasure. they take walks in parks over a cup of tim hortons coffee, they sizzle up a BBQ at their little balcony over sunset, they take the snowstorms in winter as just a tiny piece of cake, they miss their little girl but give full respect for her wish to take on her own life living miles apart in japan  ...

as stylish as it sounds, none of it was dropped down from heaven for free. it was all well-earned. 

is this what you call "aging with grace"? a much-respected couple indeed.

thanks for such a lovely time we shared.