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Hong Kong 2009

This is seriously very backdated I feel embarassed to put it up. ūüėõ
But for memories sake, who cares!

We, as in our family of 5 and my ILs, went to Hong Kong for vacation from 11 Dec-16 Dec. The children had been looking forward to the trip ever since they knew about it. Why? Disneyland loh! Weeks before the trip the Grandpa already encouraged him to check out the HKDisney themepark map on the website to see where he would like to go first. -_- As for me, I also look forward to the trip because I had not gone on vacation abroad for more than 5 years already! Worktrips don’t count ok!

We flew CX as we manage to get quite decent rate, and I figured we need not have to worry about check-in luggage weight and getting seats especially travelling with young children. I know I can always pay extra to get these but I’m just anal about having to even pay extra, you know? I’d taken no-frills flight from the States, they have seat number allocation also… so I don’t understand why these low cost airlines want to make us pay extra just to get seating. And since the rates (after add up all the extra fees for luggage + seats) is not a lot cheaper than CX’s promotion rate, we chose the latter.

Liam and I almost didn’t make this trip because the week leading to the departure date, L was running a fever which wouldn’t subside; so on the 3rd day of fever onset (that’s 2 days before departure mind you), I brought him to a 24-hour clinic. The doctor checked his temp (39 degC) and recommended me to bring him to hospital for further tests by writing referral letter. So, off we went to the hospital that night and got him admitted. Paed was called in and he ordered blood test right away. The report was ready around midnight; was relieved it’s nothing serious. He was only given one dose of PCM that night and the fever came down. Then next morning his temp got up to 38+degC again he was fed another dose of medcine. But after that the fever never came back pheewwww! So we managed to get discharged that evening. Afterthoughts of this episode is, this is what old wives called Áõłś¨†ŚÄļ. The illness won’t go away until you spent $ on it. See, in the hospital he was only given PCM, nothing more. Which was also what I did from the onset of fever. Sigh! $ for my peace of mind… still worth it lah. Guess how much the bill came up to? ūüėõ

I digressed.

Anyway everybody was relieved. I had to spend most part of the night packing for the children and myself -_-“, and did online check-in and printed confirmation. Then have to get up early because we were on 8am flight.

Checking in luggage was a breeze as the ground crew led us to special lane after found out we had checked-in online. Had breakfast at McD before boarding. Forgot about taking pictures (for this blog ahem) because I was holding Liam. He was a little cranky after take off and didn’t want to eat his inflight infant meal; presumably sleepy as he fell asleep soon after and slept through most part of the journey. Ian, on the other hand kept asking me about the inflight games that I had told him about (I forbade them lugging along their DSlite on this vacation and told them there is inflight games they can play :P). Apparently no games on regional flights, only available on long-haul flights. In the end he settled for watching cartoon.
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Into the Drain

mommy's goodness

One week of goodness… *heartache because baby didn’t get to drink*

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But then, not all is wasted¬†because …

It’s my morning cuppa latte on somedays. ūüėõ

Very creamy and no sugar needed. Like Vien said, better and half and half.

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A Little Getaway

The day after election, we went to Penang Hill for a short getaway (day trip only) as my uncle organized bungalow stay up on the hill.

Originally I had planned to go early in the morning to have breakfast at the David Brown Restaurant and Tea Terrace. However it was not to be because, Hubs and I stayed up for the poll results till almost 2:40am and girl had mild fever that night and in the morning. Luckily her fever subsided after the morning dose of panadol; else we might have to shelve the plan to go at all. 

Anyway, we reached the hill railway station at 11:45am but tickets (for hill funicular) being sold was for 1:30pm already (frequency=every half hour)!! Imagine the crowd! To while away one and a half hour, we had light snacks at the station cafe.

Finally we were on our way! The funicular ride was something of an experience for the kids. The funicular works on pulley system, as in on car going up and another going down at the same time. At one point, the two cars will meet at intersection to exchange drivers. Then, at middle station everyone had to disembark and hop on to another car which will go right up to the peak station.

Pg Hill Railway 
Leaving Claremont Station on our way up

Viaduct
Viaduct (reminds me of Thomas the train hahahaa!)

We disembarked at the Viaduct Station (so named because the station is situated where the viaduct is). Pa and bro were at the station waiting to show us the way to the bungalow.

Big ant
Saw a big ant on along the path to our destination.

steps
Path¬†leading to the bungalow.¬†Isn’t it beautiful? Somehow¬†it felt surreal; it¬†was as if¬†one is¬†being transported back¬†in time.

My brother took the picture below when they arrived the day before. It rained before hence the place was cool and shrouded in mist. 

Pg Hill Whitehouse
Misty Whitehouse. I just love the English setting, building architecture¬†and the landscaping; it gives a quaint romantic feeling. Don’t you think this place looks absolutely like those described in english novels with 19th-eary 20th centuring setting?

Somehow I have a certain affinity for Penang Hill more than other hill resorts. Perhaps it has something to do with Pa being from Penang Hill. My grandfather was caretaker of Edgecliff bungalow; Pa and his siblings grew up on the hill.

Garden
This is the garden, with a great view. It would be so nice to have a cuppa here. We had snacks of chicken pie and curry puff for afternoon tea.

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Another corner of the bungalow. Tables and chairs were set up in the garden for evening barbeque. Just as we were about to start, it rained. We had to move everything to shaded area (lower right of the above picture). *sigh*

The rain had stopped by the time we finished dinner. It was cool and slightly breezy. We then made our way back to the station to catch our ride down the hill as most of us had to work on Monday. My uncle brought flash lights and accompanied us to the station as some parts of the trail were not lit. We managed to catch the last train at 9:30pm. 

It was a nice getaway for us, and especially for me since it is impossible travel far in my present condition.  I think we should plan another trip up again, to have tea and scones at the restaurant on the peak. 

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We spent the last few days of 2007 in KL, attending hub’s cousin’s wedding. We took AA¬†flights¬†to and fro; boy and¬†girl were very excited on both journeys. I had wanted to take the opportunity to meet up with some of the blogger friends there however our schedule was too rush, the plan didn’t materialise.

We stayed 2 nights¬†at a¬†hotel in Subang area because it was more convenient for relatives to chauffeur fetch us.¬†¬†The¬†Christmas decorations in the hotel includes a ginger bread house with fireplace; girl will always switch to hold my hand¬†on the side¬†away from the ginger bread house everytime we pass by the decor. Know why? She told¬†me,¬†“Because got witch in¬†ginger bread house!!” ūüėÜ
Apparently she learnt about¬†the¬†fable “Hansel & Gretel” from¬†Little Einsten show.¬†

I had a nagging feeling I had forgot something when I pack our luggage the night before we travelled. And true enough, I forgot to pack girl’s diapers. ūüôĄ¬†Fotunately, she’s at a stage where occasionally she’s able to sleep through the night without wetting the bed, just that at home I’m too lazy to train her /get up in the middle of the night to take her to toilet (mama needs her beauty sleep!!! ūüėõ ). So, I told her to wake me if she wants to pee, to which she nodded. And *drum roll…*, she didn’t wet the bed for the 2 nights. ūüôā

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On New Year’s day, we made a big purchase! Wanna guess what we bought?

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This big head prawn mama had thought school reopens on 2nd January; turned out 1st day of school falls on 3rd January. So much for taking leave on the 2nd. *sigh* Boy went to school by school bus without fuss, afterall this is his 2nd year of formal shooling already. He also knew that I will go to the school later to buy exercise books for him.

After buying books for him, I had lunch (of hokkien mee and chu-cheung-fun) in the school canteen, reminiscing tastes from my primary school days. The food still taste as good, just that prices had inflated 3 fold!!

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On 2nd day of school, I had to go back to work for half a day because we¬†were given¬†half day off due to department dinner in the evening. Received a call from school at around 3:30pm saying boy is running a fever requested¬†me to take him home. I went over to school to see him, and found that he is not really having fever. But the teacher assured me when they checked on him he did have slight temperature;¬†I guessed must be due to the afternoon heat and may be some running around during recess time. Anyway, I explained to boy he had to go back to class and study because he is not ill. I don’t want him to have the habit of¬†claiming ill¬†as an excuse to skip school/go home.

Not much luck in the department dinner lucky draw. ūüė¶ Anyway, hubs brought the kids to pick me up from the hotel (where there function was held). When I stepped into the car, girl immediately greeted me with “Ma, you are so beautiful!” Waa… since when my girl learnt to give compliments?! She is really growing up.

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Boy will be having his music assessment on 13th January. The KL trip caused him to miss 3 lessons in preparation¬†for the assessment; not very good timing. His playing and singing¬†are OK, I’m¬†more worried about his aural skills. Due to missed lessons & practice becauase of holidays, I¬†observed¬†that his chords (C major, G major, F major & D major)¬†and¬†pitch recognition¬†had weaken. With much aural practice/drilling¬†from me these few nights, I hope he will be ready for the assessment this Sunday.

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After the visit to Golden Gate Bridge, we went to Fishermans Wharf. Another touristy place; full of crowds.

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View of the marina.

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Big seagull in the carpark; it¬†isn’t¬†afraid of people. One flew so near me I had to jump aside (ŚľĻŚľÄ) LOL!

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Plenty of street musicians. This is just one of ’em I¬†caught on camera.

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The famous ‘bushman’. He would jump out to scare unsuspected passersby¬†walking along that stretch.¬†Luckily Vien told me about this so I did not become one of the victim heheheh! We stopped to look (like many others do)¬†and managed to see him scaring one unsuspecting couple.

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The arrays of seafood served at the crab stations. Look at those mouth-watering lobster, crabs and shrimps!

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We had fried calamari and fish & chips at one of the crab stations.

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Then we¬†walked to Pier 39 to watch a very noisy bunch of sea lions sun-bathing! ūüėÜ See how relaxed they are? I¬†filmed a short clip of two sea lions fighting for territory on the deck but it was more than 100MB so I wasunable to upload to youtoube. No time to edit the clip. ¬†ūüėõ¬†

sealion.jpg

On our way back to the car-park, we walked pass this bread shop where the public is able to see the happenings in the kitchen, men kneading, shaping dough and all. The sourdough bread were made into all kinds of shapes; there is crocodile, lobster, koala bear, crab, tortoise etc. 

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There was also a wax museaum. We didn’t go in but took picture of these at the entrance. Are you able to tell who these wax figures are?

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Other than photos (I took a lot more photos but can’t possibly show them all here. Processing the photos and uploading is very tiring :P), these are clips of some street acrobatics and mime artist at Fishermans Wharf.


Before heading back to Vien’s place, we¬†had pho and¬†Vietnamese iced milk coffee¬†at Pho¬†Thanh Long.¬†Ahh…¬†really comfort food!¬†Guess my stomach was craving for Asian fare after the previous few days of ribs, steaks &¬†grilled seafood. Look at how big the bowl is, even for a regular.

Although it was very good, I couldn’t¬†not finish the regular bowl. However I did manage to finish all the¬†beef/tendon/brisket¬†though… woudn’t want to waste the good stuff¬†hahah!¬†Oh, and really salute Michelle, for she is able to finish the regular portion, according to Vien.

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Close-up. Are you salivating already? 

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After the satisfying meal, we went back to Vien’s. We brough Belle out to do a little shopping in Mervins and Ross.

End of San Francisco tour.¬†We didn’t cover a lot of¬†other famous SF landmarks, but I’d rather enjoy leisurely than rush through different places ŤĶįť©¨ÁúčŤäĪ¬†just so I can claim I’d been¬†there.¬†Takes the fun out of¬†it.

Thanks to Vien and Jon for making my visit to San Francisco enjoyable and a memorable one. I would love to return with the kids and let them experience more than what we did that day.

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Friday was¬†the last day of the conference¬†and training. I called for a cab to take me to PDX¬†straight from the office, on the way stopping by the hotel to pick up my luggage.¬†Although the cab driver¬†is a nice person (we had friendly chats all the way), he doesn’t seemed to know the roads very well. The usual¬†5-10 minutes¬†drive from office to hotel took us half-an-hour!! ūüôĄ I was¬†very worried I wouldn’t make it in time¬†for my flight (that was the last flight to SJC for that day) as my colleague had warned me¬†Friday traffic is usually heavy. Luckily the freeway was not too crowded except when it ss nearing the airport. The taxi fare costed USD80+; I didn’t tip the guy as I thought I’d paid more than I should¬†since he didn’t know the way. Further more, he didn’t have official receipt with him and the credit card machine is down.

So I made it to the airport in time. ūüôā But then I almost missed the flight because I was chatting with a colleague who was taking the same flight with me and both of us didn’t hear the boarding call!! LOL! The¬†aircraft was a propeller plane, it was very¬†noisy all the way. Well anyway, I finally made it to SJC and it was cold brrrrrr… It was a long walk to the baggage claim area after getting off the plane.¬†Vien was there to pick me up :).¬†And that night, both of us chatted until 2:45am before¬†calling it a ‘night’!

Belle & Vien

The next day I get to see the ever adorable Belle but she was shy. Then her YaYa and NaiNai came over to babysit. So we left for SF soon after.

First stop was having breakfast¬†at Hong Kong Bistro at Millbrae. We had ŚĻ≤ÁāíÁČõś≤≥ (canto: kon chao ngau hor) and ÁÉßťł≠ť¶Ąť•®śĪ§ťĚĘ (roast duck wanton noodle soup), yummy!! We totally forgot about taking photos of the food. By the time we realised, ’twas too late LOL!

After a satisfying breakfast, we headed to the famous SF landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge. From now onwards,¬†it is going to be like a picture-blog ūüėČ However I can only upload a selected few of the photos I’d taken.

The Golden Gate Bridge; Host and Hostess ūüėČ Although the weather was really nice, warm sunshine and clear skies, the wind chills¬†made us had our jackets on while up¬†there.¬†Still, our¬†fingers and ears were freezing cold!¬†¬†
Golden Gate BridgeJon & Vien                                                                  
On the bridge; Cross-section of the cable.
On GGBCross-section of Cable                                                                    

From Golden Gate Bridge, we head to Lombard street, the most winding street in US. On Lombard street. See the how steep the road is? Cars lining up to drive through the tight hair-pin turns of the steep one-block section of the street.

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Nice landscape and view huh? You can’t see the road, only roof of the cars is visible. From where we parked the car, there’s another very straight and steep downhill road. Vien suggested to roller blade on this road LOL!

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Think¬†I have to stop here for now. Compressing and uploading the photos is too much work! ūüėõ

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Home at last!

Arrived home yesterday evening. Kids were eager to see me ūüôā

It was a short trip considering the time spent to get there is one third of the entire itinerary. Though tiring, it was a fun trip afterall.

Getting to meet most of the people (from other geography than Penang) I would be working with closely is¬†catalytic to building good rapport among working peers. I’m glad that this group I’m transitioning into has very nice people and technically highly competent too.¬†Other than that,¬†the conference¬†was an eye¬†opener, in understanding and getting grasp of the direction our group is heading towards. Overall I very much motivated!

I guess most would have found out that I was¬†the visitor to Belle’s home¬† ūüėČ . I¬†want to thank¬†Vien and Jon for their great hospitality during my short visit *HUGS*. There will¬†be a post on its own for the sight-seeting trip in San Francisco later after I upload the photos.

So, stay tuned! 

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