Archive for December, 2012

HK Raw and Ready: Day 2 NYE

December 31, 2012

Slept well enough, and awoke to sunshine blazing in from the view. Should have chosen the other bed. Lingered and finally showered, ready to move out.

Originally wanted to start out NYE by with dim sum at Maxim’s Langham Place, but passed by Yuen Kee Noodles on Parkes Street on the way to the subway and thought why the hell not, I need a late brekkie to fill my empty stomach anyway. This is steamed won ton noodles and the customary yuan yang.

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Probably will keep dim sum for a late lunch.

Going to chance the Mongkok Espirit factory outlet to see if I can pick up some work shirts or maybe jeans. I need smaller size stuff all the time. Then maybe a walking tour of Central in the afternoon. Brought out my hotel copy of the SCMP and will wanna nurse it over hot late tea. Reminder to myself: find Sogo, find that place, or any reasonable place, to have century egg congee.

The highlight of tonight is definitely the countdown and lights show at the harbourfront. Expectant.

Indulged in a spot of shopping for work clothes in Mongkok and that took a while. Turns out MX was a bust because it was a fuss-free Cantonese fast food joint instead. I guess I would have to venture to the Maxim Palace restaurants for some real dim sum.

Then on to the train to Central. Got off at Admiralty. Typing this at a rest stop at Tamar. It’s a little windy and gloriously sunny and with great views of the harbor and the peak. Gonna photo whore for a while here.

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Munching the remainder of my lao po bing before walking down to the view.

Updated this post twice but lost everything because there’s some problem with the app and updating with the wireless. I’m going to start a new post so I won’t lose everything a third time.

Revelation at 0400

December 31, 2012

You are in my thoughts, not to hold me hostage, but to set me free.

There’s no need to message you my very best wishes for 2013. I do. You know I do. I think I understand why you feel it’s better this way. I think so too.

I’m sorry, dear, we couldn’t go onto the next chapter together. But I hope one day you will understand why I had to close this chapter so that we can both write new ones apart.

HK Raw and Ready: Day 1

December 31, 2012

Have decided raw day-by-day updates are more in keeping with the spirit of this trip than a considered, end-of-trip retrospective. So because the hotel wireless is pretty hopeless, will upload pics only after I get back.

So after arriving and checking into the hotel, I had my first proper meal at Cherry Garden Restaurant (actually really a cafe) in Tak Hing Street, after making an initial on-foot orientation around the hotel’s surroundings at Austin Road. Had a steaming bowl of beef brisket topped off by traditional yuan yang coffee-tea hybrid.

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It’s teatime now but fortunately or rather unusually, the bustling of life doesn’t intrude here at this moment. Only four tables are occupied, scattered all around, mostly elderly folk nursing their tea, in quiet contemplation or conversation. At the far end a flat screen broadcasts some cartoon on a Chinese channel with the sound mercifully off. A good choice of place for a late lunch. Don’t think any place along the hub that is Nathan Road would offer this kind of respite now.

I’m using the time to mull on my options for the next couple of days. A walk around Kowloon Park definitely. Maybe a walking tour or several, perhaps self-designed ones. Plan to sample lots of local foods. If my ex taught me anything, her exploratory knack does hit pay dirt often. Going off the beaten track, taking time to look, explore and observe, in no hurry to move move move, an agenda always in the midst of being shaped. Is so much better than a guided, planned-to-the-minute thing that we had when last we came.

WX would definitely love this place. Ok I’m not supposed to dwell on her, but everywhere I see things that remind me of her, of things she said. So let’s choose to view these as nice memories or echoes then. Why choose to dwell on miseries when life is short and its gift is a blessing to us for others?

When I came here with the ex, I remember how alone I was, exploring the harbourfront while she chose to shop. Thinking then what a pity we couldn’t share this one memory. Never seeing the irony in the foreshadowing.

I’m reminded of ‘not all who wander are lost’, a Tolkien quote that WX uses as a signature in one of her email accounts. ‘The key is to observe’ is her Twitter tagline. Both sayings are so resonant now. Recalling this, writing this now, I don’t feel down or bad or anything like that, actually. It’s just a memory.

After lunch, more exploring. I decided to hug rather than walk along Nathan Road, so that I could slip into lanes and places I fancied. And the crowds came, thick and fast and teeming.

The first place I stopped at was, surprise surprise, Chung Hwa Book Company, which I think is one of the more established bibliophile places in the territory. Flipped through this book exploring queer culture in Singapore. Not sure if it can be published back home.

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Reacquainted myself with a walking tour guide of HK, which reminded me and gave me some ideas of what to do in the next couple of days.

Then it was onto the second storey, which held stationery. Lots of pretty little cute things, and I flashed upon looking for tokens for JW, YS, LAH and other colleagues. Finally decided on six self-inking bite-sized teacher’s stamps, and I took care to select a range of encouraging remarks (and one on handwriting). I think it’s a pretty nifty yet meaningful gift – I’ve not seen them back home anyway.

The third storey carried serious academic stuff, in Chinese. Looking at the volumes, I realise how illiterate I was in another language. It’s pretty humbling to know there’s a whole universe of knowledge I can’t access.

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Then back to browsing the street, which was just bursting with human traffic. Walking by chance into a local sports store, I realised I could look out for old season Chelsea jerseys, and true enough I found one, original, at a discounted price. Will keep an eye out for more in the next few days.

Tried street food. Walked sections of a night market. I now know it’s not that I’m averse to browsing such places, but I just didn’t like doing it when it was with the ex. Chanced upon Maxim opposite Mong Kok City Centre.

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Will check its other outlets online when I get back to the room.

Then I went off Nathan Road, just walking where the path took me. Moved away from the shopping, touristy areas, and the human traffic also started to thin. Now you could see more locals going about their business. Walked along Yuen Ngai Street, then Prince Edward West, where lots of flower shops were set up. Saw lots of people carrying bouquets home.

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And thought of Mrs Dalloway’s line. ‘Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself’. Remembered watching The Hours, while Mum lay in her box. Turns out the movie isn’t about death, it’s about life. And then it comes to me, we shouldn’t walk the same path over and over because it’ll wear us down just as we wear it down.

Wanted to continue and walk back towards Nathan and see how far I could get to the other end, but I chanced upon yet another cafe and I wanted to stop and pen this, over dinner. Ordered fried rice noodles with beef, not very appetising honestly, but you have to chance. Sometimes you get the quotidian, but maybe life is in the cumulation of quotidian averages spiced with some excitement once in a while.

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Anyway I think I finally understand what it means to move on and let things be. It’ll be okay. The memories are part of me, but going down that path over and over just wears them down as it wears me down. And if I want to honour them the way they are, that’s the last thing I should do. So sitting here, in another run-of-the-mill cafe, having difficulty finishing the rice noodles because I’m not really hungry as the street food was rather filling, with lively conversation at the next table and cigarette smoke wafting onto me, I come to this realization.

Am I going to work through these little ‘epiphanies’ in anonymous cafes far from the madding crowd over the next few days? Maybe. It’s like little pit stops on some kind of road trip where you take time to pen stuff down, not with ink in a notebook but with your WordPress app on the iPhone. Whatever. I can’t get my roaming to work. No matter. I plan to update every night using the hotel wireless anyway.

It’s almost eight. When I’m done and am back out into the chilly night (I need my sweater and my thick windbreaker), I plan to walk back towards the hotel and try to find my way back.

People walk a lot in HK. Even with a good public transport system. You virtually cannot find an obese Hongkonger. They walk off what they eat, then set down somewhere to recharge, then walk it off again. It’s built into this frenetic energy of the city. I could see Soaps living here, and living it up here. I hope she gets the job, and if she does I will definitely come back to catch up.

Then predictably I get lost, and I was wandering for about an hour before I finally got my bearings. So many serendipitous encounters with all sorts of little eateries in the back streets – Shanghai and Parkes and what-have-you; I forget but I will definitely explore in days to come.

It’s ten past midnight already. Am going to stop here and turn in. I need to crash, since I didn’t get any shuteye last night. Will explore brekkie in those side streets and then hit Central or Kowloon Park; I haven’t decided. I also need to check up stuff on the Net before I head out. So much to do! I hope I have enough time.

HK here I come!

December 30, 2012

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Having a quick breakfast at Starbucks before I board.

Couldn’t get any sleep, really psyched! It’s been a while since I really got excited about traveling. Can’t wait!

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Soon I’ll be soaring with thee, winged bird, who taketh to flight all my hopes:)

“And though they are with you yet they belong not to you”

December 29, 2012

ST ran a commentary from veteran diplomat Tommy Koh, who, speaking of parents’ relations with their children, cites the poet Kahlil Gibran:

“And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts.”

Sound advice for those on The Job too, and something to ponder as we welcome the new year and all it brings.

I’m spending New Year’s in HK!

December 29, 2012

What the hell. Enough with feeling sorry for myself already.

I’ve earned this getaway. It’s as simple as, that’s it, just book and go.

Really psyched!

Finally. A taste of freedom:)

“Actually I would rather not talk about it since it’s all over.”

December 28, 2012

Okay.

I guess I have to accept your decision.

I’m glad I at least tried.

Be happy.

All the way to the end

December 26, 2012

“All the way to the end. No matter what. All the way to the end.”

– Laura Roslin, BSG “Daybreak Part II”

Faith is a funny thing. There are moments when you feel you really don’t have it, that it’s slipping away from you, slowly but surely, and then it turns up in the most unexpected of places.

I gotta admit, I was dreading Christmas this year. Not knowing how I’d cope after eight and a half years and then suddenly flying solo again. At first I thought it’d be me and John McClane again, like good old times, but then John invited me to share in the little turkey dinner with his girl and Rain and we ended up KTVing for a while after. Totally unexpected. But it was a thoughtful gesture and I hope he knows I’m thankful.

It may sound silly to say this, but nowadays when I close my eyes and think about what it really means to be alone again, there’s a calmness, a peace that wasn’t there before. Maybe I am beginning to be okay again. Maybe it has really started to heal. Today I woke up and saw WX’s whatsapp Christmas greetings. I really didn’t expect that. So I replied, and as I’m writing this I’m wondering what if one day, sooner than I’d expected, I’d wake up and think about her and it doesn’t hurt anymore? There’s no more pain but just good feelings, a quiet blessing that she’d be okay and happy and my very best wishes for her? I think it happened to me a few days ago.

I may not have everything figured out yet, but I know I do care for you in some way, and there’s nothing I’d like more than to be on speaking terms with you again, but that’s something we have to come towards together, and if right now isn’t the right moment, then so be it.

The miracle of Christmas is the miracle of faith. When you don’t quite know how you can do it but you actually can. And it teaches you, shows you you can. Faith isn’t afraid of the truth. It enriches and is enriched by the truth, and by the abiding belief that in its own power you are set free and soaring. We are called to faith, not the other way around. It is a gift to us, for us, which we hardly deserve. And our response to this calling is to be true to ourselves, and to those whom we are called to be gifts towards, so that in our actions, in faith, we are realised in others as they are realised in us. What this calls for is no less a rededication of our lives to the truth, for our faith which brings us the courage to be the light in the lives of those we are ordained to touch, however briefly.

There is a plan, and we may not know what our part is in this grand scheme, but in faith it will be revealed to us, and it will be good as we aspire to faith and to the good.

Crafting life

December 20, 2012

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This is highly recommended for anyone on The Job, and not only if your subject is writing. I came to this expecting a user’s guide, a manual, that I could use to help my charges hone their arguments better, but boy was I glad I was wrong. Reading Fish reacquainted me with why I chose to do Lit way back then, why words move me and why I want to move my charges with words. I won’t be able to do justice to all the insights he makes; so all I can say is you need to read it for yourself and you will discover why I felt (and still feel) writing is a commitment to life and should never be carelessly, mindlessly done. And why we must love what we do – as Fish clearly does – because the Artist on The Job is as important – perhaps more so – than all the roles we get called on to play.

Also went to get looked at about a touch of flu, and asked about BMI targets and all. Was surprised to find upon weighing I’m 75.1 – I expected to be 80 given that I haven’t been gymming regularly during the downtime. BP was ok; I should get my cholesterol tested if I really want to make sure I’m on the right track. So the triad of BP, cholesterol and sugar intake is also something to think about rather than just general weight loss and exercise.

The finality of nothing/the openness of everything

December 19, 2012

So 21 February is actually 21 December.

And I haven’t decided how to react.

Actually ‘decided’ sounds pretty silly. I mean, why not just tell the truth? But then, what is truth? From which beginning?

I’m all talked out already. No point going over all the recriminations, all the hurts, disappointments and time wasted. To me, that’s just dwelling on the past, when my overriding desire is to move on.

To me, the D affair drags me back to a place I’d rather not be, anchors me to a stagnant limbo, death by not dying. I know it’s something I need to deal with. I can’t wait to cross this threshold. Even though it will be a difficult path, I must walk it and know there’s an ending, and feel the sense of an ending with every step.

Hold on.