Chongqing in 5D4N

Among all the routes HKA flies to, Chongqing is one of the few city I have not step foot on. Hence I requested hubby to request for night stop and lucky enough he got a back to back Chongqing flight this month.

As usual last minute planning and upon checking the hotel has staff rate, I quickly list down the places I want to go and here I am writing about my little adventure on my own in Chongqing for 5D4N.

Out of the 4 days, 2 days hubs is around, so on those days we just explore the city since he can’t go far. And the other 2 days, I joined excursion tour out of the city.

8 Aug

As it was raining, we decided to spend our morning exploring Three Gorgeous Museum. Something which hubs dread, he’s not a museum person, totally opposite of me. From what I read, this is one of the biggest museum in China. It was built mainly to house relics that were dug out during the Three Gorgeous Dam Project. 4 levels to go through showcasing the usual Chinese Museum exhibits such as ceramic exhibits, calligraphy & paintings. Only two sections caught my attention.

  1. Hand painted Chinese fan, rarely I see these in Chinese Museum. They were beautiful. Most of them are 2 sided. One side with poem written on it. The other side with painting.
  2. Currency history in China, right from the days of copper coins. This was really cool as we always see them on TV, but not much of real ones. There were also notes issued by different banks back in early 1900s which eventually became a bunch of useless paper as it weren’t recognised during war time.

Right opposite the Museum was the Great Hall of the People, which looked very much like Temple of Heaven in different colour . As it was raining, we didn’t go there since you can’t go in, no point hanging outside.

Great Hall of the People

Below are some photos taken in the Three Gorgeous Museum.

Art Collection donated by Li Chuli.

A cabinet full of hand painted paper fans.

Beautiful scenery drawn on the paper fan.

Another beautiful scenery, in colours, drawn on the paper fan.

Porcelain vases & bowls dated from Song Dynasty.

Into the Art Sculpture Hall.

Terracotta Figurine Riding Horse, excavated from Fengdu.

Stone Tomb Gate from Donghan Period

Stone Coffin Donghan Period, excavated in Shapingba, Chongqing

Painting stone of No. 1 Tomb of Yangzi Mountain Chariots & Riders Starting Off

Coins when it was first introduced, made of copper.

Various currency issued from different bank during 1940s.

Note Currency which became useless eventually, folded in fan and hat.

Chongqing during Japanese Invasion, World War II.

One of the few document which I could read LOL, since most of it was written in Chinese with little translation. I’d love to read the content though.

Human Skeleton of the Bayu People.

Type of Stones found along Yangtze River.

Various boats used along Yangtze River.

Next we went to Hongya Cave for some shopping. This is also a tourist must do when you are in Chongqing. Apparently Hongya is very important historically, but this is only a replica as the original site has been demolished / destroyed . Nothing interesting here, except Level 4 where you can buy snacks to bring home. I’d strongly recommend you to get some chilli. They are pretty delicious (not spicy) and addictive. At Level 10, you may also walk out to the viewing deck for a nice view of the bridge.

9 Aug

Hubs left for HK early morning today. I engaged myself with a crazy tour to Wulong Karst, a UNESCO Heritage Site. Why crazy? First, my 1st time travelling with China tour. Yes, we’ve been to many China cities, but all were self guided, no tour and never alone. Two, it’s 3 hours drive from the city!!! I kid you not. It’s like going to Penang . The bus was packed and because I was last to board the bus & the only single traveller, I had to sit in the middle of the last row. Weren’t too please with this arrangement but no choice.

I was pretty impressed with the tour guide though. She started off briefing everyone about the Do’s and Don’ts. She had two list. The ones for the bus, and the ones for the tour site. We all know how uncivilised Chinese travellers are, hence this is indeed very comforting seeing them making an effort to educate their travellers starting from local tours. They even had rubbish bins places along the bus walkway for them to throw rubbish. After that she talked about the fees, what are the extras we had to pay and some stories about Wulong Karst. I could muster probably 80% of what she say. Making mental notes of important bits (eg where to meet after the tour) as I didn’t want to be left behind by the bus since I was travelling alone. I also take note on some of the faces (those sat next to me), just in case I was lost or gonna be late for the bus. As usual, there were some unhappy Chinese tourist in the bus, due to having to pay extra money for stuff that weren’t covered. I slept most of the time throughout the since I couldn’t take photos.

We finally arrived around 1230PM. First stop is of course some place to sell you stuff. China right. We were given briefing about the local plants and herbs in Wulong. Famous for orchids and some Chinese Herbs. I could only understand & translate (for my own understanding) half of what they were explaining given my very limited Chinese vocabulary.

Then, we went to a restaurant and were served with some strange food. Cucumber with chilli padi . I only ate those that looked familiar to me .

Cucumber with chilli padi…no I didn’t eat this dish.

Beans with pork. This was not bad.

After lunch, we were made to go into some exhibition hall, where they display various type of stones, found all over Southern China. Here are some of the stones which caught my attention.

Precious Jade, found in Guizhou Qinglong

Emerald, found in Yunnan

Desert Rose Stone, found in Inner Mongolia

Crystal Pyrite, found in South China Karst

We finally reached Wulong Karst around 130PM. First, we went to the viewing platform. I didn’t know it was so high up until I googled it just now. 820 feet above ground, 4,000  feet above sea level. It was quite fun at the beginning when I step onto the platform. I was happily snapping photos and walking at the side (where the railing is). Then when I walk to the middle of the platform, where you can see through right to the bottom, it scared the out of me. Obviously I weren’t prepared for such height. I literally drag my feet across the other side instead of walk, for fear of the platform might collapse .

View from the viewing platform. Awesome right.

This was where I started panic.

After my brief scare on the platform, we were directed to walk across the street, and we walked all the way down to see the 3 Natural Bridges itself. It was quite a long walk, with endless steps. It is indeed quite a sight upon arriving at the bottom of the Natural Bridges. It’s so magnificent. The Natural Bridges namely Tianlong Bridge, Qinglong Bridge & Heilong Bridge is so huge and deep. This was also where Transformer: Age of Extinction & Curse of the Golden Flower was shot. Aside from the 3 bridges, there are also some natural rock formation which is note worthy. Here are some of the photos taken at Wulong Karst.

The 1st Natural Bridge, also known as Sky Dragon (Tianlong) Bridge.

Part of Tianfu Post House, outdoor scene of the Curse of the Golden Flower Movie, directed by Zhang Yimou

View from midpoint of the Tianfu Post House. Regret not going further up, would have gotten a better photo.

Closer look of the Sky Dragon (Tianlong) Bridge.

Heading towards Green Dragon (Qinglong) Bridge.

Look up to Green Dragon (Qinglong) Bridge and saw this.

Karst Waterfall streaming down near Green Dragon (Qinglong) Bridge.

The bridge opening of Qinglong Bridge is like a broadsword, with vivid handle and blade. It can be seen more clearly in the lake.

Awesome view as I pass Green Dragon Bridge.

Look up and this was what I saw, below Green Dragon Bridge.

Jumping carp, can you see the shape?

Walking further to the next bridge.

Always look up while you are walking as you will spot some amazing shape karst.

Almost reaching Black Dragon (Heilong) Bridge.

More Karst seen here, in a very narrow gap.

After passing Black Dragon (Heilong) Bridge, look back and see a Gorilla face.

After passing Black Dragon (Heilong) Bridge, we will come to the four springs of Black Dragon (Heilong) Bridge. Such a beautiful sight.

Another part of the spring. Love the reflection on the spring itself.

Rock of Happy Couple.

Next, we took a shuttle bus to Longshuixia Fissure Gorge. It is a typical karst landscape associated with orogenic movement. 5km length and 500m depth make it a magnificent and fantastic valley, which has steep cliff, original vegetation and stream waterfalls. The walk path is pretty narrow and some parts of it you have to bend down. But the scenery is breathtaking. No regrets spending 3 hours on the road.

View of the waterfall from top. We were all stuck at the top (lining up to take elevator) for almost 20 minutes before we could go nearer to the Waterfall.

The one and only bug that I spotted while walking to the waterfall.

The narrow walkway. They try to preserve this area with minimal structural items built. Just simply steps and hand railing.

Many more steps to go for me…

I simply love this view of bridge connecting the area leading to waterfall.

This is the waterfall. Amazing depth and so windy while we walk past.

Water flowing through the stones at the bottom of the waterfall.

More walking at the Longshuixia Fissure Gorge.

Stones covered with moss.

Another waterfall, a smaller one, under the manmade bridge.

Clear blue water pool.

We left Wulong close to 6PM and finally arrived back in Chongqing at 9PM. What a long and tiring day.

I quickly spoke to the hotel concierge and arrange for next day’s tour to avoid the same issue happening again like the 1st day.

10 Aug

Today, I’m on the road again. But it is not so far compared to yesterday. I’m heading to Dazu Rock Carvings. Another UNESCO Heritage in Chongqing. I got a better seat today, right next to the window (although it’s the last row), hence I took some photos during the roadtrip.

Road trip view.

We travelled 2 hours out of the city, and our first stop were again some place they try to promote local tourism. Next we stopped by a restaurant for quick lunch. The food today was much edible compared to yesterday .

Fruit truck selling fruits outside the restaurant. Tempted, but didn’t buy.

There are many notable Rock Carvings in Dazu County. We are to visit Baodingshan. We finally arrive at Baodingshan around 12PM. Tour guide gave us specific instruction to walk into the entrance of Baodingshan. It’s about 2KM walk to just the entrance itself. But since it’s mainly flat road and they’ve constructed this very beautiful walkway, the 2KM was pretty bearable. The history of Dazu Rock Carvings was dated back to 650AD during the Tang Dynasty and continued during Ming Dynasty & Qing Dynasty. Among the rock carvings, there are more than 50,000 statues and over 100,000 Chinese characters of inscriptions and epigraphs. The Buddhist statues dominate in this rock carving group, and the Taoist and the Confucian stone figures can also be seen.

Most of the carvings tells stories about Buddhism. The thing I like about today’s tour, was that each of us were given an audio device. We could listen to the tour guide’s explanation as we walk and explore the area, within 50m. This was much more effective compared to yesterday, where the tour guide only explain to us in the bus and didn’t bring us around. The 2 most notable carvings in Baodingshan is sleeping buddha & 1000 palm kuan yin. What we see today are the result of extensive restoration has taken place for the past 8-10 years to restore & protect these carvings.

Here are some photos taken at Baodingshan Dazu Carvings.

Thousand hands, thousand eyes

Thousand hand Kuan Yin

Paddy field along the way back to Chongqing.

We arrived back in Chongqing around 5PM. I went back to hotel to shower and rest before heading out to look for food around Liberation Monument (Jiefangbei), which is just behind my hotel, Intercontinental. This is like Chongqing Times Square. Eventually, I end up eating at Pizza Hut after failing to find a proper restaurant that comes with English Menu .

11 Aug

Another rainy day today. With the hope of rain will stop by noon, we brave ourselves to Huguang Assembly Guild Hall. The Huguang Assembly Guild Hall has a history of over 200 years. Merchants and traders from other nearby cities such as Hubei, Guangdong, Hunan & Guangxi that travels to Chongqing for businesses will gather at this Guild Hall. It serves as a place for entertaining & meetings while traders were in Chongqing. Various sections of this Hall is identified with different names, for people coming from different cities. According to history, this place was first built in 1759 during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. Because it was at the Yangtze River Mouth, it was subjected to flood. There were famine, plague and war, which causes the population to decrease in Szechuan (Chongqing was then part of Szechuan). Due to this, the Qing Dynasty encouraged migration of people from the West to settle in Szechuan/Chongqing, since it was once the capital of China.

Below are some photos taken in Huguang.

Emperor Yu’s Palace. He’s a highly reputed Hero of Water Control.

Ancestor Worship Hall.

After we left Huguang, we went to Ciqikou Old Town, which is also known as Porcelain Town. Ciqikou is on a hill above the Jialing River in the western part of Chongqing city. It is a small section of city with about two city streets and back allies that are set aside as a pedestrian shopping and dining area. It was once a prominent market and trade town next to Chongqing. In the Ming Dynasty, it was a river port and market town. Goods were transported over land and water. Now it is just another old town like those in other cities, a place for tourist to buy souvenirs and eat their heart out.

The rain was getting heavier, hence no photos taken at Ciqikou. We had beggar chicken for lunch. Yummy chicken wrapped in lotus leave and paper, covered with mud and baked/grilled on the hot stove. Chicken was moist and juicy. Then we came upon a shop selling teapots and spent some time there shopping for teapot, then tea itself.

We had dinner in a restaurant near our hotel named Memory Tongue. Szechuan hot and spicy food. Since it is our last night in Chongqing, we head back to hotel early to pack up and sleep.

It is definitely a trip I enjoyed very much. 2 more UNESCO Heritage in the pocket .

Pre-Holiday Stress

After so many years planning for family holiday, I must admit that this round is the most stressful. Reason being that we are travelling on ID/FOC Ticket. We thought that May is non peak season, should not be an issue getting on board. But as the date come nearer, I start to have doubts since the number of seats is getting less and less.

For this reason, I’ve had sleepless nights for the past week. I even had dreams of us not getting on board, and ended up in London .

As we are travelling on ID/FOC ticket, and seats are not firm until 1 hour before the gate close, we couldn’t book our accommodation. I’ve only managed to shortlist those Airbnb within our budget, in preparation of booking them once we can get on board. Luckily, for transportation, I made a call to the car rental company and made the booking with some pre-arrangements which didn’t require any payment. Due to our travel arrangement, I also couldn’t pre-book any tours/performance that we want to go. I’m praying hard that tickets are still available when we are ready to make the bookings.

New Zealand is our 1st option, thinking that the flight won’t be full since it’s not China Holiday or Hong Kong Holiday. But it seems that everyone is interested to go New Zealand in May . As backup plan, we even had Plan B, that is to go Osaka, since there’s 3 flights a day to Osaka, so chances of getting on board is better.

As a result of Plan B, I also had to make itinerary plans for Osaka, in case we go Osaka instead of New Zealand.

I’ve finally finished both the Plans, now I’m working on shortlisting Osaka & Kyoto accommodation .

Next have to change currency for both countries, and also get ready simcard (docomo) if we going to Japan instead of New Zealand.

I hope I won’t be so stress the next time I plan for family holiday.

Housewife update, 1 year 5 months

Yesterday, 5th April, I went lunch with David Hardy & Twinky. Last I met David was 2 years ago, when he left CX account and head to HP Singapore. He’s now back in HK and will be working with another company. It was such a coincidence that it was exactly 1 year 5 months I’ve left HP. Apart from Twinky, who is still with HP, all of us has left CX Account. As usual, we bitch about all the crazy things that happen in the account last time, and also those that are still there.

Throughout all these months, I’ve received calls from some of my ex-managers in CX Account, asking if I’d join them in their new company. I’m really glad that despite my “early retirement”, I’m still pretty much wanted by them, due to my credibility at work. Even yesterday itself, David casually joke that he’s here to get me to work with him and Nicholas.

Nowadays, a lot people that I meet ask if I’m getting used to my “new life” and do I miss my job? Well, housewife life is tough. Yes it is!! You basically cover everything and anything that nobody does at home (apart from cleaning is done by part time cleaner). I become the default person to go to for meals, looking for missing things at home, collecting parcels from post office/groupon, running to immigration for visas, renewing insurance & road tax, purchase stuff for kids school project, centre of complain when the house is messy (but hey, that’s not even my fault ), booking flight tickets, pilot paperwork and many other things.

Sometimes, I get irritated doing all these because they throw my entire schedule off the track. As an ex-project manager, I’m still quite used to living within a schedule and planned activities. Last minute activities are very annoying. But then again, if  it’s not me doing all these who else, since I’m the one most free. That’s what Hon keeps telling me . Well some I understand, but looking for missing items in the house…that’s not really fit into the profile.

Do I miss my job? well Yes and No. I miss my ex-colleagues and all the lunch/dinner sessions with them. They keep me in tact with all the happenings in and out of office. I miss the money I earn and those I could spend in a month, of which now I’m more or less limited to what is provided by my other half. It’s more restrictive now. I certainly don’t miss working late nights and weekends. I don’t miss all the nasty clients and the unnecessary stress. I don’t miss going into datacenter sorting out cables and moving in servers.

I do yearn to work again, but probably as part time or flexi time so I could also spend time with my kids & family. Well, life is short after all. No use to earn all the money but not able to enjoy your life and live your life to the fullest.

Someday when I make a come back from my “early retirement”, I hope that I’m still sharp and sought after.

In Between Travels

Been busy lately, did a bit of travelling for the past 2 weeks, plus hosting Photography Meetups.

We went for a short trip in Okinawa, from 4-7 March. This is not the first time we go Okinawa, but rather covering the parts which I didn’t go previously. This time, we went with Jimm & Anna’s family, church friends.

We had so much fun eating & venturing Okinawa. Faythe & Vyktore even brought along UNO and we had quite a few games of UNO during idle time.

Earlier this week, Hon & myself made a trip to Shenzhen, for acupuncture, shopping & eating. Shenzhen is a shopping heaven for us because it has our favourite sports outlet, Decathlon. Time to get some new gym wear to replace the old ones .  This the first time Kat go to Decathlon, she also had a great time shopping at Decathlon.

Prior to that, we paid the acupuncture Sifu to torture us. I’ve been having this naggy pain behind my right knee for months. After the previous round of massage in Nov with Loong Sifu, it went off for a while, and then came back again. No amount of stretching and resting helped fix the situation. Kat recommended us to go to her acupuncturist in Shenzhen. After 15 minutes of needles poking, it was such a relieve that I could now bend my knees without much pain. Apparently there’s some blood clog at that area. I still need to go back for 1 round of acupuncture to get it fixed entirely. Meanwhile, Hon got his feet acupuncture due to numbness. He complain he couldn’t feel anything at all. Probably dead nerves? He was screaming like hell when the needles were poked through his feet. But after that, he was glad that the numbness is gone. He too need to go back for another round of acupuncture.

We had a great lunch & dinner at Shenzhen, eating at our favourite restaurant, Grandma’s Home.

We will be travelling again next weekend, not sure yet where to, but March is surely a busy month.

Lou Sang Entreprenuer

Two years ago, when I was still with HP and we didn’t go back for Chinese New Year, I attempted to make Lou Sang at home for our own consumption with the help of my maid. I was pretty happy with the outcome, and we all had a good supply of Lou Sang throughout the entire CNY. We even gave some to our Church’s Pastor family to try.

This year, some crazy idea came to my mind, since I’m making Lou Sang for my own consumption again, why not make a business out of it. Lou Sang is a common dish in KL. We eat them starting from weeks before CNY, up till Chap Goh Mei itself. But in HK, it’s either too expensive (those selling in hotels) or difficult to find. Even pre-packed ones are not easily made available. So I decided that I should test market. Who knows it can be a hit in HK.

I started preparing the ingredients and market my Lou Sang during Church Christmas Party. Prepared 2 big dish for everyone to try to get some feedback. There were a lot of positive tone. At the same time, I also told my church members I’ll be selling these during CNY, they could order from me.

I also bought different sizes of zip lock bags for storing of the ingredients. Initially I thought of just putting ingredients into the paper back, but Hon gave me idea to put them in aluminium foil tray, together with chopsticks so it’s like ready to eat anywhere anytime. It was great idea, but sourcing of the tray was a pain. Good thing, he managed to find some tray in Daiso, Narita during his night stop, so he bought some for me for the packaging.

Then I prepared flyers, so I could distribute it among friends via whats app. Wasn’t too difficult to get this done using photoshop and some of my digital scrapbook material. Hon helped to do the write up after he complain my write up was rubbish . Aside from the flyer, I also prepared a more detail write up on the Lou Sang, meaning of all the ingredients & how to eat Lou Sang in style . I also manage to get my friend to help translate both the flyers & write up to Chinese so it could reach a greater community.

I sent them all to my friends in HK. I also put it up on my instagram and finally revive my Facebook to post this important flyer on my Facebook page.

Orders started pouring in. At first it was rather slow. Then I decided to prepare some for my Zumba friends to try (mostly Filipino). Whoa they love it and all of them ordered from me.

Things started to get really hectic 2 weeks before CNY as I had to prepare all the materials before hand, do the packaging & delivery as well. At the same time, I was being ambitious, I baked some cookies for CNY celebration as well (not for sale OK).

I had an excel worksheet where I keep track of my cost, my capital investments & orders.

It was like running project again, but this time of a different scale and not involving IT.

It was tiring, but I sure had fun and some great sense of accomplishment. For once I felt like I’m a Project Manager again, after leaving the workforce for more than 1 year. Workaholic Syndrome hahaha.

Today, is the last day of CNY. I am also delivering my last order of Lou Sang to my church friend’s Chap Goh Mei Party. Business been pretty good (unexpected) and I’m sure next year I’m going to do this at a larger more capable scale. Now I need to start a business plan .

 

Yet Another Year

2 blog post in a year :

I’m so lacking and so not motivated to write/update this blog. How can I do better? Set a reminder to sit down every week to pen down something? Gosh…

So 2016 has ended, and we are into 2nd month of 2017. So fast!!!

Before I write down my 2017 Resolution (yes again, another resolution blog post hahaha), lets review what I’ve achieved in 2016. Here’s what I wrote for 2016. I’ve reviewed them and I’m quite proud that I managed to achieved 4/6 resolutions.

  1. update my blog every once a week (at least) – failed entirely
  2. going gym/exercise 3 times a week (at least) – overachieve
  3. eating healthy once a week. I’ve set wednesday to be healthy day for the whole family - overachieve
  4. catch up with backlogs of photobooks & editing. Target to complete 5 books this year. – overachieve
  5. training Faythe & Vyktore to be more independent. I’ve given them task to do (chores at home) and we have started this in December as trial run. – achieve
  6. bringing my kids out of Lantau Island at least once a month to explore more of Hong Kong. – failed partially

So this year, I’m back with setting another string of resolution for my achievement. I’ve wrote this down back in Jan, but just didn’t have the time to post it up as I was really really busy during CNY with my lil Lou Sang Business in HK.

2017 Resolution as follow:

  1. Hit 60kg of body weight & build more muscle
  2. to update my blog once a month – trying to be less ambitious to restart the momentum LOL
  3. study the word of lord, 1 chapter a month
  4. complete all travel photobooks backlogs – I’ve done year book up till 2013, that’s not too bad, so this year target to catch up all the travel books (which are easier to do)
  5. Join 1 marathon (half or quarter) either in KL or HK – uphill task
  6. eating healthy with healthy breakfast mon-fri

I try to be more specific this year, cause last year was more generalist. Well, it’s time to get my butt moving and start to work on these resolution.

Wish myself all the best, you can do it .

Adjusting to Stay-At-Home-Mom Lifestyle

It’s been 6 months & 12 days I have left my previous job. I had a hard time settling into a proper schedule for the 1st few months due to all the changes in the family (outgoing maid, Christmas, travelling, Chinese New Year and more travelling). I came to realise that I needed a schedule for myself to work on so that I can manage things better.

I wanted to do meal planning on a weekly basis, but after trying for a week, I gave up. Too much planning, I kid you not! Fast forward to today, I’m glad that I’ve got my SAHM lifestyle pretty settle down and things are rolling smoothly.

My Fitness Plans

When I started the year, I target to go to gym or workout at least 3 times a week to shed some kilos and loose a couple of inches (I’ve gained 10kg the past 1 year…OMG). But only making 3 days effort doesn’t seem to flourish into anything except the urge of eating more LOL. A friend introduced me to an app call MyFitnessPal, which helps to track your food intake, exercise, and weight gain/lost. I started using this app late January, and it made me realise that if I don’t go exercise, I am confined with just eating 1200 cals per day. This is somewhat a problem for someone like me who enjoys food. Hence I started to resume my kickboxing class, alternating with gym session, but Saturday and Sunday is no exercise day. Then CNY and some travelling with friends kick in and it all went hair-wired (more eating, not much of exercise LOL). I came back to HK on 21st March, weighing 2kg more!!! Dang!!!

I decided that my workout plans are screwed entirely and I need to be more discipline (for food and workout). I started using the MyFitnessPal App extensively, tracking all the food I eat everyday and became more cautious with my daily food intake. I also use Record App to have a more accurate recording of my workout sessions, which syncs its data to MyFitnessPal (same company). I ensure that I go to gym everyday (including weekends), except on day I go kickboxing, then I’ll take a break from gym. And lastly, Zumba class, 4 times a week. I pushed for the first 21 days really hard, because apparently, once you start an activity and maintain it for 21 days, it becomes a routine in your life. I passed the 21 days, but going into 2nd month, it seems even harder than the 21 days itself. Struggle, but I told myself, the changes will come. Gotta be patient and continue workout. I started loosing my 1st 1kg end of March, which help motivated myself.

Fast forward to today, I’ve lost about 3.5kg, but since I’ve gain 2kg during CNY, it’s just 1.5kg I’ve lost from where I started. A lot of handwork and hours of sweat. Control my food intake (but still giving myself some treats once in a while) and I’m happy that I’ve reduced by 1 size. I still have a whooping 7kg to loose…so the journey hasn’t ended. But I’m penning this down so that I can remember it later down the line.

My workout activities for a week:

Mon – Thu: 45 mins in gym in the morning (30 mins on the cross trainer, 15 mins for abs & legs workout – my problem areas) 

Mon – Thu: 60 mins in Zumba class in the evening (this is killer, but I totally love the sweat)

Fri: 120 mins kickboxing (this is another killer, but heck, gotta kick some asses)

Sat – Sun: same as Mon – Thu activities but I tend to cut it short to just 30 minutes sometimes due to weekend activities with Church and Family

I skip gym sessions when I have errands to run, e.g. marketing, school field trips, but I figure that doing these activities (walking) will also account for my daily exercise that I need to do, so it’s totally fine to skip gym session.

My Time in Kitchen

Now that I have my workout in place, I needed to plan my time in the kitchen as well. Life as SAHM is not easy life. No maid (just part time maid to help cleaning) means that I have to get up as early as 6:15AM to prepare kids lunch, wake the kids up, do all the marketing, cooking and whatever that the part time maid doesn’t do. And since I go for Zumba in the evening, I have to workout some meals that I can prepare earlier before my Zumba class that I can just quickly cook or heat up for dinner after Zumba class. The timing for Zumba class is not ideal (6-7pm), but it’s a FOC class, so it’s worth all these planning LOL. Not working mah, so gotta look for FOC/cheap alternative instead of spending more money right.

For lunch, I usually combine with breakfast since I only eat after I go gym, about 10AM. I will try take something heavy, sometimes I’ll eat with hubby outside, other times if there’s extra food from the kids lunch, I’ll just eat them. No additional cooking needed and keep it simple.

For dinner, I usually stick to soup with a steam fish since we have the tier-steamer, it’s very convenient. Soup boiling at the bottom, steam your food on top. Then a stir fry vegetables for the complete meal. Hon wants to cut down on rice as well at night, so sometimes we will just eat the dishes. If kids request for noodles or rice, I’ll just prepare for them. On other days, I’d prepare stews or casserole kinda food, which I start doing all the chopping and cooking at 2/3PM, and have it all done by 5PM. After Zumba class, just reheat and we have our dinner served. On Fridays, where I only go for kick boxing, I’ll cook something more elaborate since I have more time in the evening. Weekends are usually lazy day in kitchen, we either eat out or cook whatever I can dig out of the fridge.

I’m getting more skillful in the kitchen (AHEM) and challenge myself with more variety of dishes for the family. Photos can be viewed on my instagram account, jazzmint. I crawl the internet for new recipes and I use an app call PepperPlate to store all my favourite & tested recipes. It’s so easy with this App, so I don’t have to go to my bookmarks when I need to cook. Yes, I admit that I’m not a born Nigella Lawson. I’m never good with cooking and I’m still improvising them as we speak here. Having recipes as a guideline is really a beauty. If I need my food to be more flavourful I can also adjust the ingredients accordingly.

Needless to say, with all these cooking going on, there’s also a lot other activities happening in the kitchen, such as clearing of all the expired/old food and rearranging of things in kitchen. I wasn’t very happy with my previous maid. Not only she’s a lousy cook, but she’s probably the worst person when comes to keeping track of inventory in the kitchen. I found so many repeated food stuff stored in different containers in different parts of my kitchen. Frustrating is the word. But as of today, I’ve somehow sorted out 80% of the entire kitchen. I’ve cleared up plenty of rubbish in the kitchen and have an inventory of what’s in the kitchen at the back of my mind. I’ve rearranged the kitchen cabinets the way I like it (more organised) so I can find things easily. I’m still working on the kitchen drawers rearrangement, but I’m slowly loving my kitchen now :).

I’ve also started to explore new wet market in HK, because the one nearest to our home is very expensive. Just this week, I went to Tsuen Wan Wet Market and was delighted with the range of stuff available there, not forgetting cheaper groceries as well. I usually do marketing every 2 weeks, but since I discover this new market, I now want to go there every week instead.

Some before and after photos here as a record.

My Time with Faythe & Vyktore

Both of them are no longer toddlers, and they spend half the time in school. They leave as early as 7:10AM and comes home by 3:30PM/4:30PM depending on whether there’s ECA (Extra Curricular Activity) or not. They are both very happy to come home having Mommy to greet them nowadays. I ensure they shower and change into fresh clothing once they come home. Those days when I’m still at work, they won’t shower till when it’s near dinner time (roll eyes). I’ll also check if they need help with homework or not and we will do the homework usually before I go for Zumba classes. At times when they needed more homework attention, we will get to it after dinner. During exam month, they will have to work on worksheets after they finish their homework. Yes, I’m a 1/2 tiger mom LOL. Must have balance of work and play right.

Sometimes, I’ll also prepare some light snacks for tea time for them when I’m not lazy LOL.

On nights where we finish dinner early, we spend time together. We will chit chat and tell jokes. I enjoy listening to all their crazy ideas. We also play games. I’ve recently started teaching them Bahasa, once a week. They seems to enjoy it so far.

I’ll tug them into bed (no bedtime story since they can now read themselves, just hugs and kisses) by 10PM.

Weekends, we will usually chill out at home or go to town if we feel like it.

My Time with My Other Half

Now that I’m not working, he doesn’t have any reason to get upset that I’m back home late LOL. We get to spend time going lunch dates as well, which is great to improve our relationship. But on the downside of it, because I’m around at home, I seem to be more busy when he’s around as I need to cook breakfast for him, cook lunch for him, fix his laptop, fix his printout…Now he’s doing his promotion course for his work, I’m also helping him up, like a pilot side-kick *sweat*

My Time for Myself

I have plenty of time for myself, now that I’m no longer working. I must admit that at times, I’m like driving an F1 car. I’ll be going to gym, rushing back to cook, go Zumba, work on photobook and so on. But sometimes, I’m just so slacking I can sit there for hours playing my Candy Crush, Soda Crush, Farm Hero and what have you. Bad and addictive. Trying hard to control myself, but when I get hold of my iPad, it just comes so naturally LOL. Which is why I’m choosing to update my blog today, cause I’ve done my rounds of games hahaha…I hope I can be better at controlling myself in another 6 months time.

I still have plenty of backlogs photos that I need to touch up. Not forgetting the phonebooks that I need to work on. So far I’ve only completed 3 books this year.

OK, I’m gonna leave this blog space now, after all the reflection of my past 6 months achievements and bloopers. I need to work harder to update the blog instead of crushing games :).

Ushering 2016

The year of 2015 is coming to an end in just another 15 minutes (at the time I’m composing this post). How should I describe 2015? Exhilarating !!!

This year, I’ve made the most travelling counting back to all the trips (with or without kids). We started off 2015 with a Trip to Okinawa. Then in April, we headed to Perth for Easter Holiday. Come June, Hon and myself went to Bali for a short stay. Not forgetting making 2 trips back to KL in Aug & Dec. The highlight was definitely our 8 days trip to Romania. And we wrap up our year with a family trip to Bangkok just before Christmas.

It has also been a roller coaster ride in my career and I finally decide to take a break from work and spend more time with Faythe & Vyktore. It’s a huge step for me, as I’ve never been a homemaker OR even stop work (maternity leave not counted in this case) since 19 years old!! Not earning a single cent is totally new in my personal dictionary, given that I have full financial independence for my entire life since I started working.

In fact, for the past 2.5 months since I resigned, I’ve been busy tending the family, sorting out our personal life and got rid of our full time helper as well LOL. Yeah, it wasn’t expected, although we have very much plan for that to happen (getting rid of full time helper) sometime later in 2016. Some how, my resignation has helped to fast forward some of the plans that we plan to execute in 2016. I’ve also managed to complete 1 photobook within a short time frame of 2 days.

So here I am now, a full time stay at home mom. Sometimes I feel quite empty inside me, especially when the kids go to school, my better half go to work. I’m just hanging around thinking of stuff I need to do, but just can’t get my butt off from the chair LOL. I guess all the late night & long hours of work for the past 4 years has taken a toll on me and I’m just glad that I can laze around haha…but not for long.

Alright, enough of talking about 2015, so what are the plans for 2016?

When I started 2015, I made a resolution to go gym daily…obviously it has failed, as I’ve not lost any weight in 2015…booohooo….So I told myself, lets not be so aggressive. And for the rest of it, I can’t really remember what were my resolution as it’s been 365 days ago!!!!

Hence I’ve decided that I should jot down my 2016 resolution here so that I can review them from time to time and keep it as a reminder. So here goes my list:

  1. update my blog every once a week (at least)
  2. going gym/exercise 3 times a week (at least)
  3. eating healthy once a week. I’ve set wednesday to be healthy day for the whole family.
  4. catch up with backlogs of photobooks & editing. Target to complete 5 books this year.
  5. training Faythe & Vyktore to be more independent. I’ve given them task to do (chores at home) and we have started this in December as trial run.
  6. bringing my kids out of Lantau Island at least once a month to explore more of Hong Kong.

Here’s wishing everyone have a great start for Year 2016 and may we be blessed with a peaceful year and abundance of joy.

A New Jobless Life

I made a bold decision 1.5 months ago and tender my resignation from HP. It was probably a shocking news to many. What brought me to this decision? To be honest, it’s been a constant struggle at work for sometime. It was a constant battle of issues after issues which leads to me to believe that this project could be cursed LOL. The client was a total challenge and not having all the support needed from the management from time to time makes life at work even tougher.

Matters at the home front didn’t help either. I felt bad to neglect my kids as I was struggling with the demands of work and kids both at the same time. It’s really not fun having to work every other weekend and week nights when I was supposed to spend those quality time with both my kids and Hon.

After many months of consideration and discussion with Hon and both the kids, I have decided to take a break. After all, life is short. I resigned, without a job and told myself I’m taking this break to recuperate my brain cells. So here I am, updating my blog at a very rare time of the day, as today is my 1st day of life without a job after close to 15 years.

Many colleagues & friends ask what do I have in mind once I stop work. Seriously, there’s plenty of work to be done. I’ve put a lot of things on hold on the personal front for the past years due to busyness at work. So I can now sit down and work through that list.

My kids are both concerned as well but they both agree that I should take a break.

Vyktore: Mommy, so now you are jobless?
Mommy: Yes
Vyktore: So what are you going to do?
Mommy: Hmm…good question. Actually I don’t have a plan now. I’m just going to sit back and relax. I can spend more time to cook for you.
Vyktore: Yay!!!
Mommy: Then I might sit around and play game whole day, cause I’ve not been able to do that for a long time.
Vyktore: *Strange look at me*…Can I join?
Mommy: No…you still have a job, go school LOL
Vyktore: Then what else Mommy? What are you going to do?
Mommy: Give you more worksheets to do at home hehe
Vyktore: *Shakes his head*
Faythe: Mommy, so you can send us to school everyday?
Mommy: Well not everyday, some days. Will take turn with helper.
Faythe: Then you won’t have money to buy things anymore.
Mommy: Yeah..but I’m not gonna be jobless forever. It’s just for a short period of time. I can go for school trips and no need to worry bout work anymore.
Faythe: Yay!!!

I look forward to spend more quality time with my family. Catch up with blog writing, creating beautiful photobooks, reviving my rusty photography skills and sit back and smell the air.

June – Sep 2014

OMG, I’ve not updated my blog for more than a year. Clearing cob webs all over the place. Life had gotten too busy in the past 1 year. A couple of overseas trips, crazy workload and growing kids. That’s what kept me busy for the past 1 year.

I actually drafted this post last year, but totally forgot to publish it on the blog.

Here’s a quick flash back of what we were up to from Jun – Sep 2014.

In June 2014

After 2 of my projects go-live, I took 8 days off work and brave myself to bring Faythe and Vyktore to Tokyo. Yes you hear me correct, just the 3 of us. Prior to that I spent my weekends planning for the trip with both of them to ensure we cover as much as we could during our stay in Tokyo.

Happiness on their faces upon arriving in Tokyo.

We went to Ghibli Studio, Harajuku. Spent 3 Days in Disneysea & Disneyland (12 hours everyday). We also made a trip over to Odaiba to visit the Trick Art Museum where the kids had plenty of fun. Then we took a long trip to Hakkeijima to view some sea creatures and catch some fishes before heading to Yokohama to visit 2 Museums (Ramen Museum, Cup Noodles Museum). We had great fun and was totally max out by the time we return to HK before continue slaving myself at work.

Here are some photos taken from our trip.

Us in Disney Sea. We enjoyed the weather and all the rides.

DIsney Sea Performance during the day. The parade was performed on the Lake. We were so impressed with the performance.

Our favourite ride, Toy Story Mania. We went for the ride for both the nights.

The night time performance and fireworks is Amazing as well at Disney Sea.

Faythe & myself.

The Disneyland Castle lighted up at night. They were telling all the princess story with all the different lighting.

Alice in Wonderland projected over the castle. Love Love Love the performance.

Oh and Rapunzel Story portrayed on the Disneyland Castle.

The rainy weather never did dampen our Spirit in enjoying the Disneyland & Disney Sea.

We spent 1/2 day in Odaiba to visit Lady of Liberty. I love the the view of Lady Liberty, with the Rainbow Bridge behind her.

Here’s Vyktore pretending to be attacked by Shark. One of the reason we went to Odaiba is to visit the 3D Art Museum.

Faythe being attacked by a giant spider at the 3D Art Museum.

Hakkeijima trip was all for Vyktore, the animal lover. Various sea creatures, giant moon fish and whale shark. It was a very far trip, further to Yokohama.

The kids amazed with the tall fish tank and fish swimming in it.

Faythe had fun catching fishes at Hakkejima. The fish we caught were fried on the spot and we ate all of it.

After Hakkeijma, we went back to Yokohama for the Ramen Museum. This is a place where they have various Ramen served in different ways. We went to 3 different shops to try 3 Ramen and we all LOVE it.

On the last day in Tokyo, we went to Yokohama again to spend our time at the Cup Noodles Museum.

Various different type of cup noodles on display in the Museum. We also participated in decorating & selecting our cup noodle. Faythe was so delighted and thankful because we purposely went back to Yokohama just for the Cup Noodle Museum.

Our last lunch in Tokyo. Tasty Pork Cutlet served with Japanese Curry. The Pork Cutlet was crunchy on the outside, but the pork meat was juicy and succulent on the inside. Never had I tasted such yummy Pork Cutlet.

In July 2014

We went to stay a night at Macau and dine with Kungfu Panda and his clans. Then we visited the notable Transformer Exhibition which was a huge let down.

Us having breakfast with King Julian of Madagascar. The food served were mediocre, it was just the cartoon characters which were good.

Kids showing their excitement before going in to see the Transformer Exhibition.

Bumble Bee.

In Aug 2014

Elephants from Elephant Parade finally landed in HK and it was great that Citygate was one of the few locations where they place the Elephants.

Faythe picking the nose of the Dragon on the Elephant.

Myself with the Blue Elephant. Photo taken by Faythe.

Vyktore with his anxious face, taking photo with the Mahjong Elephant. This is so Hong Kong.

This is his Favouriter. Turquoise Elephant with the Dragon on it.

Then I brought the kids to work at HP Office to participate in the Annual Bring Your Children to Work Day. Kids had fun using Lync Conference and playing games. We also took the opportunity to take photos of more Elephants that was up for display at City Plaza.

Future HP Lady CEO, Faythe Hon.

Future HP CIO, Vyktore Hon.

All the kids listening to the briefing before the games start.

Kids, in meeting room. We did Lync Conference with other teams. Kids were all excited experiencing the technology they’ve never been exposed before.

Look we found the Orange Elephant in CP1, HP office.

Goldfish Elephant at display at CP1, HP Office. This is by far my favourite.

Souvenirs from HP, personalized photo frame.

In Sep 2014

Summer Holiday is over and kids are back to school. They went back to KL for a short holiday prior to that. We spend our weekends making Gummy Sushi and Gummies they bought from KL.

Gummies made by Faythe.

Sushi anyone? These are too sweet to my liking.

Faythe enjoying her gummy creation.

I also sign up for 2 baking classes with the kids. Learned to make Serradura & Brownies.

Reading instructions to make Serradura.

Enjoying all the biscuit crumbs leftover.

Faythe “curi makan” while waiting for the brownies to be ready.

Then we spent a night camping (the 1st time for the entire family) and star gazing at Pui O.

Beautiful sky at Pui O.

Gazing at stars and took this lovely shot.

Kids enjoying the hammock we setup by the beach.

Getting ready to go to bed. They are all very happy being the 1st time camping.

Early morning at Pui O.

This was where we camped last night.

Vyktore enjoying the hammock. He hates the sand so much he refused to get off.

A small crab by the beach.

What an exhaustive 4 months. I started off 2 new projects in July when I came back from Tokyo. AD & Exchange Migration Project. Very complex in an ageing environment, and I see that this is the “project” that will bring my career to greater heights.

I’ve been catching up with my Photobook Project. I completed Year 2008 Photobook and got it printed before the end of Year 2014. I have also completed Year 2009 Photobook and recently got them printed as well.

OK, lets hope I’ll squeeze some time to write about the past 8 months of 2015 in the next post.