Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

My first Christmas in Hong Kong was rather uneventful, which is all right, because I have been looking forward to some quieter time. Haha... that's not too different from Toronto... I think I slept until the early afternoon last year for Christmas. Haha... at least I got up for lunch today. =p

I actually had NO plans whatsoever this year. The funny thing is that my mom kind of ditched me to go to China with her long-time friends. Well, she invited me, but I didn't want to go with the aunties and uncles... =p

After Christmas eve service yesterday, I went shopping... bought a TV and it'll get delivered later this week. =p I also bought daily household items such as clothes hangers, dish sponges, file folders, etc. and then spent the rest of the day at home. I (kind of) figured out how to work my washing machine and did laundry. All-in-all, it was nice time of quietness in the comfort of my own home. Ended up buying dinner and eating in.

And then in the evening on Christmas eve, I was pleasantly surprised by Ka Po (Sichuan team member last year) who asked me out for lunch on Christmas. It was great to catch up with her, and then I was telling her more about Kong Fok Church (KFC) because I've been to a number of events since I first attended... which is funny because she's the one who introduced me to KFC to begin with, but did not attend any fellowship or small group because she was allocated to the adult (married) womens' group... apparently it was a bad experinece. =p I guess she didn't realize that the cutoff age for "youth" activities was rather high, hahaha... anyway, I'll get her to join the Daniel fellowship/small group I've been attending.

The afternoon of Christmas was spent with a HK Baptist church small group... I know two people there from separate paths. It was a nice time of playing boardgames, however, and unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, however you look at it, I know that I would have a very very hard time fitting into that group... which kind of gives me the comfort in "choosing" KFC as the one where I seek to serve and grow. I look forward to getting my feet wet and getting involved; trying to be patient in that aspect though.

Then, was very pleasantly surprised to meet up with Gabe and Jon tonight, listening to music at Lumiere restaurant... a great place!

All in all, a nice Christmas day. *Shrug* not very eventful, but it is nice to just hang out. =)

At KFC, I very much enjoyed the Christmas Eve service and the Saturday night evangelistic meeting really touched me too. I was very thankful that my mom went with me to that, and though she is not saying she believes, I entrust it to God. I have also been drawn (not *that* way... he has a kid =p) to the pastor there: Pluto. He is absolutely phenomenal and is a wonderful speaker, so funny, very off-the-cuff, and relates well to all the youths within the very wide age range. Despite his very entertaining speech, he is so perceptive and to the point when it matters in people's salvations or in growth of the individuals. I look forward to working with him and seeing my role at the church. Many, many blessings to count...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Shanghai and Beijing

I am still amazed at how timing has worked over the past few weeks. This Shanghai and Beijing trip happened really last minute for me to accomodate client/audit team needs, at the same time trying to schedule training and other "meeting" times.

The travel plans made me miss the Hong Kong training session for IFRS, which took me a *long* time to get over and let go of. =p At the same time, everyone else has been busy and travelling too, that Chinchin ended up also missing the training and going to Shanghai with me. At the same time, the trip allowed me to have dinner with my UW classmate Karen, and Rick, who moved to Shanghai last year... and more so, they just returned to Shanghai from their vacation on the last evening that I was there (as I was able to switch my flight to fly out on the following morning.) Further, aside from travelling in Beijing with Aida, the Friday morning that I arrived in Beijing was also the last day of "shooting" for Sherrie's movie, and was able to go to their "wrap party" (and other expat bars...) on Friday night. Hahaha...

So, I just sit back and say "wow". Amazing! It's been great to be given the opportunity to travel, meet up with old friends... while arranging my current demands... aside from working through the weekend... but who isn't doing that, it seems, sigh. =p

Chinchin and I managed to get a few hours to walk around in Shanghai -- this is the famous "Bund" area.. the river between historic Shanghai and the new Pudong area. That's where we also picked up a 500g bag of roasted chestnuts.. mmm.... !!

Aida and I went to Tiananmen Square on Sunday before going into the office... Haha, our hotel held wedding receptions on both Saturday and Sunday. Seemed like the "normal" time for the bride and groom to get to the hotel was 10am! Also, instead of showing a blown-up picture of them, one couple had a larger-than-full size posterboard!

And... I must take a picture of the 11 RMB dumplings that we ate for lunch downstairs in the foodcourt! Such good value!!! It's been interesting... especially after chatting with Rick and Karen about their experience with the local peoples. Things are either very very cheap (from our usual standards) or very very expensive, which is kind of sad for the local peoples who would not be able to afford these luxuries that seem to be created for the expats and foreigners [say, a small sushi platter at the Grand Hyatt for RMB 450].

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Does no one else think this is really funny?? Just like Sesame Street.. "one of these things just doesn't belong.." haha

I was in Shanghai for training and was sharing a room with my coworker. [On one hand, E&Y Learning group is really cheap. On the other hand, it was great to spend time with Chinchin so I am thankful after all.] I was washing my face or whatever in the washroom when I saw this and burst out laughing. Chinchin asked if I was okay... what a silly question! Haha... she got used to my (spontaneous bursts of) laughing a little more over the week, (like, throughout the training in bad mandarin) hahaha...

With all this travelling, I am also very thankful that I have not had to travel alone (yet!) It has been great to have good company in Bangkok, Manila (coincidentally another team had a file review at the same time as me.. otherwise, it would have been me on my own), Shanghai, and next, Beijing with Aida. Especially as Chinchin and Aida both speak Mandarin.. haha.. Anyway, this is a good "triage" of Shanghai and Beijing... ;)

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

I was in Manila last week for a file review. We need to review audit working paper files of the engagements which we support, so when we travel, we usually go to work at the local E&Y office.

The office at Manila is *old*... well, the city is quite old. The Philippines has an interesting history, having been under various countries' rule and with difficult governments in modern history. It is amazing to think about its past... we stayed at the Peninsula hotel. Imagine how Manila would have been when the hotel was built... and then consider the city now... although great to see its improvement (renovations, etc.) The streets weren't as bad as I expected, although security guards *are* armed with guns and rifles at various locations.

The hospitality of the people are so friendly and the service industry is great. And.. I have never been so happy at a buffet before! I must introduce
Circles buffet at the Shangri-La hotel. (We usually stay there.. but was booked solid so we then went to Peninsula.) I think it's the presentation of the food that makes the place a fun place to eat! Plus, the food is fresh.

The salad bar consists of a "garden" of heads of lettuce on a bed of ice. Whenever you order, the server takes scissors and snips off leaves off of different types of lettuce and greens and places them for you, and does the same with tomatoes and others. So fresh!

Can you imagine, me, liking a buffet?? Haha... That's Manila.. the food is good... and didn't make me sick.. =p

I'll try to take a picture of the buffet the next time... I've got a couple of clients there.. haha

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.