Thursday, January 7, 2010

Heading Home

I've been up since 4AM thanks to jetlag so I will update.

I'm back in California after having spent the past two weeks in Hong Kong and Beijing!

Hong Kong is such an amazing place. I remember when I first visited my cousins there; amidst the hustle bustle of street vendors selling shoes and egg balls, financial types shuffling to and from work, the winding roads wafting with the essence of traditional China, oldtown Great Britain and the one-of-a kind Hong Kong, I was set on making the city my permanent home. No matter what I did for a living, I wanted to be able to do it in the place where I can hop on the mini-bus and ride to Causeway Bay to do some shopping, or mingle with Stephen Chow in Volar, or drink high tea at 4 in the afternoon.

This time, the visit felt a lot different. Having graduated college for half a year now and getting a slower start on my career and life than I had anticipated (no full-time job, no marriage proposals, no investments in a home), I wasn't able to enjoy Hong Kong as just a vacation anymore. It was more of a wake up call, like, "hey, if you want to make it here, get your ass up and take action!"

The city is constantly moving and the people are constantly talking-about you. You're lucky if they're talking about you. Everyone wants to stand out, make something, make money. Money was never my first ambition but maybe it should be. I want to be able to support and give back to my family as soon as I can. I also want to do what I'm passionate about. I hope I can find a balance with the two wants.

My greatest fear is to have unfulfilled potential. I am dedicating this year to making sure that never happens.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Breaking Beijing Bread

This is the story about a torrid love affair.

A love affair between three girls.

And their beloved 16th floor. What is 16th floor, you ask?
16th floor is the heavenly executive level of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Beijing, opened from 8-10, serving fine culinary delights that tickle the senses and jiggles the belly.

With a wink of its European-carpeted eye, 16th floor entranced the poor three girls, luring them in at all hours of the day to dine on the fine sweets and salties, including homemade macaroons, wine and cheese, and dim sum. Of note: cheese! for Janice, chips for Jessica and cookies for Irene. Our tastes are fairly simple.

It would have been a dream come true if not for one thing-

These were not the girls' only meals of the day. 16th floor was visited in between lunch and dinner trips to some of the most exquisite restaurants in the city.

Fake duckies and REAL seahorses from the red-lanterned Nineteen Forty Nine - The Hidden City.


The real deal.

I dared nosh on a sea horse.

*I mention "wong" in the video, which is basically the inards- or guts - of most seafood you taste - particularly the crab. 'Tis yummO!

Some super-comforting steamed dumplings and pork noodle soup at ubiquitous Din Tai Fung. (I have never even tried the Arcadia one but I'm sure everything's more authentic in Asia.

Some smashing Peking duck and mouthwatering red bean rolls at the homey Xiao Wang's Home Restaurant.

Oh, to watch the our chins disappear and our love handles burst out was hard to bear but when would such culinary delights tickle our taste buds ever again? (With my foodie cravings, most likely sooner than you think.)

Only one restaurant was less than satisfactory this entire trip but even so, the dining experience was so unusual, so different that it garners a whole entry in it of itself. Until next time.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Look of Brr...

What is Beijing like around December?

One word:


Some more words:

Blistering, knife-cutting-through-your-skin, skull-blasting, can't-think-about-anything-but- making-a-run-for-the-sun coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooold.

Like this picture. We were in a warm bus and the three of us ran out only to be pretty much stunned in the face with a blast of frozen air. It took a fair amount of energy to summon up the smiles for this shot. However in the world does the guard in the back stand like that through the entire day?

She may look warm but she is not.

On the first day, we ventured out to try and shop. Hah! What a joke that was. All us Hong Kongians and Los Angelesians accustomed to warmth couldn't stand 15 minutes out in the streets.

We sought the nearest warm shop to huddle in.

Despite the cold, Beijing is sure quaint. This street, known as the outdoor silk street, has kept its traditional Chinese exterior but has all these little shops inside. We saw many a quirky things but these Chinese are smart (or stingy) and wouldn't let us photograph.


So cold.

So cold the Christmas trees turned gray.

So coolness, I had really wanted to see snow this holiday season. We were hoping that Beijing would grant us our wishes but the entire we were there, we faced the unbearable cold but no snow!

That is...until the last day...

The whole city was blanketed with a light layer of white. Haha, "Federico" down there got a little happy writing in the snow.

Jessica and I are Californians so snow is not a regular occurrence for us. We were delighted!

Our cousin, Irene, not so much... (she's from Toronto)

The weather kept us from being outdoors the majority of the time so we had to resort to our most favorite (and most hated) hobby. What is it? I'll let you know at next post. (Which I hope will be updated at a much faster rate than I have been updating these past few weeks.)