Thursday, January 30, 2003

Looks like I'll be chilling in London this weekend unless somebody has a brilliant plan. I just spent 16 hours at work today - what a great day. I am so drained it's not funny. Such an irony - in another country with lots of opportunity to explore, but work keeps me busy enough so I have no time to explore. Opportunity goes to waste. Story of my life. *sigh*

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

The lack of update is due to the fact I spend more than an average of 13 hours at work each day. I'm not kidding. During the work week, I basically have no life other than waking up at 6am for work, and coming home around 8 or 9pm for dinner. Afterwards I usually lie there and watch TV, or work on my 4th year project. Not that I can afford going out every night either. With the pay I'm getting, it's a wonder how I will pay for everything next study term.

Next weekend is still a mystery. After the last weekend, I think I'm ready for another going away trip. Although it's still unsure where I can go, or how fun it will be to go alone. The problem is that I don't have very much money right now, so I cannot afford any trips that require more extensive travelling. Furthermore, it is difficult to go anywhere for a two-day weekend. Any good suggestions?

Monday, January 27, 2003

[Alert : This is a long blog. I am trying to recount my experience in its full glory that it deserves.]

I am back from my overnight trip to Cardiff, and I must say, Wales is definitely something special. On Saturday morning I took the 8:10am bus to Oxford and met up with two other co-ops (Rob and Caroline) working there. Their boss was nice enough to drive us all to Cardiff, about 2 hours away from Oxford. Once we arrived in Cardiff, we stopped at a cafe for lunch. I had a TotalFullOn - and they do mean it by TOTAL: Two eggs, two slices of bacon, tomatoes, baked beans, four slices of toast, orange juice, and tea. All for �4.50. Not a bad deal considering what I have been eating in London. After lunch we bid farewell to their boss and started walking towards town.

We thought it would take us more time than it actually did. After about 20 minutes, we arrived at the 'downtown' of Cardiff. Much like other big cities, Cardiff has a pedastrian street filled with shops, buskers, and hundreds of people on a Saturday afternoon. Strolled along the street and decided to get ourselves a room at the Cardiff Backpackers first. It was another 30 minutes before we reached the 'colourfully' (yellow and purple) decorated hostel. Didn't take us too long to secure ourselves with a private room with a three sleeping spots. At this point we realized that the Cardiff Castle will be closing in about 15 minutes, and we should hurry if we want to visit the castle.

Only after arriving at the castle precisely 15 minutes later that we found out most of the castle was closed to the public. (We later found out that there was a wedding during the time in the banquet hall) Instead of paying �3.30 to visit just the grounds, we could wake up early the next morning and take a full tour for �5.50. Promptly we left the castle, but took a few pictures outside since it was quite sunny at the time. (a weather condition that is few and far in between) Instead, we found ourselves in the National Museum and Gallery of Wales.

At the museum there was this special exhibition of Star Trek Federation Science, apparently displaying how the technology in Star Trek and its relation to the real physics and chemistry. As much as I don't like to admit anything related to Star Trek, we were pretty interested in what kind of exhibit it was so we looked around. It was more for kids than anything, so it was rather disappointing. Had a look around the history of Wales and how it came to be what it is today before the lights were abruptly shut off. I suppose they could have warned us that the museum was closing, instead of just shutting off all the lights. Anyhow, we had no choice but to leave.

After heading back to the hostel, we decided that pub/club/dancing was the way to go for spending the night. On our way out to High Street, where the nightlife of Cardiff hides, we passed by this house that is boarded up from top to bottom. From the doors to the windows, every single opening were borded up and written all over were rants about how the City Council of Cardiff screwed the person over regarding housing. We also saw the Millennium Stadium, which looks like a spaceship ready to take off.

A funny story I had during my dinner at Subway. The person who served me was Welsh, and as I ordered my steak and cheese sub, he asked us if we were Americans. We promptly replied that we are Canadians, and he immediately apologized for mistakening us for Americans. We laughed, saying that at least he knows to apologize for that. He then told us that he knows how it feels to be mistaken for something he's not. Apparently he went to the United States, and somebody went to him and asked, "So you are English?" He replied, "No, I'm Welsh." The American seemed confused, "So.. you're English?" He replied, "No, Welsh." Now the American is really confused. He decided that it was pointless to explain to him, and then he said, "Actually, I'm British." The American proclaimed ,"AH! So you're English!" That got us all laughing. :) (honestly, if you did not understand that, I would strongly recommend you read up on England and Wales history before you make the same mistake as the American did)

High Street (St.Mary Street) was really lively during the night time. It was about 8pm, and the street is packed with people dressed up as if they were to attend a ball. Women wearing skimpy outfits, showing off their assets. While men walked in groups, wearing shirts and sometimes even jackets. Some girls even dressed as police, walked down in a group, harassing (more like flirting) blokes walking down the street.

First we went into a pub for a small drink. It wasn't too alive, with people sitting in tables chatting away. We quickly left and headed up the street to find many clubs and bars already filled with patrons. As we progress up the street, we grew weary about the way we dressed. After all, a pair of trainers with denim jeans and a sweat shirt is not what you would consider 'classy'. However, it wouldn't matter since nobody knows me anyway. We went into another bar that is blasting music, and boasted free entry at the door. I am convinced that the city is about a decade behind in music - everywhere we went, all I hear is music from the 80s and 90s. To be honest I have no problem with that, afterall, I am an 80s child. It just seems a bit odd that everybody enjoys the music and can sing almost everything they put on. The whole night was a tribute to Uptown Girl and Billie Jean, to Queen and Abba. Sometimes they would slip in something more popular, like Kylie or Ricky Martin.

Now speaking of this bar (unfortunately I have forgotten the name already), I saw some rather 'interesting' people in there. These two girls walked in, took off their jackets, and started dancing on the dancefloor. The dancefloor itself was about 10x10 square feet, with speakers blasting from both sides of the floor. One girl was wearing a red plastic top and some short 'thing' she considers a skirt. The other girl wore a white top that looked like she was going to pop, and a skirt again that almost covered her bottom. It wasn't their dress that caught my attention though, it was their attitude towards the other men who were drinking at the bar. They ran up to random people (I was sure by the surprised look on their faces and their reaction to the girls), and just pull them to the dance floor to dance with them. To make matters more interesting, the girls force-kissed the men within 15 seconds on the floor. They must have done this to at least 7 or 8 blokes in the place, since all these people were suddenly surrounding them, dancing, rubbing aginst the two girls. It was quite a scene, actually. I couldn't stop laughing even after leaving the bar shortly after.

The reason why we left was because the music started to become really weird and not 'danceable'. At this time, we wanted to go to a real club with real music, so when we passed by the club called Edwards, we were drawn by the beats blasting through the doors. The music was a little more trance, drum n'bass, and less 80s. It was still a drinking hole with two floors dedicated to drinking. A small dance floor was situated between the two drinking floors, and that's where we spent the rest of the evening until about midnight. We proceeded back to the hostel. Rob and Caroline quickly fell asleep, but I still had a bit more energy in me so I chilled in the lounge.

I met some interesting people there, several travellers from Australia, one girl from the States, and one other guy from some part of Europe. We chatted, talked about Canada and how we have really good beer (GO CANADA!), and how our country is really beautiful. They said all the Canadians they have met were extremely nice people, and they haven't met anybody from Canada that didn't say 'Please' and 'Thank You'. It is nice to know that outside of Canada, we have such a good reputation!

The next morning we all woke up nice and early (8:00am!), had some free toast at the kitchen and checked out. Walking down High Street once again to reach the Cardiff Castle, I saw the remains of the party from the previous night. Cleaning workers washing the roads, picking up the empty cans and garbage left behind by the party-goers. It took us a little over 15 minutes to reach the castle, and the tour was ready to begin in a short while. The castle was beautiful! (too bad we were not allowed any pictures inside the castle) It definitely had a different style than the Windsor Castle, mainly because it was rebuilt and restored in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Most of the furniture and designs were Victorian age, which was very elegant with its own right. Each room is themed, with subtle cleverness hidden behind each decorative design. For example, the winds of the world were holding up the four corners of the ceiling at the clock tower. Or the twelve zodiacs painted on top of the ceiling, the four seasons' personification on the stained glass windows, the four basic elements of the world, the monkeys reading books (Darwinism was very popular at the time it was rebuilt), etc. It used to be a fort at Roman times, and therefore the keep and parts of the Roman Wall remains were still intact. It looked like it was attacked, but well defended and must have given the attackers a tough battle.

We still had a little time left after the visit to the castle, so we decided to walk down to Cardiff Bay. What a silly thought. It took us more than 40 minutes to reach the bay, only to be called by our ride back to Oxford. No big loss though - the bay looked just like every other major bodies of water. Very.. water-like. :) After arriving in Oxford I just took the bus back to London, where I spent the rest of the evening sitting around. Come to think of it, I must have walked up and down that High Street at least 7 or 8 times yesterday. It was definitely a fun overnight trip - very relaxing, and at the same time I had a whole bunch of fun. I wonder where our next trip will be?

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Today I went out for dinner and drinks with Jeff, the UW alumni boss I have. He's a pretty cool guy, and it's really great that he is willing to take us around. We had Italian - remember that restaurant that I bought the lunch for all the traders? That restaurant. Carlucci's or something. Anyhow, now that I got paid (yay!) I can afford to have dinner. Besides, I haven't had *real* food since I arrived. The food was AMAZING, even though I just paid �10 for my meal - well worth it. We had some red wine too.

After which we headed to a bar - Slomesky's or something. Had a drink, my housemate had an interesting encounter with a man where he intruded the washroom she was in, and proceeded to unzip his pants. Of course, she ran out and we couldn't stop laughing. The man then came out and gave her this look. Hahaha.. Then we went to this other bar called the Slug and Lettuce.

Apparently these 'chain bars' are really popular here. We sat around and talked some more before they kicked us out. WHAT? 11pm!? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, bars/clubs here closes at 11pm. I guess it's good during work week when it forces us to go home so we don't miss work the next day, but come on, weekends too? Although some clubs down in the city have 'late night permits' which allow them to open until 1am or 3am.

Tomorrow I am taking an early bus to Oxford, and two other co-ops will accompany me to Cardiff. Their boss is driving there so I will be tagging along for the ride. I suppose that's a little cheaper than taking the train to Cardiff all by myself. Besides, I'll get to see a glimpse of Oxford too! I probably won't be able to blog tomorrow since I'm staying the night over at Cardiff, but will be back on Sunday to tell you all about my weekend trip!

Friday, January 24, 2003

Something pretty crazy happened yesterday that I forgot to mention. For lunch, this client of ours (I think it's another broker house) bought my entire desk sushi. Now this is not regular sushi, this is like EXPENSIVE stuff. Apparently for twenty plates of sashimi, couple big plates of rolls and sushi, cost them �700. (that's $1750CDN) HOLY CRAP. I had so many rolls yesterday just to take advantage of that. Perks of working on a tradedesk I suppose. Actually, last week I got free ice cream because some trader had a really good day. Hahaha.

Today my boss (not the UW grad) took me and the UW grad out for drinks at the same pub I went to on Tuesday. It was PACKED. Apparently Thursday is the same as in Waterloo - super pub day. EVERYBODY from work was there, plus everybody that worked in the area. There are a couple of pubs around where I work, and they were all PACKED. My boss treated me to two pints of Stellas (which are super-expensive back home but dirt cheap here), and started talking pretty crazy stuff once he got a little more relaxed. I always thought he was a drill sergant type - until today. Perhaps he just takes his work VERY seriously.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Sorry about the lack of update. Yesterday my other supervisor that came back from vacation took me and the other co-op out for a drink. (Okay, more than one drink) We didn't get home until 11:30pm. He graduated in 2001, and apparently he was my frosh leader in my quad at residence! What a coincidence :) It's good to have another Canadian presense at work too!

Anyhow, today was another write-off day of just bumming around work and reading code. I find no motivation to work, probably because I get paid tomorrow (hopefully). Hahaha.. the trip to Cardiff is almost planned, just need to figure out where to go visit when I get there. :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

It seems like my quest every week is to find something fun and exciting to do for the weekend, as work is neither challenging or satisfying enough for my thirst of knowledge. (more like I'm just a slacker and don't feel like working and want to party all the time) This week I want to take a longer trip - ones that requires an overnight stay. Not that I have a lot of money for that, but going further will limit my ability to return on the same day.

Right now it's looking like I'll be visiting Cardiff, the capital city of Wales. A couple of other co-ops from Oxford will be going there for the weekend, and travelling companion = good! Tripping is not cheap either - it's about �40 for the return train ticket, and another �20 for the stay at the hostel I believe. However, I am living the attitude that if I don't do it, I'll probably regret it.

My other supervisor (I have two) came back from his two week vacation. He used to study at the University of Waterloo also, and he is the main reason why I am working here! Talk about the extensive network of Waterloo grads and how they can get you places eh? I hope when I graduate, I will be able to yield such powers as to hire co-ops for my future workplace if they don't already. :)

Monday, January 20, 2003

The rain truly sucks. I hate the weather here. Due to the unfortunate weather conditions, the outing to Hampton Court has been postponed until further notice. It would have been quite a drag if I went though, so perhaps I'll wait for the sky to clear up and get a better view of the entire castle from the outside. Besides, it is only about half an hour train ride outside of London.

Instead, I took this chance to relax and walk around a little more. Enjoyed a nice afternoon of shoping (window shopping that is), and some good time at the internet cafe. I miss having internet access. I really should be grateful of broadband access in Canada. Also visited China Town (more like the street where chinese stores and restaurants are), and had dinner there. So expensive, but I miss it so I didn't care. Played DDR, made me feel a little better. Perhaps because it made me feel at home. Hahaha.. funny how a video game can relieve my homesickness a little.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

[I wrote the first paragraph during my trip, and then rest just now]

I am writing this on the train, so it might be a little incoherent. Today I am heading to the Windsor Castle, where the queen lives quite frequently. I have decided to flip my schedule around because the chapel at Windsor does not allow visitors on Sundays. Anyway the journal so far has been pretty astonishing! The secenary outside the city is quite breathtaking. It is truly a postcard moment. Too bad I couldn't capture it on my camera because the train is moving so fast. I saw sheep! LOTS of sheep! Although it is in the middle of winter, there is still so much to see outside the window.

The castle was amazing. It was so unbelievabe. One word - HUGE! It took me literally three hours to walk around everything in the castle and all the exhibits. Luckily, the state apartment re-opened today so I got to see all the rooms that the queen uses during her stay. What is this, the King's drawing room, the Queen's drawing room, the Queen's ballroom, the Queen's presence room, the Queen's reception room, the State ballroom, the Windsor room (it's more like a hall, where they have huge state dinners), and many other rooms. Honestly, there is ONE queen and ONE king AT MOST. How many rooms do they need. Oh the king is a room for his closet, and a room for his changing. Of course he also has his bed chamber and all. Not to mention this is only one part of the castle, of course. There are many other places that were closed off to visitors.

I also got to see Queen Mary's Doll House. It was a 1/12 replica of the entire castle, built from the original drawings of the castle. They also opened the semi-state rooms which were created by George IV in the 1820s. They include the Green Drawing Room, the Crimson Drawing Room, the State Dining Room, and the Octagon Dining Room. The castle was first built by William the Conqueror, and it was originally built out of wood. Slowly different soverigns add to it and rebuilt it out of stone, adding their own personal taste to it. They also have built in a lot of defensive mechanisms to defend the castle. Under one archway there are three holes, called Murder Holes. Basically you wait until the attacker walks under it, and then you launch stuff at them from the top, like hot liquid or arrows or heavy objects. It's quite funny really. :)

Of course the castle had a fire in 1992, destorying many towers and the restoration project could not bring back some of the artwork that was presented. Funny though, this lady walked in today and proclaimed that her great-great-grandfather painted the painting that was too big to move during the fire that it was destroyed. The funny part, is that the guide said "There was a piece of artwork here that was too heavy to carry during the fire, and it was destoryed. No big loss, it wasn't really that spectacular anyway." So the women spoke up and told him that she is related to the artist. The guide proceeded to say "Well that was a great loss to the castle, it was still a very important piece of artwork from the 1800s." HAHAHA. :)

After which I attempted to visit Eton College - where Prince William received his education. Unfortunately the school was closed to visitors until late March. I did manage to take some pictures outside, but too bad I didn't get to see how nice these expensive royal family high schools look like. Disappointed, I had a quick dinner, and then took the train back to London.

Tomorrow shall be another exciting outing :)

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Finally I understand the true meaning of TGIF! After a week of 10-12 hour days, two days off seem a little more than rewarding. It doesn't matter what I do in the next 48 hours, as long as I am not on the tradefloor, I will be happy and relaxed. It is hard to believe how stressful it is on the floor even when I am not responsible for any accounts. Today was another write-off though, since I spent most of the day 'waiting' for people to get their acts together to provide me with the software and proper access. Ugh.

This weekend will hopefully be better than last week's!

Friday, January 17, 2003

So here's the second part to my laundry story - the dryer doesn't dry, so now the clothes are just laid flat to dry. Who designed a washer and dryer in the same machine? My clothes were hot and damp after rolling around in that machine for an hour. So inconvenient.

One more day of work and then it's off to Hampton Court on Saturday and Windsor on Sunday (if I feel up to it). Let's hope I can actually get up in time to go to Hampton Court, since they only open until 4pm or something and it takes about three hours to walk around the whole palace. If I am paying �4 to get there and back, I better be taking advantage of the whole day! Windsor and Eton would be interesting to see where the current queen came from. I just love these historical sites - a lot of people I know do not appreciate the history that is behind these places. I used to be like that until I realized that in order to have control of the future, we need to learn from the past. Whether it be a lesson learned or to imitate successes from the past, it is valuable to understand where we came from in order to fully appreciate what lies ahead.

Also planning to see some theatre here, and perhaps enjoy the fringe down here also. Similar to Ottawa, I think I'll have a very cultured experience here. :)

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Trying to do my laundry for the first time here, and already having some problems. Now I know that they like to put their laundry machine in the kitchen (to this day I still don't understand why) since they do the same thing in Hong Kong. I also know they like front-load instead of top-load. Nothing prepared me for using a washer that spins at 1200 rpm. I swear, I think the machine is shredding my clothes or something. In fact, it's still going and I fear that I will soon have no undergarments to wear. :)

Work is moving forward very slowly. Somehow Matlab does not like matrices with 235,787 rows in them. It has been chugging away at those numbers since 8am this morning. Besides that, it's more waiting. Waiting for somebody to bring me a new machine, waiting for somebody to set me up an account, waiting for this, waiting for that. Business is slower than ever here.

Met up with a friend that I met a couple of years ago when I went to Taiwan, and had a pint. It was good to talk about old times, unfortunately he had to go and finish off his essay that's due tomorrow. Plenty of chances to see him around still, since I'll be relying on him to take me out and really experience life here.

My mind is pretty much set on either Hampton Court or Windsor. Maybe I'll do both, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Hopefully it will work out. :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Another workday! I stayed at work until about 7pm tonight. Recall that I do go to work at 7am - that's 12 hours at work. It wasn't really by choice either - just a lot of things had to be done and I was in a daze for most of the day. My work pace is a lot slower here, perhaps it's the lack of motivation since I have been pretty unlucky lately. Perhaps I'll feel better after I've been paid.

What's really crazy is that when I left, half the trade floor was still there. Now we're talking about people that were already there when I show up at 6:45am every morning. These people either (a) have no lives or (b) treat work as their life or (c) don't need a life because they make so much money.

Took a bus ride to Asda today. Asda is this supermarket that is owned by Wal-Mart in the US. Even their ads feature the same 'bouncing smiley' and it's 'slashing prices' by flying through them. Their stuff is pretty cheap, just like Wal-Mart in Canada. I should have known about this earlier, so I might have been able to save a few pounds here and there buying necessities.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Today I tried opening a bank account - to my surprise, I have to book an 'appointment' with the banking professionals before I can open one. Of course, they are fully booked until two weeks later. How come they cannot process something as simple as opening a bank account in a short period of time? What is even funnier is that they booked me in for an hour timeslot on the 23rd. AN HOUR? It takes an hour to open an account?

I find that the culture here is very different - not sure if it's the whole European mentality, but it is certainly true here. They waste a vast amount of resources on silly little things. For example, I was walking to the tube station yesterday when I walked past the construction that is happening around the area. These construction area are boarded up with signs indicating which company is responsible for the development and so on. What made me laugh was the fact that six men were dedicated to 'repainting' the board blue. The board was originally blue, but overtime it got splattered with mud and grimes. They are repainting the board that is used to board up the construction site. I found it sorta amusing, as something like that in North America would be frown upon or actually laughed at.

Work is moving slowly. I met with this girl today at work who did some development work earlier, and in about an hour I improved the throughput of the results by 32%. Impressive huh? That's what a Waterloo education does to you, and I'm damn proud of that. :)

Where should I go this coming weekend? Even with the lack of funds, I think I need to take a break from the city and perhaps head somewhere in the UK. E-mail me with suggestions as to where I should be visiting! :)

Monday, January 13, 2003

I am feeling a bit better today. Perhaps after sleeping for a while and re-thinking about my finances for the next two weeks, I just made myself feel better. Thanks for all the support people. It still sucks that I lost all that money. Oh well - I just have to make it up somehow. Today I have decided to stay home and chill - take a little break. I only went out for a bit to grab groceries (yeah, groceries = bath gel + laundry detergent + pasta sauce), walked around the nearby 'arcade' (mall for those in North America). Canary Wharf is a very expensive place. Everything here is so high class - no doubt, it is the new financial centre of London. HSBC, Citibank, and Barclays have their headquarters in London here. Everyday thousands of yuppies travel down the tube to the once-lower-class docklands to work. Renovations and constructions are happening at we speak.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Due to my stupidity and lack of foresight, now I have no money to spend for the next two weeks. Just the day I chose to exchange my traveller's cheques (yes, all �300), I had a nice visit from a nearby pickpocket. GREAT. These people are good - I really had no idea that my wallet was gone. Thank goodness I found the wallet - left outside the store I was in with no money inside. At least they left me all my IDs, otherwise I would have a tough time trying to explain that to those people at the office. (my security passcard was in there too)

Well that was my crappy day. Now I'm going to hide in my bed and cry.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Alright, I have no life. It's Friday night and I'm here in an internet cafe blogging. Not a bad thing though - since I'm extremely tired and need a break from work. It's intensive and there is just endless stuff to learn. Anybody want some investment tips? My advise - don't. You don't know who you're up against. We're talking about these people who work in the bank, have millions of euros backing them up (it's the company's money), and they change the tide as they wish. Literally. I saw, today, my boss change the way a bond is going based on the amount he was buying/selling. Crazy.

I still haven't found a *good* area in London to chill. Apparently people drink warm beer in England? That is just sick. I think I might drop by a pub later on to see for myself what it's really like. Have to see it for myself! I hear there are some good clubs down here, but with cover charges as high as �20, I think I'll pass until I get paid in two weeks.

This weekend is still not planned. I really need to sit down and draw out my schedule. Perhaps tomorrow I will take a day pass and visit all the tourist places. Evelyn says I already picked up a bit of English accent. Scary eh?

C'mon people, e-mail me :)

Friday, January 10, 2003

Sorry for the lack of updates. I have no internet access at work and I work on the trade floor. Go figure. Their firewall is pretty tight too - I tried all my usual tricks and I can't even get through. Nice work.

Work is getting really boring. No, wait, it is very boring. Just like what I have done for the past couple of work terms. The only difference is that now I work for a bank. A big bank. Which if I screw up can lose the bank millions. No, billions of euros. 7:00am is killing me. I was sorta late for the first day, and I barely made it to work at 6:55am this morning. I swear people don't sleep there. No matter what time of day, somebody is on the trade floor. Perhaps that's because there's always a market that is open 24 hours a day around the world.

Perks about the job - I get to learn a lot about the financial system. Such as bond trading and government debts. Hedging, BPVs, you name it. Hopefully soaking on the trade floor for four months will make me aware of all these things so I can further my trade skills in the financial sector.

Still planning trips around London and in the UK. Not thinking about outside of the country yet. There's so much to explore even in London. I think I'm cutting down the number of countries I am visiting (for the mere reason that I don't have the money). Paris is a must. I'm actually favouring Greece now. Perhaps even Italy. Oh and how can we forget the Netherlands. :)

Tomorrow is Friday, so don't be surprised if there is no update tomorrow. I'll hopefully have some pictures up soon. :)

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Took the tube down to the west end today just to blog. Don't you all feel special. :)

Started my first day of work today. The building was incredible. It looks like I'm working at this really old, big bank (well, I am). The HR person took me to the main trading floor, and I am still stunned at the size and the energy on the market floor. People have 6 LCD screens all hooked up in front of them displaying indices and prices and charts of several investment tools at once, with their speakerphone loud and screaming into them, and phones constantly ringing. The floor is about the size of two football fields, and it's just rows and rows of benches. The other co-op and I are working right on the trade floor! The feeling is so surreal. People drinking coffee, screaming, cursing at the screen (in their posh British accents), uttering "Bloody hell!" to every price change.

The work is actually quite interesting. Programming real time backends to support trading and making money. Hahahaha.. I feel that this is my true calling - to use my expertise and make money. The unfortunate thing is that I have to be at work by 7:00am. No e-mail, no internet at work either. The corporate culture is totally different from the North American style too. I guess it's time for me to open my eyes and see the world in another light.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Alright, now that I'm spending the money to blog, I might as well tell the whole story and not let it be hanging. :)

The goodbyes, the wait, the flight - Said goodbyes to my friends and headed straight for the line up. It's pretty insane to see so many people at the airport, especially when it was just a little past 7am. Finally got my boarding pass, and then getting through the security gate was quite a story. I must say, after the incident in NYC, security is a 'little' tighter than usual. So I walked past the metal detector. It beeped. Nothing unusual, it always does. The guy asked me to take off my shoes and walk past. WTF? So I did, and nothing beeped. Great, so now they think I have bombs in my shoes. Then they swiped some stuff all over my laptop for 'analysis', and said,"Yes it is a laptop, you may go." Like, duh, it looks like a laptop, and I turned it on to show them that it works. It takes a computer to do an analysis to tell me that?

My flight was delayed for an hour. I have no idea why, because by the time they explained it, I already fell asleep. :)

Arrived in London. Couldn't find the guy that was supposed to pick me up. Took me two long distance calls home to find the number to call the guy. Nobody told me to wait for him in front of the car rental places. The guy had NO IDEA where to drop me off. So I had to call home once again to find the address of my apartment. Even with the address, the guy had no idea where to go except for the general area. We drove around for two hours looking for the place, and then he got pissed off at me. Uh, hello, Mr. driver, you are supposed to drive me there. Not to mention that, but he made me look up the map for him and give him directions. I just landed about an hour ago and he wanted me to read a map of London and figure out the streets?! Good luck. Thank goodness for security guards standing around where I live. They told me exactly where to go and I findlaly checked into the apartment.

Now let me tell you how nice the apartment is. It's surreal. It's absolutely insane. I'll put the pictures up once I get internet access and can send pictures. The stupid USB port here at the internet cafe doesn't work, so I can't send any pictures from my camera. I have a balcony, a living area, a dining area. The kitchen is fully stocked (not with food, but just pots and stuff). I have a queen-sized bed. I have my own bathroom. I live in a freakin' hotel. :)

Faiza (my roommate) arrived the next morning as soon as I stepped out of the shower. Helped her unpacked a bit, eat a bit of food she brought with her, and we went out shopping. Needed to buy some food before we starved to death. Arrived at Waitrose (now for those who knows about London should be groaning by now), it looks like freakin' M&S (Marks and Spencers). The prices are relatively similar too. I have pictures, of a can of tomato pasta sauce, selling for �5.00. Nice small bottle too. The prices are HIGH. I thought stuff were expensive in the US. But NOOOOOOOOOOOOO, it's way more expensive here. We ended up buying a bottle of water, a cheap cheap can of pasta sauce (still setting us back �1.80 I believe), and some oranges. Call that lunch/dinner or whatever. Stuff is just way too expensive. I'm going to lose some major weight here.

It was around 2pm when we finished walking around and Faiza wanted to go home for a nap. I ventured out to the city by myself, taking the tube. Now here is where I complain about prices again. �2.00 for a single trip down to the city. That's $5.00CDN. Now we should all stop complaining about how expensive TTC is in Toronto. Regardless, I took the tube down here and walked around Oxford Street. There is a BIG Virgin Magastore here, and it lives true to its name (the second part that is). 4 floors, any CDs you look for will be here. Adrian, give me a list of stuff you want and I'll check it out for you. There are the usual fast food restaurants, but an abundant number of cafes and bistros around also. There is also several Muji stores here, which I haven't seen since I went back to HK a couple of years ago. As predicted, everything is expensive, almost $=� here.

The rest of the evening was rather uneventful, other than unpacking and watching the telly. I'm getting down with the lingo here. :P

Now here I am! Today I'm going to walk around and see what I can find here in the city. Perhaps buy some necessities and head home. Starting work first thing tomorrow morning. Wish me luck! :)

Monday, January 06, 2003

I've finally arrived. For those who were wishing that the flight would slam into something, well, it didn't. The Big Ben is still ticking and the London Bridge has not fallen down yet. One word I have for all of you - EXPENSIVE. Everything is so expensive here. There is no internet at home, so I'm paying �1.40 an hour (that's $3.50CDN for those who can't do it in their head like Adrian) to blog this. You people better appreciate this. Pics will be up later, once I get some steady internet connection and all. I will also tell my adventures later regarding the flight and all. Just blogging to let you all know I'm still alive and well! :)

Friday, January 03, 2003

It has truly been a rollercoaster ride today! First thing in the morning, I received a call from the human resources manager about my work permit status. Apparently they did not receive it on time and therefore I cannot leave as of today. Then I got a call from the lawyers telling me that there might still be a chance, and for me to stay around to wait for further instructions. After which the human resources manager called and ask me to change my flight, regardless of the penalty incurred with changing at the last minute.

So to make the story short, I'm leaving Saturday morning instead. Great. So much for spending a couple days to familarize myself with the surroundings.

Just got an e-mail just now - my work permit is ready and now I can FINALLY leave. Felt like 'ants in a hot wok' all day.. and couldn't even sleep properly. Now that it has been solved, I can finally get some sleep. :)

Thursday, January 02, 2003

It's 3:30am and I just can't fall asleep. Whether it is anxiety that I'll be taking off soon, or the fact that I am way behind in my packing, my heart is pounding faster and faster, and I can barely stand to close my eyes. What's wrong with me? Feeling extremely out of this world at the moment.. almost feels like I don't belong. For the past two weeks, several people have told me that I think too much. I suppose the reason I started blogging was to have an outlet for my thinking - looking at my life through a different angle. Yet, I seem to think a lot more now that I blog, to the point that people actually tell me to stop thinking so much.

Relating to how Tania felt when she left for Germany last year. She said she felt like she didn't want to go. Somehow, I am starting to feel the same way. Yes, I'll still get on that plane tomorrow, because I know deep down inside, I am yearning to get out of this place and experience something that is completely different. Still it doesn't alleviate the feeling of sorrow and sadness. Not only am I leaving loved ones here, but friendships and familiarity. I have been taught, people hate change. It explains the emergence of "Change Management", a study of how to effectively manage change in environments. However, the ironic part is that every human being needs change to grow. It creates an interesting oxymoron - change drives innovation and improvement of self and society, but society resists change in general.

I have procrastinated enough. Going back to packing..

Wednesday, January 01, 2003


Hope that 2003 will be much, much better than 2002. Hope that this column will no longer be a bitching session, but rather, truly a look at life through the eyes of a bystander.
December 30th - Accompanied Michelle and Wendy to the airport, and went to shop a bit at a nearby mall with Adrian. Didn't do much for the rest of the day, except for meeting up with my classmates at night for bubble tea. It's funny how we always relate to school even when we're out of school. It's kinda sad actually. Oh well.

December 31st - More shopping. Finally finished buying everything I need to go away. Now I'm heading out to dinner and then new years eve party! Yay!