Tuesday, December 27, 2005


I have been sitting here at work for two hours already, and I have done one thing all day. Today is a UK bank holiday, and ironically, I am working for a bank. At least I got yesterday off. I spent the entire 25th at home lounging, as NOTHING is open in this country except for.. pubs. Tells you a lot about the culture here huh?

I think I've complained enough about working on bank holidays so I'll spare all of you the agony of hearing that again.

It felt a little bit weird this morning coming into work on my usual train, as the train was almost empty (compared to how packed it is normally). I suddenly felt a sense of tranquility, of being at peace with my surroundings. There were only a few cars on the road, and I've noticed fewer lights emitting from buildings too.

What I'm trying to say is, I think I need to get out of the house a little more to appreciate the world a little more.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Party (Part 3)

Merry Christmas! (or for those easily offended, Happy Holidays!) :)

Just got back from my third and probably last Christmas party. It was held by a bunch of students at their college hall (aptly named College Hall) near Shephard's Bush. It was rather organised, complete with loads of food, drinks, and even planned-out group games. You know those group games that people play at band camps?.. okay not "those" games, get your mind outta the gutter! Games like broken telephone, duck-duck-goose, etc. Secret Santa was fun too, except I got this.. lip gloss? Uh, thanks, but no thanks?

Had to come home rather early because buses stop running for the entire day on the 25th starting at midnight. I actually *ran* to catch the last tube home.. and then, got stuck at Canary Wharf. Called a cab and they charged this "season premium" given the demand. Ugh. At least I'm home and not out in the cold still.. This wouldn't have happened if I had a car!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Party (Part 2)

Well part 1 was already done in Toronto, and that was fan-tas-tic. Good food (so much food left though!) and good company.. loads of people from my university class, plus a lot of Lisa's friends which always adds to the mix. Yes, engineering class, lack of girls, blah blah blah, you get the story.

Anyway, just tonight I went out with a bunch of local Chinese "young professionals" for a small Christmas gathering. It was the typical "dine and K" parties, with some karaoke in the mix with a lot of eating. It was probably the best meal I've had all... hmm, week, given that I was just in Toronto. Great fun to meet new people in London though. Given the nature of my job, going out and meeting new people is not always an option. They seem alright though.. definitely a fun bunch.

The only thing I never seem to understand is the early closing times - we were kicked out at 11:00pm!? Oh well, at least this means I caught the last train back home without resorting to cabbing..

Friday, December 23, 2005

L'Etranger London

Another night out with the brokers, this time with ones from Paris. They picked a date right before the holidays and took us out to a restaurant called L'Etranger. It was a French restaurant with a bit of a fusion feel to it. The food seemed to have been influenced by Japanese (what isn't in London these days?!), as they served Sashimi platters and the like.

Nevertheless, the food was wonderful and the brokers were actually funny.. I actually ended up having mostly Japanese-style food except for the foie gras at the beginning. The dessert was really good too. I mentioned to them that I was looking forward to Olympic hockey (GO CANADA!) and they said they will sort something out for us. Now to find out when they actually play a decent team that I'd like to watch...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Quick Turnaround

.. and I'm back in London. Thanks for the wonderful time everybody. Just a quick recap:

  • Business class is really *THAT* much better than Economy. Thank you Aeroplan!
  • Renting a car is much better done BEFORE arriving as it alleviates the agony of trying to find a car at 9:00pm from a company that doesn't try to rip you off.
  • Drove to Barrie to meet with my cousin, and then drove her to Toronto for some food with Tania.. and then, promptly drove her back and then return to meet with another friend.
  • I miss the food in Toronto - not just the variety but also the quality.
  • Karaoke: must-do activity, even when my throat hurts. Met Silvia for about five minutes, she seems like a nice girl.
  • Lisa's mom makes the best salad, period.
  • University friends are still the same, except I'm MUCH out of the loop in their daily gossips.
  • Poker is fun when you are playing with people whom you can trash-talk with. Meeting new people is always fun.

    I tried to meet as many people as I could, but those who I didn't have a chance to see.. there's always the next time I'm back!
  • Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    Quick Trip Home

    Just a quick note.. I'm making a quick visit back home to deal with some unfinished business. Just for a long weekend, nothing too spectacular. I'm also going to be at Lisa's party too.

    Sunday, December 11, 2005

    Driving Theory Test

    Woke up really early this morning for my driving theory test. I don't even know why I'm writing one again, given how long I've already been driving in Canada. I could just easily have converted my license and save the trouble, but it would also mean giving up my license back home. I'm not about to do that.. especially now with this graduated system, in case I do decide to move back.

    The test itself was pretty straight-forward, I spent about 30 minutes reading over the book and the rest were just common sense. Actually they have this hazard perceptions test, where they show you a video clip and you "click" every time you think a potential hazard on the road is forming. I think it was quite cool, because it really tested my attention at 9am. (which, btw, is not my prime time)

    Needless to say I passed :) Now on to more driving lessons!

    Saturday, December 10, 2005

    Company Christmas Seasonal Party

    Just to be PC, it is no longer a Christmas party but a seasonal party. I suppose that opens up opportunities for parties during other "seasons", like spring, or summer. Last night was my company's party, and it was held at quite a central location in the City. To be honest, I missed last year's party for the team party (coincidentally it was on the same day), and I am quite curious how the actual company party is given the rave reviews it got last year.

    Hmm I was told to wear a tie, and that people supposedly go "all out" on nights like these. When I got there - surely the ladies look fab and it is apparent that they put a lot of effort in, but the blokes.. well, sorta like me, just work clothes basically. A few did dress up a little more, but it didn't put me out of place.

    It was a rather big venue, with tables scattered all over the place and buffet-style booths situated around the hall. They had some interesting selections of food, mostly Asian-influenced (I say influenced because it's not really Chinese food but the kind you get at those $14.99 all-you-can-eat types back home). I was much more interested in the two chocolate fountains - a continuous flow of chocolate and an endless supply of strawberries, marshmallow, pineapples, and biscuits to dip in. I think I must have stood there for 20 minutes and gained 5 pounds while at it.

    They also had a stage with some performers (a bunch of girls dancing or something, wasn't really paying attention), a dance floor, go-karts, and indoor virtual golf. My company really threw some money into this event!

    Unfortunately I had to cut my night short because I had to be at work this morning, and the party ended shortly after midnight anyway (so that people can actually come into work). Needless to say, the office was a bit empty today.. Apparently "a lot" happened last night and I'm sure the rumour mills were bustling with activity around the coffee machines today.

    Thursday, December 01, 2005


    Went out with another broker last night to a restaurant called Cocoon. It was located right off Piccadilly Circus on Regent Street, so its location is already quite trendy. Turns out it was a Japanese fusion Chinese cuisine, which was a little bit strange to me. The decor is very circular based, with almost everything sphere-like and even the chairs look like pods. The food was quite.. unique. They have this blow-torched sushi, which is basically nigiri that's been torched slightly. We had the fatty tuna kind, which tasted absolutely fantastic. The other food was quite interesting too... and of course we had a lot of wine to go with the food.

    Wednesday night wasn't exactly a good "party" night, as I have another big day coming up at work. I'll definitely return to this restaurant though and try their different fusion food.

    Monday, November 28, 2005

    Saturday Night Outing

    It was the co-op's birthday on Sunday so a whole bunch of us from work went out to celebrate (it was actually the new grad's birthday on Saturday, so it was a dual-birthday celebration!). Went to dinner at Il Bordello, a surprisingly-good Italian restaurant near Wapping, and enjoyed a nice pizza with some good wine. Then we quickly headed off to Lab in Soho. After a few cocktails we went to yet another birthday party at Kabaret's Prophecy.

    When we got to the club, they had already reserved a table and everything so we just sat around drinking. It was a member's only club, so the crowd is a bit more exclusive. After a few rounds, this group of people came in with cameras and this girl started posing for the cameraman. A few of us were thinking, "Wow, are they doing a porn cover shoot here or something?"

    The girl wasn't bad looking, but just her poses and the way she presented herself was quite provocative. It turned out they were movie actresses from California filming in London (and apparently she was on the O.C. also...), and she was in London filming It's A Boy Girl Thing. I suppose she must've been really drunk, because she wrote her phone number down and stuffed it in my hand when I was leaving..

    Ah well, not that I'd call but it's a nice ego-boost nevertheless! :D

    Thursday, November 24, 2005

    Unable to drive!? Me??

    I went for my first driving lesson here tonight. Yes, I've been driving since I legally could back in Canada(and that's a long time ago). Thus, you must all be wondering why I'm learning to drive, let along taking lessons. To start off with, they all drive on the wrong side of the road (instead of the "right" side, hehe) here. Oh, and it seems that they have not evolved too much in automotive technologies in this country, so to have automatic transmission here is a luxury. I'm learning how to drive manual...

    What I discovered tonight, is that after a year hiatus from driving, I can no longer maneuver a car. I had problems with just keeping the car straight and driving at a decent speed. Adding to that is a) night time b) manual gear box c) wrong side of the road. The result? Car stalling every turn, over-steering, almost hitting posts/cars parked on the street... it was a disaster!

    Maybe my ambition to get my license by the end of the year is not as easy to achieve as I had originally thought.

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    Broker Dinners

    Just making note of another broker dinner last night.. because as much as I go out with them for dinners or other events, I will not let myself forget that this is still really cool. Guess sometimes people lose sight after being desensitized to the glam, and once in a while I need to ground myself.

    We went to Nobu (the new one, not the one near Park Lane) for some really exotic food and lots of sake. Actually, almost my entire department went this time. Half way through dinner, this new graduate throw an entire glass of wine over me... that was *NOT* cool. Oh well, I tried my best to stay calm and even laugh a little. Kept reminding myself that accidents do happen.. so does death and merciless beatings :)

    Today was another write-off at work as I tried to stay awake..

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Train Thoughts

    I was taking the train home after work and saw this sign..

    Now that's one witty (and cheeky) sign! Sorta slaps you in the face if you were actually staring at somebody on the train.. and then avoiding eye contact whenever they look at you. Ah, we've all been there.

    So have I ever really walked up and said something? No, and I think I'm a bit too chicken to do something like that. Maybe it's time to change that attitude?

    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    Fate?! Or just coincidence?

    I am a believer of fate. I think everything happens for a reason, and with that reason I think life is already planned out in front of me. Free will is a lie - my decision to act on my free will was pre-determined. If I attempt to change my life by acting erratically, sorry, but that was also planned. There's no escape in my little philosophy.

    Today was the first Saturday where I didn't commit myself to any social activities, so I decided to go for a walk and ended up at Ikea. (fine, it wasn't a walk, and I actually spent money to take the train to go there..) Funny thing is, I saw this couple waiting for the tram. We boarded the tram at the same time and I got off at the station where Ikea was..

    On my way back, as I was getting off the tram, I saw them again getting off at the same time. This is not the first time I've had encounters like this... I wonder if it's fate, that I'm meant to see these people more than once.. or is this just a coincidence?

    You must think I'm drunk, but I can assure you that my mind is as sound as ever.. I may be crazy, but aren't we all?

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Breakfast Meetings

    As part of the graduate programme, a few of us were invited to a breakfast meeting this morning. Actually it wasn't a meeting, more of a breakfast discussion panel. The topic was "What does it take to build a successful career in this firm?", and we had one hour with a few members of senior management to discuss with.

    First rule of breakfast meetings: Do not think that you will actually get to eat. I made the mistake that I was going to be fed properly. Sure, there was a lot of food on the table. In fact, I filled my plate with fruit and crossiants and pain au chocolat and sandwiches. Did I end up eating any of that? Perhaps two pieces of fruit and half a crossiant. For the entire hour, I was expected to jump in and contribute to the discussion at any time. Having food in your mouth when you were asked to give an opinion is *not* cool. Not to mention all the crunching noises really distracts the room. To supplement that first rule, take plenty of drinks back to the table. You'll end up drinking a lot more than eating, trust me.

    Secondly, come up with meaningful questions PRIOR to the meeting. You want to seem intelligent, but not a know-it-all or worse, a smart ass. There is a very fine line between those, and you don't want to even get close to the line. Don't just come up with generic questions either, because those senior directors have seen it all - they were juniors once too.

    Just one more thing.. network, network, network. This is an opportunity to find out what everybody else does in your company. Okay, so the guy sitting next to you is not a director and can't get you promoted - he may very well be the person who will bring you onboard when he gets a juicy offer from another firm. Besides, better to have one more friend than one more enemy, right?

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    Educating Today's Youth

    There was a small gathering at Sally's place last night (which turned out to be not so small after all!), complete with an outdoor BBQ and indoor hotpot. The most interesting part of the night was chatting with a few teenagers.. (as a side note, I cannot believe I have now left the realm of being a teenager myself and referring to somebody else as teenager)

    Naturally, our topics of interest surrounded pranks to be played in school, gambling in soccer matches, online poker, and girls. We talked about betting strategies in poker, girls in movies and who's hot/not these days. Also gave them a few pointers in online betting and how to calculate simple odds, and spotting arbitrage opportunities. That turned them from "math and stats are so boring" to "hey maybe I'll pay attention in class". Isn't this what education is all about?! No, I don't corrupt people... ;)

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    The red cups are here!

    Today I stepped into the Starbucks near work as part of my morning routine, and found that they've already switched to using the red cups... what? Is it Christmas already!? Halloween just passed literally two days ago and now they are already starting to fill our minds with Christmas and presents and sale and shopping.. mmm.. Which reminds me that I need to now save up for all that Christmas spending.

    Come to think of it, I don't remember when I started drinking coffee (let alone from Starbucks). I still recall how I absolutely disliked the taste back in high school, and now I bear with it because of its "remedial power". Not to say that it solves the world's problems, but certainly provides a quick fix for my constant lack of sleep. I won't say that I cannot live without it, but it definitely makes lasting through 13-hour days a LOT easier!

    Jump Board

    Towards the end of the day, a colleague of mine asked if I had some free time after work for a quick drink. After evaluating my options between doing nothing at home or going out for some social time, I quickly agreed to meet him at the pub just around the corner from work.

    Turns out that this colleague wanted some career advice. He actually works in the "backoffice", sort of a support staff but very vital to the business. Being as junior as I am, there is not much pull or advantage that I could offer to him. Instead, I gave him honest advice and what I have seen in the past year that I've worked at this firm.

    This is not the first person I've seen trying to jump from being in the "backoffice" to a more business-oriented role. Either that, or they just jump from firm to firm every so often. The mean turnover rate in that department is somewhere between six to nine months. Is it that bad to work in that team, or do people just use that as a jump board to get better (paying) jobs?

    Monday, October 31, 2005

    Waterloo By The Numbers

    Disclaimer: I took this from another blog, but this one is too funny to miss. I've linked the original post at the end.

    Things Waterloo's admissions books don't tell you...

    1957: Waterloo's virgin year as a University.
    1957: Virgins in the Math faculty.

    English: The second-most common language spoken on campus.
    Mandarin: The most common language spoken on campus.

    40.0% Approximate percentage of student body that is Asian.
    0.04% Approximate percentage of student body that is black.

    70: % of the Arts faculty that is white and female.
    0.7: % of the Math faculty that is white and female.

    23% Estimated proportion of Math Faculty that is hetero, homo, or bisexual.
    77% Estimated proportion of Math Faculty that is asexual.

    40: Turnout at Fed Hall on a Thursday night.
    140: Turnout at Serge D'Alessio's 9:30am Linear Algebra lecture on Friday mornings.

    Quebec province: Source of ~2% of Math Faculty.
    Guangdong province: Source of ~20% of Math Faculty.

    3: Mean number of girls present in a Computer Science lecture.
    3: Also the annual mean number of showers taken by a Computer Science major.

    75%: Percentage of UW CASA (Canadian Asian Students Association) that is actually Chinese.
    95%: Percentage of UW Actuarial Science Club that is actually Chinese.

    98%: Reputed percentage of students employed as claimed by Waterloo's co-op department.
    40%: Actual percentage of term 1A students employed (based on an anecdotal sample).

    3: Persons present in queue outside of Bomber on a Friday night.
    30: Persons present in queue at Tim Horton's on a Friday night.

    200: Persons enrolled in MTHEL 100 (Business Law).
    20: Persons actually present in a MTHEL 100 lecture.

    4: Record number of white people spotted on Fed Bus to Scarborough Friday afternoon.
    4: Record number of visible minorities spotted at Molly Bloom's Irish Pub Friday night.

    Original Post Here

    Just too funny to miss.

    Sunday, October 30, 2005

    Birthday Fun?

    Now that the dust has settled, let's recap the few things I did this past week. On Wednesday night I had dinner with a friend and her boyfriend.. correction, I _cooked_ dinner for a friend and her boyfriend. It was something very simple (read: pasta and chicken, haha), but the main feature was the chestnut cake they brought me. Yummy! There are only a very selected few that actually enjoys chestnut cakes, and the fact I still have some cake in my fridge should be obvious that these two weren't big fans either.

    On the actual day of my birthday, I went out with a broker to Ubon near my work. Even though it's a bit sad not to spend it with friends (and to be honest, I have a very limited social circle here in London), at least I was enjoying over-priced Japanese food.

    Now on Friday.. I _was_ going to have dinner with some people, until they bailed on me one by one throughout the day. It got to a point where I just cancelled dinner and was planning on a quiet evening at home. That was until I received a call from Kent, who needed some help with his admission video to an art college. The catch was having to travel with him to Croydon where another mutual friend lives and she was supposed to help him with the video also. Why I agreed to that crazy idea, is still beyond me. I ended up not doing anything (to be honest, all he needed from me was the software to put it together.. why did I go all the way there..), not to mention I spent the entire night sleeping on the couch in the fetus position.. oh well, can't really complain because I did agree to go. Nobody twisted my arm and made me do it..

    In any case, at least I was with some people this year.. otherwise I'd probably be more depressed than usual during this time of the year. Thanks for those who called - you know who you are. :)

    Friday, October 28, 2005

    Yet Another Birthday Rant

    I had originally thought up this elaborate speech that I was going to share with you all, but after typing it all up and finished editing it, I don't feel like posting it any more. Each year I end up writing a convoluted mess on my birthday, only to be buried under a mass of meaningless entries to follow each step of my life. I continue being that drama queen that whines to the world, and visitors to this blog dwindles because I stopped updating as frequently as I had faithfully in the past.

    Perhaps this will be a good time for to do a review for the year. Being in a full-time position is really quite different from school - even throughout co-op there was still an end in sight. Now there's nothing to really look forward to, except for weekends and holidays. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate my job. In fact, I've grown to enjoy it a lot more than I originally thought I would. There were times when I wondered why I put myself through this pain and suffering of long hours and loneliness of being in London. The truth is, there isn't any other job I'd rather switch for at the moment. Heading back in engineering is not an option any more. In the upcoming year, I really would like to continue developing my skills in this field and perhaps one day become good at it?

    In regards to my personal life.. wait, what personal life? My work consumes me, but most of you already know that I put work/school before anything else. It became really clear to me when I didn't receive any phone calls today... or e-mails.. or smoke signals.. I wouldn't have minded semaphores either! But nothing. Expecting too much? Perhaps.

    I am still amazed at the fact how things can change quickly, and before you know it, it's almost as if nothing had ever happened. On the other hand, things can happen so quickly that deeply impacts your life without knowing it. Stepping away from my first quarter-of-a-century life and looking back, I've been blessed with many things that I am eternally grateful for. Thanks to those of you whom shaped the way I am today.

    Time to step up my game, and make the best of what I've been given!

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    Happy Birthday to me!

    Happy birthday to me,
    happy birthday to me,
    happy birthday to meeeeeeeeee,
    happy birthday to me!

    (Yes, I do this every year..)

    Monday, October 24, 2005

    Seafood Dinner

    A few friends came by last night to stay the night, only because the fish market opens at 5am and we need to get there to buy fresh fish. The Billingsgate Market is actually quite near my work in Canary Wharf, and I actually used to live right across from it. Normally you find restaurants buying fish here in the morning for their needs throughout the day, and occasionally you'll find a few wanderers (like us!) buying in small quantity. The selection was huge and very inexpensive. We ended up buying shrimp, crab claws, mussels, and of course, fish!

    We spent the rest of the day hanging out until the evening, and we cooked up a storm at Jenny's place. Okay, so originally it was supposed to have been hosted at MY place. Unfortunately, my place lacks the necessary utensils to cook up a proper meal. (I don't have a pot big enough to cook for more than two people!) Nevertheless, it was a great meal even though I couldn't eat most of what was on the table. Being allergic to shellfish really sucks!

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    Weaker by the day

    Now I am convinced that my health deteriorates by the day while I'm living in this country. For the past three days, I've been going to work, and then sent home because I was too ill to stay at work. Normally this doesn't happen to me whilst I was in university, so I've come up with two theories why I've been sick so much more:

    1) I'm living in a different country and it's location-related
    2) I'm doing a different job and it's job-related

    Now let's look at reason #2. I concur that the job is stressful and it involves long hours. However, at least it's routine stress and the hours are stable, unlike in university which comes in waves. So to say that my constant illness is stress induced would be questionable.

    Therefore, I'm going with reason #1. Which also means that I'll need to get out of this country asap if I want to live until 30. (let's be honest, with the junk I eat everyday, I'm glad I'm still alive today)

    Tonight a few friends are coming over and we're heading to the fish market first thing in the morning. The rest of that story will come later...

    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    Stood Up

    I don't like being stood up, but I can understand that sometimes things just happen and you have to alter plans somewhat. The thing I ask is at least to notify the person being stood up, and not just go MIA. It is very annoying, and it's basically an opportunity cost.

    So I ended up doing nothing for the entire night.. ugh.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    Too slow!

    Where is my motivation and determination to be at the top? I was two seconds too late when one of my colleague took responsibility of something that would have moved me along in my job quite well... the reason? I hesitated. I wasn't sure if I wanted to throw myself out to do it.

    Now? I regret having waited the two seconds.

    Saturday, October 08, 2005

    Oooh fancy ball...

    The annual event that literally maps who's who in the finance sector which I involve, was held last night at the Old Billingsgate Market near the river. This year's theme is of oriental and martial arts, following the "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" concept. Little did they realise is that the movie is two years old and this whole oriental craze is no longer uber-cool.

    In fact, I had a little episode of trying to find a tuxedo for this ball. I had completely forgotten that I signed up for this, and was reminded only at the beginning of the week. There simply wasn't enough time to rent one at a shop near work, so I went where a techno-geek would go - the internet. Everybody at work was shocked that I rented a tux from the internet, and not to mention that it fitted perfectly and it was a rather good-looking tux!

    The ball itself was very extravagant. We were welcomed with lots of girls wearing traditional Chinese dress, serving us bubbly or juice. There were very gorgeous girls selling raffle tickets (and quite flirty too), and a few martial arts guys showing off their sword flinging skills.

    You could definitely see the bling in the room, as there was a silent auction and a live auction going on and the bids went in in multiples of £100... I stood in awe watching those numbers go up. It got especially interesting at the live auction where a three-night vacation in the English countryside went as much as £6000. I kept telling myself, "It's good for the charity.. it's good for the charity.." The final lot was a package to watch the finals for World Cup 2006 - which went for.. something around £9000..

    The rest of the evening consisted of more drinking, networking, talking to people from other banks and broker firms, and more drinking. Did I mention drinking?

    We ended up leaving around 1am and I was exhausted so headed straight home, when some of my colleagues ventured to an afterhours club for a bit more partying.

    Monday, October 03, 2005

    House Party

    One of the things I missed about being in Canada is the concept of house parties. Perhaps it's because I don't know many people here, and I didn't attend university in this country. Oh and the fact that I'm no longer 19 might contribute to the factor that "drinking until you puke" is no longer equivalent to a good weekend. Nevertheless, I still miss the atmosphere of drinking with random people and bonding over alcohol. Hence, I made sure I took advantage of the opportunity for a house party held by an ex-colleague last night.

    His place was near Vauxhall station, which nears Brixton. Now I know why people warned me of Brixton at night - let's just say I'm glad I made it safely from the tube station to his house. The party was really great though, three floors to the house with a DJ on the roof blasting good beats. There was also a jacuzzi and a kitchen full of alcohol. I witnessed a belt fight over a small pond in the backyard, and some random guy (not part of my group of friends) joined in for no apparent reason.

    With that much alcohol going around, hilarity definitely ensued.

    Friday, September 30, 2005

    Fugly Redefined

    Generally I'm a nice person. No, really. There are those whom I make fun of constantly for the comedic value (you know who you are), but I wouldn't actually mean all those nasty things I say. If anything, there's more to be said about me than what I could say about others.

    But once in a while, you really bump into people that you wished that your diplomacy and social conscience never existed.

    While out for drinks with some brokers tonight at the Sanderson Hotel, a group of girls passed by us a few times. Feeling the effects after a few really good cocktails, one of the brokers started chatting one of those girls up.

    Normally I wouldn't be opposed to talking to people in general, regardless of how they look. Surely, there is more incentive if the girl is pretty, but it's not like I'm planning to pick up or anything. But these girls were... let's just say, I would need to drown myself in all the alcohol they've got at the bar first..

    Ah well, it was fun talking to them anyway. It seemed they were there far longer than we have, and thus, much more hammered than we were. Drunk people are fun to talk to.

    (aside: one of my colleagues was with me also at the drinks, and he said that one of those girls had a pug face.. every time he turned around to look at her, he uttered "Pug!" under his breath.. )

    Monday, September 26, 2005

    Quick Review of Trip to HK

    Now that I have screwed up my sleeping schedule, I'm going to force myself to sleep in about half hour so that I can wake up properly for work. For now, I'm going to quickly update on the rest of my trip in HK:

  • Had lunch with my grandparents (on my mom's side) on Monday, it was good to see them again. I missed them last time I was in HK because they were away on vacation.
  • Dinner with Arthur and his girlfriend, had a good catching up session with him about work and life in general. Ah I miss the old times when we were both in Toronto.
  • Drinks at Lan Kwai near closing time. Didn't know that people in HK were also this friendly after a few drinks. Felt weird because I normally don't see so many Chinese drinking (and having fun!)
  • Took my cousins for a day out - I still remember babysitting them when they were little, and now they talk back to me and everything. I'm *definitely* much older now...
  • Helped Winnie built a new computer at home, and set up her router, all within one night's time (oh and I went out for dinner in the middle of it for three hours)

    Tomorrow is another day...
  • Sunday, September 25, 2005

    Back.. Now with additional burden..

    Finally made it back from the airport. Glad that I decided to take an extra day of rest before work commences again tomorrow, for now I must sleep. Goodnight all.

    Monday, September 19, 2005

    Mid-Autumn Festival

    One of the fortunate things about coming back to HK at this time is to enjoy the mid-autumn festival with my family. (which I haven't in almost 13 years) Tonight we had a huge family dinner, like ones during Chinese new years. As usual, I brought along a bottle of red wine to share with my family. Had a good chat with my uncles and cousin, and saw my newest baby cousin. She was sooooo cute! I held her for a little while, and then realised that I am way too clumsy to be handling a new-born child. I think it'll be a little while before I even CONSIDER having my own.. I think my kid will not born stupid, but become stupid after I drop him/her a few times. Hahaha..

    I seriously miss home-cooked meals. I also miss having family around. Perhaps I am getting older and realising that family/friends are playing a more important part in my life...

    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Glad to be back

    It's only the second day back, and I've already been shopping in two computer centres and karaoked for four hours. I must say that being away from karoake for so long does deteriorate my singing slightly! Oh how I missed the convenience of transportation and how stores open past 6pm in HK. I can actually do something after dinner, instead of going straight home because nothing is open.

    Had dinner with Winnie's friends in the Soho area.. mmm.. finally, some good Chinese food to fill the void. Then I made my 1.5hr trek home - the only problem with living near so far from the central..

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Landed and Plugged In

    Look how quickly I can find internet and post this.. it's 12:46am right now, and I just got home from having dinner with Winnie and her mom. Although this is no broadband, dial-up serves me just as well for posting in my blog and responding to e-mail.

    The flight itself was rather uneventful. In fact, flying has become such a normal part of my life now that it is no longer exciting. Sometimes, it feels like being on a bus for a long period of time, except you don't really get a view outside and you get served food. I slept through most of the movies and in-flight entertainment, as uncomfortable as the seats were.

    I should make good use of these two weeks in HK though, because I was lucky to get some time off from work. Doesn't look like I'll be off on vacation any time soon after this.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    Off to HK

    See y'all later people.. off to HK for 1.5 weeks. Hopefully will find internet access to post here.

    Oh who am I kidding? HK is like the most covered city with internet connection points. Wi-fi access all over the place, and free internet at coffee shops. My biggest concern should be finding the time to blog, given my busy schedule when I'm there.

    Sunday, September 11, 2005

    Delayed Labour Day

    At least it felt like what I would have done on Labour Day... if I even had one this year. Today I went to a friend's BBQ/Hot Pot party outside of central London, and sat around drinking BEvERages/wine/champagne. It was really fun to get out of the city once in a while, and we were outside with the sun.. okay, there was no sun. This is England for ya!

    Oooh I ate too much tonight. Should really go easy on the BBQ next time!

    Thursday, September 08, 2005

    Flame War Over Sandwich

    Read this on the news today... very, very funny. This is to teach you a lesson that while flame wars are bad, it's worse when the company retains your e-mail... and worst when it's forwarded around the world...

    The power of e-mail forwards. I think this is the new medium for blackmailing..

    Article with actual e-mail

    Article with picture

    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    Biscester Village

    I didn't even know the concept of "outlet mall shopping" existed in England until today. Given that I figured out there were two shopping malls in the near vicinity, I automatically assumed that outlet malls just did not have its market here. Oh how wrong I was. Ladies and gents, here is proof:

    Doesn't it look just like the outlet malls in Canada/US? I was surprised myself. One of Winnie's friends were visiting, and so I was dragged along to carry all their shopping. (Ahem, I also went around carrying Lisa and Lorene's shopping last summer while we were in London. I'm just a nice guy like that.)

    Naturally, keeping up with the idea of "outlet mall", it was situated somewhere in between Oxford and London. We first took a bus to Oxford, then took a shuttle bus to Biscester, and then walked about 10 minutes to find this place. It wasn't very big at all - nothing like the size I was used to. Although I'm sure I could spend hours here.. or more like, the girls can spend days here. I must say that the selection is quite good here, with all the major names that you would expect.

    Now only if I had a car here, then I could come here more often... hehehe...

    Thursday, September 01, 2005

    Summer's Out

    I just came back from the "End of Summer" drinks with my department at work, and it dawned on me that the summer is now over. I remember that I had some pretty grand plans for the summer, thinking that even if I couldn't get any days off, I could still work the weekends and go to all these European cities.

    What I ended up doing was lounge around in London, not venturing out, even within England! Quite disappointing, really. I was really hoping for a fulfilling summer, but I ended up being a lazy snake, wasting my weekends away. Not to mention about blogging... this is a disgrace, how I've reduced this to a weekly update. This summer laziness can't go on like this!

    Friday, August 12, 2005

    Night Out

    The summer's been boring, and lazy - work has really slowed down in the past two weeks and from what I hear, it will only get worse until September rolls around. I really should have planned something this summer, just to go away or something. The upside of having nothing much to do during work is that I don't have to worry about being out late.

    Which is why I went to have dinner at Ubon with a colleague and our broker. Not exactly the cheap restaurant I normally go to, but if I don't have to pay for it, then bring it on! A trendy Japanese restaurant to satisfy the oh-so-hip finance-type personality, the price tag matched its target clientele. We ended up eating a selected few courses (of course including the famous black cod), and filled ourselves with sake served from a bamboo. Is that even the proper word for a section of bamboo used as a container? I have no idea. It was a good night.. I barely walked home without stumbling.

    Must build up alcohol tolerance again.

    Thursday, August 04, 2005

    Looking to the Future

    Just came back from dinner with an ex-colleague. He entered the company at the same time as me, and was recently made redundant by his team. Instead of feeling all sad about it, he really took the positive attitude to the next level. He's already been to three or four interviews around the City, and now have planned on returning to HK for more interviews or even starting a business.

    We had a really meaningful conversation tonight, talking about our aspirations and why we're doing what we are doing. Quite interesting is that he asked me, "So why have you decided to throw everything away and start all over here in London?" I never really thought about it. Whenever friends or family asked me that question, I dodged it by saying that it was my only choice as there were no jobs waiting for me back in Toronto. I suppose if I really wanted to, I would have found a job too. So what's the true reason I'm here in London?

    The truth is, I have no idea. I think part of the reason why I'm still here is to find out why I'm here in the first place.

    I wish my friend all the best in his future endeavors..

    Thursday, July 28, 2005

    Police Presence

    After two bombings and a man shot in the tube station, they are finally responding to the "heightened security" and have police patrolling train stations!

    At least they are trying to calm the general public. When I went to work this morning, I saw police already at the station armed with automatic machine guns... mmm.. is that supposed to make me feel safe, or to make me feel like I'm in a war zone?

    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    Thank You, London

    That's just a picture I took at the tube station near my work. It says "Thank You, London"... meant for the 2012 Olympics campaign. Now it takes on a whole new meaning... Thanks to London, now I feel that I cannot go on the tube or the bus or any public transport without thinking whether I should write a will. Thank you London for making all my friends worried about me, and furthermore, defer any trips they have to visit. Thank you London for giving me another reason to leave...

    On the brighter side, thanks to those of you who worried about my wellbeing and called to see if I were blown to pieces. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your view of me), I'm still alive and well. It's evident that a little more security precaution is taken near my work area, being the new finance centre in London and all. Had been evacuated from the building twice on bomb scares, locked in the building a few times because of suspicious vehicles outside... small inconveniences in exchange for my life!

    Saturday, July 23, 2005

    Bi-Weekly Event?!

    I just realised that the second bombing coincided with exactly two weeks after the first one. Is this going to become a bi-weekly event in London?

    Surely hope not.

    Thursday, July 21, 2005


    Why must we humans in general be so complacent?... I mean, you really didn't think that was the only time that it would happen, right?

    Another attack in London - this time much less severe, but still an attack. Furthermore, these people were carrying backpacks and sports bags around. I mean, we see these people around all the time! How are we supposed to know when to avoid those carriages when we board the tube?

    From now on, when I see anybody carrying a huge backpack, I'll walk over to the next carriage just to be on the safe side...

    Saturday, July 16, 2005

    Yeah, I feel really safe now...

    It's only been a little over a week after the recent bombing incidents in London, and I honestly believe that a lot of people have forgotten about it already. After all, it only killed approximately 100 people and injured some more, right? Surely, the day after the incident and the following few afterwards, I definitely saw increased police presence. In tube stations, on train station platforms, on the streets - you could easily see that there were more police patrolling.

    Now, it is back to the "where am I ever going to find a police officer" era of London. I suppose the Mets (as they are called here) figured that a few days of heightened security must have scared away ANY terrorists planning another attack! Why waste the money on operations that you've already accomplished, right??

    I'll just need to be more vigilant..

    Monday, July 11, 2005

    Central London = Ghost Town?!

    Despite the apparent "danger" that I face by taking the tube or bus, I felt that I would probably go crazy if I stayed home the entire weekend. Also, I had put off buying a television long enough. It must have been February or March when I first said I wanted to get a television (gasp!).. given that I haven't had a TV for the past 5 years while at university, it seems to be a bold move on my part.

    The truth is, my flat is getting a bit too quiet and I need a bit of lively noise when I go home. Besides, it's about time that I reward myself for staying TV-less for over five years, missing all those shows everybody talks about. The downside is that I actually won't spend as much time watching TV.. thanks to my work schedule.

    In any case, I've decided to plunge and get a TV. When I got to central London, what I saw was literally a ghost town! It was a Saturday afternoon, and the usually busy Oxford Street seemed empty, and stores were virtually void without any customers. Made my life a lot easier checking prices between different retailers. It was surreal though, seeing London so empty like that.

    On the other hand, I have faith that Londoners will pick up the pieces and move on. After all, humans tend to forget things very, very quickly...

    Sunday, July 10, 2005

    Spelling Lesson

    Something wrong with this picture? Look closely and see how they spell "Hospitality"...

    Oh and this is the sign for the Live8 concert in London, and they use the same map all over the place. Imagine how embarrassing it must be!

    Saturday, July 09, 2005


    Now that the dust has settled and I think everybody knows clearly what had happened. London was under attack by terrorists, and the various bombings around the city were orchestrated to go off at the same time. Although this pales in comparison to WTC a few years back, in terms of fatalities and scale of damage, it's still alarming that they could cause such a disruption in a metropolis.

    I ended up walking home last night, through the foot tunnel across the Thames. It took me a little bit over an hour, and it was frightening. Seeing people on the street in a panic trying to get home, and those living in the suburbs.. I heard stories where cabs started charging twice or three times the amount, and other horror stories of my colleagues trying to get home. Somethings don't change - I heard of the same thing two years ago when there was the blackout of 2003 summer in Toronto. Some people in this society just tries to take advantage at situations like this, and it makes me sick.

    Thursday, July 07, 2005

    Public transport is shutting down here. I don't know how I'm going to get home tonight.. In other news, a few groups have claimed responsibility for this attack. Blair made a statement accusing of terrorism, the G-8 leaders have issued a joint statement renouncing the attack in London.. So far 33 people have died from these attacks, and a large number of casualties are being treated.. not to mention they still haven't accounted for the fatalities on the blown-up bus.

    Oh, and there were rumours that the police shot a suicide bomber outside my work place. They seem to be aiming for financial places (the places where explosions occurred were in the City, where the financial hub is).. and Canary Wharf is the new investment banking centre, so I'm not surprised that they will set their targets here also.

    Deja vu.. this feels like 4 years ago when I was working at Open Text..
    A train was between King's Cross and Edgware Road when the explosion occurred.. so the train got stuck and people had to be rescued from the tunnels. Maybe I should be glad that I don't get to travel much for my job..
    So it looks like it might be a terrorist attack - so far four tube stations have reported explosion and closure, and a bus exploded in central London. Sounds like a revisit to 9/11.

    How ironic, as London won the Olympics yesterday. Perhaps somebody was a *bit* too upset about losing..

    Incident in London

    Just got news that an 'incident' happened at Liverpool station.. stay tune for further updates.

    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    London for 2012 Olympics!

    Congratulations to London for hosting the Olympics in 2012! It was an exciting day at work, watching as the result was announced. Personally I'm indifferent about which city is hosting the Olympics (I can travel to either if I really wanted to), but I wanted London to win because of Chirac's comments about Britain.

    He said, "The only thing they have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow."

    Not to mention this: "We can't trust people who have such bad food. After Finland it is the country with the worst food."

    Well, UK has bad food, and also the Olympics. That's more than what you can say, Mr. Chirac!

    Here's an article from the New York Press.. I laughed out loud when I read some of the items on the list.

    New York press - Olympics Go Home

    Sick.. Yet again!

    I don't think I can ever get rid of this chronic sickness - in fact, I don't think I ever got better. This is getting really annoying, because a lot of my colleagues are now making comments regarding the number of days I've been off work. It's not that I really want to be off (trust me, being at home for the whole day is very very boring). I personally think it's a combination of stress and living habits that prevents me from enduring the job. So for the whole day, I held on as I fought the massive headache to avoid any more smart comments from my co-workers..

    Had dinner with a fellow graduate after work to celebrate his birthday. We went to this Chinese restaurant near work, which served surprisingly good Chinese food. (nothing compared to Toronto, but hey, c'est la vie) The best part was when they brought out this "fruit plate" that was arranged to look like a cake, and sang happy birthday to my friend. Definitely a classic moment - in a Chinese restaurant no less!

    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    Private Lessons Available, Enquire Within :D

    Okay I was joking with the title.. but this made me laugh.
    Hong Kongers don't know what to do between the sheets: report

    (AFP) July 4, 2005 - Hong Kongers usually rank near-bottom of the international list of lovers and a social worker may have discovered why: they don't know what to do between the sheets.

    Grace Wong of the southern Chinese territory's Family Planning Association said the number of inquiries at her agency rocketed 50 percent last year, with many clients claiming to have no idea how to have sex.

    "Some married couples are not familiar with their body parts," Wong was quoted as telling the Sunday Morning Post. "They don't know where their sex organs are.

    "They don't know the physical changes associated with sexual response, like males getting an erection," she added.

    Regular international surveys by condom manufacturers have found the city is less than amorous. Durex's last poll found Hong Kongers get it together 79 times a year, while the French manage it the most, at 137 times.

    Another poll even suggested Hong Kong men prefer to go to work rather than have sex.

    The frenetic work ethic in the former British colony is usually blamed for interfering with the course of nature.

    But the paper said sociologists believe Chinese sensibilities, which deem discussion of sex even in school as taboo, are responsible.

    Here is an example of how headline statistics don't really convey the true meaning of the research finding..

    Saturday, July 02, 2005

    Happy Canada Day

    This is the first time I have spent Canada Day outside of Canada since high school started. Unfortunately, that also means today is not a holiday and I went into work for a full day. Not to mention that my boss is away, so I've been covering for him and this "hot seat" is not an easy one to be in. A great way to start the day is by losing a bit of money..

    As soon as I covered everything I needed to do at work, I dashed out the door and went home to get changed. By the time I got to Maiden Lane (where the famous Maple Leaf Pub was in London - they serve Canadian beer!), it was already packed with people. How crazy is this, in a foreign land, with so many Canadians celebrating the national holiday!

    By the time I got there, the few Canadians from work were already there and queued up for beer already.. Now what would a Canadian celebration be without Canadian beer..

    The festivities continued until the wee hours in the morning.. by that time, I wasn't exactly myself (some would argue that I am actually MORE of my true self at this stage, but we'll save this debate for a later date).. but as you can see, the street was just as packed at 12:30am..

    After many six-packs, a bunch of us wandered (literally) to BK for a bit of midnight snack before trekking home on the infamous London night bus..

    Sunday, June 26, 2005

    Strawberry Picking

    Just came home after a full-day of healthy and wholesome activity - strawberry picking and cooking/eating with a group of friends. The field was pretty far from the city itself, luckily we had a few drivers amongst us generously offering rides to those of us without wheels. (side note: I really miss having a car now!)

    Other than strawberries, there were other fruits and veggies to be picked. Of course, I picked a basket full of strawberries (even though I don't really eat strawberries).. and later at night I went to a friend's place to make smoothies. (read: a friend that owns a blender)

    Fruity-goodness for two days!

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    Corporate Events

    One benefit of working for a large corporation is their lack of cost management when it comes to finer details. Perhaps the amount is not substantial enough (perspective: them) for them to warrant additional costs to maintain. I say, carpe diem, and take advantage of what's been offered.

    So that was the attitude I had when I took on the job of being a "buddy" for the new summer interns at work. Supposedly I'm their mentor, and a familiar face for them to ask questions about the firm. One of the perks that comes with the job is the availability of intern activities - where the company picks up the tab. Tonight I went to the welcome drinks reception, held in the Docklands Museum near work. Try to act professional after a few glasses of white wine..

    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    Band Show

    Once again, after a long weekend I am completely unmotivated to work. Spent the entire day staring at the screens and being counter-productive - just as well, as today was extremely quiet at work. Promised a friend to see his gig after work today, so I stayed behind at work a little because his show doesn't actually start until 8pm. It was held in the basement of a bar close to the river, which wasn't too difficult to find. The room was cozy (read: smokey), and the aucostics were quite good. Turned out that it was a student show for those enrolled in a music course.

    There were different styles of music played through the night, and I must say that some of their own material was quite fascinating! I always enjoy these events, because it's so fresh from what we hear on the radio all the time. Unfortunately I had to leave after the first few sets because of work obligations the next day.. but hopefully they hold these events often..

    Friday, May 20, 2005

    Quotable Quote

    "If you can't change your fate, change your attitude." - Amy Tan (writer)

    Now only if I could learn that..

    Wednesday, May 18, 2005

    Star Wars III - Revenge of the Sith

    Had another unscheduled outing tonight, and this time the broker took a few of us to see the new Star Wars movie. Of course it is not due for public release a few days from now, but it was a pre-screening and I wouldn't turn down an offer like that. The movie itself was great - on the grounds that it fit well with the rest of the series. The acting wasn't exactly superb, and Natalie Portman wasn't as stunning as I remember her to be. Ah well, at least I got to see the movie..

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    Barcelona Grand Prix

    Now that I'm a bit more awake, let's recap the weekend's festivities. On Saturday night we went to Passadis del Pep, a famous restaurant by any standards. We were all served enough food and wine to get an elephant drunk and stuffed. The red wine was simply superb - it was a blended wine (85% tempranillo ,10% graciano,5% mazuelo), and it was probably the best red wine I've had. The food was excellent also.. one 'small' problem though.. they served a whole lot of seafood. (who would have thought.. haha) Which translates to me watching people eat and enjoying the wine without eating too much.. mm.. that wasn't a good combination.

    Afterwards we headed to the Elephant, a see-and-be-seen nightclub in Barcelona. We were escorted to a cordoned-off area for VIPs, and drinks began to flow from very well-dressed waiters and waitresses. Fully aware that I'll need to be awake in the early hours of the morning, took off promptly when the first bus took us back to the hotel.. it was already 3am..

    The morning came way too soon, and I slept my way from the hotel to Grand Prix. Luckily, the buzz and noise at the grounds woke me up as soon as I got off the bus. The atmosphere was amazing - so many fans for Alonso, given his recent success in the F1. We watched the qualifiers, and ate some free hotdogs and such. The seats we got was a bit down from the starting point, and we got to see most of the curves on the track from a far view. The race itself was pretty much a non-event, with Raikkonen leading the whole way. The best part was watching Schumacher spin out.. haha.

    Hung out a little more with some new friends before heading back to the airport for my late flight back to London..

    Monday, May 09, 2005

    Please, just one more shot..

    I think I need to start injecting caffeine instead.. having it filter through the digestive system is just way too slow.

    Sunday, May 08, 2005

    Weekend Destination : Barcelona!

    One of the benefits of working in London is the close proximity to other European cities. Although embarking on a weekend trip is declaring Monday a write-off, but when offered an all-expenses paid trip to Barcelona, I decided that Mondays were overrated. So here I am, in Barcelona writing this in my hotel room.

    It was arranged for a group of us from different banks by a broker firm. As I had to work late on Friday night, I took an early flight this morning into Barcelona while the others landed late Friday for a house party. I was told that the party was really awesome, and a few people didn't make it today for the tour which I joined right after landing. They had a tour guide taking us to different tourist spots, giving his version from a local perspective. We visited Parque Guell, Sagrad Familia, Paseo de Gracia and viewed Casa Bhatllo and la Pedrera from the outside and walked around Barrio Gotico and El Born. Afterwards we headed to a restaurant by the beach called El Cangrejo Loco (the crazy crab) and had some seafood (uhhh.. right.. ). Luckily there was enough alcohol to keep me happy..

    Now I'm back at the hotel, taking a siesta and enjoying the 32" plasma TV playing Spanish music videos. Woot!

    Sunday, April 24, 2005

    Night Out with the Boys

    It was the co-op's last weekend here in London, so a bunch of us decided to send him off (or celebrate him leaving) by going to dinner and drinks afterwards. For some strange reason, they decided to eat at Wong Kei in Chinatown. This infamous restaurant is known for their "service" and "food quality" - which definitely shocked a few people in our group. One person claimed he was "assaulted" when the waiter pushed his arm aside to put a dish down, and his order was mysteriously "missing"..

    After dinner we went to the Porterhouse for a few drinks before a few people retreating home. Not me! We continued to Fabric, a dance club in north London. I didn't get home until a few hours ago..

    Sunday, April 17, 2005

    Shopping Mall

    After being here in London for a while, I have realised the lack of the ginormous shopping malls here. Perhaps it's the lack of space in central London, but all the so-called "malls" I've been to feel like those crappy ones with six shops and no major labels.

    I think I just broke the myth this weekend by stumbling upon Bluewater. It is actually located about an hour away from central London by train, on top of a bus connection for ten minutes. Despite the traveling distance, I enjoyed the day thoroughly. It felt just like home - all the familiar labels (both in UK and Canada/US) were there, and it was HUGE!! Probably because it is located so far away from where land is expensive. In any case, I didn't buy anything (too poor to do that).. but I enjoyed a full day of indulging in window shopping again..

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    Weekend Destination : Amsterdam!

    I must have talked about Amsterdam so many times in my journal here that you, my faithful readers, start to wonder when I'm ever going to stop. Furthermore, you are probably wondering why I keep going back to Amsterdam. (get your mind outta the gutter!) This time the co-op at my workplace wanted to go, and I didn't have much to do on weekends anyway.. plus, I think getting away helps keep me sane! :D

    I won't bore anybody with the details of the trip, as I probably have said a million times what's worth seeing. It's worth noting this time I stayed at the Flying Pig Palace, a famous hostel in Amsterdam. I also went to the Holland Casino, the only "legal" casino sanctioned by the government. Lost a bit of money playing roulette (knowing when to get out is a GOOD strategy), and walked around town for a bit. Enjoyed spending some time in Teasers (those been to Amsterdam would know).. and walked around in the flower market and shopped for some tulips.

    Today was a write-off at work. (duh) Fun weekend, nevertheless.

    Thursday, April 07, 2005

    Chef's Table

    Last night I was invited to dinner at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's along with a few of my colleagues. For those of you only familiar with Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay is the true celebrity chef. A football player turned chef, he is the only one in the UK to hold 7 Michelin stars. The restaurant itself was already really fancy, but we got something even more special - the chef's table. It's a table situated at the heart of the kitchen, allowing interaction between the patrons and the kitchen staff. In short, it had to be the best meal I've ever had in my life. We were served a bottle of wine for every course that came out (and we had almost 9 courses including dessert), so needless to say I wasn't my usual composed self by the end of the night.. My most memorable part of the meal was touring of the kitchen, and tasting that white mushroom truffle.. mmmmmm..

    Now I have a headache (from the hangover) and a tummy-ache (from the eating)..

    Wednesday, March 30, 2005

    The Downside of Long Weekend

    Short weeks are great, but coming back to work after a four day leave sure leaves my brain a bit numb. I couldn't think at work today, and that only led to mistakes after mistakes. Thankfully I don’t think I lost any money today... phew.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2005

    Only one long weekend this year

    For my only (!) long weekend this year, I decided to take a break from the metropolis and took a short trip to Edinburgh for some R&R. Although it's been two years since I visited the city, I still remembered most of the street layouts and stores around the city. Unfortunately it rained for most of the time that I was there, so it wasn't too pleasant walking along the royal mile. I did meet up with a friend there, had sub-standard dinner(s) at a hotel restaurant and a Chinese restaurant, and shared a few laughs.

    Before I left Edinburgh, I went to Ocean Terminal - a shopping mall much like ones back in Canada. Had my first taste (and hopefully last) of Haggis, a traditional dish of Scotland. That wasn't exactly the most appetising dish, at least to me!

    Pictures will be posted soon!

    Thursday, March 24, 2005

    Unwilling to settle for less than perfect..

    As I was saying a few days ago, I have been completely swamped with work. I have settled into a routine that composes of nothing but working and sleeping. (with the occasional eating and showering in between) It's time for a change though. I've been relocated here for a bit over six months, and I don't think I have progressed as much as I had originally planned.

    I'm not blaming anybody though - yes, my schedule had not been ideal, but that is not an excuse. I need to learn how to motivate myself, and really reach for the goal I had set for myself.

    This has gone on long enough. It's time to action.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Missing in Action

    So it's been three weeks since I wrote anything here, and it's for a damn good reason. I have been terribly swamped with work! Who would have thought that full-time work is even more demanding than school?! At least I work to a schedule.. wake up, go to work, go home, eat, sleep.. repeat five times a week. I check e-mails twice a week, reply e-mails once a month. *sigh* So I apologise in advance to those whom I haven't sent a reply yet!

    Let's recap some of the more exciting things I have done in the past three weeks. I went to Cambridge two weekends ago for a bit of tourist action. Oh how I would have loved to study there! There is so much history in the institution, and the atmosphere was much more studious than Waterloo. There was something *different* about it.. something I cannot quite pinpoint. On the other hand, I guess if I did go to school at Cambridge or Oxford, I would not know how to appreciate it. The grass is always greener on the other side, right?

    I also helped organise a Passover dinner with a few of my friends over the past weekend. It had been over a decade since I attended these types of rituals, let alone organise one. Everything turned out quite well, and I think we all enjoyed the evening of chatting around the table with some very delicious food.

    Hopefully my next update won't take as long as this one..

    Monday, February 28, 2005

    Why am I so ill?

    Better question: Why am I so easily ill? Once again I have come under the weather and gotten sick. Coughing, sneezing, headache, dizzy, and the symptoms go on. The good thing is that I get to take a break from work - which is what I'm doing right now. I think I went overboard with working last week, which also explained my mysterious disappearance from this space for the whole time. Average time to leave work last week = 8:20. The good thing is that I finally got back in the mode for work, so I don't make as many stupid mistakes as I did the first week back.

    Now I'm off to drink some hot soup, and back to bed! (oh sleep.. how I miss you!)

    Saturday, February 19, 2005

    I Broke the Broker

    Some brokers decided to take my boss and a few of my colleagues out for the night on Wednesday, and my boss decided that I should go along too. Of course, later on I found out that it was because we had to keep the brokers entertained while my boss wanted to go home early. The upside of this whole arrangement is that I get wined and dined at the finest restaurant in the city, and waltz into nightclubs that most people are green with envy to get into. We didn't leave the club until 2:30am - and of course I was expected in the office at 6:00am sharp the next morning.

    It's Friday today, and through the broker lines today I heard "I'm still feeling it from Wednesday night. You sent a wild one out to meet us!" My colleague turned to me and say, "Look what you have done! You broke the broker!"


    How little they really know - I am not doing too well myself either. I barely got any sleep that night, not to mention that I "accidentally" dozed off for about 15 seconds.. (and caught by my senior, oops) Tonight I'm going to get my 15 hours and recover from that night out..

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    Back to the Grind

    I was told today that "Well that's the last time you're taking a vacation!" after I had forgotten about the discounting factor analysis.. oops. I guess two and a half weeks was a bit excessive. I just got home not too long ago, and it's taken me two days to catch up with my work. All I could look forward to now is my next vacation... and I don't even know when that will be!

    Saturday, February 12, 2005

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    Festive Spirit

    It has been over a decade since I spent Chinese New Years in Hong Kong, and I must say that I really do miss the festive spirit in the air. Being in Canada for such a long time, I had forgotten how exciting it was to celebrate new years. Not only because of the abundance of good yummy food, I also get to see all my relatives and friends on a day-to-day basis during the holidays. Family dinners on new years' eve, 2nd day of new year, 3rd day of new year.. etc. The past few days I have been engrossed in shopping. It's almost an illness that I have now! Everyday I come home with bags after bags of clothing, food, and most importantly electronic gadgets. I suppose this is to make up for not spending any money when away..

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    Don't try this at home

    Somebody please remind me not to schedule a holiday with four legs of flight, totalling over 30 hours of flight time? I'm going to sleep now, thank you and good night.

    Monday, January 31, 2005

    Time is so relative..

    The past two weeks literally flew over my head. Or it could be just the plane ride back to Toronto. Yes, ladies and gents, I'm back in Toronto for a 4-day frenzy to kick-off my two week vacation. "Vacation?!" Yes, I managed to beg (literally) two weeks off from my new boss for a bit of R&R. Now I'm sitting in front of my old computer, typing away as I'm packing up to leave after my four day whirl.

    Just to recap, I did finally have the appraisal done last Friday after insisting that it be done before the weekend. I'll leave the details out, but the general outlook is not too great. My speculations and worries were correct - I'm moving a bit too slowly, and I need to be more aggressive on the floor. Not surprising, because I am usually the type to be quiet and watch (meanwhile learn) about my surroundings before making a move. Hopefully I'll be able to learn a bit faster after I return from my vacation..

    There were too many people I had left out of my schedule, because it simply wasn't possible to fit everybody in. To that, I would like to send out my more sincere apology. I had gotten about three or four hours sleep each night for the past three days, and so I'm hoping my flight back to London will give me a good solid 7 hours of sleep. Good food, good friends, what more can I ask for? I also went on a shopping spree (Lisa can definitely attest to that), and ate as if I haven't eaten for the past six months. Winterlicious was great, poking fun at Chris and Tania (along with Xania) was better. Gave my usual "long and boring" advice to Tania, and said something completely cryptic to Chris before leaving. Karaoke is not the same without the usual bunch, but was satisfying nevertheless. Meeting a friend now living in Hong Kong in Toronto is quite ironic, considering we have both moved out of the city. Catching up with classmates were of the usual sort, but great to hear that everybody is heading towards their own direction. Heart-to-hearts with various people were great, it really makes me value the friendships even more.

    I'll be back for sure. After all, this city was home for half of my life thus far.. now off to the second leg of my trip!

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005

    Not even good enough to...

    So I sank to a new low at work today - I am not even worthy of an appraisal! My boss decided that my appraisal can wait until later this week. Great, I don't even get a proper appraisal at a proper time. Everybody else in the company has already done one (in fact, last Friday was the deadline). Geeze..

    Maybe I should start packing my bags...

    Monday, January 17, 2005


    First of all, I haven't gone missing. Work is simply taking too much of my time, and when I get home all I really want to do is sleep. In fact, I had gotten sick (again) last week and spent one day at home sleeping. Fourteen hours of sleep is good for your body. I'm finally sitting down and have some time to recap on what has happened in the past week since I last wrote.

    I am having my annual appraisal tomorrow with my new boss. Supposedly this is a very important process in my company, as they (at least they claim to) take this quite seriously. The fact that I only joined midway through the year, I am not being assigned a grade but will be given feedback of my performance thus far. Also my objectives for the upcoming year will be set during this meeting. This is the first part of my concern, because I don't think that I have performed all that well for the two months that I have started with this boss. Others have told me that I'm not expected to have progressed any further than what I have already achieved, but somehow I feel that I should be further ahead than where I am right now...

    Which brings me to my second point, which is about moving to work with another colleague instead of my boss. In my field of work, it is often the case where a senior takes on a junior (ie. me) as an apprentice. This is perhaps the best way to learn in this hectic workplace. After working directly with my boss for the past two months, he decided that I am now to work with another colleague. Is this a move based on my incompetence? That he feels that he is wasting his time with me?

    Perhaps I'm being a bit too sensitive, but I cannot help but think that I have progressed too slowly. I fear that I may be doomed to fail in this line of work. Add this on top of the fact that I have my appraisal tomorrow...

    Friday, January 07, 2005

    Busy New Year

    Adrian left yesterday morning, and he left my place even earlier than me. (and I leave my flat for work REALLY early) I felt really bad because I don't think I was a very good host, mainly because I worked through the time he was in London. Unfortunately, given the circumstances, I don't think I'm in a position to request for any vacations during the holidays when all the seniors in my team were off for two weeks. Hopefully he didn't mind that too much.

    Speaking of work, the work volume increased exponentially since the beginning of the new year. It seems that this is similar to what is experienced by fitness gyms during the first month of the new year. A lot of people set goals to lose weight, or at least become more healthy, and so gyms are usually quite packed during the first few weeks of the year. Soon these people will get lazy, and the usage will return to normal levels. I am quite surprised to see many people working past 6pm! Back in November, I was pretty much the only person left at 6pm. (I still work crazy hours, in case you haven't figured it out)

    New year resolutions... I guess I should set some. Even though I am probably going to break most of them...

    Thursday, January 06, 2005

    Amsterdam Trip Report

    Note to self, red-eye flight sucks. Taking the night bus, then walking for half an hour JUST to take the airport shuttle is not the best start to a trip. Neither is arriving in Amsterdam at 8:30am and only having two hours of pseudo-sleep. You get what you paid for, right?

    Actually, this being the third time in Amterdam, there's not much I haven't seen. In fact, I can still remember most of the streets in this city (and despite the rain and mist, I still manage to find the Heineken Brewery). We had an early morning drinking session, then proceeded to check-in at the hotel and took a much needed nap. Afterwards I showed Adrian around the city of all the main sites, and obviously walked around the infamous red light district. Nothing seemed to have changed, even in the midst of the holiday season. The red glow still radiates through the area, although most of the establishments closed early because it was new years eve. Counting down at Dam Square was kinda fun, because most citizens had their own fireworks which they graciously fire off within 10 feet of you. The result? It seemed like I was walking through a war-zone, with loud bangs playing a symphony of the night. They turned central Amsterdam into the biggest nightclub there was. The streets were blocked, people were dancing on the street with loud euro-trance music blaring from the speakers surrounding Dam Square. It was definitely something different!

    The next day was a bit more sight-seeing, and a lot of R&R. This is the kind of trip I need to be on more. Perhaps I'm getting too old for the "rush to see the next sight" type of traveling, and need more of the "let's sit and have a coffee" type of traveling. We ended up having an amazing steak dinner that night (which we missed while in London), and spent the night catching up and chatting in the hotel room. Once again, a lesson to be learnt here is that you really get what you paid for...

    Saturday, January 01, 2005

    Happy New Year

    Sitting inside an internet cafe in Amsterdam and writing this.. wishing all of you a happy new year! Hope all your wishes come true in the upcoming year. Funny, looking at my entry last year, I would have to say that 2004 was the worst year that I could hope for.. but yet, I think everything turned out okay at the end.

    I hope my new year resolutions will become reality this year! Knowing me though, I'll be lucky if they last until March.. I'm not going to make a bold statement that this will be the best year to come, but I hope that it'll be better than 2004.

    The trip report will be posted when I get back, so sit tight!