Friday, December 31, 2010

The Hong Kong - Shenzhen Travel, Part 2

We wake up fairly early (Christine is a bit reluctant to wake up the lazy pigs, haha), being greeted by her lovely egg and toast breakfast. We are running late for our hiking session in Dai Yu San, taking almost an hour of bus ride.

We meet up with 2 of Christine’s good friends, Iris Chan Po San and Marco Yu Ka Wai. It’s funny they always call others by their full name, like what we used to do during our primary school years. It was a not so sunny day, and we could see the cable car towards Dai Yu San. The trekking path is mostly like a village path, with very good path condition and some people do cycle around there. We will track from Tung Chung (東涌) to Tai O (大澳).

The highlight of the trekking is probably revolve around our chit chatting, as we have more than a few hours to kill and to know about each other’s culture and background. Though we Malaysia might have learned our Cantonese from Hong Kong TV series, but unknowingly we already mixed some local language into our Cantonese, such as Lui (钱), Mata (警察), Long Kai (走街), Hou Xian (好闷), etc. We say raining is Lok Sui (下水), to them it sounds like going into the water. The funny thing is playing badminton is Da Yu Kau (打羽球), to them it sound like hitting the breast (打乳球). Malaysia translate out Chinese Name based on local dialect, for example 陈 could be Chan in Cantonese, Chen in Mandarin, or Tan in Teochew; and we spell our name based on Malay Language pronunciation, not English. For Hong Kong it is mostly Cantonese translation and English pronunciation. We found that when a country gotten more advance and develop, they have less tolerance for corruption and unequal treatment, which is something our country have a lot of catch up to do.

We pass through a bay area to have our lunch, and it was drizzling and gotten quite windy with strong waves. We have some local flavored Maggi Mee (一丁面), where we can choose any two of Luncheon Meat, Sausage, Ham, Egg and Five Spice Meat. The journey proceeds further where we can see a wide horizon ocean from the hills, and it’s getting windy and cold. Finally we reach the Tai O village with high-leg kampong-like house made of wood and covered by zinc. We manage to sample some delicacies in Tai O, but the place is crowded with weekend tourist. I can’t really remember the name of the food, but there are some sorts of Taiwanese Pancake, Fried Little Crabs, Nor Mai Chi, Curry Fishball, Grill Dry Squid and Fish, Dau Fu Fa, etc (too bad we couldn't get the famous cheap and nice little pancake - 鸡蛋仔). We took a small boat ride form HKD 10 per person, but we could go out to the open sea for white dolphin watching due to the weather. Po San passed up some warm pack which could generate heat to warm up our body, which is something new to us.

We took a ferry to Tuen Mun (屯門), took about an hour and almost everyone fallen asleep, and the journey is very cold (luckily the have plastic cover on the open air deck). We meet up with Joanne, Zhu Jai and their lovely son, Pak Cheng (looking at him, it would make you feel it’s nice to have a kid). The seafood dinner is great, with crispy cheese crust lobster, abalone (1st time we have this in a seafood dinner), zhuk sun, crab, fish, etc. We have no idea how much is the dinner (probably quite expensive), and thank you for the treat from everyone. The cold air from outside is sipping in, and the toilet is far into the outside. We did Christmas gift exchange, where we pass them the Facebook slipper for Facebook fanatics, and Kung Fu bible of 癸花宝典 - (前)诺要成功,必须自宫; (后)就算自宫,未必成功。The place is 南记, 东菇厅, 三聖村. On our way back, we take a discounted taxi (it seems like taxi could offer a 10-20% discount at certain time and place).

Another fulfilling day of nature, food and cultural exchange, with new and renewed friendship. I do admire Christine’s ability to keep such a close relationship with her friend despite their busy schedule, maybe it’s due to the religion and Sunday sermon, or it’s the way of life of Hong Kong people, or perhaps it’s the special ability of Christine.

Did I sell my time, soul and life for money? 为了金钱,我出卖了灵魂,成为奴隶。

Sometimes we spent so much time working, and serving people we didn’t like or working towards ideal which we didn’t believe in, is it worth it?

Of time, soul, life and money, which one is more important? It is worth it to exchange the time, soul and life for money, where we believe more money would get us more time, soul and life in return? Ironic, isn’t it.

Did we work for survival (cloth, food, house, transport), for comfort and luxury, or to escape the rat race towards freedom (so that we no longer have to work in the end).

Perhaps work is indeed a part of life, which work get out of control most of the time and disrupt the balance of our life. Though we can’t fully love our work (there will always be unreasonable deadline, difficult customers and other problems), at least we could work in something we believe in, something which get us some sort of enjoyment and satisfaction; and pay very hard that it doesn’t get out of control. Sadly, most of us work in something we neither like nor believe in, yet have to deal with shitty elements like problematic clients and lousy bosses.

I believe I work for freedom (thus sacrificing my current time, soul and life). It’s like a rocket leaving earth gravity, you need a certain speed and momentum to leave the rat race. I am a “perfectionist” in the sense that I believe work could be so much better than the norm belief: I can have a business without direct clients to deal with, without the need for office or direct employee, can work from anywhere, do very little work or no work at all, be interesting and engaging (though still suffer from problems to be solved) and still earn an above average income. Sound like Utopian? I plan to achieve it within 3 to 5 years to come :) Logically it sounds crazy, but in my mind it seems like something natural and possible.

1st I need to believe, secondly I need to constantly think and observe about it, and if I still cannot shake off the idea, then I need to implement the idea without looking back.

I did sell my time, soul and life for money, and it already lasted for almost a decade, and hopefully not for another decade. Do I still work after I gain freedom? Perhaps, but not slaving for money anymore.

The Hong Kong - Shenzhen Travel

We have to work through the night before departure, as if there won’t be a vacation if we didn’t force ourselves to have a vacation. And this is one of time we felt less like a tourist, while trying to go with the flow and experience life in foreign land through our friend: Christine. It’s one of those things we should do in our life: to experience Christmas in foreign land though the air ticket is more expensive, and to visit a friend in foreign land.

We land in Shenzhen, because it’s about 40% cheaper than Hong Kong, though we need to get a double entry visa for China (RM 50, takes 3 days to process). Shenzhen is quite a vast city, with many landed property and high-rise buildings arranged in a systematic ways, though it was covered by smog. I think Shenzhen is “safer” than it used to be, with no touts in sight as well. We took a bus for RMB 20 to Luo Hu - 罗湖 (border gate to enter Hong Kong with MTR) which takes between 30-45 minutes. The border is a bit confusing as it was crowded with commercial centers and shops, and it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to cross the custom of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, we pick up our Octopus Card (minimum is HKD 150 with HKD 50 as deposit) and ride MTR to Tai Wo (太和) to meet our good2 friend.

Christine waited for us “impatiently” in front of Watson dress in jeans and boots (one of the nice things in Hong Kong is the nice Winter Clothing and Boots), as Mei Ru called her way too early before we cross the Hong Kong custom. It’s nice to see her again, as beautiful and energetic as ever. Tai Wo is like one of those HBD residential areas in Singapore, with lots of apartments and commercial centers to support the local neighborhood as well, with kindergartens and basketball court. Then we have the typical Hong Kong apartment, with nice metal gate and postboxes, watch by a guard. The apartment probably has 30 floors, with a total of 6 lifts, and 2 lifts servicing each alternate floor. It is a nice apartment, not too old and clean. Christine stays at the 28th floor, a nice cozy space of about 300++ square feet with a pretty nice view outside the window. We meet the famous white cats, Ah Fei (Fatty) and Ah B (it’s easy to get confuse as Ah B is the Fat one, while Ah Fei is the shy one, even Christine herself get confused). It’s quite a new and renovated unit, quite comfy for 2 people with 2 rooms, but probably less space for storage (or requires better space management setup). This is the space you would appreciate those Ikea double decker (where your bed is on top of your work desk), extendable dining table and wall made up of wardrobe (to save 3 inches of wall space). We did a bit of Christmas gift exchange, where Mei Ru gave her a hand-made clay of Ah Fei and Ah B (which she actually found time to make), and Christine gave us a Green Crystal Planting kit and a Green USB Boy. We like our gift, though we express it differently :p

We have lunch at nearby neighborhood shopping complex, where she bought us our first meal in Hong Kong (洗尘). It’s Christmas Eve, so we visit Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀) area to have a “feel” of the Christmas mood in Hong Kong. Surprisingly, we did have one of the best meals with very good dishes in a Vietnamese restaurant (老赵). The salty Vietnamese Put Zai Gou (砵仔糕) is nice, together with the very delicious beef noodle, the soft shell crab is not bad (maybe a bit salty), the nice curry fish pot with garlic bread, sweet and spicy big head prawn (almost HKD 400 for 3 person). I think I shall remember this meal as one of the best in years to come. A few streets are closed for traffic, with presence of policeman and probably a few hundred thousand people walking around. The lighting on the street a bit of a letdown (seems like Singapore Orchard road win this time), but the cold weather is priceless. They do have some nice decorations at certain places, like an 1881 classic carousel with large blue Christmas tree, and “ice” sculpture near the seaside. We didn’t go for the lighting show at Area of Stars, because we saw it during our last visit. The bay area is really too crowded with “bumper to bumper” traffic. We grad a cool mango jelly coconut drink at Hui Lau Shan and try to escape before the countdowns happens.

Superstar Aaron Kwok is performing on the street that night, and we are too far to get a glimpse of him. They spray paper snow, which does have a small moment of Christmas feel. The side of the performance area is covered by black cloth to make sure the walkway is flowing without people stopping to peak at the performance, but we did get a glimpse of his back when one of the cloths was blown away for a moment. We reach the MTR station at 12 midnight, and heard the countdown started. An uncle complaint why there is a countdown for Christmas as it was not New Year, or are they counting stars? Haha.

It had been a tiring day, as we have barely any sleep before we depart due to work and packing. Christine was worry we might get felt cold at night, but it was alright with the closed window, mini heater and cozy blanket. I felt asleep on the s 2 seater while Mei Ru went for a bath, and I was surprise I could find place to stretch my long legs.

Another 2 and a half day with her, and more experience of Hong Kong culture and her friends. Hopefully I have the energy to finish it :p

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Review: Blink

The ability to make a spontaneous simple and accurate decision based on less information (so called “Thin Slicing”) is better? Or complex decision making based on analysis using more time and information (Thick Slicing) is more reliable?

  • In an attempt to determine if an art piece is a fraud or genuine, after scientific test and historical documentation analysis had cleared it, yet some expert still felt something is “wrong” when looking at it for the 1st time, but couldn’t tell what is wrong.
  • An experiment on how to tell whether a couple’s relationship would last or not, just by observing a conversation video between them for 3 minutes. How much do need to know about them in order to make an accurate decision, or how many factors or behaviors should be taken into account? Based on a Love Lab experiment, we only need to observe the 4 horseman: defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism and most importantly, contempt (trying to put the other person lower than you) to determine which relationship would not last.
  • How to determine which doctor are most likely to get sued? Based on their qualifications, skills and history? Doctors who spent slightly more time talking to their patients are less likely to get sued.
  • Can you learn to invest like George Soros by listening to his methods, or he had a “feeling” attached to each of his decision which could not be explained, no matter it was backed by how many analytical facts. Can you be as good as Andrea Agassi by watching him play in slow motion?
  • Priming: subconscious exposure to certain words before an even can affect our performance. Student are asked to take a word quiz with words like “patient”, “slow”, “polite”, “courteous” are found to be more patient when there ask asked to wait in the line after the word quiz compared to those exposed to negative words.
  • Speed dating: would you have more success in selecting your soul mate in 6 minutes of conversation as compared to someone which you already know for years? What qualities do you look for? Does you current partner have the same qualities? Does the qualities you are looking for are affected by your partner instead?
  • Thin Slicing Error: CEO tends to be someone taller (statistically proven), Jews are smatter, White are more superior, Teacher are women, Doctor are man, People who dress sluggish are not potential customer, it’s easier to cheat women by charging higher prices (spot the sucker) even though they are professional and etc. We might make an error in “think slicing” based on our knowledge, experience, biasness or prejudice (consciously or subconsciously).
  • War Game: If we have more information and intelligence, together with various comprehensive analytical methods with takes in various factors, we should win right? Or we need the ability to make spontaneous decisions based on tight scenario?
  • How to determine if a chest pain in serious? By reading the ECG, taking into account past history, diabetic, smoking habit, high blood pressure and a dozen more factors. Would taking into account 20 factors is more accurate than taking into just 4 factors (like the 4 horseman, to be determined based on experiment)? Is less more?
We can actually make simple and accurate decision by taking into account a few correct factors (given that we know what factors to look for), and we might not be able to make a judgment if we have more information (confusion and which factor are important, or not). Sometimes we have a “feeling” which we cannot explain, a spontaneous action which happens naturally, and we tends to be affected subconsciously by exposure to words and emotions around us. Does our brain have a natural way of digesting information better than our logic mind could explain? Do you believe in your "gut" feeling?