Friday, June 25, 2004


I wasn't able to post at all last week because work was such a whirl as I prepared for my vacation. I flew out Thursday night to Hong Kong and worked from the Hong Kong office on Friday. This was my way of maximizing my vacation time (which started right after work on Friday night) and minimizing my time off from work. Working from HK also had the other benefit of finally meeting in person many of my colleagues who I work with regularly over the phone and Internet.

Hong Kong was lovely -- this was my first vacation since Lunar New Year, and I really needed it! By Friday morning, I'd had only 14 hours of sleep in 3 days. I caught up with my cousin Pei, met up with my friend David over Indian food (yum!), enjoyed the Hong Kong harbor view from the Peninsula's Felix, went hiking on Lamma island, saw a beautiful sunset at the Clearwater Bay Country Club in the New Territories, made a quick trip to Macau where I ate at the famed Fernando's, and had fantastic dim sum (as usual) at Victoria Seafood.

Pictures to go up (hopefully) this weekend!

Sunday, June 13, 2004


Since I took four and a half days off two weeks ago for the CFA exam, I've been spending the past week catching up on all my work. I think I've made quite a dent into my to do list, after a few very late nights at the office. However, I realized I also managed last week to go rock climbing, have lunch with Jonathan and Angie, have dinner with Eve, have dinner with Mike and Ming, swim once, meet with my trainer twice, and get a therapeutic massage (my post-exam present to myself). Not bad, all in all.

On today's agenda: finish two loads of laundry, move into my temporary housing, buy fruit for the week, and go back into work to finish a few projects. I have a packed schedule these next few weeks: I'll be in Hong Kong next weekend, going canyoning the following weekend, moving to a more permanent place July 10, and kayaking the weekend following that. Whew! And there are still five more exams I want to tackle this year...

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

the simple pleasures cafe

I've spent all day at my favorite cafe, whose name I'm not quite sure how to translate. In Chinese, the cafe's name is Yang-chun Shang-hao. Yang-chun evokes spring's brightness and warmth as summer approaches, and is also used to mean something that is simple and of good value. However, Value Cafe doesn't quite cut it as a translation - sounds rather sketchy, like ValuJet. Any suggestions for an English name?

Anyways, the cafe is great - simply but elegantly decorated, and the staff is great. They proprietors are always giving me treats on the house (although bad for my waistline), directing smokers to sit away from me, refilling my water glass, and they don't mind if I bring in my own food. I'm trying to eat very healthfully, because with all the sitting I do all day, I definitely feel the effects of a poor diet.

Back to the cafe - replay of last Monday's conversation between the proprietors and me:

"I'd like to order dinner."
"Oh, we went out and played yesterday and didn't order any food. So today all we have are french fries."
"But you can go out and buy some food and bring it back!"
"Really? Oh, well, I'll just order some dessert then. I think I'd like that tart."
"Oh, that tart wasn't made today, so we'll just give it to you."
"Um, can I buy anything from you guys? A cup of coffee?"

Money-grubbing capitalists they are not. Oh, and there's free wireless Internet access, too.

The cafe is at #447-24 Guangfu South Road. If you're going north on Guangfu from Xinyi (i.e. walking towards Renai), make a right at the lane marked by a Family Mart. The cafe is a few doors down, and has a mint green wooden gate that leads to a small courtyard (there's no sign). It's next door to the Carbon Bistro.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Starbucks as a sub-par refuge

Today was my first full day of study leave. Unfortunately, my plans to study at home were thwarted by jack hammers and drills on both sides of the apartment. I guess all my neighbors decided to do some renovations today. Eventually I fled to Starbucks to study, as my favorite cafe is closed on Tuesdays. At Starbucks, the tables are not as big, the staff doesn't refill your water glass (unlike at my favorite cafe), and the girl behind the counter annoyingly kept trying to get me to buy one of their sticky-sweet goo that they call pastries (Starbucks in Taiwan no longer carries the one item I did like, their maple cinammon scones). But at least jackhammers weren't giving a concert there.

Later, I went to Daniel's for lunch and got more studying done. The panini at Daniel's are divine, particularly the Parma ham and Emmental cheese on focaccia panino. Daniel's, by the way, is in Tonglin Plaza next to California gym by adjacent to the Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT station.