ShenZhen Fun: Windows of the World + getting Stuff

Shenzhen has taken me back by surprise. Who knew it had so much more to offer, other than modern day bandits and thugs. We went to Windows of the World, a theme park with landmarks of the world, shows and other fun attractions. Other than photo shoots with the mini Taj Mahal, Egyptian pyramids, and the Eiffel Tower we got a chance to ride two rollar coasters, ride a camel and walk by a ski/snowboarding ramp. I knew I should have packed my snow gear. After easy +3hrs. walk, we topped the day off with blueberry egg tarts at KFC, outside the park entrance. They are the best. Only the 3rd one I’ve had in the mainland. You can never have enough.
ShenZhen
Then is was off to shopping with the ladies, Rachel + Mabel. We went to Lao Jie and the ladies walked away empty handed. I on the other had, stocked up on snacks. Cheap Cheap Cheaper than HK. Then off to Lo Wu to find copy handbags. Only in ShenZhen can you walk into a mall and every other stall offers a whole catalog, thicker than your average dictionary, of all name brand hand bags. Pick one out and they go to some mysterious location to fetch it within minutes. Find the perfect bag and start the game of bargaining. they type 400 on a calculator and you press clear and type 100. Always start at a low price. All and all, the ladies are pros at getting the best price.

good day.

awesome 21st

my 21st bday began in mid flight from Beijing to Hong Kong. We had a toast with free white wine and I had a screwdriver. ooh yeah. I spent the morning hours of my birthday in the air and got free drinks. Cheers to free drinks. cheers
put me at easy and right to sleep. When I woke, it was landing. I came back to a Hong Kong in the wake of Swine Flu. Which means extra paper work at the arrival gates. Where did you go in the past 7 days? Where are you coming from? Do you experience .. bla bla bla….

After sitting on the plane for nearly 6hrs, I was ready to get back into my bed and sleep. it took us 5+ hrs to fly from Beijing to HKG… our plane cannot fly due to bad weather. so we just sat there in our seats, located in the last row. sigh.

Got back to City U at around 3am and slept at 5am.
Woke up and it was time to get some fancy dress shirt for the Exchange Dinner.

Special thanks to my good friends Cathy, Daniel, Doris, and Karen for the intimate b-day celebration before dinner. You guys are the best. That cake was so rich & filling. mmmm.
cake
The exchange dinner celebration was eventful. Got a chance to have steak & a second slice of cake…it was bad cake. but good steak. Got a chance to say good bye to all the people I’ve met. Hey look its SF people.
cake
After the dinner it was off to LKF for a unforgettable night.
LKF

Relaxing Cebu.. ahhh!

Cebu, Philippines has got to be one of the most chill places i’ve ever been. The pace of life is a lot more relaxed, ideal for unwinding from the stressful city life. While we were there, we met a local who offered to take us island hopping for a discounted rate. It turned out to be a worthwhile, once in a lifetime adventure. He took us to this small secluded island where we got a chance to play in the water and enjoy the warm tropical sun before the storm clouds came rolling in.
Below are a few clip: aboard the boat & on the island.


climb aboard out engine boat from Thomas on Vimeo.


do the island hopping in Cebu, Philippines. from Thomas on Vimeo.

Life at the resort was not too shabby. Although we paid top dollar for everything, from mixed drinks to western food Tambuli Resort, we enjoyed our stay knowing that we are safe and well feed. Outside out resort was a whole ‘nother story. Lets say sketchy is how i would begin describing the location. So taxi was our only choice of transport. We haggled every driver to make sure we get a good meter rate. Most taxi drivers would disregard the meter and demand 3x the reg. amount. But there wasn’t much around the resort unless we travel 45mins into Cebu city. So we would go to the mall 15mins away.

THOUGHTS:

The taxi ride was eye opening. Life outside the resort was a dramatic contrast. We saw seas of makeshift markets, miles of homes that resembled shacks along side huge mansions, witnessed children playing basketball on dirt with a single wood scrap hoop, and experienced the disparity of children begging for pesos.

There is no doubt that manicured beach resorts like ours are fantasy lands designed for foreigners and the rich, only to be admired from a distance by the poor. The tall compound walls conceal it from the outside and strong doors shuts out the masses. Heavily armed security guards at Tambuli resort, ensures no one seeps though the walls that divides the classes.

We exited the taxi and passed by a series of small shacks before entering the local shopping center. Passing by one of the shacks, a young girl asks me, “Sir, a few pesos please?” To me, She was one of the many young kids in Cebu City trying to cross the walls to a better life.

This encounter really made me think about myself. It was a moment to reflect upon my fortunate upbringing in a blue collar family and the simple pleasures I take for granted. I thought about life had I been born into poverty. It was the moment when I fully realized how lucky I am to be raised in a land with infinite opportunities, where no wall can stand in my way to living the good life.