I really Rado not go back there

Posted by Gingerblossom at 2:31 AM

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Was in Shenyang doing a Rado event on Monday & Tues. The watches were beautiful but I can't say the same of the city. Service at Trader's Hotel was almost non-existent. Asking the staff to help us tidy up was such a pain. One elderly old lady said, no one wanted to clean cos it's lunch time. She essentially hinted that, if we slipped them some $$, people would clean. We were already paying a lot to the hotel!! 
team mini meeting inside our room

We got to eat one decent meal out of 4 meals. That was at a fancy looking shopping mall next door, in a HK style restaurant. The food was quite nice but it seemed more "dong bei" than HK, serving spicy dishes like 水煮鱼 . Service here was not only non-existent, it was downright rude and to some extent, terrifying. My local colleagues, one of whom tends to pick on service, didn't dare to pick on service nor argue. We were kind of worried we'll get whacked especially given the Dong Bei reputation to fight first, talk later.  Conversation went like this: 

Taiwanese colleague: Can we have another menu please? There are 7 of us here.
Wait staff (fierce and very loudly): I gave you 2 menus and that's very good already. What do you expect? 7 menus? 
Taiwanese colleague ( stunned)
BJ colleague: Er... we're just asking for one more so that we can order faster
Wait staff: Look through the menu faster
BJ colleague: Er.. fine.. let us look through and we'll order

Wait staff stands beside me & BJ girl at the table and taps pen
BJ colleague: I would like a HK milk tea
Me: me too
Wait staff: So how many is that? 
Me: 2
BJ girl: Sorry. Make that 1, I want a juice instead
Wait staff ( very aggressively): So what exactly do all of you want to drink? Can you decide faster? 
All 7 of us looked at the waitress, a bit stunned... 

Order finally done. Waitress repeats our order  ( almost shouting) and goes off. We discover we are short of 3 plates and 3 pair of chopsticks.
Taiwanese colleague: Excuse me, can we have plates and chopsticks
Wait staff makes a sound of annoyance frowns and walks away with no response and comes back with the required utensils.  She kinda plonks them down.
Another BJ colleague: Least she gave us 7 pairs and not 7 chopsticks and says I gave you each one stick, that's very good already.  

Food is served, drinks are served but we're one tea short and also lacking napkins.
BJ girl: 服务员, can we have napkins?
Wait staff rolls her eyes at us and walk away
BJ girl ( adds quickly): bring 7 please! ( whispers to the table) what if she comes back with only one and tells us, I gave you one, that's very good already.  ( Snigger)
Wait staff comes back with 4 miserly pieces of paper...
We try asking again, she sounds annoyed and come back with a giant stack enough for 20 people and just drops its wordlessly on the table. She held it over the table for a second then dropped it as if saying " NAH. So mah fan"
Me: Er.. we're short of one hot tea. 
Wait staff: There's a cup in front of you. Can't you see it's tea?!? 
Me: I mean, we ordered 2 hot teas.  You haven't served the other
Wait staff: No you did not.
Me: Yes I did
Wait staff is annoyed. Checks order form and walks off.

I was worried she would come back and pour the tea on me!! 

Watching Singapore F1 race on Chinese TV

Posted by Gingerblossom at 7:51 AM

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Same time last year I was at home, watching bits of F1 i my parents' living room. Avoiding the crowds in town and preparing to wake at 7am to walk over to my own home and open the doors for HDB contractors.  Then, I thought nothing much about F1... just what a novel idea it was to lure tourists to Singapore. 

I'm now sitting in Beijing, watching bits of this year's race while trying to finish up some work at the same time. I'm half listening to the Mandarin commentary and it's given me a new perspective on Singapore.  

There are things we take for granted in Singapore - the largely smooth traffic, the clean roads, the cityscape. Listening to these Chinese commentators talk about how comfortable it must be sitting by the Singapore river, how clean the water looks and how clean the city is... it's almost as if I'm seeing Singapore with fresh eyes.  There was a shot of the race track and Singapore's night view and it really did look quite beautiful - not something you think about when you've lived in the city all your life and gripe about the lack of "character" in architecture and how hot it is to walk a mere 5 mins outdoors. 

The commentators discussed how Singapore closed the roads for this race and they had a guest voice whom I suppose is Singaporean or least a journo based in Singapore. The commentators asked if the roads were closed days in advance and if it caused a lot of inconvenience to locals. The respondent was quite horrified. He said, of course not! and went on to explain how everything was done with maximum efficiency ( least that's how it sounded to me lah) and with alternative routes or modes of transport.

That just reminded me of the horrible inconvenience of the upcoming road closures in Beijing for the National day parade and how my colleagues and I were trapped, yes trapped, in the Ritz Carlton one evening because of the closures. 

Back to F1 - i just thought it interesting to hear about Singapore from a different perspective! 

broken sunglasses

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:21 PM

Friday, September 25, 2009

So smart lor... I think I sat or leaned back on my bag and in the process, broke my sunglasses... I think my ex-Ogilvy friends would be relieved that those glasses are gone. They were so horrified that I would buy anything from Dior... 

But those glasses suited me well!!!! now I'm sunglass-less :(

A taxi driver's take on life in Singapore

Posted by Gingerblossom at 6:33 PM

Monday, September 21, 2009

Taxi drivers back home are an interesting bunch. You get the uncle who's kindly but sometimes talks too much during your ride; the younger dude who's disgruntled with the system that made him have to turn to driving people around; the cabbie who knows all the gossip in Singapore and the one who knows where you can get good food. 

There's one common thread among cabbies , I guess,  anywhere in the world. They're sure to have a wealth of stories to share. The nature of their job exposes them to different types of people and gives them that great chance to observe human nature up close and personal.

One cabbie from singapore has decided to share his stories online http://taxidiary.blogspot.com/  and he's captured the eyeballs of many. His simple accounts of experiences with different passengers really uncovers a different aspect of life in Singapore that we sometimes don't think about.  If nothing else, his stories are entertaining! Read it :) 

The schoolhouse at Mutianyu

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:18 AM

Monday, September 14, 2009

We took a loooong ride to Mutianyu great wall last saturday with my uncle and aunt to try out a restaurant called The Schoolhouse. Set at the foot of the wall, in the village of Mutianyu, the Schoolhouse is a converted school building that now serves as restaurant, glass making workshop and local handicraft centre. I loved how quaint everything was! There are even house for rent. These luxurious "villas" come with 2-4 bedrooms and are perfect for a short weekend getaway in the countryside.

Back to dinner at the Schoolhouse. The view was spectacular of course. We got there as the sun was setting. And you could see the green hills and stone cold facade of the wall turn a warm shade of orange. The sky slowly faded into a dusky blue and streaks of pink. It was truly beautiful. It's rare to see such clear skies in Beijing... once it got dark, you can see stars in the sky. It's almost as if someone cast a shimmery black throw across the sky. Really breathtaking. Living in the city, with all its light pollution, I've forgotten how beautiful the night sky could look. 

Dinner was nice too. All the ingredients are locally sourced in Huairou district where Mutianyu is. I had an appetiser of duck liver with apple and some choux pastry while Dan had the smoked rainbow trout. I have to say the trout was far nicer than my duck liver, probably because there wasn't enough fruit to reduce the gamey taste of the duck. Still it was a nice dish.
For mains, my uncle had the duck leg which was so tender it fell off the bone as he sliced it.  My aunt had a grilled local fish marinated with Huairou honey.  I'm not a fan of fish but that night, I tried both fish dishes and they were remarkably delicious.  I had lamb chops with walnut which were ok. Not mindblowing but still tasty. Dan had the local T-bone steak. That was one MONSTER steak weighing close 750grams. It was somewhat tough but the marinade was yummy. I'm not sure I would have the steak or lamb again but the duck and grilled fish are worth a second try. 
For dessert we had some chocolate mousse and creme de menthe ice-cream. The ice cream was slightly sweet but it was a great palate cleanser after 750g of steak. The chocolate mousse was ok too but not particularly memorable.

I would go back to The Schoolhouse again to give the food another shot. Maybe the dishes I had weren't too exciting. But the breathtaking view, the warm welcome the proprietress gave us and the quaint setting .. these were beyond par.  

lost my phone & ipod

Posted by Gingerblossom at 9:30 AM

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Very sad... lost both items at my event last wed. I was running around and *poof* i lost my phone.  I tried looking for it in JW Marriot, the tunnel linking Marriot with Ritz, the Ritz, all the loos... i couldn't find it. 

After the event ended, we were having dinner at midnight when I realised that my ipod was also missing. I used it as a storage device to transfer some presentation files at our event. Panic. I ran back to both hotels and scoured the rooms. Hotel security nearly kicked me out saying non- authorised folks weren't allowed in the ballroom, only workers with passes.  I made the security walk through the hotels with me after yelling at them " do I look like a worker??" ( there were some folks tearing down out event venue)  I asked the AV guys packing up if they saw my ipod and even the lights guys. No one saw it. One said he remembered me unplugging it from the system and running off.. I couldn't remember a thing I was too tired. 

I'm just annoyed with the loss of the phone. Means I lost all my contacts and have to get everyone to give me their nos. again.

The heartbreaking part was losing my ipod. It's got a lot of music that I spent time loading, a lot of information that i store in there and most important of all, it was a valentine's day gift from Daniel in 2006. It's old but it had sentimental value. So that's made me sad. I think Dan's upset that i didn't take better care with my things too... to lose 2 items in 1 night. 

In fact, I almost lost my jacket too. For some strange reason, my client found it in his room that night. I think one of his colleagues stuffed it in the wrong bag or he took it by accident cos I spent the whole afternoon looking for it in our production room but it was gone. He realised it was mine when I sent a mass mail to everyone that was in that room to look for my missing stuff the next day. I was quite annoyed with him and told him that he made me suffer a very cold day in the hotel and a very very cold walk home at midnight AND why the hell would he want a jacket that he's obviously too big to fit into??? In fact, which dummy would put it in his bag or even want to take my jacket?? It is extremely small. I can barely wear it and honestly, there's no one in that team that's small enough to fit in it. Ah well... least I got back 1 out of 3 items. 


Posted by Gingerblossom at 11:54 AM

Thursday, September 10, 2009

that blasted event is over and I can get some sleep. from Sat - Tues, I had an average of 3hrs sleep. Was becoming incoherent, my hands kept shaking, I felt cold all the time and I couldn't seem to manage the Enlgish- Chinese brain-to-mouth process.  

It's 3 am now and I'm still awake only cos I finally got to sleep last night and woke up at noon... and I've become used to sleeping at weird hours. 

But yay! Event over!