Sunday, August 21, 2011

Food and more food

It's a good thing I joined the gym because I have been (and will be) eating out a lot these days. I actually don't prefer to eat a lot for dinner but when friends want to hang out, that's usually the default thing to do.

I managed to go to the gym three times last week. I went Mon, Wed, and Fri before work. So I woke up at 6am and was at the gym by 7am. I feel like I have a lot more energy because of working out. I never really understood how exercising can make you feel more energetic but it definitely does. I have been feeling really sluggish the past few weeks and couldn't get up in the mornings. I didn't manage to go to the gym on the weekend though so we'll see if I can keep this up.

Wednesday night, I met up with a friend of a friend for dinner. We walked around TST for a while looking for a restaurant. We finally settled on Red Ant, a place that does a weird sort of fusion. We couldn't really figure out what the cuisine was but the food was really good! I had a lamb rack in yogurt curry and it was really flavorful. We got a couple of appetizers and they were really tasty. This friend does trading and his works seems stressful. But it seems like he gets paid very decently (American salary). I don't think I would last very long doing his type of work.

Friday night I met up with a middle school friend who is here visiting family. I had originally planned to take her to Gaylord, a highly rated Indian restaurant in TST. But it turned out that to use the Groupon, I was supposed to book a day in advance. So we booked for the next night and tried our luck somewhere else. TST is super crazy on Friday nights though, it turned out. There were long lines everywhere. We tried to go to another place that I had a Groupon for but the line there was long too. In the end, we got tired and just waited at a restaurant that I had been to before. We walked around the harbor afterwards and just chatted.

Saturday, I went to a basic presentation skills class offered by my company. They hired a consultant from a company that does professional coaching. The class was all day. There were 9 of us in the class and it was very hands-on. We went through a lot of material, including how to use gestures, structure your presentation, interacting with the audience, making eye-contact, etc. It was all very useful. But definitely need to practice all this. The guy even taped us and we all got a personal DVD of us making a 5 min presentation. I think it would be super embarrassing to watch. I can definitely see how this could become a weekly class where people go learn the techniques and practice them.

I meant to go to the gym Sunday morning but I didn't get up until 9:30am. I called my parents and then hung out with X and Y on Google+. Then my friend called to say that she was finished with church. So I met her in Central, where she is staying and we found the pasta place that I had been wanting to try out. I don't think she does the "wander around" type of traveling a whole lot because she seemed anxious about wanting to find the place. Or maybe she was just worried about me getting to the office afterwards...

Anyway, we went to a pasta take-out place that was featured in the HK Time-Out magazine. This place lets you choose your pasta, the sauce, cheese, and such. So you can get many different combos. It was pretty good. But I guess you can't go wrong with gnocchi in a sauce that had lots of garlic. haha. Then we walked around a bit and went into a mall to cool down. We came across a Phiten store. One of my coworkers has a necklace (very sporty and guy looking) from this place and he says it helps his neck. My neck and right arm has been feeling really tired lately so I have been meaning to go get one of these things to try out. The nice looking necklaces are very expensive so I got a cheap bracelet to try it out. And... I think it works. The guy at the store had me lift some weights with and without a bracelet (very big one) and it actually felt different. My arm has had a tingling feeling after I put on this bracelet but it doesn't hurt anymore. If this keeps working, maybe I'll invest in a necklace as well.

I went back to the office after lunch. It was sweltering hot even with all the fans on. I was falling asleep and was not very productive. A friend from the structures group texted to ask if I wanted to go for dinner so I ate out again.Meeting a friend from Stanford for lunch tomorrow. She's here for a few days to visit. Friday night, we're doing another group gathering/dinner for a guy who's leaving the company soon. So eating out like crazy these days.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Joined the gym

I had some big plans for this weekend, most of which I managed to fulfill. This was the first weekend in a while where I wasn't going anywhere, have anyone visiting me, or forced to work overtime. I did go back to the office for a little bit but only for a couple of hours.

I usually mop around the house during weekend mornings until I get sick of my room. Google+ was acting up and it got frustrating to keep trying to reconnect. I tried to post on my Facebook that I wanted to hang out with people on Google+ and FB wouldn't let me post that message. I didn't think much about it because it gave me an error that said to come back later. So I came back later and posted another status that did not include the Google+ part (accidentally) and it went through. Hm......

I paid rent early this month since the 15th falls on an early part of the week. The last two times I was a bit late but they don't seem to mind. I basically walked around my neighborhood and did a few errands during the early part of the afternoon. Then I ventured to sign up for the gym again.

There are only a couple of big gyms in HK, one of them being California Fitness. There are a lot of smaller gyms but they feature only one location and are very, very small. Everyone I've asked so far about gyms have joined California Fitness so I went there as well. Last time I tried to join, their deal didn't seem very good and they wouldn't let me have a one week free trial. But after talking to another friend, who seemed to have gotten a much better deal, I went to another branch and haggled again. It seems like haggling involves knowing what to say (as opposed to just being persistent). Last time, I said the name of a friend who was referring me but her membership is only for one club location so that's what they tried to sell me. This time, I went in and said that a friend of mine is paying for access to all the clubs and that I wanted the same. I told them that I have friends who liked to use different gyms so I would be going to different gyms during different times of the week. The guy didn't even try to bring up the one club only deals. At some point, I agreed to a deal for access to 3 gyms and then he came back saying that since I have a HSBC Visa Platinum card, they can give me access to all the gyms at the same price. I always walk away from these things feeling like I've been cheated or missed out on some deal. Whatever, let's just hope I use the facilities enough for this money to not to go waste.

They tried to sell me on all sorts of things once I paid for the actual membership. Apparently you can rent a shoe locker and get different plans to train with a personal trainer. I was like no thanks and left without even trying out that gym. I was actually feeling pretty hungry since I hadn't really had lunch and it was getting close to 5pm.

I got some bread and went back to the office to do a few things, including watching a video on some geotech software. I would have stayed to read the papers that were referenced in the video but the office was really hot. And I had a headache. The rest of my team was there as well. Sometimes they're a distraction though.

I went to the gym in Mong Kok and did some running and some ab exercises. It took me a while to find a shop that sold locks and I managed to get one where the instructions are all in Korean. Anyway, it's red so it's easy to identify. The gym provides towels and has showers with soap, shampoo, and conditioner. This is very nice since it means I don't have to head home right after working out. They even have hair dryers. I might think about bringing my own shampoo and conditioner though since I have a preferred brand. I swear, the showers stalls are larger than my bathroom. I went to a nearby mall and got rendang with rice from a Singaporean place. The food wasn't very good. My jaw was getting tired from chewing on the beef.

I decided to go check out the branch of the gym that has a swimming pool on Sunday. It took FOREVER to get there. Forever in HK means over an hour. It didn't take too long on the MTR but you had to walk a long ways through a couple of malls to get to the shuttle station. The mall that this gym is located in is not right next to an MTR station. And the line for the shuttle bus was really, really long. Lots of families going to the mall. I found out later that this mall has several with play areas for kids. I would have just walked but it was super hot outside. So it was better to wait in line. Good thing I downloaded a book on my Kobo and had something to entertain myself with. I'm currently reading: The Invisible Bridge

It's about a Hungarian-Jewish guy who is studying architecture in France right at the start of WWII. I just started and it's a pretty interesting book so far. The main character is from a small town and it's the first time out of the country for him.

Anyway, I had planned to go swimming and then go watch Harry Potter. I really should have gone to see the movie first. I ended up getting to the theater a little bit too late. The pool was also a disappointment. It was super small and very crowded. They had two lanes set up for slow swimmers. There didn't seem to be rules for the rest of it and there were just too many people. I tried to follow someone so that I wouldn't be running into oncoming swimmers. But people were swimming too slowly for me to follow. Anyway, poor timing on my part. Next time I'll go earlier.

I walked around that mall a bit and got really tired. I came back and napped in my bed before going to buy groceries at a nearby mall. The lady at the checkout was really slow. Must be her first day or something. I find that I really like the supermarket at my workplace. It has a lot more international brands and choices in general. So there goes another weekend. Time to get ready for another week!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friends, site visit... another week

Every week here seems like a big battle. There's just so much to do and not enough time and energy. This week started off pretty well. The project that we've been working on like crazy finally went through on Monday. Hopefully the rest of it will go through smoothly as well. Our supervisor came back from vacation and we talked about all our projects over lunch. It took quite a while to go through all the projects and he started to realize in earnest that we don't have enough people. I think the rest of us realized this a long time ago but now it's getting to the point where we're not making deadlines and falling behind on everything.

Wednesday was the big day of the week. It was the last day for one of the guys on our team. I guess this happens a lot and is a part of one's career. People come and go all the time. But it's still very tragic, especially when the person is an essential part of the team and is one of your mentors. We miss him already...

That night I left work "early" to meet up with two friends for dinner. One of them is a classmate from Stanford who did her undergrad at HKU. She came back to visit and was meeting up with a friend of hers from HKU who happens to also work at Arup and is in the same group as me (but is now stationed at a site office). So the three of us had dinner and chatted about my long working hours among other things. After dinner, we went for dessert. It took us a while to find the street with all the dessert shops though. Had to go halfway into a dark alley before turning around and starting over. It was a very fun evening. I felt like I even slept better that night and woke up with a pleasant dream. Lately, I've been waking up very tired and wanting to sleep in more. I think it's due to the lack of exercise.

I'm going to try to join a gym again this weekend. Really need to exercise. Definitely getting fat.

Friday morning, I went to on a site visit to a project that I've been working on. The guy who left had been working on the project so the new project engineer hadn't been to the site either. The resident engineer at the site is also leaving to go to another site. So we basically had two handovers for the geotech part of this project in one week. The new resident engineer for this project is from England. He's here on an Early Development Assignment (basically a two year assignment). It might be a bit difficult for him because he'll be the only representative from our company at the site and he doesn't speak Cantonese. I'm sure it'll all work out though. He's survived four months here so far. This will be a new experience though. Wish him all the best. Maybe this will give me an excuse to go visit him once in a while. Although I have to say, I won't be that much more help since I can only pretend to speak Canto...

It's really nice to be able to see the stuff that I've been working on. The walls look a lot bigger in reality than they do on paper. The site is an abandoned prison. There are a lot of buildings and alleyways. I would totally get lost. It's located in a very busy area of HK Island. I wouldn't mind going back to check out "site activities" once in a while. So many opportunities to see things in action here!

Other random news: I have two more friends coming to visit in the next few weeks! Lots of people coming through since it's summer. Our group got a summer intern. He's only here for another two weeks though. I feel like we snatched him from another group. But he's only working for the month of August. Such a quick internship. I can't imagine. That's like settling in and then leaving right after. I just started a ShareBuilder account and waiting for money to be transferred in. I guess I'll spend some time this weekend investigating into stocks worthy of my investment.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Parents visited again

Last week was a very long week. I don't know how many hours I worked but I will be booking all of it to my timesheet tomorrow (Monday). For the first part of the week, one of the guys was on site and our supervisor is on vacation. So we were missing a lot of help.

I feel like I'm getting fat just sitting around all day. I think I really need to join a gym and find time to go. I've been trying to eat less for dinner since I tend to get back late. On Monday I made a big pot of carrot soup with an entire bag of carrots. Used up an onion, some garlic, and pureed the carrots. It's very good. But I didn't get a chance to eat it on Tuesday because I had to stay really late. I made a little bit of pasta to go with it and it's actually very filling. I'm not very fond of the idea of eating dinner at work. Would really rather watch anime while eating dinner.

My parents came on Friday afternoon and the sim card I gave them ran out of money. So instead of refilling it, they just sat around waiting for me to call. But you can't call into a phone number that has no money. Anyway, a friend of my dad called me and I figured that they ran out of money on the phone. So I left work and they were indeed sitting around in my apartment.

I have to say, we didn't eat very good food the entire time they were here. I don't think I planned very well. We could have eaten at much better places. Oh wells, next time. For example, for brunch on Saturday, I totally forgot about the famous dim sum place nearby. Although the line would have been super long since we got up at 10am and didn't managed to get out the door until 11am.

Saturday was a long day. After brunch, we went to my office and I showed them where I work. My mom helped me ask about the DBS credit card that is doing a promotion at the mall where I work. But I didn't think their deal was very good so the search for another card continues. They didn't even have applications in English when there are so many foreigners working in the office next door. Seriously.

The next destination was the cable cars on Lantau Island. I found out online that you can buy tickets at MTR stations. So we bought our tickets at the customer service at Kowloon Tong. The guy didn't seem like he's ever ridden on the cable cars before. They only had the crystal cabins and round trip tickets. That's what we wanted so we got four tickets. I also got three more Octopus cards because they are much more convenient than buying single tickets. It's a very good thing we bought tickets in advance because the line was super, super long. I think if we didn't we would have given up when we saw the line. It was also super hot so that line would not have been fun.

I've already been on the cable cars and wanted to just head to the beach. But my dad seemed like he really wanted to go. I was worried that my mom would be really scared but it turned out that Victor was the scaredy cat. He was frozen the entire ride. Turns out my mom wasn't really afraid of heights. She was more concerned about the safety of the cable car. This one is a completely enclosed cabin so that wasn't a concern at all.

We got bubble tea, hiked up to the Buddha, and got dou fu hua. Took the cable car back to Tung Chung and then got on the bus to go to Mui Wo, which is on the other side of Lantau Island. My mom was very excited when she saw the beach. But she didn't bring a swimsuit so she ended up wearing mine while I had to get another one. They didn't have her size for one piece swimsuits and she didn't want to wear a two piece. Victor didn't want to go in the water so my dad wore his trunks. The water was very green, not clear at all. But it was very warm so we swam around for a bit.

We ate dinner at the Mui Wo pier. The place advertised homemade curry and seafood, neither of which was very good. Even the lemon tea was lacking. We took the ferry back to Central and walked around to find the HSBC building. My parents said that they had never been on HK Island so we checked that one off the list as well. We were all very tired by the time we got back.

We got up at 5am on Sunday morning and took a taxi to the airport. I went with them because it would cost the same on the taxi. We got there too early and were the first ones in line for check-in. We ate breakfast and I saw them off. I poked around the stores for a bit before going to the bus station. The bus that takes me back to my neighborhood mysteriously moved locations. So I was waiting for another bus that would take me back to Kowloon when I saw a coworker. He was with his whole family and they had just sent his sister back to college in the US. What a coincidence! They were also looking for the same bus. They ended up taking another bus. I probably should have taken the same bus as them just so that I wouldn't be by myself on the bus. I ended up finding the right bus and pretty much slept the entire way back. I woke up just in time to get off at my stop.

I napped after getting back and then went to the office to help out. The entire team was there working. Crazy. I was thinking that if there wasn't much going on, I would go watch a movie. Of course, this wasn't the case. The office was really hot due to the lack of air conditioning. We even had four fans on. My weeks have been rollercoasting in terms of working overtime. Last week was a long week. So maybe that means this week will be better? Hm...