Thursday, August 22, 2013

Typhoon and upcoming trip

Last week we had a T8 day. A pretty big typhoon skirted by Hong Kong and the whole city shut down for a good part of the day. The typhoon wasn't even that close to the city but it brought high winds and scattered showers. As the typhoon got closer and closer on Tuesday, we had a T1 and then the T3 signal. I think the whole city was checking the HK Observatory, which posts the official weather warnings the entire time. I had a feeling that we would get a T8 so I didn't even bothered to cook lunch for the next day. I think the T8 signal was put up sometime around midnight. I remember being woken up by sudden rain a couple of times at night. We got the whole morning off and I took the time to write entries in my training logbook. Our company's official policy is that you don't have to go to work if the signal is still in force at 12:30pm. The signal was lifted at around 2pm so I technically didn't have to go to work. I still went up to the site to take a walk around to make sure things are okay. I had to go out to buy groceries anyway so I thought I might as well. Things were not bad at site actually. The contractor's staff came to site as well and just hung around.

I really doubt we will get another one this year as typhoon season is waning. There is currently another one on the radar but it's pretty far away.Anyway, can't wait for it to actually become autumn. It's been cooler the past week after the typhoon but it's just been so humid that I'm usually soaked in sweat after making one round around the site. I've been going through multiple shirts and pants throughout the day.

I went back to the office last Saturday for a class offered by the company on making presentations. The class took the whole day, which is long but that gave a good amount of time to go through everything. I really don't like classes that have to rush through things because they don't have enough time. Anyway, this class was different from the basic presentation skills class I attended last year because this one was focused on the elements of a presentation and how to put one together. It's not really about presenting but how to capture your audience with visual aids. I like how the company hires external consultants to run these courses. These specialized consultants usually have very nicely prepared material. The course came with its own workbook, which looks like a really nice hardcover book. I thought the most interesting part of the course was thinking about how to present qualitative ideas with good visuals. Hopefully I'll have the chance to make use of all these new tools.

I managed to book my train tickets and hotel for my Marseille trip. I'm going to have some time after the conference to do a couple of day trips near Paris before going out to Marseille. I think it is definitely cheaper to travel around Asia than Europe. I had a hard time finding a non-sketchy place to stay in for Marseille. Even dorm beds in hostels were 30-40 Euros a night. Budget hotels are not really budget and had all these sketchy reviews. Hopefully the place I picked is okay.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Another Beach Day

I wanted to blog about my second beach trip this summer earlier but my phone refused to upload the pictures. Anyway, I met up with a friend for brunch on Sunday on the Kowloon side so I figured I'd take the chance to go to beaches farther away. 

I chose to go out to Lantau Island in hopes of finding a beach that is less crowded. I had planned to go to Cheung Sha beach but found that the buses going that way had a really long line. So long that I didn't even managed to find the end of the line. I decided to take the bus to Mui Wo instead. I figured that if the buses were too packed on the way back, I could always take the ferry to Central. On the way to Mui Wo, I found out that there is a beach, Pui O, on the way. Some people were getting off so I got off too. 

The beach was just what I wanted. No crowds, nice wide coast, trees for natural shade. The sand is naturally black from volcanic activities. It wasn't all black but you end up having this gray mixture. I didn't mind 

Water buffalo on the way to the beach:
 Not a lot of people and the water is really shallow. There was a lot of trees providing shade.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Sometimes simple is the best. Thick slices of bread drenched with olive oil and topped with crushed garlic, tomato, and mozzarella cheese. I went to an upscale supermarket to get the cheese. The local ones just don't carry cheese. At this upscale supermarket, I saw some really nice tomatoes and picked up 3 of them. The price tag said $9 but I wasn't sure if that was per item or what. At checkout, I found out that it was per 100g and the total for 3 tomatoes came out to be $45 HKD ($7-8 USD)! Who buys/sells tomatoes in units of per 100 gram?? Anyway, I had them put those back and picked up some at a local supermarket on my way home. Anyway, dinner was delicious.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Keep the door open, please

I've been trying in vain for the past few days to keep our office door open. It's been raining and windy due to a typhoon passing close by. So I wanted to take the chance to leave the door open so that we can get some fresh air in. Our office at site has no windows as it is part of a semi-basement. We have a fan and AC that circulates air. But people keep closing the door when they leave!

I think part of it is because people here grew up in an environment that runs the AC 24/7 during the summer months and therefore feel that closing the door will keep the cool in and conserve energy. But I think part of it is also a cultural issue. As the site team, we're the client's representatives on site. So the contractors give us a certain amount of respect. And therefore, they feel that when they leave our office, they should close the door behind them so that we're not disturbed after they leave. I had a hard time keeping my door open back when I was in my little container as well.

I feel like in the US, there is a lot of literature telling you to keep your door open so that you seem more friendly and open to people wanting to talk about issues. I think in our main office, the directors generally keep their doors open as well but I think that might be due to the very limited number of offices and the entire office is an open plan anyway. So keeping your door closed is just not going with the open plan theme. But our staff is also a mix of local and expats. I wonder what it's like in offices with all local people. Do they keep their office doors closed all the time? Is it a cultural thing or is it really just a practical thing due to having AC?