God has a message

God definitely had meant to send me a message today!

This morning, I started to play the internet radio Kiss 92, and went about to prep breakfast. Halfway through, I heard the songs switch to my collection of Hillsong Christian songs instead. Thinking that my wife had switched the music, I casually asked her during breakfast if she had. She shook her head and replied, “I thought you were the one who switched the tracks.” Hmm …

When I went into office, I was going to launch Flipboard and I hit another App instead and guess what … the Bible App launched instead. God had definitely wanted to send me a message today.

“be patient & wait for the Lord to strengthen ur heart & guide ur actions” – Parenting by Design Daily Devotional: http://bible.us/r/24.1E

Dragon Boat Festival 2013

Missing the variety of Ba Zhang that is typically available back in Singapore. Salted egg with pork, nonya, shrimps, etc … The dumplings taste different here, because of the type of rice used, and the filling that is in the rice dumpling.

A typical dumpling here will only have meat and salted egg yolk as filling. A typical dumpling back in Singapore will have meat, salted egg yolk, mushrooms and chestnut making it more flavourful.

Here’s a cute infographic of how a dumpling is made:

Bazhang

Imperial Treasures 御宝轩

Went for lunch Dim Sum (点心) over the weekend at Imperial Treasures and found the food to be very delicious. This is the same Imperial Treasures at Takashimaya, Singapore, and the food quality is very much comparable to what is available back home.

Slightly pricier than usual, averaging 25 – 30 rmb for each dish with an additional 10% surcharge for service.

Anyhow, if you are looking for great dim sum to give them a try.

中国合伙人

中国合伙人 (2013) - Image from Douban

中国合伙人 (2013) – Image from Douban

Went to watch this movie (finally been in a theatre again after many months) this afternoon courtesy of Mr H and found it to be a very good movie.

The film was based upon a “true” story of the English Language company that got listed on Nasdaq, showing how its founders started out in school, pursued the American Dream in various ways and eventually realising that dream … yet it wasn’t the so-called American Dream, but a dream … a dream that everyone has, not just Americans.

Besides being quite a touching film about friendship and love, it was also a film about determination, perseverance and dreaming big. “Do you have a dream?” one of the character kept asking the other, as though the movie was appealing to the audience to really think about what their dreams were.

If you had a dream, then relentlessly pursue it.

If you did not have a dream, then … “Do you have a dream?”

Singapore.

While I had recently made a post complaining about Singapore, I like to take this post to clarify the things I do love about the sunny/rainy tropical island city.

Blue skies, green trees and the sound of birds chirping early in the morning.

Simple, day-to-day, hawker food that do not cost an arm and a leg, i.e. Char kway teow, Chee choing fun, chicken rice, kopi, teh-si, etc …

Cars stop at traffic lights and pedestrians need not fear crossing the roads (well, technically speaking at least, since there has been a recent increase in cases of reckless driving by flashy sporters and tired truck drivers)

Decent accommodation in the form of HDB flats that exists at relatively affordable prices that maintains a certain standard of quality, i.e. no mold, no collapsing roof, no peeling wall plasters, etc …

Great healthcare system that is efficient and inexpensive.

Family and friends, people who you care about and care for you. Sometimes you cherish this more when you are not permanently staying at home. They also become invaluable help in occasionally looking out over a little baby.

Singapore!

Recently went back to Singapore for a holiday to spend time back home over the CNY period. This trip back, I realized a number of unpleasant things about Singapore that I never seen before.

People aren’t that friendly anymore
Could be for a multitude of reasons, but I found that people in Singapore tend to be curt and tense people who are not very friendly and quite selfish. No one holds the lift door for you when you are carry a baby. No one gives way on the roads. No one gives way while shopping in the supermarket aisle.

Taxis are no where to be found, and you can’t get one by calling too
Attempted to go out early one morning at around 7 am, and could not get a taxi even though I called 6 different taxi companies. All were busy and had no taxis available in the vicinity. 2 other occasions when I wanted to take a taxi, I could not get one, and concluded that there was a serious lack of taxis in Singapore. Although taxi fares have gone up, the supply for taxis still could not meet the demand. Thankfully, I could borrow my mum’s car on various occasions to get around, otherwise, I would simply be left at home with no place to go.

Massive rain that pour relentlessly every day
While it cools the place to a comfortable level, the massive rain makes getting around extremely difficult. No taxis. Jam everywhere.

High chlorine content in the tap water
I was always happy with the taste of the tap water in Singapore, even being able to drink directly from the tap. This time around, I found the chlorine smell extremely pungent, and I started to hate to drink the tap water, resorting to coffee drinks or mineral water. What changed at the water treatment plants?

In general, the society in Singapore suddenly feels a very unhappy place, and people feels tense and unhappy. Dear Singapore, what is happening?

Fixing my MBA, My Experience With Apple Genius

One fine Sunday afternoon, I decided to back up all the contents of my computer, which I had been meaning to for a while, having done just that, I innocently clicked on the notification pop up on the top right corner of the screen (this is for Mac OS X Mountain Lion), and the computer restarted. After the restart, … or perhaps the shut down, it never could start up again. All I saw was the Apple Logo, the loading wheel, and the progress bar …

MBA ssd hdd problem

Enquired on Facebook, and thankfully for a technically savvy friend who helped me through with some links to check the HDD and status of the computer. Eventually, I could not get Mountain Lion to recover. Hence, the next morning I called Apple Support.

Close to 30 mins on the phone with John, my support staff, and the problem still could not be fixed, as the startup disk appears to not have mounted properly. I was advised to make an appointment with Apple Store and bring the machine in. I did. The appointment was simple enough to make via their website, and there was a Apple Store close to my area at Hong Kong Plaza, Shanghai.

Apple Store Genius Bar HongKong Plaza Shanghai

At the store, waited for 5 mins, and was served. He did a couple of similar diagnostics and some which I was unfamiliar with. Finally, he concluded that the SSD HDD might have an issue as it was not mountable. He suggested I leave the machine there for further investigation. I did.

That evening, Apple called me back (it was a 2nd call actually, as I missed the first call) and explained the issue with me. SSD HDD was not faulty, but was not readable. Apparently, unlike normal HDD, SSD were not able to recover itself, especially if there was a sudden lack of power while read/write-ing to the drive. They could not fix the drive without more advance technical support, hence, they have switched out the SSD with a new one.

I went to collect my MBA the next day afternoon, and it was quite a quick affair. The repair cost RMB 7,459 for new SSD hardware and labour cost. Luckily for Apple Care, I did not have to pay a single cent! (I cannot stress the importance of having at least 3 years warranty for electronic devices!)

Overall, I am very happy with the service at Apple. This was a much far cry from the previous time I visited a Apple through a reseller back in Singapore (Thankfully, that reseller in Singapore has already closed down.)

Stay away from DOMOcn.com

I previously wrote about finding a decent ayi (nanny) in Shanghai. Through a friend’s referral, we had used a 3rd party agency DOMO Housekeeping Service to help us find an Ayi to help us babysit.

DOMOcn_com

Our experiences dealing with the agency have been terrible, especially with the Account Manager, Ms Huang (otherwise known by everyone as 黄老师), who does not make any effort to understand the expectations of the nanny nor the hiring family. Furthermore, Ms Huang had on many occasions mis-represented us or the ayi by giving us information that turned out untrue.

Our most recent experience was when we were looking for a day-time nanny (9 am to 6 pm) to look after Eva while Fionna and I both were at work.

Ms Huang’s representation was as follows:
– RMB 4,000 per month
– 6 work days a week, 26 work days per month

Nanny’s expectations was as follows:
– RMB 4,500 per month
– 5 work days a week, 22 work days per month

We asked the agency to clarify on the discrepancy, but Ms Huang only said she will check with the Ayi, but never called back. Apparently, that’s what happens after you pay the agency fee. At 25% of the 1st month’s salary from the employer and 20% of the 1st month salary from the employee, the agency does make a sizable amount for merely being a matchmaker, a very lousy matchmaker at that!

We later called her to get more updates and really could not resist and told her off for her tardy attitude towards finding a ayi for us. Her response was “我也只是打工的。” or, “I am only an employee.”, with the connotation for us to not expect too much from her. I believe even as an employee (打工), you should put in your best to help other people, if not just go do a factory job and do the same routine everyday without any impact on other people’s relationship.

So, if you are looking for an ayi to help you out in Shanghai, stay well away from DOMOcn.com. Get a direct referral from a friend if you can, otherwise, try your luck with another agency, though I sincerely doubt you will get better experiences else where.

DOMOcn_Com Ms Huang 黄老师

Phiten Aqua Titanium Technology for Muscle Ache and Strain Relief

Had a bout of strained muscle or something just below my neck recently and I could not really live my head or turn my head. I do get minor bouts occasionally, but mostly on the lower back, waking up to find that I can bend to one direction too much.

Anyway, I tried to remedy the situation first with a traditional method, i.e. using a Herbal medicinal stick on for muscle relieve. There are a couple of brands in the market, i.e. Salonpas, Tiger Balm, I used Tokuhon (or 脱苦海). Yes! really insightful chinese name.

Tokuhon

One day smelling like herbal soup, and it didn’t really work!

Next, I tried another stick on plaster, Phiten Titanium Discs, which are really small adhesive s containing Carbonized Titanium that can target specific trouble areas to release muscle tension and to releve strain. When stuck onto the body, you actually do not feel anything at all. However, having used the discs for 1 day on my neck, I found that I could start to turn my head and neck. Hence, I am convinced of it’s usefulness.

Phiten Titanium Disc

In fact, before this incident, I had already purchased a lower back support and a knee support for some of my trouble areas. I used it on and off and whenever I get some strain. Use to work very well, though it seems to be a longer term, slower effect type remedy, rather than an instant pain relieve.

If you are looking for this product in China, you can go to major departmental stores, or you can purchase directly through the Official Phiten Taobao Store.

Favourite Thai Food Places in Shanghai

Thai food can be considered the King of South East Asian Cuisine, with it’s very distinctive flavour and colours. It is enjoyed and widely accepted by many around the world and in cosmopolitan Shanghai, no doubt, you would be able to find great Thai Food.

  1. Simply Thai
    Expensive, but food quality is good
    Opened by a Singaporean, this joint is more up-market, with a great decor and ambience. Food is authentic and there is a wide variety to select from.
    Must Try: Tom Yum (Seafood) Soup, Steam Lemon Fish, Pandan Chicken, Pineapple Fried Rice
    Located at: Xin Tian Di, IFC, Dong Ping Rd, and 2 others
  2. Thai Kitchen
    Value for money, with great food quality
    Very homely feel, and the place is decked out like a tiny little Thai eatery. Not fancy like Simply Thai, but simple and authentic. Food here is absolutely delicious!
    Must Try: Pad Thai, Crab with Lemon Grass, Pork Neck, Prawn Cake
    Located at: Yanan Rd, Chengdu Rd
  3. Pho Asia
    Value for money, with good food
    Not entirely a Thai food restaurant, but they do serve a variety of Thai dishes along side other South East Asian food, i.e. Vietnamese and Singaporean. Opened by a Singaporean, this place is a clean, casual dining place.
    Must Try: BBQ Pork Rice, Sting Ray Red Curry, Soft Shell Crab Curry, Pandan Coconut Sago Dessert
    Located at: Fumin Road and Raffles City
  4. Others
    There are other Thai places, i.e. Coconut Paradise, My Thai,  Lapis Thai, but these joints tend to be more expensive, with relatively more forgettable dishes.