Fairytale of Hong Kong

Scenario One: How Ike was supposed to propose

I told Ike I planned to take him to Liberty Private Works for dinner to celebrate his birthday. He had told me that coincidentally he was trying to book the same restaurant for our one year anniversary too. Great minds! Apparently over dinner, in a rather traditional and non-Ike manner, Ike had planned to propose.
Continue reading


Deer Nara, …

….my Japan updates won’t be in sequence…
After a day of crazy tiring sightseeing and horribly crowded public buses in Kyoto, I was not particularly excited about more temples and shrines in Nara. In fact, when I woke up, I thought to myself that when I got to Hong Kong, I’d have enough time on Sunday to book myself in for a facial, a foot massage and a mani/pedi. I got really really excited thinking about that, and I missed Hong Kong and its conveniences. And as I walked with my suitcase to get a bus to get to the train station, I missed its cabs too. Continue reading

(non) date #6 of 2013

Déjà vu can be a very pleasant thing sometimes. Going to a quiz at a pub, I couldn’t help taking myself back to two years ago when I had my first date with orangetree – a date that I still think is one of the most romantic ones I’ve ever had. I did not expect the scientist to live up to Orangetree’s suave, ladykilling standards but I did expect him to be amazing at the quiz questions themselves. I am happy to report that there was a little bit of both last night. But it was also a bit like Lemony Snickets in that we were cursed by the powers that be. I mean we dropped two forks in a span of ten minutes!
I sat next to him and met his team, they all seemed nice, some even chatty (the non-scientists). The Scientist ordered a pie and I looked at him round-eyed and said “can I share it?” and he hesitated “ummmm”. Obviously I mocked him for that for the next one hour. I wasn’t planning to eat half his pie! (One point for Orangetree here?) Somewhere in the first ten minutes, the scientist invited me to a Sunday lunch which was basically the winnings from the previous time.

We kicked some serious ass at the quiz and I am proud to say that I did not suck. In fact, I had a knack for answering questions that no one knew and was instrumental in getting us a perfect score in two rounds! Like guessing that an animated python was from Rango! No one in the entire bar knew that. The scientist was predictably amazing – he knew so much and he was so sharp and fast and never had to guess. I love the way his eyes light up when he explains what he knows and how he knows – he really has beautiful eyes – big and blindingly bright and full of life.

By the fifth round, we were either already winning or were very close to. And actually we did but then we didn’t. Why? Because one of the guys had brought his wife along, she sat quiet the entire time, didn’t participate but she counted an extra participant. The quiz master penalized us a vulgar amount of points and we ended up losing. One of the scientists was so livid, he stormed off!
I was angry as fuck too but I kept it together. I was truly disappointed though. The scientist tells me that since they win so often, the quizmaster had it in for them the whole time as teams are never penalized more than 2 points for having an extra member.

And then there was the bonus round. Rapid fire questions. In my drunken rage, I won three questions i.e. 3 shots for the team. I think the scientist was impressed. In the process however, the first answer I got right was a South Park reference. First episode of South Park, Cartman gets a….. ANAL PROBE! I am henceforth miss Anal Probe at a certain bar in Wan Chai.

Somewhere in the last few rounds of the quiz when the tensions were mounting, we (not we, I) were both completely obsessed with winning. And he was holding my hand for extended periods of time. Déjà vu. It felt good, it felt normal. I know he wasn’t the sort to kiss me outright in front of his friends but I liked that he made the move to at least hold my hand. Of course we were such nerds that when the questions started, we’d let go of each other. Because evidently nerds need their hands free to think.

When the quiz ended, all his friends split and we stayed in our seats talking. Till 5 minutes later, one of them returned. What the…. A clueless, rather grungey old Northern Irish scientist who gets into the wingman hall of shame for his relentless albeit inadvertent cockblock. I gave the scientist plenty of chances to lose the idiot by going to the loo hoping that he would tell the dude to bugger off. One time, when I came out, only the scientist was waiting by the bar and I actually thought it had worked but then we came out of the bar, the Irishman was waiting for the two of us outside. Facepalm. And right before that I had, in a very obvious way, looked straight at the scientist and asked if HE wanted to get a drink somewhere else. The Irishman still didn’t get it.

We wound up getting kebabs at Ebeneezers and chatting about negative stereotypes about Iran. You see, I had nicked a page of the SCMP with a huge article on Iranians hating on Hollywood for him to read. He liked that I did that. He was getting all wound up talking about how he hated negative portrayals in movies while sipping on his beer. At which point, I took my kebab (already neatly cut in half upon on my request) and gave him half.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes I’m sure… no wait ummmmm…of course I’m sure”
“You. Are. Amazing”, he said, very slowly.

In a final act of defiance, I took a taxi alone despite the fact that the stupid scientist datekiller lived in my neighbourhood. I gave my scientist a hug and the standard two pecks and got into my taxi.
He texted right away telling me not to feel bad about not winning because we did win and we had the moral highground. I said I was more pissed off about the third wheel. He said “I really wanted to kiss you” and asked me if I’d still be willing to give him a chance to meet him alone on Saturday. I teased him loads for being clueless and not knowing what to do (there were literally a million different ways to lose that moron!). He said that it was unfortunate but the Big Bang Theory was in fact a documentary not a sitcom. Points for wit.

Obviously I have agreed to the third date.

P.S. I hope you’re enjoying my date updates as much as I am enjoying writing them. Date #7 is tonight, with a lawyer I met in a bar a few weeks ago who randomly asked me out to an after-work drink. I am not counting on it to materialize though. Date #8 is with the scientist. Date #9 is with a guy who works in banking and has the cutest smile. Stay glued to the edge of your seats, darlings.

P.P.S I can’t find the log of my date with Orangetree. Where did it go?! Did I not write it?

if I never see your face again

I have been in this cab for over ten minutes now. I forgot what distances are like in Singapore. I forgot what anything is like in Singapore. I am here for the first time since September 2009, for barely a weekend, and it has been most pleasant. I couldn’t figure out why; I hadn’t expected this. It took me a little bit of convincing to come here. I was definitely hesitant, afraid even that it would be painful.

I’ll tell you why this weekend turned out the way it did first. I’ll tell you how later. Leo was all spot-on with his analysis – he said I had 8 years worth of memories and associations with this city and the multitude of good ones trumped a few odd bad ones. Which is irrevocably true. The familiarity I feel with Singaporeis real and I realised that it was comforting. There was nothing bitter or painful about it. There were memories in every street corner, every neighbourhood.
As I walked into Esplanade, for instance, I had a crystal clear memory of my first time there 8 years ago. I wore a wispy cream-coloured Karen Millen cocktail dress and waited for my date, Adrian, before a Stravinsky ballet recital. We used to love going there. I saw numerous statues and monuments that I had posed with when Zip and I took part in a photography/treasure hunt challenge (and won 3rdplace!). Quite serendipitously, some, like the gorgeous blue fountain, were already within the race walkabout route (and some like the Indian Army memorial, incredibly, had been relocated to the route), making them hard to miss.

All I saw around me was all the reasons and reminders of why I had called this city home for almost 8 years and why I had decided that it would have been okay to continue on living there. I daresay I even felt that it would be alright to call it home again some point in the future. It is amazing the magnitude of possibilities the human heart is capable of accepting.

You can’t always get what you want

Jo to the frikking Sun!

(Jo Sun is Cantonese for good morning).
Today’s the last working day of 2011 and I want to desperately hold on to it. I want to hold on to the year if indeed it were possible. 2011 was the year of chasing butterflies; 2012 may well be that of escaping a preying cheetah. If 2011 was about stargazing, 2012 may well be about dodging comets and who knows, maybe even making less corny metaphors.

Everything is relative and even though I didn’t get everything I wanted in 2011 but whose to say that you have to get everything you could ever want in 365 measly days? No sir, life is long and meandering and there better be a lot of fun ahead. But for now, let me revel in recapitulating what made 2011 oh-so-gratifying for me in a world that crumbled economically and fiscally.
Resolutions – I’m a believer. Lofty as they were in 2010, I did really well. Like the song told me to, I did go do. All the more reason I have to put in extra thought into 2012’s resolutions. My mom told me that she didn’t think much about my resolutions because they were all doable as long as they were affordable. This may be true but you can’t buy motivation and you can’t pay to get rid of procrastination and that is the beauty of making resolutions. You only get 365 days so you better get cracking. So let’s recap.
1. Health, Fitness and Sports… Wakeboarding jumps? Check. Diving license? No check. Fitness? I think I am stronger. Did I lose weight? No check. I have run out of ways to describe how much peace, joy and self-fulfillment a boat, a rope and a board bring to me – it is almost too ironic and/or hypocritical for someone with a self-professed disdain for sports.
2. Travel (more)…Definitely check. Passport has stamps from Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Vietnam, Spain and Philippines. The great thing about the world is there will always more unseen than seen, and that gives me so much to look forward to in 2012.
3. Mo Money, Less Problems… “at the very very minimum, get to 6 figure savings”. Check. Maybe it’s a sign of a more responsible attitude when your alternatives for spending a thousand dollars are buying a pair of shoes and a bet on the Aussie dollar.
4. Create an object from scratch. Check and Check. Not only did I create an abstract painting from scratch, but I also experimented more in the culinary area, mimicked recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi, Diana Kennedy, Nigel Slater, Heidi Swanson and created my own.

5. Get a fucking awesome job. Regrettably No Check. Postponed to 1H2012 and moved up, up, up in priority.
But 2011 was not just about keeping 70% of my resolutions while feeling shite about a shite job market and lack-of-boyfriend-ness. No, it was about living and loving each day without regret, for the most part. It was about embracing Hong Kong for all its ostentation and awesomeness even while complaining about how dear it is or how you can’t find a good Mexican restaurant. It was about partying up a storm in Wyndham street and always having a great story to tell in the morning. It was about finding a little piece of heaven in Tai Tam every weekend I went wakeboarding; and about long-overdue satisfaction about being halfway-decent at a sport and being told so by my instructor. 
2011 was not about having a rocking professional life. Au contraire, it was for all intents and purposes, a break from it. I did very little of value and I don’t think I was as much to blame for the inaction as the anemic markets were. Maybe 2012 will be different. Call me crazy but turning 30 would be a lot more fabulous if a base salary upwards of 200k USD were involved.
2011 was not about men. This is equal parts regrettable and fantastic. Regrettable because somewhere out there is a man with a Jups-shaped hole in his heart, wandering aimlessly. while a Jups-shaped person does exist, unbeknownst to him. Regrettable because it would be peachy to share the awesome-coated-awesome that I am with someone and presumably get some handsome-coated-intelligent back in return. Fantastic because if I did have a boyfriend, I may have spent more time with him and less time doing all the awesome things with all my awesome friends that I ended up doing…speaking of which…
2011 was about finding wonderful, sympathetic, caring and like-minded friends who are as fabulous as they are homely, as self-conscious as they are beautiful and as independent as they are as social. While I am too proud to consider that my life would be miserable without them, I am doubtless certain that it was more fabulous with them and they were instrumental in me not missing the curious lack of a man in my life for longer than a night or two. Between them, the home-cooked dinners, red wine nights, parties, wakeboarding and weekend trips, 2011 was the escape from reality I wanted it to be without being too escapist for too long. They, more than anything, I think, make me want to stay in Hong Kong longer. 
And so, I want to hold on to 2011 and its simplicity, glamour and heart, even as I plan my outfit for tomorrow’s party at the Pawn. I don’t feel superbly attractive – no, the holiday has wrecked my skin and tanned me into a shade of fade-into-the-woodwork-brown – and definitely not in relation to my taller, more slender girlfriends and I probably won’t kiss a boy at the stroke of midnight but goddamnit I will wear my best dress and my best smile and have a good time as the last minutes of 2011 fade into reverberating bass, all the while hoping, wishing that 2012 is just more of a good thing.
I didn’t get everything I wanted in 2011 but whose to say that you have to get everything you could ever want in 365 measly days? And what would you then do with the rest of your life if you did? I can’t sum up my feelings about everything this year has been to me better than the ever-amazing Rolling Stones do…
You can’t always get what you want,
But if you try sometimes well you just might find,
You get what you need

So here’s to 2012. May your year and mine be filled with laughter and love, good company and good health, healthy loving and understanding families, fantastic clothes and accessories, burgeoning bank balances, assets that increase in value and liabilities that decline, travels to the most beautiful places on earth with beautiful friends and loved ones, delicious foods and sublime wines, second, third, fourth and nth dates that are as charmed as the first and last but not the least, earth-shatteringly, teeth-clenchingly amazing orgasms. Happy New Year!
P.S. Stayed tuned for 1. a fantastic recap of my wonderful Christmas weekend in the Philippines and 2. Jups’ list of resolutions for 2012.

the dog days are over

Operation “Emancipation of the Jups” Update #1

The job hunt has officially commenced. Well technically it commenced when I emailed the hot guy from the New York office 2 weeks ago but as far as Honkers is concerned, the Jups has sowed the official seeds of her grand plans to land that superfantastic job that will pay her delicious amounts of money. No more shit-eating loserville bonuses. My 2013 bonus is going to be a grandiose 6-figures in U.S. dollars or I shall change my name to Mars.

Also official is Jups’ plan of cutting back on alcohol in a major way. So yes, I got a bit drunk on Sunday night, mighty shameful I agree but today I resisted. I ran into two Italian friends and they prodded and coerced me to have a drink with them. And I did. Two words. Grapefruit juice. That’s right baby, that’s not the bitter taste of a low-calorie drink, that’s the sweet smell of self-control. Huzzah.

This Wednesday, my lovely girlfriends and I are headed to the superfantastic W hotel for wine and cheese and that shall be my only alcohol intake for the week. And so help me God, if I break that promise you, Juice, you, the reader has full permission and authority to bitchslap me across the face so hard that I don’t know shit from apple sauce.

Said limiting of alcoholism and eating out habits shall also help the Jups cull her credit card bill (which was effectively 8000 HKD this month and that too with hardly any shopping, so that proves how expensive alcoholism and eating out habits are in Hong Kong). The Jups also grabbed her finances by the proverbial balls and has built a rather rudimentary spreadsheet to track her net asset value. Wow I just said “net asset value”. Dork alert. And speaking of leopards (whaa? because dorks sounds like dogs, dogs chase cats and leopards are just humongous cats that can eat you), financial prudence (whaa?) will come in very handy as the Jups has decided that in the face of family tensions, she will be sponsoring the Kenya safari trip. Happy frikking birthday to me.

Now, enough clowning around. Let’s talk about something else serious. Like serious wakeboarding. Because by now you have figured out that not only do I love wakeboarding, but I also love talking about wakeboarding. And it’s not just because I have finally found a sport that I don’t suck at (frankly quite ridiculous high school dodgeball dodging skills aside).

It’s the water. See I got to thinking and I had one of those crystallising moments where you realise something that is important and significant and meaningful to your life (noone else could give two fucks about said things).

Somehow in my life, everything positive is connected to water. Some of my bestest happiest moments and memories….

swimming in a deserted beach in phi phi…(I never published this story, was a bit nervous about it but I am about to now)

chilling in a hot tub on the 76th floor of the W hotel or even that orange “Karma”-scented bubblebath that cures the hangover blues on a Saturday morning…

Water strangely has the ability to wash everything off me so that when I am with it, I am just with myself. When I wakeboard, I can’t think about work or fatness or boys, I can’t think of anything at all. All I can really do is try and stay on or figure out the next trick I am going to attempt before I get whacked by a wave and go under.

Maybe Hong Kong is where I should be for a while. At least till I have perfected wakeboarding and learnt to dive? Maybe even wakeskate? Last weekend my instructor let me try a wakeskate.

What is a wakeskate? Good question my dears. Turns out it’s a wooden plank. Yup, no shoes attached to this baby, it just floats around like driftwood (which it probably is). You are supposed to keep your heels touching the skate and somehow (magically) pull yourself up the rope while some invisible magnetic force makes sure the skate gets under your feet at the same time.

You can tell by my sarcasm that I did not really succeed at wakeskating. For now. I’ll be damned if I don’t get up on that skate next weekend.

Anywho I guess my whole point of getting into this water-story was that I don’t need alcohol and fine dining to feel good (I rarely ever feel good during the aftermath, anyway) and I certainly don’t need the men (latest experiments have persistently disappointed). All I really really need is a nice homecooked meal, friendly conversations with friends who care and 5 foot long fibreglass board and a motorboat.

And shoes. And that awesome 6-figure salary-paying job with a boss who isn’t a moody *rhymes-with-bunt*.

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
The horses are coming so you better run

Run fast for your mother run fast for your father
Run for your children for your sisters and brothers
Leave all your love and your longing behind you
Can’t carry it with you if you want to survive

P.S. Excuse the hyperlinking. It’s not self-promotion, it was triggered by the crippling difficulty I had in tracking specific posts down.

Pure Shores (redux)

This was written on the 9th of January 2006.

So many things I want to say. But too much of something is bad enough. And the same applies to honesty on a public access page.

When times are rough, or bordering on rough, we go to our happy places. A happy place for me, is a memory or fantasy that calms the wrinkles on my furrowed angst-ridden forehead. I am glad to say I recently made a new addition to my list of happy places.

And so this will be a happy post. In great detail.

Ever since I knew a land called Phi-Phi existed, I wanted to go there. And I did so December of 2005. It was Zipadee-dooda, Allergic-to-Alliterations, Tee, Pants and me. This little fivesome was going to spend just one day in Phi-Phi. We wanted to make it good.

We set foot on Phi-Phi at noon or so. And then on, it rained like the Gods were crazy. So all the snorkelling-scubadiving-ferry-thingamajings-that-tourists-must-do (on every other island) could not be done. We had found ourselves a sweet little bungalow by the beach. Nice.

Freshened up. Had a delicious Thai lunch with smoothies no less.

Les boys decided to snooze. Les girls walked through the entire town scouring for those little treasures. And they convinced me to buy a bikini. True that I’ve wanted to try one. Also true that I have just the right amount of queeziness in me to go “I’m gonna look extremely disgusting in that 10-square-inches-worth-of-cloth outfit. No No!” But I did buy it.

Back to the bungalow, we shower and change with the “g-bangers” underneath. Be prepared is our motto. *wink* But the Thai Gods offer no mercy, for the sky is downcast and no sun shines through.

Not bogged down yet, we head to this blissfully awkward glass-walled massage spa. We line up or sprawl down to get kneaded with oils. And it feels great.

Its evening. And we still haven’t done anything touristy in this little piece-of-heaven island. We decide to go kayakking. But this brainwave hits me.

I go up to this guy who mans the water-taxi and gesticulate and talk with great fervour. I convince to take us out to sea (at 7.30 p.m.) and then I convince him to give us a tour of the neighbouring little islands, lagoons, caves. I tell him I’d like to get off and take some pictures and maybe even swim a little. Although at this point I had no idea how much of this he really understood, I think its a good idea to go with this plan. Zip and Tee are convinced too. A-to-A and Pants stick to the kayakking plan. No worries.

Blast off. The waves are a-rocking. Its a little scary actually. Some pictures are taken but it is definitely getting darker and the cameras aren’t complying. We are vrooming around Phi Phi Leh

First stop- Viking Cave.

(I don’t really know what this cave is all about or why there is a cave associated with Vikings in South East Asia)

Next stop- Pi Leh Lagoon

Now, we’re getting somewhere. Huge towering rock structures creating an imaginary door, passing through which suddenly the sea changes drastically. The violent black waters are suddenly still and green. Green in the dark. And beautifully calm. The motor’s been turned off and the boat gaily bobs up and down in the quiet waters. The boatman tells us its pretty deep in these parts. The whole scene is pretty magnificient. I can only imagine how lovely it must be in daylight, but seeing at night is better than not seeing it at all. And now we turn around.

Next stop- Maya Bay

The night just gets better and better. This little beach is like a little strawberry if every other beach in the world is a watermelon. Its so little! It looks amazing. The rocks towering over almost all four directions like a circular wall with a gap in it. The boatman parks. And we get out.

“Is it safe to swim?”
*Boatman smiles and nods*

Hmm. There is a good chance that the three of us jump in for a swim and mr.boatman and accomplice take our bags and loaded wallets and clothes, leaving us cold and almost-naked in a deserted island. But we take that chance.

The full moon shines bright, I only remember it shining this bright when I lived in Koliwada and looked out some nights. What I see is breathtaking. Its only fitting that we dive in.

First time in a bikini. Should I? What the heck. Clothes and bags on the beach, we walk into the waters. Its ice cold. The sheer thrill of it, I can’t convey in words. Few minutes in, I am floating on my back, staring at the moon, the stars framed by the towering rocks.

And Zip says “Can’t say I have done this before..”

Right on. We are all virgins as far as swimming in a deserted beach under the moon is concerned.