February 27, 2008

Logistic chaos

I'm in Bangkok now attending a series of regional meetings. It started last Friday with a small group of senior medical professionals with whom our regional marketing team consults on a regular basis to seek their inputs pertaining to our clinical development programs, marketing strategies or simply to update them on new data or studies we have. Following that, it was a speaker training program for a larger group of medical professionals across the Asia Pacific region. Our own internal regional marketing meeting started on Sunday and will wrap up by tomorrow lunch time.

An event agency was engaged to run the speaker training program but as their charges are quite exorbitant, the regional marketing team decided not to engage them to organise our internal meetings. And that's when arranging the logistics for this series of meetings became a nightmare! Email started coming in several weeks ago requesting for names, check-in date to the hotels and flight details of attendees of the different meetings. Unfortunately, as different people were organising different events, things became chaotic especially for people like me who attends all the meetings running consecutively. I wasn't sure whom I should write to for hotel reservations as there wasn't a central liaison person.

Things turned out well eventually but on hindsight, I could probably have avoided the entire headache if I've just followed my heart and book the hotels online through Hotel Reservations. Not only do they have a variety of offerings in accommodation choices such as hotels, motels, resorts and vacation rentals, their rates are competitive. They also offer great discounts and special promotions at various world wide destinations.

With Hotel Reservations, all I need to do is choose the dates and city, and it will compare across several providers and present me with the best available rates on the specified date. I can view photos of how the hotels look like and plot them on a map so I can choose the most appropriate hotel based on location and price.

February 21, 2008

Chinese New Year 2008

Today is the last day of Chinese New Year. So here's a short post to round-up our activities this year.

Few days before CNY
We were back in Kuantan few days before Chinese New Year. Managed to take Yiu Yiu to the beach and feasted on keropok lekor and ate at several of hubby's favourite breakfast haunts.

CNY eve
BIL and his wife who operates a hair salon in Singapore arrived home. Yiu Yiu got a playmate in Pin Pin, her cousin who's five months younger. Nothing special today except stuffing ourselves silly with more keropok lekor, followed by the traditional reunion dinner with steamed chicken, roast pork, garlic prawns, mushroom with sea cucumber and the likes. By the way, all the dishes were prepared by MIL, who's a great cook. This DIL basically just hang around the kitchen waiting for the chef to hand out menial tasks like cleaning the vegetables, trimming the prawns' antennas and washing dishes.

1st day of CNY
We had the usual vegetarian fried meehoon for breakfast as MIL observes a vegetarian diet every 1st and 15th of the lunar month. Thereafter, we were off to the annual open house of hubby's classmate, whose dad is some big shot in Kuantan. His wife is my varsity coursemate, and hubby and I first met at their wedding more than five years back, where he was part of the groom's entourage while I was with the bride's entourage who tortured them. The annual open house is a grand affair, complete with lion dance.

2nd day of CNY
Every year without fail, MIL will cook two big pots of a special porridge with lots of dried oysters, scallops, mushrooms, fatt choy, century eggs and salted eggs on the 2nd day of CNY. Hubby would invite his classmates over to savour the porridge and home made cookies. However, MIL has rather bad arthritis this time round and we decided to just cater some nasi dagang for our guests this year. Of course over the years, the group grew larger with the addition of their significant other, and subsequently the whole brood so the humble abode is hardly enough to fit everyone nowadays. In the evening, we made another trip to the beach but this time, it was jam packed with people who probably took the opportunity of the long weekend to have a holiday in Kuantan.

At the beach with her cousin who's five months younger. Notice how petite she is compared to him.

Blowing bubbles

3rd day of CNY
After visiting some relatives in the morning, we set out for Ipoh and that pretty much took up the whole day.

Subsequent days
Spent two days in Ipoh with my side of the family before coming back to KL and started work on Wednesday, the 7th day of CNY. The first day of work was quite relaxing with the office CNY celebration but it was payback time thereafter.

Went for dinner with several couple friends on Valentine's Day (no pressie this year!) followed by an invitation for Tin Kung prayers at a friend's house. We left before the prayers started though, as Yiu Yiu was getting tired and we still had to work the next day.

15th day of CNY
Here I am recounting the 15 days of CNY in Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok. I'll be here for a week for several consecutive meetings. Hopefully will find time to do some shopping – read about the Pratunam market, I've never heard of this place in my last few trips here so hope to check it out for some bargains.

February 20, 2008

My home office, if ever

Now that I've found a small business loan which I can easily apply for my home business, it's time to think about creating a home office. The best part of the house to set up a home office is the area on the first floor next to our master bedroom. Even though the place is currently set up as a study area with a table, cupboards and bookshelves, I'll need to re-arrange the area and get some proper office furniture. Most important of all is to have good office desks, since I'll be spending a lot of time at the desks. I like this desk by Price Point for its simple, clean design and above all, reasonable pricing.

But instead of brown, I'll get one in white to match the current colour scheme of the study area. Price Point desks are superior to most office desks in the market as they have a thicker top, double upstand legs and best of all, they come with an 8-year guarantee, one of the best for this type of desks. And of course, I'll also need to shop for matching office storgae facilities. There'll be a lot more files to be kept, so office storage is imperative to keep my small home office neat and tidy.

February 19, 2008

Xiaoyu versus Yihao

Here's some photos comparing Baby Xiaoyu with her elder brother, courtesy of my sister.
Can you spot the similarities?

Chicken pox attack

Yihao is down with chicken pox. He has been unwell with fever, flu, cough and running nose since few days before Chinese New Year. Last Saturday, he woke up with rashes on his arms and legs. My sister suspected chicken pox and quickly took him to see his paediatrician who confirmed the diagnosis. He was given some acyclovir, an anti-viral medication to help him fight the infection. There's really nothing much that sis can do now but to wait out the rashes until all the blisters have crusted over. Yihao is apparenly coping pretty well, apart from being a little clingy, he doesn’t seem to be too troubled by the rashes.

Our worry now is for all the other people in the household, especially Baby Xiaoyu, who's just about eight weeks old. She would have been exposed to the virus as the virus can spread from 2 to 3 days before the rash appears until all the blisters have crusted over. Again, there's nothing much that sis can do now except to wait and hope for the best – that perhaps whatever exposure she's had isn't enough to result in a full-blown disease. Sis quickly took a chickenpox vaccination after the diagnosis was confirmed but dear mum who's staying with her refused to do so. At the moment, Xiaoyu is in "quarantine" in the bedroom with mum to prevent any further exposure to the virus. Sis washes herself thoroughly and changes into fresh clothings whenever she goes into the room to breastfeed Xiaoyu.

And now, I myself am a little worried. I might have been exposed to the virus too as we had dinner together last Tuesday – that's just about the time when the virus can be spread. I think I've had my vaccination some years back but I seriously can't remember! The incubation period is between 14 – 16 days, that is, if I've been infected, I'll start to develop the rashes then. I seriously hope I've been spared, as I'll be in Bangkok for one week starting Thursday, and God forbids should I start scratching in Bangkok!

My morning sunshine

The following conversations took place this morning while getting her ready to be sent to babysitter's house:

Conversation 1
The little missy is too lazy to walk, so…
Yiu Yiu: Mummy, carry Yiu Yiu
Mummy: Why you do want me to carry? You walk walk la…
Yiu Yiu: Yiu Yiu no legs, mummy carry.

Conversation 2
She normally watches Barney on the car's DVD player for the 30 – 40 minutes ride to babysitter's house in the peak hour traffic. The player will automatically start at the last memory of the CD and I knew the CD that was inside the player had almost finished playing so I had to manually press the "Stop" button twice to erase the memory.
Mummy (fiddling with the "Stop" button): Yiu Yiu wait ah…
Yiu Yiu: Mummy, don't touch Yiu Yiu Barney ah…
Mummy: Oh oh!
Must have learnt from mummy who always says, "Yiu Yiu, don't touch this!", "Yiu Yiu, don't touch that!" when she plays with facial/hair products and accessories on mummy's dressing table.

Conversation 3
Mummy has this bad habit of not putting on the seat belt until the car leaves gets onto the main road after exiting our residential area. Yiu Yiu was all strapped up in her car seat and as I was waiting for the autogate to shut before driving away, I got a stern reprimand from Her Highness:
Yiu Yiu: Mummy, wear seat belt!
Mummy: Oh oh!

February 14, 2008

Small business loans

I've always envied stay-at-home mums (SAHM) as they can devote their time fully to their children. They bake, cook, and organise educational and stimulating activities for the young minds. I know I won't have the luxury to quit my work and become a SAHM but perhaps I can consider being a working-at-home mum (WAHM) or part-time working mum (PTWM). I can probably consider starting a small business and applying for small business loans.  There are some establishments that offer small business loans with no application fees, no hidden charges and low interest rates. I can secure a $10K - $150K loan and have my small business loans approved within 24 - 48 hours. With this, I can probably finally realise my dream of spending more quality time nurturing Yiu Yiu

February 13, 2008

First day at work after CNY

According to the Chinese zodiac animal in which I was born, today is supposed to be a good day for me to start work, and so I did. Coincidentally, the Sports and Recreation Club organised a Chinese New Year celebration at the office today. At about 10am, the sounds of Chinese drums and cymbals were clearly heard and two lions came prancing into the office. Starting at the reception area, the lions made their way to the upper floor where the directors' rooms and functional departments like Finance, HR, IS, Medical and Corporate Affairs are located. They then made their way to the lower ground to "ong" the sales and marketing areas.

The lions came a calling

After the lion dance, we had a "lou sang" session followed by a feast of curry chicken, butter prawn, otak-otak, mixed vegetables, rice and kuay teow soup. There's even bubur cha-cha and fruits for desserts. What a great way to start work!
Clockwise from top left: The nicely arrange yee sang, lets "lou" for a better year, digging in, the aftermath

Food galore

February 10, 2008

The bane of modern technology

I was hoping to utilise the holiday period to catch up on reading blogs and post some entries of my own, most outdated posts on Taiwan and Paris. I had also wanted to burn all my recent photos and other stuff into CDs for safekeeping. I was in the process of doing so earlier this week but I ran out of CDs. Then disaster struck!

I was reading through some saved documents on Pixart and Photobook as I had wanted to make one for some time now. Suddenly, my computer just hanged! Ctrl+Alt+Del didn't help, in fact another error message came up and the screen just won't budged. I decided to just power it off and waited a while to re-boot. It didn't work. I then removed the battery and waited a couple of minutes before retrying. No luck again. By then, I was already having cold sweats and frantically calling people to ask for help.

A friend came over to take a look and declared that my hard disk had gone on strike! Omigod! I've been struck by the bane of modern technology - corrupted hard disk! I'm not worried about my work-related stuff as they are all backed up in the server but all my personal stuff on my desktop - help! I've yet to back them up.

The next day, my friend placed my hard disk into an external drive casing which managed to read the data. I quickly copied some of the most important things like my unposted blog entries, photo collages and other personal documents. As the copying process was sometimes interrupted due to error in reading corrupted sectors of the hard disk, we had had to unplug the external casing several times and after a while, the computer can't read the external drive anymore. So I only managed to salvage part of my personal stuff and didn't managed to copy all my photos - recent shots of Yiu Yiu and photos taken in Siem Reap, Europe and Taiwan which I had wanted to make into a photobook.

Othniel, Chanel's hubby has offered to help (bless him!) but I can only see them when I get back to KL. I was told there are some softwares which can recover data from corrupted hard disk, or some shops which can make an exact copy of the hard disk at cut-throat prices. These are options, as I'd rather not bother my IS colleague to help me recover them, after all, these are my personal data. I've been having dreams about recovering the data the past two nights. Gosh! I really hope that things will straigthen out, and another reminder to invest in that external hard disk drive I've been procrastinating about.

February 06, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year

May the Year of the Rat brings you abundance health, happiness and prosperity.

Beach outing

Mummy had planned on bringing Yiu Yiu to the beach again when we are back in Kuantan this round and so had packed along mummy's and her swimsuit. Sunday was a perfect day as it was still bright and sunny in the early evening but papa was tired out from the long drive home and wanted to nap. The next day it was cloudy the whole day and I figured it would be cold for her to play in the sea. Mummy was again disappointed yesterday morning when it rained but luckily, the sun came out in the afternoon so we made our way to Teluk Chempedak beach.

This time, Yiu Yiu was willing to walk on the sandy beach without much persuasion, unlike the last time. The waves were pretty strong and she got frightened by them so we didn't spend much time in the water. Instead, we spend time building sandcastles and destroying them. The wind was also pretty strong, which explains why Yiu Yiu is all wrapped up in the towel in these photos. Mummy also tried the volcano recipe by Chanel but it was a total failure – there wasn't even any sizzle. Mummy thinks it's because we didn't put enough baking soda. It was a fun outing for Yiu Yiu nonetheless, and she has asked to come again.
Me, my mummy and my castles

Chinese New Year@1-Utama

Since we just got back from Taiwan two weeks ago and I had to work the next weekend, we didn't have chance to visit the malls to look at the CNY decorations. Last Saturday, just before we head back to my in-laws place in Kuantan, we went to 1-Utama – besides looking at the mall decorations, we also wanted to get a CNY outfit for Yiu Yiu.

The decoration at the old wing was nothing to shout about but we managed to catch the Chinese acrobatic show. We then headed to the new wing, and were just in time to catch the lion dance performance. The concourse area was already crowded with people and we just managed to squeeze in to get a partial view of the lion dance.

There mummy, can you see the lion?

The decoration was quite nice, with red being the predominant colour - well, what to expect, it's CNY after all. The theme was Spring Bloom (if I'm not wrong) so there are flowers everywhere.

We spotted this pair of Chinese costume and tried it on Yiu Yiu. She loved it so much that she didn't want to take them off. After much persuasion and explanation, she finally agreed to take them off and made sure the che-che packed the outfit for mummy to take home.