Sunday, June 27, 2010

Visiting old friends of 12 years

Toh Sim loves this Iron Orchid very much, and has now become the expert for orchid nurturing!

Visited old friends Toh Sim and Woi Lee in their Suzhou bungalow house in early June and had a wonderful and quality time there in a green setting environment with 3Fs :fish, flowers and frog.

Thanks to their warm hospitality and beautiful home-made breakfast and healthy morning fruit juices.
Let;s enjoy the photos which tells a thousand words.....

Confucius' in town

Was fortunate to be invited for the dinner reception in Euqunoix Swissotel Hotel on 26 Jun 2010 with the 120 directors from the 52 Confucius Institutes (CI) in Asia with the highlight of listening to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew on his tips in learning Chinese Lauguage. The sharing session by MM Lee was so candid, it was a very rare occasion to see MM Lee talking in such a relax mood with down-to-earth responses. You got to be there to experience and enjoy it, no wonder nowsadays we all talk about the popular term of "experience economy" and experiential enjoyment.

Was also delighted to make new friends from Thailand (Ms Sutipporn), Korea (Jaewoo), Philippines (Ellen) and Japan (南部捻)who are directors of CI in their respecitve countries/cities. Suprisingly that some of them speak such fluent Mandarin, the most impressive person was the one from South Korea, Jaewoo Choo of Kyung Hee University who has studied in Beijing University (basic degree to MBA) for 7 years and had worked and stayed in various part of the continent including USA, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan etc. Have got with sharing with him and Sutipporn who is so easy to get along like a sister, was a french teacher before and now studying PHD and working at the same time.
The dinner was wonderful and we enjoyed the appetite (coctail of raw marinated Tasmanian Salmon with Tosa zu jelly, sesame cured wakame cucumbers and mirin vinegar sabayon) and deesert alot!
At the same time, also get to know a young PRC Diplomat Guo Jing and Beijing Foreign Studies University executives Sabrina and Chinese Lei who speak fluent English and offering translation and interpretation services at conferences.

welcome Hong Kong Travel Agents to Spore

First time organising a welcome repception in the Spore Zoo in a safari dinning setting for the 166-member delegation from the Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents led by its Chairman Paul Leung and COnvention Chairman Jason Wong (an up-and-coming entreprenuer) on 25 Jun 2010. They were in Spore for their Annual Overseas Convention entitled "A world without travel agents?" held in Fairmont Hotel from 25-27 Jun. Another 2 members - Tommy Tam and Richard Willis with their unique interpersonal skills also left us with a deep impression.

It was a s successful convention and the HK travel agents are very excited after 15 years (the last convention held in Spore was 1995) to see the unique, different and transformed Singapore especially the new tourism products of Marina Bay Snads and Resorts World Sentosa, Helix Bridge, Marina Barrage etc

Wow, we were so delighted as the guests were very happy with our hospitality, organisation of the event, cuisine and safari dinning experience and programme arranged with extensive networking and sharings. From the photos, u can see that they were really enjoying themselves and had a good time at the zoo and thereafter the night safari tour.

Even though there was no specific counterpart took the lead in fronting it when the ball landed on no-man's land due to the lack of visibility and communication in the beginning, I picked up the ball and knocking at the doors of dear colleagues and we proactively formed a task force to accomplish the project. Thanks to the borderless support and efforts contributed by my dear friends from various departments of Healthcare, MICE, Tourism Shopping, IG and Desitnation Marketing, with Christine coording from HK as well as the Singapore Zoo Valerie, Jennifer and Vanessa. Through this exercise, i found my faithful and sincere friends and supporters in the entire eco-system.

my takeaways are the friendship established with the Hong Kong trade partners and comradeship within the organisation.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur retreat

friends, see the view of our camp resort in rawang, is really look better in picture, however, overall it is quite a nice retreat place with right company.

Went for a combined church camp from 17-20 Jun for 245 members last week in MBS Recreation Resort at Rawang in Kuala Lumpur. The recreation centre was supposed to be a golf resort but didnt take off due to its off-site location, and now it became a resort for various type of leisure acoommodation and activities.

It was quite a nice place to hold team activities as there are some 300-bed ( dormitory, chalet etc) with big swimming pool and multi-purpose halls and parking facilities. But it is really deep inside (at least 15-min drive) after the Rawang tol.
The camp programme was quite well organised and have some free time where we can do our own sports and i even went out with KL firends to have a good durian and dinner feast (simple and delicious) and patronised its pasar malam on saturday evening of 19 Jun.

see the scene of the traffic light and sunset

The fruits stall selling tomato at only Ringit 2 per kilo, very nice and crunchy tomatos...susan is selecting the best....

the shop where we have our lovelyunique steam sting ray, deep fried mini-shark and stir fried long beans, very delicious, total cost only Ringit 27 (about S$13.50)

But the journey back to Spore was not as smooth as expected due to tyre of coach punctured 30 min before reaching Tuas checkpoint which resulted to 2 hours delays, then checkpoint long queue where limited coach stations open for inspection (hope Spore cusotms could open for lanes so that visitors in coach dont need to suffer long wait in the bus and on the road). We set off from KL at 2pm, and cleared customs at 12 midnight, goodness!!

in the midst of journey, the Malaysian tour guide did their country a national sevice by bring us to a shop for souvenir shopping (even though it was quite a good break with nice tidbits, but on the hindsight, we should not have gone as it draged from 30-min to 45 min due to long queue at paying counter and contributed to the total jounrney time taken. The consoldation was i have taken some nice shot at the shop cafe for friend Priscilla...
Overall it was a trip worth making with knowledge, sharing and friendship acquired.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Expo 2010 Shanghai

Never planned to visit Shanghai for World EXPO in such an early stage as always feel that i would only visit it during my own private holiday in Oct after the golden week to avoid the huge crowd and hot weather. But, man can never beat the god who created a chance so early in end May for me (a consolation when he knows that i cant volunteer myself to work there).

I was surprised to hear that i am supposed to go for a regional meeting in Shanghai in end May since we have been on tight shoe-lace budget after the financial crisis in 2009, all budgets were cut including travel. After consulted my advisor, I gladlly accepted the offer and picked up the bag and flew off.

After the official meetings concluded on 28 May noon, i took a cab with colleagues and rush to World Expo site, alighted at Pudong Changqing Road, near Gate 7 which is nearest to the site of Singapore Pavilion.

We went in by using our staff working pass, and i managed to cover 10+2 pavilions from 2 pm to 10 pm, my friends told me that it was really remarkable as not many people can cover so many in 8 hours considering long queue at most of the pavilion. But i told them i was lucky that there isnt queue at some pavilions eg Australia, Turkey, NZ, Denmark etc when we were there at night. The longest queue was 1.5 hour at UK pavilion, and shortest was 20 mins for Italy under light rain with nice breeze. UK's arthitecture design was so spectaular even though there is only one things to see inside, but it was so unique as you will never imagine what is the exhibit that can attract such a big crowd until you see it. To many of the visitors including myself it was worth it as it is nothing but the meaningful seeds which represent the source of relationship, development and culture etc and sow it early on the land of China for nurturing and cultivation.

I like Italy Pavilion best, as it has so much to wow you, the big character "fortune福" on the wall of the entrance, from culture, architecture, to modern fashion, hanging orchestra, and a snap shot of World Expo 2015 in Milan. Even their service staff are in branded Prada uniforms, 2 sets per staff, and they were so courteous and friendly.

We were quite lucky in the way that the crowd was not thick on that day as it was drizzling since morningso it was managable. After having a quick scan of the Spore Pavilion (not much thing to see, quite disappointed), we cant wait to move on to the European zone, and the first one was Finland. We queued for 40 min and got in. They were smart to have Finish staff at the entrance to engage the visitors while waiting and educate us with a few frequently use word in Finish language and created many laughters, so the entire queue journey was not boring...

Taiwan Pavilion is a must visit also even u are seeing from outside. It is especially beautiful at night when it is lit.

Tips to go World Expo:
1. Go during wet days, weekdays (tues to fridays)
2. Take taxi direct to Pudong Chang Qing Road, taxi fare around RMB24, from Huai Hai Road
can also take MRT line 9 to Ma Dang Road station, and there is special compliementary direct bus service No 13 with your expo ticket in hand
3. Wear light attire (prepare light sweater just in case) and sports shoes as there are alot of walking
4. Travel light with one bottle of water (no enough can buy there, RMB 3 per bottle) and cash, dont bring food as there are more than enough choice for your apetite. Nice pizza at cafe opposite Italy Pavilion
5. Go after lunch as morning is too crowded with tour groups
6. Go in a group of 2-3, keep each other company and occupied during queue for pavilion and food. U need to "chop" seat physically not by using "tissue"
7. visit pavilion during meal time to avoid long queue
8. go home before 940 pm (expo close at 10pm) to avoid huge crowd at taxi line and MRT station

There were about 97% Chinese visitors and only 3% foreigners in the expo. And the Chinese know that they are the host this time and most of them have learned to queue. Restrooms are the only place where they dont follow the rule, pushing is common here, hope the expo authority could look into this as restroom is a critical place to show how civilise a destination/country is.

Also, the information for making reservation to see pavilion like China, Taiwan, Saudi etc are not clear and comfusing..... visitors are also not allowed to go into the pavilions even when it is empty, which to us is a waste of golden opportunity to the country and defeat the purpose of wanting to showcase themselves to attract as many visitors as possible and create word of mouth for their country and pacilion set-up.

For example the China Pavilion, it was quite empty when we were there at around 9 pm, but the guard said that we cant go in because we have not done reservation (the reservation tickets have already completely distributed and dont know where to make reservation also, too troublesome, u cant do it online also. Why cant they allow on-line reservation?).
So China missed the opportunity to let those wanted to see their best display and tell the world how good they are. Unlike Australia and NZ, they open their door wide when there isnt queue and send ushers at the entrance to broadcast to all visitors that they are all welcome and no queue is many just walk in graciously and enjoy the concert inside.....Just feel that Chinese way of doing things in China, Taiwan Pavilion etc is not the way to treat your guests from overseas who flew all the way here......and this is not the hospitality culture of Chinese also, ........why cant China and other pavilions do the same like Auz and NZ etc when the crowd is thin near to closing time and rainy days.....

This is really worth the Expo Bureau to think through seriously whether they should just be so rigid to follow all rules by the BOOK or be flexible and more forthcoming in their invitation..there is a critical learning process and improvements needed by the Expo Authority.

Seoul - flowers trail

I didnt have any intention to see and experience Sakura blossoms during our trip to Seou and Gyeongju, but somehow, it turned out beautifully like a flower trails for us. This is just like the chinese saying "无心插柳柳成荫“

Sakura didnt really blossom in Seoul as it was too cold till we arrived in Gyeongju in early April, then our flower trails started and from the photos you can see how happy we are.

this is the flower i lucked from the GJ Museum, it was so pretty that i brought it back to hotel and pin it up on the wall.