Currently traveling

Italy whirlwind trip

A whirlwind trip that combines holiday, work an interview. Exciting yet tiring with lots of travels.
Currently traveling
  • Day21

    Tough day

    April 28, 2018 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Today is the day jetleg starts kicking in. I woke up at 7am and started feeling very tired at around 3pm. I even skip dinner and go to bed at 9pm!

    My Facebook has been mysteriously locked out. I suspected it has been hacked because my FB Ad budget was used to promote Canvas shoes last week! My hotmail account has been locked out as well! When things go into shit, they go in bundles! First is the passport, now is half my life (the social media life)!

    Meals in HK:
    Fri breakfast: MX noodle + 糯米鸡 (OK)
    Fri dinner: roasted goose + tofu
    Sat breakfast: congee + 肠粉
    Sat lunch: drunken chickens + 菜心
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  • Day20

    Long Day of working

    April 27, 2018 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    An unaccompanied Chinese boy is sitting next to me for the whole flight. OMG, I seriously need to reconsider the fertility option. I suspect the kid has ADHD (or all kids are like that) that he laughs and moves his hands around while watching TV, folding and unfolding the tray for a few hours. At one point he even wants to touch my screen - not until I slap his hand! I will be a terrible impatient mother!

    Land in HK at 6.30am, I go as efficiently as possible directly to the hotel, freshening up and have a quick bite, I am back at hkcec. The day wasn't too bad and the jet lag has not kicking in yet. I even go out to have dinner with Candy till 11pm.
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  • Day20

    Transit Day

    April 27, 2018 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    I go for a morning walk around the block, buy a nice cup of coffee from a boutique coffee shop, a focaccia, then sit in a park to watch Milan citizens to wake up to another work day.

    Ciao Italy! It has been a whirlwind trip and not easy being away from home for so long. The country is not perfect and your people are not the nicest, you produce some of the most superior food and wine with negative unit economics. Dealing with your constant delay and unsympathetic staffs is truly a nightmare. Ciao for now until I am back to Europe next.Read more

  • Day18

    Milano - an unexpected day

    April 25, 2018 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    Today is an unexpected day of being able to stay in Milan and look around the City.

    I start the day by chatting with various friends what is considered to be a good salary in Europe. I feel like what I am getting paid is fair but I could have asked for more (the plan is $150k which I lack the confidence to ask). Therefore, my plan is to put my heart into it and either get a promotion or get known in the industry to move to a bigger role.

    The freezing of egg discussion is also bought up. I would like to do it. Although I am not prepared to give up what I have earned now for a child, but I may want to have one in a couple of years time. I don't want to leave it to faith when I have the financial means to do it and it is not too expensive.

    I then go to Duomo and join this 3.5hr walking tour around Milan town. There are quite a few hidden gems in this big city. Milan is not favourite city but I would much prefer it over Florence - less crowded, more diversity of archeology architectures, better food and shopping. It is also just happened that today is the Italian National Holiday, the street is filled with people. I don't feel crowded, I feel join and celebrations!

    I then travel slightly out of town to an area near several canals. Water can really change he feel of a city. People are so much lively sitting by the water, playing, dancing, sun baking, picnicking. I stop at a happy hour bar recommended by the tour guide called Farmacia de Alcoholical. For £12 I can have one drink and a buffet. I miss my veg! I pile my plate with loads of veg and have 3 of them - delicious!
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  • Day17

    Malta - a day of wirlwind

    April 24, 2018 in Malta ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Early in the morning, I take a public bus to Medina - the highest point in Malta as suggested by Jonas. I like taking public transport; I like being rough most of the time. The middle of Malta basically has nothing, other than a few industries. It feels like Egypt / Arab area in Israel.

    Medina is a medieval town. I feel like I have been to a similar town before but I can't remember where; everything feels so familiar though. Because I am there at 7.30am, there are hardly anyone there and I roam around town and smell the air of history. The panorama point is spectacular, especially with the sunrise in the distance and the vineyard spread underneath, I feel like I am back to Israel. At the end of the day, this is Mediterranean.

    The journey back is not so pleasant. There is no taxi to be found so I have to take a random bus towards Valetta. It happens to be peak hour (8am-9am), the road is congested while the bus has no aircon! I manage to get to Valetta City Center and has no mood to look around because I need to rush back to meet Jonas at 10.30am. Plus that epic bus ride, I am willingly to hand over £25 to an angry taxi driver to take me back to Hilton.

    Before I leave to meet Jonas, I have a short discussion with Kenny because I know an offer is about to be made and want to make sure we are on the same page before proceeding.

    As expected, Jonas gave me a verbal offer and a well recited relocation package deal. We chatted for a bit about the next step and what I can read up on before starting. I then head off to the airport with a calm heart but heavy mind.

    I have been repeated this mantra "I am an expat, living overseas, doing meaningful work in business. Travel, control, Asia Pacific, Busienss Development, learn and grow, and strategy." since I came back from Israel. I have also written down $150k + super and leave TDC by June 2018. Now I finally get everything I wanted - I feel so unreal! I have been trying so hard for so long to go back to Europe without knowing how. I just believe I can somehow. Suddenly, everything all fall into places. My mind is trying hard to adjust to the reality.

    There are so much in my mind that, on the flight back to Milan, I leave my passport at the front of my seat and only remember it when I get off the shuttle bus. I can see the plane but I can not get back on!!

    Dealing with Italian is a NIGHTMARE! They have no empathy nor sense of responsibility. The guy at lost and found is so rude and I have to wait 30min before the Air Malta staffs show up. Another 15min later, they claim they check the plane twice and can not find anything. By the way, the plane has already left! WTF! I have to use the passport to get onto the plane; it must be on it. The lady is kind enough to help me call the embassy and leave her phone number to me just in case. The embassy can not help because they will close for ANZAC day tomorrow and my temporary passport will take 48hr to process.

    I am freaked out knowingly my passport is on that plane going back to Malta! There is nothing I could do except for leaving my contact details and Kenny's phone number with the friendly and sympathetic air hostess.

    When I reach back to the hotel, I have a long chat with Kenny - I miss him and want to go home! I don't want to stay in Italy till Monday!

    I take a walk to Milan central. As I am walking, Kenny message me saying that they have found my passport! I knew it - it is always on that plane! Now I am not so sure about their security first round check that they can't even find a passport. My option is to delay my flight back by a day and start working on the day of my arrival in the morning - it is going to be tough but at least I get to see my clients. Most importantly, I get to go home as planned!

    This must be the age thing that I can't travel for that long anymore. I miss home. I miss spending time with Kenny. I miss our balcony! I am not fucking 25yr anymore. Although I still enjoy travelling very much and don't think I can ever give it up, I would like to travel less and travel shorter.

    Another incident is: even the bus driver is not willing to help. I get on this bus with no notes telling passengers where to purchase tickets. The bus driver finally get on the bus (3min late, of course) and can not stop talking to his friend. He points at the ticket machine on the platform saying that I have to buy the ticket from there and he can not wait for me to do that. Fuck that! I just walk in and sit down. I am not going to wait for another 15min for your shit. If you fine me, so be it!
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  • Day16

    Malta - THE day

    April 23, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    I take the 7.30am flight to Malta via Rome to meet with Jonas. Gee, the Italians flying is not better than their driving. The Rome airport is so busy that the plane has to go around in circle for 45min before it can land. The plane land at 9.10am and my next flight is 9.25am! I am so worried that I would miss the flight and I have to push business glass people away to get in front. The one in front is flying to JFK and his flight is at 9.25am too. Good luck to him as mine connecting flight is also delayed. Italian just have no concept of being on time!

    I finally get myself to Hilton and I can not check in till 3pm. Since I am already in my gym clothes, I have decided to go for a run along the port.

    First impression of Malta - Mediterranean climate. It feels like TLV but without the vibe. Yellowish brick houses, stone walls, vast sea. I have never seen such clear water so closed to a city before. There are many waterfront apartments and I am sure we can find one we like quite easily. Supermarket items are very limited and I am yet to find out where I can find fresh seafood (apparently there is a Sunday fish market down south). Vegetable choices are quite limited too. The restaurant prices are expensive at around £15 per main course. I do find a Jewish kosher restaurant that I might go for Shabbat dinner.

    I meet with Jonas at 5pm. Immediately we decide to go for a walk around the port. We talk a lot about different things: from work related to recreational, from our background to future of the company, from wine to books. My feeling is we both have a very worldly view and try to enjoy life whiles working on something we like.

    He then taken me to this very nice Japanese Asian fusion restaurant. The sashimi and sea bass is fresh even the Sydney fish market can not compare.

    A bottle of Champagne later, I know without him saying that the deal is done.

    Conclusion
    There is not much in Malta. You live here but you don't really live here.
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  • Day15

    Museum day in Florence

    April 22, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Today is museum day in order to avoid the hot Weather. I arrived at Uffizi museum at 8.30am and am the first few who go in. Inside is so peace and quiet and I get to appreciate the renaissance masterpieces up closed without being pushed. To be honest, I am more into medieval art (more expressive, grande) than renaissance (portraits and body compositions). I am also not an art gallery person and could only spend 2 hours in this beautiful palace museum.

    After the Uffizi, I went to climb up the Santa Maria de Fiore cathedral tower. Although I watched the sunset from Piazza de Michaelangelo, the view on top of this 98m high tower is spectacular. The medieval streets are winding through Florence from Central station to the river Arno. Red brick rooftops like it has not been touched for centuries. The Alps mountain range is in the distance with a blue sky as the background. What a beautiful city! But I wont be back because there are far more tourists than locals. The whole town is filled with tourists, half of them are American. I feel like it doesn't have its own soul anymore.

    Lunch again is at the San Lorenzo Market. I had this beef dish that is so filling yet I don't know which part of the cow it is from!

    The temperature is heating up and the line to go into the Santa Maria church is getting ridiculously long. I visit the church museum briefly and have decided not worth queuing to go in. I gave my entry ticket to a very nice French couple and start making my way home.

    The train ticket I have for Milan is a business class - finally! I am also very pleased to leave the bustling Florence to a more civilised town.

    I have a very nice room with a small balcony facing the street. I had my little dinner with the sinful prosciutto belly, pecorino chianti cheese and a tiny bottle of Prosecco DOC.

    Yum... tomorrow is the big day.
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  • Day14

    Chianti Region

    April 21, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    I take an expensive tour to get a better understanding of the Chianti region. We visit four wineries and each has its own characteristics. Overall the tour is good except for there is a lack of food. By the time we arrive at the 3rd winery after lunch hour, when they joke about no lunch and wine nutritious, I so want to just walk out of the door!

    Winery one: Altiero
    A family run tiny winery. The owner makes wine because of love of nature and good quality food. The wines are high in alcohol (15%+), high acidity and really need to be aged for another 10 years. It is such a small production that it is run like a family business. This is where we receive the most portion of our food.

    Winery two: Querceto
    A medium size winery where it does a bit of export and functions. The wine is not bad and I bought a bottle of DOCG to try with Toni when I get back.

    Winery three: Le Cinciole
    OMG, this French girl provides no Italian hospitality, no food nor water. The wine is crapped! Highly not recommended. The winery is purchased by an architect who knows nothing about wine making and just want to live in Tuscany.

    Winery four: Fattoria de Bagnolo
    A winery that has been inherited for 3 centuries. Everything is done in the traditional way, including the underground cellar and the chateau on the property. The owner says that this winery makes no money, they do it because they want to continue the family tradition. The brother makes the wine and lives on the property. Really, this is their hobby farm and can just make a living. There are lots of wineries like this one in Italy. The old world way of wine trade.

    The Conclusion is: Chianti DOCG produces lots of wine, but not all are great.

    In the evening, I go roaming around town. The weather is a lot cooler and more pleasant. The atmosphere is also great with less people and lights are on around the churches. I also go and see La Traviata at an intimate theatre. I watched a smiling production before in one of the European countries. A tourist things but the cast is fantastic!

    The weather this week is very differ from the one I had last week. It is like Spring just woke up and realise she has over slept. Everything just get heat up overnight and the temperature rise up from 12c to 28c. I don't normally complain about hot but this IS hot for European weather!

    A note to myself:
    I shall just go onto one of these Viata mass tour in the future than the exclusive small tour which is not necessarily better.

    Next time, I would like to cycle / Vespa around Tuscany, Siena and Maltipulicino region. An active tour than expensive sedative tour.
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  • Day13

    Florence City Tour

    April 20, 2018 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    Paul, my housemate, is kind enough to drop me off at the Verona Potts Nouva. I feel like Verona is like a home already and it is now time to explore a new city.

    Florence is hectic; Cars, people and churches everywhere. Now is just the beginning of the season and I can't imagine what the town would be like during school holiday. There are so many names from renaissance time that I have never heard of - I am never good at or interested in arts class I guess. I love getting lost in the city though. Every turn is a new church, a new piece of art, another history to be told.

    I do two free walking tours today to get my bearings around town. In the late afternoon, I go to see the David statue, a work of art by Michael Angelo. Luckily, the queue is only 10min. The statue truly deserves its worldwide reputation - the vein on his arms, the six-pack toned body, the well proportion body composition, the expression on David's face, each part of the body is fascinating. Even the replica outside of the Plaza de Signore can never replicate what Michael Angelo has created for the Florentines.

    In the evening, I go up to Piazzale MichelAngelo as recommended by Susanna to watch the beautiful spring sun casts its last ray onto the ancient Florentine city. The Dome and the towers are magnificent against the pink backdrop.

    To add sugar to the cake, a gelato festival is on at the Piazzale. I spend €10 and pretty much all I can eat up to 25 flavours. I am so over the moon till I can eat no more after the 7th cone - sugar overload with all these strange but delicious flavours.

    Observations:
    There are so many American tourists in Florence that is comparable to Jerusalem. Very interesting.

    Gelato in Italy is sweeter than those in Australia. They don't have enough milk so they add lots of sugar instead!

    门面功夫 is so true. The Church of San Lorenzo facade has nothing but inside is magnificent, while the facade of Cathedral Saint Mary of Flower is richly ornated, the inside is fairly plain. Which one would you choose?
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  • Day12

    Mantua

    April 19, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    I took a bus just round the corner to this little medieval town called Mantua. It is a castle town surrounded by two man made lakes.

    Gosh, the weather is stunning! I feel like I am back in Sydney and baking in 28c heat. The town square is buzzing with street markets when I arrive early in the morning. I go into one of the museums and, to my great surprise, the artwork of fallen giants and Adam and Eve's wedding banquet is a work of art. I also visit the infamous Rigoletto, who, despite all he has done, is my favourite opera character.

    In the evening, I go claim my paycheque for this trip - a dinner with Peter Simic. Peter orders a very nice bottle of wine - Armone classical 2010 by Alleguini that costs £230. Well, I guess my daily rate is way more than that if I were to get paid.

    We talk about plans to sell his $11,000 bottle of wine to rich Chinese billionaire, effectiveness of VinItaly, potential market development for Russia. I don't know how I can go back to that static HKTDC job after this trip!
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