Monday, February 28, 2011

My sporting self

After one weekend of hard-core, adrenaline-fueled team sport, I've decided I want to be a professional athlete. I am in the market for a career change after all. You can't deny it'd be a damn fine job. On top of getting paid for working out and being fit, you feel good all the time because of the copious amount of endorphins constantly flooding your brain. Not only that, you can eat whatever you want because you need the energy to perform and you know you're going to work it off and the constant adrenaline rushes are a natural high you just can't walk away from!

The only issue is deciding which sport I'm going to be professional at. Team sports are definitely up there as the camaraderie is priceless. I love netball and would definitely do it for a living however I believe on what netballers earn I'd be living on baked beans and tinned pears and hand-me-downs for the remainder of my life. Rowing? Well, I tried that through high-school and can tell you right now that 4am starts for training, painful blisters on your hands and an excruciating rear end just don't do it for me. Hard to believe? You try it and then we can talk. Basketball? Not really interested. Cricket? Not so much. Hockey? No thanks. Beach volleyball? Would love to but I'm not sure me wearing a bikini and then running is fair on the world. Well then. Moving right along. Perhaps it'll have to be an individual sport? Can't say I like being wholly responsible for a win or a loss though. We all know I'm a bit of choker - if you don't, you can read about that fabulous talent here. I could be a gymnast although I can't remember the last time I saw a 6 ft giant with shoulders to rival Rocky do a double somersault with a pike twist off a 3 inch beam. I could be a runner but can't bear a sport where the sole purpose of the exercise is to get to the other end. I did win a javelin contest or two back in the day but knowing me one day after one too many wines the night before I'd throw a wild one and end up putting some poor soul in hospital. Not ideal. This is harder than I thought. Cycling could work although I'm not all that keen on the development of thunder thighs. I can definitely see the attraction of tennis. Definitely. An individual sport with the chance to play in a team (hello Davis Cup), fit bods, sexy outfits, lots of cash and plenty of sponsorship opportunities but as per previously mentioned post, I may not actually ever win. Details.

So there you go. Looks like I'm going to be a professional tennis player. Now all I need is some talent and to be about 10 years younger. As I said.......details.

Now, which sport would you choose? Pray tell my friends.....

For those that are interested, the netball weekend in Singapore was brilliant! Turns out it wasn't actually a tournament in the traditional sense - i.e. round-robin-esque with semis and finals and a winner, but more so a warm-up, non-scored, no winner tournament for the Singapore super league. Regardless, the standard was so high and it really pushed our team to the limit. I play GD and got my defensive groove back (just like Stella did) and we ended up winning half of our games (we decided to score ourselves)! I may have returned with some substantial blisters on my feet and an inability to move today but it was so worth it! The girls on the team are fantastic and I'm pretty sure they will become long-term friends here in Honkers. All in all a great weekend!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ball games

I've been quite impartial to a ball game of late. And this weekend shall be no different! I'm off to Singapore with the netball team I've joined for a weekend of unadulterated lung explosive quarters. The girls in my team won the HK comp last year and were asked to represent Hong Kong in this tournament! Cool, huh? My team mates are those whizzy, nippy, too-fit-for-words girls (3 with 3 month old babes no less), while I, on the other hand, am bending over at every opportunity attempting to gracefully shove my lungs back into my chest where they belong.

We've got one game tonight, 3 on Saturday and 3 on Sunday. Here's hoping I come back in one piece and with both lungs in tow.

See you Monday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Game. Set. Choke.

In true Tai Tai style, I started having tennis lessons about 2 months ago. I love tennis. I've played it on and off my whole life. Watching the Australian Open this year brought back such vivid memories of hot Australian summers, massive glasses of green cordial with lots of ice and Dad peeling oranges for us while we spent long nights watching epic matches.

I've been having lessons twice a week with John, my American coach who had the fastest serve in the US as a 9 year old. That's no joke, I've seen it. It comes and goes as fast as a block of Cadbury's hazelnut chocolate in my house. He's a great coach - observant, calm, helpful and a bit of a laugh. Everything a Tai Tai could want in a tennis coach. Unless of course you were that sort of Tai Tai looking for that sort of tennis coach who might just be a bit more 'hands on'. I, of course, am not.

I have been improving. At first my strokes were more baseball (i.e. out of the park) than tennis (i.e. in the court), but I'm slowly starting to remember that those lines are on the court for a reason and that Roger Federer didn't just wake up and be the best player in the world. Apparently you do, in fact, have to work at it.  

Now, I'm going to put myself out there and say I'm pretty sporty (somehow I even managed to be Sports Captain at school), which doesn't mean I'm necessarily very good at sport. Just that I can do most things if I have a stab at it. I'm not saying I'm bad, more.....mediocre.

And the good old game of tennis is the perfect example. Well, actually, I bring another far more intriguing talent to tennis which blows mediocrity out of the park. I like to call it Choking. While I don't wear a nasty strangler of a necklace on court, nor turn blue from the left over Tim Tam caught in my throat, I do in fact choke, regularly. You see in lesson time, I rock. I smash the ball into the court, crack a topspin forehand, rip a backhand down the line and occasionally even get a winner in against a once very talented 9 year old. Then it comes to a Sunday afternoon match with some friends and what happens? I choke. As in can't get a serve in. As in hit every ball out of the park. As in choke. Choke choke choke choke choke. This doesn't sit well with me, being somewhat competitive, one might say.

My tennis coach eloquently observed my talent at this morning's lesson...."It's interesting to see how your personality is reflected on the court. You can hit the mother out of the ball when we're training but then when you're playing points or matches you pull back, you choke." 

Well yes thank you John. I can see that. Quite clearly actually. Nice to see we're on the same page here. And what do you propose I do about that Coach?

After a few uncomfortable (for me) conversations at the net about my inherent ability to choke, John tells me to take the pressure off myself, to stop being so hard on myself, to give myself time to find my groove, to breathe. 

I'm thinking perhaps he could be alluding to more than just my tennis?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

Fairy floss the size of a small animal? 
Every kid's dream...and 10 minutes later, every parent's nightmare.

Cute though, eh?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My exhausting double life

I worry about how nuts I am sometimes. Most mornings I wake up exhausted, having felt like I've just jumped out of a plane, fallen 10,000 feet and somehow landed. My head is spinning and it takes a good 10 minutes of slowly opening and closing my eyes before I can see straight and actually register what's going on. Of course, I know - I'm in my bed, on the 36th floor, in Hong Kong. How could I forget. But I mean trying to figure out where I am, and when I am. Why? Because I live a disconcerting double life.

I have the one you all know about - the one that looks pretty normal from the outside - a wife, a husband, an apartment, normal friends, normal family, a handful of pretty normal challenges (bar the whole tiny challenge of setting up a new life). Nothing strange or particularly interesting about it.

Then I have this other one. This very intense, bizarre, all-consuming, powerful, frenzied, fierce existence. I live this exhausting life between midnight and morning, every night, all while being enveloped in the innocent white of my place of 'rest'. I wouldn't call it 'rest'. Sure I'm sleeping, and sleeping heavily. But I am more active, and more emotional, more intense, and more fatigued than ever.

It normally involves my husband, or a member of my family, or one of my good friends. I'm usually screaming, or hysterically crying, or paralysed with disbelief. I'm normally feeling that feeling you would feel if you found out your husband was having an affair with your best friend. And he didn't care. And he didn't love you anymore. And he said that quite nonchalantly. Like everything you ever had together was worthless. Or you feel that feeling you would feel if you had an irreparable fight with your best friend. And she didn't care. And everyone was on her side. And you looked crazy. Like everything you thought to be true and real, wasn't. Or someone has died. That happens a lot. No need to explain how hard that one is to take. And they don't end there...

It feels so real. Even though unreal things happen. And I experience the whole thing. From feeling normal, to feeling the reveal, to feeling distraught. That's what I can't handle - the entirety of it. I've had to start telling my husband the details of my dreams when I wake up, just to check that it didn't actually happen. Sometimes when I've felt the feelings to the core of my bones, I'm not so sure. He usually laughs nervously and pretends he's impressed with the extent of my imagination.

I know a lot of people have a lot to say about dreams. About what they mean. That they're a reflection of what is really going on in your subconscious. I think I could probably pin point why I have the dreams like the sample I just described. All issues I feel sure I've dealt with, or voiced or acknowledged, at least. I was cheated on by more than one boyfriend in my past and it hurt. I've still got trust issues as a result. I worry about staying close to my friends while I live so far away. And there's been some serious and scary family illnesses going on while I'm too far away to help.

But do they have to be so ferocious? So fierce? So tiring? Where are the dreams of skipping through lavender fields in a pair of Louboutins (that don't hurt)? Of diving seamlessly into a sparkling ocean and turning into a hot mermaid? Of wading in a pool of spaghetti? Or drinking endless amounts of hangover-less champagne under the Eiffel Tower?

I need some advice. So people, advise away. How do you 'manage' dreams when you're powerless over them? How do I make them stop? Or at least be less frequent? Or be less fierce? How do I relax while I sleep?

I'm all ears......

Monday, February 21, 2011

How to rock my world in one day

I'm finding myself reflecting more and more on the experiences I've had, across different countries, with different friends, at different stages of my life. Our move has made me think about what I value in a city. Do I want convenience or space? Do I want new or old? Do I want fast-paced or relaxed? Do I want indoors or outdoors? As I've talked about before, like here, there always seems to be trade-offs. Or maybe I'm just one of those pain-in-the-ass people who is never quite satisfied. Always thinking the grass is greener, or that maybe it's a whole different colour.

One way to get around this is to fantasise. So I plan to. Right here, right now. Thanks to Kate Takes 5. Every week she writes a list of her top 5 somethings, and encourages us to do the same. I did it once here and funnily enough one of my list came true! So here's hoping she's some sort of genie that can make these lists come true and that maybe, just maybe, I'll live this day really soon.

This weeks Listography is Your Perfect Day. Here goes:

1. (8-11am) A swim in the ocean, a walk on the beach and breakfast on the heavenly shores of Balmoral

2. (11-2pm) A wander through the flea markets and homewares stores in Provence

3. (2-5pm) A long lunch, coffee and people-watching on the streets of Paris

4. (5-8pm) A glass of Champagne and a Lychee Martini at Beach Blanket Babylon in London

5. (8-11pm) A long, lingering dinner with my best friends, anywhere.

Thanks to Leah from The Inside Story for sharing this image. It is heaven!

Now - that sounds like a damn fine day. Fancy joining me?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Trough

I'm not very good at coping with disappointment. Conversely, I am very good at getting my hopes up. This is not a good personality trait to have. And I have it. Well and truly. It drains far more than what I'm sure is a safe amount of emotional stamina from me and inevitably leaves me in a silent, sad, dejected state. The crappy thing about it is that I know I shouldn't get my hopes up in the first place. Logic and reasoning are quite clearly giving me one very clear and rational message, but then that little so-and-so in the back of my mind, with a creative imagination as good as Enid Blyton's, does what she does best: she grabs hold of any remnant of a wishful thought and proceeds to blow it up like a balloon at an exponential rate so as to leave room for nothing else.

I guess the hopes and disappointments, or the peaks and troughs as my girlfriends and I call it, are what make life an interesting journey (that's the logic and rational me talking). I know we all appreciate the good things more when we know we deserve it or when we've had enough disappointments to even bring Hugh Heffner down a few notches. It's just that at that very moment in time, when the disappointment is so fresh, and so raw, and so real - it's hard to do anything but let ol' logic and reasoning drown in the burst bubble of hope, so promising just moments before.

Troughing. Can you tell?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ugly on the inside

I had a great start to my Saturday morning. I was up at the crack of sparrows for netball training (yes, I've joined a netball club and yes we train, and yes it is killing me), I bought all the goods for my ultimate Aussie lunch (a BBQ chook, fresh white bread rolls, tomatoes, rocket, avocado), and I pottered around whipping the house into refreshing shape in preparation for an afternoon of relaxation. Feeling pretty damn pleased with myself and slightly smug about achieving such a monumental level of activity all before midday, I high-fived myself and went to make my ultimate Aussie lunch.

Only to be faced with what could only be the worst possible puncture to my potentially perfect day.

This just doesn't happen with quite as much fury in Australia. For the fact that one of these days - when we eventually settle back there - I won't have to face these nasty insides every time I crack a dear avocado open, I am eternally grateful.

Linking up with Maxabella today.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'll take that and that and that and that and.....

I went to China today. And was back at home with a wonton noodle soup watching MadMen by 3pm. Cool huh? See I have this very major wedding coming up in a few weeks time which you may have read a bit about over at BabyMac, and I am lucky enough to be one of this sensational bride-to-be's bridesmaids. This lady, soon to become wife, is my best friend and we have been through a rainbow of times together since we became buddies 17 years ago.

The fact that she is getting married to the man of her dreams (who happens to also be the man of most other ladies' dreams - read: chef who cooks the most incredible food ever, who loves a clean and orderly house, who hosts a get together like Martha Stewart, and who happens to be handsome, kind, generous, loyal and such a god damn laugh as well) just makes me so filled with happiness I might just about burst.

Now what's this wedding got to do with China you ask? Well, cheap labour is the answer. I know, un-PC, but its the god forsaken truth. I was in the market for a smokin' bespoke bridesmaid dress so thought where better to go than Shenzhen (or Fake-zhen to be more precise), the shopping mecca of China just over the border from Hong Kong! An easy 60 minute train ride from the "Island" and a few deathly Chinese glares later (you know the ones?), and you are transported to a world where everything and anything is at your feet. And I mean anything! Clothes, watches, handbags, shoes, wigs, electronics, DVDs, underwear, homewares, fabric, curtains, sunglasses, paintings. Anything.

On my BM dress mission, I sought out a recommended tailor and within 5 minutes had paid for a beautiful floor-length, strapless bridesmaid dress, tailor made, just for me, for the bargain price of.......wait for it........$80 AUD. Yup. $80. Including quality fabric. Including labour. Including delivery to my door in 10 days time. Snap! How good is that?!

And that's not all I walked away with. Hellooooooooo boys.....

Yes that is the same Gucci clutch in different 2 different colours, plus a Tory Birch make-up bag. If you like it, drown in it I say! Now I'm quite sure I would have walked away with much more however I was quite blatantly informed that the police were around today and that it was too dangerous to take me to the warehouse where the women weep and the men do as well (just not for the same reasons). Begrudgingly, I walked away from what I'm pretty sure is now my 'happy place'.

Needless to say, today was a good day. And all by 3pm. Snap indeed.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A pig and a naked sumo

I'm no artist. My artistic ability starts and ends with my creative use of the 'f' word (sorry mum). But I, like many others, can appreciate something creative, something unique, something original, when I see it.

I know the Chinese have their own way of looking at things, but blow me down if a bald naked sumo staring into the dark abyss of a cancerous pig's backside is art. I mean, COME ON!!! And are they light bulbs shielding those pink fleshy growths? WTF? And what the hell is he looking for up there anyway?

Safe to say there'll be no more pork products of any kind for this Tai Tai.

Am I the only one that thinks this is taking the whole concept of art just a little too far?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


It's 10pm and I'm exhausted. Buggered. All I can deal with is a cup of tea and a few too many pieces of chocolate. And So You Think You Can Dance. I concentrated, hard, for all of 7 hours today and after not having done that since August last year? I. Am. Spent. Pathetic, aren't I?!

At least, for the first time in what feels like forever, I felt like I was really contributing to something. Constructively giving feedback that was well received, attempting to absorb every word I heard, challenging in what I hope was the right places and truly and honestly feeling like Hong Kong might just offer me the career opportunities I was hoping for.

I do have all of zero brain cells left at this point in time for a remotely interesting post though, so I'm going to end it before I really begin and say bonne nuit.

Oh......and likely finish this superb box of chocolates my beautiful husband gave me for V-day. What a man!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Turning point

After all this moaning and groaning about desperately needing a job - I've damn well gone and done it!!!!! Well, not entirely true, but close. I've managed to get involved in a start-up venture with a highly qualified and experienced expat who is in the business of buying private hospitals in China, restructuring them in order to increase their effectiveness and efficiency (and ultimately profit), and then selling them on. I'm helping out in an 'unpaid capacity' on a part-time basis at the moment with the promise of reimbursement should he lock down the private equity funding he's on the hunt for at the moment. I'm hoping I'll have a lot to offer and that my healthcare experience in Australia and the UK is going to pay off because I tell you, this is exactly the sort of opportunity I've been hanging out for! After being out of the rat race for 7 months now, I've definitely lost confidence in my ability to think on my feet and to have high-level strategic conversations, but I'm desperately hoping it'll be just like riding a bike. Tell me it will be so?

I've certainly tinkered with the idea of changing paths with my career since I moved to HK and at times that has felt like the most exciting and appealing thing to do, but unfortunately I'm a sucker for the grass is always greener concept and I think it's about time I realise that my grass is already green enough!

I'm heading into the office for my first (half) day tomorrow and I don't think excited quite covers how I'm feeling about it. Not only am I excited about wearing work clothes and putting the old converse to bed for a while, but mostly about being involved in a start-up, in something new at the very beginning of what could be a really successful journey for this company. I don't know how this situation is going to turn out or whether it will turn into something long-term for me but I know that I am definitely going to learn so much in the next little while and I will certainly be a lot better off regardless of what happens. Hopefully I'll blow his socks off with my contribution, he'll decide immediately that I need to be on the Advisory Board, I'll get a 5% equity stake in the business and retire with my millions at the ripe old age of 40.

Impatient? Me? Never! Time will tell eh?

Now....what to wear....

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Private Kitchen

You know how nice it is to walk into someone's home, sit down with a glass of wine and a nibble before dinner and then (without fussing over the menu) settle in for a night of good food, good laughs and a whole lot of relaxing? Well Hong Kong has cleverly cottoned on to this idea. The concept? The "Private Kitchen".

It first started back in the 90s when amateur chefs decided there was a lot to be said about a home cooked meal and decided to give the old restauranteurs a run for their money. The idea took off and they are now abundant in Honkers. You make a booking, turn up, and have no idea and no control over what you'll be served. But what you do know is that it'll be a whole lot of fun!

Last night we tried one of these Private Kitchens called Magnolia. It's an American-themed PK hidden in a random street, with a random entrance and somewhat stuck in 1991! Looking past that slight faux-pax, everything else about it was brilliant. Sometimes the typical night at a restaurant can just get a bit stuffy, a bit same same, just a bit old. This, on the other hand, was a refreshing take on a night out with great food, great friends, and a few randoms thrown in for good measure.

Pre-dinner drinks (BYO ps.) and canapes in the retro lounge room with the other guests to start.....

Once we'd been seated at the communal table, we were served a Gumbo soup (umm....hello I'd never even heard of this but it was ahhhhh-mazing).....

Crab cakes......

And then a whole lot of dishes in the middle of the table to which you simply help yourself. BBQ pork ribs, jambalaya, beans, sweet potato mash (which made me wet my pants just a little bit), corn bread and fried cod fillets. I was so ensconced in the food and the concept that I forgot to get the camera out and only realised at this very late but very satisfying stage of the meal.....

And just to pull out a little more 'how's your father', they then served us Pecan pie for dessert. I have no words to adequately describe this morsel of goodness.

And as if that wasn't enough, they then present you with a little mini-pecan pie in this delicious little box for you to take home!!!!! Snap!

I'm still getting used to this new found land I now call home, but I give you the hot tip, I'm grateful for this little Private Kitchen concept and you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be exploring more of them asap!

Linking up with Maxabella this very full and very satisfied Saturday.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hello house

As you may know from my previous posts I love all things house. I dream of having that picture perfect pad one day that oozes comfort, class and character. That place that I get excited about going home to because it's just so darn beautiful. Hong Kong was never going to be the place for this to happen but I think some lingering desire had secretly hoped it would. Well, shock-horror, it hasn't.

As a result, I haven't been very nice to my house lately. I've only once moved into a bare apartment before and that was with 3 20-something year old men, so I was hardly expecting miracles there. Our places in London were always furnished so we never had much control over it anyway. I've been an impatient sod of late and have found it quite tough to look past the emptiness of our new apartment and "see the potential", to enjoy the bare walls knowing that one day they would hold my pleasures, or to enjoy "the process". I've actually found myself spending time leaning against doorways, pondering over a room and thinking "God your dull" and "What on earth am I going to do with you" and "Did Ikea vomit in this room?". It's not that our apartment is ugly, it just doesn't have all that much character. It's pretty much a rectangular box with rooms and doors cut out, somewhat cardboard cut-out like. No fireplace, no mantle above the fireplace, no delicious ceiling carvings or skirting boards. No comforting tones on the walls or floors. Just a box. A white box, ceiling to floor. Did someone say boring?

In my attempts to be that cup-half-full-person, as well as the apartment being plain, it is also a bare canvas. A very bare one.

More recently, it has to be said, that the walls have stopped blinding me with their whiteness as our bits begin to hang. The dullness seems to be evaporating into somewhat more interesting corners and I've started to feel a little bit proud of this place that I now call home.

There's still more to do. Rugs on the floor, a few more things on the walls. But we're getting there. Slowly but surely, we're getting there.