The Annual Review – 2015

I’ve hit writer’s block for the past month and yes, today is the 31st of January.

2015 was nothing short of ups and downs. My amazing friends celebrated my birthday. I put my heart and soul into work. I lived out of a suit case. I went to Laguna Seca. Macau.

But my grandfather passed away. And because of that, I felt empty and lost. I lost the motivation to continue writing, actually. Where to start and where to begin. I wasn’t so sure.

He was the glue that kept our families together. It was his ideals and his morals I admired. They were at times very high expectations, but I could never blame him. My failure to meet his expectations were a push for me to aim higher and to do better the next time.

Now that he’s not around, there’s nothing to really look forward to. Nobody to set the bar.

As pathetic as it sounds, his death was a burden off my shoulders. I feel like I can be my own man and live my own life now. To set my own goals. Most importantly, I want him to know that he has taught me well, and I regret nothing, despite our growing pains.

I’m certain he had a sigh of relief when he learned I went to Macau to rediscover my past. After all, you can’t run without learning to walk, right? To understand my past, my parents’ struggle, and to meet all the people who got us to where I am today; what purpose in life did I have?

I’ve been comfortable for quite some time. I managed to achieve some personal goals. Personally, professionally, and materially. It’s time to get out of that comfort zone to help me become a whole new me. 2015’s struggles and triumphs pitched a new fork in the road for me.

Here’s to 2016 – To sink or swim.
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Bah! Humbug!

Let me start off by pointing out the obvious – it is Christmas. A day full of joy and cheer. But for me, it was just another day, but with fewer cars and people on the road. Why can’t everyday be Christmas?

We went to see the Peanuts movie as a family today. In fact, I believe it was the first time ever we’ve gone to the movies as a family. Strange, huh? And of all movies. Peanuts. I think my life is no different than Charlie Brown’s.

Our family relived some old memories – we had lunch at Maxim’s and bought pastries from their bakery. We also did some shopping in Chinatown, but I will openly admit we parked in our old project complex in the free parking space, when really, we’re not supposed to.
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And today? I took Jane out to stretch her legs on the winter tires. Getting on the road with her still puts a smile on my face. She brings me joy, cheer, and happiness.

The Trifecta – motorcycles, cars, and bicycles (and I guess coffee too.)
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December kept me busy. Here’s a quick run down of what went down over the past month or two. I’ve lost track of time, really.

Yes, I got myself a Compass Card. Public transit for the lose!
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Gastown
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My grandfather passed away. He officially died the moment my flight took off. Layover @ SFO. The United Club Lounge is horrible.
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Lunch at Klatch Coffee
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LAX
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Spanish fashion label, Mango. Pretty Portuguese girls rock their stuff.
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Alas, Miss Silvia needed an overhaul. Rather than do it myself this time around, I brought her in to EspressoTec. With parts and labour, it was cheaper for them to do it, than doing it myself. They did a better job than I did, too. She’s as good as new, and I’m happy with the results.
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Coffee and picture day @ Matchstick
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Trout Lake
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Matchstick
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Eddie is rich
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Ballin’ Leica M9. These three photos were actually capture using my Nokia Lumia 830 in manual mode with little to no post processing.
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Don’t Crack Under Pressure. A reminder of my year’s painstaking efforts.
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Random Mumbo Jumbo
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Coffee and picture day @ Elysian
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Blue Corolla

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Shopping @ Union Market, formerly known as Gomes Market in Strathcona, my old neighbourhood. Little did I know, Gomes was Portuguese. This was on the last day of the East Van Cultural Crawl. Thanks to Macau Girl for the find.

Deep fried cod cakes and Portuguese egg tarts
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Sumol!
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Layover in YYC
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Coffee Commissary – Motor Ave
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Not exactly a very happy day for our family
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Yes! World’s Best Whiskey 2016! A big thanks to my cousin for picking this up for me.
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Dripp
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These punks aren’t doing homework. Get your coffee, drink it, and get the hell out of there!
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My uncle’s dog, Auby. Not pictured – Jacky the dog.
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Crybullies. Hah! I suppose this is a synonym for Millennials. I hate Millennials. Millennials and hipsters. Worst people on the planet.
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Spotted @ London Drugs. So cool. I did not buy it.
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Also spotted at London Drugs was a new old stock Nokia Lumia 1020! I had to get one for myself and my brother! Can’t complain for $100, new in box!
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Sharing is caring – Writer’s Tears and Northern Harvest. I did like the Northern Harvest. It has the unique rye characteristics, but this was also very smooth and consistent through and through. Had nobody told me it was a $30 whiskey, I would have thought it’d be something more expensive!
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Not pictured, but honourable mention – Two Gingers Irish Whiskey. Around the $30 mark as well. Was originally meant to target specifically women, but it never really took off. This is a great Irish whiskey for the price point and is satisfying in every manner. I would even go as far as using it as a social sipper for guests over ice and in cocktails. Thanks to Joe @ The Gastown Grooming Room for the recommendation! (Also not pictured – I picked up Johnnie Walker Green Label!)

Winter is here, but even the ol’ woodpecker is still around!
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Elysian Coffee
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Off to Blaine to pick up some goodies
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J Class. What’s up?!
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Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa. What a disappointment this place is. It was pretty good when they first opened, but now? What a gong show. This coffee “lab” is located in a baller furniture shopping mall for rich people who live in the OC. Money is an afterthought here. I was probably the poorest individual at this entire mall.
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Hawt bikes. Do want.
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Kaira! She turned one year old last month! Cute and friendly.
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Woof!
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Sleepy time with Uncle bcrdukes
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So, I was in Little Saigon for a while. This was hilarious.
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Afters Ice Cream. Cookie Dough and Cookie Monster.
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My usual coffee combo @ Coffee Commissary
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Oh man, Tina Fey. She is so hot. She makes me weak to the knees. A smart, funny, and bold woman. Want.
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LAX
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Home time. Last flight of the year.
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Clearly, I have the best car out of all the cars here. Last minute gift shopping at the Porsche Centre Vancouver. They had a sale, which was a sham, but I managed to pick up two of the limited edition 2.7RS Carrera mugs, limited to 10,000 world wide. I love green.
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Final hair cut of the year @ The Gastown Grooming Room.
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I was supposed to meet a friend of a friend for lunch the following week, and I didn’t want to look like a hipster. Alas, there was an accident on the highway and she was stuck. Either it wasn’t meant to be, or just not the right timing. C’est la vie.
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Fortune of the year.
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I had anticipated a poor performance review at work, but instead, got what was par for the course. Deep down inside, however, I was dying for a perfect 10. One can only dream, right? As for my career, I’m tired. I want out. But I think something will change for the better in 2016.

And that’s because there are people who believe in me.

Merry Christmas.

Lost In Translation

The final days of my trip was more bittersweet than anything. I had come to the realization that I had an emotional attachment to this small city. I had complained numerous times about the heat, the pollution, the people (particularly ruthless Mainlanders) its social, political, and economic challenges, and the density. Regardless of my ranting and complaining (re: whining) I grew fond of the people, its history, and the beauty and charm that Macau had to offer. But where I fit into all of this remains unanswered.

We met the family who lived beside the camp. They took care of me and my parents. Sadly, their mom and dad had passed away. All three remaining siblings are doing fine. They’re no different than us – just normal people who live normal lives. They’ve had their ups and downs, like me and you. We were able to meet the older sister and younger brother. The middle brother lives in HK full-time with his family. We all had dinner together and caught up on life. They talked about the bad times in Macau and how it has changed so much. 31 years later. Time flies.

We first them the younger brother at the house in Ka Ho and chat outside the Sam Seng Temple beside their houses. According to Macau Temple Civilization:

Sam Seng Temple is the oldest temple in Ka Ho region. The Temple was originally dedicated to the Great King Hung Shing, but later the statues of Kuan Tai and Tam Kung have been put in the Temple. This gives the temple the name“Sam Seng Temple” (literally means three Great Kings). Ka Ho was the original name of the Beach of Sam Seng.

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Perhaps my own misfortune
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Bus ride on the #15 back into Cotai
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Me and mom went to see if Margaret wanted to join us for dinner. She wasn’t able to attend but did wish us all the best in our journey. We went next door for lunch and tried their noodles, known for their fried fish cakes. We were asked to share a table with a guy, who turned out to be a local Macau resident. He was very friendly and guided us in what to order.
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A table near the entrance was full of Mainlanders who shouted while they ordered. We weren’t sure if they were yelling at one another in anger, but it was an absolute gong show; an embarrassment to thousands of years of Chinese culture and civilization. I’m not sure if they’re even Chinese. Perhaps an evolution and manifestation the seven deadly sins. The guy sitting with us said this was normal. This feeling was uneasy for both me and my mom. The guy beside us accepted this to be a routine part of life in Macau.

We all met in Taipa for a final dinner with everyone, including Paul Pun, and some of the nurses who worked at the camps during my parents’ time. After dinner, a few of us went to the Lusophone Festival in Taipa Village which features an exhibit of Portuguese speaking countries along with a stage for song and dance. My phone ran out of battery unfortunately. I had a great time here and the evening ended with a memorable departure. One I will never forget.
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Third Wave Coffee in Macau. The coffee culture is slowly growing, but sadly, it is a monopoly. Three shops owned by one one owner. Single Origin, Blooom! and Communal Table. I didn’t go to Communal Table because I was too coffee’d out, and short on time. I originally had a hard time finding these shops and got lost. Both physically, and linguistically.

The folks at both shops knew I wasn’t from around here. They immediately knew I was either Canadian or American. We both had a hard time understanding one another, but came to a mutual understanding. Lost in Translation, both culturally and linguistically. They barely spoke English. No Portuguese. And my Cantonese was awful. I’m not so sure where Macanese culture is headed. But one thing is for sure from my experience. Macau is trying to catch up with the Western World. Slowly, but surely.
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Blooom!
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While getting lost through Macau peninsula, I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly, particularly where the main casinos are. It felt seedy and slimy. People approaching you to lend money or prostitution. No thanks.

What I have never understood are Asian clothes with English. They make no sense. See example below.
With A Warm Embrace Come (What May)
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Thanks, Macau. You did exactly just that.

My last moments in the sleepy village of Taipa.
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I had a lot of mixed emotions and thoughts on Macau. I still can’t quite explain it but I can confidently tell you that I’m nothing more than a tourist. Canada is home. Canadian is who I am. For now, all I can do is accept and embrace the past. A Chinese and Portuguese heritage. I can only look forward to visiting Macau again. And Portugal soon.

So much more to see, taste, and experience in Macau. And there is always something interesting around the corner. The tiny peninsula and islands are full of surprises. You just need to find it. My trip was worth it. I finally did it. And I found some answers. I can move on from the past now.

And they say Macau is only worthy of a day trip? They are wrong.