Ms Matchmaker’s Guide to Hong Kong #3: My Love Affair with the Fragrant Harbour

The truth is, I have found this trip to HK rather challenging to blog about.

The reason is… I am not really sure I can be classified as a tourist… and the trip is sponsored by the Hong Kong Tourism Board after all! 🙂

Prior to the trip, I asked my HK friend, "Hey, what are the attractions I should check out in HK? I am going as a tourist this time!"

My HK friend replied, "唔好讲笑啦!你係四份之一个香港人哦!" In other words, she's saying, "Stop kidding me! You are a quarter of a Hong Konger!"

Erm, I guess she's not wrong. I actually go to HK once a month because we have a HK branch.

Come to think about it, HK and I go a long, long way back…

My "love affair" with the fragrant harbour HK started when I was 5 years old. That was my first overseas trip, and my parents brought me to HK for a vacation. Looking at the photos, I had a blast at Ocean Park!

My first trip to HK without my parents was when I was 17 years old. And that was the first time I stayed in a HK condominium. It was indeed an eye opener! I have been told that Hong Kongers rarely would invite friends to stay in their homes. The reason is not that they are not hospitable or not friendly. The reason is because they do not have space in their homes! My friend's place is probably quite big compared to the normal standard, but compared to my home in Malaysia (where land is not as 'precious' as in HK), it is really rather tiny. I remembered my friend's kitchen… after both of us squeeze into it, there's hardly any more space for a third person!

And finally, when I turned 28 years old, my dream of working in Hong Kong finally came true! After my numerous visits to HK where I enjoyed myself so much, I told myself, "One day, I want to work in HK!" Having quit my job in 2004, I was not too sure how I was going to fulfill this dream. The opportunity presented itself when we decided to set up a Lunch Actually branch in HK, having done our market research that there is a demand for a modern dating service in HK! And that was when I started my monthly visits to HK.

What do I love about HK you might ask…

There are so many things that I love, and here's just among the top 5 things I love about HK!

1. The Energy and The Vibrancy of the City

If there is a city that never sleeps, it has to be Hong Kong! Many shops in the shopping belt are opened till 10pm or 11pm. When you walk around Causeway Bay or Tsim Sha Tsui, you will feel like it's 8pm when in fact it's already 11pm! There are still lots of people walking around or out shopping! Some people find the city claustrophobic. But I love the hustle and bustle of the city. I like the fact that people go around with a sense of purpose and urgency. I expected to take 4 months to set up our HK branch, but it only took us 2.5 months, and I think a big part of it is attributed to how fast and efficient the Hong Kongers are!

2. The Cantonese Language

My mother tongue is not English, nor is it Mandarin, it is actually Cantonese! My dialect group is Hakka, but because my mum does not speak Hakka, we ended up speaking Cantonese at home. Do you know that as compared to Mandarin, Cantonese might be even more difficult to learn because Mandarin only has 4 different sounds (or some may say 5), but Cantonese has 9 different sounds! When I come to HK, I feel as if I am home… because everybody speak Cantonese! And when I connect with people in Cantonese, I just feel instantly closer to them! 🙂

3. The Tram or better known as 'Ding Ding' to the locals

The tram system on HK island is convenient and affordable. In fact, it's extremely cheap! You can get from one end of the island to the other end with HKD2. Yes! That works out to 40 cents in SGD! I love to take the tram especially in the winter months. The cold wind will be blowing on your face while the tram saunters through the new and the old Hong Kong. I remember telling my friend how much I love taking the tram. And she said, "我睇你叮啲几耐!" (Let's see how long you can take the tram!) Haha, and she's right! Because when the summer months come by, it becomes extremely hot and humid and I do not advise you to take the tram then, unless you want to have a free sauna treat!

4. The Desserts

HK is a food paradise, no doubt about it. But more specifically, it is a desserts haven! If you are a mango lover, you have to check out 《许留山》which serves delicious mango-themed desserts! You cannot miss it because its branches are spread all across town. Another of my favourite haunts is 《满记》(Honeymoon Dessert) which has absolutely amazing durian pancakes! And if you enjoy milk-based desserts, I love the 双皮奶 (double skin milk pudding) at 《杏花楼》. I always have it when I am in HK! 🙂

5. A City of Contrast

If you love contrast, you will love HK. It is a city where you can have a delicious and fulfilling meal by spending either HKD30 or HKD3000. You can admire the amazing skyscrapers or enjoy the serenity of its mountains. You can go clubbing at Lan Kwai Fong or enjoy a relaxing day at the beach at Stanley. You can shop at Prada, Gucci, LV and the likes or you can hunt for a bargain at Temple Street or Ladies Market! The options and opportunities are endless and in my opinion, that is what makes this city always exciting and intriguing.

You will always think that you have it all figured out, and then it will throw you yet another surprise!

And that is why HK is definitely one of my favourite cities in the world.

What about you? What would make it to your top 5 list for Hong Kong?

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Ms Matchmaker’s Guide to Hong Kong #2: Discovering our Not-So-Humble Abode…

 

As the saying goes, 'a picture speaks a thousand words'… I shall let the photos do the talking…!

 

We were warmly welcomed at the airport. Our transport for the next few days will be the minivan! 🙂 From the airport to the hotel, managed to capture some street scene of HK!

When we arrived at The Mira (the gorgeous hotel that we are putting up for the next 3 nights, we were warmly welcomed by their hospitality team.

 

And when I got into my room, I was suitably impressed! 🙂

 

And being the gadget-crazy person I am, I simply love all the gadgets in the room! 🙂

1) Do you see the mobile phone below? It's a mobile phone that you can bring with you wherever you go and if someone calls you at the hotel, you can pick up the call even though you are out shopping! How cool is that?

2) And there is a super big flat screen which is connected to a PC, and you can use it to go online! 🙂

3) Check out the wireless keyboard. So you can access the Internet from the comfort of your bed!

 

Love the hotel that we are staying in. It's so cozy and comfortable that sometimes, I contemplate staying in rather than going out! 😉

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Violet’s 3 Secrets to a Happy Marriage! (Part 2)

This is the 2nd part to this series. Click here to read the first part of this series.

Secret No. 2: Agreeing on Money Matters Early

This might see like a very practical and non-love related issue, and you might seem surprise that this is my 2nd secret to a happy marriage. 🙂

But do you know that a frequent conflict over finances is a top predictor for divorce? Hence, after choosing the right mate, it is very important that you and your other half actually have very clear expectations about money matters. 

Even before I got married or met Jamie, I knew that when I get married, I would like for my husband and I to have combined finances. I think this has a lot to do with my upbringing. My parents both have their own small businesses. However, they pool all their resources together. I still can vividly remember that whenever my dad comes home with the money he has collected from his clients, he would pass all his money to my mum for safekeeping, and would only keep a small portion for his daily expenses. And I still can remember that when my dad and I go for movies together on Sundays, he would usually ask for money from my mum. For some men, they might be turned off by such a thought. But I knew the reason behind it. My dad knew that my mum was much better at accumulating and saving money. Thus, he passes all his money to her. Hence, even from my earliest memory, I do not recall my parents ever arguing about money, as everything is simply shared.

Therefore, when Jamie and I were dating, I shared with him my financial philosophy. He was rather shocked at first  I must say. But after understanding where I am coming from, the idea eventually grew on him and he eventually agreed to it. Hence, currently, all our accounts are joined. We pool all our resources together. And that is the reason, we do not argue about money. We do not need to decide on who pays for the meal, who pays for the housing installment, or who pays for the kids' education, or how much we have to put towards our joint account (should it be based on who earns more or should it be equal?)

What is his is mine, and what is mine is his. 

Is this something that works for everybody? Probably not.

But the point I am trying to get at is that,

It is very important that you talk about money and agree on certain guidelines before you get married.

Couples who attend pre-marriage counselling would have covered the topic of marriage and finance, but couples who do not attend pre-marriage courses might not really know what they getting themselves into. It is absolutely vital and important to understand each other's values when it comes to money.

Even if you and your partner have different values, it is good to know where both parties are coming from so you can think of ways to resolve potential problems before the problem becomes too big a problem to resolve.

(This is part 2 of a 3 part series. Sign up for my updates using the Subscribe Form on the left sidebar to be informed of the subsequent installments)

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Ms Matchmaker’s Guide to Hong Kong #1

Having submitted my blog a month or so ago for the omy's Singapore Blog Awards 2010, I never thought that I would eventually emerge the winner of the 'Most Insightful Blog'! I have checked out the various nominees and eventually the finalists, and I thought that there were definitely many deserving bloggers who would win the award. Hence, when I knew I won, I was like 'Wow… am really blessed!' A big thank you to the organizer – omy.sg, the wonderful panel of judges, as well as all my readers who have been voting for me daily!

Having known that I have won was the FIRST surprise. Knowing what I have won was the SECOND surprise! And boy, was I in for a pleasant surprise! Not only we each receive an ASUS netbook, 10 of us are going on a sponsored trip to Hong Kong, courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board from 23 – 26 July. How generous is that!?!? Now, I understand why so many people turn into full time bloggers! 🙂

Pre-Departure Preparation:

To prepare us for our upcoming trip, omy organised a pre-departure briefing for us on Wednesday where I met up with the 9 other bloggers! 🙂 And today, finally, after putting the kids to bed, I have time to sit down and have a peek into the HK familiarization kit provided by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) after our meeting on Wednesday.

Love the tagline… Hong Kong. Live it. Love it! Especially the word 'LOVE', since I am a matchmaker after all. 😉

Was very happy to see what was inside!

I have been meaning to get a new luggage tag for my new luggage bag, but never found the time to do so.

Inside the paper bag, there was a big folder with all the information, a pen, and a leather luggage tag (which can also double up as a name card holder or a staff pass holder)!

After going "ooh and aah" over the luggage tag, I finally opened the red folder to devour the information provided! They have definitely provided us with lots of 'homework' to do! 😉

When you have a business to run and two kids in toll, what do you do? You start to think out of the box! And voila!

My iPhone to the rescue!

I was amazed to find so many apps based on the search keyword 'Hong Kong'. And some of these apps are actually developed by the Hong Kong Tourism Board!

Here is one of the apps I really like!

When you think of HK, what is the first thing that come to mind?

For me, it's great food! 🙂

HK Delicacies is one of the apps developed by HKTB. And it's divided into 4 different categories – Rice, Congee, Noodles and Rice Noodles. And they are dishes placed on a revolving table, which we see in Chinese restaurants. So on the app itself, you can rotate the table to choose the category you would like to view.

I wanted to share with you one of my favourite HK delicacies…

Yes, and it's none other than Cart Noodles, or better known as 車仔麺!

10 years ago, when I went to HK to visit my friend, she being the wonderful host she is, brought me to expensive restaurants to try out various cuisines e.g. Shanghainese, Japanese etc. And on the last day, she brought me to a simple, humble looking restaurant to try out Cart Noodles, and I declared it the best food I have tasted! She was like, "Aiyoh… I could have saved so much money if I knew earlier!" Haha! 🙂

Anyway, the app even shows you where you can go to try out all these various delicacies recommended by famous personalities in HK!

Looking at all these wonderful delicacies, I am wondering how many KGs I will be putting on when I am in Hong Kong! 🙂

Am really looking forward to see 'Fragrant Harbour' (香港) once again as this will be one of the first trips in a long time where I am in HK for pleasure and not just work!

Looking forward to catch up with all my friends too! So for those of you who are in HK right now, drop me a message if you are free to catch up between 23 – 26 July! 🙂

(This is a mirror post from http://blog.omy.sg/hongkong/)

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Violet’s 3 Secrets to a Happy Marriage! (Part 1)

Jamie and I dated for 5 years before we tied the knot. And this year, we will be celebrating our 5th year anniversary! So all in all, we have been together for 10 years. I think this is definitely a momentous milestone for us.

Many friends have asked me, "Violet, what is the secret to a happy marriage? You and Jamie look happy all the time! What's your secret?"

Hence, I thought I would take this opportunity to share my 'secrets' with you! 🙂

Secret No 1: Choosing the Right Mate

This is the most crucial factor. Because if you choose the wrong person, it is going to be an uphill task trying to make things right subsequently in the marriage. If you choose the right person, you are 50% on your way!

Doesn't sound difficult does it? Choosing the right mate. The problem is, a lot of us are choosing based on the wrong criteria. I myself have been guilty of this. We make our 'list' and it usually includes superficial criteria such as 'height, body build, social status, educational level etc.' I understand that these criteria help with the filtering process, but more importantly, I challenge you to think of your criteria in a different way.

"Would having 'this quality' make a good husband/good wife and good dad/mum?"

So for example, if you are a lady, you would then ask, "Would he being 1.75m make him a good husband?"

Or if you are a guy, the question would be, "Would she being beautiful like a model make her a better mother?"

The next series of questions would be,

"Can you foresee yourself growing old with him/her? Can you imagine sitting side by side with him/her on a garden bench when both your hands and faces are wrinkled?"

I am sure when you enter a relationship, you are looking for someone to spend the rest of your life with. If you cannot stomach the thought of spending the next 50 years with the same person, chances are, he/she is not the right person.

My third question to you is,

"Do you even like him/her? Is he/she your best friend? Are you able to share your deepest and darkest secrets with him/her? If given a choice, would you like to spend 24 hours/7 days a week with him/her?"

Jamie and I spend almost 24 hours with each other. We work together, and at work we sit opposite one another. We lunch together on most days if we do not have lunch appointments. He is my best friend. And every night, after we have put the kids to bed, we will wind down sitting on the sofa in our room, he with his hot chrysanthemum tea, and me with my hot green tea, just talking about our day, and planning for the next day.

I really do not understand people who leave work as early as possible in the morning, and go home as late as possible at night, not because they are fooling around outside, but they are trying to minimize spending too much time with their spouse. To me, that's just crazy. I understand that not every couple out there are as sticky as us. However, I think it is important that you actually like each other's company. Because if not, what is the point? Hence, it is so important to choose the right person, because when that happens, making your marriage work becomes much easier! 🙂 If you are looking to find your other half iMarriages is the place you should be looking. 

(This is part 1 of a 3 part series. Sign up for my updates using the Subscribe Form on the left sidebar to be informed of the subsequent installments)

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Singapore Blog Awards 2010: I won! Thanks for your support!

Dearest Readers,

To those of you who have voted for me in the Singapore Blog Awards 2010, a big big thank you to you…! 🙂 

I won!!!

The presentation ceremony was held at Movida, St James Power Station. And by the time I got there, the place was packed. Looking around, I felt rather old… as the crowd looks really young. 🙂

Am really honoured to be the winner as there are some really great blogs being featured in the same category – 'Most Insightful Blog'.

When I first registered for this contest, I had no idea what the prizes are… so this is actually the biggest surprise when I received my prizes…

The prizes consist of:

1) Asus Eee PC Netbook

2) A trip to HK sponsored by Hong Kong Tourism Board

3) A 3 days 2 nights hotel stay in Phuket

I am actually blogging this entry from my new netbook! 🙂 Have always wanted a netbook! 🙂

And am looking forward to the HK trip. I actually agreed to take part in the 'bath tub' race which is part of the dragon boat race. I am not sure what I have gotten myself into! Well, I will definitely blog about it and tell you more.

Anyway, here's one of the few photos I took at the ceremony today. Me holding up my trophy! 🙂

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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