Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The affected me

Nowadays, the paper would report something as trivial as 'Pastor spotted at church service'. And I'm talking about The Straits Times - the paper which prides itself on reporting facts. Yes, it's a fact that Pastor Kong was 'spotted at a church service', but is it so newsworthy to take up a news space on the paper?

And I don't like the fact that the papers, Straits Times and New Paper, to place Pastor Kong's reports alongside with some money-related news.

A couple of weeks ago, TNP had this really sensational news about a Chinese national who bought the most expensive bungalow in Sentosa, and it placed Pastor Kong's picture suggestively beside the news.

Since then, I've seen Pastor Kong's or CHC-related news being placed 'strategically' around news to do with money.

I get the vibes that the journalists have also convicted Pastor Kong in their own way.

The last article about Pastor Kong was about his appearance in the Jurong West building. Apparently, the reporters have become avid fans of Pastor Kong and have been attending all the services at CHC to catch him, in action or otherwise. If not, surely they wouldn't have guessed at which service and church venue (there are two: Singapore Expo and Jurong West) and on which Sunday he would make his appearance?

But the last report had me somewhat worried.

A church member had shouted out,"Pastor, I love you!" while Pastor Kong was making his 45-minute speech at the pulpit, and he was reported as saying, after a pause, "Really? In spite of what's reported?"

The Pastor Kong I knew would have laughed off untrue reports.

For some reason, I am uncomfortable with his short reply to that profession of support.

'In spite of what's reported?' doesn't suggest that the reports are untrue. I'm not talking about the facts that Yeow Sun lives in a $28, 000 monthly house or they bought a $2.6 mil Orchard Road condo. I'm talking about all the implications of having all these luxuries.

CHC is not a novice to the criticisms of the media or the circle of Christian churches. Each time, Pastor Kong would laugh them off and sometimes passed remarks about these reports that made the congregation laugh, but this time, apparently, is very different.

Recently, I have been thinking about how stressful this period of time must have been for Pastor Kong and Yeow Sun. Even for someone like me who is absolutely certain that I'm not guilty of any crime, I think I'll be more than uneasy if the police knocks at my door. And I will freak out if the police suspect I'm involved in any form of law-breaking activity. I cannot imagine the stress the couple, and Pastor Tan and his wife (who had been a dear friend to me), are going through, with the police constantly looking for them.

It's easy to say 'you don't have anything to be afraid if you're not guilty'. It's really easy. It's just like saying '平日不做亏心事,半夜敲门也不惊' (loosely translated: you don't have to be afraid of seeing ghosts if you have done nothing against your conscience), but I'm still very afraid of seeing ghosts although my conscience is clear.

There are some truths in what the forummers say, but the unpleasantness spoken of the church makes me wonder how much elements of 'justice' there is in those posts. While a few posts do seem genuine in hoping that justice be done, many others just smack of jealousy - jealous that the church does so well in terms of crowd drawing and the church's income. The eager anticipation of the church's downfall seems more evident than a sincere wish for things to be put right.

One of the forummers had mentioned that the church members said that the cell-group leaders had rallied for a one-million dollar donation among the members to help Pastor Kong and Sun fight the case as their assets are frozen at the moment.

I was doubting the truth of it until a few days later, a report on the change of leadership came up, and in it was stated that the church had engaged top-notch legal counsel. William immediately linked that with the one-million dollar claim and he said that the need to engage these big shots only shows that the church is guilty.

That aside, it makes me wonder how many of those forummers actually go to CHC services to hear the insider news so that they can post them up on the forum, just like those reporters who go to CHC services to get their scoops.

Honestly, when the news first had it that the church was investigated for misuse of funds, I had hoped, to a certain extent, that they could be found guilty, not so much for what so many people claim - that 'justice be done'. Rather, a part of me had probably secretly, selfishly, wished to be proven right in leaving the church. But as I follow the reports and have my teenage memories of the church jolted, I realise that if it's really proven true, damages far greater than good will be done, not just to me, but also young Christians who had started their spiritual journey in City Harvest. I search within myself how I would feel or react if Pastor Kong is found guilty and I realise that there is no joy in it. On the contrary, I think I'll be crushed. I will have a hard time accounting for a large part of my teenage life and formation years which I had so avidly spent in the church. I'm not sure how skeptical I will be of Christianity if a fraud is ever proven.

For someone like me whose first church is City Harvest, and who had built her spiritual foundation in that church, I feel like I am hanging at the tip of a balance till the verdict is passed. And I'm constantly trying to imagine the worst, to prepare for the worst, so that if the matter is ever proven to the church's discredit, it doesn't come as a total shock and shake me hard. On one hand, I tell myself that I should have faith in the church,'I should believe in Pastor Kong.' and yet Sun's flashy and lavish lifestyle keeps popping up in my face. Try as I might, I cannot reconcile Pastor Kong's tithing and giving speeches with that kinda extravagance. I'm not able to find convincing reasons (for myself) to justify the way they lead their lives. Whenever a justification is given, questions and doubts pop up. I'd hoped that the papers would be able to come up with financial justifications of their Hollywood lifestyle - that it's indeed by the virtue of their secular incomes that they are capable of such a lifestyle. Yet, the question of 'then why didn't they give more to God?' is constantly plaguing me. I'm very affected, sometimes literally. I find myself having a hard time giving full attention to my kids or my work even because my mind is constantly thinking about the case. I have to keep telling myself to snap out of the melancholy and uncertainty of the whole matter. I haven't felt like this since God-knows-when.

Pastor Kong said that he has never thought more about the church than the last 30 days. Is that literal? That when they spent excessively, they weren't thinking about the church whose faith in them about the use of money is fervent? If he hadn't thought so much about the church, given that the church is built by him, what is of the more importance that was on his mind? Has it been God, or has it been money-making?

Pastor, please don't let us down.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Travel blogging

I really admire people who maintain a travel blog.

It's fine if it's a really short trip and you take few pictures. The uploading of pictures is not so annoying - when you have a lot of pictures, you need to choose the ones you think speak of the essence of the moment or place. Or perhaps it's just me. If you choose not to be detailed, it'll be much easier to blog about the trip.

I've had a few drafts about my HK trip, and the more I save as drafts, the more I don't feel motivated to blog about them.

When I first returned and saved the pics in the comp, I had grand plans to blog about them in details. But as I start to venture into the Days ie. Day 1, Day 2, I find myself starting to feel burnt out by Day 3.

I guess I'm more of a 'reflective' than 'documenting' person. I have more reflection posts than documenting ones - I don't need to count. I'm very sure.

I'll try to keep it simple, but knowing myself, it's not easy.

Ingeniuty at work

I had a hard time getting Baby to take her fever medicine and apply her oral lotion for her ulcers. I think the doctor was too rough with Baby when he rubbed the lotion on her ulcers. She would turn away and pursed her lips tightly when I went to her with the syringe. I had used the syringe to suck the lotion up so that I didn't have to touch her ulcers when applying.

Coco suggested,"Let's make her jealous: You'll pretend to feed me the medicine and I'll pretend to take it, then you'll ask her to open her mouth to feed her the medicine."

Unbelievably, it worked!

Baby saw her sister taking the medicine, and having the 'ulcers' applied with anaesthesia, and she willingly opened her mouth to let me feed her medicine and treat her ulcers!

My Dear Friend in Christ

Sometimes I marvel at the coincidences in life.

I've been on a frenzy of blogging about CHC lately. Strangely, my 20-month-old toddler actually accidentally pressed on a CHC friend's number. She has pressed on a colleague's number and even sent him multimedia messages more than half a dozen times, purely because his name is the first on the phonebook and she happens to enter it by accident after pressing my handphone to death.

Other than that, the only numbers she'd ever sent multimedia messages to are those that are on 'recent calls'.

A few days ago, she called my CHC friend, my wedding singer, accidentally, but I wasn't aware, until I saw my friend's number appeared as 'missed call'. I didn't know what to say and didn't want to come across as a kaypoh without being sincerely concerned (about CHC). So I didn't reply at all.

Yesterday, she smsed me to ask if I'd looked for her, and we started a string of sms exchanges.

We started with the usual 'How have you been?' and I mentioned I read the reports on the church. She said that it's been 'difficult for us', especially the couple who have been in the limelight, and asked me to keep them in my prayer.

For some minutes, I was stumped.

I was highly tempted to ask her: What will you do if they are found guilty? Do you really believe that they are innocent?

I found myself struggling - to ask or not to ask. I tried to think of ways to phrase the questions 'nicely' so as not to sound like a kaypoh, but I realised that no matter how I package the questions, they do not put me out of the 'kaypoh' category. So what if I ask her these questions? What do I expect her to answer? 'I truly believe they are innocent'? 'The Bible says the righteous will be persecuted in the End Times and this is exactly what they are going through now'?

Most importantly, what business is it of mine to know what she will do or feel or think if they are found guilty?

It also dawned upon me that this friend of mine didn't ask me any questions when I approached her to sing at my wedding. If she didn't ask questions when I needed her help, I'm obligated not to ask questions in trying times like this.

It took me a long time before I replied that sms, without asking the curious questions I have.

But our exchanges left me with a lot of thinking to do. It sounds silly but I'm 'kinda' worried for my friend (let's call her B). I'm not sure if my worries are valid, but this is the church my friend grows up in, gave all that she has ie. her money, her youth, her time, her energy. She attends the church since she was 12, and has been fervent in her love for God. She was a beautiful girl - the belle of our school - and the belle of the church, and now a beautiful woman. Yet, she was never enticed by the worldly pleasures ie. boy-girl relationships. She's just about the only pretty face I know who doesn't give a damn to such relationship. Other pretty, and not-so-pretty, faces go into relationships very early and change boyfriends frequently. But not her.

I remember how she treated boys' and men's attention alike with nonchalance, not oblivion, at the tender age of 15. I was impressed because at that same age, I would be flattered by boys' attention, if there was any.

Girls in my school talked viciously about her because of jealousy. I'm sure she would have heard them but she didn't seem affected. The girls in church would be flattered when someone casually remarked that they 'look like B'. It went as far as to this: a cell group member said that another cell group member would be on cloud nine if you told her her pimple look like B's.

She rose to be a cell group leader when she was just 15, and continued to serve faithfully in the church till now. When Yeow Sun cut her first album, I was actually waiting for my friend's turn to cut hers. I would buy her album if it ever came out. I am very convinced that she's a better singer, without flaunting her bodily assets. But judging from the situation and her age now, it's not likely that she'll get a chance to cut an album.

She has always been a humble and discreet person despite her outstanding beauty. Once, I caught boys from outside the church talking about her when we went for our fellowship meal at a Mc Donald's after our cell group meetings.

Despite her fluent spoken English, she didn't do well for her O levels. But her commitment to the church proved to be fruitful. It opened up an avenue for her to be groomed and subsequently, employed by the church on a full-time basis.

I'm not sure how the events will unfold. I can only pray that something good will come out of the investigation. If Pastor Kong and Sun are innocent, the investigation will illuminate their integrity in the dealings of church funds. If they are guilty, I hope things can be put right. No matter what the results are, I hope that my friend, who loves God so dearly, will be spared any form of atrocities, big or small.

The song 'God will make a way' comes to my mind as I end this post with my hope for my friend:

God will make a way, where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me

He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way
He will make a way

Bye, Sumiko Tan

Had a hard time tearing myself away from Bejeweled 2 on Facebook.

It's supposed to be a '1-minute game', but the catch is, the more you are on it, the more you can't pull yourself away from it. So one minute becomes half an hour, and it goes on to become one hour and sometimes more than two hours. Actually, it's 'oftentime', because the game is simply so addictive.

But I realise something interesting: I play it better when I am under stress.

Perhaps I am more 'aggressive' and hence focused on the game when I am stressed. I top the charts almost all the time, until recently, because I got most of my work done and it's the holiday. And I have 2 facebooks - one for my teacher-friends, long lost secondary friends, close friends and family, and the other for forummer friends.

It's fun to have people challenging you to better the score to top the charts. It's really boring and unmotivating to top the chart alone, all the time.

Okay, that aside. I was thinking of Sumiko Tan.

She's leaving Singapore to marry her Hurricane. I had expected her to talk more about Hurricane first before moving into the subject of marriage, but she didn't. And she's going to leave Singapore, and her Sunday column. I actually buy Sunday Times because of her.

I'm not ashamed to say that I like Sumiko Tan.

I think it takes alot of courage to be a well-known spinster, and muse about singlehood, marriage and motherhood from a single's point of view. And I agree with all of her views - I can't recall a time when I shook my head and judge her for being a frustrated spinster or 'old girl' as some people call her. I would go as far as to say that her views are balanced, level-headed and feminine (not feministic).

I don't think she's pressured to marry. For someone who is 45, it's perfectly normal to marry as soon as you're sure about the person instead of wasting time to date.

But I seriously doubt that the guy is an 'electrician', as an article states. I don't think Sumiko Tan is so desperate as to marry someone that beneath her. I always feel that she falls into the category of people who go by the 'either the best or nothing' principle. I'm not saying that an electrician cannot marry 'up', but it's true that you won't be able to communicate if your qualifications are far apart. And the guy's from ACJC after all.

I associate the word 'electrician' with those men who come to my house to install the heater or fix the lightings. They clearly have limited education, incapable of speaking English. I cannot imagine Sumiko Tan tying the knot with someone like that.

I like Sumiko Tan for her candidness with her views and the sharing of her personal life.

I was surprised to read that she had a total of $80, 000 in POSB as savings when she pulled them out of the Save-As-You-Earn scheme. I'm not surprised at the amount, of course. I'm surprised at how candid she is about money even, and I like the way she put it, that she would park her money in fixed deposit anytime. I'm conservative even in money, but that's because I earn little. The Ah Q in me finds it comforting to know that someone as rich as Sumiko Tan is similar to me in finance management, even if it's just a portion of her wealth.

I admire her courage to write about Hurricane. When I first saw his name appear on her column, I knew a romance was budding, because no woman would mention a man who is not remotely related to her in any way for nothing, and she had the word 'Hurricane' and the pronoun 'he' in reference to 'Hurricane' peppered her articles. And I secretly hoped that something good would come out of it. It was of the same kind of anticipation when I read a romantic novel - 'Please let the guy like the girl.'

The last article that I read about Hurricane was the one in which she had to spend Christmas or New Year eve alone and Hurricane skyped her and sang a song to her together with his daughter, ending the session with "You'll never spend your Christmas/New Year eve alone again." It sounds cheesy and cliche but I thought the gesture very touching. I think any woman who's in the shoes of Sumiko Tan would feel likewise.

While I wish Sumiko Tan all the best in her romance, I feel melancholic about her departure. It'll be a loss of many great reads. Not only that, she's one of the very few writers I understand and agree with just about every line and the in-betweens she writes.

I'll miss her.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Day 3: Turbo Jet to Macau

After our more-than-hearty breakfasts at Tsim Chai Kee, Lan Fong Yuen and Tai Cheong Bakery, we walked back to Central MTR Station to take a train to Sheung Wan to embark on a trip to Macau.

On our way back, I saw a few things that I thought was so typically Hong Kong:
a long flight of steps which I thought often featured in HK drama serials

The Hong Kongers seem to like using '记' for their signboards

The Central MTR Station

A handsome-but-unbeknownst-to-me TV host filming at the Station

We reached Sheung Wan!

Who says only Singaporeans love to queue? The HKers even have a queue for a lift!

It was not without hassle that we finally reached the 'finishing line' ie. the Departure Gate at Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier.

Firstly, for some reason, the ignorant me always thought that Macau was a part of Hong Kong. I didn't know that going Macau from Hong Kong is equivalent to going to a different country and thus need passports. Fortunately, my mother carries our passports wherever we go. So bring your passport if you're going Macau.

Secondly, there was some confusion over where to buy the tickets for the Turbo Jet. There was an official sales office for Turbo Jet, but there was another man from a travel agency peddling his tickets loudly and announcing the departure time to Macau, which was about 45 minutes away, at the same time. My sister asked me to buy from him as we would wait for 15 minutes less (for the Turbo Jet) compared to buying from the Turbo Jet sales counter and my mother was panicking and repeatedly telling me the time was running out.

I couldn't think properly amidst the chaos and in the end settled for the tickets sold by the impatient man at the travel agency. Even then, I asked for the price for 4 adults and 1 child, in that messy queue, before doing my Maths to check if he was cheating me. The paranoid me is quite wary of the locals who might take advantage of ignorant tourists.
After buying the tickets, we half-ran-half-walked to check in at the customs and hit the departure gate before the Jet left without us.
And we realised we still had time to spare
Something silly happened during our wait.
We saw a queue forming near our Departure Gate. My sister asked me to go and queue. I stood in the queue for a while before asking the HK couple in front why they were queueing. They were very helpful and told me that it was for the Turbo Jet, but they were speaking in Cantonese most of the time and I couldn't understand them entirely. I looked at their tickets and found that they looked different from mine, so I withdrew from the queue and went back to my family members. It was after a while of exploring the place that I realised that the queue was for 'standby passengers'. I'm not too sure what it means but a check on the internet says they are passengers wanting to travel before their ticketed sailing - for an earlier departure it seems.
We waited patiently till it was time for our turn to queue.
The tunnel tube leading to the Jet
Coco continues to enjoy her Tai Cheong egg tart

The ticket

Each passenger was given a ti-kum card. Couldn't even remember what was on it.

The view outside of Turbo Jet

Our Turbo Jet
This is our back-to-HK Jet
My father and I had thought that the Turbo Jet would be a ride that's extraordinarily speedy. A little disappointed I would say. It took an hour to reach Macau and when back, about 75 minutes.
The smaller Turbo Jet that we went to Macau on rocked rather badly before it departed the Hong Kong-Macau Terminal. I almost had motion sickness. I surmised it was because it was of a smaller size and thus would rock whenever passengers boarded or walked on the jet.
Getting to Macau:
1) Sheung Wan MTR Exit D
2) Buy tickets at 3rd floor of Shun Tak Centre (24 hours)
3) Proceed to the Pier for Turbojet
Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier
202 Connaught Road, Central
The Turbo Jet departs every 15 to 30 minutes, 24 hours a day.
An adult Turbo Jet Economy roundtrip ticket costs HK268 (S$49).

Day 3:Tsim Chai Kee(沾仔记), Lan Fang Yuen( 蘭芳園)and Tai Cheong Bakery(泰昌餅家)

Day 3 morning and we went in search of the famed wonton noodles shop, Tsim Chai Kee, in Wellington Street.

The shop was almost right at the end of Wellington Street, a long walk from the Central MTR. Whoever said it was a 'short walk' must be some marathon athelete. The search for Tsim Chai Kee apparently agitated my short-tempered sister. She verbalised her puzzlement of my persistence to find the restaurant and why I abandoned the many other restaurants we passed by in a tone that wasn't too pleased.
We finally found it!

The utensils

A worker wrapping the wontons

Beef and wonton noodles - HK22 (S$4)

My ingenius sister opted for this and I thought that's a great option. You get to try both items in a bowl and both are yummy! The beef was tender and chewy while the wontons were huge and fresh.

Beef noodles - HK17 (S$3)

After tasting the 2-in-1 noodles above, the beef noodles tastes kinda boring although the meat was equally tantalising.
The pingpong-sized wontons - HK17 (S$3)

The acclaims outside the shop
On the portion
I've read online about how small the portion the noodles served in Hong Kong restaurants are and it certainly doesn't stand true for Tsim Chai Kee. One bowl of noodles was sufficient to meet the needs of a hungry individual. For the generous portion, it was cheap too!

On the noodles
I've also read that HK noodles have a 'lye water' taste. Honestly, to date, I still don't understand what that taste is. I've tasted some noodles with 'strong' taste in Singapore, but never experienced the same with Hong Kong throughout our stay. I surveyed my family members with the question,"Do you think there is a 'weird' taste in the noodles?" and none of them thought so.

We agreed that our first experience with HK wonton noodles was great. However, as we tried wonton noodles from other restaurants and shops during our HK stay, I found that the Tsim Chai Kee noodles were not too different from the non-raved ones.

Apparently, the wonton noodles in Hong Kong has only one version: 4 to 5 pingpong ball-sized, prawn-filled wontons with thin, streaky noodles in soup.

After Tsim Chai Kee, we tracked back to Lyndhurst Terrace, which was a street found in the middle of Wellington Street, in a bid to find Tai Cheong Bakery. We went under the Longest Escalator in the World (Central Escalator) and couldn't find our way to the Bakery, but we chanced upon Lan Fong Yuen.

It was a very tiny shop with a narrow, humble doorway. You could easily miss it if not for the big signboard. It is famous for (in order of degree of raveness and thus importance):

1) being recommended by Chua Lam (蔡澜), a HK celebrity food critic
2) pork chop bun
3) milk tea

Taken from where we sat. The stall outside apparently prepares food for the restaurant and takeaway

Bread with toast

The star: Pork chop bun

It's oh-my-goodness greatness! I'd expected something hard and crispy, but no. It was surprisingly tender and juicy! This is a must-try if you're ever in Hong Kong.

Their 丝袜奶茶, literally meaning 'pantyhose milk tea'.

The creation of the milk tea has nothing to do with pantyhose. The 'pantyhose' simply refers to the fabric filter for the tea, which is supposed to make the tea extra smooth. Er ... but we think it normal (read: average), nothing extraordinary. We can also get it anywhere in Singapore. Whoever overrates it by screaming about it's 'creaminess' or 'smoothness' or whatever additional quality has probably never drank milk tea before.


Their salted lemons

Their many acclaims and adverts, just outside the restaurant

Chua Lam with the owners

Tai Cheong Bakery was just a corner away from Lan Fong Yuen: come out from Lan Fong Yuen. Turn right and walk a few steps till you reach the end of the corner. Turn right again. It's just a few shops down.

Heard so much about their egg tarts (HK5 / S$0.90 per tart) and doughnuts (沙翁), but was sorely disappointed.

The doughnuts were not available yet and the egg tarts were of no difference from the ones in Singapore. Coco was generous with her review though,"Yes, it is different! It's softer, and nicer."


Getting to Tsim Chai Kee, Lan Fong Yuen and Tai Cheong Bakery:Central MTR Exit D2 and walk there
Tsim Chai Kee 沾仔记
98, Wellington St.
Central, Hong Kong.
Opening hours: 8am to 10pm

Lan Fong Yuen 蘭芳園
No. 2, Gage st (Central)
(right below Central Escalator)
Tel: 2544 3895/ 2854 0731
Operating Hours: Monday to Saturday – 7am to 6pm

Tai Cheong Bakery 泰昌餅家
35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong
(right below Central Escalator)
Opens daily 730am to 9pm

Remembering the Pastor Kong I knew

When I read about City Harvest members' defence on Sun's lavish lifestyle in LA, I can totally understand where their arguments are coming from.

An excerpt from the article:

MediaCorp spoke to churchgoers yesterday after its 12.30pm service and most - including those who are learning about her lavish Hollywood home for the first time - seemed unfazed by the news.

"Well, she is a celebrity," said 23-year-old student Andrew Lee.

Another churchgoer, Mr David Ong, told MediaCorp that Ms Ho's living arrangements in Hollywood were well-known.

Asked whether they thought part of their tithes was being used to fund Ms Ho's lifestyle, the 10 churchgoers MediaCorp spoke to did not think so.

A member who only wanted to be known as Mr Lim said: "Church money is separate and is protected by the church's constitution. All our financial transactions are on our website - you can go and check it out."

Ms Audrey Tan, 27, said what Ms Ho did was her business and that she had probably paid for the rent from what she earns from her business and royalties as a professional artiste.

Soon after, a bus pulled up to the kerb and a group of elderly folk disembarked. Pointing to the group, a church member who declined to be named said: "This is where part of our tithes go to - we buy them food, medication and pay for their transport to church and back."

'Asked whether they thought part of their tithes was being used to fund Ms Ho's lifestyle, the 10 churchgoers MediaCorp spoke to did not think so.'

Neither did I. And this is the only reason I am giving Pastor Kong and Sun the benefit of doubt before the investigation by CAD is complete.

The public condemns the CHC members as being 'brainwashed', 'blinded' and such.

A blogger commented that the CHC members' defence of Pastor Kong was weak and their replies were idiotic - "He is my hero."

I would think such replies are idiotic too if I hadn't been a CHC member.

I used to think that the people supporting the plane-bombing terrorists, Hitler, Saddam Hussein and even Fa Lun Gong were brainwashed and didn't have a mind of their own too.

But it's all becoming clear to me.

These followers share their ideologies, beliefs and spend so much time with them till they see themselves as knowing them up close personally.

These leaders often have become more than just leaders. They are friends to the followers. Not just a hi-bye friend, but friends who speak to you intimately, about their ideals, about their visions, about their beliefs, about their own lives even.

I remember the Pastor Kong who blew his nose with a hanky right at the pulpit. I didn't think anything of that but a friend was charmed. She said 'he is so real'. And it occurred to me that he wasn't so politically polished that he thought he had an impeccable image to maintain.

I remember the Pastor Kong who said his dream car was never a Mercedes, but a Volvo. Up till today, I don't know what a Volvo is. The only cars I ever know (in chronological order that I knew them) are Mercedes (because my father owned two when I was young), Volkswagon Beetle (because we called it a 'frog' when my father surpassed it on the Malaysia road, in a bid to make us kids excited and happy), Mini Cooper (because it looks so cute) and perhaps Jaguar and BMW (you can't miss the flashy logos).

I remember the Pastor Kong who didn't do well and was using a cracked plastic rostrum. I remember the old, beaten drum set that was desperate for replacement. I remember the Pastor Kong who, despite not doing well for years, perservered and held on to his beliefs. I am sure he must have felt discouraged and wanted to give up at times, but he never let any of his disappointments or fears shown - I think it takes a lot of strength to withhold your fear. I also think it's hard work to maintain a godly appearance, even if it is a facade, in front of many for years. And you're talking about 20 years, mind you.

I remember the way he preached. He doesn't preach in a distant manner. His style is always very personal, and emotional. It draws people to him. He has always been charismatic. I always thought him quite handsome even though he always claims to look hideous. But of course, Pastor Prince is handsomer, haha! I remember falling for Pastor Prince the first time I saw him emceeing Festival of Praise when I was just 15. I didn't even know who he was then.

I remember the way he said,"Beloved, I want you to know ..." It didn't occur to me that it was his pet phrase until a cell group mate imitated his line and intonation that came along with it.

I remember the way he criticised his own singing - "I don't sing. I croak - 'ribbit, ribbit ...'"

I remember the Pastor Kong who sternly told the teenagers who dragged their 'Yesssss ...' after asking a question to the audience seated at the back of the auditorium,"Don't give me a tired 'yes'!" and made everybody sit up. After which he immediately clarified,"Pastor is not angry ..."

I remember the Pastor Kong who told us people asked him how he handled the young youth church and made the youngsters listen to him since teenagers are known to be rebellious and he said he told them,"You need to let them know you're disciplining them because you love them."

I am listing down the ways I can remember the Pastor Kong I knew because I am trying to say that, when a person is your friend, or you see him as a friend, it is difficult for you to associate him with something bad. You've heard him talking about high ideals and visions despite the low valleys in life. He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you in the way friends would.

How can you ever doubt your friend? How can you be convinced that he's not what he said himself to be? Even Huang Na's mother (remember the 8-year-old China girl who was violated and killed by Ah Hao?) maintained that Ah Hao could not have been guilty when the police first listed him as a suspect. They were not even close friends, but because she knew him as the regular guy who was friendly to her and her daughter, she chose to give him the benefit of doubt until he was proven guilty.

I myself will not be convinced that Pastor Kong is associated with fraud, unless it is proven. Yes, all 'evidence' offered by the tabloids seem to be pointing at him and his wife, but till the day the official judgement is passed, I still want to believe that the beloved pastor I once knew is innocent.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Day 2: Lok Yah Lau & Honeymoon Dessert

After shopping at Times Square in Causeway Bay, we took a train to Tsim Sha Tsui in search of Silvercord Centre to have our lunch. The dim sum fan in me didn't realise that the rest of them might not want dim sum again for lunch after the delicious Tim Ho Wan breakfast, until we started digging in and the complaints began,"Dim sum again?"

I followed the recommendation of forummers to dine at the foodcourt at the basement and found this stall, supposedly to serve 'good and cheap' dim sum.

har kow (prawn dumpling)

siew mai
My mother's fav dish - chicken claws

lor mai kai (glutinuous rice with chicken)

Their rumoured signature: fried beef kway teow. Not impressive at all. Oily and boring ingredients. I'll have the one at the coffeeshop under my block anytime.

Salty dumplings and prawn rolls

I like their toilet sign

While resting our legs at H&M after our shopping, we looked down and saw the same foodcourt we had our lunch at! We concluded that Silvercord and H&M are linked, so if we had taken the escalators up from the foodcourt, we would have been able to reach our destination of H&M as well.

At Harbour City for our dessert at their 3rd level foodcourt, after our shopping at H&M
Honeymoon Dessert

Durain Pancake

She loves durian, so maybe the durian fans may like it.
Overall, I think these two stalls are just mediocre in their dishes. Nothing fantastic or extraordinary. So can afford to skip them and try other things.
Getting to Lok Yah Lau:
1) Tsim Sha Tsui MTR
2) Walk to Silvercord Centre
3) It's at the foodcourt at the basement
Getting to Honeymoon Dessert:
1) Harbour City 3rd level's foodcourt

Day 2: Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui

After our satisfying breakfast at Tim Ho Wan, we took a train from Yau Ma Tei MTR to Causeway Bay, to shop at Times Square.
We saw this poster at the MTR station. I said the woman looked like Wong Li Lin and my sister insisted that she wasn't.

My parents and sister decided that they needed the toilet at the MTR station and we couldn't find the toilet. My sister had to speak into this gadget to ask the staff for assistance to the toilet!

After the staff tells you the direction, another staff would come round to bring you there personally. The toilet was a long way off where we stood and it was a hassle to get to the toilet indeed!
Lesson learnt: if your hotel is nearby, please go back to the hotel room's toilet.

出前一丁 - do you remember this fellow? The MTR station was plastered with its instant noodles advertisements. Even the audio was taken care of - we were surrounded by the slurping sound of the noodles!

A poster asking you to refrain from eating in the train, and 'eat slowly' after you alight

I thought this poster is so cute. The hedgehog has his spikes shaved and is recommending the other hedgehogs the 'most effective way to shed your hair'.

We saw this ceiling fan at Toastbox in Times Square. Very nice!

The ceiling of Times Square

It's World Cup

Long taxi queues outside Times Square

Basically, Times Square is a multi-storey shopping mall. 7 stories if I remember correctly. Loads of high-end shops eg. Gucci, Polo Ralph selling leather goods. No LV though. We bought clothes at Zara as it seems to be selling clothes at cheaper prices than in Singapore, but the material appears to be thinner too.

The hand grasp

They have this emergency button at the start of the escalator. Such a gadget will surely be tampered with before it can assume its official duty in Singapore.

We did a bit of shopping here.
Coco was so bored and tired by our shopping that she took a nap right there and then. She perked up when I asked if she wanted to have her Durian Pancake dessert.
Getting to Times Square:
1) Causeway Bay MTR. It's linked to the mall.

Getting to H&M and Harbour City:
1) I can only remember exiting at Tsim Sha Tsui MTR and following the road signs to the malls.