We were either too busy or were not inspired to summarize our 2004, so we are trying to cover 2004 & 2005. Be prepared for a long read.
Life in Hong Kong
After living in Hong Kong for more than ten years, we can finally call Hong Kong “home.” We completed furnishing our apartment with the exception of artworks. Proud to say we were able to minimize our Ikea contributions and invested in proper window dressing (made possible by the Laroches). The G5 iMac and the iPods & related accessories were the icing on the cake.
Elaine’s passion for her job as CFO of Interpharma (Zuellig Pharma) was downgraded. This is solely due to one unbearable colleague. Sad but true. In America, the situation would be classical material for “ambulance chaser” lawyers. 2005 was extremely busy with sale of a business division to Temasek and an acquisition of an Indonesian business. Ashley is easing into his career in brand marketing working with the exclusive licensee of Perrier. In addition to many of Nestle’s drink products, he is developing the Wellness Plus brand for a line of healthcare products.
We bought our first Hong Kong Christmas tree (imported from USA) in 2004. We celebrated with our Hong Kong hockey family (the Louies, Ngs, Barnes, and Yees). The kids love to run up and down our hallway while the parents dread they will break something along the way. (Apparently, our concept of child proofing are not parent-certified.) The hockey family made Hong Kong “homey” so we were sad when the Ngs moved to England and the Louies moved to New York. We still remember how Drew Louie hugged Ashley rather than going to mama Linda and how Brittany Ng automatically reached for Elaine’s hand because they were pals. We miss them dearly. Fortunately, Bill & Tricia extended our HK family with baby Harry (Henry Stewart is his real name) in November 2005. We spend most weekends with the Nichol family. Isabella’s entertainment (either she entertains us or we watch her Disney princess and Barney videos) is usually the highlight. We also have our stable HK based friends (Small Elaine, Grace, Anna, Germaine, Gwen, Irene and gang). We managed to get together at least three times in 2005. Such accomplishment! To avoid being a boring married couple, our single friends, some new (Myris, Adrienne, Todd), some old (Rolf, Tim, Carissa, Emmett) and some reacquainted (Wendy, Gerry), keep us hip and motivate us to throw dinner parties.
As team captain, Ashley represented the Hong Kong inline hockey team at the Asian Roller Skating Championships in Korea. The event aims to promote the sport to become part of the Olympics. They reached the finals against Japan and won silver. This is quite amazing considering the average age of the Japanese team was 24 while Ashley’s team ranged from 15 to 41 (average 30s). This is the second time for a Hong Kong to win a medal in team events. The first was bronze. After a long break from his moonlighting career in commercials, Ashley starred in an Amway commercial for the China market. Coincidentally, the commercial was filmed at Elaine’s office. Patty and Michele are trying to encourage Ashley to become an actor. Afterall, it paid well enough that he bought a 50” plasma television that hangs proudly in our living room.
Can you believe it? They all came to visit!
The moms (Popo Carolyn, Mom Eva, and Mommy Cheung) visited in August 2004 after their well-organized China trip courtesy of Elaine’s helpful colleagues. Aunt Evangeline took charge and led the moms for an enjoyable visit despite the hot weather. Dad and Victoria followed and spent November with us. Some people were surprised that we could tolerate our family for a whole month but we had such a fabulous time -- especially when they shared Elaine’s love of champagne! Mommy Cheung, Michele, John and Matthew (4 ½ at the time) enjoyed their visit in March 2005 so much that they came back again for Christmas. Between all of Michele’s power shopping trips were kiddy events – Disneyland, Ocean Park, and ice-skating. Matthew loves ridding in our convertible. He has such adorable behaviors that we end up recapping (and poke fun) every night before we go to bed. Uncle Al, Elaine’s godfather, would show up for a few hours during his frequent visits to China. But in November, her godparents finally spent a few days staying with us. These family visits are the reasons to call Hong Kong our home. One key factor must be our helper, Nanie, who prepares delicious home cooking and pampers us.
We hope our goddaughters will visit in 2006. Justine, our eldest, is now attending high school! Justine and Jacqueline, with make up and high heels, briefed Elaine all about The O.C. TV show during their champagne brunch at the Ritz Carlton. Rachel, the youngest goddaughter, is a talented artist. Elaine Kaima is commissioning a piece for our bare walls!
Our travels brought us to Sydney in April 2004 for Dennis & Winny’s wedding. Their recent visit to HK replenished our “Dennis humor” bank. We made stopovers at Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef for golf and snorkeling. Elaine (who freaks out when she crosses the deep water line in swimming pools) was very nervous about the snorkeling in the big ocean until she discovered that life jackets were required. We were back in San Francisco for the first annual Ryan Phua Memorial Ride for Kids in June. More than 500 kids “raced” on the circuit (kids below five rode for one block). The looks of achievement on their faces were adorable. Most of them declared themselves “the winner” as they received their ribbons and ice creams. Michele & John raised around $55,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The second annual ride was even more impressive. Michele prepared video (even Lance spoke about the event) for corporate fundraising. They raised $75,000. After attending Lisa and Galen’s wedding in San Francisco, Elaine took her first trip to Vancouver in July 2004. We fell in love with the city and have decided that to make it our retirement destination. As soon as the housing prices drop (ha!), we will invest. Meanwhile, we have an excuse for house shopping visits. In October we attended a Jean Michel Jarré concert at the Forbidden City in Beijing to mark the commencement of a year of cultural exchange between China and France. The historical site was transformed into electronic music heaven - an amazing contrast to the scenes from The Last Emperor. We also pampered ourselves at the Pangkor Laut resort in Malaysia. We wrapped up 2004 in Manila to celebrate Katrina and Barry’s wedding. We caught up with our dear Bettina, Tim and Baby Elliot. Of course the girls squeezed in time for salon and spa, while Ashley got a round of golf in.
We spent Chinese New Year 2005 playing golf in Kuala Lumpur with Elaine’s colleagues. In April, we spent a few romantic days in Florence before attedning Patrik's (Elaine’s colleague) 40th birthday party in St. Moritz. Ashley skied with the Swiss gang and Elaine skied with the handsome Swiss ski instructor. That’s how you keep a marriage strong! Patrik’s party was simply amazing…. a week of Swiss Alps experience. While we were fortunate to have been invited, it also killed any idea of a 40th bash for Elaine because we can’t top Patrik’s party. In case you haven’t noticed, Elaine’s colleagues (with one exception of course) are really cool. In July, we combined our house hunting and golf vacation in Whistler (yes there is life other than skiing). There was a range of good restaurants there…much better than the American ski resort food. Rimrock is our favorite. We celebrated Elaine’s birthday with Dad, Victoria and Auntie Mryna (Ferd’s mom) at the famous Lumière in Vancouver. Dad & Victoria also shared with us Tofino, their favorite quaint coastal town on the West coast of Vancouver Island. Highly recommended for family with young children. The whole place is a giant outdoor aquarium. We walked on mountains of mussels (don’t worry, their shells protect them), touched starfish and all kinds of marine life. The highlight of 2005 was our August trip to San Francisco and Las Vegas to celebrate Elaine’s mom’s 80th birthday. Mom Eva and Popo Carolyn also join us. Did you notice that we spent our vacation with a group ranging from 80 to 5 years old? Michele thought it was very funny. But as the receptionist at the Bellagio expressed so simply “Thank you for spending time with your family.” I would not exchange the joy on my mother’s face with anything else. The only thing that can top it all would be if my dad & Ryan were with us.