Celebrating Christmas with Glass Harp!

OBT - Nutcracker 2015When you first hear this music without watching the youtube, you would not have imagined this is how the sound is produced.  Simply amazing – really, it is crystal clear music.

This type of instrument might even have originated from China in the Middle Ages.  These days, special types of wine glasses are used and the glasses are without water – only played by the musician’s entire hand rubbing the rim of the glasses with her wet finger tips.  You can find more about the origin of this music here.

While you are preparing your Christmas presents or hosting your own Sugar Plum Fairy tea party, enjoy a taste of the Glassduo’s Sugar Plum Fairy!

Adding my favourite from their recent performance in Hong Kong playing a very famous Chinese classical song – Clouds Chasing the Moon (hear how it resembles the flute!)

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A day in Sai Kung

For those who are not familiar with Hong Kong, you may think that Sai Kung sounds like some cities in Vietnam. In fact Sai Kung is the country side of Hong Kong and is located in the New Territories, the area that is attached to Mainland China.  Sai Kung is for the whole family – rural, delicious (great seafood and cafes), sporty (lots of water activities and cruising), fun, and relaxing.  

On the day of my Dad’s Big Birthday, we have planned a day in Sai Kung, breathing in the refreshing air and doing something different.  No wonder why HK people, with their daily life stretched to their max, love to hang out in Sai Kung with its beautiful pier, beaches, neighboring islands, and wonderful cuisines.

Let’s take a look at what we did:

Photo courtesy of Venue Hub, HK

Wow, a Polynesian-style bowling alley called Tikitiki Bowling Bar was our first stop. How fun to combine bowling with the entire family with brunch next to the alley! Because of the gates erected along the gutters, even a 6-year old can play bowling and score well!  We had so much laughter.


Then we strolled in the village market near the Sai Kung pier and had a great time discovering all sorts of local street food, fruits (durian), coffee places, and even great fashion!  I highly recommend this if you want to venture beyond the famous Stanley Market.


Along the water, you will take in quite a lot – the beautiful pier, lots of sampans (boats), a local museum, and of course lots of seafood restaurants (the famous Seafood Street.)


Zooming into the Sampans a bit, one can see they don’t just carry people as a great way for transportation or touring (one can check out island hopping in Sai Kung – many people will want your business at the pier), they also carry lots of seafood (dried especially) for sale!

What I enjoy HK the most is that while it is probably the most convenient place in the world for conducting businesses, is a city that almost never sleeps, has the most amazing places to eat and drink, its serenity is also just less than an hour away.  Check out Sai Kung next time!

Important news about emotions

This is another great writing by one of my favourite writers, Eric Barker.

Essentially, the 3 essence to improve your emotional intelligence are:

1. Learn to recognize emotional granuality.  

It is not just this makes me “feel good” or “not feel good.”

2. Learn new words that describe emotions – the Japanese has a word to describe the emotion you feel after you have a bad haircut!  

I think talking to more cultures and understand their special vocabulary would really help. 

3. Create new emotions – give a name to it.

All of these help your brain to figure out better what situations you are really in and to provide you with more resources or flexibility to cope with them.

Instead of being all panicky about the problem, you might feel cool about it – like the Hong Kong Chinese say: “when the sky falls, treat it like a blanket is covering you” (not always, but sometimes this works!)

Courtesy to Blazek

Cultures

Multicultual

Having lived in three continents and working in a profession investing in developed and emerging markets all day long and working with many types of nationalities, I have always thought I am a pretty multi-cultural person.  This book called “The Art of Doing Business Across Cultures” by Craig Storti is a recent favourite of mine, opening my eyes to the nuances of 10 very important cultures of the world (they tend to be the larger countries including The Arab Middle East, Brazil, China, England, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, and Russia).  Even though it is written from the perspective of Americans dealing with the different cultures, in this global marketplace, every business person will have a chance to deal with many different cultures and would find the advice of this book useful.

I love some of the writings of the book:

Germany

The Americans are culturally quite close to the Germans.  According to John Ardagh:

[they] may differ greatly in their degree of social formality, but they share something of the same business ethos, the same liking for thoroughness, efficiency and modernism, and the same fondness for litigation.”

So what are some of their differences:

Americans are more tolerant when the lines between work and personal life become blurred, perhaps because professional accomplishments comprise more of their identity.

According to Greg Nees:

[W]hen they are at work, Germans do indeed work quite effectively and with great focus.  But when the workday is finished, so are the workers.  Punctuality is apparent, not only in starting times but also at the end of the workday; employees see overtime as an infringement on their private lives…

The Germans say Dienst ist Dienst, und Schnaps ist Schnaps – duty is duty, and liquor is liquor.

Brazil

Things do get done in Brazil, but it’s in spite of the system, not because of it.

This is the Brazilian’s jeito or jeitinho – their subtle ways to circumvent difficult situations via “doing favours”.  This is quite foreign or even looked upon negatively in America as Americans do not promote “favoritism”.  As Jacqueline Oliveira said:

The primacy of family and the ingroup in the Brazilian value system often explains Brazilian behaviour, including why punctuality cannot always take priority.  

Jacqueline Oliveira said this:

[Brazilians} may forgo a business obligation if a family matter arises…

There is also a deep sense of fatalism that pervades the Brazilian culture – many things can happen outside of one’s control which therefore simply must be accepted.  Fatalism and resignation thus explain why Brazilians often tolerate lateness, while Americans are obsessed with time [Americans believe in achievements, which are effort + time.]

China

Other cultures may find the Chinese way of dealing with compliments curious.  As Scott Seligman writes:

Accepting them outright is not considered good etiquette; a Chinese is expected to deflect compliments  and pretend he or she is unworthy of receiving them…one of the common phrase [the Chinese use]…is nali…that has come to mean something like “it was nothing.” It’s as if to say the kind words you have just uttered couldn’t possibly be directed at me…

Valuing group’s opinion over one’s own, the Chinese are taught to be humble, leading to routine self-effacement and personal modesty, which the Americans inevitably misinterpret as a lack of confidence.  Americans are one of the most individualist and the least group-oriented of all cultures, and so anything that affirms, supports, or strengthens the self is valued in America.  The Americans come across as boastful because in their culture, unlike that of the Chinese, they cannot rely automatically on other group members for support and validation.

France

Americans, despite their directness, do not like to argue; in their conversations, they look for common ground and they often agree to disagree. But not the French.  As Erin Meyer writes:

French business people view conflict and dissonance as bringing hidden contradictions to light, and stimulating fresh thinking…[W]e make our points passionately.  We like to disagree openly. We like to say things that shock.  With confrontation, you reach excellence, you have more creativity, and you eliminate risk.

The Arab Middle East

The Arabs are not only exuberant, enthusiastic, emotional people – not just in their actions but even more so in their words.

This tendency to exaggerate [and overemphasize] makes it difficult for Westerners to understand how Arabs actually feel and how enthusiastic they truly are about suggestions and proposals.  A quick guide: The absence of any enthusiasm or positive comments is a sure sign of a negative reaching, especially given the fact that Arabs, unfailingly polite, rarely indulge in overt criticism.  Modest enthusiasm, a few pieces of mild praise, signals a neutral reaction.  Effusiveness, exaggerated enthusiam, and hyperbolic praise all indicate a positive response.

Russia

A standard complaint by Russians against Americans is that they lack dusha, or soul. Russians like to connect with their business partners, to have a brief glimpse of the other’s soul. Elizabeth Roberts observes:

Russians prize the quality of soul above others…they often have a tendency to open their soul to complete strangers.

Yale Richmond writes:

Russians do have a rich spirituality, that does indeed contrast with Western rationalism, materialism, and pragmatism…the rational and pragmatic approach does not always work for them.  More often it is personal relations, feelings, and traditional values that determine a course of action.  Westerners are more likely to depend on the cold facts and to do what works.

There are many more gems and dialogues as exercises in the book to enjoy and learn.

The author said, there is always a reason why people do the strange things they do, the reason is almost never to upset you, and there is always a way forward.

 

 

 

Great San Francisco Food Streets

As visitors are coming to town to San Francisco, there are a couple of streets here that offer a great variety of eateries without hurting your purses or wallets too much.

Enter the graffiti-filled Polk Street, which has a great variety of ethnic and international food ranging from Mexican cocktails, Moroccan food, Indian buffets, super cheat groceries, to fine diners including Michelin-starred La Folie and the romantic Italian Aquerello.

Next is Kearny Street, which links up the financial district and Chinatown to the Union Square.

Here choices include Greek eateries, Japanese curry and ramen, Thai food, International Food Court, American Classics, Cantonese flagship (R&G), and many popular boba tea places. There is an EscapeSF outfit now, which visitors should try. It is rated the top 2 most fun games in SF by Trip Advisors.

Happy New Year of the Fire Rooster

The first day of the Chinese New Year of the Rooster will be on January 28 when you will hear “Gong Xi Fa Cai” or “Gong Hey Fat Choi” well wishes (they both mean wishing you abundance of wealth.)

This year is one for the fire Rooster; the last time this occurred was in 1957. For each zodiac sign, there are five types – gold, wood, water, fire, and earth. Each type has a different personality.

Everything is celebrated in red – you will see children wearing red jackets, adults giving red packets to the younger ones, good tidings written on red paper, etc.

San Francisco and London have apparently the largest celebrations outside Asia.

Let us celebrate the Chinese New Year with some scenes from the flower markets last weekend in The San Francisco Chinatown – lots of red!

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and energetic year of the Rooster!!

First, a beautiful red Rooster from Guangdong, China!

Wishing you abundance every year!


All sorts of Rooster ornaments!


The sound of the mandarin orange in Chinese resembles luck and blessings.

 The most popular surnames in China:

Amazing human flexibility and strength!


Some Kung Fu movements!


And sharing this beautiful rainbow photo shot by a neighbour during our stormy weekend!

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