iTien Blog
Late to the blogging world but better than never

July 2008
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More Sydney
Filed under: General
Posted by: Alan @ 11:32 pm

Another exhausting day.  Had breakfast at the 24 hour cafe at Circular Quay, watching the ferries come and go with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge as backdrop.  Walked to the Royal Botanic Gardens - loved the glass pyramid in the middle.  Walked past the state library, and dropped into the Legislature hall where they had Chinese calligraphy scrolls to celebrate the upcoming Olympics. I really liked “The Ultimate Aim” with the paint splash looking like an arrow shot.  Stopped for a super healthy and tasty lunch at some mall that was enroute to my destination goal of Queen Victoria Building/Shopping Center.  Stopped in St. Andrew’s Cathedral to take some shelter from the rain and to rest my aching back.  Gorgeous stained glass windows and comforting (live) organ music.  Walked through City Centre Station to avoid the rain but couldn’t figure out a train/metro to Darling Harbour, where the IMAX theatre is.  Finally ran thru the rain to the theatre and sat in line for an hour to watch The Dark Knight on a truly huge screen with terrifyingly loud sound.  Not sure I really understood the whole movie.  Went to dinner back at the Rocks and stumbled “home” to work.

Sydney Pics

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8 Hours in Sydney
Filed under: General
Posted by: Alan @ 10:04 pm

I am in Sydney for the PayPal APAC Leaders meeting.

Sydney Walking Tour Pictures 

I came early to enjoy the beautiful city
since it’s such a long flight, and ML and Kyle are in Hawaii anyway.
  I left my apartment at noon, arrived in Singapore at
7pm, and enjoyed a great soba salmon salad and beer at the micro-brewery in the
great Changi airport.  I casually walked
up to my gate, only to find my flight wasn’t there anymore!  After much confusion, I realized I read my
connecting flight time wrong – it turns out 20:00 is not 10pm!!  Arghh, I missed my flight!  Thank god Singapore airlines is awesome and
they got me on the next flight out at 12:30am. 
I had to practice the Power of Now to not totally stress out.


And the Power of Now was right.  The stress was totally in my head.  Whether I stressed or not wouldn’t make me
get on the flight I missed, nor would it help my chances to get on a future
flight.  Staying calm, using my mind as a
tool (e.g., go to Singapore Airlines desk and ask politely for help), and
accepting the consequences (in this case it was good – “Please wait 2 more
hours in the lounge Mr. Tien”) was the best way to handle the situation.


I arrived in Sydney by 10am and got to the Shangri-La by
  My room has a view of the Harbor Bridge
(pic 1)!  The helpful concierge Shane
directed me to The Rocks for lunch.  I
enjoyed a great gyro at Dare (to eat responsibly, is their motto) café on a
cool but sunny day. 

Then I walked through the flea market and
watched in amazement as Darren Germain spray-painted incredible “space
  I asked him to make a custom one
for me – pic 4 shows him with a blank canvas above a similar spray-painting,
and pic 5 is the finished product.  See
this YouTube video to get a sense of how he did it.  It was awesome!


After the high of buying a cool sci-fi art
piece (since I love science fiction so much), I walked to Sydney Cove.
  I love my pic of the bird with the haloed
sign “This is Freedom” in back (the Biennale art festival is at the Museum of Contemporary Art).  Very adventurously, I took an extremely
enjoyable ferry-ride to Darling
Harbor.  There, I walked around the mall Harbourside Shopping Center for a long time,
eventually getting a “short black” (espresso shot) and a macadamia brownie.  Yum. 


Cravings covered, I took the monorail
through its entire loop – about half an hour.
It shoud’ve been a nice view of the city centre but it was raining.  Nevertheless, it was enjoyable (my practicing
the Power of Now?). 


I then walked over to Star
City, the casino right in Sydney!
  I watched all the games but didn’t play
anything.  Hungry, I walked back to
Harbourside but didn’t find anything to my liking.  I walked around to the other side of Darling Harbor
to Cockle Bay Wharf
– my back started hurting by then. 
During the walk, I saw that The Dark Knight was playing on IMAX!  It was sold out for the night, so I bought
tickets for tomorrow.  It’s going to be
awesome!  I finally settled on Blackbird
Café for some fish & chips, but it was disappointing.  If I’m going to eat deep fried food, it
should be really really good!


Rather stupidly, I walked all the way back
to Shangri-La, stopping in Max Brenner’s chocolate bar for some soy hot
chocolate to give my aching back a rest.


Whew, what a jam-packed day!  The advantages of traveling alone.

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Power of Now
Filed under: General
Posted by: Alan @ 9:41 pm

Mae-Ling recommended I read the Power of

It basically tells you that what you
perceive as reality is really your mind creating a world of its own.
  The real you is deep inside, beneath this
mind-generated idea of self or “ego”. 
The trick is to just watch what your mind is thinking, and taking that 3rd
person perspective is the first step to being aware of your inner Being, which
is really a part of god.  Also, another
interesting point of the book is that time is actually another one of the
mind’s tricks, worrying too much about the past and future, instead of just
focusing the only important moment, Now. 
If you’re really focused on Now, you can still use your mind as a tool
to plan for the future, but without all the angst.

The book is much like the teachings of
Buddha and Jesus at the basic level, which is to forgive and forget all the
hurt and pain you perceive in the world because they are not real.
  The rest of the book is actually very
mystical and hard to understand (in fact the author tells you not to try to
understand with your mind but feel with your inner being).  It reminds me of reading Descartes in college
and not understanding anything, just waiting for the famous line “I think;
therefore, I am.”  Which Mr. Tolle says
is wrong.

I think the real value of the book is to
give you a tool to manage your emotions when things go wrong.
  If I could get to the next level and feel my
inner self and stop my mind from thinking all the time, that would be a major
bonus.  My mind obviously has a lot of
doubts of this approach though; what happens to society if everyone was
completely happy just as they were?  Who
would strive to get anything done?  This
is like the conflict between Confucious and Taoism.  You need both.  The structure of Confucianism to create a
strong society, but Taoism so we don’t become too pragmatic (e.g.,
materialistic) and forget to stop and smell the flowers.

Another book that was on our shelves – The
Four Agreements
– essentially repackages the same message, except this time
it’s from the “Toltec mysteries” – the Toltec were ancient masters of wisdom
and spiritual knowledge from Mexico.
  The 4 agreements are:

1)      Be impeccable with your word. 
Your word is like magic do not practice black magic like lying, judging,
spreading rumors, gossiping, etc.

2)      Don’t take anything personally. 
Same effect if you practiced the Power of Now.  Basically nothing anyone says can hurt you.

3)      Don’t make any assumptions. 
Most of the pain you perceive is self-created based on wrong

4)      Always do your best.

Funny, these teachings are explained very
well in Star Wars in the Force.
force is in all living things, and your mind must be clear to use it. 


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Filed under: General
Posted by: Alan @ 9:37 pm

I love having my iPhone handy to snap cool shots when I see them.  Here are a few from Shanghai

Pic 1: Read the sign.  A banner for “educatuin” services.  Nice.
Pic 2 and 3: Great sky pics.  So rare to have blue sky and interesting cloud formations in SH.
Pic 4: I climbed the Lupu bridge in my attempt to do new and interesting things in my own town.  So often we don’t do the touristy things in our backyard.
Pic 5: Very cool Adidas ad in preparation for the Olympics.

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Business Travels to Singapore
Filed under: General
Posted by: Alan @ 9:34 pm

I’ve been going to Singapore a lot
since it’s PayPal’s International HQ.
stayed at the Shangri-La, which has a great lobby (picture 1) but the hotel is
getting a bit old.  The next time I
stayed at the Swissotel, which had a great view (pics 2-4).  The perks of working in corporate,
distracting you from the fact that you’re not home with your family.

Singapore Hotels Pictures

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