Friday, August 31, 2007

Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka!

Sometimes I find it hard to motivate myself to write here.  It feels like I have alot more to say when I'm writing to someone, an actual person!  So I think I'm going to try this... posting excerpts from emails that I've written to friends or family.  So if you are reading my blog and realize that it is sounding pretty familiar, then lucky you, the email I wrote to you has been selected for the post of the day!  Haha...  *cheating*

Today marks 50 years of independence for Malaysia.  For the anak-anak Malaysia, how well do you know your sejarah?  There is an interesting but somewhat long summary from wikipedia ( ).  It's quite a different viewpoint from the way our textbooks are written, just not the way I remembered it while studying it in school.  It goes to show how easily even history can suffer from the bias/objectivity of the writer.

Can you tell I have a little bit more free time on my hands these days?  Back in Sunnyvale, I would at least take advantage of a quiet period and leave earlier.  Here, I'm stuck until Stef is ready to go, which is usually quite late.  I suppose I could take the public transport home, but I'm lazy.  Yes, it's my own fault!!  It's only a bus ride to Famagosta, then a couple underground Metro stops to Porta Genova, then a regular 20 minute train ride to Abbiategrasso where we live.  Then probably another 10 minute walk to the house.  I know this only in theory, because I can't get my lazy ass to actually do it.  Sigh...

Today is also my 9th year anniversary as a loyal and faithful employee of Maxim.  Ahhhhh!  How did that happen?!  9 years is a long time. 

Lastly, today is the last work day before we leave on our 2 week vacation on the island of Sardinia.  It should be interesting and fun.  I've never spent 2 whole weeks on vacation before (trips back home to Malaysia don't count - it's not the same).  We're driving to Genova on Sunday and getting on the ferry with our car for a 10 hour overnight trip to the island.  From there it will be beach-hopping and more beach-hopping.  Finally we will meet some of Stef's sailing friends who live there. 

Ok, my stomach is growling and asking for lunch.  Will it be pasta again?  (Probably). 

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Arredamenti Provera"

I took this picture of our living room last weekend. Stef's cousin saw it and his comment was "eh, arredamenti provera...", poor man's furniture! It is true, we have yet to buy a divani (sofa), but you can see those Kartell chairs!! They are the clear chairs in the corner that Stef bought some weeks ago. These are apparently designer chairs and they don't come cheap. Fortunately a friend of his had a relative working at Kartell so he was able to get these for a good price. They look pretty cool but I must say that they are made for people with slim posteriors only. The seat is not very wide...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday Blues

Ciao, how was your weekend?  I'm so weekend-lagged.  We spent the second weekend in a row in Sondrio.  Actually, the cool and fresh air and the slower pace is very nice.  Up until when we have to come back to Milan.  We don't leave till after Sunday dinner, around 9.30pm.  And it's a 2 hour trip so it's past midnight by the time we get to bed. 
Anyway, this weekend we had Stefo's best friend and his wife visiting.  We had a fun time hiking on Saturday.  It was the first time I got to see and touch (and taste) a glacier up close.  Sunday, we had the famous Valtellina pizzoccheri dish, prepared by his mum.  It's this dreadfully sinful pasta dish made with buckwheat pasta, potatoes, cabbage, a load of cheese and a even bigger load of fresh butter.  Yikes!  It's good, but definitely wins hands down in the calorie and cholesterol-busting category.   
Ok, it's time to try and start the work week.  Next week we are off for our long-awaited vacation. 

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

Happy Hour in Milan

Yesterday evening we left work at a decent hour (before 7!) and enjoyed Happy Hour in the Navigli area with some friends.  The street was lined with different bars with seating spilling out into the streets.  If you're ever in Milan and on a budget, this is how you can fill your tummy for cheap.  The cost of a drink ranges from 5-8 euro, and this entitles you access to an all-you-can-eat buffet spread.  There might be a selection a cold cut meats, finger sandwiches, crostini, chips, pasta and rice.  The food may not be of the highest quality, but it is decent enough and good value for money.  Not a bad way to spend the evening with friends.
Cin cin!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

By Popular Request

People are saying, nice pictures, but where the heck is the guy?! Hehe... I guess I have neglected to post any pictures of my man. I dug through all the recent pictures and found only one of us together. Here we are with his 1-month old nephew, Federico. We're smiling big, but the little bambino was fussing away. Isn't he pretty big for only 1 month?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Weekend in Valtellina

This weekend we are at Stef's hometown in Sondrio. Well, before the weekend I actually went to work for the first day on Friday. Most everyone was still on vacation so there were only 6 or so of us in the whole office. I set up everything for my pc and actually got some work done.

We left the house around 9pm and arrived 2 hours later. This was my 3rd visit here. I slept in his sister's room as usual. The next morning after breakfast, we took off for a short hike at Val Poschiaviana. It is high in the mountains where a dam is located. The scenery was pretty cool with the clouds and the glacier visible high up near the peak. The water was a strange color supposedly because it is glacier ice melt. It turned out to be a beautiful day with the sun peeking in and out.

After that Stef craved pastries from Pastecceria Berta in Morbegno, 1/2 hour drive away. The cream puffs there are phenomenal. We picked up a selection for dessert later. And of course a couple to tide us over on the drive home. Yummy.

Now it's lunch time again. Pasta with pesto made with basil from the garden. Will write more later.

What's for Dinner

It's not pasta every day, or I'll be packing on the pounds! We usually have salad and tomatoes from Stef's mother's garden, bread, cheese and some meat, either some prosciutto or bresaola. Actually this is pretty similar to what I eat in California too (minus the prosciutto).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ferragosta in Milan

How to celebrate August 15th if you're stuck in the city:

Step 1. Cool off with only the best gelato in town.

Step 2. Seek out the only other people in town. Play tourist and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Duomo di Milano

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Piazza La Scala, right outside La Scala theatre.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Gift

This is from a good friend of Stef's. Three fresh eggs from the farm and two black truffles. Eggs for strength and stamina, truffles for aphrodisiac properties. *Insert rolling eyes here*

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Well, it is probably a good thing that I cannot go to work today. It’s a long story that I’d rather not go into today, or any day for that matter! I stayed home and unpacked. It actually wasn’t as bad as I expected. I was pleasantly surprised with how much storage space there is here.

We are right now staying at a rented apartment in Abbiategrasso, a small town outside of Milan. The apartment is really nice, almost brand new, with high quality fixtures throughout. Things are quite different here compared to the U.S. I thought I would list some of my observations here:

Sheryl’s What’s Different List – Day 2
1) Church bells ringing in the background throughout the day. We’re pretty close to the il centro of the town. I can see the bell tower from the bedroom window.
2) Tiled or wood floors. It’s not really so common to have carpeted flooring.
3) Washing machine in the bathroom. And of course, no dryer.
4) Bidet in the bathroom. I still haven’t quite figured out how and what it’s used for.
5) No microwave. It’s not really that commonly used here. Well, if you think about it, the microwave is used mostly to heat up leftovers and frozen food. Let me see, here you’re not getting any doggie bags, and the freezer is too small for storing lots of frozen food…
6) Which brings us to small fridge, at least by American standards.
7) Small, in general! It felt really small when I first stepped in here. But after unpacking all my luggage, it wasn’t so bad.
8) People cycling outside. Old, young, even the babies are along for the ride on the bikes. I was looking out the window and saw a young mum reaching for a bottle for her baby at the stoplight. (!)

Here's the view from the bedroom window.

Ok, we’re off to Lago di Como to see a fireworks show. It’s about 1 hour drive from here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I’ve Arrived

Got in yesterday afternoon. Traveling time was about 15 hours including a layover in Amsterdam. The flights felt long. I expected to be so tired that I would be asleep most of the way over but that was not the case. I had female seat mates both flights. The first was an accountant headed to Holland for work. She was your typical friendly American girl, and she sure could hold her liquor! My only gripe was when she accidentally spilled a cup of water all over me. Luckily I dried out pretty quick. There were mostly Dutch folks sitting in the vicinity, and somebody was let me say… letting out gas… the whole way there. It was super stinky too! We held our breaths, rolled our eyes and giggled each time it happened. What happened to common courtesy?!

I thought KLM food was surprisingly decent. I made sure to eat something because there’s nothing worse than sitting there with a growling stomach.

My luggage didn’t cause too much trouble. My two check-in pieces were 50lbs and close to 70lbs. (Thanks to careful weighing by Ban Fu and Long!) I thoroughly expected to pay the $50 heavy bag charge for one. Either the agent wasn’t paying attention or he just didn’t notice. I sure wasn’t going to point it out. I didn’t even have to turn on my female charm. ;-) My carry on was too heavy! There wasn’t a weight limit as far as I can tell, but there was no way I could lift the bag to the overhead compartment. I almost took out a woman when trying to remove it. Oops…

It was such a thrill to see Stefano. It had been almost 5 months since I last saw him. I must admit that I spent much of the traveling time thinking about the move and how would fit in into this new land and culture. I’m happy to report that Stef is just as he was the last time I saw him. Yay!

I was feeling rather jet lagged the rest of the day. The highlight was definitely the stop at Gelateria Marghera. Stef claims it is one of the best in town and I believe him. I had noticed that the whole city of Milan was pretty dead due to the August 15-16 holiday coming up. It was crazy, no traffic and hardly any people around! But at Marghera it was packed, at 10.30pm on a Monday night. See for yourself…

I stuck with my Marghera favorites, pistaccio and cioccolato rhum (it had been 2 years and it was as good as ever!) but almost wavered when I saw the fruity summer berry flavors. I’m saving those for next time!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Sunday at the Park

8/22/07 – I posted the pictures but never got around to writing about it till now. Better late than never! Eugene was so kind to organize this fun day for us. It was supposed to be at Lick Mill Park near his house, but when he arrived at the ungodly Sunday morning hour of 7.30am, all the picnic tables had already be taken! Plan B: a small park that was literally 2 minutes away from my house, one I never knew existed in the 8 years I’ve been living there.

It turned out to be a really nice spot. Our potluck picnic resulted in a veritable feast of burgers, hotdogs, potato salad, chips, samosas, fried rice, chow mein, Korean bbq ribs, grilled shrimp, kabobs, Hawaiian spam rolls (not sure what they are really called but they sure were yummy) and chocolate cupcakes. There was no shortage of food for sure!

The best part was just hanging out with everyone. We had a great group… adults, kids and 2 puppies. We got a game of wiffle ball going, which is essentially baseball using a plastic bat and ball. Fun! Then we played ‘Steal the Bacon’, where we had run around A LOT trying to steal the ball from the other team. Phew, some of us could really feel our age catching up on us then!

It was a wonderful way to enjoy the beautiful California sunshine.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

One More Week

It's good and bad. One more week till I can see my love... one more week left to spend with my friends here in California. I will miss everyone! I'm also scrambling to organize and pack everything up in preparation. It's hard to sort out what goes and what doesn't. Alot of these 'material' things have memories attached to them so it's hard to let go. Not to mention the fact that there is alot of stuff. It just feels so overwhelming at times.

But the impending move has forced me to look up some friends that I have lost touch with over the years. Today on my day off, I had lunch with Dave. He was probably my first friend in the MBA program. We laughed and reminisced over that first economics class, and others that we had shared. It was really good to see him, and I remembered why I enjoyed talking with him so much during the countless times we walked back to our cars after classes. He has the best sense of humor, a sarcastic sort, which always cracked me up... like it did today.

Tonight I had a great Vietnamese dinner with close friends, thanks to Long. I regret not discovering this cuisine until recently. I really like the dishes that involve your own custom blending of various fresh herbs like mint, cilantro, dill leaves. The food has a clean, fresh taste and just feels healthy. Then we adjourned to Andy's to chat and fool around with the wii, until it got late and Andy walked around sleepy-faced hinting it was bedtime.

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