再遊日本中部(5): 高山

飛驒高山 is my favourite Japanese town. Quaint, historical and cultural. Great sake, great 飛驒牛. Never disappoint.

高山的historic centres 都是商店,懷舊風格,幽雅而不太commercial. 條街旁邊保留着open drainage.

高山 is famous for sake. 一月至三月市內六間酒廠輪流run sake brewery tour. Tour is free of charge, follow by free sake tasting, but there is also a sign saying “Please buy after the second cup. This is not all you can drink.” 我估一定有很多大飲特飲的貪心遊客。

高山有兩個朝市,中午就休市,要去趁早。朝市賣的土產和紀念品其實同商店賣的差不多。去行朝市是為了去去個tourist sight多過為shopping.

Furniture是另一高山名物。手工一流,設計細細件,都幾啱香港用家。

那一個地區最出名的飛驒牛,很多餐廳都有售,隨街都聞到燒牛肉的香味。我試了一間sushi bar(松喜 sushi http://matsuki-sushi.com/dinner.html), 魚生日日由沿海地區運到。4000 yen for a sushi and Hida beef set, 大滿足的一餐!

高山有不少温泉旅館,我入住Hagi Takayama Takayama Kanko Hotel,勝在weekdays可以唔洗一定包晚餐,可以自己自由出去dinner. Hotel在山坡上,温泉有雪山景,房間有全個高山市景,好正!

再遊日本中部(4): Snow Monkey + 湯田中温泉

地獄谷野猿公苑(http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/)是一個很特別的地方,住着日本唯一一羣會浸温泉的monkey.

Winter is high season,我又咁啱是Sunday morning最多人的時間去,遊客比monkey仲要多,要迫埋去先影到相。個公園館理員不停用日文英文和普通話叫人不要阻塞通道,不要太近monkey,有點煩擾。太touristy了!一點都唔覺得they are wild monkeys.

今次是我第二次去Snow monkey park,特地長途跋涉去見見snow monkey in snow,但原來monkeys有雪同冇雪的behaviour無異。上次秋天low season遊客少D,影相仲靚仲唔洗同人迫,仲好。

Snow monkeys live in a park. 由停車場行去公園入口要半個鐘頭,山路結冰,幾slippery,記住要穿上防滑鞋呀。

Snow monkey park附近有幾個著名的温泉鄉,我住在湯田中温泉的美湯の宿 (www.yudanakaview.co.jp/),有好多好多外國遊客去滑雪,第一次見到外國遊客outnumber local tourists in Japan. 湯田中是比較大規模的温泉,但街上没有anything to see, very few shops and restaurants. 早知反正甚麼attractions都没有,只得幾條冇人煙黑媽媽的街,我就住在附近平少少近Snow monkey park少少的温泉啦。

再遊日本中部(3): 諏訪

上諏訪是著名的温泉區,在諏訪湖旁邊,四季景色宜人,夏天可以睇住煙花浸温泉。由名古屋去上諏訪車程約兩個半鐘頭,makes a good excursion from Nagoya.

我住在朱白温泉宿(www.suhaku.co.jp),open air bath and guest room有lake view, very nice. 幾本旅遊brochure都是用朱白的湖景温泉做宣傳。So I believed I stayed at the best view hotel. 朱白有兩個泉源,一紅一白,因而得其名。唔算好豪華,weekdays一泊二食約10000yen per person,很不錯。

諏訪出名釀酒,市內有五間清酒廠,有些offer sake brewery tour. 清酒廠好有文化,參觀時正舉行書展,間間酒商設個area賣書,吸引不少人流。

高島城的雪景很幽美

Fronzen lake! 

再遊日本中部(2): 豐田

名古屋是日本中部的工業城市,表面上是個 working town with not many famous tourist sights。但日本的tourism發展得好,連工業都變成旅遊和marketing.

豐田 is 40 minutes drive away from Nagoya. It’s the headquarter of Toyota car. Toyota offers factory plant tour (https://www.toyota.co.jp/en/about_toyota/facility/toyota_kaikan/plant_tour/index.html), 上網book就得,費用全免,而且有English tour,非常之好。Plant tour can be booked up to 3 months in advance, maximum capacity is 40 people. 我去當日只有9個人join English tour. It’s a great experience.

Tour starts at 10:30am. First 30 minutes is free visit in Tokyo Kaikan Museum. Museum 介紹新technology and energy efficient hybrid cars. 另外有幾架colourful房車display,同一般car showroom差不多。

11:00am坐shuttle bus去工廠,全程不准影相。個tour very educational,有tour guide 現場講解和answer questions,又combine with videos and interactive games,個半鐘頭的tour完全没有悶場。Highly recommend to everyone, 就算不是車迷都會覺得很有趣。

There are 4 major processes in car making: stamping, welding, painting and assembly. 當日去了參觀welding and assembly. Welding燒焊由好多個robot同一時間進行,最後一個step仲會有個robot掃乾淨車上的dust。機械人動作cute cute 的,感覺有點似科幻片。

Assembly is a much more labour intensive process. 每件零件由人手裝上車內,一路行tour guide會一路介紹他們的intelligent control method. 例如they can make different car models in the same assembly line according to customer order. The whole process is computerized. Mechanics only need to follow the parts that are lit up, 就知要按次序裝上甚麼配件。

Good thinking, Good products is their motto. 去完個plant tour感受到個品牌對質量的認真態度。Plant tour is a great marketing and PR tool!

今次時間有限,下次有機會我會去Toyota automotive museum, 展出老爺車,應該都幾值得參觀。

Model of the factory assembly line

Toyota curry!

Toyota headquarter and Kaikan Museum

再遊日本中部(1): 名古屋

日本好食好住好玩,樣樣有品質保證。地方乾淨,人helpful服務好。廉航機票平,日元滙價跌,真係想唔到更好的short trip destination。就是這樣,這半年內我去了三次日本。

今次飛名古屋,去年HK Express $2 mega sale時book,機票不用一千元,抵!

我喜歡名古屋的shopping area 荣。幾條街集中所有shops,有六七間department store,行一日都行唔晒。街道寬闊又有條理,比東京open and 舒服。中間有個公園,shopping時可出去get some fresh air。

TV Tower 矮矮的,附近夜景不錯。

 

第一晚行完街就去試名古屋名物矢場町炸豬排 (http://www.yabaton.com/modules/menu/index.php?content_id=1),最出名是其秘制味噌汁。好好味,炸豬排鬆化,味噌帶甜,撈飯一流!店內店外四周都是豬豬decoration,好得意。荣和矢場町站附近有四間分店,行完街飯食最方便。

名古屋不是太high rise,高少少的酒店都享有city view。I stayed at ANA Crowne Plaza Grand Court Nagoya,唔洗一千蚊一晚,已算是市內top hotel. 去名古屋比去東京經濟很多。

日本中部機場有全日本最大的outdoor look out, 睇飛機升降very cool. 我去那日好大風,仲凍過雪山的温度,very cold至真!

機場有好多間出名的餐廳的分店,臨走時我不放棄最後機會,吃了名古屋名物鰻魚飯。鰻魚飯的特色食法,一碗要分幾次食。首先是淨食,跟住是加wasabi and seaweed食,再跟住是撈湯食。

Star Ferry Wedding

When I think of Hong Kong, I think of the beautiful Victoria Harbour. When I think of the harbour, I think of the Star Ferry. What can be more Hong Kong than having a wedding ceremony on the Star Ferry? Getting married on the Star Ferry sounds like a romantic idea, and it’s especially popular with westerners and mixed couples. Recently I was asked to give some advice on Star Ferry wedding. Here comes some tips for those planning a wedding on the famous green and white boat.

Star Ferry Company rents out ferries on its own standard terms which apply many restrictions to your planning e.g. number of guests, time and duration of the ceremony. I would suggest the first step is to read the rental terms and conditions to check if it fits your expectation.

Capacity – even though the Star Ferry states the maximum capacity of each type of ferries, it would be uncomfortable if your party fills to the maximum limit. You have to leave room for people to walk around and mingle. Also, the wedding ceremony usually takes place at the front of the ferry. That front compartment can only hold around 60 people. So if you have more than 60 guests, some of them may not be able to get a close view of the ceremony.

Duration – the Star Ferry cruises along the harbour for as long as you book it. I think the most appropriate duration is two hours. This would give enough time for guests to be seated and for the couple and other relevant parties to prepare for the ceremony. The wedding ceremony itself usually takes around 20 minutes. After the ceremony, allow time for speech, cake cutting, toasting and photo taking. There is nowhere to go on the ferry. Try to think of ways to entertain the guests e.g. giving them little notepaper to write words for the couple, fun photo booth for taking photos etc. Ceremony longer than two hours might make your guests feel crammed in for too long. There are not that many toilets on board; long duration in a confined space may pose inconvenience.

Logistics – planning a wedding on a ferry takes significant effort. Normally your ferry docks at the pier 30 minutes before the actual ferry departure time. During that 30 minutes, you have to get all the decoration and catering ready. Time pressure is immense even for professional service providers. If you plan a DIY event, try to engage friends who won’t freak out under pressure… Once the ferry leaves the pier, obviously no one late can get on board. Be sure you delegate a person to count the number of expected guests and make sure all the VIPs, e.g. witnesses signing the marriage certificate are on time.

Decoration – the normal ferry feels quite bare and it would be nice to add some wedding theme decoration. Be aware that the ferry rocks a lot especially at the pier. Making something stand still may not be an easy task. I have seen poster stand falling down, professional decorators running out of tapes to stick things firmly…

Catering – keeping drinks cold in the summer and keeping food hot in the winter can be a challenge. Multi-tier wedding cake might be susceptible to collapse during transportation. Keep your food and beverage simple. Save your big wedding feast after you get off the ferry.

Weather risk – even if you have made the perfect plan, you still have to wish for luck to make your perfect wedding come true. Private rental Star Ferry does not operate in typhoon number 3 or some other weather warnings. This is a significant consideration/risk if your wedding is in the summer months. The ferry is also quite open to the elements. Heavy rain, strong wind, super hot or cold climate may hamper the comfort level of the ceremony too. If the ferry cannot operate due to adverse weather, Star Ferry Company allows you to hold the ceremony at the pier, but it is just a rather crude waiting area. My advice is to have a contingency plan to fall back to if the ferry ceremony does not go ahead.

Comments (1)

Words for Mentees (5): Lifelong achievement

I take a review of my old friends from St Mary’s and HKU. Almost all the most aggressive high achievers are now stay home moms taking care of kids. The so-called most successful people holding influential positions in the working world were not the most outstanding students in schools. I always wonder, why is that?

One thing I notice is that the very bright students at school are good at what they do and focus on what they do well. When they studied, they gave 100% and got good results. When they worked, they worked hard and got promoted quickly. When they have family, they spent time and effort to nurture their kids. What they want to achieve in life might change greatly as time goes by, but they always put in an effort to do their best.

At every stage of life, one has to set short term and long term goals. My motto is to make the best out of what you have at that moment while aiming to achieve the goals; and don’t forget to enjoy the path leading to the goals.

No matter what you want to do, pursue it, put in an honest effort and have no regrets.

It’s hard to expect Form 5 students to have a clear defined long term goal in life. I recommend reading “Man’s Searching for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl. It may give some insight.

Words for Mentees (4): Choosing partner and starting a family

Yin and Yang. Life has to be balanced. Don’t spend all your efforts chasing career achievements and leaving no time for personal enjoyment. Most people find it more fulfilling to share their lives with a partner and family. Some of my single friends, even though they advanced highly at work can’t help but feel lonely and discontent if they are not settled in a relationship. Somehow the society still has a stigma for middle aged unmarried working women; success is no longer measured by how many points you get at DSE, but how happy you are with your family.

Take your time to start dating and finding the right partner. Very often many people meet their other halves at school. St. Mary’s doesn’t provide the chance of meeting boy friends at school, so keep your eyes out at universities! Find someone who has a sense of humour to laugh with you, who can cheer you up when you feel down, who can see the best in you and bring the best out of you, who share your dream and grow with you. Once you find Mr. Right, plan to start a family. There is a time and place for everything. Prioritise well and don’t wait till you are 50 years to bear a baby from your frozen eggs!

Words for Mentees (3): Choosing career and being a lawyer

Most people spend more time working than sleeping. If it’s bad to spend 8 hours to sleep in an uncomfortable bed, it’s even worse to spend more than 8 hours doing something you hate. You can only last long and excel in a career that you actually enjoy and are good at.

The legal profession is generally divided into two streams: barrister and solicitor.

Barristers are advocates at court and specialise in litigation. To become a barrister, after studying PCLL, you have to complete one year of pupilage at a chamber. Pupils do not receive salary and are only allowed limited practice after six months of pupilage. Once you complete the pupilage, you have to pay your own rent for an office space in a  chamber. Barristers are self-employed and it can be financially burdensome. To alleviate this, the Bar Association has funds to assist prospective barristers; and more sizeable chambers may offer rental discount to new joiners. Alternatively, you can join the Department of Justice as a legal trainee (barrister) who gets a monthly salary.

To become a solicitor, you have to be a trainee for two years at a law firm or the Department of Justice. The type of work and remuneration package depends very much on the law firm you join. International law firms specialising in corporate and banking law tend to recruit the best graduates and offer the highest salary. In comparison, the more common general practice law firms provide legal service such as conveyancing, divorce and litigation. The starting salary of international law firms can be 4-8 times more than general practice law firms.

The legal profession can be a long term one. As you practise longer, you specialise in certain areas and find your interest and niche. For example, there are barristers who specialise in criminal cases or judicial review, solicitors who do merger and acquisitions in China. It is not uncommon to move from barrister to solicitor and vice versa too.

For career prospect, barristers can become senior counsel. Within a law firm, the top of the ladder is to become a partner. Many experienced lawyers may become in-house counsel in banks and companies that tend to offer more work-life balance.

What it takes to be a good lawyer? There are many perceived traits of a typical lawyer – smart, quick thinker, organised, eloquent, and argumentative. I think different
types of lawyer require very different personality and skill set. However, above all, the most important is to be hardworking to succeed.

I recommend reading Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In”. It may help students to look farther and deeper into long term career development.

Words for Mentees (2): Choosing subject and studying law

If you study law, you don’t have to be a lawyer; but if you don’t study law, you can’t be a lawyer. This is a good enough reason to study law, isn’t it?

This very same logic applies to other professions. If you are unsure about your future career, it’s practical to study something that can lead to a profession. It simply opens another avenue in case you decide to join that profession later.

The admission requirement for the faculty of law is consistently one of the highest in universities. Keen competition means you have to obtain good DSE results to secure a place. And once you get into law school, you will soon realise that your classmates are bright student leaders from a variety of secondary schools. The competition goes on throughout the university years, so be prepared to work harder than students of other faculties.

The study of law provides training for logical and critical thinking. Many people have the false impression that law students have to have a good memory and recite a lot of text. It is only true to the extent that certain law principles and case names have to be memorized, but more important is the skill to apply the legal knowledge to solve problems, and eloquently express your viewpoints in concise and organized arguments. Analytical power is an asset that can be transferred to any career.

Common law is based on case law; so studying law invariably requires reading a lot of cases and following and analysing judges’ reasoning. As law reports are mainly written in English, it demands a very high level of proficiency in the English language.

Apart from the core subjects such as contract, tort, criminal, property, administrative law etc., the faculty of law offers a broad choice of electives to suit individual interests and future career plans. Studying law can be as exciting or as boring as you make it. I speak for myself that I thoroughly enjoyed my legal training at law school and found the xperience useful not only in preparing for a professional career, but also in strengthening my problem solving skill in daily life.

After you obtain a bachelor of laws, in four years for LLB or five years in double degree programmes, then you can decide whether you want to be a lawyer. A further study of one more year in PCLL (Postgraduate certificate in laws) will lead you to the starting point of a legal career.