Monday, December 29, 2008

The Day for Consolidation has Arrived

Today is the Islamic New Year and a public holiday in Egypt. So here I am taking the little recious time I have to relook at my online presence. After logging into all my sites, Facebook, Blogspot and MSN Space, I asked myself why not keep everything at the same place. Well, the reasons for this decentralisation was mainly because the different sites serve my different needs The MSN Space is good for photos but not for blogging. Blogspot is good for blogging but not really engineered for photo albums. I joined Facebook much later and I thought moving everything over will be too much work.

Thinking again, I do not really have to "move" everything over. I just have to set a cut off date and start blogging and loading albums on Facebook from then. My old blogs and photo albums can remain where they are in Blogspot and MSN. There are already links to them from Facebook so my friends will still be able to dig up my past quite easily.'

So, the day for consolidation has arrived. All eggs in one basket. My slavery to Facebook is now complete. It's quite scary coming to think of it. If Facebook unplugs, I am gone as well. I hope that there are ways to backup my stuff on Facebook. This is what I have to find out next.

Anyway, this is the last blog I am posting on Blogspot. Go to my Facebook for the next posting.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Working Through the Long Week of Holidays

It has been almost nine months since I arrived in Cairo. This is probably the longest single period of time I have been away from Singapore since the first time I flew out from Singapore to Taipei in Feb 98. This outpost period will be just over ten months by the time I return to Singapore for my first relief break in late Jan 09. I yearn for the day to come soon to rejoin with my family back home.

Time is passing fast in Cairo and work never ends. Tomorrow is the Eve of the Hari Raya Haji (Eid Al Adha or Greater Bairam) and the start of a week long holidays. While my office is closed, I will be going to work like any other day. Without the day-to-day disruptions and slew of fires to fight, I should be able to work on some of the less urgent more certainly more important long-term issues. Otherwise, I really do not know what to do over the long holidays alone other than to stay at home and rot in front of the TV or the PC.

I am easing out of my culture shock well and I felt I am in better control nowadays. There are many challenges at work and sometimes I still get the sense of being overwhelmed by demands from all directions. Fortunately, lady luck has followed me to the overcrowded and polluted Cairo and I am getting lots of help and support from everyone that I worked with. On the whole, I can say that I have passed the crawling stage and now beginning to walk briskly. Hopefully, I can start running soon before I end my posting in 2011 with a final 100m sprint.

Monday, November 03, 2008



Friday, October 31, 2008

A Painful Decision

The past three months have been very difficult for me and my family. Times were so bad that I have to make a painful decision... to send my wife and son back to Singapore. Actually, they were supposed to fly home today but I had to postpone the flight to Sunday because Irene fell sick two days ago. I had to stay home for the two days to look after her and Le Le. I had to keep the two apart as much as possible to avoid Irene passing on the flu bug to the boy.

Le Le has just recovered from a serious bout of gastroenteritis. Just last month, he was sick for a week from acute bronchitis. And in August, he was down for almost two weeks from flu. I think it is time to pack them home. I believe they will be better off in Singapore to recuperate where the air is cleaner and public hygiene is better.

I really do not want to risk them staying on and be hospitalised should more serious ailments hit them. More importantly, they will be well looked after by our parents back home. I think I have made a right decision. I will miss them dearly, especially my son who has just started to bond with me. I don't know if he will still remember my hug and scent when we next meet in Jan 09, three months from now.

I was away from them too for about the same period last year when I was in Cairo for language training. Looks like we will going to have this separation annually until I complete my posting in 2011. It's going to be a cold and lonely winter again for me in Cairo. I guess I will seek refuge by working doubly hard.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Birthday Boy Sick

Today is 18 October 2008, our son's Le Le second birthday. Compared to his first birthday bash in Singapore, this birthday is starkly quiet. I was planning to celebrate his birthday with the cake cutting at home before heading out to Al-Azhar Park or Magicland for a family outing. Unfortunately, our birthday boy fell sick last night. He started vomiting in the middle of the night. He threw up a few more rounds until about 4am before going to sleep leaving his tired parents a big mess to clean up. We had to changed the bedsheets twice. He threw up a little after the morning milk but the vomiting ceased but diarrhea set in straight after. One big poo was followed by numerous liquid poos and we had to change his diapers so many times until we were both exhausted. I called our pediatrician and he prescribed some medicine for now. Hopefully, the vomiting and diarrhea will stop. Le Le is now asleep and so is his mum. I am too tired to sleep and so here I am putting this unfortunate episode on record. I think we will not be heading out today except probably to see a doctor in the evening if he does not recover well. So no birthday photos or videos to share this time round. We will definitely make it up to him next year.

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Videos and Photos

Our little family has been taking turns to fall sick over the past few weeks. While I have fully recovered, Irene is still nursing a cough. Le Le, who recovered first about a week ago, appears to be falling ill again with block nose, sneezing and occasional cough. It must be due to the seasonal change. The mornings and nights are becoming cooler as the days go by. It's great that the summer is finally ending and the most comfortable season of Cairo is arriving soon - cool and no rain. I just hope the air clears up a bit. The pollution is getting worse I think. That is probably due to the burning of agricultural plots after harvest. Anyway, we are doing fine and here are some of the recent videos to share. I have also updated my photo album with the latest snapshots of our boy Le Le. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 04, 2008



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Taking Stock

It has been almost two years since I started this blog on 8 October 2006. That was about 10 days before the birth of my son, Shanle. This life altering event prompted me to blog and to share my joy and thought with my friends near and far.

"Living a nomadic lifestyle, I have more friendships than the time I have to nurture them. I hope to keep my friends abreast of my life, share my photo albums, videos and the little things happening along the way before we next meet."

The above is the first paragraph of my first blog post and it is still the primary motivation that keeps me blogging. The number of posts has dwindled over the years but I try to blog at least once a month. Sometimes, I wonder how many of my friends are reading my posts and what are their thoughts after reading. Feedback is very limited but occasional words of encouragement from friends who read my blog really brighten up my gloomy days.

This 100th post came at a very trying time of my career. I have passed the "honeymoon" of my posting to Cairo and now I am still in culture shock. It is really challenging to operate well in this part of the world where uncertainty rules the day. Nothing is for sure and contracts are just for reference. Reliable information is hard to come by and no operations go as planned. I have yet to find my groove and I can't help but feel defeated when things go wrong. I think it will take a while before I get used to the way things get done here.

Life is full of ups and downs. My life so far has been quite smooth sailing so I guess it is time for the down swing. I will have to brace the fall, bottom out and find the right momentum for the next upswing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Videos and Photos

Here are some new videos and photos of our boy Shanle. He is now going to the Irish School nearby in the mornings. So far he is settling down well and he no longer cries whenever we drop him off at school. But the teacher said that he is not mixing with the other toddlers and he usually be on his own. Perhaps it is because he has been alone with his Mum for the first few months in Cairo and is not used to interacting with others. Or maybe it is due to his own personality.

Updated photo album...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008






Sunday, June 22, 2008

Moving Around in Cairo

I have arrived in Cairo for over three months now with my family but I still cannot say that we are well settled into our new home. Reason is that I am still waiting for my car to arrive. Moving around Cairo is not an easy task, especially if you are not sure how to say where you are going in Arabic. Forget about the unmarked micro buses plying the busy streets. Not knowing your destination in Arabic means that you can forget about taking taxis too unless you want to risk a merry-go-round and get ripped off. To have a decent life here, you need a car to move around and better still a chauffeur so that you can also forget about the parking problem.

I placed an order for a brand new Opel Vectra last month and I am now in the final stage of clearing all the paperwork. Hopefully the car can be delivered before the end of the month. This is a huge purchase for me and my first car. I thought of buying a cheaper Japanese or Korean car but they were mostly locally assembled and I do not find them tough enough for the harsh roads of Cairo. The Vectra is assembled in Germany and it comes with 6 air-bags and a whole suite of state of the art features like Easytronic transmission, a hybrid of automatic and manual transmission. Bottomline, Vectra is a very sturdy car and I really feel safe in it.

I also considered buying a second-hand car from other diplomats in Cairo but I dropped the idea. I just want to have a brand new car with warranty, no hidden history and no nasty maintenance problems. Also, I did not come across any suitable cars since my arrival. I am ready to bear the depreciation for the first few years so buying a new car is a natural choice. I am starting to read up about cars and I'm feeling excited about driving in my Vectra. Only then I can truly start to settle down to life in Cairo.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Recent Videos and Photos Taken in Egypt

I have not uploaded new video clips and photos for quite sometime now. Here are the three recent videos I have uploaded on my Youtube channel and a new photo album on MSN Space. Enjoy!

Watch two other videos through the links below:

Below are a couple photos for your preview. Click here for the album.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Settling Down In Cairo

It has been more than a month since I arrived in Cairo with my family. Swarmed with work and faced with the challenge of adapting to the new environment with a family, I was unable to find the mood to blog. To recap, we stayed at the Cairo Marriott Hotel for about 3 weeks before moving into our rented apartment near my office. We had to extend our hotel stay because of an unexpected delay in the arrival of my shipment. Our mover explained that the delay was due to bad weather and port congestion. There is nothing much we can do about that. The hotel stay was nice but we really yearned for our own home to settle in. Living in a hotel for such a long time can be quite unsettling and costly as well.

We were overjoyed when our shipment was delivered but we have hard work cut out for us at the same time. Given the short notice of delivery, I was unable to clean up the apartment beforehand. All our things were unpacked and placed in the dirty cabinets, shelves and floor. The whole apartment was in a mess. I had to toil through the day till late night cleaning the kitchen, dining area, master bedroom and the living area so that Irene and Le Le can move in. The amount of dirt was unimaginable and I had to keep changing the mop water which turned black so quickly. After much hard work, I managed to keep the mess to the study and guest rooms. We moved in a couple of days after the delivery of our shipment.

The cleaning work did not stop after moving in and we had to take turns mopping up the place and tidy up the mess. It has been two weeks now and we are left with only the two guest rooms to shape up. Fortunately, I managed to get back the cleaner I engaged to clean my apartment during my language studies and she will be reporting to work tomorrow. Besides the cleaning, we did tremendous amount of shopping for household items. Every trip to the hypermart left us drained and tired. Le Le was usually asleep by the time we reached home. After a few rounds of shopping, I think we have almost fully equipped our home in Cairo.

The only problem we faced was looking for the child-safety doors to our staircase. After searching through all the places we can think of, we were unable to find a suitable door off-the-shelf. In the end, we had to call in a carpenter to custom make two doors, one for the upper floor and one on the lower floor. Yes, we are living in a duplex. Given a choice, we would have opt for a one floor apartment for child-safety and comfort. We are really not used to climbing up and down the stairs so frequently. Irene is now complaining of aches in her feet.

That's all for now folks. I will upload some photos and videos when I can find time.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Goodbye My Friends

Dear Friends,

I will be leaving Singapore today and relocating to Cairo for the next three years. The run-up to my departure has been a very busy time for I and my family. This is the first time I am going on a posting with my wife and son in tow. Preparation has never been more tedious and time-consuming. Hence, I was unable to catch up with many of you before I depart.

As I have written in the introduction of this blog, "living a nomadic lifestyle, I have more friendships than the time I have to nurture them. I hope you will understand. Do stay in touch and continue to keep me posted on the major happenings in your lives.

In the past one month after I returned from Cairo from my language studies, I managed to make a trip to Taiwan to catch up with some old friends there. Sorry I was unable to announce my visit earlier or contact many many good friends I have in Taiwan. The trip was a short one and I had to set aside a few days to visit Tainan and 溪头. I will post the photographs taken on the trip on my MSN Space after I settled down in Cairo.

The taxi will be coming in about an hour time. It's going to be another emotional time of separation. This time it's not just about me, but also my wife and our son. His grandparents naturally cannot bear to see him go but I have to bring them along. I think it is important for us to stay together as a family. I believe we will survive this posting well and enjoy our stay in Cairo, leaving behind beautiful memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

Wish us well my friends. If you plan to visit, do drop us an email and we will gladly play host.

Kee Chor, Irene and Shanle

Wednesday, February 13, 2008



Saturday, February 02, 2008

Days Without the Internet

About three days ago, a break in two fibre optic cables in the Mediterranean Sea disrupted communications across the Middle East and into India and neighboring countries. Suddenly, I wasn't able to video call my wife in Singapore, no Facebook updates, no Youtube, no online newspapers, no movies download and no for home delivered meals.

I understand perfectly how my life has been and will continue to be entwined with the Internet. But when reality hits, it was simply too painful to bear. The blessing in disguise was the greater amount of time I put into revision. Being too lazy to cook my own meals, I had to drag myself outside for meals. I hate to dine alone outside the comfort of my home.

Fortunately, the breakage was repaired and here I am back into the virtual world. Two weeks from now I will be on my flight to Singapore. Much has been accomplished so far and I have found the apartment to stay when I returned to Cairo with my family in Mar 08. I am glad that I can do away with the prospects of househunting around the chaotic city with my wife and toddler. With the accommodation settled, I will be able to concentrate on taking over the work and get off on a good start.

The Lunar New Year is drawing near. This is not the first time I will be missing the reunion dinner. But I never wanted to be at the table with my family so badly in the past. This will be my son's second reunion dinner but sadly his Daddy will not be there to give him his big angpow.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008





Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Visit to the Siwa Oasis

During my recent break from my Arabic studies, I arranged for Irene to visit Cairo. The trip was meant to be a familiarisation trip for her so that she can cope better when we return to Cairo in Mar 08 with our young boy. Besides walking about our office's neighbourhood, I also brought her to City Stars, Maadi and the Coptic Cairo. We also did some house hunting and found two suitable apartments. Negotiation is in progress and hopefully we can seal the lease even before we arrive in Mar 08.

As this may be the only chance we can get together with our boy in the good care of my mother-in-law, we went on our second honeymoon to the Siwa Oasis in the far-flung corner of Egypt near to the Libya border. It took us 10 hours on the bus to get there. To break the long journey, we stayed a night each at Marsa Matrouh, a beach resort on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea six hours away from Cairo. As it was winter time, the little town was quite asleep and the beaches were deserted. The view was magnificent and the Beau Site Hotel we stayed in was quite good. We thoroughly enjoyed the quiet time together.

It took us another four hours on the bus to get to the Siwa Oasis. The rustic oasis was quite busy as winter is the peak season for tourists. Naturally, tourists were abound but due to its remoteness, the place was not overcrowded. The hotel we stayed in, Siwa Safari Paradise Hotel, was not full. On the first day, we rented bicycles and visited the various tourist spots in the oasis - Shali, Cleopatra Bath, Temple of Amun and the Temple of the Oracle, which Alexander the Great visited in 331 BC to seek divine recognition as the son of Amun. On the next day, we got a 4x4 landcruiser and a driver-guide for a full day safari desert trip deep into the Great Sand Sea. The honeymoon was great!

Click here to see the photo album.

Music Nournishes The Soul & Mind (Chinese Songs)......