Book Review: Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

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I first saw this book at a Fully Booked branch last February but I did not buy it then. I was intrigued, but wasnt entirely convinced yet that the book was worth it. The funny thing about this encounter was that I didn’t really know who Elon Musk was – just that he looked like a rich businessman – and it was Tesla that actually caught my attention on this book.

The first time I encountered Tesla Motors was from a Discovery, if not Nat Geo documentary (forgive me, it was ages ago) around high school I think, circa 2012. I remember that after the Audi, Tesla became my dream car brand because it was electric, the car looked sexy and there was so much leg room in the vehicle when it was featured.

I shrugged it off and it wasn’t until a few weeks later that I actually googled who Elon Musk was…. and then the curiosity started to pique. Business Insider articles, YouTube videos with him being interviewed, news features and whatever was free on the internet about him became brain food for me. And it wasn’t enough.

Finally succumbing I bought the book and I must say, Ashlee Vance did not disappoint. It was an easy read – I think I finished it in about a week – structure was simple, straightforward and it made you want to keep reading. I liked that the book was able to discuss and relate how Elon operates his companies to his background before he even became a tech startup magnate.

Moreover, I liked that Vance started building this book from the interviews of different people, who were and are involved in Elon Musk’s life before actually including Elon’s side of the story. It gives it a sense of detachment in narrating Elon’s life and a reality when you read that multiple accounts(people) describe him the same way. I liked that it got very real because it included all the hardships and financial struggles and how Elon overcame it to get all his companies to where they are now. I mean, yes, you get to read it in the news because some of the companies are public and of course the public statements that Elon releases but it’s different if you read it in the words of the person who actually went through it, the part that doesn’t get published until now.

After reading the book, I knew that it was good because it left me feeling inspired knowing that technology is pushing itself to new heights again not only in the software industry but hardware because of the drive of Musk. It also left a good feeling because it showed me that successful people do not gain success overnight.

They work and work and learn and make mistakes and learn from them to be better. In that sense, it makes being a better person in whichever aspect you wish, very attainable. It becomes a matter of how much effort you put into it. I don’t think I’ll ever dream of working like him – sleepless nights and all, but I am glad I get to read about it.

Happy to say that he’s my CEO crush and I am looking forward to many more innovations from his companies.

A

Hong Kong-Macau 2017

I have been putting this off for far too long, I am soo sorry! But this is it. I am sharing this no excuses.

Last January, I went on a trip to Hong Kong with a side trip to Macau with my Mom, Tita and cousin. Half of the trip was on tour package and half of it was DIY. Can fairly say that this was one of those mid-range budget type of trips and you will know why below.

Travel Details and Costing

We flew to Hong Kong around second week of January with my cousin, aunt and mom – sort of like our girls trip abroad which was pretty exciting. We booked our ticket months before when Philippine Airlines had a seat sale. It was a pretty good deal. The ticket was about Php 7,000 per person, travel tax included, so we did not need to queue at the TIEZA booth at the airport.

My aunt wanted a little bit of convenience so she had our hotel, transfers and the first full day there booked through her former student’s travel agency. It made airport-hotel-airport as well as hotel-Disneyland-hotel transfers incredibly easy. We stayed at Silka Seaview Hotel at Yau Ma Tei district, a few blocks from Nathan Road and various Night Markets that pretty much disappeared in the mornings. Hotel accommodation included breakfasts for all days of stay – with an incredible view of the area 19 floors up. The also package included a day tour around Hong Kong and the ticket to Disneyland. All these cost me about Php 10,000.

Of course, let us not forget pocket money for the food, shopping, and other expenses. I brought Php 15,000 of hard earned money that I had exchanged at the airport here in Manila and part exchanged at the airport at Hong Kong. Expenses for Macau are also included here.

Helpful tip from my experience: Rate of exchange here in Manila Airport (NAIA 2) was waaaay better than the FX rate when I arrived at HK International Airport. So if you’re like me who is in the habit of exchanging currencies at the airport, you may exchange enough here in Manila and then if you need more when you get to HK, have it exchanged at the money changers outside the airport. 

So if you total all my expenses on this trip, this is probably my most expensive to date. 😭 But as the saying goes, if you want time and convenience, you have to pay the price.

Night 1

Took the evening flight, and we arrived at the hotel around 11 in the evening – starving and tired. Right after we dropped our bags in the room, we went down exploring for food hoping we’d experience authentic Hong Kong food. We did, just around the block from the hotel. The owner who was standing outside managed to convince us to try his shop and have a seat inside. It wasn’t the most Instagrammable place (cue in the stack of coke and table cloth beside my cousin) but the food was good enough to say that we were in Hong Kong. 🙂

We had noodles, fish soup and house tea. The noodles were the hero of the night. The smoky taste from the wok were enough to keep me scooping for more noodles into my bowl! For the 4 of us, we spent a little over HKD 100.

Day 1

Tour begins today and I will say that I was nothing but positive the start of the day. I mean, if you had breakfast with this view?!

Our tour bus fetched us at around 830AM along with other Filipino tourists from different hotels who booked the same schedule as us. Started out pretty good with the cold weather which I have come to realize that I love. Since I came home to Manila, I’ve been secretly wishing that temperatures here would drop to the same level as when we went to Hong Kong, about 17-23 deg Celsius.

  • Avenue/ Garden of the Stars

First stop was at the Garden of the stars ⭐️. Unfortunately, the Avenue was closed down  for reconstruction so we made the most of the Garden. From what I got from the place, Hong Kong puts quite a high value on their performing arts culture especially their artists, which feels way different from how we put value to our local artists here in the Philippines. It might just be me but it almost seemed like there was a revered sense of pride.

  • Hong Kong Jeweller

The guys here are famous for making those lucky fans and I will tell you they cost alot. After a brief history of their company, we were guided into their showroom and basically sales talked into buying their merch. I have to say from the get-go if you have no plans of buying jewelry here, you can say these are expensive. I didn’t buy any. Though I did find it odd that most of the photos on the wall were adorned with Filipino artists and public figures.

  • Boat Ride around Hong Kong (HKD 60 per person)

This was a short refreshing boat ride along Aberdeen and we passed by the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.

  • Shady Grocery shop

I know travel blogs don’t usually post detail stuff like these but because this was a tour package and I want to document as much as I could with what happened on my trips, I am including this. Not exactly sure where this is in Hong Kong Island but it’s a small grocery/ gift shop store in a sort of industrial building. This store is practically for tourists… because of the price. My gosh, when I found out what we bought was waaaayyyyy cheaper when we went around HK(Nathan Rd) during our free day, I would have not bought anything here at all!

  • Hong Kong Disneyland

I think a large part of why we took the day-tour package was because it included transportation and tickets to Disneyland and as I said, the convenience that we wanted with this trip. HK Disneyland of course, did not disappoint. Still the happiest place in the world – especially the fireworks before the park closes <3.

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Speaking of fireworks, funny story. My cousin and I noticed while waiting for the fireworks show that the place became a little PG-13. Don’t get me wrong I’m a romantic and all for kissing under the fireworks but come on, making out at Disneyland, in front of the kids? It was funny and awkward, we didn’t know where to look hahahaha. :))

Anyway, if you’re not like me who is all for the heights and the screaming, make sure to watch the shows! Great stuff. Showtimes are available in brochures at the theme park’s entrance. If you like a little more adventure and heights, like me – try Space Mountain in Tomorrowland or the Race Car in Toy Story Land.

Day 2

Bright and early free day for us and we decided to go to Macau. Was the most spontaneous side trip – we didn’t have any maps nor idea where in Macau we would be going to. Just googled the nearest port that goes to Macau and winged it from then on.

From the Hotel we took a cab to the Kowloon port (China Ferry Terminal). Then we bought the roundtrip ticket worth 330 HKD (165HKD each) for Cotai Water Jet. Please please don’t be like me and count your change before leaving, people selling you the ticket will rush you and might short change you like what happened to me. Ferry leaves every 30 minutes, you can check Cotai Water Jet’s schedule from their official website here.

Also check the ports of your ticket going back. Note we left Hong Kong from the Kowloon Port and we arrived back at Hong Kong Island (Sheung Wan Port). Those are two different ports in Hong Kong.

Once we arrived at Macau, you can get to the main island free via the Bus sponsored by the Hotels and Casinos there – I was a dumb tourist at that point and we basically hopped onto the bus by Wynn Hotel. Not bad, there was free WiFi. Enough to google where we needed to go next.

Decided we wanted to go to St. Paul’s Ruins. The first cab we hailed rejected us because he couldnt understand English. The second one that gave us a ride dropped us off at the Senado Square because the traffic was so horrible and I think the driver knew we were tourists, that we may enjoy the way there. I did.

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Lost at Senado Square about to walk to St Paul’s Ruins

Went in a couple of Portuguese inspired Catholic Churches that smelled alot like the old churches here at home in Philippines – pretty eerie and cool btw. Then we proceeded to St. Paul. And I should say what a walk. There were so much pork jerky at R. de Sao Paulo that if you were into those things you might as well forget you were going to the Ruins.

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We are almost there! Last flight of stairs!

It wasn’t much after St. Paul’s. Of course there is that obligatory buying of pasalubong when we were trekking downhill back to Wynn to take a bathroom break and go back to Hong Kong Island. Mind you, that 3-hour stay in Macau did drain us that we started our last morning in Hong Kong a way later than the first two.

Night 2

Mom and I have a habit of staying out late and exploring the night life – if there is one, when we travel – both locally and abroad. Nothing fancy, no bars or wild dancing. Just to have a feel of how the people in the places we visit are in the evenings. We decided to explore around the Yau Ma Tei area where our hotel was.

Apparently, we were walking distance from Temple Street which is a night market in the evening. Well duh, night market, lol Alec. Encountered alot of foreigners and tourists like us, found alot of stuff that we wanted to buy. Bought pearls and jewelry and did alot of bargaining. The bargaining part was fun, but at this point we were more hungry.

To our surprise and to my delight, there were alot of hole-in-the-wall restaurants near the hotel where alot of locals eat – my favorite kind of places to eat when travelling. I was able to try those egg-shaped waffles which way later dawned on me that it had eggs in it and I can’t really have so much eggs. I’m allergic. Don’t worry I survived.

We also found this place that sells a quarter Peking Duck with alot of rice and a side of steamed Bok Choy for 39 HKD. Took takeout to eat in a hotel room. Then we stumbled upon this small barbecue place – think it was satay. Lovely lovely satay.. We bought 1 to share because we were more excited with the duck, lol but it was delicious.

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Day 3

Started the day later than usual – and this was the last day. We were still so intrigued with Temple street that we went back there to find that it became and open road, lol, with cars passing by and no merchandise being sold at the time. Well, duh, it was a night market, Alec. Dum dums.

Did some last minute shopping and strolling at Nathan Road. Bought alot of coffee – Old Town – which now I know is always way cheaper abroad than here in Manila. Unless you can tell me where you can find a place that sells this brand cheaper around here, please let me know! They have milk tea variant and I found that in Singapore – but that’s for another post :).

Was curious about SaSa to find out that it was a make-up store! But I noticed HK sells pretty expensive makeup so we took a pass and Mom bought some tiger balm lol very tita.

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They were pink and fancy

We had lunch again at that 39 HKD Peking Duck place and were fetched by the same tour provider to be dropped at the airport.

Overall, the trip was great as I loved the weather, the company and the spontaneity. It was a good vacation.

To more of these.

A

Priorities are a real thing and they include people

As I sit here in the mall’s cafeteria waiting for my friends, I figured now would be the perfect time to write my post for this week. You see, I’ll be flying to Hong Kong tomorrow on vacation with family so I will be busy by then.

This weekend was pretty uneventful given the fact that my plans got canceled. Made me realize alot about priorities and that sometimes the stuff that’s important to you turns out to not be as important for them. Like you let them ride shotgun and you’re the one who’s placed in the backseat. Doesn’t feel like the best thing in the world but it’s pretty much a wakeup call to rearrange your priorities as well. 

Made me think about my current priorities and the things that I should prioritize. So far my year has placed family and travel front row, maintaining my friends and staying healthy for my period’s sake second and pretty much anything goes for the third. 

I’ve been told to go back to school and take up masters or look for a boyfriend. Both of which I am open to but haven’t really placed myself to the opportunities. I’ll get there.

I think I was just surprised by what happened. Not that I wasn’t expecting it. Come on, the past two plans to meet got dissolved on the last minute! I’d like to think it’s me who’s denying the fact that people change, priorities shift and my ego’s a teeny tiny hurt about it. 

But we have to move on.

A

Hello 2017!

Happy New Year!

If I remember correctly, in previous years I would have made a year-end post to thank everyone who made a difference in my life or the learnings that were worth sharing. 

This year, I haven’t managed to do that and I want to change it up a little bit so I get to write more instead of pack everything up in a single post. Kinda made myself a resolution last night that I should start blogging again and post at least once a week along with a few other stuff. I reviewed the list I made last year and so far I have only ticked 2 – to reach my target savings and jump off a cliff! Lol, Baby steps. 

This year I tried to be more specific and realistic with my goals. Well, one of them is still vague – and I’ll get to that when I am finally comfortable to share. 

The year’s just starting and I have a feeling alot more is going to happen than last year. I do hope it’s going to be a good year.

A

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