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Hoi Yee: To meet our first book proposal deadline, Julia and I took a two-week retreat in Thailand.  Away from all the distractions of business and family, and in a villa lent to us by a friend, we had the perfect setting to achieve our goal.  We travelled with stacks of paper and every stationery item conceivable to help us organize our writing and our ideas.  I even took a laser printer in my suitcase – that was the closest I’ve come to packing the kitchen sink!

Things didn’t quite work out as planned.  There was a district-wide strike that started the morning of my arrival.  The hotel was surrounded by the army for protection.  Julia was to arrive in two days, and I was so nervous that I was ready to hop on the first plane back to Hong Kong.  That was one of the first signs of how persistent Julia is: she said that she’s coming and that we’d finish our proposal before we return home.

On our first evening, Julia had food poisoning – even though she and I had shared the same dishes.  She didn’t even touch the shrimps that I munched on!  She had a miserable night and spent most of the next day in bed.  In my new role as nurse, I kept her supplied with snacks and liquids while continued our work.

I thought I had avoided the bug.  I didn’t dare return to that restaurant, never touched uncooked foods, and never drank untreated water . . . all to no avail.  The very next day, I ended up with food poisoning!

At least I knew where to direct her to purchase bananas and soda crackers.  In return, she pushed my bed closer to the washroom and advised on which bucket and towels to keep by my bedside.

Despite the army fortressed hotel, food that went off because tourists could not enter the restaurants, and finally just eating dried fruits, nuts and bread for ten days, we created a book outline that today, continues to guide our writing chapter after chapter after chapter.