Land of Wealth


Reviewed by: Funn Lim

January 21, 2009

Rating: four

NOTICE
The following episodic thoughts were first posted at Point2e.com (http://p2erev.wordpress.com/category/ep-01/) and is reposted in here with some editing. Episodic Thoughts is a combination of episode summaries and critical analysis, therefore it is a episode by episode review. The original posts were posted between 14.02.2008 to 13.02.2008 where the series was broadcast on Malaysia's ASTRO Wah Lai Toi channel. Each episode was written at the time when each episode finished broadcasting for day. For the original content as well as discussions, relationship chart, etc, please go to http://p2erev.wordpress.com/category/ep-01/.

WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

Some General Info
No. of Episodes
32

Cast-Character
Thanks to http://www.virtuesofharmony.net/blog/2006/09/series-411-land-of-wealth.html, Elizabeth and Kidd for the names.

Chai Family
Moses Chan - Chai Bak Chuen / Fan Chi Chai
Chung King Fai - Chai Hok Yan
Siu Jing Yung - Young Chai Hok Yan
Fung So Bo - Mrs Chai (Mother of Bak Chuen)
Lai Suen - Old Mrs Chai (Bak Chuen’s grandmother)
Cheung Mei Nei - Chai So Lan
Hui Man Kiu - Ming Sum (in ep 1 & 2 I wrote his name as Ping Sum. please note I am referring to the same character)

Kiu Family
Tavia Yeung - Kiu Jun
John Chiang - Kiu Boon Yip
Claire Yiu - Kiu Ching
Kenny Wong - Fong Yun Tin
Lui San - Mrs Kiu (Mang Yuet Or)

Cheung Family
Steven Ma - Cheung Sung Man
Chan Hung Lit - Cheung Hao Yu (Cheung Sr)
King Kong - Cheung Sung Lai
Lily Lee - Mrs Cheung

Cho Family
Lau Dan - Cho Yu Tai
Rebecca Chan - Mrs Cho (Mang Yuet Sheung)
Chris Lai Lok Yi - Cho King Yin

Mongolians
Stephen Wong Ka Lok - Fu Yi Chek
Sonija Kwok - Ba Ba Ha Yi Ko Wa / Fa Ling Lung
Stephen Huynh (Wong Cheung Hing) - Bo Yan Ba To
Lee Kar Ding - Ko Wa’s uncle
Mimi Chu - Ko Wa’s aunt

Qing Dynasty
Rainbow Ching Hor Wai - Empress Dowager Cixi (older)
Hong Wah - Empress Dowager Cixi (younger)
Kwong Jor Fai - Lee Lin Ying
Gan Mo Wah - Empress Cian
Chan Wing Yin - Wai Tai Fei

Misc
Law Lok Lam - Sir Chui Wing Wai(in ep 1 I called him the overstressed official)
Kok Fung - Chai Ngai
Kwan Ching - Lam Ying Kit (Uncle Lam)
Gregory Lee - Hong Fei
Nelson Anderson - Ambassador Tobovz
Erica Yuen Yi Ming - Anna Tobovz
Sin Heen Ying - Master Kwan Hung

Theme song sung by
Eason Chan. I recognised his voice.

------------------------------------------

EPISODE 1
My first impression was this series was hectic, the very first episode was confusing because almost every major character was introduced from the very beginning and I cursed that none of the names printed on screen were translated, so basically I can’t keep up with the names. I could only remember two names; Chai Bak Chuen that is Moses’ character and his father’s name, Chai Lok Yan, the actor I am not quite sure his name but he was the “Sek Kin” in Dance Of Passion. And yes, he is still as monotone as ever, a bit like Moses in fact. Anyway it was intimidating but getting that over with, I find myself quite engrossed with the story even if it was bullet train pace with names dropped at every corner.

The first scene was quite a tragedy, in terms of story and in terms of casting. Of course the way the story goes this series will start with tragedy.

It was Qing Dynasty and should be around 1861 or so, before the start of the reign of Emperor Tong Zhi, the one who died from smallpox/sex disease (depending on which version you prefer). His mother was none other than the future Empress Dowager Cixi, here played to very chilling effect by Hong Wah who unfortunately appeared less than 8 minutes in total. Anyway she wanted to secure her son’s position as emperor and so she ordered the death of the other I think empress/concubine who had the last emperor’s will on hand. The concubine tried to run away and ended up hiding in a huge “gong” (I think you call it porcelain tank?) filled with water. At that same time a young official heard a splash and saw a woman in it, and quickly tried to rescue her without knowing he is sending her to her doom. She was rescued, kicking and screaming and the young official knew he must have done something he shouldn’t have. The young concubine was punished severely where Cixi had her legs and hands cut off and she would spend her days in a huge “gong”, kept alive for the sake of Cixi’s sick amusement. Then Cixi became Empress Dowager and that young official was told to keep quiet to what he saw. Tong Zhi died and Guangxu became Emperor and then we see a much older Empress Dowager Cixi, as scary as ever. This time she was approached by an older minister who begged her to reconsider renovating one of her palaces as the treasury was running out of funds and they have exhausted all loans from foreign countries. Cixi refused to listen and said “Are you telling me I should not celebrate my birthday in a grand manner? And then where would the pride of China be if my 60th birthday is not celebrated lavishly?”. So she dismissed his pleas even though he dared retorted “But madam, you can ask other ministers for the feedback on our financial situation” and she then basically told him to f*ck off, in a more polite manner but just as stern. So the minister went away. On his way out he saw a couple of workers refusing to work and he was told they had not been paid. And that any salary paid by the time the money reached them a cut would have been taken as bribe. So the personal eunuch of Cixi suggested to this hardworking if not befuddled old fool that perhaps he should pay the workers earlier from the treasury, because “no matter what, the renovation must not stop and my most exalted empress dowager must never know of this slight hiccup”. And so he agreed.

And now you ask what has this got to do with Moses Chan?!?!? Me too… but there is a connection.

Remember that young man who accidentally saved someone who didn’t want to be saved? That was Chai Lok Yan who was now approaching 60 years old. Due to his accident, he has lived a life of regrets and he has dedicated his life towards righteousness. He often did charity and refused to take bribed and led a very corruption free life. He was well respected by the people in the town and his wife too lived by his code of conduct. He has a daughter and an older son. The older son is Chai Bak Chuen played by Moses Chan. From the beginning we see Bak Chuen as a young man living for the past 11 years in a temple because one fortune teller told his family, especially his superstitious grandmother that he is bad luck. When he was little he was always sick so the family had no choice but to send him away and he can only return on his father’s 60th birthday. Unfortunately he ignored the warnings and he came back a day earlier with his faithful young male servant whom he treated like brother. Although his family was very pleased to see him, his grandmother was upset, especially when Bak Chuen loudly declare “If I had to live my life in solitude because of this bad luck of mine, I’d rather die!”. Well life settled down quickly for Bak Chuen, whom not many could recognise since he was away since as a young man. I can’t figure out his age exactly but since he last saw a close family friend, an Uncle Lam when he was 13 or 14, and 11 or 12 years have passed, he should be about 25 years of age which translates to Moses Chan, you’re too old for this role.

Anyway Bak Chuen was out with his sister to buy his father a gift. He dropped the jade pendant given by his father (who in turn got it from the poor concubine whom he inadvertently helped without her wanting to be helped) and he went back store when John Chiang whose character I have yet to know the name picked it up and appreciated the jade. The servant took it back to Bak Chuen and they never met.

Now John Chiang, whom I thought was called David Chiang since Chiang Da Wei is a renowned banker who can count and weigh the golds with his hands as soon as he was 2. Nothing much is known of him except he is a genius banker.

Anyway, big trouble looms on the Chai family.

Old man Chai refused to take bribe on his birthday by one of the corrupt officials after Chai discovered workers recommended by this corrupt official played by Kok Fung was secretly taking money out of the treasury vault by well quite original here… sticking the thick silver bars into their arse! So he has made an enemy and that was the beginning of his downfall.

Remember that over stressed official who begged Cixi to stop the renovation? Well he actually went to the treasury vault to take some money, with two corrupt officials in tow, one of them Kok Fung. Old man Chai dutifully opened the vault and the boxes but then that overstressed official discovered that two whole boxes of silver bars were missing. So naturally Old man Chai was arrested with his whole family. But before they were arrested, the young servant saw guards walking into the Chai mansion with bags on hand and old man Chai knew he was being set up. But he had an alibi. He had calculated the number of bars the day before and he didn’t go to the vault yesterday and since today there were missing bars, he deduced the theft was yesterday and yesterday he was with Uncle Lam. Bak Chuen volunteered to find Uncle Lam and his faithful servant went along.

The servant told Bak Chuen to switch places with him, just in case Uncle Lam refused to help. So it was the servant pretending to be Bak Chuen who found Uncle Lam and begged Uncle Lam to help.

Back in the court and it was thunder striking and all, the overstressed official began to read the accusations to which old man Chai cried “I am innocent of all charges. I am a man of honour, I am not a corrupt officials, I have conducted myself with great integrity and virtue all my life..I did not do all that I was accused of. If I did, why would I hide the silvers in my own home?” to which the official retorted “Clearly you didn’t have time to hide them”. Interestingly the official asked Kok Fung “As his superior, what is your opinion of the accused?” and Kok Fung sinisterly said “I may be his superior but I hardly know him” and every other official in the room agreed and THUNDER, LIGHTNING, KA-BOOM!!! Old man Chai then said “I have a witness my lord who can prove my innocence since I wasn’t there in the vault that day”.Uncle Lam came in. Old man Chai mentioned that he left Uncle Lam’s house at around 7pm or something like that. Can’t remember. Anyway Uncle Lam came and he said “Yes my lord, he was with me on that day but he left at 1pm” and KA-BOOM! THUNDER, LIGHTNING! Old man Chai was shocked beyond words and the overstressed official said “Even your friend stated otherwise, what more have you to say?” and Old Man Chai said “You’re my oldest and dearest friend, how can you betray me?” and Uncle Lam said “I was telling the truth, I can’t hide the truth for you” and so the official said “Since this is embezzlement from his Majesty, the law dictates the whole Chai family must be executed” and again THUNDER, LIGHTNING. Old man Chai said cynically “This is indeed the end of the Qing empire. Where is your conscience? Is material wealth so important that you dare accuse an innocent man of a crime he did not commit? Where is justice? Where is the law? The Qing empire will fall because of you corrupt men. You will cause the downfall of this dynasty! The concubine was right; there is no justice, all officials are corrupt and I myself having conducted myself with virtue and integrity, having not taken a cent of bribe all these years, doing charities and fulfilling my duties diligently is now to be executed. Where is justice, there is no justice, there is no law” and official said “Take him away!!” and the last scene was a forlorn looking old man Chai’s face, with the huge plague on top of his head which I assume reads “Justice for all” or something like that.

Next episode, more tragedy for the Chai family.

Truth be told, I was intrigued by the story from the get go. The trailer was dramatic, with a row of people crying for justice as they were beheaded. Shortly after this episode 1, ASTRO broadcast the The Making Of Land Of Wealth and indeed as I have suspected, his faithful servant tied him up and took his place and was beheaded so that at least one male heir can continue the family name. It is such a great tragedy because Bak Chuen’s sister is very young and she too had to die.

The funny thing was that overstressed official, he actually had good intentions. He didn’t seem corrupt, he was just misled. If Old man Chai felt guilt for causing the death of one concubine, I wonder how would that idiot feel for killing the entire Chai family? And what sort of a court is that? That idiot asked the other officials for opinion. Wouldn’t he know how corrupt they are? In fact wasn’t he the same actor who played another idiot but honest minister in Safe Guards? He kept saying he can’t believe old man Chai’s innocence and I kept remembering one scene Safe Guards shown where a very poor official tried to convince the royal uncle that he was righteous by saying he was poor. Poverty would prove whether a civil servant is noble or not. Poor old man Chai, he was doomed from the start and I believe Bak Chuen will bear the guilt for being alive.

Anyway the Making Of went on to show many scenes that would either make or kill this series. John Chiang would become his mentor. Steven Ma would become his friend. Steven Ma would fall for Tavia, John’s daughter but she would marry Moses who in turn would be secretly in love with Sonija, a Mongolian who ended up marrying John who in turn found out their affair of the heart and Moses who married Tavia for money probably… well it is too complicated to even tell you what I saw in the The Making Of because it has the proportion of a Greek tragedy and the potential of a farce. Hopefully this series stays away from that.

What is interesting though is that this series is about banks in the olden day China. The TMO had experts talking about money and one scene had a man walking into the bank with many types of silvers. I never knew money came in so many shapes and sizes. The historian said to buy a land in the olden days the man had to hire guards to carry boxes of silver bars and then came the creation of what is now known as a cheque. I tell you Chinese are brilliant race.

But I bet you by the middle of this series, it will disintegrate into L-O-V-E. I tremble with fear with the appearance of Sonija Kwok whom in the TMO looks very pretty in the wedding gown. Tavia seems so serious but Sonija seems so playful. I don’t know. Why can’t she transfer that liveliness into her every performance? Tavia is no longer the zombie girl but is Sonija still the automaton?

Time will only tell.

Anyway one actress was a total miscast and that was the actress who played Empress Dowager Cixi. She is not scary enough, she is not demanding enough, she is simply just whiny and overacted in key scenes. To think that her younger self was Hong Wah who in that 8 min appearance did more to this character with her malicious eyes and pursed lips than this old lady did by screaming and throwing and pointing everywhere. Why can’t Rebecca Chan be Cixi? Oh yeah she had to be John Chiang’s wife. (P/s : I think I got this wrong. She may not be his wife! - 28.12.2007)

Anyway so many men and so few women. But guess what? I suppose the fate of the men lies in the hands of one woman and nope, not the wives but Cixi. Now that is strange justice. I so hope to see that overstressed official and I hope he realised one day that he had killed off the entire Chai family because of his stupidity.

Roll on episode 2! Now I must get the cast list because I really am blur blur with the names. I think I may even have gotten the 2 names I wrote in here wrong! Oh no, cue THUNDER, LIGHTNING!!


EPISODE 2
You know I regretted my lighthearted recap of Episode 1 because Episode 2, as I have predicted in Episode 1 started with a tragedy. The worst of its kind, those kind that one is framed for a crime one didn't commit and the entire family had to pay for it. The Chai family as shown in the last scene in episode 1 was doomed. But I wasn't prepared for the emotions that ensued following the short scene.

Bak Chuen's faithful servant, Ping Sum rushed back to an abandoned temple and immediately told Bak Chuen the tragic news; that the entire family was to be executed, soon and that Uncle Lam had betrayed them. Bak Chuen was emotional, he didn't understand the injustice and he wrecked the temple until suddenly he stopped and he reasoned, "I was the cause... I was the cause of it all. Grandmother said I am a bad luck person and if I hadn;t ignored their advise, if I hadn't ignored the prediction, I wouldn't have been so ignorant and now... now I have caused their deaths! WHY?! WHY THE INJUSTICE?" He knelt down before Buddha statue and cried "Please save my family, please do not punish them for my arrogance, please save them, pleaseeee". But that didn't work. He stopped again and this time he tearfully said "If my family were to be executed soon, I can't live anymore. I must join them..." but Ping Sum tried to stop him but Bak Chuen ignored Ping Sum's pleas who was practically holding onto Bak Chuen but Bak Chuen dragged himself away and walked toward the river to join his family. And then he saw the poster of Ping Sum but with his name on it. "They're looking for me.." said Bak Chuen and Ping Sam said "No master, they're looking for me. I pretended to be you, I am you.." but Bak Chuen listened no more and rushed to the river and Ping Sum knew whatever he said didn't matter anymore, and so he took a stone and knocked Bak Chuen unconscious.

When Bak Chuen was conscious, he was bound tightly to a raft. He was blur, and he asked Ping Sum what he was doing and he knew Ping Sum would take his place at the execution. Bak Chuen begged him "Ping Sum, this is not at the monastery, this is not helping me write some sutras, this is death Ping Sum, let me go" but Ping Sum held on to Bak Chuen and tearfully said "I wouldn't have been alive if the old Master did not save me from the flood years before. Although I am a mere servant, Master had treated me like his own brother and it is time for me to repay his kindness." and Bak Chuen desperately said "Alright, we run away. We run away together, we start life anew, Ping Sum, let me go, don't sacrifice yourself" but Ping Sum continued " The old master must not perish without a descendant to the Chai family bloodline. I will take your place and I will do so gratefully. Master, you must live on and you must rise again. Take care master..." and he went on off as Bak Chuen struggled and screamed "NOOOO.... PING SUMMMM... COME BACK!!! DON'T DO THIS!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!".

Next we see Ping Sum walking into the prison and he was placed in the same cell as old Master Chai and he immediately said "Father" but Chai Lok Yan was confused. As they sat down Ping Sum said "Don't worry Master. Young master is alright, he is in a safe place" and Chai Lok Yan looked at Ping Sum and quietly asked "Why are you doing this?" and Ping Sum answered "To let your last bloodline live master. This is the only thing I can do to help" and Chai Lok Yan was so touched he said "Please Ping Sum, let me kneel to show you my gratitude" but Ping Sum refused his gesture.

I assume the nexy day or some days later the entire Chai clan was led in wood cages, booed by the bystanders who stupidly said "Another corrupt official" and one said "Oh no, they're executing the entire family" and one bystander shouted "They deserved it!" and threw vegetables at them.

Let me pause here for a moment. Chai Lok Yan spent his life doing charity and what did he get? Veggies in his face. That is how grateful those stupid fools were. Continue...

They were led to the stand all knelt before the public. The two corrupt officials (one of whom Kok Fung whose name I have yet to learn) were presiding over the execution. Of course they were impatient. Charges were read, and Bak Chuen's sister, So Lan was crying loudly whilst the rest calmly awaited their fate. And then Chai Lok Yan saw Bak Chuen in the crowd. Bak Chuen rushed to the front, trying hard not to reveal his identity and he almost did but his father saw him and gave him that look which said "No, don't speak! Go!" whilst his grandma, mother, sister and Ping Sum saw him too and they too look at him to not say anything. Bak Chuen held back tears, fighting the urge to save his family or at least join them and when each was executed swiftly with So Lan's cries of NOOOO NOOOOOO NOOOO Bak Chuen could not hold it any longer and he almost screamed when a monk clapped his hand over Bak Chuen's mouth and dragged him away. Nearby Kiu Boon Yip was there witnessing the execution with his son in law and he vaguely remembered seeing Ping Sum somewhere. He saw Bak Chuen being dragged away and was curious as to who he was.

The monk apparently came in time to stop Bak Chuen because his father sent him a message and a note meant for Bak Chuen written in blood. He was careful not to leave names so the note was safe. Frankly I do not know what was written in the note since the chinese was very very deep bit I suppose somewhere along the line of Chai Lok Yan expressing his hurt towards the system and the injustice he was facing.

Later that day Bak Chuen followed the men to the corpse dumping ground. He saw his family's headless bodies stacked on top of another and he was held back by the monk so that he won't go rushing to the bodies. The monk told him to wait until at night, if not his identity will be revealed and all of Ping Sum's sacrifice would have amounted to nothing.

That night Bak Chuen searched for his family's bodies. It was dark, there were wolves waiting to feast on the flesh and there were many corpse since the dumping ground was for every prisoner, executed or died of some disease. The monk advised him to stop since there were plenty of bodies whom nobody claimed but Bak Chuen refused. He said "I must find my family, I must bury them.." and he searched to no avail. In the end he screamed out loud tearfully, "Father! Mother! Grandma! So Lan! Ping Sum! Where are you? Please let me find you! Where are you???". In the end he didn't find them and the monk invited him to go back to the monastery but Bak Chuen refused and mournfully said "I am an unlucky presence. I don't want to hurt anyone anymore. I will find my way...". And so he left.

Pause here for a moment.

I felt like crying seeing that scene his family was executed and how he tried to find their bodies. It was very sad and I believe Moses gave his best performance in that scene where his father looked at him in the eye at the execution site, begging him not to reveal himself as Moses struggled with the emotions, tears welling up but know he could do nothing. He would have died with them but his father forbade him and he struggled not to rush to them. That scene which focused solely on his face and his eyes was pretty awesome and yes, it made me cry a little. What a way to die. The injustice and I hated that idiot minister who didn't investigate and knew nothing but yet passed such a harsh sentence. I found out his name in the next scene, Sir Chui. Remember that name because I thought for a moment he would be Steven Ma's father. He wasn't.

Next scene we see Steven Ma as Cheung Sung Man, the younger son of a very powerful and righteous minister of defense (I think), Cheung Sr played by the formidable looking Chan Hung Lit, fast becoming my favourite veteran actor in TVB. Anyway, Sung Man is playful but idealistic. He wants to be a civil servant, he believed in justice and righteousness and he really wanted to help people. His father was strict but reputed to be a very righteous minister. He has an older son, Sung Lai, just as noble.

Cheung Sr was on his way to meet Sir Chui, now sick (GOOD!) and worrying about the country's dwindling treasury (VERY GOOD! YOU DESERVE IT YOU IDIOT!). Sir Chooi has yet to know the wrong he did on the Chai family and I do wonder, will he ever know? Cheung Sr saw some young man coming out of the nightclub and shook his head at the declining moral when he saw it was his own son, Sung Man! At home he scolded Sung Man who explained those girls were musicians and he was helping one who was being bullied. Nevertheless Cheung Sr had a strict sense of hierarchy and so he punished Sung Man. At night Sung Man persuaded his brother Sung Lai toilet him leave so that he can travel the country to better prepare his future as a civil servant, to understand the common people. Of course his father wasn't please.

Sung Man was at I think Shan Sai? Anyway somewhere near the picturesque river, mountain and all.

And then my most dreaded moment materialized.

Sonija Kwok appears, as Mongolian .. let me get her name...Ba Ba Ha Yi Ko Wa with his rash younger brother, Bo Yi Chek. They were on their way to sell their horses when they stopped for a drink by the river. Ko Wa saw Bak Chuen by the river and smiled at him but he ignored her. He almost slipped and his baggage fell into the river and Ko Wai helped to retrieve but Bo Yi Chek thought something was wrong and rushed to them. That was when their horses was horse-napped. They tried to get them back but to no avail. Bo Yi Chek blamed Bak Chuen but Ko Wa cheerfully said "Don't blame him. He didn't expect that" and he walked over to a mournful looking Bak Chuen. She looked at him, left him some money and optimistically said "Although we are foreigners in your land, I do think we should help each other. Here is some money. Don't blame yourself over the horses, it wasn't your fault" and she left. Bak Chuen looked intrigued by her cheerfulness.

Once in town, Ko Wa and brother were hungry so they decided to withdraw some money from some bank. This bank was owned by Cho Yu Tai, probably the villain in this story. They wanted to withdraw some money but they didn;'t have proof of ownership since their baggage was stolen together with the cheque, The brother made one hell of a noise and Cho Yu Tai very politely explained why they can't withdraw the money for them. Ko Wai understood and left, dragging his brother away. Once outside, she saw Kiu Boon Yip, his bodyguards and his son in law. She recognised the horse Yip was on and immediately whistled at the horse which almost threw Yip to the ground. Again the brother made a ruckus, saying that's their horse, they have stole their horse but Yip explained he bought the horse. Ko Wa again accepted his explanation and asked where he bought the horse and he pointed the way. She left immediately and found the thieves nearby. They tried to get back the horse but they overpowered them and one of them wanted to rape Ko Wa whilst his brother was held and suddenly Yip appeared with his bodyguards to save the day. Ko Wa was very grateful and Yip said "Here, I return your horse to you" but Ko Wai politely refused and cheerfully said "You have saved us Master Yip and you did buy the horse. It is yours to keep!" and she took back one horse from the thieves and with her brother rode away into the sunset. Ok, I added the sunset part but you know what I mean. Yip was impressed with her cheerfulness and her noblewoman attitude. You know, say what you mean, mean what you say type?

Back in town Sung Man walked past some beggars and gave them money when he saw a forlorn and dirty and drunk looking Bak Chuen. Sung Man looked at him a little longer, shaking his head as if saying "What a pity, so young and rather be useless" and Bak Chuen felt the stares. With some money Bak Chuen tried to buy some wine, the owner refused and insulted Bak Chuen. He accidentally spilt wine over some painting and the owner said "Oh no! You spilt wine over my So Tung Bo painting! It is very expensive you know!".

Pause here. I am sure he said So Tung Bo but just in case I am wrong, please do not kill me. Continue...

But Bak Chuen laughed cynically and said "So Tung Ball? This is a fake! Look at the date! It was dated after So Tung Ball ..."

I admit, I didn't catch what he said. He said something like So Tung Ball having moved, died or whatever before that date. The point is it was impossible So Tung Ball drew that painting.

The owner refused to listen and Sung Man who heard argument came over and gallantly offered to pay the compensation on behalf of Bak Chuen. Smilingly and good naturedly, Sung Man asked Bak Chuen "You're young and you're certainly educated. Why don't you study and sit for the civil servant exam instead of languishing around?" and Bak Chuen spat at those words and with hatred said "Join the government? There are no good officials in this country. They rob the poor, defy their own conscience and falsely accuse others of crimes they never commit, join them? Join those blood suckers? No!". Sung Man looked shocked at his words since Sung Man all his life aimed to be in the civil service and here was this man who hated civil servants.

Here I must stop because frankly I can't remember where this episode stopped. I think it was the shocked look of Sung Man. Next 5 episodes plenty of drama. Ko Wai works as a maid in I think Cho Yu Tai's household, bullied by Rebecca Chan, probably Cho's wife, Bak Chuen works in the bank of Cho Yu Tai and was again falsely accused. Last preview had him dragging someone angrily... oooh the drama!

Frankly I can't wait for episode 3.

This series is turning out to be a cross between Safe Guards, Beneath The Charm and the mother of all dramas. This episode especially is engaging and saw some great moment from the usually bland Moses Chan who for that one single moment gave a potentially career defining performance, and then he had to slip back to his bland self.

In this episode we see Steven Ma. I am surprised to see him so fair, so well fed and quite handsome and gallant, clad in those fine costumes. He does fit the bill of the son of a powerful family. So far he is ok.

Chan Hung Lit is scary looking. He does look stern, totally the opposite of his character in C.I.B files. He looks great by the way and his cantonese I can understand so hooray!!!

We see more of John Chiang but he hardly had anything much to do since it is only episode 2. Tavia Yeung is still not out yet.

The young actor who played Sonija's brother overacts, a lot but well since so many are level headed someone has to be rash and stupid.

And now Sonija Kwok.

Let me say this; I must compliment her on her horse riding skills. She really looked like she can ride a horse and ride it competently. And her Mongolian costume and make up compliments her looks. I mean she looks foreign and having her play some foreign woman is a good move so that she won't look out of place. Slimmer and a little older, she does look very pretty in here. Her first scene till the last was one of those cheerful understanding and kind type. I am convinced by her perfomance. Though she appeared not much in here and before any drama began, I must admit I find her bearable in here. If she keeps it this way, I think I may begin to like her as an actress. Anyway she is pretty in here. And I kept remembering what she said in the TMO on the horse riding scene, "I play a Mongolian so I must really look I can ride a horse" and yes Miss Kwok, you convinced me.

Roll on episode 3. Are you watching this series? Why not? Still enough time to catch up!

A very interesting episode and heart wrenching as well.


EPISODE 3
I got the ending of episode 2 wrong. It actually ended with Bak Chuen walking aimlessly after the encounter with Sung Man and he walked past a factory making silver bars (money) and he was spotted by the foreman and was given a job. That was the end of episode 2.

In episode 3 it started with Bak Chuen as Fan Chi Chai but I will still continue to refer to him as Bak Chuen. Anyway he is working hard but he had nowhere to go to, no dream and no aim. One day he saw some minting pot cracked and those hot lava of silver was flowing out and it could catch fire. He told the foreman who simply ignored him and Bak Chuen had no choice but to go back to work.

Truth is episode 3 establishes the foundation of the Kiu and Cho family.

We are told of Kiu Boon Yip's family. He is married and very much in love with his wife, Mang Yuet Or whom I shall refer to as Mrs Kiu from now on. They have 2 daughters, no son. Eldest daughter is Kiu Ching who is married to the guy who is always by Mr Kiu's side, Fong Yun Tin. Kiu Ching does not have any children and her husband is ambitious but is as Kiu Ching pointedly told her father, "Father you're ably assisted by Yun Tin (and in a whisper she said almost subconsciously) and yet he is still the 2nd taukeh".

You see in Kiu's family they run a very successfully bank whose name I forgot and I will write it in when I remember it. Ding Fung something. Anyway Kiu Boon Yip is the 1st taukeh, who runs the banks. He is assisted by many 2nd taukehs, one of whom is Yun Tin who has been eyeing the position of 1st taukeh.

Anyway Mr Kiu has a second daughter, Kiu Jun. By the way finally Tavia Yeung appears and very pretty. Anyway Kiu Jun is not married and I have a feeling Mr Kiu favours Jun more than Ching.

Mr Kiu's wife has an older sister, Mang Yuet Sheung who is married to Cho Yu Tai. I shall refer to her as Mrs Cho. Interestingly in episode 2 I made a big mistake. Cho Yu Tai works for Mr Kiu as the 2nd taukeh of one of the banks and he too is eyeing the 1st taukeh position. They have one son, Cho King Yin, a studious good guy who is on very good terms with Jun, more like brother and sister although they're cousins. In fact Mrs Cho encourages the friendship, hoping it would blossom into a marriage which will convenient them because "Kiu Boon Yip has no sons. Ah Ching after so many years is still barren. Clearly if King Yin married Jun, he can have a chance to be the 2nd taukeh". Of course Mr Cho asks Mrs Cho "But then our son will need to enter into the family of Kiu and adopt Kiu's surname" and Mrs Cho slyly replies "Well that would be even better isn't it? Who else would Kiu Boon Yip leave the business to then right?". Clearly greedy parents.

A bit background on the Kius. I was a bit confused with this part so I hope someone can clarify it. Mr Kiu mentioned something about how the bank business got its start. It was something like Mr Kiu or Mr Kiu's father or someone from Kiu came across someone in the woods and found some money which helped that Kiu person buy tea leaves and in turn made a profit and opened a bank and became as successful as they are today. Mr Kiu promised to his ancestor that he will return the favour to this mysterious person one day.

Did I get it right? Could it have any connection with Bak Chuen and his family? We shall see...

Anyway Mr Cho is all about scheming. The Kiu family had this tradition of staging mock plays and usually the most important person will get to play the title character. Mr Cho suggested to Mr Kiu that out of fairness each 2nd taukehs (managers from various branches of the bank) shall be given a bowl of "tong yuen" (really don't know what they're called in Chinese) and only one bowl contains "tong yuen" with red bean paste in it. Only Mr Kiu didn't have to do this, since he is the boss. So even Yun Tin got a bowl. He took a bite and saw red bean paste. Everyone else they didn't have the red bean paste and so he quickly said "Well uncle, congratulations! You must have the one with the red bean paste then!" and Mr Cho smiled and took a bite and indeed he too had the red bean paste.

Back in his own room Yun Tin told his wife what happened and Ching was angry and said "How dare uncle did this? Who does he think he is? Why did you play along?" and Yun Tin slyly said "What more can I do? Everybody quickly gobbled down the "tong yuen" and I immediately knew something was up. Uncle was trying to test our loyalty, to see who dares to defy him. I hardly have any authority or power, so for now let's just let him win".

By the way I forgot to mention Mrs Cho's nature. Mrs Chis grandly dressed and one day she came to visit her sister with Jun looking on. Mrs Cho said she bought a nice fur coat but when she tried it on it was a size too small. Immediately she let Mrs Kiu try it on and it fit perfectly. Mrs Cho immediately asked Mrs Kiu to buy the fur coat from her hands and it was expensive. Mrs Kiu agreed because she is soft spoken and didn't quite realised her sister is taking advantage of her. Ching saw what happened and took the furcoat, examined it and said "But aunty, I heard of this shop that sells fake fur coat. The quality doesn't seem to be good quality, you may have been cheated" and Mrs Cho slightly embarrassed immediately said "I didn't buy from that shop" and Ching said "Well I can get it checked in another trusted shop". Of course Mrs Cho knew Ching knew she knew the fur coat didn't cost that much. Jun I think knew what was happening but kept quiet whilst Mrs Kiu was truly blur.

Back to Ko Wa and her brother, Fu Yi Chek. They have no money so they did some horse acrobatics to get some fees. They performed well and Sung Man walked by and clapped enthusiastically. When Fu Yi Chek and Ko Wa asked for money, everybody walked away except for Sung Man who good naturedly told Fu Yi Chek that "I really want to give you some money but all I have with me are cheques which I intend to change at the bank" and Fu Yi Chek turned rude and said "Yeah right" and Ko Wa stopped him from going further.

Next scene they were sharing a small bowl of noodle. Poor things. Suddenly Sung Man appeared and smilingly said "Oh there you are! I just came back from the bank hoping to see you where we first met and couldn't see you so I walked and found your horse. So there you are! Here! The tip I promised!". Ko Wa was in total disbelief and asked "You looked for us just to give us the tip?" and Sung Man good naturedly said "Of course! A promise is a promise!" and Fu Yi Chek cynically said "Well just now we performed and you people never paid at all!" and Sung Man smilingly said "Ermm well I paid didn't I?" and Fu Yi Chek was slightly embarrassed and apologised. When Sung Man saw they were sharing a bowl of noodle he treated them to big bowls and Fu Yi Chek ate and ate and ate, much to the amusement of Sung Man. When Sung Man asked "You're both foreigners?" and Ko Wa explained to him what happened to them. Sung Man, being a keen believer in justice and is very idealistic asked "Why didn't you go to the magistrate about the theft?" and Fu Yi Chek said "It's no use. The bandits would have been gone by now" and Sung Man confidently urged them to try.

So Sung Man set an appointment with his father's acquaintance, a small time magistrate who is taking money on the sides. Sung Man tactfully said "I love your town sir. It is beautiful and well kept but there is however one issue.." and the magistrate asked "What would that be?" and Sung Man slowly said "Security" and he explained the theft from Ko Wa and Fu Yi Chek by some bandits.

Guess what? The magistrate immediately sent his men and out, crushed the bandits and got back the horses for Ko Wa!

Ko Wa thanked Sung Man personally who idealistically said "You should thank the magistrate of this town. He was the one who upheld justice".

Pause here. Sung Man is extremely idealistic so I wonder will something awful happen to him to make him realise that the world is truly really corrupt like how Bak Chuen sees it? Didn't he realise the magistrate acted so fast because of Sung Man's father? Again due to position and power? I mean the magistrate could actually crush the thieves so easily and he didn't all these time. Sung Man is in for a heavy blow to his idealism and sense of justice.

Anyway Ko Wa told Sung Man of life as a nomad and as a Mongolian which Sung Man expressed interest in following them back to Mongolia. Ko Wa planned to sell the horses, buy some tea leaves and sell them for a profit on the way back. But she let her mind wander and she remembered the love of her life, a fellow Mongolian Bo Yan Ba To who we know saved her from some attack that wasn't shown and they fell deeply in love. I wonder what happened since nothing was said after that. Anyway from they talks we know Ko Wa's aunt and uncle mistreated them.

Anyway Sung Man was advised by the magistrate to go home by the orders of his father but Sung Man cleverly averted the conversation to a nice grandfather's clock in the hallway and asked the magistrate where it came from since it looked like one stolen from the Forbidden Palace. The Magistrate panicked and at Sung Man's request, agreed to lie to his father than Sung Man was his understudy and preparing for exams. Sung Man was happy his devious ways worked.

Back to Bak Chuen. He is working hard at the factory but one day the pot exploded and one of his friends got seriously injured. The foreman was uncaring and refused to give medical attention to that man and Bak Chuen was so angry he confronted the foreman and said "You are responsible for this! I warned you! If you don't give him immediate medical attention we will... we will... we will strike! We will not work!" and everyone screamed "Yes! Yes!" and the foreman arrogantly said "Well if you don't work, I will fire you! I will fire all of you! And none of you will be paid!" and they all screamed "How can you say this!" and Bak Chuen was so angry he grabbed the foreman by the collar and said "You're heartless! You think just because you're the foreman and you're in authority therefore you can mistreat us! You are all the same!" and was about to hit him when Mr Kiu passed by as he was surveying the factory (which I think does not belong to him, more like a factory to make silver and gold bars) and quietly and with authority said to Bak Chuen "Young man, violence does not solve problems. Let the foreman go. Now Mr Foreman, I find you lack of compassion for your injured workers reprehensible. You are responsible for their safety and not only did you not admit your responsibility, you ignored your injured worker. If you don't attend to him now like you should, I will ensure that the police knows of this and I will assist them in investigating you. All of us here can be witnesses..." and the foreman said "Yes sir, I will immediately see to it sir" and he quickly carried the injured man away. Mr Kiu who earlier saw Bak Chuen thought he Bak Chuen was very familiar. Anyway now they met again and Mr Kiu looked Bak Chuen up and down and said "I admire your guts young man in standing up to the foreman. Well done!" and Mr Kiu left stylishly as he left Bak Chuen a bit in awe of his authority.

Next in episode 4 we see Bak Chuen fired from his job by the foreman and Mr Kiu offered him a job only to be framed by fellow colleagues for a crime he did not commit.

Oh when will he ever learn? Will Bak Chuen ever find stability or will he be like Jang Geum who in Jewel In The Palace even after 60 episodes still feel shocked someone wanted to frame her for a wrong she did not commit?

Anyway two things struck me in this episode.

One would be Tavia Yeung. Pretty yes, very little role yes but the way she spoke, the way she talked, the way she pointed, her mannerisms reminded me of Maggie Cheung Hor Yee. Not necessarily a bad thing but just very familiar. Maybe they're alike.

Secondly would be Sonija Kwok. Not only am I not pissed off with her performance, she wasn't the worse. In fact I find her Mongolian costume suits her well and like I said in Episode 2 this role suits her looks since she is a bit exotic looking. She is very pretty in here and so far I find her performance still as light hearted and chirpy and happy as she was in Episode 2. So to me that is a credible acting. But I made a mistake in Episode 2. I said her horse riding scenes were amazingly done and I thought she did well and then someone wrote she knew horse riding beforehand. And then I realise yeah lor, horse riding is a skill, not really that much of a talent. Acting is and I am happy to say any criticism I have on this episode is not because of her.

Lui San is gorgeous in here. I just like her makeup and her do. She plays a loving wife to Joh Chiang's Mr Kiu and they seemed so much in love that their daughters looked on with envy. She does seem like a weak and gentle wife.

Rebecca Chan whom I thought should have been Cixi made a credible and too beautiful Mrs Cho. She reminds me a lot of her character in War & Beauty, same do. But awesome costume. Same as War & Beauty or new ones?

Everybody was ok in their performance because this is one episode that everyone did nothing much drama or action wise.

I really like Steven Ma in here with his infectious energy and idealism. He is well cast in this role and I enjoy watching him but thus far he is just smiling in here although there are some gems in the way he stares at people in an amusing disbelief way. He had the single and only comic moment in this episode, the one where Fu Yi Chek commented about those who refused to donate money after the acrobatic performance. That was funny.

By the way I hope he wins the ASTRO Best actor award for Safe Guards and Wayne Lai wins for Best supporting actor but we all know they won't win. A pity because they gave career defining performances in that series. Probably Kevin Cheng will win.

The worst performance belongs to the one actor whose voice was dubbed, whom I assume is Stephen Huynh playing Sonija's boyfriend in her flashback. Overacting, under acting, no acting, whatever you wish to term it, but those 5 minutes sequence was confusing (as I thought Sonija was still in the restaurant with Steven having a flashback with her in front of her camp sitting there having a flashback about her boyfriend) and his performance more annoying and inadequate than complimentary. He's new I suppose but I am glad that for once Sonija is not the hate factor in terms of acting performance.

Everybody else ranges from boring (Kenny Wong) to effective (Claire Yiu) to so far prop like (John Chiang) to sometimes good sometimes not good enough (Moses Chan) to interestingly not that bad (Sonija Kwok) to good but not enough (Tavia Yeung) to surprisingly pretty but thus far nothing much to do (Lui San and Rebecca Chan) to simply ke-le-fes (everyone else).

Anyway I didn't comment on the beautiful scenic views in episode 1 and 2 and possibly the worst themesong ever. And it is sung by the very competent singer Eason Chan and so it only means that with a good singer like Eason Chan and it still sounds awful, imagine if Moses Chan sang it? I thank my lucky star he didn't.

Phew!

Anyway really look forward to Episode 4 even if I dread the series turning overly serious in terms of love relationship as it goes on and on and on.

P/S : I had to do some research before adding this bit so if you missed this bit first time around, I just added it on 01.01.2008.

There was one scene which had me intrigued; it was the scene where Kiu Jun's cousin showed her some photographs of the Eiffel Tower, pyramid and the Statue Of Liberty. I was wondering did cameras exist then? That was my research.

Now the timeline in this series at the time of Kiu Jun must be before 1875 since the beginning of the series started with Guangxu as Emperor and that was when Guangxu became emperor. Since I wasn't sure where the timeline of Guangxu's rule, then it must be before the end of his rule and that was 1908. So all these monuments must be before 1908, minus a few years since nowhere this series said it happened during the last year of Guangxu's rule.

So did TVB got their facts right? I'd imagine the camera to take these pictures was those big types, studio types with a big sound of POOF! with powder everywhere.

The Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889. The Statue Of Liberty in 28th October 1886. The pyramid? No need to check, way way way way before. So if the series is somewhere between 1875-1908, yes it is of course correct factual to see these famous monuments in the pictures if the series is at around 1890 and beyond.

But what about films and cameras? Did they exist then?

Well well well, TVB did their homework.

The big camera was created around 1855-1871 and the negative films? 1855.

So yes it is possible for Kiu Jun to see those monuments in those pictures.

What about the size of the pictures then? Yeah at this point I was in total disbelief TVB didn't screw up the facts. Well the size held by Kiu Jun were normal size we see nowadays, what's the size? Anyway from my memory it should be smaller, and thicker and the colour more yellow. So maybe that part not that accurate.

But do you know at which point was the series when Kiu Jun held those pictures? Am I correct to assume it is somewhere after 1890? I remember this series' TMO where it was said that there will be a scene of France invading China. I checked some facts online and found two entries, in 1860 and 1884. 1860 would be impossible since Guangxu was after.

So it must be 1884 unless I got the invaders wrong. So when Kiu Jun held those pictures it was BEFORE 1884, and not as I earlier assume it to be before 1908. And it can't be just one year before, since the drama takes some time to happen and if the invasion happened in the middle of this series, it must be a significant years before 1884, so I assume 1880 or so.

Which means TVB got it WRONG! HA! HA! HA!

Because Statue of Liberty was erected in 1886, which was way after 1884 the invasion date. WRONG!

The Eiffel Tower was in 1889 so wrong also since it was after 1884. Assuming it was a picture of Eiffel Tower under construction is also impossible since the facts states that it was erected between 1887-1889.

Well I make all these findings on the assumption all my sources were correct.

Pyramid of course correct lar! Those facts about pictures, cameras, etc are correct.

Do I feel relieved I was right to assume TVB wrong? Of course! A bit glad but to give them credit, they just got 2 out of 3 wrong. No one can get the pyramids wrong of course.

Aiyah can't expect TVB to be so accurate since even the dialogue has some modern elements in it.

And then I asked myself what about the glasses? I remembered vaguely the cousin was wearing Harry Potter-ish glasses. I'll leave that for another day.

Episode 4
Again nothing much happened in this episode drama wise but establishes the plot for future episodes. This episode curiously started with Mr Kiu, Mr Cho and Yun Tin discussing about business. It took me some time to understand what they were talking about. I don't know why I just find myself unable to understand the dialogue however intently I listened.

Anyway after some time I got the gist of it. Yun Tin advised Mr Kiu to buy a factory to make the silver bars themselves to save cost since there were hundreds of banks, many of which is Ding Fung Sing (the name of the bank of Mr Kiu) but only a handful of factories to make the silver bars. But Mr Cho disagreed and felt the money could be better used for other purposes since it is not an urgent matter and Mr Kiu agreed. So Yun Tin felt he was side stepped, Mr Cho felt he was favoured and curiously Mr Kiu looked rather devious. Maybe he knew these two were fighting with one another.

Then Mr Kiu got news that Bak Chuen and his injured colleague were fired by the foreman. Mr Kiu went to visit them and offered the injured colleague a ride home to his hometown and full medical attention. Bak Chuen was very grateful and Mr Kiu admiringly said "I admire your loyalty to your friends.." and Bak Chuen said "One should make an effort to make friends, which is rare to find. A good friend is hard to find" and Mr Kiu agreed and said "I look highly on you and what is your plan now?" and Bak Chuen sighed "Find a job so that I can feed myself" and Mr Kiu said "Why don't you work for me? I admire your loyalty and I can make use of more workers like yourself". Bak Chuen agreed.

And so Bak Chuen under the recommendation of Mr Kiu joined Ding Fung Sing as ermmm... I don't know the rank but I suppose you can call him a teller. He can work his way up one day to become 1st taukeh like Mr Cho (by the way I think I made a mistake. Mr Cho is a 1st Taukeh, and any 1st taukeh will take care of a branch of a bank, Yun Tin after all these time was still a 2nd taukeh) and Bak Chuen can then earn more with bonus and stuff. Bak Chuen met his fellow colleagues, all much younger than he was and this was observed by the teacher, whose name I forgot. I wonder is he Master Kwan? I don't know so anyway I call him the teacher. Yun Tin was there and the teacher observed "Hmmm that man, is a bit too old now" and Yun Tin said "He is recommended by Mr Kiu himself. However if he makes a mistake he is still subjected to the same punishments". So the teacher explained about their job which is be what in modern day is known as slavery but back in those days is called pupilage, tutelage, whatever. So they had to learn the trade whilst clean, cook and pamper the taukehs. Bak Chuen tried hard to adjust to life there, keeping to himself.

Meanwhile Kiu Jun was at home, hardly ventures out of the house. One day she was visited by her aunt, Mrs Cho when he favourite bird accidentally got out of the cage and flew away. Kiu Jun stopped the search and lamented that perhaps the bird was better off free. She was sitting alone when outside the house, Sung Man was walking by when he saw a bird on the roof of the Kiu mansion. Inspired by the bird, he played the flute and Kiu Jun heard the flute music and too was inspired to play the ermm piano (gu-zhen). Together they made a beautiful duet but neither knew each other.

Back to Bak Chuen who was busy in the bank when Ko Wa and her brother walked into the bank with their cheque to get money. Ko Wa recognised Bak Chuen but said nothing. Both left the bank, went separate ways when Ko Wa went to buy tea leaves. Again Bak Chuen was there and this time she said hello to him but Bak Chuen kept to himself. Anyway there Ko Wa was told by the owner of the tea leaves shop that working in the bank is good future for young men. She liked what she heard.

Back in the bank, the students were asked questions by the teacher. None could answer except for Bak Chuen who answered perfectly the value of money in different states. At night the students were punished to write something when Bak Chuen walked in and the trouble maker, Hong Fei loudly said "Well isn't someone very free tonight? You! Didn't I said we should look out for each other? Why then did you answer that question so well?" and Bak Chuen innocently said "I was just doing what I should do, minding my own business" and Hong Fei angrily said "You made us look bad! Listen everyone. From now on we look out for each other and should not do better than the other. You understand?" and Bak Chuen kept quiet.

Next day the teacher was angry that one of the ermmm what do you call the suen poon chi? That ermm marble? On the abascus? Anyway one was missing and Bak Chuen was the one cleaning the area last night and the teacher assumed Bak Chuen broke it. Bak Chuen said "I didn't" but the teacher said "Did you know a broken abacus is bad feng shui for our business? And now you're not admitting your own fault?! You must be punished. No food for today and you will clean the horses for a week!" and Bak Chuen accepted it meekly whilst Hong Fei and gang smiled sinisterly.

Pause here.

Stupid people, but worse Bak Chuen, FIGHT lar!! Sighhh...

So Bak Chuen cleaned the horses by the river where he met Ko Wa again. Ko Wa cheerfully said hi to him and showed him how to clean the horse and Bak Chuen actually smiled and Ko Wa said "You know, we met 3 times and this is the first time I've seen you smile. You always looked so morose, like something is bothering you. Smile more, nothing is really that bad..." and he and Ko Wa ended up meeting again and became very friendly with one another. Bak Chuen offered to repay the money she gave him when they first met but Ko Wa said "No no keep it. Give it back to me when I need it" and Bak Chuen looked at her smiling a little as she left.

Meanwhile Sung Man and Kiu Jun were playing the duet again and then Sung Man recited some poems and Kiu Jun replied him. Sung Man then introduced himself but Kiu Jun refused to introduce herself, saying "Names are of no importance" and Sung Man recited a poem to which Kiu Jun could not reply. So Kiu Jun said "My dear sir, why don't you return tomorrow so that I can find a reply to your poem?" and Sung Man agreed.

Meanwhile Kiu Jun was busy looking for the poem to reply Sung Man when her cousin, who we found out is younger than her invited her out and played fireworks. Kiu Jun was very happy and asked for bigger and better ones and King Yin agreed.

Next day Ko Wa and Fu Yi Chek were busy loading the tea leaves onto a cart in a forest where King Yin was testing his fireworks which hit the tea leaves and cost it to burn. Ko Wa suffered major loss and Fu Yi Chek ran to King Yin and scolded him. King Yin not only refused to compensate them but threatened them and said "Look I hurt myself also and my family jade is broken also. So let's just call this a deal!" and he left. Fu Yi Chek asked his sister if they should go to the police but Ko Wa said "No. Chinese tradition dictates that if we encounter any problems we should go to the source and confront them. In that case they have to answer our questions." So Ko Wa and Fu Yi Chek went to Ding Fung Sing where Mr Kiu arrived, saw Ko Wa and recognised her.

The next scene Mr Kiu held a family meeting and everyone was there, including Mr and Mrs Cho and King Yin. Mr Kiu lectured the family that the bank business is about trust and reliance. It is about being trustworthy and hold to ones' promise. And so he asked King Yin squarely "Now tell me King Yin, did you do anything today that is contrary to the principle of this family?" and King Yin confessed and added "Well they hurt my hand and broke my family jade" to which Mrs Cho butted in and agreed whilst Mr Cho said "Shut up! Master of the family is teaching our son, he must listen carefully and learn!" and Mr Kiu sternly said to King Yin "Not only did you not compensate the Mongolians, you have denied responsibilities to what you did. That jade is just a thing but what they lost, the tea leaves were their income. You are to compensate them from your salary, do you understand?" and King Yin quietly said yes. And King Yin was also cut his salary for missing work which was reminded by Yun Tin and Ching took this time to say to Mrs Cho "Aunt, you must boil some de-stress soup for King Yin. He looked like he suffered some trauma" and Mrs Cho looked embarrassed. Mrs Kiu pleaded for mercy on behalf of King Yin whilst Jun felt guilty and knelt before her father and confessed "Father I was the one who asked cousin to buy some fireworks. I am to blame too father. Please punish me" and Mr Kiu looked at her crossly and said "You're not to leave your room for the next week" and she said "Yes father".

In the room Jun heard the flute and remembered her date with the stranger. Sung Man played and then recited some poems but when she did not reply, he felt disappointed and left, dejected.

Ko Wa and Fu Yi Chek met with Mr Kiu at his home where Mr Kiu paid Ko Wa her losses. Ko Wa wanted to send this money back home to her aunt and uncle and Mr Kiu assured her that their names can be written on the cheque to ensure only they can cash it. Ko Wa was happy and then Ko Wa said "But Mr Kiu, it isn't your fault. You didn't cause the damage so why are you paying us" and he said "Well he is my relative" but Ko Wa said "But I can't accept your money. Look Mr Kiu why don't we do this? I will accept this money to send it back to my aunt and uncle whilst I and Fu Yi Chek will work for you for the time being to pay off the sums! I could be your maid and Fu Yi Chek can help out!" and Mr Kiu said "But it will be very difficult for you, there are rules to follow" and Ko Wa excitedly said "I am a Mongolian. I am used to hard work and hard life. My brother and I can handle the hard work and the rule" and Mr Kiu said "But I would require all my workers to save their heads" and Fu Yi Chek panicked and said "But the Qing law exempts a foreign man from shaving his head" and Mr Kiu said "This is my rule" and Ko Wa said "No problem! That is not a problem. We shall see you soon Mr Kiu!" and she quickly left.

When she left Mr Kiu's servant who saw all that said "It is obvious Master that what she was doing was for her brother's future" and Mr Kiu said "They truly love each other, a deep connection between a sister and a brother. We can have more of those in here".

Fu Yi Chek frustratingly asked Ko Wa why she insisted they work in Kiu's mansion and Ko Wa said "So that you can have a career. A career in a bank is far better than going back to Mongolia and herd horses. Fu Yi Chek I risked embarrassment to give you this opportunity and so you must take this opportunity!" but Fu Yi Chek didn't want to shave his head and said "Well don't you want to go home sister?" and Ko Wa said "If you don't want to you can go home, I will stay and I suppose I will need to work longer then since I must repay the debt for two" and Fu Yi Chek quickly said "I don't mean that sister..." and she dragged him to a barber and had him shave his head whilst she walked away. That was when she met Sung Man again and curiously Fu Yi Chek looked rather angry at Sung Man.

Pause here.

I thought Fu Yi Chek was in love with Sung Man! I mean why he didn't welcome Sung Man's plan to visit them in Mongolia? Why he gave him that stare whenever his sister met Sung Man? That we shall know later.

Anyway Sung Man chatted with Ko Wa and Ko Wa told him her plans and she asked "Do you think I did right?" and Sung Man wisely said "I think what you did was only in his best interest" and Ko Wa was satisfied. And then Ko Wa noticed Sung Man looked down and she asked "Are you alright? You look preoccupied" and Sung Man said "Well, I met a friend who promised to meet me later but she never showed up. I wonder should I continue to wait for her.." and Ko Wa cheerfully said "Of course you should wait. A friend is hard to find so waiting for a little while wouldn't hurt you" and Sung Man considered her advice and decided perhaps Ko Wa was correct.

Next episode we will find out why Fu Yi Chek dislikes Sung Man when he thought Sung Man was interested in Ko Wa. And more on Bak Chuen I suppose.

Ok, this episode is uneventful but showcase a theme that seems to run throughout the few episodes I have seen; fate. Like Ko Wa and Bak Chuen was fated to meet and is quite a pair and then tonight in this episode Sung Man and Kiu Jun "met" and we quickly conclude they're quite a pair. Sung Man, highly educated, righteous and handsome to boot, Kiu Jun pretty, noble and bright also. I like the scenes where they played the duet together and the camera zooms onto the house and to the outside of the house. Big house, big compound, for once TVB found a place that befits a mansion of the rich. Anyway quite a romantic scene.

I don't like the subdued Bak Chuen though. I hope he will stand up for himself one of these days but since it is only the 4th episode, I am sure we will have much more bullying by the troublemakers.

By the way gorgeous scenes in this episode. I wonder where they filmed this? Gorgeous, breathtaking, beautiful.

As for performances, all did well. I mean nothing much to do right now for most. Moses Chan is still forlorn looking, Tavia Yeung still very Maggie Cheung-like, John Chiang still very very serious. All basically still not yet given much things to do.

But I must say, the women in here are so beautiful. Lui San looks ravishing and perhaps the eyeliner and mascara helped. Tavia Yeung looks fresh although I suppose Linda Chung would be much better cast in terms of age and looks since Linda Chung does look like a young mistress but Tavia is of course a better actress. Stephen Wong is bearable although I don't like his Fu Yi Chek, all temper, not much substance. But he did badly in those scenes where he looked at Steven Ma. I thought for a moment that Fu Yi Chek may be gay. Steven Ma is a delight to watch though. Handsome, gallant, perpetually optimistic and idealistic, I hate to see his character change. I hope he is not the villain in here.

Now Sonija Kwok. I am going to dedicate a paragraph each thought to comment about her performance. Looks wise, may I say I find her very very pretty in here. I don't know why but I just find the whole get up suits her so I will miss her Mongol look tomorrow since she doesn't look good in Chinese costumes. Her hair just fits her perfectly in here with her rosy cheeks. Again I suspect the mascara and eyeliner helped. Performance wise she is bearable. I think she played the optimistic cheerful encouraging Ko Wa very very well and I find her Ko Wa very helpful and noble as well. Like some "hap lui" aka heroic heroine. However close-up I can't help but notice her mouth. I enjoy her performance with long shot rather than close up shots because her lips is weird. The way she speaks is weird and she seems to go back to the talking whilst pouting, like she did in many series before which is annoying and distracting. As much as Tavia Yeung with Maggie Cheung mannerisms. I just hope she just stop doing that. So far her character hardly had any dramatic moments which requires to go beyond what she is giving in her performance right now and I hope she will continue to look as pretty even if her acting sucks in future episodes. But for this episode I think she is a joy to watch.

Episode 5 ... seems got more drama. When love does interfere with the story I just hope the love story is worth it.

EPISODE 5
I missed the 1st 15 minutes of this episode because well because I was in the toilet day dreaming and so when I came down from my room to watch this episode, it was already when Fu Yi Chek had started working in Ding Fung Sing as the teller and Bak Chuen was pulling Fu Yi Chek's hair really really urgently and falling onto the floor was fire crackers that were lit. Fu Yi Chek, that ungrateful git did not say thanks, in fact he screamed at Bak Chuen for pulling his hair and Bak Chuen explained those trouble makers, one of them Hong Fei set him up but Fu Yi Chek still blamed Bak Chuen and everybody else for making his life miserable. Bak Chuen meanwhile was very angry with Hong Fei and gang for such irresponsible action and so what did he do?

NOTHING.

Next!

Fu Yi Chek still sulked and all and blamed his sister for his misery.

Meanwhile Ko Wa too would be miserable soon enough as Mrs Cho has targetted her for causing trouble to his son King Yin over the tea leaves incident. Ko Wa being Ko Wa was extremely friendly and whilst a maid, said things that shouldn't be said and conducted herself in ways that the Chinese finds not suitable of a maid. Nothing bad really just running in the hourse, etc eventhough Ko Wa was set up some time. Mrs Kiu was very nice to her, so was everybody else except those that do not live in that house. Anyway my sister told me I missed the intro on the Kiu mansion which boasts and amazing 68 rooms! And it does look that big.

Ok pause here.

My god, the mansion really looks huge! I wonder where TVB found this place? Where is Ping Sai? There's the huge garden, the huge hallway, everything huge. For once there is a house that befits the wealth of a character. Amazing place.

Back to the story.

Ching told Jun that mom and dad allowed Ching to take Jun outside for some charity event. Jun was excited and also decided to take Ko Wa for company which Ching agreed.

Pause here.

I must admit Ko Wa was rather friendly to Ching and especially Jun although they just met. I will elaborate more on this later.

Meanwhile, Fu Yi Chek is still pissed big time. And he was walking with Bak Chuen running errands and he was lazy, whiny and a complete jerk to poor Bak Chuen who only wanted to do his best in his tasks. Fu Yi Chek complained bitterly about his sister and he suspected his sister stayed in that town because of Sung Man. And then he saw his sis and Sung Man together and he quickly dragged Sung Man to a corner and again screamed at Sung Man "You leave my sister alone! She was already cheated once by that bastard and had her heart broken, I will not allow you to do that to her! Now I know why she wanted to stay, for you!" and poor Sung Man was so confused whilst Bak Chuen held Fu Yi Chek back. Then Sung Man understood and he angrily replied "You really think your sister is staying for me? Your sister and I are just good friends. Your sister is staying for you! For your career!" and Bak Chuen quickly added "Yes it is true. Your sister asked me about my job and a career at Ding Fung Sing. " and Sung Man angrily said "She is doing everything in your best interest including being a maid in that place to accompany you and you wronged her thus!". Fu Yi Chek refused to believe them and angrily went away.

Well Bak Chuen noticed after that Fu Yi Chek seemed to quiet down a little and even studied hard. Of course he was rude to the teacher Mr Chong when he couldn't answer some questions and so he was punished to clean the floors. At night Bak Chuen came and gave him some food and those trouble makers came with Hong Fei carrying a bun who threw it on the floor and step on it for the longest of time annoyingly saying "Ai-yahhh....ai-yahhh...ai-yahh....". Well Fu Yi Chek will not take that insult and moved forward to scream at Hong Fei whilst guess who was holding him back? Yes yes that wood, Bak Chuen. Anyway Hong Fei dared Fu Yi Chek by saying "You want to beat me? If you dare I will make sure you get kicked out of this place! Beat! Beat!" and Fu Yi Chek angrily said "You think I don't dare? I am not a coward" and punch! A good one I must admit and Hong Fei fought back and Bak Chuen tried to stop Fu Yi Chek who ungratefully pushed him back causing Bak Chuen to slam his fingers on the door and got hurt. Fu Yi Chek rushed to his side whilst Hong Fei warned "YOU BE CAREFUL!".

Next day Mr Chong was curious how come Hong Fei had a black eye ("I fell whilst I was doing to the toilet) and Bak Chuen sprained his hand (" I fell on my hand when I fell from the bed"). Mr Chong was not deceived and said "It seems quite a few of you have the habit of falling. Remember this, however you fall; anyone breaks the rules will be kicked out of the bank, and I don't care who started it first".

Back to Sung Man.

Sung Man seems rather free to me but anyway he made good use of his time to help out a charity event organised by the missionary (church lar, who else). He personally sold a telescope to an eager buyer for $50 who paid with a cheque by Ding Fung Sing. And then Sung Man noticed a familiar face, Ko Wa accompanying two ladies, one of whom caught his eye. Guess who?

Anyway weird scene here because I distinctly remembered Ko Wa practically ignoring Sung Man who also ignored her. Aren't they friendly with one another?

Where was I? Ah yes, Sung Man immediately noticed Jun and as Jun was looking through some I think lanterns, she said something and Sung Man recognised his voice. He replied back and Jun knew he was the stranger who played the duet with her. Both smiled a little because let's face it; she's pretty, he's handsome. Lucky them.

Another weird scene I mentioned earlier about the friendliness of Ko Wa. She actually held the hands of Jun. A bit too friendly I was told after all she is the maid. But do remember, Ko Wa is a foreigner who is cheerful, optimistic, perky and very friendly, like Sung Man in a way. So it was not surprising she held Jun's hands although Jun is more reserved in her emotions.

Anyway Sung Man promised to give Jun some books and Ko Wa agreed to be the middle person.

By the way sorry for the mixed up timeline. That scene where Sung Man was scolded by Fu Yi Chek happened after this scene when Sung Man gave some books to Ko Wa.

Back to the story.

Sung Man took the cheque to be cashed at Ding Fung Sing. The clerk noticed something was not right and alerted big boss Mr Kiu. Mr Kiu was very worried and Sung Man was asked to see Mr Kiu in his office. Sung Man was confused and asked the nature of the meeting and Mr Kiu, a man who does not mince his words gravely said "This cheque is a forged cheque" and Sung Man was shocked. Mr Kiu said "We at Ding Fung Sing have our markers and indicators in identifying the authenticity of a cheque and in all my years at this bank, this is the first time I have encountered a forged cheque". Sung Man was angry and said "I can't believe someone could cheat in a charity event! This is unscrupulous and this man must be caught!" and Mr Kiu said "I hope you will not make a big deal out of this matter just yet" and Sung Man wisely agreed and said "I understand. Your bank's reputation is at stake her" and Mr Kiu agreed and said "Yes, and it might cause panic amongst my clients". Sung Man then hatched a plan and said "Then leave it to me. I will settle this matter. I remember that man since I personally handled the sale and accepted this forged cheque" and Mr Kiu looked at Sung Man wondering what he will do.

The next scene we see Sung Man welcoming that con artiste into some private room in a restaurant. Sung Man smilingly said "I know you're interested in western goods and I have with me a most priceless collectable" and he produced a clock. The man's eyes lit up and he said "This must worth a lot!" and Sung Man said "And it is yours for $100 only" and that man greedily said "Yes yes, indeed, worth the price!" and he paid Sung Man that money with cheque. Sung Man looked at the cheque and said "This is a forgery sir" and that man cockily asked how he would know and Sung Man said "Every bank has identification markers on cheques. Each branch will have their managers writing the cheques personally in addition to sending the handwriting to all branches for record purposes. There are also numbers, ink colour, etc. Your cheque lacked all these elements and therefore it is a forgery. How care you give me forged cheques twice?" and that man immediately tried to run when Mr Kiu and assistant rushed into the room and that man held Sung Man at knife point. Sung Man was very angry and said "Do you think this will stop me from arresting you?" and that man said "If you don't let me leave I will kill him!" and Sung Man immediately and bravely karate chopped him and Mr Kiu also taekwondo punched him also and the man was defeated.

Let me pause here to admire Sung Man who is a man of arts, righteousness and now kung fu expert. What a guy.

Anyway Mr Kiu invited him back home and thanked him for the discreet way of handling the crisis. Sung Man was very happy at the turn of events and he even shared with Mr Kiu his view of Mr Kiu's mansion where he said "When I first saw your mansion Mr Kiu, it seems so humble for a man of your stature and wealth and yet when I entered it in its humbleness I find also grandness" and Mr Kiu was glad to find someone who understood his house as much as his ancestors intended it to be, Mr Kiu showed Sung Man around with everyone in tow when Sung Man saw the piano at the garden and remarked how beautiful the piano was and Mr Kiu agreed and said he bought it for his younger daughter.

Pause here. I am very confused here. I thought Sung Man knew Jun's family since he knew who Ko Wa was working for and yet he doesn't seem to know who Mr Kiu was referring to and when Jun appeared he seems pleasantly surprised to see her. I mean didn't he know already earlier at the charity event?

Anyway Jun was pleased to see him too and Jun explained how they knew each other and even complimented how good a man Sung Man was when Ching recognised Sung Man from the charity event. Mr Kiu was very pleased and asked to hear the duet which they played. Mr and Mrs Kiu watched proudly as Jun and Sung Man played the perfect duet together.

By the way Mr Kiu knows who is Sung Man at this point.

Pause here.

I can't help but feel there is an undertone in this scene. We know they're falling in love with one another. One the daughter of the richest banker and the other the youngest son of a very powerful and influential minister who may not be as rich as Mr Kiu but certainly very powerful. In the TMO I saw Sung Man's father objecting to this relationship. In this episode it is very clear that Mr Kiu liked Sung Man and even admired him. In fact Sung Man is his perfect son in law who is capable of running the bank also. Problem is Sung Man is destined for greater things that is politics. Whilst no doubt Jun is very educated, very proper and very ladylike and in normal circumstances she herself is a great match for a son from a good family, problem here is Sung Man is the son of a powerful family. Being the richest may not make Mr Kiu the most powerful. Watching this scene and seeing how capable Sung Man is (he even reads Darwin's Theory of Evolution!) I can't help but feel Jun however ladylike or even well read just doesn't fit him in standing. He is her ideal match but unfortunately she is not his ideal match. Intellectually maybe but Jun isn't really that smart but she is well educated but not that educated since she doesn't know certain poems and books. Sung Man in real life is that type of guy who is destined to become the Emperor's son in law or the son in law of some powerful general or ambassador because quite frankly Jun just wouldn't cut it. A sad case of fate driving them into each other's arms and karma driving them apart.

Back to the story.

King Yin felt horrible since he agreed Sung Man and Jun were compatible but Mrs Cho said "I am not worried. He is only a guest, he will not stay long. You work hard at the bank and I will seek Jun's hand in marriage on your behalf".

Yeah and then there was Bak Chuen! Ha! Ha! King Yin is definitely not a match for Jun.

I forgot what happened next except that Bak Chuen and Mr Whine All The Time Fu Yi Chek was walking on the street when Ko Wa spotted them. Ko Wa asked Bak Chuen what happened to his eye and Fu Yi Chek told the same lie Bak Chuen did and Ko Wa was very angry and said "You lied to me Fu Yi Chek. Hong Fei told me everything. You fought your classmate and caused Bak Chuen this injury" and Fu Yi Chek angrily said "Don't believe what Hong Fei said. He started the fight!" and Ko Wa said "But you shouldn't have entertained him. You should have walked away. It is very difficult for you to get this job, why can't you do your best and learn the job instead of picking up fights?" and Fu Yi Chek exploded and said "Why is it it is always what you want and not what I want? Have you ever asked if I wanted this? You are the one who wanted this. You didn't do this for me, you stayed for Sung Man! Sis, you were hurt before, why do you still run head first into another man and into another relationship, why do you like being hurt by a man?" and Ko Was was so angry she slapped him hard on the cheeks and turned around and ran away, crying. Bak Chuen was shocked as he looked hard on Fu Yi Chek who kept mumbling "Why do you still want to fall in love when the last time you did, you almost didn't get back on your feet?".

Yeah, why ah? What did that dubbed guy did ah?

Anyway next episode, we see Ko Wa being bullied by Mrs Cho and Fu Yi Chek saw it. Maybe now this Mr Whiny will stop whining and start putting in some effort? Doesn't he realise his sister did it for him? Bastardo!

Very emotional. Sorry.

Anyway a good episode that establishes many future tragedy. Like Sung Man and Jun's hopeless love. Like Ko Wa and her sacrifices. I mean certainly she will be bullied to no end and then only then Fu Yi Chek will realise how much his sister loves him. I will wait for the day when Ko Wa marries Mr Kiu and see how Mrs Cho reacts.

Yes yes that stupid TMO kinda revealed some major plot points except for the ending. The love relationship here can get pretty confusing and complicated. How to take it to the extreme and bring it back? Maybe it will end in tragedy?

The performances in here are good in this episode. All went well except for a few minor grouses such as the highlighted confusing parts involving Sung Man, Ko Wa and Jun. In fact I find that the weakest point in this episode.

Performances wise, I definitely enjoyed Steven Ma's passionate performance of a very passionate Sung Man. I really like his character and I just hope he doesn't go haywire, performance wise and character wise. He improved a lot in his acting and I am not sure when was Safe Guards made but he certainly looked like he improved a lot in here.

Tavia Yeung I like also. Very pretty but you know who takes my breath everytime she appears? Lui San, Mrs Kiu. I don't know why. I just find her makeup and all suit her, looking gentle and yet matronly and yet ravishing. She just looks so pretty. Tavia also of course.

Now Sonija Kwok like I predicted looks awful in the Chinese costume. Not plain but just not that pretty anymore. I miss that hair covering half her face, the wooly coat. Now her clothes seem too baggy and she just looks well like a maid. Ok maybe that suits her since her role is a maid. And a very friendly maid too which to some may be a bit inaccurate because no maid is that friendly in the way she talks and interrupts her masters. But then she is a foreigner. As for her performance, all was fine until that very last scene where she had to be disappointed, angry, frustrated and insulted all at the same time whilst doing some action that is turn, wipe face off tears and walk away stylishly. Of course that is too much to ask of any actor more so Sonija Kwok who probably can only do 2 things at once. So that last scene which was more drama based and take her out of her comfort zone (either looking forlorn or being being chirpy and happy) showed that yes she has improved as an actress but she still is weak in that department called emotions. Hopefully she will do better next episode in terms of multi tasking.

Chris Lai is ok, nothing much to say. John Chiang still cool but hardly registering any big emotion on his face. All are ok including Stephen Wong who is probably the most irritating character in this series apart from the trouble makers and Mr Wood himself, that is Moses Chan but then Stephen Wong's character thus far is one dimensional that is whine whine and more whine. A rather bad performance if he was someone experienced by since he is new, I'd give him the benefit of doubt. I mean his angry face and his confused face and his insulted face are the same.

Moses Chan...is like a log of wood. His character is a log of wood, all personality died when his family was executed. He was almost boring to watch and I find Sonija Kwok so much more interesting and that is quite a statement coming from me. His acting is also like a log of wood since his character is reserved therefore he must act reserved but somehow Moses Chan equates acting reserved as the same as acting like a walking corpse, devoid of personality or even a slight register of emotion on his face with life sucked out altogether and thus sucking my life out too by watching him. He looks dumbfounded all the time. Moses, what about angry? What about happy? What about evil? What about your next best look, looking confused?

Sigh... I hope he gets better when there's more drama inflicting his character. Can someone go through the entire series having just ONE look on his face? Even his eyes look dumbfounded.

Anyway since acting may be lacking for some, I suppose all those bullying scenes would occupy my time and mind. I want Sonija with her hair down covering half her face again! Why ugly-fy her? WHY? Give her a horse! That was her best moment frankly.

I am excited to see episode 6 but a bit wary that it is going downhill. Very wary.

EPISODE 6
Bloody hell! Written 30% and my browser crashed!! And another bloody hell because I kept missing the 1st 15 minutes of the series.

Ko Wa was by the river after that incident last episode. Bak Chuen followed her and asked her is she is still angry with Fu Yi Chek but she cheerfully said no. My sister filled me in on what I missed and curse the timing, I missed a lot!!

Ko Wa's parents died when she was very young and she had to rely on her abusive uncle and aunt who forced Ko Wa and Fu Yi Chek to work long hours and physical abuse. But because they had each other, Ko Was and Fu Yi Chek was happy. Remember that Mongolian dude? Well he went away to seek better fortune and promised Ko Wa he shall return to marry her. I don't know how much time has passed but Ko Wa waited and waited and finally her brother heard from someone who heard from someone who ... well you get my meaning, unreliable source that he has married another!! Ko Wa was devastated and nearly could not live with a broken heart, I assume. Don't know whether it was that dramatic or not.

Back at the mansion, Ko Wa was delivering a bowl of noodle soup to Ching when Mrs Cho rudely stopped her and scolded her for not cleaning the compound properly but Ko Wa innocently said she did but Mrs Cho told her to shut up and do it again. When Ko Wa said she needed to deliver the mee first and will clean immediately after, Mrs Cho pushed that bowl which splattered onto Ko Wa's dress. She was shocked, momentarily and Fu Yi Chek who was there to pass a message saw what happened but wisely did not make a ruckus. Ko Wa saw him too and meekly she swallowed her pride and said "I am sorry madam" and Mrs Cho slyly said "So what will you tell everyone about this bowl of noodle soup?" and Ko Wa humbly said "Nothing" and Mrs Cho walked away and Ko Wa quickly clean the floor. Fu Yi Chek looked away for a moment and then when he looked back Ko Wa was gone.

Pause here.

I did think Sonija gave just the right amount of shock with what Mrs Cho did, her eyes wide in surprise so yeah, kudos to her. But she also gave the series worst performance in here. Why? The bowl of noodle soup? Still don't get my meaning? HOT noodle soup poured onto her body? It was her lack of reaction to this that caused me to think Ko Wa must have a body made of steel or she could feel no pain. At least a muffled "Ahhhhh" would suffice. Anyway as long as she gave one appropriate reaction it was better than none. Can't expect her to handle TWO reactions at one time. That would be too much for her.

Anyway continue on.

Fu Yi Chek knew what kind of misery his sister was going through for him. He apologised for his behaviour and both of them were close again. In fact Fu Yi Chek seemed like a different boy, he suddenly mature and studied hard every night. He put in a lot of effort and he even felt bad about Bak Chuen's finger. Bak Chuen told him to forget about it although Bak Chuen struggled to keep up with the class in using the abacus and insulted by the trouble makers and endured sarcastic remarks from Mr Chong. Mr Kiu saw it all when Bak Chuen was alone in the class, practicing the abacus as he winced at each count. Mr Kiu simply threw him a pebble. Bak Chuen didn't know what to do with.

Me too. I thought what? Swallow it? Tell Bak Chuen to kill himself for having less ONE useful finger?

Nope. Bak Chuen went to the river, dipped his hand into the river clutching a handful of pebbles and flexed that injured finger. It hurt but he persisted. Then there was a test at the bank using the abascus. Fu Yi Chek and even Bak Chuen managed to count in time and gave the right answer. 2 of the trouble makers pretended to give the correct answer and Mr Chong was so angry he scolded "It is alright if you get the answer wrong, at least you can try harder but to cheat with your eyes open is a testament to your character and lack of integrity, without which is detrimental to the banking business!". Mr Kiu walked in and encouragingly said "To those who did well, well done! To those who didn't, do not worry, try harder the next time" and swoosh, off he went. Bak Chuen ran after him and said "Thank you Mr Kiu for your advice. The pebbles in the river actually relaxed my hand muscle and the injured finger" and Mr Kiu seriously answered "Thank yourself. An advice is of no use if it is not understood and well used". And swoosh, off he goes again like some ninja.

Ko Wa was busy arranging the flowers in the compound when she saw Mr Kiu's servant. She ran to him eagerly and asked "I heard there was an exam at the bank. How did my brother do?" and the serious servant said "He did well" and Ko Wa was overjoyed. Then she asked "Ermm how did Fan Chi Chai do?" and again the servant said "He did well too". Ko Wa mumbled to herself "Oh great great! I was so worried his injured finger may have proved detrimental, I am happy he did well!" and Mr Kiu appeared and he asked her in a friendly less serious way "Oh you know Fan Chi Chai?" and Ko Wa happily answered "Oh yes, he was one of very first local people Fu Yi Chek and I met when we first came here." and Mr Kiu remarked "This young man is very loyal to his friends, he has potential" and Ko Wa said "Oh yes Mr Kiu, Fan Chi Chai is a good man. He has helped Fu Yi Chek a lot, without him Fu Yi Chek wouldn't have been able to make it in here. ". And swoosh, this time Ko Wa went away happily and Mr Kiu again was impressed with her ermmm.. ho hei, ermm gallantry? Ahhh heroic heroine type of manner.

Anyway Ko Wa passed by a crying kneeling servant and asked her what's the matter and the servant girl tearfully said "My mother is very sick. I applied leave from the butler and he refused to allow me to go home. I begged him and he refused despite all these time he had been touching me inappropriately!" and Ko Wa was so angry she complaint to Jun. The servant girl actually served Jun. So Jun told her mother who listened meekly. The butler not only denied it, he even justified letting the servant leave by saying her mom was indeed very sick. Jun knew he was trying to cover his tracks. Then Jun said "Since she has left I am without a servant. Mother, may I have Ko Wa as my servant?" and Ko Wa was excited. But Mrs Cho interrupted by saying "But Ko Wa is so careless, I am afraid she may not serve Jun well" but Ching interrupted her by saying "What new servant girl will not make a mistake? Jun can teach Ko Wa and Auntie can teach her also. Why not auntie exchange your servant with Jun, you take Ko Wa instead and teach her?" and the aunt immediately said no no no and Jun quickly said "Mother, then let me have Ko Wa please" and her mother agreed. Ko Wa was ecstatic.

When Ko Wa was leaving, the butler confronted Ko Wa and said "Why don't you mind your own business?" and Ko Wa said "If you abuse your position, I would never keep quiet and when she comes back we will have a witness" and he said "What makes you think she is coming back? Listen here. Keep to your business if not I will make your life here so difficult you would want to leave or else I will make you leave" and Ko Wa was so angry she said "What makes you think you can abuse your position? Don't you forget you are a servant at the end of the day and your position is no higher than mine. Perhaps you should remember your status".

Ooooh drama! In fact before she left with Jun that butler threatened her and said "You better serve little miss well or else you will get it". Scary! I mean don't this guy know who she is?

1. She was personally brought in by Mr Kiu who is very impressed with her gung ho attitude

2. She knows Bak Cheun who is Mr Kiu's favourite pupil; AND

3. She knows Sung Man whom Mr Kiu admire very much.

He shall die for threatening her!!! Stare at him Sonija with that death stare of yours! Laser him with your laser beam eyes!

Back up a bit. I forgot to mention about Sung Man again hearing the problems of the common folks went to the magistrate with solution that involved Ding Fung Sing. The Magistrate acknowledged Sung Man's advice and also Yun Tin's suggestion previously and Mr Kiu was pleased and Mr Cho was not. In fact earlier when the magistrate wanted to meet with the heads at Ding Fung Sing, Mr Cho said no need to call Mr Kiu but it was Yun Tin who said "I am afraid that is not proper. After all he wants to meet with the head of Ding Fung Sing and Mr Kiu being the head of Ding Fung Sing would be most obliged to greet this most esteemed guest". Least to say Mr Cho was not pleased. Yun Tin was very happy at what happened and told Ching. Ching said "Well this Mr Cheong is indeed very good to us" and Yun Tin said "He really liked Jun too. We must pair them up, then we will have one ally on our side who is not interested in the business and our lives would be much easier" and Ching said "How do we know Jun likes him too?" and Yun Tin said "What can she protest on this match made in Heaven? They're right for one another" and Ching acknowledged "I will be happy for Jun if this is true".

Back to Ko Wa. Ching told Jun that she has gotten parents' permission for Jun to go to some big shot's house to sew some wedding gift. Jun was excited and decided to bring Ko Wa along.

Along the way in the carriage, Ko Wa saw Sung Man and loudly shouted his name "Mr Cheong! Mr Cheong!" and Sung Man saw Ko Wa and Jun. Jun asked shyly where he was going and he said he was going to a carnival starting in an hour and Jun expressed her disappointment she couldn't join him and never had an opportunity to see a carnival before.

At the big shot's house the ladies were talking about the impending marriage as Jun was quietly sewing. Suddenly Ko Wa dragged Jun away saying Jun wasn't looking very well and Jun was confused until Ko Wa told her since they have some time they can now visit the carnival! Jun was so excited she was very happy with what she experienced. Then she saw a sword she liked and even gave a few kung fu style with it when she told Ko Wa she wanted to buy it as a gift for Mr Kiu but Ko Wa reminded her no one knew they were here so buying the sword was not a good idea. Sung Man walked by and immediately bought the sword and like a gentleman carried it for her as Ko Wa walked behind them. Sung Man asked how come Jun knew a bit of Kung Fu and Jun said "I don't really know much. I really wanted to learn but my mother forbade me from doing so" and Sung Man asked Jun "If there's anything I can do for you, I will be happy to oblige" and Jun quietly stared at the sword and said "There is one thing, perhaps you can show me a few style with this sword?"

And so he did, and Jun was smitten. Then Jun tried it herself and Sung Man was smitten. But she lost her footing and fell and guess what? Guess guess guess... Sung Man grabbed her waist and held her close and they both looked at each other's eyes intently and they were both as smitten as the other.

And here I am reminded of the song "Love is in the air... love is in the air".

Next episode, Bak Chuen got framed again but this time he won't take it lying down! Hurray! At last, some life in the wood!

Good episode. I am beginning to fall for Sung Man who is not only smart, intelligent, righteous, capable, can fight and can protect his woman, he is also handsome. Yes, handsome. Steven Ma is so handsome in here in the gentlemanly scholar sense. Just don't have him recite a poem and he can pass as the Emperor in disguise himself! Please don't make this character go evil, pleaseeeeeee........... By the way Steven Ma was excellent. Enough said.

Steven Wong was effective as the more mature Fu Yi Chek. I like him better like this.

Tavia Yeung is very very pretty in here. I remember she was more of a maid than the missus when she first started out but now she looks the part and sounds the part. That Maggie Cheung gesture is more subdued now and she delivers a very good performance of a very soft spoken but determined Jun. I like Jun and of course I think Tavia did great too.

Claire Yiu was quite alright as Ching. The way she sparred words with an equally good Rebecca Chan was fun to watch.

Moses Chan had more emotion today which is great but his face still looked strangely frozen. He has lost his sense of humour in this heavy drama. Of course he had nothing to laugh about but a bit more relaxed would be so much less constipated looking.

John Chiang still same look. Even Kenny Wong the usually more constipated looking guy had more relaxed look. What's wrong with the men in here?

Now Sonija Kwok. Normally I would make a big issue out of that bad performance with regards to hot soup but here I prefer to look the other way because Sonija did give an above average performance in that scene in the way she had to swallow her pride and quietly said sorry for something that is not her fault. In fact her cheerfulness is quite infectious and I find her overall performance satisfactory even if curiously inadequate in some scenes.

Oh my god, I am beginning to like Sonija Kwok as an actress. Oh my god. If I feel that way about Shirley Yeung one day, someone please slap some senses into me. Punch me if you must!

Anyway so excited about the next episode because I like to see angry Bak Chuen.

EPISODE 7
The theme song, no matter how many times I hear it, is still awful. At least I didn't miss the 1st 15 minutes. So here is a recap of episode 7, which is quite charged with emotions and drama as well as romance and intrigue.

Ok where did episode 7 begin? Oh yes...

Jun almost fell when Sung Man held her and they looked into each other's eyes when a smitten Sung Man asked "Are you alright?" and a shy but equally as smitten Jun said "Yes I am". Jun went home really happy when she overheard her parents discussing about her time for marriage when her father said "There is no rush for that my dear wife. Then you won't complain you had no company. She can still wait until the right suitor comes along". Her father noticed her muddy shoes with Ko Wa and also her tanned complexion and she lied. Ko Wa lied.

Meanwhile...

Bak Chuen is working hard, putting all his efforts into his job. One time King Yin got a big business deal and a guy deposited 4,000 worth of silver bars. Bak Chuen, the trouble makers, some other students and Fu Yi Chek had to take these bars into the secret chamber underneath somewhere in the bank. Wow, so much money! Anyway, King Yin came by to have a look, very proud that he is doing something good to earn points in Mr Kiu's eyes when he suddenly realised he dropped the jade that his mother gave him I think the episode before. He went into frantic search, and his father, Mr Cho immediately asked King Yin to search the students. So he searched and he found the jade on Bak Chuen's body. Bak Chuen was shocked. In a room, every student had to recite the laws of Ding Fung Sing which Bak Chuen had to summarise as trustworthiness, integrity, honour and above all else, honesty. And that was when Mr Cho scolded Bak Chuen and said "If you know these rules so well why did you steal? Did you know you have broken every rule?" and Bak Chuen innocently said "I didn't. I swear it!" but Mr Chong said "Why did you do it? Stealing and lying about is is never right" and Bak Chuen kept protesting his innocent with Fu Yi Chek looking on helplessly and then Mr Cho dropped the bomb; "If that is the case, you can no longer stay in Ding Fung Sing. We will not tolerate your presence. Get out!" and Bak Chuen said "No, Master Cho, please I didn't do it, I didn't!" but well he packed his bags and left dejectedly. Mr Kiu saw him walking out and so when he was sitting Mr Cho talking about business, Mr Kiu quietly asked "I know Fan Chi Chai and I was wondering is it necessary to kick him out of Ding Fung Sing?" and Mr Cho smugly said "I know you recommended him but if I remember correctly Boss, you were the one who said I must treat him the same as other and when he breaks the rules, he must be fired". Mr Kiu smiled and said "Of course" and Mr Cho said "Well what I did was within what is right looking at the circumstances" and Mr Kiu said "Of course, I am not questioning the reason for your actions". Then Mr Cho said "I do know that bosses of other banks never quite visit their banks as often as you do sir, since they let the first taukeh run the administration without much supervision. May I ask sir, with your frequent visits, am I doing something wrong or not enough?" and Mr Kiu was taken aback by his words and smiled and said "Of course not! You know me, I can't just sit and do nothing. I enjoy my visits, it means nothing more than visits. I certainly am not questioning your efficiency, you have done a good job and I trust you with my banks". Mr Cho smiled, that fake smile of his and so did Mr Kiu.

Then when alone Mr Kiu asked his servant, "Does Fan Chi Chai strike you as that kind of person?" and the servant said "No sir, he doesn't".

I tell you Mr Kiu likes Bak Chuen.

Pause here. I wonder why Mr Kiu doesn't trust his own son in law? If he doesn't trust Mr Cho why let him run the bank, why not let Yun Tin run it? So far Yun Tin may be ambitious but he has done well. Quite curious.

Anyway one problem with this scene. MAJOR problem because in this scene I discover Mr Kiu knows ESP. No where did he ask nor did Mr Cho explained why Bak Chuen was punished, not the details nor nature of the wrong he did and they went on as if he knew. Shouldn't Mr Kiu ask Mr Cho what exactly did Bak Chuen did wrong instead letting us viewers assume Mr Kiu asked someone else?

Fu Yi Chek looked for Bak Chuen and found him by the river, drinking drunkedly and he tried to advice Bak Chuen. Sung Man came along and angrily said "Fu Yi Chek, save your breath. If he doesn't even love himself, if he doesn't even make an effort and just want to waste his life away by drinking like the 1st time I met him, let him rot. He doesn't need nor deserve your attention. Come on Fu Yi Chek, let him be. Let this useless weakling drink". So Sung Man dragged him away and Bak Chuen continued drinking. As he was walking, he remember how his family died (very sad scene, every time I remember that scene I feel a tinge of sadness, especially how his father died) and he fell crying and screaming "Father! Now I know how it feels to be accused of something I didn't do! Father!!!" and then he remembered the chain of events which involved one other student (not one of the troublemakers) who suddenly bent down to pick up suddenly and when they were walking up from the chamber, that student bumped into him hard. Then Bak Chuen realised "It was him".

Back in school, that student was having a conversation with one other sudent who said in disbelief "Who knew Fan Chi Chai is that kind of man. Do you?" and the student said "Neither did I". Then that student was running errands when a few men (who is in the world's 3rd oldest profession, that is loan sharks) dragged him away and he said he will pay them, give him more time. Bak Chuen saw everything. That night, that student received a cryptic letter from Bak Chuen to meet at the hills. He went dead of night leaving Fu Yi Chek eyes wide opened when he quietly shut the door.

Bak Chuen was there and he said "It was you! You stole that jade to pay off the loan sharks. Why did you let them accuse me?" and that student slyly said :"I don't know what you're talking about" and Bak Chuen said "I saw everything this morning" and that student said "So what? Who would believe you? It is your word against mine. What can you do about it"?

Urghhh. Hate that guy. For once Bak Chuen reacted like a normal human being would...

"I will not be framed for a crime I did not commit. I will never face injustice again. I don't mind dying but I will not suffer injustice and have my reputation destroyed". That student said "So what?!" and Bak Chuen said "Never" and he charged at that guy, held his head tightly under his strong arms and together ran towards the edge of the hill. The student screamed NOOOOOOOO and Bak Chuen suddenly stopped at the edge and forced the student to admit he was wrong which he did. Bak Chuen let him go, they turned around and there was Fu Yi Chek and the servant of Mr Kiu.

Next scene we see Bak Chuen standing before his parents' grave I think. He paid his respect and he said "Father, I now know how you felt when you were framed. I swear to you I will not let you die being framed. I will work hard and I will find out who was behind all this and I will restore the good name of our family. I promise father, I promise".

Bak Chuen thanked Mr Kiu personally for allowing the servant, I think Mr Kwan to follow Fu Yi Chek. Mr Kiu was pleased that Bak Chuen is back and Mr Kiu invited Bak Chuen to play the chess with him. Bak Chuen won, impressing Mr Kiu with his calmness and his ability to quite from the Buddhist text. Bak Chuen explained he stayed in the monastery for some time but did not elaborate more. Mr Kiu thanked him for his company and was even more impressed with Bak Chuen's attitude and personality.

During steamboat session, Yun Tin took the opportunity to kick Mr Cho by insulting his son King Yin for being reckless in his accusation and almost destroyed a man's life and the bank's reputation. King Yin was very queit and Mr Cho said to his son "You listen to Master Yun Tin now! He is teaching you a good valuable listen so learn" but full of daggers of course. King Yin nodded and said thank you to Yun Tin. Mr Kiu was there too and Mr Cho explained that that student had a pitiful life. He was a gambler, but reformed and then he couldn't pay off his debts and so he had to steal. Mr Kiu told Mr Cho to remind the students the seriousness of this student's action and to instill in them the values in line with the bank's philosophy.

Jun was in her room when Ko Wa asked Jun to go visit that rich girl they visited in the last episode. Jun was curious but she went along when she realised Ko Wa actually meant Sung Man. So they met with Sung Man secretly and Ko Wa saw Sung Man was carrying a kite. Ko Wa asked Sung Man "Why a kite Mr Cheong?" and Sung Man replied "Because Miss Kiu wants to play kite" and Ko Wa playfully asked "Why a butterfly kite?" and Sung Man laughingly replied "Because it is nice". And so they played kite and Jun allowed Ko Wa to leave to find Bak Chuen to give him a pouch he made for him and her brother for 2 hours.

I forgot when was this scene, whether it was earlier or later. Anyway Sung Man and Jun chat and talked about their hopes and dreams when Jun hoped she could be as widely travelled and well read as Sung Man, hoping to visit the many places. Sung Man then said "You could do that too" and Jun said "You don't understand our town's policy on women. I could not leave and travel alone" and Sung Man expressed his surprise at the policy and said cryptically "I will take you with me, if you will" and Jun was blushing as he gently held her hands. That is like a confession of love and like a promise of marriage already.

Whilst they played kite which suddenly (and conveniently) snapped and flew away, Sung Man and Jun went in search of it. Ko Wa found Bak Chuen in the market again purchasing a big huge melon (at which point my family quipped why not he buy a cucumber since he had to carry that huge melon around and Moses Chan looked frail and I added better a japanese cucumber, smaller) when Ko Wa noticed he was coughing and was sick. So Ko Wa dragged Bak Chuen who was still carrying that melon to the hills to find herbs for some natural cure which they did and that was like their little dating time.

Sung Man and Jun found the kite but they had to cross a river for that and discovered the raft floated away. Jun was very worried and Sung Man assured her that Ko Wa will know what to do if she didn't see them. Well Ko Wa was panicking also.

Anyway they sat beneath a shed and Jun was very distressed since it was already at night. Sung Man took her attention away and talked about constellation of stars and even knew ENGLISH! Yeah he said the alphabet M and Jun was very impressed with his depth of knowledge. SO WAS I. Wow! Is there anything that Sung Man doesn't know? I am in love with him I tell you and again I can't help but feel he would have been an ideal candidate for the emperor's daughter or someone of that status.

Anyway Ko Wa came back with the search party with Mr Kiu. They found them alright at the shed where Jun was sleeping with her head on Sung Man's shoulder who was also asleep and I think they were holding hands. Last scene was Ko Wa looking rather surprised a their intimate position (well any contact is intimate back in those days between a well bred missus and a gentleman scholar) with Mr Kiu looking rather annoyed at their intimacy. In fact he looked furious.

Next 5 episodes will be interesting. Ko Was was blamed and so punished by that eager butler, Mr Kiu was not pleased at Jun's conduct with Sung Man, crisis at Ding Fung Sing when Mr Cho made his move to kick Mr Kiu out and King Yin turned bad! DRAMA! Finally!!

Great episode tonight. Enjoyed the scene with Bak Chuen losing his temper. That theft had me guessing who did it? Who did it? Well it was a big surprise at who did it and how Bak Chuen dealt with the situation. For once Bak Chuen finally woken up from his slumber and has a new purpose in life; to find clear his family name.

I love Sung Man and how positive he was. I also love the scene where he scolded Bak Chuen and I forgot to mention Bak Chuen thanked him afterwards and they became really good friends.

Anyway performances wise everybody seems to have suddenly woken up from their slumber. John Chiang had more expression that just dead pan serious look and Moses finally had some anger in him and no longer looking like a wood that sleepwalks or looking at everything with wide eyed (not wonder but) boredom. Pity him though, that melon is huge. Tavia is gorgeous and I love the romantic scene with Sung Man about the alphabet "M". I find their courtship very romantic and I will certainly weep for them when they can't be together. The younger guys did ok, although Stephen Wong is more subdued and Chris Lai will now have more role in terms of his character having much to do. Hopefully he is not evil but then like father, like son eh? I meant his character.

Sonija Kwok. As promised a paragraph on her performance. Her chinese costume is still not impressing me. But she does look like a maid, a very jovial happy one. In fact Bak Chuen did asked Ko Wa why she is always so happy and to Ko Wa she was like what is there not to be happy about. I agree. I find Sonija gave a very good performance tonight, especially those shocked, surprised or her best, by being playful and happy. Who knew automatons could have emotions eh? Well she did and frankly I really like her Ko Wa in here. I find her optimism very infectious and I love the scene where she playfully teased Sung Man about the kite. In fact it felt like an impromptu scene with Sonija add-libbing to Steven why a butterfly kite because Steven looked slightly taken aback by that question. Interesting now I remember Sonija once had a dispute with Steven right? With Steven claiming they dated before and Sonija who dated everyone coming out and denied it and frankly I believed her. They looked very comfortable with one another here. In fact Tavia seems very serious in that scene. Anyway a job well done to Sonija. I am sure she may lack in the drama department or the "2 or more reaction to one single action" acting moment (cue the hot soup) but what more can I ask for as long as she is genuinely lovable as Ko Wa? What more indeed.

Something on Tavia. I did say she is gorgeous but you have to watch this to believe it. The costume suits her.

In fact you can see a lot of genuinely expensive stuff in here, from the gold plated looking steamboat (maybe it is just copper), the scenery, the mansion, the set, so many ke-le-fes (where for once we can see two servants standing outside a room whilst the masters eat- very opulent and for once, a resemblance of someone rich), the costumes and to me the most amazing of all, that chess set Mr Kiu and Bak Chuen was using. Like gemstones or marble carved into such beautiful pieces. Amazing expensive stuff.

But the theme song still suck and the end song didn't suck as much but Moses Chan sang that I think and that suck.

EPISODE 8
First and foremost, a very good episode although whenever the men started talking about business I can never understand a single word. Just know that it is secretive, full of back stabbing and is profitable.

This episode began with Ko Wa being scolded by Mrs Kiu and Mr Kiu with Jun looking on helplessly. Ko Wa took all the blame, saying she was being playful, didn't know the consequence of her actions and Jun just went along with it. Jun looked like she was about to defend Ko Wa when Mrs Cho, whom I deduce stays with the Kiu family since she is always there started to lecture Ko Wa, even recommending that she be fired immediately. Jun wanted to say something but Ching stepped in and said "It is not entirely Ko Wa's fault. Although she made an error in judgment, luckily Mr Cheong was there if not Jun would have been all alone, lost in the woods. Mr Cheong is a gentleman and I do think he acted properly in the circumstances" and her husband wholeheartedly agreed and Mr Cho told his wife to just SHUT UP! Mr Kiu in the end decided not to punish Ko Wa but warned Jun against any future impropriety since she is a little missus of some standing. Mr Kiu left and Ko Wa was alone, kneeling down when that Mrs Cho told Mrs Kiu that Ko Wa must be punished, if not she would be as reckless in future and guess who will do the punishing?

Oh that butler seized the opportunity, took Ko Wa outside, made her kneel and poured cold water over her and then slyly said "So you think you're high and mighty don't ya? Look at here now, you punished. Beg for mercy, maybe I will consider it..." and Ko Wa simply refused and that man poured some more and left her kneeling.

Pause. I was wondering so what? Pour water only what? Well then I remembered it was winter, Ko Wa was not properly attired and she was wet with cold water, so there she was shivering. Poor girl.

Mr and Mrs Kiu was strolling in the compound, discussing about Jun and Mr Cheong and both decided it was best for Jun and Mr Cheong not to see each other for a while. That was when Mr Kiu saw Ko Wa, shivering and kneeling and he quickly went to her, held her so that she can stand and she almost fainted. Mr Kiu told her to go, the punishment is over and she quietly left. Mr Kiu then turned to his wife and quietly said "Ko Wa may have made an error in judgment but she was noble. She took all the blame for Jun, giving Jun an opportunity to step down with dignity and lessen the scandal. Dear wife, maybe perhaps in future Ko Wa should be given more kind consideration as I think she deserves it" and Mrs Kiu gently replied "I will. I know you value her for her loyalty and her love for her brother, if not she wouldn't have been here. In fact I think perhaps I need a new servant girl by my side...".

So Ko Wa became Mrs Kiu servant girl whilst Jun had a new servant girl whose sole duty was to follow her everywhere, much to the annoyance of Jun.

Pause here. What Mrs Kiu did was honourable because one she can ensure Ko Wa doesn't go take Jun frolicking around everywhere and two, no one would dare to punish Mrs Kiu's servant girl so in a way this is to stop the bullying.

Jun was alone at the compound when King Yin came and started insulting Sung Man which Jun didn't agree. Then King Yin tried to confess his love for Jun by giving her a jade pendant but Jun refused to accept and stressed "I have always thought of you as my cousin and nothing more" and King Yin blamed it on Sung Man and looked positively evil.

Meanwhile Bak Chuen was doing well at work and he was learning English too. He bumped into Sung Man at the market (didn't notice the melon though) and Sung Man too was impressed with Bak Chuen's dedication. He took Bak Chuen to the church and asked a nun to teach him English is she has the time. Bak Chuen was very grateful and in fact was in the church when one potential client of Ding Fung Sing rushed in and exclaimed in English that he has lost his 1st wife! They watched in amusement as they heard the man said his 1st wife found out he wanted to give a shop to the 2nd wife as a gift and the 1st wife was jealous and ran away. So now that man would have to take a loan to buy 2 shops instead! Back at Ding Fung Sing, Bak Chuen was discussing his English and that funny incident with Fu Yi Chek when Yun Tin walked by and overheard the conversation. He knew that man was Mr Cho's personally handled client and a plan was hatched.

King Yin was in a bad mood and he insulted the efforts of Bak Chuen and Fu Yi Chek in learning English, saying "So knowing 1 to 10 in english is so what? Do you know ten thousand in English? one hundres thousand? Useless!" and Fu Yi Chek hotly said "But Mr Chong said we just need to recite one to ten. Moreover we have yet to learn more! Mr Chong, please say something on our behalf" and King Yin blasted "I am your senior! You will listen to what I have to say!" and then Yun Tin came in, Fu Yi Chek complained to him and Mr Chong agreed and Yun Tin simply said "If that is the case, Mr Chong, they pass" and he walked out and King Yin looked insulted,

Mr Kiu was alone in his study when his servant said Sung Man was there to see him. You know that butler. Anyway Mr Kiu seems reluctant to see Sung Man until he was told Sung Man waited for more than an hour. Mr Kiu went to see him, looking stern and unpleasant. Sung Man immediately raised his hand to greet Mr Kiu and offered his most sincere apologies, again explaining what happened and blamed his own stupidity for crossing the line with Jun. Mr Kiu looked at Sung Man in the eyes and said quite honestly "I know you're a gentleman Mr Cheong but by your actions with my beloved daughter I am unable to determine if it was sincere gallantry or perhaps there is a purpose..." and Sung Man immediately replied "Mr Kiu, I know your daughter is in love with me, she has shown me affection and has confessed as much. I myself must confess; I too am in love with your daughter and I want no more than to complete the exams that is coming soon, gain a position in the civil service and I will return home to my family, tell them about Miss Kiu and with their blessing return here to seek her hand in marriage". Mr Kiu's back was facing Sung Man and when Sung Man was finished, Mr Kiu actually smiled with his back facing Sung Man, impressed with Sung Man's sincerity and glad that he had found his daughter a good husband.

Mrs Kiu, Ko Wa and Ching was at the temple when Mrs Kiu got a fortune teller slip that predicted an average luck for Jun in matters of love. Mrs Kiu was very worried but Ko Wa interpreted it different and cheerfully said "I think little miss will find a good husband, she is a good person and a good person always gets good blessings from the heavens". When they were walking out, they encountered a man who was abandoning his wife, with his wife crying "How can you leave me now? I have worked hard for this family to establish our shop and now you're leaving me?" and that man pushed her to the floor roughly. In came Sung Man who held his wife up and angrily scolded him "How can you treat your wife like this? She is to be appreciated, not to be mistreated like she is not worth your time!" and that man arrogantly said so what and Sung Man said "Well then, your missus can file a complaint against you for assault as permitted by the laws of this great dynasty. Missus, go and see a magistrate, he will help you" and she seems reluctant and that man seems afraid and Sung Man said "If you don't want this, then go home with your wife. Peace and togetherness in family is most vital!" and that man quickly said to his wife gently to go home. Mrs Kiu was very impressed with Sung Man and nodded in approval.

Jun was upset. She was very worried about what her father might think of Sung Man now, and when Ching came by to talk to her, Jun confessed her anxiety but Ching explained that Mrs Kiu was very impressed with Sung Man over an incident at the temple and she was sure Mrs Kiu will not object the relationship. Jun asked what of Mr Kiu and Ching believed Mr Kiu too had accepted Sung Man's explanation and all was ok. Jun was very happy and Ching teased her that she looked eager and ready to wed.

The next scene Jun was at the compound when she heard the flute by Sung Man, They did a duet together and then Jun quickly stood by the door and spoke to Sung Man with the closed door as a barrier. Sung Man confessed that "I will have to leave soon to attend to my personal affairs" and Jun was very disappointed but was very happy when she heard "However I will return as soon I can with my parents blessing and I shall seek your hand in marriage" and Jun will wait for his return and so Sung Man rode a horse and away into the sunset. Maybe sunrise or maybe noon. But you know, with style.

Pause here. They're indeed a match made in heaven you know, every time they're together it is so bloody romantic. However a pity it was doomed because although Jun was worried her parents will not accept Sung Man she has never thought what about Sung Man's parents? I thought well she is rich so that should be fine but Sung Man comes from not just a well to do family but a highly respected family and such a union may be ok now but back in those days, Sung Man is like the ideal son in law for any highly respected family and let's face it, Ding Fung Sing may be rich but they're not powerful. Doomed. Feel so sad.

Continue...

Mr Cho was on his way to meet that client I mentioned when he was stopped and an old friend told him King Yin was hit my a carriage and was hurt. He quickly rushed to find his son, couldn't find him, and spent the whole day worrying when he saw King Yin well and fine. That old man conveniently said he may have mistaken someone else as King Yin and quickly left. Mr Cho went back to the bank and to his surprise saw his client shaking hands with Yun Tin. It seems Yun Yin sealed the deal. Mr Cho was very angry and complained to Mr Kiu. But Yun Tin explained "The client was waiting the whole day sir, what am I supposed to do? So I negotiated with him" and Mr Cho said "But you quoted to him such a low interest, we are hardly making any money!" and Yun Tin blasted back "But he told me that was the number you agreed to give him" and Mr Kiu agreed the interest was a bit too low when Yun Tin explained "But sir, why is he borrowing money?" and Mr Cho said "Because he wanted to buy a shop for his 2nd wife, that we all know" and Yun Tin said "But what you don't know is his 1st wife is very jealous and he wanted to but a shop for his 1st wife too and so I gave the low interest because we have agreed on a loan for two shops instead of one". Mr Kiu then agreed "Well then the interest quoted wouldn't be too low, it is in fact a profit" and Mr Cho was both shocked at this revelation and angry that he has been side stepped.

Back in his own room, he was complaining bitterly and he told his wife "I have never really cared much for Yun Tin. I know he is ambitious but I never knew him as this cunning! Obviously boss wants to pass the business to him since he is always siding Yun Tin. Now I must do something....".

Next day he was so sick he can't go to work. The next few days he was sick too and many clients came and went because they wanted to negotiate with Mr Cho and he wasn't there. Yun Tin approached Mr Kiu and suggested he be allowed to assist these clients since the business can't just close down because Mr Cho was sick. Mr Kiu said he will think about it and he and wife visited Mr Cho who was pretending to be sick. Mr Kiu sincerely said "I hope you will be well soon. Meanwhile I will be passing some of your duties to Yun Tin so you rest well" and so he left. Mrs Cho said bitterly "I am not even sure if he was sincere when he was telling you to rest!" and Mr Cho said "It is confirmed then. I pretended to be sick to see the situation and now I know he clearly favours Yun Tin. I must do something... fast...".

Next episode, Mr Cho hatched a plan to dethrone Mr Kiu who himself is getting old and is prone to heart attacks.

I find today's episode very interesting, both romantic and intriguing. I really like Sung Man-Jun pairing but what a sad pair. Imagine having to marry someone you don't love and seeing the one you love marrying another. OH THE TRAGEDY!!! OH THE PAIN!! OH THE DRAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Performance wife, everybody did well. John Chiang seems a bit devious at times. I think his Mr Kiu knows about the rivalry between Mr Cho and Yun Tin but why is he encouraging it if he knows Mr Cho may retaliate? Did he know?

Steven Ma was excellent in my opinion. His gallantry, his gentlemanly Sung Man is so attractive I find Steven Ma very handsome in here. I find his Sung Man such a good man and as I have said for the past 7 episodes I hope he doesn't turn out bad. I hope the writers will not junk-afied Sung Man.

Tavia Yeung is pretty and is effective as the gentle but noble Jun. Nothing much to say since she is mostly in love in this episode.

Chris Lai looks set to be the villain in here whilst such a subdued Stephen Wong seems a bit unsettling to me. Suddenly he is like out of the picture but came back in momentarily to stand up for himself.

By the way I do think Moses speaks better English that Steven and here it was Steven who taught him English!! Like Wife, Jealous, THREE, very funny scene.

Moses Chan is ok, still wooden in most scene, mostly with his wide-eyed-boredom look on his face. But he is not that bad, like Kenny Wong, they're functional with Moses Chan a better actor than the ever boring and ever constipated looking Kenny Wong. I am just glad he did not expose his chest in here.

Lui San may I say again is so beautiful in here. In fact Claire Yiu, Tavia, all the women in here who plays someone rich has such beautiful make up. One scene had a close up on Claire Yiu's face and I cant help but marvel at the make up. Gorgeous!

Sonija Kwok did well today. Functional and even cute in one scene where she saw Sung Man outside the temple and was smiling and wanted to rush to say hello when Ching and Mrs Kiu looked at her and she quickly stepped backward since her behaviour is unacceptable. I find that really funny. Overall she managed to give her Ko wa a likeable jovial personality even during the punishment scene and really I really like her, the character and the actress.

Oh now the plotting begins which I am sure will not understand a single word of it. But never mind, the story is moving along now and let's just see how this series' fare in more serious moments with these few main characters.

EPISODE 9
This will probably be my shortest recap for any episode in this series because episode 9 is totally devoted to business talk and like I have said many times in this Episodic Thoughts, whenever this series goes into business talk, I tune off because I can't understand a single thing they say. Same as here.

Mr Kiu was exercising in the cold but he was in poor health. In fact Mr Kiu was in better health than him. Anyway...

So Mr Cho was very angry that Mr Kiu may appoint Yun Tin as 1st taukeh to replace him. He secretly arranged for a meeting with the managers of 13 branches of Ding Fung Sing, telling them mostly lies and some part opinion about how Mr Kiu being so despicable has been side stepping him in favour of Yun Tin and that one assistant manager who was a step away from being a manager (thus will get increased salary plus bonus and other benefits) was fired because Mr Kiu thought he made a huge mistake as to some loan. The truth is that assistant manager resigned because he felt responsible for giving a bad loan, Mr Kiu never asked him to leave at all. In fact Mr Kiu hardly runs the bank at all and left it to Mr Cho. Anyway Mr Cho said in light of these circumstances, he felt he should just resign, retire and go away before he is fired. The 13 managers seemed very angry on his behalf because

a. if Mr Cho is being side stepped so will they

b. they were all personally trained by Mr Cho all those years ago and were very loyal to Mr Cho

c. Mr Cho dealt with them on a daily basis so they didn't feel that connection with Mr Kiu

d. Mr Cho was a very good liar, Oscar has found its new Best Actor.

So the 13 managers agree to boycott Mr Kiu and push for Mr Cho to become the new big boss of the bank.

Meanwhile Mrs Cho orchestrated for Yun Tin, wife, Mrs Kiu and even Jun to leave town for a few days with the pretense that the father of Mrs Cho and Mrs Kiu was very sick. Yun Tin suspected something was amiss and Ching too but Yun Tin said "Don't worry, I have my plans".

Everybody seems to have their own plan in this episode. Even Mr Kiu seems suspicious but later I discover that is due to bad acting.

So all left. Mr Kiu was alone with his servant who found out the 13 managers all left their respective branches and was here in Ping Yiu. Mr Kiu was shocked (hence the bad acting because he seemed like he knew what was going on when actually he didn't) and knew Mr Cho was behind this. He deduced that they were ready to push him out of his position. So he went to see Mr Cho personally, enquiring about his health and said in no uncertain terms that "You must be well soon. The daily managements of the bank needs you. You and I have been working together for so long, you are responsible for making our bank this famous in this region. I can assure you you are my only choice for 1st taukeh. Be well soon". For a moment Mr Cho seems convinced by Mr Kiu's assurance.

Then Yun Tin destroyed it all when on his way to balik kampung, he met up with an investor in a deal that Mr Cho rejected as too high risk. King Yin overheard the conversation with that client loudly saying "I am sure you must be the 1st taukeh soon! You're young and wise in choosing your investors!". King Yin rushed home to tell his father this news and Mr Cho was very angry that "For a moment I almost believed that cunning old fox! He wants to take my position away? No way! I will not commence with my plan, there is no more need to even give him face anymore!". In fact in this scene we found out that Mr Cho worked for the bank since he was 15 and he contributed a lot to the bank. I deduce that he married Mrs Cho when Mr Kiu married Mrs Kiu, like consolidation of power. Mr Kiu is obviously younger of the 2.

What plan you might ask? Coming soon.

Mr Kiu knows it is of utmost urgency he must see and speak with the 13 managers. So he wrote 13 letters asking his male servant to go but his male servant hurt his leg and Bak Chuen was there when he took the male servant home. Bak Chuen volunteered and the servant even feel Bak Chuen was suitable and could be trusted. And so Bak Chuen went in heavy snow to the place where the 13 managers were and they all refused to read the letters, threw them onto the floor and stomped on it. Bak Chuen left dejected and told Mr Kiu what they said, where Mr Kiu was extremely hurt to hear them calling him vile, bastard, ungrateful and heartless. Mr Kiu then found out about that accusation about the assistant manager and he concluded "So you (Mr Cho) really want to go on with your plans?" and he sighed.

Bak Chuen asked why he tolerated the 13 managers. After all a manager must never leave his position without permission from the boss and they're needed this time of year to I think manager/deliver the government's money failing which Ding Fung Sing would be at fault and charged for something. This part I didn't get. But Mr Cho did it in such a way that he will get Mr Kiu in big trouble with the authorities. Mr Kiu explained "The 13 managers were all trained by Mr Cho therefore they feel loyalty towards him. I can't fault them for that. I can't just replace all 13 of them because it requires years of experience to be in that position. Mr Cho trained them well. I don't want to meet with the 13 managers just yet because if I did that, my relationship with Mr Cho is irreparable. I don't want to do that. Mr Cho was my trusted assistant, in fact without him the bank would not have survived the years of turmoil due to the problems with the government. I owe him that much to give him a chance."

So Mr Cho contributed significantly to the business! No wonder Mr Kiu seems so nice to him, never really side step him and truth is Mr Cho is competent. In fact now I know why Yun Tin can never be 1st taukeh. Mr Cho somewhere in this episode also mentioned his plan was to strike and push Mr Kiu to retire so that he can take over the bank.

All the drama and frankly I was huh? Because if 13 managers were to boycott you, wouldn't you fire them all? Mr Kiu's reason for not firing them was because they were important and without them the daily running of the bank would practically shut down. But just imagine all 13 managers were on a boat and it sank. One day all 13 died. Does it mean that the bank will not be operable anymore? What about 13 assistant managers? Wouldn't they be eager to take over the position and may be as trained as well? Silly if you ask me.

Anyway Mr Cho went full speed away with his plan. Mr Kiu refused to meet with 13 branch managers personally and asked them to meet him. One agreed to meet him in secret because he saved this guy's life years ago which affected his own health. Don't ask me what because I was still confused over the 13 managers on a ship analogy made up by myself. But that guy will resign so that he didn't have to take sides.

Mr Kiu now knows he is in a desperate situation. He can't let his bank which is now in his hands as the 3rd generation to close. But the 12 managers were still angry and skeptical about his integrity because of that lie told by Mr Cho about the assistant manager. Bak Chuen did asked Mr Kiu why Mr Cho thought the way he did and Mr Kiu sadly sighed "I don't want to have any rivalry with him, it is he who thinks the other way". Bak Chuen then asked "What about the assistant manager? Maybe we find him and let him speak the truth to the 12 managers so that they will change their minds about you?" and Mr Kiu sadly said "He has retired and no one knows where he is. It is hopeless".

Wow Mr Kiu, you can be so negative sometimes.

The servant said "Master, I remember he said he may wish to retire to this place where it is beautiful and peaceful. Maybe he is there". THIS PLACE meaning I can't remember which place. Bak Chuen looked hopeful and said "Sir, let me find him. I will bring him back, I promise!" and Mr Kiu now looked a bit hopeful said "Alright. The meeting with Mr Cho and the 13 managers will be held next month. If you can find him, bring him straight to me". And Bak Chuen practically ran.

Bak Chuen went to the village as said by the servant, Mr Kwan. He saw a bunch of women and a young pregnant woman crying for someone to come home and he enquired where was the assistant manager and the young pregnant woman said "He is my husband but he hasn't come home yet. He went up the mountains and he has yet to come back!" and Bak Chuen said "He must be trapped in the mountains because of the heavy snow storm. I will find him!" and Bak Chuen ran towards the mountains with the women crying "No! No! Come back! You will only kill yourself in the storm! Noooooooo...".

Bak Chuen ran and ran and kept crying the assistant manager's name. But he couldn't find him and he persisted and suddenly he heard a loud rumbling and he looked behind him and it was an avalanche!! He ran and ran for his life and so now the question remains to be answered;

In this amazing race, who will win? The avalance (nature) or Bak Chuen (man)? Need you know the answer?

Next episode preview, Mr Cho pressures Mr Kiu to sign and Mr Kiu wavers in his resolve and reaches for the brush...

Frankly the special effects are horrible in this episode. Obviously green or blue or rainbow screen.

No sign of Ko Wa, no sign of Sung Man and just a peep of Jun. But this episode explains why Mr Kiu is so polite to Mr Cho and why Yun Tin, no matter what he does will never be 1st taukeh. In a way I can't fault Mr Cho since he worked very hard for the business. Like Mr Kiu said "Mr Cho is the backbone of this bank during its lowest point. Perhaps we can endure hardship together but when we have fortune and success, that will divide us". Mr Kiu seems reluctant to hurt Mr Cho but Mr Cho is of course very pissed off.

John Chiang is a revelation in this episode, managing to act a myriad of dramatic events with one singular expression. Yes I am being sarcastic. I thought he knew what was going on with Mr Cho since he looked so sly and all but then he actually didn't. So half the time he was just clueless. So all that sly look was really much ado about nothing. It didn't help there is not one emoting on the part of John Chiang and his cantonese is hard to understand too, especially when talking business.

Likewise Kenny Wong is just plain boring. I look at him I want to snore and it didn't help that he too had that one singular expression throughout the crisis.

And let's talk about the crisis. How dumb is that? Like my boat sinking analogy, how can one person run a large establishment without any contingency plan for any possible strike by the managers? How can this itself can be allowed to cripple the business? What about replacements? Mr Kiu doesn't seem like a tough boss, he doesn't even seem like a competent boss. What about showing of power in this power play? This part of the series suddenly went stupid in my opinion.

Moses Chan did ok in this episode. Still the wide eyed boredom look, but at least he is emoting more than Kenny Wong and John Chiang combined.

I think the story needs Sung Man, Ko Wa and Jun back if not it is going stupid. I mean can't TVB write a better crisis than the one given? Where is Sung Man? I am sure he can think of a solution instead of the bull that is Bak Chuen who just knows how to charge ahead without prior planning or Mr Kiu himself who is just clueless.

Truth is Bak Chuen is a good man and the idea of Jun marrying him is not that bad. At least the bank is in good and decent hands. But then true love should triumph right?


EPISODE 10
I am beginning to wonder whether the writers for Land Of Wealth is the same as Safe Guards? Because the story is very similar except Safe Guards was much much much better. Anyway in today's episode we shall learn the art of pushing the blame from Mr Cho himself. In fact he is the grand master of the school of Pushing The Blame, and his wife Mrs Cho and their son, King Yin are his best disciples. What nonsense Mr Cho did.. and said...

And so it began. Mr Cho basically pressured Mr Kiu to the point that he was about to sign his bank over to Mr Cho in front of the 12 managers (I didn't notice if that manager from last episode was there) and Mr Kiu's hands were shaking and suddenly he stopped and looked at Mr Cho and said "I will not do it. I will not betray my own bank and give it away just like that" and Mr Cho was like "But you're destroying the bank with your inaction, you're not fit not lead the bank anymore!" and Mr Kiu said "I wonder who is not fit to lead the bank? You are of questionable character, and you're forcing me to do this. I believe I owe this bank nothing!" and Mr Cho angrily said "But you owe the investors, the managers" and Mr Kiu said "Do I? I have always fulfilled my obligations. The managers are well trained, they can get a job anywhere, the bank's business may be passed to other banks especially with regards to the bank's contracts. If I were to close this bank now, I do not feel I owe the bank nor the investors anything". And Mr Cho was like in his theatrics self and blamed Mr Kiu of being indulgent in his own whims and fancy but Mr Kiu said "What then about you? What you're doing now, is it not against the best interest of the bank, the investors, the workers? Are you any more honourable than you claim yourself to be? Are your intention not to take over my position, is it not self serving as well? Do not put the blame on me, this is the results of your own undoing". Mr Kiu stayed still, still whispering his accusations against Mr Cho, perhaps hoping Mr Cho would back off but Mr Cho looked like he was never backing off, and then suddenly Bak Chuen came with that sacked assistant manager. The assistant manager rushed to face Mr Kiu and the managers and Mr Cho looked shocked when the assistant manager said "I didn't plan to come back to Ding Fung Sing Master Kiu, I didn't feel I have the face to come back to face you again" and Mr Kiu said "No no don't mention it, let us not mention the past" and the managers were asking loudly "Why did you leave so sudden? Did Master Kiu fire you?" and the assistant said "Mr Fan saved my life so I feel I must be here and Master Kiu saved my dignity and therefore I must be here to defend his honour and his good name. I wasn't fired, I resigned. I fell in love with a married woman and I ended uop beating her husband. Master Kiu not only did not blame me, he in fact helped me to settle this problem before it became a scandal. I couldn't face him anymore for I have dishonored the bank and myself and so I voluntarily left". The managers were shocked and Mr Kiu said "In fact Mr Cho knew of this very much earlier on and he used this to use you all against me to take control of this bank" and the managers were crying foul saying "Master Cho, although you have helped and trained me in my career, you are my mentor after all but how can you abuse our loyalty and trust to go against our own boss? How can you use us as such? How despicable you are!" and Mr Cho had nothing more to say and he could only say "And so I am defeated. You win Kiu, you win! Here take the keys to the bank! I shall leave!" and so he left but Mr Kiu saw him left with a heavy heart.

Mr Cho complained bitterly to King Yin and Mr Cho said "We shall leave this house now! I am sure with my experience I can strike it out on my own. I don't need Ding Fung Sing!!" and King Yin left with him.

Mrs Kiu, Mrs Cho, Jun and the gang came home but before Mrs Cho could walk into the mansion King Yin dropped by and told his mother "Mother, don't walk into that house again. Father and I have moved, and we shall move away from that house and those surnamed Kiu" and Mrs Kiu was like "King Yin, what happened?" and King Yin said "Father has resigned. As to why, go and ask your good husband". And so they left.

Mr Kiu explained everything to the gang and Jun expressed her worry about the family splitting up over business and Ching said "Jun, we are women here, we do not meddle into the business, let father decide" and in fact Yun Tin said "I am not worried for Uncle in law. I am sure with his experience he can strike it out on his own" and Mr Kiu was annoyed with Yun Tin and sternly asked him "Yun Tin, did you secretly meet with one of the investors whom your uncle in law has rejected as hig risk?" and Yun Tin admitted and said "Yes" and Mr Kiu scolded Yun Tin "How can you do this? There is rules within the bank and you're not to go behind the back of your first taukeh and approve a loan and using my name as well" and Yun Tin apologised and Ching tried to explain on behalf of her husband when her father reminded her what she herself just told Jun. So Ching shut up and Mr Kiu ended sternly "Yun Tin, even if you're my son in law, if you ever make such a mistake again, I will not hesitate to take disciplinary action and kick you out of Ding Fung Sing, do you understand me?" and Yun Tin said yes.

Alone Yun Tin was very happy. Now that Mr Cho has gone, he felt he is the next first taukeh. He sat on Mr Cho's seat very happy when Bak Chuen walked in and Yun Tin thanked Bak Chuen for his loyalty towards the bank and said he will take care of Bak Chuen for his loyalty. Bak Chuen just listened and walked out whilst Yun Tin was convinced he was the next in line to run the bank.

Alone in his room with Mrs Kiu, Mr Kiu noticed Mrs Kiu looked worried and said Mr Kiu knew it was because Mrs Kiu will now be Mrs Cho's enemy and Mr Kiu tried to comfort Mrs Kiu who said "My dear husband, I understand why the situation became as such. As sad as I am about my sister, I do realise her husband had tried to betray you and this is his own undoing. I will be fine, do not worry".

Mrs Cho was packing and Mrs Kiu walked in running towards Mrs Cho and tried to ask her to stay but Mrs Cho was very rude and blamed Mrs Kiu for everything. She said "Do you remember when we were little and you nearly drowned in the pool and I saved you? I don't expect gratitude from you but as my sister I do expect you to at least say some good words for my husband instead of pushing him out of the bank" and Mrs Kiu tried to explain "If not for you I wouldn't be here. My sister, we are still siblings even if our husbands are at odds. Can we not stay civil?" and Mrs Cho snorted and said "Civil? After what your husband did?" and Ko Wa couldn't stand it and retorted "But it was your husband who tried to hurt Master Kiu first" and Mrs Cho walked menacingly towards Ko Wa and shouted "Who do you think you are to speak like that? You're just a servant! In fact you're the unlucky star. Before you came into this family, you already caused my son losses in money, and now you're here you have caused my husband his job! You know what, it is better you stay you unlucky star so that you can pass your unluckiness to this Kiu people. I hope you all rot in hell!!" and stormed off, leaving Ko Wa .. ermm expressionless (well Sonija was basically expressionless when accused as unlucky star) and Mrs Kiu in tears.

King Yin was waiting for his mother and he looked around the house, almost reluctant that he was to leave. Jun saw him and said gently "Cousin" and King Yin replied "Cousin" and Jun gently said "I know that your father and my father are at odds, but we are still cousins and will always be. Cousin, if you ever need help and if I can be of any assistant, please do not hesitate to look for me" and King Yin bitterly said "Thank you cousin but I am afraid from now on we shall have a big divider between us. My loyalty lies with my father and where he goes I follow. I will never step into this mansion again and cousin, good bye" and Jun looked sad it had to be this way.

Mr Kiu had an emergency meeting with the managers and the workers. Yun Tin was secretly smiling, pleased at the turn of events. Mr Kiu reminded the managers to let bygones be bygones and work hard for the bank. He even cited Bak Chuen as a good example and praised him on his loyalty. But Mr Chong said "Sir, we can't let this bank without a first taukeh. Who till take care of the day to day management?" Mr Kiu sat down and Yun Tin was sitting straight when Mr Kiu said "I know. That is why I will take over the first taukeh position for the moment and in future if I find a worthy candidate I will step down".

Yun Tin was angry. He bursts into his own room, bitterly angry and Ching knew what happened and said "You can't act so rashly! You can't expect things so soon husband!" and Yun Tin was so angry with what she said he almost slapped her and she said sadly "Slap me then! This is not the first time you have shown me your temper and will not be the last. I already expected this! Slap!!" and Yun Tin couldn't do it and Ching gently said "I know you're not happy. I know that. But my husband, give father some time. He can't just give the position to you now without gossips that what everything uncle in law said in the past were true. Father said he will give the position to the right candidate, so you still have a chance. Be patient my husband, your day will come soon".

Next episode, Mr Cho opens his own bank and the rivalry between Cho and Kiu intensified!

Nothing much today. No Sung Man, little of Ko Wa and little of Jun. In fact the entire episode is the rivalry between Cho and Kiu and I suppose this will be so for the next few episodes. Frankly whenever it is about business and rivalry I didn't like watching because it just shows how juvenile the situation can be and so badly written.

Here we have Mr Cho crying he has been wronged, crying he deserved better, in fact leaving the Kiu Mansion as if he was right and everybody else was wrong. Mr Kiu I believe in actual fact is very reluctant for Mr Cho to leave after all they have worked together for so many years and in some way I do feel Mr Cho jumped the gun. This is the classic case of breakdown of communication.

Yun Tin I kinda pity him. He is capable but like Ching said, he is too impatient and Mr Kiu didn't like him and I now realise for good realise; his character as in his integrity got problem. He went behind the back of a senior officer to discuss a loan already rejected and that is against the rules and speak volumes as to his ambition and his willingness to step over everyone. I hope he doesn't turn evil. I suppose when Bak Chuen takeover the bank he would need a good assistant and I think perhaps that is the purpose of Yun Tin.

Remember what I said in the beginning, the pushing blame thing? Mrs Cho excelled in it. The scene between her and Mrs Kiu really showed her true colours. Mrs Cho is really my least favourite character in here.

However I must say Mr Kiu is one useless character. I mean here he is being driven up the wall and he didn't do much. He isn't very decisive, he seems reluctant most of the time, understandably so since Mr Cho is considered like his own brother but I find Mr Kiu not as proactive as the father in Safe Guards. Although I questioned whether the father in Safe Guards is genuinely good person since everything shitty things he will give to Steven Ma's character to do, he proven himself to be a man who take actions and is governed by his conscience. Mr Kiu I have yet to see a resemblance of a powerful patriach.

But Bak Chuen will make an excellent son in law. I feel by Jun marrying him, so she didn't marry the man she loves but Bak Chuen isn't that bad either. In fact he and Ko Wa are very loyal and I find these to be good qualities.

Performances wise, sorry to say John Chiang is still deadpan. Is that his style of acting?

Moses no comment. Tavia wonderful. Chris Lai is getting better although I wonder his character didn't even question his father's actions at all. Which is why I love the character of the cousin in Beneath The Charm because he didn't side with his evil parents.

Sonija Kwok.. aiyayahhhhhh.... mostly good until that moment that requires 2 or more reaction to an action. She didn't even flinch when Mr Cho shouted "You're the unlucky star!" , not even like HUH or HAH or ERMM or EHHHHH or NOOOO or Yikes or Eeeeeee or You die old bitch!! Nope. None. Just wide eyed wonder which kinda complements Moses Wide Eyed Boredom.

Aiyahhhhhh... I so wanna praise Sonija because I really like her Ko Wa. On the other hand Tavia had her best moment in this episode when she saw King Yin and tried to appeal to him that they're still family. That was a good scene.

Lau Dan gave a very good performance as the ridiculously awful Mr Cho. Ridiculous because he basically threw his own career away again due to impatience and misunderstanding. People people, can't we just sit down, have a bun, drink a cup of tea and TALK?

How much more of this nonsensical business talk before Sung Man returns? I can't take how the takeover or rollover was done. I still can't get the "What if all managers died in a boat accident" analogy out of my mind. Ding Fung Sing is indeed in precarious situation. Sometimes I admire the power of my imagination.

EPISODE 11
Finally, Sung Man is back! And drama, drama and more drama. Less of the Pushing Blame school of thought but more I Shall Be Ruthless And Crush You school of thought. Guess who is the grand master, again? And also one very baffling scene that had me scratching my head, BIG TIME. If you've seen this episode, tell me your opinion on THAT scene. More on that later.

And so the war of the banks began.

But first the country is in crisis, big crisis.

Remember that my most hated official in this series? Yes, Sir Chui is worried about the empty and bankrupt treasury. He and Sir Cheong, Sung Man's father is walking with Cixi and they whispered amongst each other that the country is good as bankrupt. I didn't hear this exactly but my sister did and she told me that Sir Chui said the Japanese armada is docking in Chinese waters, ready to strike and the Chinese army is old, inadequately equip and they seriously need to beef up the security. In other words, doomed to oblivion, pun intended. I thought French or English armada but if my sis said Japanese, and Japanese it shall be. So when Cixi was being briefed by the architect about the construction of some mega garden, Sir Chui interrupted Cixi and started "Old Buddha (not sure if he said this but I shall go with the flow of my imagination), the country is in crisis and the celebration of your birthday will further deepen the financial crisis. The people are desperate and the celebration of your birthday shall..." and Cixi angrily and sternly interrupted and said "Sir Chui, I want my people to celebrate my birthday with me. Then they shall forget the problems and show to the world that we are united and that they love me. See to that, and I do not wish to hear anything else." and poor Sir Chui and Mr Cheong could hardly say anything.

Pause. I hate Sir Chui but at that moment I kinda pity him. Well they could stab her to death. The portrayal of the stupid ignorant arrogant stubborn vain Cixi is very well written here, although the actress was more suited for theatre type of acting. Anyway Sir Chui, Law Lok Lam played a very similar role in Safe Guards you know. In fact he was also the same minister trying to find funding for the army! Almost had a mix up and now I am even more convinced the writers may be the same.

Sung Man came home and saw some huge construction of some doorway, don't know what they're called, like huge wooden gateway with a huge name plague on top? Anyway he asked a passerby "What is this gateway for?" and the passerby explained "The Empress Dowager is building this to celebrate her birthday" and another passerby angrily and loudly said "Yeah and waste money too! The people are hungry and what is she doing? Building gateways for her birthday! Who cares about her birthday, this selfish bitch!" and the other guy said "Shhhhh, don't talk to loud or we will be arrested!" and the quickly walked away. Sung Man was very disturbed by this turn of events.

Once at home he apologised to his father for his sudden disappearance and his parents and brother forgave him and even welcomed him. Alone, he confessed to his father his sadness over the country's problems, and his father felt the same. But Sung Man said enthusiastically "But father, when I am a minister, I shall work together with father and uncle Chui, perhaps we then can persuade the Empress Dowager to come to her senses with our united voice!" and his father smiled but it was kinda hopeless smile.

Pause. Sung Man can be so optimistic. I fear he may be in for a mega huge disappointment. He is indeed born in the wrong era. Now, with his influence and wealth he can be the President of the United States and he will be a popular one because he is smart, knows a bit of politics and is genuine and sincere in helping people.

At night, Sung Man was at the compound alone, looking at the stars. He missed Jun, and he recited a poem that I don't know how to translate since I don't understand all of it. He took out his flute and played the same song he played with Jun. Meanwhile Jun was alone in her room and she too was playing the same song on her piano. With the love duet playing, we are treated to their romantic past, how they met, how they touched, how he confessed her love, etc etc. Basically the rundown and well I nearly melted. Serious. It was so romantic and the more I see the more I feel the sadness of the inevitable. And when finished both look at the space in front and felt they truly missed one another. And nope Sung Man did not tell his dad about her, yet.

Back to Mr Kiu. Pause here first. Why must they keep showing the name of the towns between Sung Man in Beijing and Mr Kiu in Ping Yiu? Like as if we don't know they're far apart?

Anyway Ko Wa was busy doing her work when an old servant gossiped about Ching and her argument with Yun Tin and a supposed slap on the face. Ko Wa was asked and Ko Wa urged them to mind their own business when Ching walked by thinking Ko Wa was gossiping about her. So she scolded Ko Wa and Ko Wa had to kneel and Ching ordered her servant to slap Ko Wa. The old servant was very afraid and Ko Wa refused to say it was the old servant who gossiped and so she was slapped until her face was red and swollen. When she went to Mrs Kiu's room Mrs Kiu asked her "Why took you so long?" and Ko Wa hid her face and Mrs Kiu saw her face and asked kindly "What happened to your face?" and Ko Wa explained "I fell madam" and Mrs Kiu said "You tripped or you did something that caused this?" and Ko Wa immediately apologised and Mrs Kiu sternly said "If you have gossiped about your master, you deserve the punishment... but if was because you were protecting someone, you didn't deserve it" and Ko Wa was confused when Mrs Kiu kindly said "The old servant told me everything. You did not betray her and I find that a good quality. Ko Wa you are truly a loyal and brave Mongolian woman, a quality I admire". Ko Wa smiled happily.

Ko Wa was out doing errands when Fu Yi Chek and Bak Chuen bumped into her. Both saw the bruises and Fu Yi Chek angrily said "Who did this? Did someone bully you? Tell me sis, and I will confront that person!" and Ko Wa again lied and went on her way.

Later Ko Wa was being taught by a gentle sounding Mrs Kiu how to sew when that lusty male butler came in and handed Mrs Kiu a letter. Mrs Kiu was in the midst of opening it when she blurted "OH! Madam that's Mr Cheong's letter for Little Miss!!" and Mrs Kiu stopped and looked at her and Ko Wa knew she said something wrong and said "I'm sorry Madam, I shouldn't intrude" and Mrs Kiu decided not to check the contents and gave it to Ko Wa to pass it to Jun.

Jun received the letter and was very happy to have read a simple poem reflecting Sung Man's deepest feelings for her. Ko Wa teased Jun she will tell Mrs Kiu about the sordid contents and Jun teased Ko Wa "My mother certainly like you very much. I heard she is personally teaching you how to sew!" and Ko Wa smiled happily.

Now Bak Chuen's story all the way.

Again there was a test with the abascus and Bak Chuen, Fu Yi Chek, Hong Fei and some others passed with flying colours. Then Bak Chuen was asked to see Mr Kiu for some meeting. Can't remember the scene. Anyway Mr Kiu told Yun Tin and Mr Chong that he wants Bak Chuen to take care of the account books or the confidential letters of the banks from now on. I think letters because I didn't hear the word account books. Mr Chong was surprised and said "But boss, Fan Chi Chai is only a trainee, this job has always been given to experienced confirmed staff since it is confidetial matters" and Mr Kiu said "I know but Fan Chi Chai has shown himself to be an examplary staff and I think he has potential". So Bak Chuen got a huge promotion.

Meanwhile Mr Kiu received an invitation to a new bank in town, the name I forgot. He welcomed the new bank and didn't feel threatened by it and went in droves to see the new bank only to see it was Mr Cho's new bank. Mr Kiu congratulated him but Mr Cho slyly and loudly said "Master Kiu Ding Fung Sing is outdated already. Maybe it is time to move aside and let us new bank to move forward eh?" and Mr Kiu laughed good naturedly. Back in the office, Yun Tin complained "How can he find an investor so soon?" and Mr Kiu said "Hardly surprising, he is experienced and well respected in this field" and Yun Tin bitterly said "He was rude with what he said! We must be careful from now on, surely he is out to destroy us" and Mr Kiu said "Do not worry. The business here is plenty, we are not the only bank, I see him as just anothe rival. Calm down Yun Tin, there is nothing to worry about"

Yun Tin was having lunch with Mr Chong and Mr Chong suddenly said "Sir, I am not sure if I should say this but when Mr Cho left I thought naturally you should be the 1st taukeh. I was so surprised that Mr Kiu tookover instead. I feel dissatisfied for your Sir" and Yun Tin wisely said "There will be time, I am sure." and then Mr Chong said "However I am surprised Fan Chi Chai got that promotion so soon!" and again Yun Tin wisely said "I wasn't. Boss has always know how to spot potential and cultivate it. Fan Chi Chai has potential so naturally Boss would like to teach him and cultivate him as he did others in the past". Yun Tin and Mr Chong left and saw Mr Cho saying goodbye to that client who bought 2 shops in previous episodes. Mr Cho loudly said "Well then I will be contacting Ding Fung Sing and pay off the loan there so that you can transfer the loan to us" and the interest rate was much lower. When he left, Yun Tin confronted Mr Cho and angrily (as angry as Kenny Wong could be which isn't much) "How can you steal our bank's business? This is unethical! This is uncalled for!" and Mr Cho smiled slyly and said "Wasn't that what you did to me? It is business after all!".

Next scene the Chamber of Commerce was having an emergency meeting and the chairman confronted Mr Cho about what he did to Ding Fung Sing. He said "If you can go so low with Ding Fung Sing, we your fellow bankers are worried what you could do to us! We have rules of ethics and you have broken it!" and Mr Cho smiled slyly and said "And I thought this meeting was called so that I can explain to Mr Kiu about that business transaction!" and Mr Kiu quietly said "No it is only to clear the misunderstanding about this matter". Mr Cho arrogantly said "Well then.. yes I may have broken some rules but the bank's business is to help others in financial need and that client was in dire need of a financial assistant. What am I to do? Refuse him? That is even more unethical! What I did was merely to help a fellow human being" and Mr Kiu sternly said "Well if you said so but I do wonder whether the motive was to help or to destroy?" and Mr Cho smiled slyly. And that was that.

Pause here. What help? Eh transfering loan to another bank for lower interest after some back door discussion is unethical. This Mr Cho is ruthless. I am surprised though the banks are doing good business when the country is bankrupt. Maybe Cixi could force more tax?

Anyway Chinese New Year is coming and every year Ding Fung Sing will lead a dragon dance to the temple to pray for good business in the coming year. So Master Kwan was traning these poor trainess who had to be servant, slaves, janitors, bankers, clerks and now stunt persons. Again Fu Yi Chek and Hong Fei got into an argument where Mr Chong scolded them and said "Fu Yi Chek! It is not for you to hold the fireball and lead the dragon dance! It is by the person with the most compatible astrological signs and Hong Fei is the one this year!" and Hong Fei gloated.

On the day of the dance, Ko Wa and the servants all had reunion dinner with the boss and family. Ko Wa expressed her wish to see the dance but the old servant said "We can't go, we are mere servants". Ko Wa was with Mrs Kiu when Mrs Kiu noticed she was restless and she wisely said "I know it is because of the dragon dance and your brother isn't it? Alright, since this is your first time here, I allow you to watch the dragon dance" and Ko Wa was happy.

And so the dance began. The energy was high, there was lots of people complete with drums and fireworks. Clearly big budget scene. Anyway Ko Wa was there and clapped happily when Mr Kiu on a horse saw her and she quietly turned away but Mr Kiu was more amused than angry (again if that is what you called amused since John Chiang's face seemed frozen in one expression throughout). Hong Fei led the way and then suddenly the strangest scene happened. Hong Fei suddenly stopped and pointed the fireball left and right and left and right causing the dancers holding the dragon behind stopping abruptly and knocking into each other. Master Kwan was so angry he said "HONG FEI! GIVE ME THAT!" and Mr Kwan led the way leaving Hong Fei stranded by the side.

Pause here.

WHY on earth did Hong Fei do that? WHY? I don't understand. Was he paid by Mr Cho to delay the dance? Was he? Is he the traitor in the making? Why? WHY WHY TELL ME WHY!!!!!

Sighhh...

Back to the dance. They went on and suddenly a rival dragon arrived with Mr Cho on the horse. King Yin rudely shouted "Give way now!" and Yun Tin said "Why should we? We have always led the drgan dance to the temple for prayers every year, why should we give way now?" and King Yin I think said "It is time for change, for the old to leave and the young to takeover. If you refuse, don't let us know that we didn't warn you!" and the two dragons fought and the rival kicked Bak Chuen and gang and they fell and the fierce battle to the temple began.

Next episode... can't remember what is in the next episode.

Not much to say about this episode except I love Sung Man and I don't get Hong Fei.

Performance wise, same old same old.

John Chiang and Kenny Wong came from the same school of acting; the one expression fits all situation school of acting. You can call them bland, you can call them expressionless but they're not bad actors, just frozen face actors. I don't know what's wrong with them.

Moses Chan is still that same wide eyed boredom type of acting like "Really?! Oh ok" type of expressions.

Tavia is ok. Sonija is ok. Nothing that required more than 2 emotions at once so she's fine. There is only so much you can compute into an automaton I suppose but really she is much better than all other series she was in prior to this. I find her such a happy character.

Lau Dan seems to have one look throughout which I have used extensively in this recap; sly smile. Really, he just smiled that way, throughout. I am beginning to think maybe the winter has frozen all of their expressions, numbed their senses.

Claire Yiu was adequate but since her role is so so right now, nothing to let her show her acting chops.

Steven Ma is the same as in the last few episodes, wonderful and certainly is Sung Man until he recited some poems. That was when he failed. Diction not clear, no intonation and no passion or a sense of poetry. Steven stop reciting poems!!!

And last but not least, I must say something about my favourite TVB veteran actor, Chan Hung Lit. He truly looked so fierce in here, with his white beard and official gowns. He looked the part I tell you, sounded the part and didn't have much to reveal his acting chops here yet but I must say, his diction is back to HUH? WHAT? HAH?!?!??!! Could understand him but with much difficulty.

A big compliment to TVB for the great costume. Truly looked oppulent and rich and detailed and well made, especially the official's gowns and cixi's gowns. The location also is for once a garden is indeed a garden and a festival is indeed a festival. Fantastic stuff.

EPISODE 12
And the two dragons continue to fight but the local magistrate came in time to put a stop to the fighting dragons. Undecided who should lead the way to the temple, the magistrate suggested instead of fighting dragons, why not the men just try to grab the fireball (the one Hong Fei was playing with in last episode). They agreed and both teams fought as the magistrate looked on. The competition was fierce and Ko Wa saw how her brother and Bak Chuen got kicked to the ground with Mr Cho's men playing cheat. So Ko Wa bravely ran forward and told her brother to throw her in the air as the ball was thrown up and up she went and she got the ball. She gave it t I think the magistrate but I can't remember who but someone on Mr Cho's side protested, "She is a woman, this doesn't count!" and Ko Wa retorted "Neither did you play fair! I saw you kicked Chi Chai to the ground" which was denied and Mr Cho too came into the argument and the magistrate undecided and Mr Kiu said in defense of Ko Wa "She is my family's servant sir, for that I will discipline her. But sir, Ding Fung Sing was leading the way to the temple when we were interrupted. As to who does this privilege belongs to, I am sure sir who is the most knowledgeable would be able to decide". The magistrate thought for a while and declared Ding Fung Sing the winner and they happily beat the drums and proceeded to the temple and prayed for good wealth, health and everything nice for the year ahead.

Mr Cho's boss (the one who opens the bank but is ran by Mr Cho) complained "Now that Ding Fung Sing got this honour, I feel so humiliated! They get the luck and what about us?" and Mr Cho promised "They won't always be so sir, that I can promise you. We shall see..."

Back at Kiu Mansion, everyone was happy how things turned out to be but Mr Kiu, well I think it was him that asked Hong Fei why did he do that stunt he did last episode?

Pause here.

Yeah hor! I also want to know. This question confused me for the entire night and I really wanted to know why Hong Fei pulled that stupid stunt. So I waited and guess what? I didn't hear clearly so whatever I write below is a speculation although I am quite certain it was accurate.

Ok the moment of truth....

Hong Fei couldn't answer and Mr Kiu, I think it was him who ventured to speculate "Does it have anything to do with the reward money from Mr Cho?' and Mr Kiu quickly fired Hong Fei and booted him out of the business.

I guarantee you this is not the last we see of Hong Fei. A running dog will run to the grand master of the dog pound, that is Mr Cho, the canine trainer. I guarantee that!! Or maybe not but nice eh, canine trainer who specialises in training running dogs! I kill myself sometimes with my wit. Continue.

Ko Wa got praised and Mr Kiu gave her a huge starfruit, which is rare and expensive. Ko Wa felt she couldn't enjoy it on her own and so she gave it to her brother and Bak Chuen teased him "You're so lucky to have such a good sister. You should be grateful" and Fu Yi Chek teased back "Yes, you can't feel jealous since you don't have any!". Ok no tact but it was without malice, Bak Chuen fell silent for awhile and Fu Yi Chek felt bad for saying what he said and I think he diverted the attention.

Ko Wa was in the room with Mrs Kiu who was having a conversation with Mr Kiu who was very loving towards her and Ko Wa giggled and Mrs Kiu looked at her and Ko Wa said "I'm sorry Madam but I just feel so happy for you when I see Mr Kiu treats you with such loving tenderness" and Mr Kiu smiled and Mrs Kiu said "You mischevious Ko Wa... how was your starfruit? I heard Mr Kiu himself gave you one and he too is treating you very nicely" and Ko Wa confessed she gave it to her brother since it is good for health and her brother needed it and Mrs Kiu said "Well then, here is one starfruit left, it is yours" and one female servant saw this as she came into the room to return something to Mrs Kiu and she looked on jealously and Ko Wa said "Oh no madam, I already have one. I can't take this" and Mrs Kiu said "Of course you can. One was given by Mr Kiu, this is from me. Take it Ko Wa" and so Ko Wa took it.

Outside the servant girl saw that lusty butler and angrily said "I saw a starfruit left and I thought madam who has always been nice to me would give it to me but instead she gave it to Ko Wa! What is so special about her anyway? She just used her pitiful looks to gain sympathy! She is a liar and a pretentious bitch! She is selfish and I hate her!" but the butler saw Ko Wa behind her who heard what she said and quickly scolded the servant "So you're saying Master and Madam don't know who is genuine and who is not? Who they can give a starfruit to and who not to? You dumb girl! You're just a servant!! Go now, go back to your work and shut your mouth!" and the girl confused went away.

Ko Wa stepped to the front and they were cordial with one another and that butler was eyeing her starfruit and Ko Wa said "Well you have one didn't you?" and the butler said "One doesn't mind more of those" and Ko Wa was about to give him when she said smilingly "But didn't you feel headache whenever you squat down, and you always go to the toilet at night?" and he asked "How did you know that?" and Ko Wa said "Well what you're having are symptoms of uneasiness in your body that a bit of walnut would do for you. Starfruits are cold fruits in nature, not suitable for you" and she smilingly walked away whilst the butler was like huh?

Back in Peking, the exams were drawing near. Some greedy officials were selling the exam papers and they were the same ones who framed Bak Chuen's family, one of whom is Chai Ngai. They were counting money when it walked...

SHOCKING MOMENT HERE..

SUNG LAI!!! You know, Sung Man's brother, who seems to nice and honest?Well he laughed sinisterly and was happy with this year's profit when Chai Ngai asked "What of your brother? Doesn't he need these papers?" and Sung Lai replied "My brother is probably the smartest of the lot. He will succeed on his own effort, that I am not worried".

So Sung Man went for exams and smiled as he answered the questions when Sir Chui, the invigilator (and who seems to be the only minister in the empire since he is everywhere) caught a student cheating.

Sung Man found out about this earlier but confessed to his father that he didn't want to expose that student I think because again somehow the cantonese in this series is different from the cantonese I know. He was having steamboat with his family and his father said the officials are investigating and they had a lead, one of the officials same gang as Chai Ngai but his father never implicated Chai Ngai since I wanted you to know which gang that guy belonged to. Sung Lai was worried but pretended to be all noble and said "I hope such degenarates of society will be caught or the empire will be done for".

Yeah right. This one is Mr Cho's graduate I tell you.

Alone Sung Lai met with the worried corrupt officials and it was Sung Lai who said "Since they already have a suspect, why not we make like easier for us all?".

Next day the guards rushed into that suspect's home and saw that he has hanged himself.

Well I suspect Sung Lai killed him. Oh my.. the biggest hypocrite. Why? Why set up such a tragedy for dear Sung Man? How disappointed he would be...

It was time to choose the top scholar and the 2nd scholar and all officials agreed 2 met the criteria with everyone, including the emperor being very impressed with Sung Man's thesis on improving the empire, and such. Sir Chui agreed but Cixi disapproved of Sung Man for a very simple reason; she didn't want the emperor to find himself a croonie, so she dismissed his thesis as flowery in words and meant little in terms of gravity of the words. Sir Chui could say nothing and another official who seems to be Cixi's dog with a wagging tail agreed with Cixi and the Emperor looked on forlornly and reluctantly said "So my most exalted father (yes he called Cixi father),since you have praised the other scholar, why not imperial father announce the scholar?" and I said reluctantly. So the 2nd guy also Cheong won and Sung Man got second. When Sung Man heard the news he was more curious than hurt as he confessed to his brother who was congratulating him "Well I never ever seen him as my equal so I am surprised..." and his mother said "Well 2nd place isn't too bad. You did well my son" and Sung Man was ok with that.

In the room, Mr Cheong confessed to his wife that Sung Man was robbed of the 1st place because Cixi didn't want the emperor to have his choice and Sung Man bursts in, nearly in tears and angrily said "How can she deprive what I am worthy of? Is this how corrupt the empire is, that cronies stick together and an honest man can't get in? How am I to serve this falling empire?".

Back at Ping Yiu, Jun heard the good news of Sung Man got no. 2 and she was very happy and waited eagerly for Sung Man to come back and propose. She was still worried her mother didn't accept Sung Man but Ko Wa assured her that was not the truth. So Jun was very happy.

Sung Man was still very very upset, he practised kung fu when his father looking fatherly quietly asked Sung Man to follow him.

They were having tea in a restaurant and Mr Cheong asked Sung Man "What is the reason you sat for the exam? Is it to prove you're the smartest or to serve the empire? Sung Man, it is of no importance whether you're the highest ranked official or the lowest ranked magistrate as long as you serve the empire dutifully and with integrity" and Sung Man nodded mournfully, understanding what his father said. Then the table next to them were discussing about Cixi and the corrupt government and they were very vocal and suddenly one of them turned to the Cheongs and asked "You both looked like educated people. What is your opinion about all this birthday celebration and the corrupt empire?" and Sung Man said nothing and pointed to a notice on the wall which read "No discussing politics in here" and the patron sarcastically said "Well isn't that so? If educated people do not bother to voice out what is obvious what more of the mere folks?".

Sung Man was not happy and he said to his father "Father they're insulting the government, that is punisable by death, I must stop them."

Pause here. I am not sure he said this because he felt they overstepped the line by insulting his beloved empire or because he wanted them to stop just in case some other might overhear and arrest them. His father's reply made me believe that the former is more the case in here.

His father stopped Sung Man and said "Sit down son. Let them talk. Just imagine, this is punishable by death and yet here are people voicing their dissatisfaction. Doesn't that tell you the state of mind of the people?" and Sung Man thought hard of the wisdom in his father's words.

Back in Ping Yiu, the magistrate wanted to give to Cixi a special gift and so needed funding and so he met with Mr Kiu and the head of Chamber of Commerce and they both reluctantly agreed to find funding.

Back in the palace, Cixi didn't have any appetite and Eunuch Lee presented to her a new dish created by the magistrate of Ping Yiu. She was impressed when the emperor walked in and saw Cixi and found out about her poor appetite. Instead of thinking ways to poison this puss of the empire, he suggested that they get her favourite fish from somewhere really far.

Pause here.

Why? Tell me why didn't someone back then just kill this woman? Because may today there would still be a chinese empire! I believe that was Guangxu. Weak, died of poor health and emotional neglect. And he should have just strangled her with his bare hands and then say she died of ill health. Who dare to question him? Who dared should be killed as well. Sometimes it takes ruthlessness to eliminate another ruthlessness for the good of the empire I tell you.

Sung Man was riding a horse with his good friend when they came across some officials who had an accident and the buckets full of fish fell and the fish were dying. The official was panicking and Sung Man kindly enquired what was going on and the official said "These are meant for the old buddha. Now we are doomed. The fish will be dead by the time we reach the palace or maybe not fresh. Either way we will be dead. I don't mind losing my job but I am afraid I might lose my head!" Sung Man wisely said "No worries by dear sirs. Just cover the fishes in white clothe, made sure you constantly pour water over them. They'll arrive fresh." and the official asked "Are you sure this would work?" and he said "Yes it will work. This is a method passed down from the great ________ from his book". I didn't hear what was __________. And the official thanked Sung Man and enquired his name and Sung Man bade good bye.

As the officials were leaving, Sung Man sadly said "All these effort over some fish. Is this how badly the empire has sunk to, for some fish a few officials are sent to do this task when they should be of better use elsewhere more important". And his friend tongue in cheek said "Well the old buddha worked very hard to run this country so she needs nourishment" and Sung Man looked at him with this classic expressions of total amazement and said "You seriously believe what you just said?". And his friend just gave a tiny smile and Sung Man had his answer.

Next 5 episodes, drama drama and more drama as Mr Kiu got hammered by Mr Cho and declared "I shall close the bank!!!". Wahhhhh... close the bank....

Ok. Sung Lai was shocking. Truly shocking. Anyway, my favourite scene was the last scene. It was actually very funny.

Now I have nothing more to comment on. Seriously this is an episode that isn't so bad to merit so much comments or so good that had me praising it non stop. I seriously had nothing to say about the story which is still not happening much yet and the performances which remained consistent, except for that outburst scene I felt Steven Ma kinda overacted a bit and that restaurant scene I didn't get the meaning of his actions. Other than that everybody was ok.

So nothing to say.

EPISODE 13
I missed the 2nd half because I was watching House MD which was really great. So a very short summary from what I could remember from about 20 minutes of airtime:-

1. Bak Chuen showed true leadership as a banker when instead of recommending that a loan be repaid immediately by a sauce shop owner who was having some financial trouble to the point he had to close his shop despite the popularity of his sauces, against Yun Tin Bak Chuen recommended that more loan should be given to help the shop owner to get through the hard times because it will be a good investment. Mr Kiu agreed because that was Ding Fung Sing's philosophy and because of this Ko Wa was very impressed with Bak Chuen and Bak Chuen got confirmed as a runner/executive instead of just a trainee, the youngest/fastest ever.

2. Even Mr Cho had the same idea when he knew of businessmen facing some problems of the same nature.

3. Cixi was very impressed with Sung Man when she found out he was the one who suggested how the fish should be preserved on its way back to Beijing and she loved the taste. By the last episode I said he used water, it was wine. I am tempted to try his method to see if it works. So Cixi gave Sung Man a special duty; to investigate the magistrate of Ping Yiu whom she heard had with his a nice collection of rare treasures and she thought he must be corrupt.

Pause here. Cixi is portrayed in here as an utter nonsense. She just probably felt jealous since there are many more more corrupt officials. The magistrate at Ping Yiu may be corrupt, but moderately so and often he sided with justice. So he wasn't that bad. Anyway Sung Man was reluctant because now he was being made the instigator in destroying an innocent scapegoat. Wonder what he will do?

4. Finally found out WHY Hong Fei did what he did 2 episodes ago. He saw Bak Chuen and Fu Yi Chek on the street and boasted he got a new job as a runner (at that point Bak Chuen was still a trainee) and he was higher ranked than them and he invited them to join Wing Hang Tai (Mr Cho's bank) but they both declined and said they're not a runner dog. Anyway Hong Fei revealed Mr Cho is his far far far distant relative. So now I know why he did what he did! He didn't need to be trained to be a running dog, it is in HIS blood.

5. Last scene I saw was Bak Chuen and Fu Yi Chek had to join some competition to drive a horse led sled ala roman gladiators except made of wood. Yun Tin was supposed to train them but he was sick to Mr Kiu asked him to rest and said Ko Wa will train them since she is horse expert. Yun Tin looked a bit hurt, as if he was being sidelined. I kinda agree although I can't determine whether Mr Kiu was genuine in his concern or not since John Chiang rarely betrayed his emotions even a tiny bit to act as human should act. So Ko Wa trained them but they failed miserably and spectacularly.

I stopped there. If you could fill in the blanks, please do.

One question; why is Bak Chuen doing EVERYTHING? The other trainees are dead? Like he had to do this, he had to do that, he had to do everything.

Next episode shall continue with proper episodic thoughts.

EPISODE 14
This episode is indeed a very badly written one in terms of Sung Man's overzealous attempt to complete the task given by Cixi. It was so bad I watched it in total disbelief. But first Bak Chuen....

Training hard with Fu Yi Chek and Ko Wa standing there to watch at a not so secret location, the spies Hong Fei and King Yin observed and was worried. But Hong Fei assured King Yin there were many ways to cripple them as in you know destroy them. King Yin was assured.

Come competition day, I found out that whoever wins the race wins the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce sit and now it is between Mr Cho with his ever present devious smile and Mr Kiu with his ever frozen look. In fact I think this series boasts a myrid of actors (veteran as well) who can get by the ENTIRE series with one single expression.

And so the race began... but not before Mr Kiu's horse keels over and I think fainted. Everybody suspected foul play and King Yin and gang taunted them to just quit. Ko Wa said wait and ran to the stables and pulled out Mr Kiu's horse formerly her horse and said to Fu Yi Chek to control the horse well. Welllllll... Fu Yi Chek is of course not the main actor here so take a big guess who will control the horse...

Anyway they raced and raced and raced and collected all the flags suddenly King Yin knew he was losing and so instead of whipping the horse to go faster whipped Bak Chuen and Fu Yi Chek and stole their flags!! The crowds looked on with disgust but Bak Chuen valiantly stooped down and retrieved the thrown flag and raced on but King Yin and Hon Fei were way ahead. And then suddenly the entire wooden cart or whatever you call it simply and spectacularly fell apart and the horse was now dragging the cart without wheels slowing him down. Bak Chuen desperately and valiantly climbed and jumped on the horse with Fu Yi Chek holding onto the cart (whilst standing on it of course) tightly and guess who won? Well only by like half the head of the horse but well I must say it was a spectacular race. Everybody except you know who cheered and Mr Kiu won the seat. Hip hip hooray!!

Back I think in a restaurant Mr Kiu praised Bak Chuen, Fu Yi Chek and especially Ko Wa endlessly (whilst maintaining the SAME look as in all previous episodes).

Pause here. One reader commented he looked at her with lust. Frankly I can't decipher his look. It could be anything. That was how bad it was.

Anyway one man wasn't happy and that was Yun Tin. He went home drunk on the bed and his wife gently asked him "Why are you so upset?" and he answered in his monotone and same expression kinda way 'I worked for father in law for so many years and today should have been my day but instead my thunder was stolen by that Ko Wa and her brother" and she said kindly "But they did helped father, they deserved the praises and husband, try not to say too loud, people will hear" and he bitterly spat "So what? SO WHAT? Let them hear... I tell you this was planned, my injury (I think it was caused by Ko Wa, not sure since didn't watch last episode) was caused by Ko Wa and the poisoning of the horse as well" and she asked "Why would she do that?" and he said "Think about it. This is her way of getting attention, of winning favourable opinion of father, she is a devious woman, we have all been duped" and he went to sleep as his wife quietly said "So she is....".

So Ko Wa has an enemy.

Anyway Sung Man came back to Ping Yiu very nicely dressed and at once visited the magistrate he was investigating. He didn't visit Kiu family at once but he gave them presents. Whilst Jun was slightly disappointed, she was very happy to know he will be visiting tomorrow.

Meanwhile Sung Man was well received by the magistrate who treated him to some rare fine wine, a gift by the French ambassador to Cixi. Sung Man and his servant was shocked to see he had that same wine and he explained "It wa a gift by the ambassador as I have helped him in some matter". Then Sung Man observed he had many antiques and Sung Man was more determined to catch this corrupt official. Anyway found out this magistrate got his career recommended by Mr Cheong himself. Is there a connection? I won't be surprised.

Pause here.

My sis told me Cixi was bent on destroying this magistrate because his area gave the least donation during her birthday. If that was the case, Sung Man has been duped into believing this is her effort to eradicate corrupt officials. There are many worse than him.

Next day Sung Man was walking at the town when he saw how the police harrassed the citizens for money. Sung Man then knew that was how that magistrate got his money and was determined to catch him. He followed one of his men to an empty building that supposedly hold the salt that is a controlled item. The foreman there tried to chase Sung Man and servant away but Sung Man accidentally dropped his jade and the foreman saw it and knew Sung Man did not lost his way or whatever. Can't remember his excuse for being there.

Next thing Sung Man, servant were following these men and knew they were trying to escape. Meanwhile Kiu family waiting for his arrival and Jun was anxious. They knew he must be busy but was offended he did not send someone to explain his lateness and Ching observed "Could he have changed his mind? Since now he is some big time official..." and Jun looked sad and Ko Wa quickly defended Sung Man which offended Ching but her father told Ching to just shut up in a very polite way and not to further add to Jun's anxiety.

Anyway they followed them to a hut and as they observed suddenly guards came and arrows were shot and some died. Sung Man knew it was the magistrate's way of silencing his partners in this salt fraud.

At home the magistrate told his wife they were lucky to escape and that he knew Sung Man was a special official here to spy on him. But luckily he got a single bank cheque of I think $5000 so it was not a total lost.

Meanwhile Sung Man caught one of those who escaped and he confessed to the dealings. But he also said the magistrate was just a middle man working for someone and he had given this magistrate the bank cheque.

Sung Man followed the magistrate who decided to mail the cheque back to his hometown with a letter but he knew Sung Man was following him and so he went into the antique shop and placed the money into the painting prepared by the owner. Sung Man came in and arrested him, searched the house but found nothing. The wife arrogantly said "So I suppose you owe us an apology" and Sung Man said "How do I owe you? You're an officer of the empire and you're accountable to investigation. I am just doing my job and so you too should let me do mine".

Sung Man was disappointed he couldn't find the cheque but then he remembered the painting and how the magistrate was hovering over it. He rushed to the shop and enquired about the painting and knew that the painting was due for delivery to Ding Fung Sing.

Immediately in his official costume he entered the bank with his guards and asked Mr Kiu politely to see the painting. Yun Tin explained the painting was a congratulatory gift by the magistrate to Mr Kiu for the chairmanship and once opened there was the cheque. Sung Man was delighted at the evidence and asked Mr Kiu and Yun Tin to follow him to the courthouse for recording of their statement. They agreed and as they walked with the guards the people were like "Why is Mr Kiu being escorted by the guards? And his son in law too?" and Mr Cho passed them by and was curious too since it was Sung Man escorting them.

At night Jun and family were anxious when Mr Kiu and Yun Tin came back. Ching was a harsh critic of Sung Man's careless action and even Yun Tin was taken aback at what happened and quietly said "People will make wrong assumptions about our bank" but Mr Kiu assured them "He was only doing his job. Our reputation is strong, we will survive this".

Next day Mr Kiu was asked to rush to the bank and what he saw was mayhem. People were rushing to withdraw their savings and Mr Kiu found out that someone was spreading rumours that Ding Fung Sing had something to do with the corrupt magistrate (who was arrested by the way) and his salt fraud. Mr Kiu looked....ermmm... worried I suppose.

Next episode, more mayhem.

No comments on the performances since I have said what I wanted to say but the plot is ridiculous. Someone as smart as Sung Man would have been discreet, he would have asked Mr Kiu to see him in private and asked for his explanation. He wouldn't have escorted him in full view with guards in tow. Reputation is everything and I find his thoughtlesness confusing and unbelievable. If this was the writer's way of dicrediting Sung Man in Jun's eyes, there are far better ways. Stupid writing if you ask me.

Anyway and so the downfall of Mr Kiu and the rise of Bak Chuen begins. And how stupid Sung Man will continue to be.

I am running out of things to say about the performances.

EPISODE 15
I have said much too early about Sung Man's supposed stupidity. My stupid logic! Ahhhh how happy...

Story continues that the bank is facing severe shortage of funds for the hundreds of people who are withdrawing money every day. Then businessmen too started to wthidraw money and Mr Kiu was told if everyond withdraws about $20,000 per day their funds can only last 5 days max. So Mr Kiu arranged for funds from other branches but that would take some time but Mr Kiu is unfazed. In fact he entertained all requests to close accounts whatever the sum because if not the situation would be worse.

Yun Tin was panicking. He asked Mr Kiu why not ask Sung Man to give a public notice about their non-involvement which is quite logical to me but Mr Kiu shot him down and said "Sir Cheung is only doing his job. It is not the government's business to meddle into business and it should remain that way. We are innocent and time will tell". But Yun Tin still panicked big time and asked the Chamber Of Commerce for an emergency meeting. Before he was there everybody knew the purpose and all except one agreed to help with the funding since bankers stay together in times of crisis but Mr Cho with his perfectly worried whilst smiling face slyly said "I know we should help, he is after all my relative so to speak. But I am worried, Ding Fung Sing is implicated in a fraud case and Mr Kiu was especially close to the magistrate. This is a government investigation and if we were to assist Ding Fung Sing in any way I am afraid we too may be subjected to investigation ourselves..." and all were worried when he said that.

Yun Tin arrived and launched into a request about funding but everyone seemed reluctant and Mr Cho sadly said he wanted to help but he can't due to the fraud case and Yun Tin angrily whispered "There will come a day when your fortune will turn and when that day comes I will repay you ten fold for what you did to day. Remember that..."

Yun Tin went back to the now almost empty bank vault and the overcrowded crowd and he told Mr Kiu what happened. Mr Kiu didn't say thanks, in fact he scolded Yun Tin "Why did you go to them without asking me first?" and Yun Tin said "Because we are short of funds. We help each other and you forbade me to seek Sir Cheung's help" and Mr Kiu sighed at Yun Tin's stupidity and said "By doing you you're only confirming the rumours, that Ding Fung Sing is seriously in need of funds. This will spread like wild fire and will cause more panic" and he said "I didn't think of that" and Mr Kiu said "Next time always consult me first." and Yun Tin was most aplogetic.

But Mr Kiu was cool as a cucumber because the money was on its way which will take a day the most.

Meanwhile Mr Cho was having discussion with a big time client when suddenly they saw Mr Chong attempting to sell some priceless jade to someone who recognised it as Mr Kiu's jade. They overheard Mr Chong said the bank isn't ok financially and that big time client vowed to Mr Cho he will withdraw the money fast.

Meanwhile Mr Kiu received a letter that the money may be delayed. He sent Bak Chuen and Fu Yi Chek to go check. When they reached that halfway point, they discovered there was some landslide or something so no way the boxes of money would arrive on time. So it was time for Bak Chuen the SuperServant to think of a way whilst Fu Yi Chek sulk it out as ServantBoy his faithful assistant.

Mr Kiu was calm when the rich clients came and to withdraw at least $5000 each. Yun Tin said they haven't have enough money but Mr Kiu said pay them.

Then Mr Cho came and gloat. Mr Kiu politely asked him to leave. But outside was complete mayhem. They all knew someone was spreading rumours because earlier on Bak Chuen deduced that, which I forgot to mention. Mr Chong went out to talk to the people and said "Don't worry we have money, we can entertain all of you, you can come back tomorrow if you want, for as long as Ding Fung Sing opens you can withdraw the money....we have important clients each withdrawin $5000 each and we can still pay them, what more you?" and the more he said the more panicked the people to the point Mr Chong screamed "Close the doors!!!".

Pause here. It was weird you know for Mr Chong to cause more panic than to appease them. We will know later.

Just as people were surging forward Bak Chuen and Fu Yi Chek arrived with boxes and boxes of money. Mr Cho came forward and refused to believe they were real since they used wooden boxes. Bak Chuen explained "They're lighter, so that we can transport them by river because the roads were closed" and Fu Yi Chek added to Mr Kiu "But boss, the transport fee will be very high" but Mr Kiu was pleased. Mr Cheong curiously looked at Mr Cho and then Mr Cho insisted the boxes be opened and Bak Chuen dramatically opened one box, filled with money as in silver bars. Mr Cho suspected the top was money the bottom was not and he tried to feign accident by pushing Bak Chuen but Bak Chuen himself accidentally or rather deliberately knocked into one box, it fell and there were real money! Mr Cho was shocked beyond words that he had been defeated, the people assured that Ding Fung Sing had money and Mr Kiu was very pleased.

Alone Mr Kiu quietly asked Mr Chong "You have worked for me for 28 years and I can sincerely say I have been good to you all these years. Why did you betray me?"

Pause here.

SOOOO Mr Chong was working for Mr Cho???

Mr Chong didn't know what to say and Mr Kiu said "You were the one spreading the rumours, you sold that jade deliberately in front of Mr Cho and the client. You are working for him" and Yun Tin scolded "You traitor! How could you?" and Mr Chong had nothing to say and Mr Kiu said "You're fired. Leave now." and Mr Chong quietly left.

Why Mr Chong? WHYYYYY?

Alone Bak Chuen explained how he came back in time dramatically "Sir, there was no way I could get the money here on time. The boxes are actually filled with stones except for the box I tipped over. I knew he would do that so I deliberately pushed one over because people who sees the money will be rest assured" but Mr Kiu was curious where he got the money and he said "I went to Sung Man" and Yun Tin scolded him and said he wasn't supposed to and Bak Chuen said "I know I wasn't supposed to but there was no choice. Sung Man gave us a box of silver bars on loan" but Mr Kiu was very pleased. Yun Tin wasn't.

And so the crisis was over.

Meanwhile Sung Man persuaded the magistrate to confess his crime. With that case over, Sung Man officially went to Mr Kiu for a visit and he apologised for not visiting and presented Mr Kiu a sword and winked at Jun because that was the sword Jun wanted to buy Mr Kiu. Then the women left and alone Sung Man apologised again for the chaos he caused and Mr Kiu thanked him for the money and Sung Man said "It is the best I could do since I was the one who caused this bank's problems" but Mr Kiu said it was ok and Sung Man praised Bak Chuen and Fu Yi Chek for their clever plan but Yun Tin immediately cut him off and asked "So you shall be staying here for a few days?" and Sung Man said "No, I will have to report back to Beijing and then report for my duties in the town I was assigned to" but Yun Tin said "But Jun..." and Sung Man immediately stood up and asked Mr Kiu "Sir, in light of recent events, I would beg for your permission to give me your daughter's hand in marriage" and Mr Kiu was very pleased, he smiled but asked "What about your parents?" and Sung Man said "I intend to ask them when I go back but sir, why no you with me? Then both parents can meet and discuss" and Mr Kiu said "Fine! I shall do so!".

In the garden Sung Man and Jun were happy with their reunion and teased each other endlessly. And as usual they ended the day with a duet together.

However Sung Man received a new assignment; he was to takeover the magistrate's position in Ping Yiu. His assistant whom I mistaken as a servant smiled and said "Well then you can now work here and be near your loved one" and Sung Man was pleased although he felt he could have been no. 1 scholar but decided he would do his best in his assignment.

Jun was so happy she asked her mother's permission to go walk in the town after a temple visit and she was accompanied by Ko Wa. Then Jun saw a kite flying and Ko Wa suggested why not buy a kite and they were busy crossing a street when a horse with a cart charged ahead. Ko Wa was in the way and Jun bravely pushed Ko Wa to the floor but she herself ended up being dragged into the moving cart. Ko Wa stood up and saw Jun was missing and began a frantic search.

Back at home Ko Wa apologised endlessly for what happened, Ching scolded her with Yun Tin adding a few harsh words but Mr Kiu didn't blame her as he said "It was clearly planned" and Sung Man held Ko Wa as she stood up. Then Mr Kiu said "But I have no enemies that would do such a dishonourable thing" and Sung Man cleverly deduced "Then it must be kidnap for ransom!" and sure enough a letter arrived asking for $5000. Mr Kiu asked Sung Man if he should pay and Ching added "Money and life is nothing, sister's reputation would be severely affected by this!" and Mr Kiu told her to shut up but Mrs Kiu crying and said "Husband, I don't care. Jun being safe is more important. Save her..." and Sung Man too agreed and said "I will ask my guards to hide and to arrest if possible" but Yun Tin said "They might know, they may hurt her still" but Sung Man said "Don't worry".

But the kidnappers' were smarter and Sung Man was tricked when they saw a dead woman's body wearing Jun's shoes and it wasn't her. Curiously Ko Wa sneezed when she saw the body.

Then the 2nd letter came and asked for $10000 and for Sung Man to come alone. Sung Man discovered it was the guy who escaped his arrest in the salt fraud who was doing this and Sung Man was very upset because he felt he caused this to happen. Mr Kiu didn't blame him and Ko Wa volunteered to deliver the money but Sung Man "I must go alone".

And so Sung Man went alone but he ended up being taken from point to point until he was at one deserted place surrounded by the kidnappers.

Meanwhile Ko Wa read the letter and suddenly again she sneezed and Mrs Kiu asked if she was alright and Mr Kiu observed she had sneezed twice and then Ko Wa said EUREKA!

Sung Man was cornered and the kidnappers' dramatically revealed Jun under a deep hole, crying and Sung Man fought with them, the money forgotten since this is about revenge and Sung Man was knocked into the hole. He held Jun tightly and said "If you want to kill me, kill me! Let her go, she is innocent" and the kidnapper laughed and said "Well then I am giving you lovebirds an opportunity to die together!" and the began to shovel sand in when the guards arrived and saved the day!

Sung Man was with Mr Kiu at Mr Kiu's home and Mr Kiu said "You should rest Sir Cheung" but Sung Man was worried about Jun and was told Jun was fine, just needed some rest. Sung Man was most apologetic for what happened but Mr Kiu said "It is in the times of crisis we could see a person's true nature. I am happy for Jun". And Sung Man was told about how Ko Wa was allergic to some grass and how Mr Kwan deduced the only place with those grass and that was where they were found.

I really forgot what was the final scene but it ended with a happy note. I can't remember the preview for the next episode either. Bad memory.

One thing did stick in my brain for the longest of time.

How can Ding Fung Sing run out of money so soon? The accountant deduced each day $20000 is withdrawn. Isn't that sum a bit too high considering people at Ping Yiu wouldn't have so much money in the bank since life may be good but they're not that rich? A loan of $100 had to be thought carefully before giving so the savings wouldn't be much. Moreover these are not big depositors because as we saw later the big ones came with $5000 each to withdraw. I find that whole people surrounding the bank a bit dramatic and guess what? In the end the people came back to deposit the money when the rumours died down! Pure drama actually.

The entire episode was dramatic, especially the scene with Jun being tied up. Could Sung Man's father refuse the wedding because she was once kidnapped and her good name gone since she was with the kidnappers, all men for a whole day? I can't wait to find out why. The best scene however is Bak Chuen's arrival with the money. Truth is Bak Chuen is Mr Kiu's perfect son in law in the making.

As for Sung Man, I am beginning to find him bland as an official.

As for Sonija Kwok's performance, well well well... she didn't panicked enough when Jun was missing. In fact she seems rather not that panic. I expected her to cry and stutter and stuff since she is close to Jun, she is scared, she didn't look after Jun well and she is worried for Jun. None of those. Just big guilty eyes minus the tears, fear, worries and stuttering. Bad moment for Sonija.

Everybody else was the same. No change, except a bit more expression on John Chiang's face.

Anyway still eager for the next episode to see how the love stories go.

EPISODE 16
I wasn't paying attention to this episode since I was dead tired so no episodic thought or recap for this one except for the following major points:-

1. gossips abound for Jun who was kidnapped as Mr and Mrs Cho spread rumours that she may have been molested which is very bad for her reputation although it isn't her fault and Sung Man didn't care.

2. Yun Tin almost made a big boo-boo when Mr Cho wanted to grab attention and honours for donating large sums of money to the flood charity organised by Sung Man and Yun Tin wanted in also but Mr Kiu stopped all of them and said they will donate anonymously because he didn't want the government to know how much was donated by each of them. Think about taxes and I suppose I understand what he meant.

3. Mr Cho is under pressure to perform and his boss is close to firing him.

4. Bak Chuen, Ko Wa and Fu Yi Chek all stayed back at Mongolia branch office as Bak Chuen was again promoted.

5. Bak Chuen realised Ko Wa was not as happy as she looked as she had her heart broken. She actually waited for the guy 2 years before knowing he married 2 women in the town. That broke her heart so much she disappeared for 3 days.

6. Ko Wa's uncle and auntie are horrible. Ko Wa who previously sent money back to them $100 in all was actually meant for everyone for selling the horses and when they went home they found out the uncle and auntie lied and said the young ones stole the money and ran away! Mr Kiu settled the problem by using the uncle's wine shop as mortgage and they now work for Mr Kiu although they did suggest Mr Kiu marry Ko Wa since she is young and pretty and will bear him sons. It was disgusting by the way and Mr Kiu felt that too.

7. Bak Chuen began to have feelings for Ko Wa.

That's it. Full recap in next episode when the officials came to town and pushed Ding Fung Sing over the brim with demands of high taxes.

EPISODE 17
I can't remember much about this episode since I am writing this 2 days after I have seen it. So please forgive me if this is all over the place.

In Mongolia, to everyone's surprise, Bak Chuen and Fu Yi Chek who were dealing with some French ambassador or rich guy, I can't decide (played to such perfection in the sense it was perfectly awful by Joe Jr who was speaking Frenglish, as in French but nonsensical French) and lo and behold, guess who was his assistant cum interpreter? Guess! Guess! Yeah, Bo Yan Ba To in a fake wig, ugly moustache and well nice suit (those penguin types that come with tall hat). Fu Yi Chek immediately slapped him. Later Bo Yan Ba To came by to see Ko Wa and guess what she did? She slapped him! Poor dude. But Bak Chuen felt they needed to talk, however the deep the hurt and so he advised Ko Wa to see him but Ko Wa asked him "Aren't I your friend? Why are you on his side?" and Bak Chuen earnestly with a really blank look said "I am your friend which is why it is my advice you meet him and hear what he has to say, if not you might regret it".

Well she met him. The dude explained yes, he was on his way to the town to earn some money so that he can return to marry Ko Wa but halfway through he was attacked and was very hurt when he was rescued I think by the French dude which I don't think was the ambassador. Anyway he recuperated and realised he could learn much more and so he followed this guy as his interpreter as he learned French real fast and he hoped to earn some money so that he could come back and marry Ko Wa. That was 3 years ago. But Ko Wa bitterly asked him "Why did you come back now? You married!" and Bo Yan Ba To was confused. He said "I didn't marry! Who said I did?" and Ko Wa thought for a moment and Bo Yan Ba To said "I wrote you letters to explain what I was doing. Didn't you receive them?" and Ko Wa was like no and then it clicked.

It turned out her aunt and uncle hid the letters because Ko Wa was useful to them and so the problems were solved. Ko Wa now had her Bo Yan Ba To and they even talked about marriage with Fu Yi Chek calling him brother in law. Bo Yan Ba To even bought Ko Wa a Western dress (which Sonija looked very pretty by the way and so slim, her waist so small and she looked tiny) and everyone marvelled at how pretty she looked and she said "Oh you're all just kidding me" and Bak Chuen seriously said "No Ko Wa, you're very pretty, this dress suits you" and in a melancholy sad way he added "You two look very good together, a gentleman and his lady, I am happy for you Ko Wa" and Ko Wa smiled sweetly whilst Fu Yi Chek smiled like an idiot, Bak Chuen looking rather glum and Bo Yan Ba To looking well, alive. All was happy. Yeah!

Then problems occur. I can't remember this was before the above or after. Anyway Ding Fung Sing was involved in a dispute with Bo Yan Ba To's employer, the French dude. Apparently the French dude bought a property from a sly Chinese dude who before that actually mortgaged the house to Ding Fung Sing. Now that he ran away Ding Fung Sing will need to foreclose the house but the French dude was there, stopping them. The branch manager of Ding Fung Sing didn't know what to do because all discussions failed when that French man said "I'll see you in court!" and they all knew because Cixi wanted to make the westerners feel at home due to the many loans she has taken and failed to pay, westerners were acting arrogantly and they knew they would lose the case since it was sure win for that french dude. So Bak Chuen bold suggested "Sir, we let him win just this once. There is no point in suing him because we won't win. So why not we give him this one favour and he will owe us a favour. It might be useful in future". But the manager was reluctant "I don't have enough time to get Mr Kiu's approval since we have 48 hours to give that French man an answer" and Bak Chuen boldly said "I am sure Mr Kiu will agree with me. Moreover we have no time sir, we need to act fast". And so they did what he suggested and Mr Kiu received a letter to that effect and Yun Tin was so angry he said "You must fire that fool! He has caused us losses! How dare he act without consulting you first?" and Mr Kiu calmly said "He did right. What Bak Chuen concluded was also accurate. I trust him and we shall leave it at that". Poor Yun Tin, can't even be compared to a nobody like Bak Chuen. Hahahahahhahahahahahaha!

Sorry for the evil laughter. But it was funny.

Meanwhile, Ding Fung Sing had a big problem ahead.

The received a request by Chai Ngai to meet with them at the Chamber of Commerce. Once there he praised Mr Kiu for being so generous in his donation, much to the annoyance of Mr Cho and even gave Mr Kiu a name plague for being so charitable with Sung Man looking on. He was also given some official clothing to wear, like some title. And then the real punch came. Sir Chai wanted to see Mr Kiu's house, since he heard how big it was.

So he went there and lo and behold Mr Kiu was so confused why the entire living room was suddenly filled with their most expensive paintings, vases, what nots. Sir Chai was served with the most expensive tea and blood bird's nest and the most expensive silk as handkerchiefs. Mrs Kiu looked on like an idiot with Mrs Cho smiling slyly. Yun Tin began to panic. Sir Chai then said "Well the great Old Buddha has sent me here to Ping Yiu becaue this is the hub of financial institution. The westerners have stolen one of our beloved Cixi's most beloved treasure and she wishes to buy it back. You all know the treasury wouldn't be able to afford this and so she hopes you can give a generous donation to buy back that treasure and she will be most grateful" and Mr Kiu said "But it is much too expensive. I could hardly afford it" and Sir Chai said "Ridiculous. With all these? Well you can always speak with your fellow members at the Chamber Of Commerce, combine your effort" and Mr Kiu said "Well I will speak with them and give you an answer" and Sir Chai said "Alright, I shall wait, eagerly".

Alone, Yun Tin was screaming at the butler who was so afraid he was shaking uncontrollably. "WHY DID YOU PUT ALL THOSE EXPENSIVE STUFF IN THE LIVING ROOM? WHY DID YOU SERVE THAT BIRD'S NEST? ARE YOU TRYING TO HARM US? IS THAT IT?!?!??!". And the butler answered shakingly "No sir, I didn't mean to but it was the madam's instruction. I was just following instruction" and Mr Kiu said "You're excused". Yun Tin said "Obviously someone fooled mother and it was Mrs Cho" and Mr Kiu said "Don't falsely accuse someone. After all Mrs Kiu made the decision however foolish she was". Yun Tin looking very worried said "But we can't afford this, we just recovered financially!" and Mr Kiu said "Calm down. There will be a solution and panicking will not help us".

Mr Kiu spoke with the Chamber of Commerce, everyone complained "That greedy witch! She wants to milk us dry is that it? We can't afford it!!" and Mr Kiu asked Mr Cho "And what is your opinion on this?" and Mr Cho I think said something like they can ill afford to offend Cixi and someone said "If you wish to donate, you do it yourself! I will not pay a cent. Even if it means offending her, I don't care!" and so Mr Kiu concluded "Alright then, I shall convey your decisions to Sir Chai".

Sir Chai was very very angry, and saw this as an insult. Sung Man tried to reason with him saying "Well sir, they just recovered from a major catastrophe. We could hardly blame them. Moreover sir, this is a donation, and we can't force someone to donate if they don't want to" and suddenly Sir Chai said "Well then, if they won't donate, then you spread my words. I herebly proclaim that all banks here must pay taxes, whether it is deposits, transfers or withdrawals and the rate shall be 10% of the transaction sum!" and Sung Man said "But sir, this is too much! They won't agree, the bank will not have profit!" and Sir Chai said "Well if the banks won't bear the tax, let the people do". Sung Man didn't know how to rebut him.

And so Sung Man with Sir Chai went to Ding Fung Sing and loudly made the proclamation. People panicked and Mr Kiu was very angry. "You're killing our business sir!" and Sir Chai said "I have asked you nicely for your donation. Since you won't, then it shall be this way! For as long as there is a transaction from now onwards, 10% tax must be paid!" and Mr Kiu said "But this is a losing end for us and no client will want to pay 10% tax. It is as if they're making a loss, who would want to do transaction now?" and Mr Chai said "I don't care!" and Mr Kiu said "Are you forcing me Sir Chai? Are you that unreasonable? Alright if that is the case ... CLOSE THE DOORS! THE BANK IS NOW CLOSING FOR THE TIME BEING! CLOSE!!" and they closed immediately.

The other Chamber of Commercer met and agreed to close in unity but Mr Cho secretly decided to remain open as he said to his wife (they met secretly and he told her to continue to spy on them) "Ding Fung Sing and the others are so stupid. Let them close and when people do not have any place to do the transactions, who would they go to? We shall have the business of all the banks! and I shall buy over Ding Fung Sing!" and Mrs Kiu said "And we don't have to listen to their nonsense anymore".

So people wanted to withdraw money and discovered all banks closed except for one. Business was brisk until they were told they need to bear 10% of the tax. However Mr Cho or King Yin explained the people couldn't see the logic and ended up saying "I'd rather withdraw all my money and keep it under my pillow!" and which they did forcing Mr Cho to scream "CLOSE THE DOORS!!! CLOSE THE BANK!!".

Stupid isn't he? Now I see he ain't that great as first taukeh anyway. He's so desperate to trump Mr Kiu he simply forgotten how to do sensible business.

Meanwhile Sir Chai persisted. Sung Man cried "Sir if this continues the people will suffer! Don't let your ego get in the way!" and Sir Chai angrily said "How dare you speak to me that way?" and Sung Man bravely said "If you persist sir, I shall report this to the Empress Dowager and let her decide!" and Sir Chai said "I came here under the orders of the Empress Dowager. Do it! Do it then!" and Sung Man idealistically did and his report was presented by his father and Sir Chui. The Emperor saw Sung Man's worries but Cixi slyly said "I don't see how this would affect the empire" and Sir Chui explained "The banks are the cornerstone of our economy. The reason why we are able to continue to pay the loans we owe the western banks is because of these banks continous business and the flowing transactions. If we don't end this thanks to Sir Chai's ego of one man, the economy will crumble and we will not be able to meet the instalments and this will affect the empire greatly". Cixi had no choice but to order Sir Chai to stop but she didn't punish him as urged because she felt "He was just overeager, he didn't mean for the consequence to happen the way it did".

Yeah right.

Anyway so Ding Fung Sing was safe again.

Meanwhile Cixi was alone with Eunuch Lee and Cixi was very very angry.

"My plans was foolproofed! I agree with Sir Chai, the treasury needed money and this was the best way. But I could never believe my plans could be thwarted by that Cheung Sung Man. Cheung Sung Man, you be careful now. I shall take my time but I shall ensure you will never get a peaceful day from now on. You shall see.....".

Next 5 episodes, Sung Man will be fired and Mrs Kiu dies with the request Ko Wa take care of Mr Kiu and Bak Chuen refused to run away with her.

Drama! Woahhhhhhh poor Sung Man! He was just doing what's right.

I have no comments on the performances but this is by far one of the most and I believe it so, accurate portrayal of how stupid, unreasonable and malicious Cixi was. Stupid above all else. This woman will just do anything to kill her empire. And the Emperor, useless bugger. Simply useless. Why didn't someone just kill them both or at least Cixi? Dumb stupid egoistical woman.

Other than that, no comments. Really. I mean everybody is the same. Wood is still wood, bad acting still bad acting and yes yes yes, Sonija Kwok improved a lot. She was also very pretty in here. Ok so kill me! I do like her Ko Wa whom I have christened Barbara Ha Yi Ko Wa because it sounded like Barbara. Cute.

EPISODE 18
Not a full recap tonight because I missed a few minutes of the beginning and almost 20 minutes towards the end because I was busy watching..... drum roll please.... House MD. By the way excellent episode , and I am speaking about House MD.

Tonight's episode see the continuity of the stupidity of Mr & Mrs Kiu and how they ruined Jun's future with Sung Man. No kidding...really stupid...

Anyway when I started, apparently Ko Wa had a huge fight with Bo Yan Ba To because he wanted her to follow him (since he is now an assistant to some French dude with ain international career) whilst Ko Wa didn't want to leave China as she told Bak Chuen "I want the life of herding sheeps and goats and horses, the simple life". Bak Chuen wisely and glumly said to her "Maybe you should have a good talk with him. Find a solution. It is not easy to be apart and to find each other again and you two love each other. It is not worth separation over such a small matter when before you were pining for each other". Ko Wa considered his suggestion carefully.

Pause here.

Ermmm I thought Ko Wa wants his brother to have a good career? Wouldn't Bo Yan Ba To be able to give her brother that kind if career as an international somebody instead of just a clerk in a bank? This is the perfect opportunity. Moreover I thought she felt there was no future in herding horses and goats? Aiyahhh... drama only lar. If she really loved him so much, to the point of missing for 3 days, pining for 3 years, wanted to kill herself until she thought of Fu Yi Chek all alone, come on... she can go with him. Pure drama only lar.

Continue...

Remember Sung Man? Anyway Ping Yiu was suffering from major epidemic thanks to the pigs. So Sung Man not wanting to take a chance wisely ordered all pigs to be killed but the people begged him not to kill their income but he said he had no choice. Life is more important. But his critics, including Sir Chai took this opportunity to sink him. His brother Sung Lai did wanted to say a few nice words but like Sir Chai reminded him "It is a mistake for him to bear alone, he angered the Empress Dowager, there is nothing you can do but I will soften the blow so that he can be given a 2nd chance".

So Sung Man received the order that due to his recklessness in causing the loss of livelihood of the people who became deeply unhappy with the government, he was forthwith fired from his job.

Pause here. I didn't notice any unhappy citizens later on. Maybe overblown?

Anyway Jun heard the news. Her evil Aunt, Mrs Cho punched in a few words like "Oh no, now that he does not have a title, how can Jun marry him?" and Ching angrily said "He will regain his title, after all his father is a high ranking official, his brother a 2nd ranked official too..." and Mrs Cho said "Yes but how long? We can't expect Jun to wait for so long?" and Ching angrily said "Auntie, it seems you are very eager to kill this relationship and Sir Cheung's capabilities" and then her stupid mother, Mrs Kiu said "Ching, do not be so rude to your aunt" and all these time Jun was very quiet. Then Mr Kiu came in and said to Jun "Jun, if you have the time go and see Sir Cheung. He would need your company right now" and Jun smiled gratefully and said "Yes father".

So Jun went to visit Sung Man but she was told by his assistant he went for a walk, in the heavy snow with little clothing.

Jun saw him and rushed to him and he said sadly "All I wanted was to be a good official, why am I not given that chance?" and he kinda fainted I think and I think Jun held him tightly.

Then I missed some part since it was House MD time! But during commercial changed channel for a while and now Sung Man said he wants to marry Jun and said he has seen through it all and confort himself by saying he will have his chance again. Meanwhile he will return to Beijing and seek his father's permission to marry Jun. Jun was very happy and for the first time without the need of someone fainting or accidentally falling, they held each other tightly in an embrace. Quite chaste in today's standard but back then, wow wow wow. No kissing though.

Then changed channels again. Commercial break changed back.

Jun now in Beijing with her father, mother and that evil aunt.

Pause here.

WHY on earth they asked the aunt to go along? Mrs Kiu may be stupid but Mr Kiu should be smarter than that!

Sung Man went to see his father who understood Sung Man's predicament and Sung Man playfully said "Father, I have something to announce" and it was Sung Lai who said "Father, Sung Man has met the woman of his dreams and he wishes to marry her" and their mother was eager and his father asked "Who is the girl?" and Sung Man answered (or was it Sung Lai?) "She is the youngest daughter of Kiu Boon Yip of Ding Fung Sing bank in Ping Yiu" and his father nodded approvingly and said "Not bad, Ding Fung Sing, I have heard of it, reputable family". Sung Man was very happy that both his parents approved and they even agreed to meet to discuss about possible marriage.

On the day of the meeting between parents, Jun was extra careful in her looks. Her aunt deviously poured tea on her like some accident. I saw nothing major about that but Jun wanted to change clothes. So they were late. Sung Man was worried about 1st impression but his mother worriedly wondered whether they may have met some accident on the way. And then Mr Kiu, Mrs Kiu, Mrs Cho and Jun arrived, Jun quiet and polite. They liked her on first sight and introductions aside with Jun presenting Mr Cheung with a gift made by herself, Mrs Cheung asked Jun "How old are you dear?" and I think it was either Mr or Mrs Kiu who answered she was born in the year of the goat or something and Mrs Cheung said approvingly "Ahhhh two years younger than my Sung Man and very well matched too". And then evil Mrs Cho go and said "Yes indeed. They're very well matched indeed and so in love. In fact Sir Cheung was the one who rescued Jun when she was kidnapped for a few days" and suddenly the parents looked alarmed and Jun distressed because that's not something that should be revealed and Sung Man said "Yes indeed, I had to rescue her since it is my duty father" and he quietly looked at Jun with assuring eyes as if to tell her "It's ok" as Jun looked a bit distressed how his parents might think of her.

Alone, Sung Man's mother approved of Jun. But then she asked "But husband, it seems it is you who has some reservations about this girl" and he said "What makes you think so?" and after a while he admitted "Yes I do have some reservations" and Mrs Cheung asked "She is a lady, her father a gentleman. They're reputable family and I feel she is right for our Sung Man. Could it be because of the kidnapping?" and Mr Cheung said "Not really. Did you notice the aunt and her big mouth?" and Mrs Cheung said "Yes I did but she is Mrs Kiu's sister, so one can't choose one's relative" and Mr Cheung nodded "Yes of course but look at this gift made by Jun..." and it was a very detailed and beautifilly made sewing thingy with a bird flying towards some flowers. Mrs Cheung admired it and said "It it very well made. What is wrong with it?" and Mr Cheung said "Look carefully, it is sown in gold" and Mrs Cheung said "Maybe she wanted to express the grandness of meeting us, the important of you" and Mr Cheung said "But in gold? That is overdone. Look at the bird" and she said "It is beautiful" and Mr Cheung said "Yes it is beautiful but look carefully... the bird is flying towards the golden flowers" and Mrs Cheung asked "And so?" and Mr Cheung said "This girl is ambitious. She is the bird, we are the golden flowers, with the bird flying towards the golden flowers, it signified she wants to be a phoenix, flying towards our family as the ultimate goal". Mrs Cheung didn't quite agree with her husband but she said "Then what about the wedding?" and Mr Cheung quietly said "Let us just think about that later...".

Then I changed channels because that was the last scene.

I wonder though, did Jun actually did that sewing? Gold didn't seem like her style, she is not that boastful at all. Did her aunt changed the thing? If not then Jun buried her chance with her overeagerness. The kidnapping they can handle, the big mouthed aunt they can handle but Mr Cheung misinterpreted the handkerchief.

Poor Jun. I think the Aunt must have done something. What's worse? The father knew about this and he let a parasite live in his house. Total idiots.

No comments on the performances except that Steven Ma and Tavia Yeung did a good job in that scene when Jun was almost scandalized by what her aunt said. These two really have chemistry together.

The rest is same old same old. Really running out of things to say. Eh I said that before... yeah lor, really running out of things to say.

EPISODE 19

I managed to catch the repeat but missed the 1st 15 minutes.

When I started it was already Sung Man with a Chinese girl with western dress on a hot air balloon. That girl is the cheerful intelligent curious educated westernized stepdaughter of the French Ambassador, Mr Tobovz and her name is Anna. There is a reason why I described her as such because the series took pains to depict her as such. Anyway Sung Man was helping her with the hot air balloon and for once someone is more knowledgeable about something that Sung Man himself. When alighting from the balloon, she accidentally tore his shirt and promised to deliver him a new one.

Remember the italics because I believe there is a mistake in this episode.

Not much later indeed she came to his house and paid him a visit but Sung Man was out. Mr Cheung heard her name and immediately guessed who she was. She said her purpose was to return a shirt to Sung Man which she accidentaly torn. And Mr Cheung was very impressed when she could fix his broken clock and liked her very much. So that means Jun had a big battle ahead.

Later Sung Man met with Anna and he thanked her for "returning my clothes in clean condition".

Pause here. See the mistake? First she tore his clothes, bought him a new one and now apparently she didn't buy him a new one but instead washed the old one for him! Eh make up your mind lar! Wash, torn, sew, whatever!

Anyway Anna had Sung Man posing with her dog (why is it nice westerner girls have small dogs to show they're loving whilst nice Chinese girls will have orphans around?) for her to draw him and Sung Man, though bored to tears obliged. In fact he seems rather ill at ease with this Anna who had seen much of the world than him. But I can't help it; I do think she suits him well. They're of the same intellect and will stimulate each other that way.

Jun met with Sung Man. She will have to leave since "father said we have been here for a long time" and suddenly Jun quietly cried and wiped her tears away. She was sad because Sung Man had yet to get his father's permission to marry her and in an earlier scene Sung Man agreed to work with Lam Ying Kit (yes that bastard) as a liason officer with the westerners, the French in this case so Mr Cheung used this as an excuse to delay the wedding because "You just started in your job, let's wait until you get your title back" and Sung Man and mom were both disappointed. Anyway Jun cried a little and Sung Man knew why she was so distressed. Sung Man gave Jun the painting Anna gave him and said "This was given to me by a friend, I want you to have it" and Jun quietly said "This was given by a friend, you shouldn't just give it to anyone" and Sung Man quietly said "You're not just anyone to me" and Jun was reassured Sung Man was serious in their relationship.

Sad.

Meanwhile big problems with Ding Fung Sing Mongolian branch. That area was suddenly attacked with ferocious bandits. They stole from anyone and everyone and so Bak Chuen and the 1st taukeh was very worried. They wrote to main branch for advice on what to do and since Mr Kiu was not there, it was Yun Tin who had to issue the order. But Yun Tin refused to give a reply and he did this because "If that Fan Chi Chai stay and the bank gets robbed, he will be blamed. If he closes the branch and run, he will also bear the responsibilities. Either way this time I will destroy him".

Bak Chuen and 1st taukeh was panicking. Rumour has it the bandits was on their way now and would hit their bank soon. And everyday a whole lot of people deposit their money into the bank for safe keeping (so that if the bank got robbed they can be blamed) and no one was willing to borrow the money. So they had a whole lot of cash. 1st Taukeh was undecided but Bak Chuen made the decision "We must close sir. We must close and run before it is too late!" and at last the 1st taukeh agreed. But a new problem arises; "Where do we keep the money? We can't run with the money, that will be too many boxes, too obvious" and Bak Chuen suddenly hit on the idea of hiding the money in a dried up well. So they kept all the accounts books, most who were locals stayed back and so the 1st taukeh, 2nd taukeh, Bak Chuen, Fu Yi Chek and I think 3 or 4 others began their long journey home.

Meanwhile Ko Wa reconciled with Bo Yan Ba To and will be leaving for Europe with him. Ko Wa said tearful goodbyes with her uncle and aunt and Fu Yi Chek, telling Fu Yi Chek to "Remember to control your temper" whilst Fu Yi Chek made Bo Yan Ba To to promise to take good care of his sister and whilst Bak Chuen silently looked on, Ko Wa said to Bak Chuen "You have found a good career, I hope you will achieve much success". And so they went their separate ways.

The bandits arrived at Ko Wa's uncle and aun't wine shop. These two had cashed their money and wanted to run away but the bandits killed them both and took their money. Before they died, each wanted to grab a silver bar and died reaching for that bar. Greedy even to death. Then they went to the bank and couldn't find anything. The leader said "We must find them, they shouldn't be far away" and so they were hot in pursuit.

Ko Wa and Bo Yan Ba To were having lunch when they overheard that the bandits were now going after Ding Fung Sing's employees. Ko Wa was very worried and so they left to find them. They found Bak Chuen and gang and before they could go any further, the bandits came and started killing. They broke 1st taukeh's leg, killed the 2nd taukeh who died protecting 1st taukeh, killed some others too and Ko Wa with Bo Yan Ba To were both fighting them (Bo Yan Ba To can fight very well) when suddenly one wanted to slash Ko Wa and Bak Chuen pushed Ko Wa away and he got slashed across the chest. Ko Wa immediately ran to him, very worried. At last they killed the last of the bandit who attacked them and they had to move on. Unfortunately I think they lost their account books and Bak Chuen was very injured, running high fever. Ko Wa was panicking, and she remembered she had some healing powders but she dropped it outside. She wanted to run and find it but Bo Yan Ba To stopped her. And he realised her concern for Bak Chuen was like her concern for him when she accidentally injured him with an arrow years before and he began to realise Ko Wa may be falling for Bak Chuen. In the middle of the night when everyone was asleep, Ko Wa felt Bak Chuen's forehead and he was very sick. Worried, she went out alone looking for the bottle of medicine when the bandits came and attacked her. She fought back but was overpowered when Bo Yan Ba To arrived and saved the day. She rushed back and Bak Chuen became better along the way. Bo Yan Ba To was convinced she may have feelings for Bak Chuen.

Whilst still running away, Ko Wa was very silent next to Bo Yan Ba To but she kept looking at Bak Chuen's way, remembering their past. Bak Chuen too was reluctant to look at her. When they stopped for a while, Bo Yan Ba To confronted Bak Chuen and I think that was when this episode stopped.

Frankly no comments on the acting except for

1. Stephen Huynh was awful. Enough said.

2. Erica Yuen Yi Ming wasn't that awful, in fact I thought if this was her first role, she was bearable although her character became more and more frivolous, more so when running around with her dog.

Other than that no comment on the performances. As for the story tonight's episode had the best story thus far with the bandits and how they hid the money and all. Rather intelligent and very intriguing.

Other than that no comment. Seriously.

EPISODE 20
Bo Yan Ba To confronted Bak Chuen, can't remember what was said but I think it ended with Bo Yan Ba To saying Ko Wa may have feelings for Bak Chuen which I think must have stunned Bak Chuen. I don't know he hardly had any expression. But Ko Wa overheard and then she went for a long walk with Bo Yan Ba To. Not much words when at last Ko Wa said "Bo Yan Ba To, I am not going to Europe with you" and Bo Yan Ba To wanted to protest when she said "I realised what I missed was our times together, I didn't miss you. I don't love you anymore and I don't feel I can be fair to you so I think we should just call it quits" but Bo Yan Ba To said "Look don't decide too soon. Let us think about it, and if you want we can stay, we could go back to how we were in the past, you don't need to go to Europe, we can stay back". Ko Wa didn't know what to say.

As they continued their journey, Ko Wa was looking at Bak Chuen, Bak Chuen looking everywhere else and Fu Yi Chek teased Bo Yan Ba To for decorating his sister's head with too much flowers as Bo Yan Ba To tried desperately to regain Ko Wa's love and attention. Then the news came. The bandit was near, they were all going to die. Bak Chuen said "I will go and distract them, you all go run and hide near the mountains, go!" and as Bak Chuen was climbing the carriage and Bo Yan Ba To saw how stricken with panic was Ko Wa, he quickly pulled Bak Chuen down and rode away. Before he was out of earshot, he shouted "Fan Chi Chai, you take good care of Ko Wa!!!!!!" and Ko Wa I think shouted no but I can't remember. They hid near the mountains, wondering how was Bo Yan Ba To who was now surrounded by bandits. He fought valiantly and as he screamed he ran towards the leader on a horse with his sword when the leader pulled out a gun and they all heard a single gun shot and Ko Wa screamed "Bo Yan Ba To...nooooooooooo".

Pause here.

Let me take a big guess. Since TVB has a habit of showing people who died actually dying, I would guess Bo Yan Ba To didn't die? I mean later Ko Wa will marry Mr Kiu, Bak Chuen marries Jun, so when Mr Kiu dies, Bak Chuen as honourable as he was will not be with Ko Wa again and Ko Wa can't grow old alone. So I suppose Bo Yan Ba To will return and sweep her off her feet again? Ermmm does this make sense to you?

Continue. They returned home and was greeted by a stony faced Yun Tin. Hardly had they explained the ordeal they went through, all looking hurt, bruised and injured, Yun Tin immediatly blamed them for closing the bank and losing the account books. Bak Chuen tried to take all the blame but the 1st taukeh kept repeating "But I make the decision. Blame it on me alone!" and Yun Tin basically suspended them two and allow Fu Yi Chek and one other to continue to work since "you were both deceived by lies". Fu Yi Chek was very angry "To think we all almost died coming back here, to those who died protecting the bank's assets, he should have been more grateful but he wasn't!" but Fu Yi Chek was convinced when Mr Kiu is back he will put things right.

Mr Kiu arrived home when he saw Ko Wa who said "I am back Sir, Madam" and Mr Kiu looked at her mournful face and he immediately asked to see them all (minus Ko Wa) and said "I heard the news. Tell me what happened" and so they described what happened. Mr Kiu asked Yun Tin "Why did you arrive at your decision?" and Yun Tin explained "They lost the account books, they closed the bank without consent from the main branch, all these were huge losses to the bank" and Mr Kiu looking as serious as he was every other day quietly asked 1st taukeh "Where is the 2nd taukeh?" and he answered "He died, protecting me sir" and Mr Kiu was shocked. Then Fu Yi Chek added "Even our Mongolian friend died distracting the bandits, which was how we managed to go away". Then Mr Kiu stunned asked "How many left and reached here?" and I think it was the 1st taukeh who said "Most were locals so we left with Chi Chai, myself, 2nd taukeh and 4 others and the Mongolian friend (I remember he said 4 died). Only we managed to come back, overall 4 didn't make it sir." and Bak Chuen said "We wrote for instruction from the management on what to do but it never came and we had no choice sir, it was my fault, I pushed for the closure of the bank" and the 1st aukeh said "Sir, it was my fault, I made the decision, it is not Chi Chai's decision alone, I was the 1st taukeh, I am willing to bear the responsibility".

Mr Kiu was very distressed and Yun Tin suddenly realised he too made a big mistake because he hadn't bothered to ask how many made it, he just wanted to hurt Bak Chuen. Mr Kiu angrily and tearfully looked at Yun Tin and said loudly "You were talking about account books, money and the bank. You placed much importance in the materials, you think those as losses for the banks. But hear me this time, the real assets of this bank is these few people, our workers! They died protecting the bank's interest and your only and immediate concern was the books?! If you had carried yourself the way you should as the taukeh and made a decision on this issue without them having to wait, perhaps there wouldn't be so many lives lost! You reflect on that!" and Yun Tin looked well serious. Then Mr Kiu said to Bak Chuen "I have nothing more I could say than to express my deepest gratitude on behalf of the bank for your dedication to the bank. You have shown yourself a true leader and for that you're hereby promoted to 3rd taukeh. As for the rest of you, you shall all stay here until the situation stabilises over there and then you shall return. Meanwhile, you shall each have a bonus and I thank you all".

Alone, Yun Tin met with Mr Kiu who didn't bother to look at him. Yun Tin said "I have failed you father, and so I must resign. I should have made the decision I didn't make" and as he waited for Mr Kiu to say something and he didn't, Yun Tin left the letter on the table and left.

Pause here. Yun Tin truly failed everyone. I expected more from him. He is not a bad person but stupidly ambitious.

Anyway Yun Tin stormed into his room and scolded the servants. Ching said "Why are you scolding them?" and Yun Tin said "Well I wouldn't have that opportunity in future" and Ching asked "What do you mean?" and he said "I have resigned and father hadn't even bothered to persuade me to stay!" and Ching angrily said "How many times have I said, don't act too rashly? How many times?" and Yun Tin said "It doesn't matter. We will leave. Pack now and we leave immediately" and Ching was shocked and Yun Tin said "What do you expect? Stay after all these? I am no longer an employee so I musn't stay! I can't bear the humiliation!" and Ching said "No, noo at least I must ask my parents for their blessing, I must" and Yun Tin said "No need to bother. No need to pack. We go now!" and Ching refused as Yun Tin tried to drag her away and then Mrs Kiu and I think her servant or Jun I think were there and Ching held on to Mrs Kiu and cried "Mother, Yun Tin wants me to leave with him. He can't bear the humiliation after father refused to persuade him to stay when he resigned" and Mrs Kiu said "Your father was just trying to advice you, can't you take his advice, why must you leave?" and Yun Tin was very angry and said "Either you leave with me now or I will issue you a divorce letter!" and Ching was shocked and Mrs Kiu was crying and saying "How can you say that? How can you do that to my beloved daughter? I will not allow it! I will not..." and she fainted.

Doctor diagnosed her as suffering from some incurable illness. I think stomach cancer or cancer but she was dying. Mr Kiu was looking serious and Ching and Jun were both crying. Jun blamed herself for making her mother's health worsen with worries over her union with Sung Man, Ching blamed herself for the worries over her marriage. Mrs Kiu blamed neither and feebly said "I will be alright, you will see". Yun Tin felt guilty and as the doctor left he said to Mr Kiu "Let me follow the doctor to collect the medicine" and Mr Kiu looked at him seriously and said "No, you will take care of the management of the bank for me since I will be spending more time here" and Yun Tin understood Mr Kiu's meaning and nodded.

Alone, Mr Kiu was praying and Ko Wa was there and overheard him say "Please guide me through this difficult phase. My wife and I have been together since we were children, I have been blessed all these years with her love and concern. Please let her be well again, and in return I am willing to deduct ten years of my life for her". Ko Wa walked in and Mr Kiu was surprised to see her when Ko Wa said "Mrs Kiu was very worried about you so she asked me to give you a coat" but Mr Kiu didn't need it. Can't remember what happened next.

Next few days Mrs Kiu showed signs of recovery, and Mr Kiu took her to visit the bank for the very first time! Shocking. She has never visited the bank! Mrs Kiu was very impressed with the bank and Mr Kiu said "If you want my dear, when you're better I will accompany you to visit all the branches" and Mrs Kiu looked at him lovingly and nodded.

Then Mrs Kiu with Jun, Ching were sitting in the garden making dumplings. Ko Wa was curious about the dumplings and Mrs Kiu asked Ko Wa to sit down and she taught Ko Wa how to make dumplings. "Hmmm yours is ok Ko Wa but a bit too big. Always make it smaller because each dumpling bears good fortune and blessing so it is more auspiscious if it was smaller so that Mr Kiu can eat more" and Ko Wa was curious and said "Madam is so thoughtful for Mr Kiu" and Mrs Kiu said "Ko Wa, remember what I said" and Ko Wa was curious why Mrs Kiu spoke to her that way.

And frankly I think the episode ended here. I can't remember much since I am writing this much later. Next episode Mrs Kiu was dying and she asked Ko Wa for a favour; to take care of Mr Kiu on her behalf.

Wedding bells soon?

No comments on performances but that scene where Mr Kiu scolded Yun Tin was very emotional and very well done. I totally agreed with Mr Kiu and felt Yun Tin failed everybody. A very sad scene also. I think episode 19 and episode 20 were the best thus far amongst all the crisis Ding Fung Sing faced. If you feel bored with this series, focus on the Mongolian branch crisis and how Mr Kiu scolded Yun Tin in that emotional scene, also how Fu Yi Chek was choking back tears. Worth the time to watch.

And John Chiang gave his best performance in that scene because he looked like he was alive and a human being after all. I also like Stephen Wong in that scene, the way he was choking back tears as he explained what happened to Mr Kiu. They were discarded by Yun Tin and in front of Mr Kiu they were like children seeking absolution from Mr Kiu the father figure. Best scene in this episode.

EPISODE 21
I missed the first 45 minutes or so but really I didn't miss much since the first 45 minutes focussed on the dying Mrs Kiu.

Yes Mrs Kiu was dying. The moment I started watching she was dead and Mr Kiu locked himself in his room writing Buddhist scriptures all day. Meanwhile Ko Wa discovered Fu Yi Chek panicking and he said he accidentally poured water over the bills and he was very worried since "the debtors can now deny they owe any debt!". Ko Wa told him not to worry and helped him to dry the bills over a small fire but as she was doing it I think she got distracted by her memory of Bak Chuen. Anyway she burnt her hand and Mr Kiu was there and was worried also. As Fu Yi Chek went to look for some cream, Mr Kiu advised her that "I know you love your brother very much but there are times you must learn to let go a little" and Ko Wa said "Sir, what about you? You lock yoourself in your room whole day writing Buddhist scriptures ... Isn't it in the Buddhist teaching that one must learn to let go instead of holding on? That is the only way you will let your loved ones who passed on go in peace...". Not in so many words but Chinese are very economical with their words. Anyway Mr Kiu lovingly wiped his wife's ermmm what do you call those? Wooden plague? That wooden worhip thing. He gently said "My dear wife, today I have received a great advice. I will let go so that you can go in peace. You were right about Ko Wa and you have excellent taste. She is a woman of honesty and integrity. So you can rest in peace now, everything will be all right".

I think before she died Mrs Kiu asked Ko Wa to take good care of Mr Kiu. You don't ask that of a servant so Mrs Kiu was giving her implied consent to Mr Kiu to marry this woman. Pause though; never had Mrs Kiu ever asked in her weak feeble voice "Ko Waaa....do you have a boyfriend?" because by that time Ko Wa was madly in love with Bak Chuen who was ermm well woodenly in love with her. You know Moses lar....hard to decipher.

Next part dedicated to Bak Chuen's story.

We meet that despicable Uncle Lam again. Hate him. Anyway in private Uncle Lam was addressing something and then camera zoomed away and we see him talking to the wooden worship things of the Chai family, including that of Bak Chuen. He said "I know I have betrayed your trust but I was doing it for your own good. I have erected this in your memory so that you will always be given offerings. May your souls rest in peace".

Pause here. More like for his soul to rest in peace you bastard!

Bak Chuen met with Sung Man who was now back from Beijing and Sung Man was working with an official as the interpreter with the French. Sung Man was still out of job, officially. Anyway Sung Man who earlier or maybe later planted a tree in memory of Mrs Kiu told Bak Chuen "I have my regrets, that I could not visit Mrs Kiu for the last time. I was beseiged by work, I couldn't make it" and Bak Chuen said "She will understand. I heard you're working for an official now who deals with the westerners?" And Sung man good naturedly said "Yes, he is Lam Ying Kit" and Bak Chuen eyes widen a bit when Uncle Lam walked in with his assistant and Sung Man introduced them. Uncle Lam's assistant said "Wow, the 3rd taukeh of Ding Fung Sing indeed looked the part! I am privileged to have met you!" and Bak Chuen just stared at Uncle Lam, he couldn't stop staring but he managed to calm down and socialise a bit.

Back at home, Bak Chuen saw Fu Yi Chek trying to kill a rat with a broom but the rat got away. Bak Chuen asked "What are you doing?" and Fu Yi Chek said "That rat, look at what he did to the shirt made by sister" and Bak Chuen looking like a WOODEN mad man said "But what will it do to kill this one rat? There will be others. You must look for the nest, and kill the source there, only then can you take out the entire clans of bad rats". Fu Yi Chek of course may be confused but Bak Chuen was determined, he will seek revenge for his family but Uncle Lam is only one of those rats. He will find the source.

Next episode, Bak Chuen became a total maniac as he went again someone unseen for revenge. And Bak Chuen refused to run away with Ko Wa. Exciting stuff.

I am glad I skipped Mrs Kiu's death since I really have no pity for this stupid woman who nearly ruined her husband's business. I also believe if Mr Kiu knew Ko Wa was in love with someone he wouldn't have married her later. The best part was of course Bak Chuen's story and the way he just stared at Uncle Lam. That scene with Uncle Lam was also despicably good, with flashbacks of Mr Chai and his pitiful end.

Acting wise, no comment. Ok maybe one. I am not sure who is more wooden, Moses or John Chiang. Maybe different grade of wood but still wood. Sonija in fact had more expressions on her face in this episode. Moses simply just look wooden angry, wooden mad, wooden sad, wooden happy... he must have been a tree in his previous lives.

EPISODE 22
Before I begin, I ealised I made possibly 3 major mistakes in my recaps;

1. Ping Sum is yes yes yes Ming Sum, finally could hear it clearly;

2. Ko Wa did not ask Bak Chuen to run away with her as shall be explained below

3. According to Kidd, Bo Yan Ba To really realy died, so all those running towards bandit screaming and bandit shooting and camera shiftedaway and no signs of dead body were all merely ... well ... creative filming. I have wronged TVB; they could actually made some artistic scene. Sigh...

Ok, recap proper.

Curiously this episode started with a meeting between Mr Cho, Mr Lam and some officials where Mr Cho wanted to bribe Mr Lam to give him the government grants I think to issue currency and all. You see business talk so I kinda tuned off. Mr Lam kinda agreed.

Next scene Bak Chuen met with Sung Man and discussed about life in general when Sung Man expressed a small regret that he is now without position and "I lived here as a ranked officer, and now I returned as a mere assistant, how my fortunes have changed" and Bak Chuen concsoled him by saying "You're a good person, a good honest official, you will get your job back" and then Bak Chuen kinda asked Sung Man what kind of person Mr Lam was or something like that and Sung Man was reluctant to answer when Bak Chuen said "I never quite see Mr Lam as someone well..with honest intention and when Sung Man refused to answer and he was very quiet Bak Chuen apologised for making assumptions. Sung Man said "His majesty is keen on making changes. He has in fact proposed some radical changes in the administration and policies, thing if can be continued on wiwill make a great impact and ensure the survival of this great empire". BAk Chuen was cynical and he said "How can that happen when great changes mean a disturbance on the positions of the officials who are all very comfortable where they are? It could never work because oppositions will be great by those who wants to proptest their own vested interests" and Sung Man said "Chi Chai, you too know the perils we are facing, indeed you are right" and then Mr Lam's assistance came out and Mr Lam wanted to see Sung Man so Sung Man went away for awhile when the assistant quietly spoke to Sung Man "I could hardly believe you are now the 3rd taukeh, what a meteoric rise. Well may I ask what is the interest rate right now? " and Bak Chuen answered him and even offered him a lower interest rate and the assistant was grateful and said "Thank you, you're indeed a very decisive taukeh of Ding Fung Sing. Well I have always thought Ding Fung Sing did very good job with the government's grants and all and I see no reason to change bank but you do know the grant is now up for review and some other person is interested in the business" and Bak Chuen said "Mr Cho?" and the assistant said "If I were you I will be very attentive to this issue of the grant with Mr Lam, don't say I didn't warn you". Bak Chuen thanked him.

Bak Chuen met with Mr Lam in a restaurant and Bak Chuen was very honest with mr Lam and said "I heard a rumour Mr Lam, that a certain person intends to take away the grant from Ding Fung Sing. If that is true, I have Mr Kiu's full authority to offer you any assistance you may require so that we can coninue this relationship" and Mr Lam laughed and said "Indeed, Ding Fung Sing is indeed very determined and decisive and you are very honest in this issue. You're so young and already a 3rd taukeh..." and Bak Chuen suddenly changed topic and said "Actually there will be many more years before I am the 1st taukeh and that is not my intention. I want richness and the only way to that is to stick with the right crowd and get myself some official title" and Mr Lam was curious and said "Well, you can do what Mr Cheung did and study for a position" and Bak Chuen said "I am not that learned, I'd rather pay for it" and Mr Lam laughed and said "Well that is not difficult" and Bak Chuen asked "So is do Mr Lam know the right circles?" and Mr Lam said "Yes I do, in fact I know the right people in this issue" and Bak Chuen was eager and he asked "So who are those people?" and pause here.

At this point I kinda realised Bak Chuen was trying to get the rat to reveal its nest, very clever but Mr Lam suddenly recomposed himself and ended up laughing but didn't reveal much and he said "I do apologise, I can't reveal the names. You know,those are delicate matters" and Bak Chuen changed tone and said "Indeed, identities are very important, I understand Mr Lam, I apologise for asking".

Well Bak Chuen followed Mr Lam and saw him walking into some temple. Bak Chuen walked into the main hall and saw the wooden worship things bearing his family's names and he was overcome by emotions as he knelt down and cried "Father, mother, grandma, Sok Lan,Ming Sum... I have been most unfilial, I have failed you all..." and he sobbed quite loudly and he said "I will avenge your deaths, I will find the culprits, I will clear our family name!" and unbeknownst to him, Uncle Lam overheard him.

Uncle Lam went to see Sung Man and enquired about BAk Chuen and his past but Sung Man didn't know thing except Bak Chuen was someone he knew FIVE years ago.

Wow! 5 years have passed! So how long have Jun waited for him? Anyway mistake here as we shall see later. Just take note of the 5 years issue.

Meanwhile, Ko Wa misssed Mrs Kiu (may I say more than Bo Yan Ba To!) as he was sewing clothes and Mr Kiu passed by and asked her why and she said "I didn't know how to sew but Mrs Kiu taught me to sew" and Mr Kiu said "She loved to sew, all my clothes were sewn by her eventhough I told her not to do that, because of her failng health" and Ko Wa said "Sir, for a woman nothing is more giving than thatto sew a dress for her beloved, it is an act of love" and Mr Kiu quietly reflected on that. And then Ko Wa saw his coat was torn and voluntered to sew it and as she was doing that and Mr Kiu was reading, a maid saw what happened and quickly walked away, saw another maid and said with malice "Oh I must wash my eyes now! How disgusting!" and the maid asked "What are you saying? You saw.. a ghost?" and she said "No, worse! I saw Ko Wa and sir hlding hands. Madam had hardly died 6 months ago and now this has happened" and the servant said "I don't believe you, sir loves Madam very much, you must have seen wrongly" and that maid said "Of course Sir is not the problem, Ko Wa is! She is trying tio climb the ladder of status and replace Madam's position!" and the servant said "No! She can't do that!'" and the maid said "Well just let's go, she is disgusting!" and this was overheard by Mrs Cho.

Mrs Cho saw Ching and she said "Let's not blame me if you didn't hear it for me, if you're not careful, you might let a wily fox in" and Ching was like "What are you talking about?" and she explained "Ko Wa, she is trying to replace your mother, you do be careful" and Ching asked "When did you feel so much concern for my welfare or his family's welfare?" and the aunt said "I am your aunt, of course I care about your welfare" and Ching just retorted back and said "Well you are MRS CHO, this is the KIU family, perhaps you should mind your own business" and Mrs Cho was like "Hmphhh, don't say I didn't warn you!" and actually Ching was worried.

Next day some chickens died. Mrs Cho stirred things up by making up stories about a wily she devil fox in the house and even pointed to some images on the wall resembling a fox drawn up with water and the servants were very scared and Jun was confused and Ching told them all to shut up and go about their own business. But Ching was indeed very worried.

At night 2 servants girls were too scared to go to the toilet so they turned back when Ko Wa suddenly appeared with a lantern and one fainted, one screamed. Mrs Cho stirred things up again and already Mr Kiu told them all to shut up about this.

Ko Wa met with Bak Chuen secretly and revealed her sadness at those rumours and suddenly Bak Chuen went mental with her by asking "Have you ever thought of revenge? Go againnst those who spoke badly of you? Avenge your own reputation? Because it will never stop. WHY, WHY THE HEAVENS MUST PUNISH GOOD POEPLE WHILST THOSE WHO SHOULD BE PUNISHED ARE NOT? WHY MUST THE INNOCENT BEAR THE BURDEN OF GUILT WHILST THE GUILTY NEVER OUNISHED? WHY IS THE HEAVEN SO COLD AND CURLE? WHY? WHY? WHYYYY?". Yes, in that tone. Ko Was was like freaked out and said "Chi Chai, it was just rumours, no big deal! As long as I am innocent things will be set right " and Bak Chuen said "What if it doesn't?" and Ko Wa cheerfully said "Don't worry, it will" and she said "I have thought for some time. I think perhaps it is time I set things right, I will explasin to Mr Kiu about my feelings in these rumours. No one knows I am already seeing you, notr even Fu Yi Chek but I will indicate as much to Mr Kiu" and Bak Chuen smiled a little.

Ko Wa met with Mr Kiu and she said "Sir, I am a Mongolian, I do not know the rules of the Chinese so I may be blunt but I hope sir will understand" and Mr Kiu said "I know you're someone with integrity, I know that Ko Wa" and so Ko Wa said "Sir, regarding those rumours, I am not trying to blame anyone but I just want to make it clear to you, I have no intentions of being a phoenix, I have never had any intentions to breplace Madam. I just need some food and shelter, I am here for my brother and that is all" and Mr Kiu said "I know and I understand" then the butler walked by and Mr Kiu sternly said "There are too many rumours in this household amongst the maids, see to that they stop the rumours" and the butler said "Yes sir".

But it never stop because the culprit stirred things up. This time Mthe tree planted by Jun and Sung Man died and again it was the she foix devil's fault. Now the servants were panicking, big time and they all wanted to quite and all.

Pause here. I may have jumbled up this scene with the night scene but never mind, the dialogue is accurate". They all blamed Ko Wa and Ko Wa tried to defend herself and even Jun was on her side when Ching suddenly said (and Yun Tin was there and surprisingly he was not involved) "There is a way to stop all these rumours. Ko Wa, you're fired! You must leave this house!" and Ko Wa was panicking and crying "No miss, no, please don't" and suddenly Mr Kiu appeared.

Alone, Mr Kiu looked sternly at a very stubborn Ching. Ching explained "The servants were afraid so Ko Wa had to go" and Mr Kiu sternly said "How can you believe in all these hocus pocus?" and Ching said "How can I not? Far too many things have happened, it could be true" and Mr Kiu loudly said "You're the head of this household, you take care of this family, and the servants in here, not only did you not stop the rumours, you play by their rules! If the servants insist on leaving, then pay them their salary and let them leave!" and Ching angrily said "ather, is Ko Wa that important?" and Mr Kiu was like "What are you saying?" and CHing said "Father, the rumours, they are true! Ko Wa wants to take mother's position, and mother has died only 6 months ago! I will not let this conniving woman replace mother, she will never replace her!" and Mr Kiu was raising his voice and scolded Ching "You're to do what you're told. You are my daughter, you do not rule my life and said what I can or can't do! I will do what I want to do and you will do your duty and mind your own business!" anmd Ching tearfully left with Yun Tin hugging her and walking away as Jun and Ko Wa saw them leave. Ko Wa was sad and said "I know I have brought much trouble to Mr Kiu and Big miss, the last thing I want is Mr Kiu to scold Big Miss" and Jun said "Don't worry, father is fair and just, he will give the best decision" but Ko Wa looked stricken with guilt.

Alone she met with Bak Chuen and she told Bak Chuen what happened and Bak Chuen listened carefully and then Ko Wa said "There is a way to stop all these. I can tell them I already have someone in my heart and you can marry me, if I am married all these rumours will stop!" and Bak Chuen smiled a little and said "Well you certainly put your point across" and Ko Wa asked "Won't you marry me?" and Bak Chuen held her and said "Of course I will" and Ko Wa said "Let's see Mr Kiu now, we tell him now!" and Bak Chuen smiled and said "Mr Kiu is out doing business, moreover I have an errand to run. I will tell him later today" and Ko Wa hugged him tightly and smiled happily.

Bak Chuen went to the forest and knelt down and prayed to his family. He was tearful and promised revenge when Mr Lam was there and Bak Chuen saw him and Mr Lam said "You're Chai Bak Chuen! You switched places with someone! That is punishable by law!" and Bak Chuen said "YES, I am Chai Bak Chuen! You killed my father, my family! Why? My father has always been good rto you, he was always honest and righteous, why did you treat him as such? Why did you betray him? " and that bastard said "It is because your father was a fool! He was a stupid fool with his stand on righteousness. He offended the powerful and so he repaid it with his life! He was an idiot!" and Bak Chuen shouted "My father was not a fool! My father was a good man! You were the despicable one!" and Mr Lamhouted with malice "I will not let you go this time. I will make sure the emperor knows of this! You're lucky to have lived these past 4 years! You, the only living descendant of the Chai (actually he said in cantonese Sei Jing Jung which is far worse than how I described it) will die and I will bring down all your loved ones! I will make sure all you care about will die for you, I will make sure you will meet your death!" and Bak Chuen said "You will be punished! I will make sure the officials know of this and return my family's good name!" andMr Lam said spitefully "Punish me? Never! The only way I will be punished is when I die. Then you can drag me to the courtsbefore the God Of Hell and punish me!!" and Bak Chuen was so angry and he said "If that is the case, I will kill you now!" and he fought with Mr Lam, struggled, fought, struggled, fought and then Mr Lam tripped and knowkced his head on a tree and fainted. Bak Chuen took up a big rock and was about to knock him dead and I was like "DO IT! DO IT! SMASH HIS HEAD!" (well injustice does turn me into a violent person I suppose) but he hesitated. And then he heard footsteps and he walked away panicking.

Well he is not a murderer.

Mr Lam stirred a little.

Bak Chuen walked away quickly, looking discheveled when he saw 2 guards walking by and he quickly turned away, the guards were suspiscious and followed him when suddenly a monk wit his face hjidden by a big straw hat asked for donation and Bak Chuen gave him money and the guards walkled away. When Bak Chuen wanted to run the monk held his hand and he was the monk that raised him.

In a room, Bak Chuen calmed down and the monk said "Can't you let this go?" and Bak Chuen said "Never" and the monk asked "But you didn't kill that man, yoiu hesitated, there is still time to stop Bak Chuen" and Bak Chuen said "I can't let them die without reason, without their names cleared. I understand now. To exact revenge, I must first amass power, position and wealth. Only then can I fight these people and avenge my family's death" and the monk said "Bak Chuen listen to me, if you are troubled read the scriptures, let the scriptures guide you" and Bak Chuen nodded.

You know I was like at this point "Monk, save your breath! He wants revenge" and I told my sis, "You know Bak Chuen should just become a monk" and my sis asked me "But won't you avenge my death if that happened to me?" and I said "My codename as a monk will be Let It Be and my nephew will be Forget It". Very funny!

Ko Wa was walking theon the street, stopping by a stall to pick up a ermm what do you call those Fai Chun? Anyway she was smiling and ten she saw avery serious looking Bak Chuen and she was very worried. Alone she asked him "Are you alright?" and Bak Chuen thought for awhile and said "Ko Wa, I can't marry you" and Ko Was was shocked and asked "Why?" and he said "You will be an obstacle to my career. Branch managers can't have family and I want a career, I want pwer, I want to be 1st taukeh and you will only be in my way!" and Ko Wa was like "I love you, all I want is some meals and you, I don't care about wealth, I don't need good food every day" and Bak Chuen said "It is not what you want, it is what I want, I can't marry you Ko Wa" and Ko Wa was soi angry she slapped him and said "I never thought you're this kind of man! How can you do this to me?" and Bak Chuen said "This is better, that you reacted the way you did, at least then we don't owe one another anything and we can move on" and Ko Wa was so sad she just ran away tearfully whilst Bak Chuen looked like a wood.

It was raining and Ko Wa suddenly slipped and knocked her head, and she fainted. Mr Kiu walked by and Mr Kiu quickly went to her aid and in the rain carried her home. Everybody at home was still talking about Mr Kiu's reaction to Chings insistene Ko Wa be fired and sudenly they saw Mr Kiu carrying her and he was panicking when he ordered "Find a doctor, fast!" and this episode ended weith their shocked faces.

Next 5 episodes, Ko Wa asks Mr Kiu to marry her, she angrily threw buns at Bak Chuen, Mr Kiu got arrested by Sung Man's father and Jun begs Sung Man to help and Sung Man looked tearful at what happened.

Massive drama next week so now we know Mr Kiu is evil!! Well I kinda know already because

1. Sung Lai is evil

2. Chan Hung Lit must do more than just be an old respected man

3. If not this how then Jun be pushed to marry Bak Chuen?

Remember the mistake? Sung man said he knew Bak Chuen 5 year ago. They first met when he was a beggar-ish guy after the deaths of his parents and then Mr Lam screamed he had lived 4 years. Ermm 1 year is still a big difference.

Anyway I pity Bak Chuen and Ko Wa. No sides to take here because I understand Bak Chuen's stand on this (he didn't want to harm Ko Wa since Mr Lam said he will kill everyone he loves and he wasn't sure if Mr Lam died or not) and Ko Wa's anguish at being ditchd just like that. It was a believable break up scene , however why can't Bak Chuen just tell her the truth? By not telling her she is no where more protected than she knowing. She has a right to know but well she will marry Mr Kiu. Poor girl. Poor Bak Chuen too. everytime they show flashbacks of his family, I felt a tinge of sadness and the way they were framed. Such a sad moment.

If you want to start watching this series, my recommendation is you must not miss the 1st 3 episodes of this series which shows some very powerful scenes that are both memorable and depressing. In fact the execution scene really defined Bak Chuen's character. Can't hate him for hurting Ko Wa.

Anyway in this episode 2 woods came to life. John Chiang suddenly had temper, not just stony faced serious look.Moses had emotions, not just wooden everything. In fact Moses' best scenes are always those who he reacted to injustice when it comes to his family. But other than that he is back to wooden, John Chiang is back to serious. One word can define their entire acting performance,

No sign of Lau Dan though except at the beginning and hie has better range, TWO acting expression, conniving look andworried conniving look.

Tavia had little role in here, more by Claire Yiu who did well althoiugh in more emotional scenes she faltered a bit, speaking her lines like breathless. I wonder what is holding her back? Can't she raise her voice a little? Since I think Ching would have little respect for Mr Kiu for wanting to have a new wife just 6 months after her mother died, even if this wasn't the truth.

Very little of Steven Ma but I still like him and his Sung Man.

Now Sonija Kwok gave her best performance thus far at the betrayal of Bak Chuen and her reaction. She is no longer the wood or rather automaton. Maybe she had a software upgrade? Kidding! She didvery well. I enjoyed her performance. I can still complain a bit since her best isn't really great type of best but since we are talking Sonija Kwok here, she did improve tremendously since this role suits her. She gave Ko Wa this perky personality that you can't help but like but of course I do feel a far better actress would have given her more consistency and more depth. Jus don't ask her to be shock, sad, angry and holding a bowl of noodle all at the same time. She can only handle 2 emotions at one time. But you know, she did well. Very well and I am sure any Sonija haters may watch this performance and may change their mind, a little. Not much, just a little since I read she is quitting TVB and joining the ranks of TVB actress in Mainland China TV series in those crappy big productions that value names than proper casting.

Anyway as I was writing the story of Bak Chuen and how he felt, I read that the new 007 movie wil be called The Quantum Of Solace and Daniel Craig explained it means how Bond couldn't even mourn for Vesper, or something like that. The sadness, the grief, all related to the title. Bak Chuen's story should have that title. He hardly had time to mourn, he was more like punishing hiself for some time and now revenge revenge revenge. But there is no mouning, just yet. This is Bak Chuen's Quantum Of Solace and both Jun and Ko Wa suffered the consequences.

EPISODE 23
Aiyayaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ... Iiiiiiiiiiiiii missed this episodeeeeeeee larrrrrrrrrr.... because family wanted to watch Without A Trace and I wanted to watch House MD (brilliant as always). But I managed to watch two important scenes;

1. Mr Kiu exposed Mrs Cho as the pretentious liar as she was;

and

2. Ko Wa and Mr Kiu went dating by riding horses and Mr Kiu was already in love with Ko Wa and Ko Wa asked Mr Kiu to marry her and he agreed to the shock of everyone, especially the last shot of Bak Chuen looking very high grade type of wooden shock.

I think he wrote a letter to Ko Wa explaining his situation but probably the letter never reached her or something.

Don't know lar. If you know please fill me in the blanks? I guess I will probably guess some when I watch the next episode.

Yeah next episode we shall find out why Ko Wa wanted to marry Mr Kiu; I suppose because of anger of Bak Chuen. The thing is eventhough Mrs Kiu approved of Ko Wa I can't help but feel 6 months after her death and now he remarries. A bit too soon don't you think? How long to grieve anyway? 6 months is not long enough. If I were Ching I too would be pissed. Jun didn't seem to have an opinion. Oh yeah we will also find out the troubles in Jun and Sung Man's relationship. Tragic stuff.

EPISODE 24
Today's episode is short in content since mostly about emotions. Last scene last night was a woodenly shocked Bak Chuen. Today's first scene is also that same woodenly shocked Bak Chuen, but time well poor Bak Chuen.

Mr Kiu happily announced his impending marriage and before Ching could even complain one bit, Mr Kiu shot her down by saying he's the father, so basically shut up. Everyone had to congratulate them, and Fu Yi Chek was very happy for his sister, strangely because I thought he would be the first to protest since Mr Kiu is you know kinda old for his sister and I am quite surprised he didn't question whether she did it out of love or something else. In fact where is Fu Yi Chek? He seems like he has changed like 360 degrees and twice over. Anyway everyone had to congratulate them and even Jun was ok with it since she said "I knew mother approved of this union but Ko Wa I never thought you feel the same way about father. I am very happy for you both" but 3 people were not happy; Ching for obvious reasons, Yun Tin for some reason and of course Bak Chuen for reasons he himself is to be blamed. And Bak Chuen had to look at them both and say congratulations. Trouble is Mr Kiu requested Bak Chuen to help Ko Wa prepare for the wedding and what can Bak Chuen do but meekly say yes?

So the preparations were on the way. Fu Yi Chek was very excited and Ko Wa pretended to be excited. Whilst in a shop when Bak Chuen and Ko Wa were alone, Bak Chuen pleaded "Ko Wa do you really want this? Please don't do this out of spite" and Ko Wa said with much anger "Unlike someone who dreams of riches and power, Mr Kiu is a good man. Moreover shouldn't you be happy for me? After Mr Kiu is the richest man in this state so I am to be gained in this union" and Bak Chuen had some flashback where Ko Wa angrily told him "If you won't appreciate me, someone else will!!".

And then the wedding came. It was big event, and by TVB standards may I saw HUGE MEGA SUPER DUPER event with so many people, horses, carriages, stuff. Ko Wa appeared in her wedding gown and may I say she was gorgeous. OK, Sonija was gorgeous, especially the head dress. Bak Chuen looked on like he was attending a funeral and because he was considered good friends with Ko Wa and like family, he played special duty on the day, standing nearby and such. Ko Wa was reminded by the lady next to her that tradition dictates when a girl marries, she must cry, pretend or otherwise to show her reluctance to leave her own family. So as Mr Kiu smiling and looked on with Ko Wa slowly passing a wooden Bak Chuen who refused to look at her and Ko Wa refused to look at him, her tears silently flowed. When she was in the sedan, she cried like nobody's business but she composed herself before the wedding. And so it was, she became Mrs Kiu.

Next day in the morning... ok pause here.. did she and Mr Kiu ermm you know consummate the marriage? Can he? Since he could hardly breath after some tai chi movements more so with a young pretty wife. Ok ok I deviated but did they?

Anyway in the morning, everybody paid their respect for Ko Wa as the new mistress of the family. Jun and Ching even had to call her mother but of course Ching never said it. With each drink of the tea she gave her wish, that Ching and Yun Tin will be blessed with a happy marriage and children, Jun will finally find her true love and interestingly Bak Chuen too knelt before her and received the tea. So if Mr Kiu saying he is like his son? Anyway she told Bak Chuen "Hmmm this tea is the most fragrant of all and I drink it with much pleasure. I hope for you much success as you so wanted" and Bak Chuen meekly said thanks. Fu Yi Chek will stay with them and Jun said "Of course father always wants family to be under one roof, remember uncle Cho?" and Mr Kiu shot her a warning look and she knew she said something wrong and Ko Wa said to Fu Yi Chek "Just because you're now the brother in law to Mr Kiu, you must remember to work hard. You can learn from everyone, especially 3rd taukeh (Bak Chuen) on the art of climbing the ladder of power since he is such an expert". Nobody noticed the dagger filled sentence but Bak Chuen did and I think he winced a little.

Life went on and Ko Wa was an attentive wife and Mr Kiu was happy. One day some wood carvings on the wall got broken or scratched and so Ko Wa wanted a new one and she recommended Bak Chuen since he was good at it. Mr Kiu didn't suspect anything and so Bak Chuen had to do double duty; work and wood carving. He recommended flowers as the motif but Ko Wa shot him down and said "Money should come first since husband is a businessman. I say wu lou (frankly don't know what is that called in English) so Bak Chuen at night carved away in the garden.

Pause here. Why is it still winter in Ping Yiu? So strange. Continue.

But as he was carving Ko Wa came and this time said "On second thought I don't want wu lou. To celebrate the recent union between husband and I, I would say make those ying yeong ducks". Bak Chuen meekly agreed but said "I will have to take more time since I will need to draw and plan how to do it" and Ko Wa said "Take all the time you want" but Bak Chuen said "However I will need to go for a business talk tomorrow with Fu Yi Chek. I will continue tomorrow" and Ko Wa angrily said "No! You will stay here until you finish this! I am sure you can see how respectful husband is to me, I need only to tell him one and he will grant all my wishes. Didn't you expect this? That I would be so influential on his decisions? Fan Chi Chai you will finish this and if you must know no matter how well you do it I will still criticise it!" and she stormed off. Bak Chuen looked on hopelessly.

As Ko Wa passed through Mr Kiu's room, she sighed a little and wanted to walk on but Mr Kiu saw her and invited her in. She smiled and became the good wife. Mr Kiu wanted to give Bak Chuen something to eat but Ko Wa said no need since he has left. And still Mr Kiu did not suspect anything.

Next day Bak Chuen was carving at night the ducks, looking over the drawings when Ko Wa walked in and spitefully said "Why is the ducks carved that way? Are you implying you're not satisfied with my union with Mr Kiu and you wish to jinx it?". This time Bak Chuen quietly said "I will do it again" but Ko Wa said "Why are you so meek? Are you so desperate for fame and fortune that you are willing to put up with this abuse? You're such a useless man" which was too much to be coming out from Ko Wa but Bak Chuen said "Ko Wa, if I may say this, why not let bygones be bygones? You have married Mr Kiu and you should learn to appreciate him. Whatever that was in the past, let's leave it at that" and Ko Wa was unsatisfied and angrily said "No! I am not satisfied with your answers. You never gave me one. You never explained why you left me, you never gave me a good answer. Why? Why did you leave me?" and Bak Chuen said "Whatever the reason may be it is no longer of any importance. Whatever I have to say has no more bearing in our relationship than it did in the past" and Ko Wa was so angry with his non answer that she pushed all the things on the table on the floor and stormed off leaving Bak Chuen alone and ermm I suppose sad.

Anna was painting Cixi and Cixi liked her very much. Now Cixi was in retirement but she still met with the officials in secret, supposedly to enquire what is going on with the new administration but actually giving warnings that no changes must be made. Mr Cheung recognise Anna. Anna visited them and wanted the painting he did for Sung Man back to improve on it but they said it was with Sung Man in Ping Yiu and she was kinda disappointed.

Mr Cheung told Sung Lai to pay Sung Man a visit and if possible to drag him back home. But Sung Lai said he was there for for Miss Kiu and Mr Cheung said "What must I do to make him understand that this union is not possible? Miss Kiu may be from a rich family but they're greedy, they just wanted power and reputation". I am surprised how Mr Kiu arrived at this conclusion.

At Ping Yiu everyone know Sung Lai was there but he has yet to pay the Kius a visit. Sung Man assured Jun his brother was simply busy but Jun was worried. Anyway Jun asked Sung Man "Have you ever thought of going into business?" and Sung Man said "No, never" and Jun asked "But you yourself said the civil service is a corrupted place. Why then do you persist?" and Sung Man said "Someone has to have some hope in our great empire. The Emperor is making changes and I want to be part of it, making it credible again".

Sung Lai finally visited Mr Kiu and Sung Man was with him. After all the greetings, Sung Lai said bluntly "My father wishes me to say that due to the busy schedule, my father would not be able to discuss about the wedding with Mr Kiu for some time, your forgiveness is most appreciated" and Sung Man was shocked and Mr Kiu remained smiling saying it was ok.

In the gardens Sung Man asked "Brother how can you say that to Mr Kiu? Luckily Mr Kiu is a man with a great heart, he will surely overlook what you said" and Sung Lai said "What do you expect father to say? You have never written to him at all of course he is angry" and Sung Man asked "What about mother?" and Sung Lai said "What more can mother say?" and Sung Man asked "What about my marriage with Miss Kiu?" and Sung Lai said "Sung Man don't you understand? This union is not possible" and Sung Man didn't get it and asked "Why? What is wrong with Miss Kiu?" and right at that moment Jun walked by and Sung Lai saw her but Sung Man's back was facing her so he didn't see her. Sung Lai spoke loudly to make sure she heard it too "Sung Man, father will never approve of this union. We are a family of scholars and of impeccable reputation. Although Miss Kiu is from a rich family they do not move in the same circle as we do. They're merchants with filthy smell of money and nothing else. You will do better to forget about any chance of an union between these 2 family and return home with me to get back into the civil service". Jun was almost in tears and so was Sung Man, looking very distressed but she didn't see it.

With Ko Wa, Jun expressed her fear to Ko Wa "I am afraid, I am afraid he might choose his career over me. I never knew his family disliked me so much. What should I do? I don't want to lose him and yet I fear, I fear he would leave me and we will never be together" and Ko Wa angrily said "What is it with men and their careers? Why they place such importance in careers without any regards to the feelings of the woman they love? I am sure Sung Man is not such a man and I hope he is not" but Jun was not convinced. She was in tears, with much fear in her.

By the way remember that Uncle Lam that Bak Chuen thought he killed? He didn't die but instead got killed by Mr Cho who found out Mr Lam took his money, never intended to give him the government contract. Hong Fei took the blame and went to jail, for a few years I think. Bak Chuen didn't know all these.

Next episode, Ko Wa knew she made a terrible mistake, Bak Chuen refused to let her redeem herself and Mr Kiu found out what was so apparent in this episode. Exciting sordid stuff.

No comments on the performances. Absolutely no comments. Depressing isn't it? I enjoyed this series and yet no comments. No opinion. Why? WHYYYY? Have I become those who just watch for the sake of watching?

EPISODE 25
Fantastic episode, drama is getting thicker as the misunderstanding gets more misunderstood.

Mr Kiu was furious. Bak Chuen begged for forgiveness, Ko Wa tried to soften the blow by taking the blame but Mr Kiu scolded "You are a fugitive and you dare come to work in Ding Fung Sing! What?! You want to destroy Ding Fung Sing? You want to harm my family and I? I welcomed you into my home, trained you, took you under my wings and what did you do? You seduced my wife! And you! I took you in too, and your brother, I cared for you, I treated you well and in the end you married me because of him! How dare you?" and Bak Chuen and Ko Wa were both on their knees begging for forgiveness but Mr Kiu was so furious he ended it all by saying "I want you both out of my life! I never want to see both of you again! You can both get out of my sight now! I will tell everyone you both fell to your death in some cliff. Get out now, Master Kwan, take them away!" and he turned his back on them and Bak Chuen and Ko Wa said "No, no, we won't leave, no no" but Master Kwan led the way and reluctantly they left.

Pause here.

I sat with disbelief that Mr Kiu would be so unreasonable and I was right! The moment they left, his angry face soften and he sighed.

Master Kwan took them to the pier and gave them each a luggage. Mr Kwan said to Bak Chuen "Go to this town, my relative will help you if you go to him and remember never to come back. Let Master Kiu have his honour, remember, never come back". And so they boarded the boat, sitting side by side, looking glum. And then Bak Chuen suddenly remembered "Master Kwan said to visit his relative, but he is an orphan" and he and Ko Wa quickly opened their luggage. Inside Ko Wa's luggage she found prescriptions, those that were prescribed to her whne she couldn't eat and Ko Wa immediately understood, "Mr Kiu must have thought I might be sick again so he packed my prescription for me, just in case" and Bak Chuen found loads of money in his bag and he said "Here we have enough to open a shop, Mr Kiu was trying to unite us, to let us leave and be together" and Ko Wa felt guilty "I can't leave just like that. When I was at Kiu Mansion, I wanted nothing more than to leave with you and now that I have left, I feel hollow. Mr Kiu was good to me and I didn't know how to appreciate him. How can I leave him now?" and Bak Chuen too agreed and both looked at each other and realised their love for one another may have fizzled out a little in the face of such a giving man. And so they both made a decision of their life...

Sung Man found out his brother was on his way to arrest Mr Kiu. He rushed to Kiu Mansion, wanted to warn them but it was too late.

Ko Wa and Bak Chuen ran back to Ping Yiu, Ko Wa said on arrival "I knew that if I ever were to leave here just like that I would forever regret it" and Bak Chuen too agree. They rushed home but saw a huge crowd and some guards and then they saw Mr Kiu being arrested, his family behind him looking worried and Mr Kiu saw them and sighed... Fu Yi Chek rushed to Ko Wa and asked "Where have you both been?" and Ko Wa asked "What is going on?": and he answered "Mr Kiu is arrested for being one of the rebels!" and they were as shocked as everybody else.

Sung Man asked his brother "Why did you arrest him? You and I both know he is not a rebel, he so happened to save one! He is old already" and Sung Lai was furious "So you knew he hid a rebel? You knew and you never told me? Did you know by hiding the truth you could your father and me in trouble? Have you thought about that?" but Sung Man quietly said "He is innocent. He is, I know he is. Please release him, he is old, he can't stand prison" and Sung Lai angrily said "So you think he is more important than your own father is it? I am very disappointed in you Sung Man. If you tell everyone what you know now, it will implicate all of us!" and Sung Man cried "Please brother, please" but Sung Lai said "Guards, please escort Sir Cheung into his room and make sure he stays there" but Sung Man as he was dragged away cried "Brother, please he is innocent! Brother, pleaseeee".

In the prison, Bak Chuen and Ko Wa kneeled before Mr Kiu who was very quiet. They both begged for forgiveness and Mr Kiu asked "Why did you come back?" and they both agreed they can't leave, especially not now. Mr Kiu said "You silly fools. I am but an old man, love to me is no longer of any importance. You two love each other, do you not think I do not understand that? I have separated you both, so I shall reunite you both. There is still time, you're both young, go away, be together whilst you still can" but Bak Chuen refused and said "Sir, I will stay. When everything is alright, I will leave Ping Yiu because I don't want to harm you or your family because of my status" and Mr Kiu looked at him and said "I knew I was right about you. Chi Chai, let us not talk about your status right now." and Ko Wa and Bak Chuen both felt relieved.

At home, everyone panicked. As usual, the people come and withdraw money. Like some souless zombie, problem withdraw, no problem, put back in. At the Chamber of Commerce, everybody refused to help or be associated with Mr Kiu and so Mr Cho got elected as chairman much to the disapproval of Yun Tin.

At home, Yun Tin complained bitterly, almost as if blaming Mr Kiu for all the troubles as Jun confessed she knew about the rebel. I think it was Ching who retorted at her husband "Are you blaming father then?". Anyway someone suggested Jun go find Sung Man and so she did.

Sung Lai met her and curtly said "My brother will not see you" and Jun politely asked "He won't see me or you won't let him see me?" and Sung Lai said "Don't you understand Miss Kiu? Haven't you figured out who masterminded this arrest of your father? It was Sung Man" and Jun stood there in disbelief and said "I don't believe you. Sung Man is not that kinda of man" and Sung Lai viciously said "He is not, is he? How much do you know my brother Miss Kiu? I know him all my life. He wants to be an officer and he has no other ambition than to serve the empire. This is his best opportunity to get his career back. Do you really see yourself as that important that my brother would sacrifice his career for love? Are you that naive Miss Kiu?" and Jun began to believe him since in the last episode she never really saw Sung Man's reaction to his brother vicious words about Jun and her family.

Sung Man broke down his own door and ran out and he bumped into Jun. He looked terrible and whispered "Miss Kiu..." and Jun immediately asked "Did you tell your brother about my father helping the rebel?" and Sung Man said "Yes..but.." and before he could finish Jun angrily said "How could you? I never knew you could betray my father, my love for you for advancement in your career!" and Sung MAn pleased "Please it was not like that, it is more than what you could see" and Jun crying said "I know your family never liked me. I heard what your brother said. Since our family the Kus could never unite with your family the Cheungs, since your father thinks that I am not good enough for you and that I am nothing more than a trader's daughter filled with the filthy smell of money, let us break off right now and you can seek your career advancement any way you so wish" and Jun ran away crying with her maid giving Sung MAn the stare of death and Sung Man almost in tears saying "Miss Kiu...".

Pause here. Why oh why can;'t he just finish the sentence or begin it properly? Why say yes Sung Man? Why take the blame? WHY? I will tell yiu why. Then there will not be any drama I tell you. Not good for ratings.

Anyway they were thinking ways to help Mr Kiu and all of them asked Jun what happened with Sung Man and Jun reluctantly said "They're under a duty, I doubt there is anything Sung Man can do but he is trying". Bak Chuen suggested they bribe some officers since hiring a lawyer wouldn't help much which they agree. Meanwhile someone ran to them and said "2nd taukeh! 2nd taukeh! We don't have enough cash flow for the withdrawals. What should I do?" and Bak Chuen immediately said "Don't worry I have asked the branches to send in money" and immediately the guy was relieved and said "Luckily 3rd taukeh is so far sighted!" and he left. But Yun Tin was furious "Who are you to act like you did? Who gives you the authority to transfer the funds?" and Bak Chuen said "I am sorry but this is like the last crisis so I acted the way Mr Kiu did" and Yun Tin said "You're just a runner turned 3rd taukeh! Who do you think I am ? I am the 2nd taukeh! And you never even consulted me!" and Ching was quiet and Bak Chuen said "I talked to Mr Kiu about this, he agrees" and Yun Tin shouted "Don't you dare drop Mr Kiu's name on me!! You're nothing but a runner! How dare you show me this disrespect?!" and it was Ko Wa who shouted "ENOUGH! We have enough troubles already. Let us not quarrel. Husband would have approved any measures to save the bank, the bank's priorities come first!" but Yun Tin was unhappy and he walked away.

Bak Chuen walked alone and Jun ran up to him and consoled him and said "I think my father was right about you/. What you did was in the welfare of the bank and I thank you for it. I am merely a girl, I know little about the business, if not for you, we would have been in deeper crisis. Thank you" and Bak Chuen said "I was just doing my job little miss" and Jun said kindly "Yes I know, but unlike some other people, I know you're sincere. Sometimes it takes time to know the true nature of someone" and Bak Chuen curiously asked "Little Miss are you alright?" and Jun snapped out of her hatred for Sung Man and said "Yes I am fine".

Jun and Ching went to the temple to pray for their father's wellbeing when they saw Ko Wa, busy burning, cooking eventhough the monks asked her to sit down, she gently declined and insisted on doing the cooking and all. Ching looked on and Jun said to her sister "Actually mother (she calls Ko Wa mother by the way) has been praying for father and doing charity in his name these few days. She hardly rest" and Ching was very moved by Ko Wa's gesture and said "Mother" and Ko Wa looked up and Ching said "Mother, let us help" and all 3 helped and Ko Wa was happy that Ching finally accepted her.

In prison, Sung Man managed to get in and saw Mr Kiu, sleeping on the prison bed, with bruises on his face. Angrily he asked the officer "You tortured him? He is an old man, he can't stand the torture" and the officer said "Of course he must be tortured since he won't reveal where the rebels are" and Sung Man angrily said "He doesn't know!" and the officer said "Sir, this you can take it up with Sir Cheung, your brother". Sung Man faced the sleeping Mr Kiu and he cried and with a heavy heard he whispered in his tears "Mr Kiu, I am so sorry, I am sorry, please forgive me".

Pause here. I felt bad for Sung Man, taking the blame for something he didn't do.

Meanwhile bank in deeper crisis. Mr and Mrs Cho were so happy and Mr Cho whispered "Do you know who told the officers about the hidden rebel?" and Mrs Cho's eyes widened and she said "YOU? You're so smart my husband! So what happened?" and Mr Cho explained and Mrs Cho said happily "I hope this spells the end of the Kius. Serves them right!".

Pause here. disgusting.

Back at Sung Man's place, Sung Man angrily pleaded with his brother "Please let him go! How can you order torture on him? He is innocent! He is old, he can't stand the torture!!" but Sung Lai was adamant and Sung Man realised it was of no use and Sung Man said "Please brother, I beg you, if you would let him go, I will do anything, I will do anything you ask of me" and his brother slyly said "Well perhaps Mr Kiu may not be connected with the rebels after all" and Sung Man said "Yes yes" and Sung Lai asked "If I let him go, you will do anything?" and Sung Man meekly nodded and his brother finally revealed his true colours why he arrested Mr Kiu in the first place "Alright then, I want you to part with Miss Kiu and return to Beijing with me" and Sung Man couldn't believe his brother's demands and Sung Lai continued "Do you think after this fiasco there would still be any chance for you and Miss Kiu? It is over my brother. Listen to me. Go home, advance your career, forget about Miss Kiu" and Sung Man sat down and thought for awhile and reluctantly said "Ok".

Next thing Mr Kiu was released carried into the cart by Master Kwan with his family there. Sung Man rushed out and looked at Jun in tears, Jun saw him and angrily looked away, refused to acknowledge his presence and Sung Man stood there for the longest of time until the horses and carts were out of sight.

POOOOOOOOOR SUNG MAN!

At home, Mr Kiu's health was certified as a-ok. But he looked much older with some white hair. He was worried about the business, even after he was pronounced innocent the business was bad as everyone fled to Mr Cho's bank. In a family meeting he asked Yun Tin "Is everything alright with the bank?" and Yun Tin said "Thus far everything is fine" but Fu Yi Chek chimed in "It was Chi Chai who thought of transferring the funds and all" and Mr Kiu praised Bak Chuen but Yun Tin said "He did it without consulting me" but Fu Yi Chek said "Someone had to act fast" and Ko Wa said sternly "Fu Yi Chek, shut up".

Mr Kiu no longer had any standing in the Chamber Of Commercer and Mr Cho was garnering power and he being sidestepped. Bank was not gettng any better.

In the office room Mr Kiu found out the branches too had cash flow problems and he said "I was so stupid. I should have known this too will affect the branches. I can't let the bank fall in my hands, not in my hands" and he coughed and taa-daa-taa-daaaaaaaaaa... BLOOD! HE COUGHED BLOOOOOOOOD! So everyone panicked. And Mr Cho quietly said "Perhaps it is time I retire" and Yun Tin smiled a little.

Next day Mr Kiu sat in the hall with all his main branch employee there.

"I am old and my health is not getting any better. And so I have decided to retire as 1st taukeh and in my place I choose....Fan Chi Chai as my successor" and some were surprised but Yun Tin was angry. "I disagree! How can you choose him and not me?" and Fu Yi Chek chimed in and said "It was obvious isn't it? Chi Chai is a natural leader" and Yun Tin angrily said "You shut up! Just because you're the brother of his wife doesn't give you any higher standing than you deserve!" and Fu Yi Chek was about to argue back when Ko Wa loudly said "Fu Yi Chek, shut up!" and he did. Yun Tin continued "The job should be mine! I slaved in this company for 15 years and in the end what did I get? I can't even beat this lowly runner! Oh admit it! You favoured him from the start! There is no such position as 3rd taukeh and yet you create one for him! Unlike some other people who knows how to please the heart of the boss, I am often honest and blunt and if I lose to him on this point, I do not feel I have lost fair and square!" and Bak Chuen said "Sir, perhaps I am not qualified. There are others better qualified than I am, please rethink your decision" and Yun Tin said "See! See! I can't win this, not in the face of this pretentiousness! He should have slaved 10 years more and still he should never qualify for this position!" and Mr Kiu weakly walked to him and said "I don't want to do this in front of these many people but I feel I must. You want to know why him and not you? I have always given you opportunities, opportunities which you wasted away by first plotting against Mr Cho and then against Chi Chai. Whilst everyone is trying to safeguard the interest of the bank, you wanted to safeguard your own interest above all else. When I was in prison, it was Chi Chai who thought of ways to save the bank from ruins and bribe the officers whilst you were busy holding on to some meaningless title at the . The incident with the Mongolian branc best illustrate your capabilities. You were inept, you could not make decisions at all" and Yun Tin shouted "I couldn't just close the bank like he did! I wasn't the 1st taukeh and I can't make such an important decision arbitrarily!" and Mr Kiu patiently said "That is the point. You do not possess leadership and you're afraid of taking on responsibilities" and Yun Tin screamed "What about him then? He is new and he was just a runner and now you give him such a huge responsibility?" and Mr Kiu said "He may be new but he is willing and has the capabilities to learn" and Mr Kiu sat down. Ching told her husband "Enough! You have said enough!" but Yun Tin was still angry and he shouted "I will never accept this decision! It is not fair!! You yourself once said Ding Fung Sing must never fall into hands of strangers and now you are giving it tro him, a stranger whilst I YOUR SON IN LAW, YOUR FAMILY is given nothing! You are a hypocrite! You have dishonoured your ancestors with this decision and you have shamed them all!" and Mr Kiu kinda vomitted blood then and Jun immediately said "Enough! You have said enough!" and CHing too said the same thing but Yun Tin was not to be stopped and he said "A hypcorite! You're a hypocrite! Everyone see this hypocrite! SEE THE HYPOCRITE!!" and Jun shouted "ENOUGH!" and he said "You shut up! You're just a woman, don't butt in!" and Jun said "I am a member of this family, his daughter, I have every right to speak!" but Yin Tin said "Everyone listen! He is giving away bank to a complete stranger!" and Jun stood next to Bak Chuen and loudly said "Who says he is a stranger? When everything settles down, I shall marry Fan Chi Chai, and so he has every right to inherit this bank!" and even Mr Kiu who was quite sick now as surprised as were Ching, Ko Wa and everybody else, including the always wooden looking Bak Chuen. Yun Tin looked at them both and smiled ironically, as if saying So this is it, this is it. Angrily he pushed past everyone and ran out of the hall as they all looked on.

Next episode, Bak Chuen must prove his worth and something horrible happened to Ko Wa thanks to Mrs Cho.

What an amazingly fantastic episode. I too am convinced Yun Tin lacks that leadership. Which made me remember that memorable scene in Safe Guards when Wayne's mom insists Wayne inherit the business and refused to eat unless Steven let go of the position, Steven pleaded with her by saying "I can't let him inherit the business. He is not capable, he will only ruin the business and get himself killed". Fantastic dialogue there and the final 15 minutes scenes of this episode too had that same tension and realistic dialogue.

I pity Sung Man also. What more can I say? He and Jun are doomed.

The performances tonight are electrifying. For once John Chiang looked more than a wood, he was wood of the highest quality. Same performance but good because he added angry into his performance other than bored looking or stern looking. I like his Mr Kiu, he is an honourable man and what he did for Bak Chuen and Ko Wa was very giving.

Moses too had more than just the wooden surprised look tonight. Tonight he added shocked look. That is a strech for him but well I enjoyed his performance however limited it was.

Sonija Kwok was ok but I felt last episode she was better when she was love sick. Here tonight in the midst of such tension and emotions, she was a bit bland in her output if you know what I mean.

Stephen Wong, that Fu Yi Chek guy right, well he was good too as he had some tension moments with Kenny Wong.

Now Kenny Wong had more emotions tonight than any other episode. His anger was understandable but was of course selfish in the end and he portrayed that well although his voice may be filled with emotion, his face somehow didn't quite match the voice. A pity.

Claire You was ok, nothing much. She should have slapped the husband for causing dear father to vomis blood.

The 2 best performances tonight had to be Steven Ma for his heart wrenching performance of the lovelorn and misunderstood Sung Man and the fantastic Tavia Yeung who have class and some fine acting for her Jun. The scene where she accused Sung Man was great, so was the scene where Sung Man stood there and looked at her go. These two played off each other well and their parting was sad too. Fantastic performances by these 2.

Other than that, no comment.

Fantastic episode. At this point are you watching this series? If not give it a try. It is so far more good than bad.

My personal recommendation for a similar scene is Safe Guards which to me is a classic because well the dialogue is one of the best there is. The fact that Wayne Lai won most memorable sidekick and that one scene where his character scolded his uncle won the most favourite memorable scene at the ASTRO Wah Lai Toi TV Drama awards 2007 recently is a testament how good they were. Safe Guards should have won too and I was hoping Steven Ma would win. His performance in there was good but you know he improved even much more in Land Of Wealth. Anyway that ASTRO TV Drama Awards usually let the more popular win so Wayne's win is a testament to some credibility to this award show which destroyed itself when Forensic Heroes won Most Favourite Series. Well you can't have it all.

EPISODE 26
Something unexpected happened in this episode so quite shocking to me. Anyway...

Jun said she will marry Bak Chuen. Yun Tin being angry ran into his room and began to pack. Ching came in and basically he said he was leaving because now there was no place in the Kiu family for him anymore. Ching was angry and said "You knew father wasn't feeling very well, he did it in the interest of the bank, can't you just let him win this time?" and Yun Tin stopped her curtly and said "I don't want to listen to this anymore. I am leaving. You are not leaving with me.." which was more of a statement than a question and Ching shakes her head and said "When I married you I spent my time fighting your cause, hoping you will earn the position in the bank. But I am disappointed in you because now I know the only thing that ever mattered to you was your own ambition, you do not care for the bank's welfare" and Yun Tin could listen no more and he left.

Mr Kiu when he was alone with Jun asked him "Jun, are you sure about this? What about Mr Cheung" and Jun told him everything about the lie, the deceit and Mr Kiu sighed "I never expected that of Mr Cheung, very disappointing. " and Jun said "Father I am your daughter, I could not contribute much to the bank but this is my way of contributing to the family. I will not regret it" and Mr Kiu said "The choice is yours but what about Chi Chai? Would he agree?" and Jun said "Let me speak with him".

Jun saw Bak Chuen and Jun said "I am serious about our marriage" and Bak Chuen said "Don't act rashly, this is your entire life's happiness, do not marry for the wrong reasons" and Jun said bitterly "I know that and I am doing my duty for this family. I will not regret my decision. I promise you once we are married I will be a model wife and a good mother. I will observe the duties of a wife faithfully and do my part as a mother dutifully." but Bak Chuen was hesitant and suddenly Jun kneel on her knees and begged Bak Chuen "Please marry me. I beg you. After we are married in future if you wish to take other wives I will not object".

Pause here. Wow! This is one good bargain eh? She not only begged him to marry her, she will allow him to have other wives PLUS give him the bank!! Wow! Deal of the millenium! By the way how come Bak Chuen never defened Sung Man's good name when Jun told him what happened? Surely he can't believe Sung Man was that despicable?

Anyway Bak Chuen couldn't decide until Ko Wa walked by and Ko Wa said "Jun is sincere. Grant her her wise Chi Chai, marry her and inherit the bank" and finally, and finally with the consent of his ex-lover, he said "Ok".

Alone with Mr Kiu, Bak Chuen expressed his reservations about Jun's haste in marrying him. Mr Kiu said "It's her decision to make and it will be her decision to regret. She has made up her mind and I am inclined to allow her to do so" and Bak Chuen still wondered since he had some personal issues to deal with and Mr Kiu answered his dilemmas when Mr Kiu handed him the company seal and said "This is the true test. If you can succeed in saving the bank out of this crisis, you can use the bank's funds to finance your case to clear your family's name" and Bak Chuen finally relieved and said "Thank you Mr Kiu" and Mr Kiu said "Are you still calling me Mr Kiu?" and Bak Chuen said "Father in law" and Mr Kiu smiled.

Jun went to see Sung Man but refused to look at him or talk to him. Her maid returned the sword and the painting Sung Man gave her and she walked away, leaving Sung Man almost in tears at the cold rejection.

Then the wedding took place, it was merry, it was happy and then it was over. After the wedding, or some days later, Mr Kiu now suddenly very old wanted to take a walk outside. By the way this has got to be the world's longest winter because it is still winter. In fact they may be in the South Pole for all I know, maybe Alaska. Anyway, Ko Wa took him to the chair to see the beautiful trees. Ching and Ko Wa were there and Mr Kiu saw down and looked at the flowers and suddenly he saw himself with his dead wife, he smiled a little but then the image changed to him and Ko Wa but then it changed to Ko Wa and Bak Chuen, lovingly looking at the flowers and Mr Kiu looked at Ko Wa who was smiling and next to him and he felt I don't know, jealous? Anyway then Mr Kiu looked again and it was Bak Chuen and Jun walking towards him bearing flowers which Jun gave to him. Mr Kiu smiled and said "I Kiu Boon Yip have lived a long and fruitful life. I have been blessed with 2 good wives and 2 loving daughters and indeed I wish for nothing more and I shall leave this earth a contented man." and then he closed his eyes and as he drew his last breath, he laid his head on the chair and died with a smile. The rest kneel and cried but they already expected his death since he was sick for some time.

By the way no funeral scene. I didn't expect Mr Kiu to die so soon. I mean now Bak Chuen had to deal with the bank himself!

Bak Chuen now was the boss and first taukeh of Ding Fung Sing with Fu Yi Chek as his assistant. No one wants to borrow money from him and those who did wanted ridiculously low interest rate, lower than the minimum set by the Chamber of Commerce. Bak Chuen out of profit and integrity disagreed. But at the Chamber of Commerce, Mr Cho proposed they lower the minimum interest rate and though Bak Chuen protested as this would kill off Ding Fung Sing, the proposal was voted on and agreed by everyone but Bak Chuen. Back at home Fu Yi Chek angrily said "Clearly he wants us dead. With interest so low how can we survive?" but Bak Chuen though worried was still zen like.

Jun now the dutiful wife greeted Bak Chuen and even made him a coat but Bak Chuen was too preoccupied to care and Jun was very disappointed when Ko Wa said to Bak Chuen "Jun made that specially for you, every thread made lovingly by her. Don't you think you're being a bit careless in disregarding her effort?" and Bak Chuen realised he was a jerk and said sorry to Jun which Jun accepted and then they all asked him to get ready fast and he was wondering why and I think it was his birthday. Can't remember.

Back to Sung Man, surely he knew of the wedding. I was a bit surprised there was no scene of Bak Chuen meeting Sung Man to inform him of the wedding. I mean aren't they supposed to be very very very good friends? Anyway Sung Man was practising sword fight in anger and Sung Lai appeared and right at that moment Sung Man pointed the sword at Sung Lai which caused Sung Lai to be so shocked by that obvious hate gesture that he stood there. His parents saw what happened and Mr Cheung immediately shouted "What do you think you're doing Sung Man? Sure Sung Lai used the inappropriate methods but he did it in your best interest. And he is your brother" and Sung Man said "I was just practising sword fight" and Sung Lai dismissed the hate act by saying "He didn't mean it father, he was just practising sword fight".

Mr Cheung took Sung Man for a walk into some antique shop to take his mind off Jun and there they met Anna and her step dad (the actor was speaking excellent cantonese!!). Cut the long story short, Anna took Sung Man to the palace where Cixi met with some princess or queen from some western country who dared to give to Cixi a rifle, and boasted how great the rifles are and with one shot killed a bird. Cixi was not pleased since obvious China didn't have guns then and Anna was smiling like an idiot, oblivious to the politics in the small gesture and how rude it was but Sung Man saw it. Sung Man came forward and said "My apologies to the Empress Dowager but I must say something" and Cixi allowed him and he said "Rifles may be good but that does not mean arrows and bows are obsolete" and so he demonstrated where one arrow shot TWO birds at one go! Cixi was very pleased and so was the foreigner and she offered Sung Man citizenship to serve her country and said "You must be a general in this empire" and Sung Man humbly replied no he wasn't but Cixi declined by saying "I am afraid he can't say yes as he is the citizen of China and more importantly he may not hold any official titles now but I shall forthwith appoint him as ..." frankly I didn't get his rank. I think ambassador? Foreign minister? Something high ranking which Anna stupidly smiled some more and Sung Man said THANK YOU. This Cixi changes her mind every 10 seconds about Sung Man.

Back to Ping Yiu, one day an old lady came to visit Mr and Mrs Cho and she was Hong Fei's mom. She wanted to visit Hong Fei in prison since she wanted to tell him his father died and all but Mr and Mrs Cho just side tracked her and gave her false promises. Old Mrs Hong was walking on the street when her purse got stolen. She fell to the floor crying, saying "That is my whole fortune! I saved it to bribe the officers so that I can see my son! My money! My money!" and she cried and cried and Ko Wa was passing through and knew what happened and said "Don't worry, I will help you".

Pause here. Did she know Hong Fei was that Hong Fei? She didn't seem to know...

Ko Wa took her to the prison and asked to see Hong Fei and paid the guard money. The guard said "Ohhhhh THAT Hong Fei. He died some months ago from illness right here" and his mother was shocked beyond words. In her home Ko Wa comforted her and she said her thanks. Ko Wa left but decided to return because the lady seems odd.

The old lady was alone and cried for her son, then she took a scissors and wanted to stab herself when there was a knock and it was Mrs Cho. Mrs Cho came in smiling and said "I have great knews! Hong Fei is not here because he was transferred to serve his time at the state border! So you can't see him for now" and Mrs Hong angrily said "How care you lie to me? My son is dead! The guard told me!" and Mrs Cho said "How can you believe the guard but not me?" and she shouted "You think I don't know what you and your husband were up to? You caused my son's death! You made my son take the blame for your husband killing that Lam Ying Kit!!" and Ko Wa was there and overheard. Mrs Cho went forward and pushed Mrs Hong onto the floor and Ko Wa came to Mrs Hong and Mrs Cho knocked Ko Wa unconcious. She then threw Ko Wa's body into the sea and Ko Wa sank and sank...

Pause here. Possibly the worst special effects here and most illogical. The place she threw her in was hardly deep and then there was that scene where she sank and sank and sank.

Back home, Mrs Cho was so scared and she confessed to Mr Cho what she did. "I killed her! That old woman died of a heart attack. I threw Ko Wa into the sea! I killed her" and Mr Cho said "Don't tell anyone! Shhhhh" but King Yin overheard and King Yin said loudly "How can you mother? How can you do that father? Fighting over banks I understand but I never thought of involving people's lives! I can't let you go on anymore!" and Mrs Cho begged and Mr Cho persuaded and finally King Yin agreed to keep quiet but he said "I never want to have anything to do with the both of you anymore!" and he left.

Kiu mansion, everyone panicked. WHERE IS KO WA? Some said she went back to Mongolia which was impossible. Some said kidnapping but it has been days! Bak Chuen wondered too and Fu Yi Chek was panicking and Jun tried to calm him down by saying "I am sure she will be back soon" but Fu Yi Chek snapped at her rudely and then he said "I am sorry I snapped at you but sister never goes away without leaving a message. Something must have happened to her!"

Next week, Ko Wa comes back as a different person, tragedy befalls Jun and Sung Man shielded Bak Chuen from a gunshot by some unseen figure.

Very very dramatic end I suspect! So who is the ultimate villain? We shall know!

I have no comment on the performances but the story is a bit inconsistent. I refuse to believe Bak Chuen such good friends with Sung Man did not even went to see Sung Man or to ask him that all important question; DID YOU DO IT? Poor Sung Man.

And why is the Kiu family so presumptious? Like when Mrs Kiu was about to die she never asked "Ko Waaaaa...do you have someone in your heart?". Nope. She jumped to conclusion "Ko Waaaa..... take good care of master". Then now Jun like never asked "Chi Chaiiiiii... do you have someone in your heart?" but instead "Chi Chai, MARRY ME!".

I tell you Bak Chuen is one lucky guy to have such a great wife that comes with an inheritance.

Anyway I hope Yun Tin comes back to assist Bak Chuen.

EPISODE 27
First I must say this. I don't like the direction this series is going and I am tempted to take back every good things I have said about Sonija Kwok because of this idiotic new direction. Anyway the recap first ...

Ko Wa was still missing and somehow I don't feel the urgency of the Kiu family looking for her. In fact Fu Yi Chek seems ok which is very very strange.

The time of year for the yearly review of government contracts to the banks was in and Mr Cho was confident they will get the contract since they were stronger bank. Ding Fung Sing already had the cat in the bag so to speak as Sir Chui preferred them because they have worked together before. However Ding Fung Sing could not put in the bond as required. Bak Chuen was having a hard time figuring out a way to settle this problem.

Meanwhile Yun Tin secretly came back to Ping Yiu looking unshaven and in quite a bad state. In a restaurant he drank himself silly when Mr Cho and Mr Chong passed by and they insulted him. Mr Cho said "I heard you haven't had any luck in landing a job eventhough you did an extensive search. How useless you must feel and ashamed of returning to Ding Fung Sing. Why didn't you come to see me? I would've given you a job as a runner!" and Yun Tin was angry that he retorted "Ding Fung Sing was the one who made you, how dare you do funny business in front of the premise? Do you know gratefulness?" but of course Mr Cho didn't and continued to insult Yun Tin to the point that Yun Tin threw wine in Mr Cho's face and he ran. Mr Cho told Mr Chong to let it be this time.

Well not really. Anyway Yun Tin may have been ambitious or at some point misguided in his ambition but in the end he proved loyal to Ding Fung Sing and he wasn't such a bad guy compared to Mr Cho. I suspect Mr Cho bad mouthed him so he couldn't get a job?

Yun Tin was walking on streets when a bunch of guys threw a big bag over his head and used sticks to beat the crap out of him. And interestingly they probably did the best thing to Yun Tin that he didn't dare to do although they meant it as an insult; they threw him, in the bag in front of Kiu Mansion. The servants opened the bag and saw an injured Yun Tin inside.

When he woke up, he saw his wife's worried face as well as Bak Chuen and Jun. He wanted to leave but Ching tearfully asked him to say and though he refused and was about to make a move, Jun said quietly "Brother in law, please do not go. Sister has been very worried about you and you two love one another, why force this unwanted separation?" and Ching and Yun Tin looked at one another and then Bak Chuen said "This is your family, please come home" and after some thought Yun Tin stood up and then kneel on the floor and said "Father in law, I understand now that I have wronged you and your good intentions. I swear that I shall from today onwards serve Ding Fung Sing without any hidden agendas" and everyone was happy.

Frankly Yun Tin though not a capable leader will make a good advisor.

So now there was Yun Tin thinking with Bak Chuen what to do. Yun Tin was in favour of closing a few branches I think just to raise the sum but Bak Chuen shot it down as he had promised Mr Kiu to preserve the business. But I'm not sure if Yun Tin suggested this or what but anyway Bak Chuen had to consider the only option, that is to gamble the entire fortune of Ding Fung Sing into this final act of recovery of the business as he wondered where to find the money. In the study room, Jun was with him and whilst he worried, Jun said encouragingly "I believe in father's infinite wisdom in choosing you as the successor so if you feel it is appropriate I am on your side" and Bak Chuen smiled at the support when suddenly he thought of something as he held Ding Fung Sing's company seal. Then he remembered...

In the meeting Bak Chuen thought of the solution. "It was Ding Fung Sing's yearly tradition to contribute a sum to a fund, which is intended to be returned to the benefactor of Ding Fung Sing. The foundation of Ding Fung Sing had always been the story of a benefactor who financed Ding Fung Sing into what it is today and a promise to return the money with interest. Over the years the fund has grown larger and I believe it is scattered everywhere but it is a sum that should help us rise back from the ashes" and everyone was happy to hear this forgotten fund and Jun looked at Bak Chuen with new respect and did I see a little bit of love? Anyway Jun met Bak Chuen and Bak Chuen told her "We might be bankrupt if this didn't work" and Jun said "A hen follows the rooster, a dog follows its mate. I am your wife and whereever you go, whatever happens, I shall follow. Do what you must" and Bak Chuen was touched by her sincerity.

Sir Chui, Bak Chuen and Yun Tin watched as a bunch of guys removed few huge boxes from some hidden mining place and Yun Tin looked at Bak Chuen "I now understand why father chose you as his successor. You have saved the bank with your widsom and cunning and you have my respect" and Bak Chuen was pleased.

And so Sir Chui announced Ding Fung Sing won the tender much to the annoyance of Mr Cho and Sir Chui even said the government will bank in all the government's money into Ding Fung Sing and so guess what? If it is good enough for government, it is good enough for everyone.

Now that the bank is saved, Bak Chuen remembered Mr Kiu's promise that he could use the bank's fund to finance his case to clear his family's good name. Bak Chuen knew Sir Chui was responsible as well and he wanted to gain Sir Chui's trust before destroying him.

Meanwhile King Yin left home to stay at the temple. His parents tearfully asked him why and he said "I can't sleep over the things you have done. I won't help you but as your son I can't see you sink any deeper. I will stay at the temple, doing prayers to ease your punishment in the afterlife. Don't worry, I will not reveal the truth to anyone" and he left. He got guts I tell you and also TVB writers probably didn't know what to do with this redundant character since his parents didn't really feel they were wrong.

Bak Chuen and family now travelled to Beijing for some business talk and Jun was very sad. Bak Chuen held her hand and asked her if she was fine and Jun said "I have never been out of Ping Yiu and the last time I was here I came with father and mother. Now they're no longer here with me..." and Bak Chuen reassured her he was there for her. Quite a polite couple. Jun asked Bak Chuen "Have you been to Beijing before?" and Bak Chuen lied, "No".

Bak Chuen went to visit the rundown Chai Mansion and inside he remembered his father's words about being a clean and honourable person and he promised his father he will avenge his death and clear his good name.

Sung Man meanwhile was still teary eyed each time but managed to execute his duties in his new position which I have yet to catch. A voiceover said the government hadn't been doing much to save the country from ruin, corruption was rampant and foreigners were beaten, including nuns and priests distributing food. Sung Man came in time to stop them, I suppose they're the country's special guards or something but the guy retorted "These are the foreigners that ail this empire! Why can't I beat them?" and Sung Man angrily said "I am a faithful citizen of this empire. I will die for this empire if I had to but I also understand who is to be blamed. These priests and nuns were doing charitable work, they were not at fault!" and Sir Chui heard what he said and he was impressed with Sung Man.

I think somewhere along the line Sung Man bumped into Jun in the temple after Jun saw a hanging ermmm incense coil (?) with blessings in the name of her father. She asked Sung Man "Did you do that?" and Sung Man nodded "Yes, it was the least I could do to" and Jun angrily said "How dare you? You were the cause of my father's misery. If it wasn't for you his health wouldn't have taken a bad turn and he wouldn't have died!" but Sung Man said "I wasn't the snitch. Whether you believe it or not it was Mr Cho, it wasn't me" and Jun asked "But you confessed!" and Sung Man said "Yes I did because I did tell my brother but that was after I found out they were already on their way to arrest Mr Kiu. I tried to stop it but I couldn't" and Jun said "But your brother said you did it!" and Sung Man said "If I did do what you said I did, don't you think my brother would have protected me instead of revealing it all? My family didn't like you so my brother did what he did to separate us" and Jun finally realised her mistake and she said "I have wronged you. I have acted rashly and I have wronged you" but Sung Man said "It doesn't matter, it is in the past. You're now Mrs Fan Chi Chai. Chi Chai is a good man and I believe he treats you well" and Jun said "Yes he is. How about you? Are you married?" and Sung Man smiled sadly "Marriage is not my top priority right now" and Jun felt a little guilty.

Jun told Bak Chuen everything and Bak Chuen said "We have wronged him..." and he looked at Jun and Jun understood and said "We would have parted ways even if I didn't marry you. His family, with their reputation and connection wouldn't have agreed to have a daughter in law whom they feel are stinking with money, a trader's daughter. The past is the past husband, I am now your wife and I no longer love Sung Man the way I did before" and Bak Chuen held he lightly.

Pause. I DON'T BELIEVE YOU JUN!!!

Bak Chuen was walking on the streets when he saw the arrivals of prostitutes at the local prostitutes' den... ok maybe not prostitute, but GROs at the nightclub? Anyway he saw Ko Wa!! Immediately he went to her but she didn't recognise him. Later he went back again and managed to book her services although that despicable Sir Chai was there. Bak Chuen found out she was Fa Ling Lung and she was pretty famous. That she had never left Beijing and she was raised by the owner of the nightclub who suspisciously admitted that but didn't meet Bak Chuen's eyes. And so Bak Chuen concluded she couldn't have been Ko Wa.

Meanwhile no one else knows of this Fa Ling Lung and my question to Bak Chuen is why so secretive?

Anyway Sung Man was alone in the compound, playing the flute sadly when his father sat down next to him and asked him "I heard Mr and Mrs Fan of Ding Fung Sing is in Beijing" and Sung Man basically nodded and Mr Cheung knew the source of Sung Man's unhappiness when Sung Man's mother came out and told his son to eat a bowl of something expensive saying it was sent by Anna who has tried very hard to learn the Chinese culture and poem because of him. His father even said "Maybe you could try to accept her, she is a good woman, she will be good for you" and Sung Man listened, almost in pain and quietly nodded.

Next episode... can't remember what happened in the preview because my mind just can't seem to forget that stupid plot with Fa Ling Lung and is she or is she not Ko Wa when it was obvious she was!! I mean loss of memory? How cliche. Why not just show her in coma, or dead rather than losing her memory? And why didn't Bak Chuen fetch Fu Yi Chek since he should know if that is his sister or not. And interestingly nobody recognised her as Mrs Kiu, in fact even Sir Chai didn't know so I suppose they never met at any social event. And did Bak Chuen recognised Sir Chai?

The plot did not thicken, in fact it just became stupid. Tell me, why? Why destroy a good story?

And the performances. Steven Ma is still the best with his tortured look. He does play the tortured lover very well whilst Tavia Yeung is so pretty and played her Jun as someone very well mannered and soft spoken but also determined and opinionated. I like the fact that Jun greatly admired Bak Chuen and was falling for him and I suppose him too because Jun is a very supportive wife.

Everyone else was the same, especially Moses with his one look that rules them all type of performance. The worst was Sonija Kwok. Whenever she plays the Chinese lady, reciting something in Cantonese I just feel she is not up to the mark. In today's episode it confirms my suspiscions. I mean she was just reciting her lines like some automaton whilst smiling like some pre programmed robot. No passion, no curiosity, no nothing. Ko Wa is the role for her but when she plays someone else she just became the bland bad actress Sonija Kwok. Get her out of that mode fast!

Stupid twist in the series like as if we needed any twists at all. At least something intelligent like she didn't have memory loss. But that means she became an undercover prostitute?? Ko Wa a prostitute?! Don't tell me she sells art not body. Yeah right.

EPISODE 28
I don't think I can stand waiting days before I see the next few episodes because today's cliffhanger is shall I say, a cliffhanger. The Chinese New Year shows will disrupt the normal broadcast and the cliffhanger was just right. Did ASTRO planned this? Anyway back to the descend of Sonija Kwok...

A warning though. I am not sure it is about counterfeit coins or money laundering so I will make a supposition it is either one of these or both. You will know what I mean when I talk more on the plot.

Bak Chuen continued to buy good favours of the officers, this time Sir Chai with the help of Ko Wa... well I will refer to her as Ling Lung for now since we are not supposed to know she is Ko Wa, like that is so obvious you know. Anyway Ling Lung helped to persuade Sir Chai during a roundtable of talks and Bak Chuen bought himself the position of a 4th ranked official, with some official garb. Jun and family were happy and Bak Chuen received a congratulory gift from Ling Lung. Actually Ling Lung has already targetted him as her way out of prostitution and so she treated him very well. Bak Chuen kept going back to him again and again to confirm if she's Ko Wa or not. According to Ling Lung, she suffered from a serious illness 2 years ago and she forgotten her past and it was her mamasan who related it back to her and so Bak Chuen suspected she must be Ko Wa, constantly testing her of Ko Wa's likes and dislikes and in one short moment Ling Lung had a flashback and she almost could see herself as Ko Wa with Bak Chuen. Bak Chuen meanwhile remembered his past with Ko Wa too and so one wonders is he having a change of heart?

Jun didn't know all these, neither did Fu Yi Chek. Pause here. I wonder, was Ko Wa missing for TWO YEARS?

Anyway Sung Man paid a visit to Bak Chuen and Jun and they sat down and had a friendly talk. Jun even advised Sung Man on issues of love but to Sung Man he didn't want to talk about it. They remained close friends. Anna appeared and endeared herself to Bak Chuen and Jun with her honesty and her curiosty and they both knew she liked Sung Man. When Sung Man was alone with Anna, Anna tried to learn the culture to please Sung Man when suddenly a bunch of anti-foreigners protesters from last episode disturbed Anna and threw dirty water on her dress as she was dressed like a foreigner. Anna was upset and Sung Man saved the day.

Meanwhile Bak Chuen bought a big huge expensive mansion in Beijing and showed it off to Sir Chai who was much impressed. Pause here...

I don't think I talked about the counterfeit money in the last recap. Anyway the country was beseiged by counterfeit money or rather illegal money laundering. I am still wondering which is which but anyway it was bad and so Sung Man and Sir Chui were both investigating this matter which they believe involved some big guns.

Anyway suddenly a bunch of guys wheeled in some carts into Bak Chuen's backyard and Sir Chai panicked a bit because he knew that guy. Bak Chuen knew they knew each other and when the guards came to enquire about the missing guys and the carts, Bak Chuen helped Sir Chai by admitting they were his men, the carts were just business stuff and when one coin suddenly fell onto Bak Chuen's feet, he stood on it and concealed the truth. Sir Chai was much impressed by Bak Chuen's quick thinking. Meanwhile Sung Man saw all that happened hidden outside and now he knew Sir Chai was one of the big guns involved.

Sir Chai was grateful to Bak Chuen and happily declared "Anything you need done, tell me. I will be glad to assist you!" and Bak Chuen said "Well there is one thing. My bank has been in quite a few problems thanks to the despicable Mr Cho of Wing Hang Tai. If sir could teach Wing Hang Tai some lesson, I will be most grateful" and Sir Chai agreed to look into it.

Pause here. Did Bak Chuen seriously want to teach Mr Cho a lesson or is he trying to impress Sir Chai with his ruthlessness, that he's not that meek a person? Don't know and will probably know later. I believe Mr Cho has exhausted his own story, except I suppose he shall be the one to reveal the ultimate truth about Bak Chuen; that he's a fugitive. I suspect as much.

Anyway when Mr Chai was alone with Sung Lai, Sung Lai mentioned Ding Fung Sing and why Mr Chai was so nice to them and whether they should be wary of Bak Chuen since he knows about the money laundering and counterfeit coins. Mr Chai said "This Fan Chi Chai is cunning fellow. But he is still of some use to us. I can still remember how Ding Fung Sing under that imbecile Kiu Boon Yip refused to donate money and almost cost me my job. I will repay Ding Fung Sing ten fold for the humiliation but meanwhile Fan Chi Chai will be of great use to us. He can be our scapegoat and it is good to have the backing of a bank to help us in our counterfeit/money laundering business. When it is time, he shall take the blame for us".

Does Bak Chuen know???? Surely he does...

So one day Sir Chai went to deposit $100 into his savings account at Ding Fung Sing, he got back his savings book and it was noted as $1,000. He was very happy and so we learn the origins of how to give bribes effectively and without suspiscions. Very educational.

Meanwhile Jun walking on the streets when one day she saw Bak Chuen and Ling Lung and they looked very close as Bak Chuen held Ling Lung. Jun was very shocked because first, she thought that was Ko Wa and secondly Ko Wa was supposed to be Bak Chuen's mom in law. Jun felt faint but didn't pursue anything. At home even her maid started to wonder why Bak Chuen was always home late and when Jun asked Bak Chuen was secretive and said there were business talks. Jun knew he lied and she consulted Master Kwan and told Master Kwan to investigate. She found out Ling Lung was a famous prostitute and she followed Ling Lung who was buying a handkerchief. Jun said softly "Mother" and Ling Lung turned around and asked Jun who she was talking to and Jun said nothing and struck a casual conversation with Ling Lung when Ling Lung said "I have my eyes on a businessman. He seems like a good man and would make a good husband. I wish to give this handkerchief to him as my token of love" and Jun knew who she was talking about and was so upset she fainted.

Pause here. Ko Wa even when she lost her memory still fell for the same man! So surely Bak Chuen is the love of her life.

Anyway Jun woke up in a clinic and Ling Lung was with her. She was told by the doctor that she was pregnant and Ling Lung was thrilled for her but Jun wasn't.

At the temple Jun was feeling nauseas and fainting when she bumped into Sung Man who seems to make temples as his permanent home these days. They sat down and immediately Sung Man knew first Jun was upset about something and two, she is pregnant. Jun was surprised Sung Man knew and said "Please don't tell Chi Chai, I don't want him to know" and though Sung Man didn't know what was troubling her, he said ok. Then Jun switched topic and asked Sung Man about his relationship with Anna and said "She is good for you Sung Man. Do not let a good thing pass you by or you will regret it" and Sung Man quietly nodded. I am sure deep down he is saying "You're that good thing Jun and I have passed you by and I now regret it!" because he looked like he was suffering.

Jun went home and saw Anna who was waiting for him to join her in some festival celebration. Sung Man didn't want to go, Anna was making him go when suddenly something got cut off (yes there was this surprise editing) and so one scene Sung Man was looking one way and Anna the other and they were still talking about going or not going when cut! next scene Anna was looking at Sung Man as she felt so embarrassed at Sung Man who looked in pain as Anna suddenly said "Oh really it's ok if you don't wanna go. In fact I must go now, so ermm bye bye!!" and cheerfully or pretend cheerfully she left with Sung Man looking rather in pain. I am sure something got cut because the scene was too abrupt.

At home Anna was crying, her father asked her what was the matter and she tearfully said "Daddy, why won't Sung Man love me? What is wrong with me?" and her father cheered her up by saying she's the greatest, he was an idiot and it was his loss. Anna cheered up a bit. Hmm.... insulting your loved one will cheer one up I suppose.

Anna and her father were in a carriage when suddenly they were attacked by that same stupid gang. The relevance of this story? Probably the escalating violence against foreigners and that Anna will have to leave soon and so Sung Man must make a choice. Let me guess; if he didn't die, he will leave for France to find Anna or something like that.

Anyway, Jun was very upset. Master Kwan confronted Bak Chuen and asked him about Ling Lung and wondered if Bak Chuen was rekindling his love with Ko Wa which was overheard by Jun but Jun didn't hear how Bak Chuen and Ko Wa later became friends and such. Jun felt betrayed, that there was a secret love affaid and that her father was cheated. This was more so when she saw Bak Chuen with the handkerchief that Ling Lung bought. She refused to let him touch her and Bak Chuen wondered why and Jun answered "Let me answer it for you. That handkerchief is by Ba Ba Ha Yi Ko Wa and you're rekindling your relationship with her. How can you do that? Not only is she my mother, she is your mother in law, your benefactor's wife and how could you defile my father's memory with this affair" and Bak Chuen tried to explain but Jun shot him down and said "I know I have given you permission to marry other wives so I have not much right to say but why Ko Wa? How can you lie to me, how can you be so secretive abou this if you and Ko Wa were just friends?" and she was so upset she fainted. Later Bak Chuen was very happy to find out later she was pregnant and wondered why she didn't tell him.

Pause here. They talk as if Ling Lung is Ko Wa, and if such is the case shouldn't they inform Fu Yi Chek?

Anyway even her maid scolded Bak Chuen when Bak Chuen wondered why Jun never told him about the pregnancy. Bak Chuen then told the maid to leave very politely (I would have thrown her out for being so rude) and as he held Jun in his arms on the bed, he explained to Jun everything. So Jun knew her father knew about his relationship with Ko Wa and he explained "I suspected she is Ko Wa but I can't be sure. I didn't want to tell you and Fu Yi Chek because I wasn't sure. What if she wasn't Ko Wa? You and Fu Yi Chek have been finding her all these time, I didn't want you both to be disappointed again and again. That is why I didn't tell you both. Moreover there is an issue with scandal since if she is Ko Wa she is staying in a prostitute den and that could damage Kiu family's good name if not investigated carefully" and Jun added "Why should I believe you? Are you saying this just because I am pregnant?" and Bak Chuen said "No, I am saying this because you're my wife. I Fan Chi Chai has one wife and one wife only and that is you. I have no intention of marrying another, more so Ko Wa and she and I came to an understanding that we shall be friends and I am telling you the truth" and Jun was still not sure if Bak Chuen was sincere when Bak Chuen said seriously "I have one more thing to tell you. I am a fugitive...." and Jun looked shocked and so the episode ended here.

Arghhhhhh... climax.... cliffhanger!!! 5 days before the next few episodes which shows Jun looked like she died or something, Sung Man got shot, drama! Poor Jun!

Anyway I like Jun in here. She seems meek but she is actually quite a jealous woman as she learned to love Bak Chuen whilst Bak Chuen seems like rekindling his love for Ko Wa through Ling Lung but then he denied it. Sung Man, poor Sung Man suffering and when Jun advised him not to miss out on Anna or he will regret it, he looked at her with a pained look as if to say I missed out on you and I am regretting it.

All in all, great performances by Steven Ma and Tavia Yeung. The rest are ok except for...

Moses Chan is still wood, woody and wooden. Anything wood and he is it. One expression to rule them all. What more can I say? Same same same like his expression in the entire episode.

Sonija Kwok was shockingly terrible. I didn't even know her Ling Lung eyed Bak Chuen as husband material until she said it because most of the time she was smiling and whatever and yet not much indication on that area. Why the suspense of is she or isn't she Ko Wa? This really destroyed the credibility of this story and I find it ridiculous for this twist in the plot. And everyone who knows seems unconcerned with the fact that this woman possibly Ko Wa is NOW a prostitute. No attempt to revive her memory, no attempt to save her from her predicament. This is lazy writing.

Worst had to be Erica Yuen as Anna. Perky fine, more perkiness, ok but perky perky perky and then bad crying and then perky and then more bad crying.. that is just bad acting. I felt tortured watching her in this episode and totally understand why Sung Man wasn't into her and didn't understand how can his father pass up something as great as Jun for this well... not very bright girl who smiles like an idiot when people are talking politics, had no manners but people often mistake no manners on others' custom as being spontaneous (my foot!) and just perky happy cheerful cute. I am dying from the overload of overall niceness of this girl. No personality and this is also due to a very formulaic ABC 1,2,3 performance.

Other than that, that last words, I am a fugitive will leave me wanting more. Can't wait for the next episode.

EPISODE 29 - 32 (FINAL EPISODE)
I think I must have mis-date some episodes because according to my site, I stopped at episode 28 before the CNY holidays. It started again on Monday with 3 episodes left and according to my calculation it should be 31 episodes but in my General info page, it should have been 32 episodes! I wonder did I missed an episode, mis-date one episode or quite possibly there was only 31 episodes shown on ASTRO? I must have mis-date one but I did not miss any episode. Now I am confused. I hope I didn't confused you but whatever it may be, except for the episodes which I clearly noted that I missed them which I still list them, my episodic thoughts covered the entire series. So mis-date or otherwise, it is still as complete as I could write them. This teaches me a lesson; to just add the episodes links first!

Anyway I am combining the last 3 (in my count) or 4 (in ASTRO's count) episodes because I can't go through the torture of writing each one by one. Moreover I really did lost count.

So where was I? Oh yes, "I am a fugitive".

That was what Bak Chuen told Jun whilst they were in bed and he explained to Jun everything, with emphasis that "Father in law knew...". Jun forgave Bak Chuen and even promised to stand by him, no matter what. So to dispel all rumours, he did what he should have done from the very beginning; he introduced Jun, Fu Yi Chek, Master Kwan to Fa Ling Lung who was rather confused. She kept denying she was Ko Wa but Fu Yi Chek said "You're my sister, we have been together for a very long time, how can I be mistaken?". Well they took her to see this, see that, eat this, drink that and yet, she couldn't quite remember. But she had doubts, so she faced her mamasan and her mamasan at first denied everything but then she began to give vague threats and in the end Ling Lung knew she was Ko Wa but yet can't quite remember her past. She told her mamasan "I have earned enough for you these past few years. I can redeem myself now and be free of you!" but the mamasan said "Free of me? You can't be free of me! The money you have earned is not enough! I clothed you in the best silks, gave you the best food, the best room, the best medicine, how about all those cost? You seem to have found yourself a rich merchant. Get him to pay me $10,000 and then I may consider letting you go!" and so Ko Wa was stuck.

Pause here. Just take note this scene is of no significance. I will tell you why later.

They all took Ko Wa to see horses, she was a natural with them. When she was getting down from a horse, she fell and knocked her head. Classic cure for amnesia! Boom! She remembered everything and she remembered her intense love for Bak Chuen and decided to pretend not to remember everything and to go undercover to help Bak Chuen.

Bak Chuen was entertaining Sir Chai, he knew he kept some accounts books in some safe, and a key which opens the lock to the safe deposit in some international foreign bank. Bak Chuen wanted to get his hands on the account books and so on the day of Sir Chai's birthday, he came to congratulate him and Ko Wa came too to entertain Sir Chai although Bak Chuen never expected her. Whilst he was entertained, Bak Chuen slipped away and later so did Ko Wa. Sir Chai of course knew. I mean how can anyone not know? This had to be the stupidest and most careless spying scene ever (other than Secret of The Heart involving Ada Choi, Nick Cheung and a really huge mega camera used as a spying tool) so Sir Chai followed them. Bak Chuen couldn't find the key or whatever, Ko Wa came and tried to assist him when Sir Chai came and Bak Chuen slipped away and Ko Wa stayed back, pretended to have lost her way and said "I was just trying to find a private room to take my opium" and Sir Chai even prepared the opium fix for her and Ko Wa took the opium.

Bak Chuen thanked her and asked if she was ok after the opium fix and she said she was. I think at this point he knew that she remembered. Anyway she continued spying on Sir Chai and was taking opium and then fast asleep. Ko Wa tried to take the keys from the body of a sleeping Sir Chai but he woke up, caught her and forced open her mouth and force fed her opium! He almost killed her but I think (this I missed) Master Kwan came in time and saved her. But Ko Wa was weakened by the opium and would become very addicted.

Meanwhile Sung Man was doing investigation on his own and he wondered if Bak Chuen was involved when he made a move to arrest Bak Chuen. Sir Chai too made a move to arrest him but Sung Man came first and told Sir Chai to leave them alone since Bak Chuen told Sung Man "I have something to tell you".

Frankly I can't remember if it was Sir Chai or Sung Lai was there but I think it was Sung Lai who led the guards to arrest Bak Chuen since Mr Cheung asked Sung Lai to assist Sung Man or something like that. So I made a mistake. Sir Chai wasn't there.

Bak Chuen took Sung Man into the vault and confessed his real name was Chai Bak Chuen and his past. Sung Lai was shocked with what he heard and went back to report to Sir Chai who was now all panicking. They decided to make the first move.

Sung Man believed Bak Chuen was innocent but since Sir Chai was pushing Sung Man and gang, they all ran and they so happened to run into the French embassy and saw Anna and her father. Anna was eager to help and persuaded her father to protect them since Sir Chai can't break into the embassy and create a diplomatic problem. But Sir Chai reminded Anna's father "Are they worth the break of our diplomatic relationship?" and her father quite simply answered "That is a question you're not qualified to ask!".

Anna's father showed them a secret passage way and before they left Sung Man said thanks to Anna and they ran. Anna was very happy they were going to be fine when she saw outside the window and the guards were leaving. Immdiately she knew what was happening. "Father! How can you betray my friends?!" and he simply answered "It is a rift in a diplomatic tie that I am not prepared to sacrifice. Moreover, Sung Man never loved you, why do you protect him? Why do you still help him?" and Anna was so angry with what her father did all she could do was cry. Ya, cry. Very effective. Flood the embassy Anna with your tears!

Anyway they escaped with a very sick Ko Wa when the guards came and arrested them all. Sung Man knew Anna's father betrayed them.

Pause here.

I forgot to mention, earlier when they were escaping, the guards came to kill them all when Master Kwan valiantly told Bak Chuen to run and Master Kwan fended off a dozen guards all by himself to buy them time and he was killed in the process. Very sad.

Anyway they were about to be arrested and Sung Man faced Sir Chai and said "Fan Chi Chai is innocent of all charges. You on the other hand is guilty!" and allegations were made against Sir Chai who denied them all and was about to make a motion to kill them when suddenly an arrow was shot out and pierced through his heart and he died instantly. Guards rushed out and it was Sir Cheung who came and saved the day. He explained Anna knocked her father unconcious and came to find Sir Cheung to save Sung Man.

All was happy, all was fine. Bak Chuen faced Sir Chui who knew earlier on he may have killed an entire family of innocent people when more funds were missing from the treasury. Sir Chui was very guilty about what he did to the Chai family and sought forgiveness from Bak Cheun the sole heir but Bak Chuen forgave him.

Meanwhile Sung Lai was panicking and Sir Cheung faced him and told Sung Lai to drink a tea to calm down. But Sir Cheung put something into the tea. Sung Lai drank and Sir Cheung said "Did you nthink I do not know of your activities? After all Sir Chai worked for me and he told me everything!" and it dawned on Sung Lai that his father was the one who masterminded all the theft and such for many years and suddenly Sung Lai couldn't breath and he said "Father you ..." and Sir Cheung said "I can't go down! You will bear the accusations, you will take the blame!" and as Sung Lai lay dying, Sung Man and mother rushed in and Sir Cheung pretended to cry "Sung Laiiiiii!!! Why are you so stupid? Why must you kill yourself because of what you masterminded with Chai Ngai????" and Sung Man and mom were shocked and Sung Lai's last words as he pointed at his father were "Father...father ... you...you..." and he died.

Before the Empress Dowager, Sir Chai and Sung Lai were blamed and the Empress Dowager stripped Sir Cheung of one rank and gave Bak Chuen back his real name and family fortune as well as gave his father some title. Bak Chuen had his entire family interned with I think the Kiu family, anyway Bak Chuen was happy that he had cleared his family's good name. Sir Cheung meanwhile sought Bak Chuen's forgiveness over what Sung Lai did but secretly Sir Cheung swore to kill Bak Chuen to avenge his son's death.

Hmmm.. didn't he kill his own son?

Now all was well but Ko Wa was addicted to opium but only for a very short time since she kicked it off not long later.

Meanwhile she came back to face Mr and Mrs Cho who were promptly arrested. I assumed they would be executed since their end was not shown. Anyway in prison awaiting trial, King Yin came to visit them. To their shock, King Yin was now a monk. I think called Mo Chan, not No Dust but rather No Past or No Past Sins. Anyway they cried saying "You're our only son, how can you be a monk?". I think to their death they never repented, only King Yin repented on their behalf.

Some months passed. A voiceover said in 1900 or so, 8 nations combined to fight China. Obviously China can't win since 8 nations! Cixi had to leave the palace in a disguise and she came to Ping Yiu and decided to stay with Bak Chuen and family. They had to donate large sum of money so to help her to keep up the pretense of richness, etc. When she saw how great the foreign banks were, she suggested which means she commanded that Bak Chuen open an international bank whose rules are different from local banks. What is Bak Chuen to do? Plan lar.

One night during a performance, I think it was Tong Yuen day, Sir Cheung showed Cixi a list of performances when he slipped some poison into the bowls of tong yuen prepared by the Kiu family. Cixi was so pleased with the arrangements she betowed that bowl with poison unknowingly to Jun since I think Jun made the arrangements and Bak Chuen fed Jun. Sir Cheung's eyes widened and suddenly Jun felt faint and vomitted and her fingernails turned blue black. Sung Man immediately knew she was poisoned and everyone protected Cixi knowing there was an intruder but it was the entire Kiu family that was arrested. Sung Man was very worried about Jun who was very weak. Bak Chuen secretly met with Sir Chui and he confessed his doubts about Sir Cheung when he saw Sir Cheung had the same keys as Sir Chai and they never found the keys on Sir Chai's body so they never could open the deposit box. Sir Chui refused to believe Bak Chuen but he was more inclined to believe Bak Chuen since he caused his entire family's death. So Sir Chui arranged for Bak Chuen to leave the prison to investigate the matter when Sung Man bumped into them.

Earlier Sung Man was in the prison as he heard Jun's cries when she was giving birth. She was very weak and as she was giving birth she cried "I want my husband! Where is my husband? I want my husband!" as she begged to see Bak Chuen. Sung Man heard her gave birth to a healthy baby boy and saw her looking very weak and his face was filled with pain when he noticed her fingernails were the same as Sung Lai when Sung Lai was poisoned. He suspected the same poison was used.

Back to Sir Chui, Sung Man too confessed his suspiscion since don't know who who said he saw poison powder on Sir Cheung's clothes and how eager he was in killing Sir Chai. So they set up a trap.

Sung Man told his parents Cixi wanted to have them over for dinner and so they dressed and left. Sung Man somehow took the keys out and hid them somewhere. Bak Chuen went in the room to retrieve the keys when Sir Cheung realised he didn't have the keys with him and went back to his room and found Bak Chuen there. So accusations were flying and all when Sung Man walked in and with a pained look said to his father "Father enough. Please stop with the lies. You were the mastermind, you killed brother to pin the blame on him, I know father" and Sir Cheung looking hurt said "You are my son and you believe a stranger rather than I your own father? Take this up with the Old Buddha, she shall give me my justice!! I am a man of honour, or integrity, I shall have my name cleared of all charges!!" and so Sung Man, Bak Chuen turned to leave to see Old Buddha when Sir Cheung pulled a gun out of the pillow and Sung Man rushed to cover Bak Chuen and said "Enough father!! If you kill him, you will have to kill me first!" and Sir Cheung angrily said "I will have no regrets killing you useless son! I deliberately used very little poison on the tong yuen so that you will be arrested for attempting to assassinate the Old Buddha but who knew your wife would have taken the tong yuen? Get out of the way Sung Man" but Sung Man refused to leave and then Mrs Cheung saw what was happening and rushed into the room and begged Sir Cheung to stop with the madness but Sir Cheung refused and as he fired at Sung Man, his mother stepped in front and was shot. Sir Cheung was surprisingly surprised at what he did and as Sung Man held his dead mother tearfully I think Sir Chui arrived and arrested a shocked Sir Cheung. You must be wondering where was Bak Chuen in all these drama? Well he stood there like a log of wood, never even attempted to take the gun away from Sir Cheung.

Bak Chuen went back to prison where Jun laid dying. The poison weakened her already weakened body and she cried "I can't die now, my son, I want to see my son..." and as Bak Chuen held her she knew she was dying soon. She said to Bak Chuen tearfully "I know you married me because of father's request, you never really loved me. After I am dead, you have my blessing to marry the woman you love" and she looked weakly at Ko Wa who was I think in tears and she said "Marry the woman you love, find your happiness". I think at this point Jun truly fell in love with Bak Chuen. Anyway Bak Chuen like a log of wood said "How can you ask this of me? After being married to me for so many years, you still doubt my sincerity towards you? I Chai Bak Chuen shall have only one wife and that is you. I will never marry another, never" and Jun tearfully and weakly asked "Is this true?" and Bak Chuen said "Yes it is true" and Jun drew her last breath and died. In the rain he carried her lifeless body whilst someone carried the baby and they all walked home.

Cixi handed over Sir Cheung to the courts for prosecution and Sung Man escaped punishment because he disregarded family and arrested his own father. Bak Chuen now added another title for Jun since Cixi gave her a title.

Bak Chuen worked hard for Ding Fung Sing and was alseep when Ko Wa passed by and looked at him with much love in her eyes. She realised the time has come for a change.

Ko Wa decided to leave the Kiu family and return to Mongolia. Bak Chuen said "Even if you run away you will need to face your feelings some day" and Ko Wa said "I know but it would be better if I am not here. Time will heal all wounds and time will blunt my feelings for you" and she advised Fu Yi Chek to take good care of himself and also Yun Tin to help Bak Chuen who is now the boss and Yun Tin the 1st taukeh. Ching reminded Ko Wa to come home anytime she wants and she said "Don't worry, I will miss you all and I will return since I miss Fu Yi Chek" and so she rode her horse into the sunset.

Voiceover said that was the last they saw of her and her love story with Bak Chuen ended when she rode into the sunset.

Meanwhile Sung Man met with Bak Chuen and I think Bak Chuen offered his prayers for either Sung Man's mom or father. Anyway Sung Man met Bak Chuen's gaze and asked for Bak Chuen's forgiveness for what his father did to his family but Bak Chuen refused Sung Man's request and told Sung Man there is nothing to forgive and they were friends. Bak Chuen asked Sung Man "I heard you have resigned. I always thought it was your ambition to serve the empire" and Sung Man cynically said "What is there to serve when the leader I serve is rotten to the core and is only served by her own vanity and has no concern for her people? She is not worth my time. I realised when a leader is rotten, how can I expect her subordinate be truthful and dignified?" and Bak Chuen asked "So what are your plans now?" and Sung Man said "I shall leave for Japan. I heard there are some underground resistance there. Maybe I will meet patriotic folks such as I and learn something of use there".

So Sung Man left on a ship (which was surprisingly too modern for that time) and he was dressed smartly in western clothings when he saw Anna. He was surprised to see Anna and he told Anna "I am leaving for Japan" and then he asked "What about you?" and Anna said coyly "I am going to wherever you are going" and Sung Man smiled shyly and they looked at the sea together.

Pause here. My sis said at that time Sun Yat Sen was in Japan so most likely Sung Man will return to China with the resistance and may I venture further, he I think will die young. No resistance die of old age.

Ding Fung Sing successfully became International Ding Fung Sing Bank and in 1914, a much older Bak Chuen clad in western clothes stepped out of a expensive looking car (probably rolls royce, bentley or such) with a young man in western clothings as well and Bak Chuen adjusted the young man's tie and advised the young man "Remember to work hard my son" and that was the end as the end credits showed us the earlier scenes and some characters.

THE END.

Ok, let me venture further to speculate Ding Fung Sing will later move to Hong Kong or somewhere else and become OCBC bank? Don't know lar but speculate. Anyway one really BIG BOO-BOO apart from that too modern looking ship Sung Man was on and that Anna seems to have very limited wardrobe and that was the last scene.

I know Bak Chuen was adjusting his son's tie so that was his son, looking way older than 18. Anyway please remember he was born after 1900 since a voiceover said Cixi ran from her palace in 1900. Zoom to the future it was written 1914. I reconfirmed this with my sis and she said written there 1914. The son should be about 13 or at most 14 at that time of the last scene. So can't they find a younger actor or perhaps now show he goes to the bank for work because that is a bit too young? The timeline is all off since how can Bak Chuen look like a really old man?

And what about Ko Wa? What happened to her? What about Fu Yi Chek and gang? What about Sung Man? The entire story isn't just about Bak Chuen and Ding Fung Sing!!

And the ending, final scene I think had old Mr Kiu on a horse and the cast screaming Wui Tung Ting Ha!!! which is the title by the way and means quite literally Connected Worldwide or something like that. What a lame ending. What a stupid lame boring lazy bad anti climax bad utterly disappointing ending to what could have been a good series.

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Thanks for reading my episodic thoughts and I hope you enjoyed reading it much more than I enjoyed writing them which frankly I didn't enjoy writing them because this series just... just... aiyah!!


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