.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Pil Seung

Location: Penang, Malaysia

January 27, 2008

Supply, demand, and job security

The basic concept of supply-demand is always "if there is demand, there will always be supply". So, demand comes first. When the demand is more than supply, either price will go up or supply will increase to balance up the demand. Think about a job that requires some kind of skill.

When the innovative Sony created the very first Walkman at that time, nobody actually needed to listen to music while they are on the go. Sony hired many people, or models, to wear the Walkman and walk along the streets in New York. So, this launched some kind of iconic culture or some craze for youngsters to catch up with the fashion thus, the demand suddenly existed.

India has one of the worst traffic in the world. There are basically no rules on the road but there are exceptions though, which I will mention later. The road is full of cars, taxis, buses, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, and the infamous three-wheel auto rickshaw (pronounced as something like Atol by the locals, i.e. the Indian accent for auto). To add on to the complexity, there are also tricycles, bullock carts, horse carriages, pedestrians etc. They all share the same road.

By the way, don't be distracted by people urinating by the road side, beggars knocking on car windows asking for money, and even children performing acrobatic act at the traffic light junction!

Depending on which city you are in, there will also be constant honking. I would suggest Fear Factor to organize a competition on driving in India rather than the standard "yucky factor" with insects or stinking stuffs.

If you are Indians and you can drive, I am sure you are used to it already and that shouldn't be an issue. Now, if you are a foreigner and you need to go place in India, please forget about the buses. It is always packed like sardines in a can. So, the alternatives will be either taxi of atol. This is what I and actually referring to the demand. You always need their service! If you can afford it every time, taxi is always the best choice. If you are on budget, then the atol guy will be the next best bet. They will take you go anywhere like there is no tomorrow. Sometimes, the felling is like they are fighting for you with their life. Damn it, don’t forget that we are in the same atol!!!

To my surprise, the only exceptions to the bad traffic is that everyone stops at the traffic light. Whereas in China, people will only stop at the instruction of a traffic cop. Traffic lights in China are "for reference only".

You can call this Indian traffic a chicken-and-egg problem. The bad traffic situation first, or atol first? Maybe, I need to drive an atol first in order to answer that question. So, supply and demand is always there. How about job security?

In the US, cheaper is always a factor, and that's why 90% of the stuffs in Target or Fred Meyer are labeled "Made in China". In countries like Japan, talking about importing rice is something taboo. Yes, the protect the local rice farmer very well. Rice outside of Japan is much, much cheaper. However, importing rice is not an option except some Thai fragrant rice for dogs. I am not exaggerating, a Japanese told us last time. Again, don’t blame him, he his from a different culture. If he understands our culture too well, then we will not learn anything new. I just illustrate this for contrast purposes.

So, for the case of atol driver in India, you can't take their job away even if they let you do so. You will crash into someone at least 5 times in an hour... hahaha. These Indian drivers are so skillful that the deserve to keep their job! There is no incentives for you to compete with them. You have to experience it as the first person especially navigating through the rush hour in the morning.

January 26, 2008


I am travelling again today, but this time I am going to the most boring city in the world. It sounds like a little exaggeration but so far among all the other places I have been this is one of the places which "you can't do much".

Welcome to Chennai! The capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, India. I had been to Chennai twice and this will be my third time. In my last trip, I met a guy from Latvia who had been there for many times. He works for a Finnish company and he is setting up the first Indian branch office for his company. Coincidently, we went to the hotel restaurant at almost the same time every night and that at least, provided us with someone to talk to. Hahaha… no Brokeback Mountain, OK?

As a new guy there, I asked him about places to visit, nightlife, etc. Guess the answer? "The best place to go in your own hotel room". Yes, that's true though. "Everything" in Chennai has to be closed at 11:00 pm. Yes! Damn it, I thought 11:00 pm should be the starting time? Lights at watering holes will be turned on at eleven sharp, and that is it. Time is up, pay your bill and go home.

Since you can't change the law, so you change yourself then. Ok, I went to the bar and the pub at 8:00 pm. To my horror, pubs and bars look like places for gays to hang out. These half and fully drunk Indian males smoke, drink, and talk crap there. Music sucks, the deejay sucks, and I don’t think they heard of live band. Well, I know that you might not in favour of getting someone to fuck for the night, but at least, there ought to be some girls around right? No! Customers are 101% male, waiters, bartenders, etc. are 101% male. So, forget about washing eyes at all. No "pang-puah-liap" breasts for you to examine. Take your own Penthouse magazine along.

As a consolation, depending on the hotel you are in, you are provided with crappy internet access. During my first trip, I stayed at Taj Connemara, a 5-star hotel with "British flavour". The provided wifi access and it took me 15 minutes each time to get my laptop connected. Anyway, once you have connected to the internet, Skype voice chat is not a problem at all.

However, during my last trip, I stayed at Green Park. I bet this fucking hotel is definitely not a five star, maybe not even a four star. The so-called FREE internet access is damn fucking crappy. The maximum bandwidth you can get is 200 kbps, which is also inconsistent. So, forget it if you plan to watch some movies using peer-to-peer video streaming software like TVkoo! or http://www.vttv.com.my/.

With that kind of bandwidth, to my horror, talking on Skype is like using your cell phone inside an elevator with no additional antenna. You keep being cut off, significant delay, strong echo, the other party has to keep shouting "Hello", and much, much more. People said I am talking in the mud. Tew niamah! That's enough. No more next time, low fool dew high yard bye gore! (in Cantonese, go figure it out yourself) … hahaha.

Oh yeah, I almost forget to mention that if you are downloading something, they will "throttle" you down to at low as 2 kbps. I went down to the front desk and offer them money for broadband (don’t misunderstand, I am not bribing them). "Excuse me, do you all provide high bandwidth broadband? I want to pay for that." Even if I am not on business trip, I am willing to pay.

After reading books about India and its culture, the response I got was, "Sir, our broadband is free of charge. Just plug in the network connector to your laptop. You don’t have to pay anything". Look, the speed is down to 2 kbps now, I don’t think that is usable. "Oh sir, we are having network problem and IT department is working on it." Alright, time to go to bed then…

Yeah, talking about Green Park, they are really "green", I guess. The lights in the bathroom / toilet is damn dim. If I recalled correctly, there is only 3 units of 5W compact fluorescence lamps. This spoilt my hobby, reading. Ah, reading in the toilet? You need some reading materials to do your business, don’t you?

There are more stupid stories about Chennai to go, but I think this entry is getting too long. Gotta go now. Poitu wahrenggeh. Naandri!

January 25, 2008

Thanks for the date!

When you travel, you have stories to tell. Travelling gives me some kind of satisfaction where you can break away from daily routine. Of course, you get to meet a lot of people, and sometimes become friends.

One interesting thing about meeting people while travelling is that you feel some extra bonds or connections just mainly due to the fact that you are from the same country and understand each other better. This is just my opinion anyway.

Before coming to my own stories, let me share something I saw. On the hotel shuttle to and from the airport, I saw an Asian guy with an American wife. When the door shut, the shuttle driver asked which airlines that we gonna take. That guy said, "Korean Air". Suddenly there was an elder lady mumbled something in Korean to that guy, and then, anyong haseyo, anyong haseyo… and they chatted until they went into the airport before bowing to each other goodbye.

I think most travelers also experience the same thing. While in our own country, we might not be that close, but once you go out of the country, you can become very good friends immediately. Actually, I am not much into this because I make a many local friends when I am travelling. This will be more fun, I think.

Anyway, before boarding the flight in Taiwan, I notice a girl travelling alone. Sometimes it is a bit tough to differentiate east Asians. I can singled out Japanese and Korean, but not differentiating between the two. That girl looks to me like Taiwanese.

When we arrived at the airport and cleared all the immigration and customs, we went out to wait for the shuttle. She asked me questions and then I realized she is a fellow Malaysian. So, we became instant friends. Coincidently, she was going to the same state I was going as well and that was great, I think because I don’t have to go eating and shopping alone.

So, we when we reached the next day, we went for pho (Vietnamese beef noodle) straight away. Then, shopping, period. Shopping is always great in the US and Americans friends always curious about what we buy in the US in such a short time? Hehehe… that will be another blog entry in the future. Finally, we went to get some groceries. That was fun. I am pretty dull at times and thanks, she was a good conversationalist. I also got to know that she just got married for a month. Congratulations!

We went for more shopping the next day. Woman is woman. She really can shop!

I told my wife and a few close friends about this "encounter". One thing that naturally comes to many people's mind is that, you fucked her or not? Damn it! Ah, I am not interested in fucking others people's wife la… come on. I always remember the wise man word, "don’t shit in your own backyard", i.e. don’t fuck your colleague, go fuck someone "faraway" la…

My Japanese friends even taught me things like "cincin wa kayui", "ippatsu yarasete…" Hahaha… but that is applicable to yappun-mui (Japanese girls) only. Maybe I look like a ham-sap-low (pervert)… niamah!

The more fun thing I did later in the week was with my lau-peng-yiu (old friend), Juliet Delta Lima. This time Mrs. Lima, Alpha Lima was also present. The just got married a few months ago on 9-8-7. Congratulations! Thanks for the hospitality and all the good food and wine.

To my new found friend, thanks for the company! Take care!

January 20, 2008

Who is the first prime minister of Malaysia?

I have been travelling pretty heavily recently. Heavy in the sense of frequency and in the context of my current circle of friends and colleagues. Travelling is always something that of interest to me when it comes to seeing things as the first person, real time. Yeah, not forgetting to mention, it is interactive.

I was in Oregon again after more than 2 years break. I am blogging this at the Tom Bradley International Airport, Los Angeles (LAX) right at this moment. The waiting time today is exceptionally long, with at least another hour to go.

When I reached this airport last week, as usual, there were long queues at the immigration counters. When my turn came, I was greeted by the immigration offcier, "Hey, you are from Malaysia, huh?". "Yeah, right, all the way from Penang", I said. The conversation went on like this,

Officer: Let me ask you some questions about Malaysia.

Me: OK, sure. (I thought, well, shoot, it can't be too hard)

Officer: Who is the first prime minister of Malaysia?

Me: Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Officer: Are you sure?

Me: Of course.

Officer: That's correct! This is too easy for you. Here comes the harder one. What was Malaysia biggest mistake?

Me: Err, wow! Well, I will try. Could it be that we "gave away" Singapore back in 1965? Or, do you mean the current policy?

Officer: Right, you know what, Malaysia should not had given away Singapore . Back then, if Malaysia asked Singapore to sign an agreement to give 3% of its revenue to Malaysia as a condition for independence, I am sure Singapore will agree to that. Maybe not forever, but like a term of 100 years... Or, you know, like Hong Kong, it is a lease to the British and must be returned, not giving away just like that...

We chatted for quite a while, we joked and laughed, while many other counters were moving. I was still "stuck" there, but of course, not a negative one. Later, some fellow Malaysians asked me what we were "discussing". It seemed very long to them and they thought I might be subject to special registration and interview. I didn't since I came here many times before September 11, 2001.

Later, this officer told me that he was an ex-CIA agent based in Johor Bahru during the 60s. No wonder he knows that much. He knows much more than I do. It always amaze me that there are all kind of people around the world like CIA agents who might just live next door to you. Well, I believe him. Thank you, sir. I am heading home now and hopefully, we will meet again in my next trip to the US in the very near future.