Friday, August 21, 2009

So long and thanks for all the fish

Some last minute packing, as usual. Tomorrow I'm to return the company computer, mailing a formidable parcel of my belongings home (surface mail is cheap), then it's time to go to the airport.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Personal high score

Purchases made today:
  • 5 long sleeved shirts from Marks & Spencer1, 425 RMB
  • 10 pairs of briefs from Uniqlo, 345 RMB
  • 20 pairs of socks from Carrefour: 42 RMB


1. Marks & Spencer opened their China flagship store in Shanghai late last year, and made some opening blunders, including insufficient stock (due to goods being detained at customs) and suboptimal product spread. They also seemed not to realise that many Chinese men tend not to wear long sleeved shirts to work, preferring short sleeved shirts or polo tees. The result- deep discounts on their stock of long sleeved shirts, with prices starting at 69 RMB each.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Honey I'm home!

Yesterday, I heard that there was an urgent opening to be filled in the Malaysian office. In the evening, I called the boss to check on the situation and to ask if I can transfer over.

Yes no problem.

This morning I found out that “urgent” means “start on August 24th.” Oh shit, I’ve only one weekend to stock up on cheap clothes, mail my excess luggage by surface mail, put my financial affairs in order, arrange my air ticket, finish reading Gone With the Wind1 and pack.

I’m going home!

Yet I’m a little nervous. I have not lived in the Klang Valley for more than 6 years. I don’t really know my way around town, there’s this need to get used to traffic jams and toll charges and parking charges.

It’s a bit like moving to Kyoto, except I don’t have a bomb proof excuse when someone gives me a wtf stare because I asked where is The Gardens. And I’m going home.

Having stayed alone for some years has made me used to doing things to my own terms. What time to eat, how clean to keep my room, if I want a proper meal or just chocolate biscuits for dinner, what time to wake up…

Anyway, I’m going home and it’s going to be yet another new world.


1. The landlord’s bookcase contained an almost mint copy of Gone With the Wind, printed in 1980. Here’s one of many fantastic paragraphs:

It had begun to dawn on him, that this sweet pretty little head was a ‘good head for numbers.’ In fact, a much better one than his own, and the knowledge was disquieting. He was thunderstruck to discover that she could swiftly add a long column of figures in her head when he needed a pencil and paper for more than three figures. And fractions presented no difficulties to her at all. He felt there was something unbecoming about a woman understanding fractions and business matters and he believed that, should a woman be so unfortunate as to have such unladylike comprehension, she should pretend not to. Now he disliked talking business with her as much as he enjoyed it before they were married. Then he had thought it all beyond her mental grasp and it had been pleasant to explain tings to her. Now he saw that she understood entirely too well and he felt the usual masculine indignation at the duplicity of women. Added to it was the usual masculine disillusionment in discovering that a woman has a brain.

"Gone With The Wind", Mitchell, 1936


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Master of Nets Garden, Suzhou

One of the smaller of gardens in Suzhou, the Master of Nets Garden benefits for a lower entry fee and best of all, is almost entirely overlooked by the busloads of tour groups.

Unlike the case in larger and better known attractions, this garden actually allows visitors to wander about in peace.

Much of the area is subdivided into rooms, courtyards, pavilions, gardens, walkways and airwells, interconnected with narrow doorways or screened openings/windows. It’s quite amazingly laid out. As one rounds a corner and enters a doorway, the scene changes surprisingly from a stern looking, wide open stone-paved courtyard into a cosy airwell with leafy palms and prickly pines.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Humble Administrator's Garden, Suzhou

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working in Suzhou on a particularly nasty engagement. As it’s just 40 minutes away from Shanghai by fast train, I usually return to Shanghai for the weekends to tend to my little fashion boutique.

This weekend, however, I decided to stay around and look at one of the many famed gardens around town. These ancient gardens were mostly the playthings of some wealthy character or other, and have intricate use and separation of spaces. Very architecturally pleasing – a comment which is mostly untrue for modern Chinese constructions.

I was at the Humble Administrator’s Garden. Was beautiful, though the crowd somewhat detracted one’s appreciation of space by filling most of it with bodies and loud chatter.

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One of the many bodies of water within the garden, with a covered walkway along one side.

These ladies were posing on the walkway for another camera next to me. I happened to have the 135mm lens on at that time and managed to squeeze off a shot before the scene melted.

A tree in a courtyard

A tree with a vagina

*prods at map with pudgy finger*
“we are here, and that building over there is this. To get out we need to go this way.”
*Drags pudgy finger along map*

After 9000 pudgy finger-prods the map fades, leaving a gaping white hole in place of the red “you are here” dot.

Elaborately framed openings are a common feature here. Most, if not all, are unique designs.

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In the afternoon, it started raining. I hoped the rain would drive some of the visitors away, but most were well prepared.

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