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Akita to Morioka: Across the Spine of Honshu (Japan) - Australian Girls - Beach Stalking (Umina, Australia) - Bitexco Financial Tower (Ho Chi Minh City) - Brahmin Girls (India) - Chennai (India) Real Estate - Chinatown (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) - Chinese Face Reading - Chittagong Dating (Bangladesh) - Churches of Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) - Clickable Japanese Map - Da Lat, City of Love (Vietnam) - Divorce in the Hindu Scriptures (India) - Gay and Lesbian Beaches and Resorts (Bali, Indonesia) - Get Your MBA (in Malaysia) - Hanuman, the Monkey Superman (India) - History of Drum'n'Bass (UK) - How Islamic Banks Could Save the World - Indian Jobs in Japan - Koro Penis Panic (Malaysia) - Lucky Phone Numbers (India) - Long Hau Industrial Park (Ho Chi Minh City) - Nhon Trach New City (Ho Chi Minh City) - Online Realtors - Oxley Tower (Singapore) - Pubs and Clubs and Bars (Cairns, Australia) - Phu My Hung New City (Ho Chi Minh City) - Roi Island Project (Phu Quoc) - Sell Your Old Exam Papers (India) - Singapore Girls - Twin Towers (Malaysia) - Why Are Vietnamese Landlords So Obnoxious? - Why Buy Property in Vietnam? - Why is Vietnam so Expensive? - Zen Plaza

» New Home Delivery Service Launched in Ho Chi Minh City
» Real Estate with a Social Conscience: Rich India
» Seafood Christmas in Australia (With a Cooling Japanese Heart!)
» Google Adsense Program Expands Opportunities for People in Developing Nations
» Pix Me Away: Imagining a Virtual Personal Assistant for Travel
» Culture Shock in My Own Country (but Then, is it Really My Country?)
» Two Nights in Moree: Rethinking the Grand Algorithm
» Pop Up Shops, and Art Incubators: A Brand New Way to Animate Tired Old Urban Space
» Ayr, from the Air
» Cold Air-Con, and Ethnic TV: Back on the Vagabondist Path!
» Port Douglas: Another Fake Town, in a Part of the World Which Has All too Many Real Attractions
» Rustic North Queensland Architecture: In The Streets of North Cairns
» Avoiding Those Second Third Time Blues: Round Three in Cairns
» Thailand's Secret Tourist Destinations
» Beware Petronas Job Scam
» Asian Tourism Industry Booms Despite Global Recession
» Watch Out for Travel Club Scams
» Eastwood, Sydney (Little Korean Enclave, Surrounded by the Australian Bush)
» What You Can Learn About Yourself as a Dater (By Looking at the People You Date)
» Malaysians Fail to Get into Harvard for Second Year Running
» JPA Scholarships: A Billion Ringgit Throwaway?
» Oxley Tower, a New Development in Singapore
» Improved Performance in IT/ITES Services Boosts Demand for Residential Properties (in Chennai, India)
» How to Deal with a Bad Date
» Are You Ready (For the Social Business Revolution?)
» Writer/Researcher Needed in Malaysia
» Cattle Station Hopping, in Cape York Peninsula, Queensland

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United States of Spirits

One Heaven: United States of Spirits

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CULTURE SHOCK IN THE HOMELAND: CROWDED WORLD is dedicated to revealing the true essences and hidden natures of a world quickly being conquered and converted by McCapitalism. In a sense, we live today in the Age of the Clone -- cities all over the world are being remade as clones, with McDonalds and Starbucks Coffee Houses (and Nandos) on every corner. Traditional cultures and modes have dressed are being abandoned, in favor of a global monoculture. The world is becoming smaller and less interesting at precisely the same time that record numbers of people have the ability to travel to far-flung corners of it. In this age of LONELY PLANET, how could we ever hope to recapture the exotic thrills that Marco Polo must have felt when he set off into the void? CROWDED WORLD is an attempt to recapture the thrill factor. This website shows that just beneath the modern veneer which has been thrown across the surface of the whole world, the old order still lives. All you have to do is raise your consciousness enough to see this sacred order -- the hidden exoticness of space. Travel can still be as exciting today as it was in the time of Marco Polo. You just need an open mind and a pair of open eyes!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Home Delivery Service Launched in Ho Chi Minh City

A FRIEND OF MINE HAS LAUNCHED A COOL WEBSITE FOR ORDERING FOOD FOR HOME DELIVERY IN HO CHI MINH CITY. While many restaurants do home deliveries, EatVn is the first service I know of which groups them all together, giving you access to multiple cuisines. On EatVn you don't need to make a single call, which is attractive to people like me who feel shy telephoning restaurants in foreign countries, wondering if we will get an English speaker on the other end. You don't even need to enter your credit card details either, just make your selection and wait for the goodies to arrive. When he launched the website last April, Swedish-born Palm Anders claimed to have about 20 restaurants signed up, with another 100 expected before the end of the year... (For the full story, click here.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thoughts About Being a Bridge Between East and West, North and South, and How it Relates to Traditional Chinese Medicine

WHEN I WAS LIVING IN JAPAN IN THE 00s, IN THE LATTER DAYS AT LEAST, I USED TO FEEL LIKE I WAS A BRIDGE BETWEEN THE EAST AND THE WEST, THE ORIENT AND THE OCCIDENT; ABOUT THE SAME TIME, HANGING OUT IN VIETNAM, I CAME TO VIEW MYSELF AS A CONDUIT BETWEEN THE GLOBAL SOUTH AND THE GLOBAL NORTH. In the bagua East and West are of course the two opposites, forever clashing, forever rolling upon each other... but from their dance springs the creativity of the Universe. In the eyes of Al Qaeda and the Venezulean socialists, the North is the oppressor of the South, stripping it of everything of worth... it's doubtless true, but in the process of the oppression, elements of the South are seeping out to infuse the North, and vice versa. Amit Singhal grew up in a village in India watching Star Trek on a black-and-white TV and dreaming of the future; later in life he emigrated to the United States,

Tuesday, December 26, 2012

Real Estate with a Social Conscience: Rich India

HEADQUARTERED IN KODAMBAKKAM, WITH BRANCH OFFICES IN TRICHY, KARUR, TIRUPUR, ERODE AND COIMBATORE, THE RICH INDIA HOUSING GROUP OF COMPANIES HAS SOLD 80,000 PLOTS AND SERVED MORE THAN 70,000 CUSTOMERS SINCE ITS INCEPTION IN 2004. Chief Business Officer Abhay Raj said the group has big plans for the future, not of all them revolving around the making of (lots of) money. On the contrary, Rich India seems to be genuinely interested in social welfare and social improvement, and helping the nation to reach its full potential. The company runs a charitable trust and a school, called the Civil Services Academy. This is a real estate company with a social conscience, and serves as a model example of how (aspiring) rich India can help (aspiring) poor India. As Mr Raj pointed out in an email to me recently: "Rich India Civil Services Academy provides free Training for Candidates from economically weaker section along with free food & accommodation provided at, (commenced less than a year ago, till date 149 candidates have been enrolled and are being trained by professionals), with facilities like air-conditioned Library & Training hall. (The) Rich India School at Trichy would offer Free Education to Students from economically weaker section (including orphaned children) along with free food & accommodation..." (For the full story on how Rich India is helping social development in Tamil Nadu, click here.)

Monday, December 25, 2012

Seafood Christmas in Australia (With a Cooling Japanese Heart!)

IT WAS A COLD AND RAINY CHIRSTMAS ON THE SOUTH-EAST COAST OF AUSTRALIA THIS YEAR, THE WIND OFTEN DRIVING, AND THE WET GLOOM MORE REMINISCENT OF THE LA NINA YEAR WE HAD LAST YEAR, THAN THE WANNABE EL NINO YEAR WE ARE ENDURING NOW. Of course, Australian Christmases are not meant to be cold, and in anticipation of a typical Downunder scorcher my Mum had pre-ordered a batch of seafood for lunch, to dish up as a summery alternative to the traditional roast. The plan was we would sit out under the trees by the lake (Budgewoi Lake, on the NSW Central Coast north of Sydney), drinking cold beers and pigging out on oysters, cold prawns, Balmain bug (a relative of the lobster), and other Aussie classics. My Mum probably assumed all this chilled food and drink would chill us out, both physically and figuratively. What she didn't realize, however, was that some of these foods (such as the lobster) are actually considered warming foods in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and are perhaps just as warming for the body as the more traditional Christmas turkey and baked potatoes and ham! In other words, you wouldn't necessarily get a cooling effect from eating such fare on a hot day, no matter how long they'd been kept in a fridge (according to TCM, at least!) That said, my Mum had got something right by serving up a small bowl of Japanese wakame seaweed salad, to complement the seafood. As a type of seaweed, wakame is classed as a cold yin food, and is thus perfect for summer. Like many Japanese foods, wakame has some awesome health benefits, and is packed with valuable nutrients, much more than the average vegetable. Even more astoundingly, wakame is purported to cleanse the body from toxins including radiation poisoning! Just before I left Tokyo last year, in the crazy aftermath of the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, there was a huge rush on seaweed products, everyone was stocking up on them, and it was widely believed they would help protect the thyroid gland from contamination. The ancient east Asians knew of seaweed's detoxifying powers, and made use of it in their medicine. As it turned out, Christmas Day was rainy and cold, so we didn't need any extra yin in our lunch this year. In fact, we could have done with a bit more yang! (For more on the yin/yang properties of food in TCM and how they can improve your health, click here.)

Seafood Christmas lunch in an Australian style, but with a centrepiece of cooling, detoxifying Japanese wakame salad. Picture copyright Robert Sullivan 2012.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Google Adsense Program Expands Opportunities for People in Developing Nations

ON FREQUENT TRIPS TO VIETNAM IN THE LATE 00s, I USED TO NOTICE THE HONDA ÔM GUYS SITTING ON THIER MOTORBIKES ON PRACTICALLY EVERY STREET CORNER, HUSTLING TO GET RIDES, AND WONDERED WHY THEY DIDN'T JUST SET UP BLOGS TO MAKE A LIVING INSTEAD. Granted, your average Vietnamese motorcycle taxi rider probably doesn't know much about computers and the Internet, let alone affiliate and contextual advertising! Doubtless, they would struggle with the idea that throwing stuff online (even an advertisement for their own chauffeur services) could earn them an ongoing income. So much more reliable, they probably think, just to hang out on the street all the day, hustling foreign tourists. That's real money; that's earning an honest buck! Google Adsense is not for them, then, but for the younger, more tech-savvy generations of Vietnamese, I believe it holds great potential. Those Honda ôm riders typically make a dollar for a one-kilometer trip; my old girlfriend N. used to earn US$400 a month in her job, and she was on her feet until midnight every day. US$400 a month from Adsense is more than doable, if you are prepared to work at it. And since Internet usage is booming in Vietnam, there ought to plenty of local advertisers.

Hustlers of Ho Chi Minh City. Picture copyright Robert Sullivan 2010.

Vietnam's close neighbour Cambodia is even poorer than Vietnam, one of the poorest countries in the world in fact, although it is developing fast. The Cambodian GDP is about US$1000 per capita, and the basic salary of a primary school teacher in the country is US$60 a month (I read that in the Phnom Penh Post.) For a digital nomad like myself, it would be a great place to hang out for a while, drinking iced coffees on the beach, and immersing myself in the local cultural and business scene. I'd never be able to live there as cheaply as a local, however, and for that I am a little envious. To help get into shape for my move I have been reading a number of Cambodian blogs, most notably KhmerBird, who seems to be king of the blog scene there. KhmerBird, otherwise known as Santel Phin, is the founder of 4-Hour Workweek Blogger, although his prodigious output suggests someone who works a lot longer than that! A few years ago KhmerBird proudly displayed a US$485.80 cheque from Google Adsense; I believe he is now earning enough from the program to support himself and his family. He is earning enough, in any case, to pay local writers to produce content for his site. He encourages Cambodians to join the Adsense revolution, even though ads are not currently displayed in Khmer script. "We donít have Khmer language to choose yet, I think the best way is to choose English, even your blog is written in Khmer or mix," KhmerBird advises in one post... (To read more about the Google Adsense program is expanding opportunities for people living in developing countries, click here.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pix Me Away: Imagining a Travel Personal Assistant for Travel

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Culture Shock in my Own Country (but Then, is it Really My Country?)

HAVE YOU EVER HAD AN EXPERIENCE WHICH FORCES YOU TO CONFRONT YOUR CORE BELIEFS, AND SHOCKS YOU INTO THE REALISATION THAT YOU'VE BEEN WRONG ALL THESE YEARS, NAIVE AND FOOLISHLY WRONG? Have you ever suffered culture shock not overseas where it is supposed to happen but right here at home, in your own country, in your own backyard? It was what you thought was your country, at least, but then a chance encounter on the road drives home the reality that it is not your land at all, and it belongs to somebody else. And that somebody else doesn't really appreciate your presence here, and wants you gone! This was the epiphany I had today in a bus in the Australian outback, on the way to Moree in the north of NSW, on my way to a job interview at the newspaper there. Moree is of course home to a large Aboriginal population, and has earned a bad reputation in the rest of the state for its crime and antisocial behaviour. On the other hand, Moree played a pivotal role in the Australian civil rights movement in the 1960s, it was where Australia had its own Rosa Parks moment. Thanks, Countrylink. The NSW bush was where I was born (Condobolin), enjoyed the first fruits of boyhood (Trundle), and later got my degree (Bathurst). As a matter of fact, I had also lived in Moree as a toddler, although I can't remember anything of my life ther From time to time, I felt the back of my seat bulge, as if someone was pressing his knee there. A little later on, I actually felt him breathe in my ear. My annoyance turned into anger: this was a violation of my personal space! Not, unless I changed the narrative of my life itself, rewrote the founding myth, I realised this was a kind of initiation, bitions and dreams... (For the full story on how I rethought and rewrote my Grand Algorithm while on the way to and in Moree, click here.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Two Nights in Moree, Up in Kamilaroi Country: Rethinking the Grand Algorithm

MY DAD AND I ARRIVED BACK ON THE NSW CENTRAL COAST THIS AFTERNOON, AFTER A LONG JOURNEY BY BUS AND TRAIN, AND IT IS A STRANGE FEELING BEING SURROUNDED BY CIVILISATION AGAIN, AFTER OUR TIME IN THE BUSH. You don't know how big a country is until you travel it by road, or rail (or best of all, on cycle or foot!), and Australia is certainly on the big end of the scale, and very empty; big and very empty, but nonetheless still crowded with life; crowded, in fact, with culture, history and life. We had spent two nights in Moree, up in Kamilaroi country near the Queensland border, where I had attended a job interview at the newspaper there. It was the possibility that I could soon end up living here that gave this trip its particularly intense frission, a curiosity mixed up with a lot of fear, and a certain sense of liberation. I had got to the stage in my hunt for an Australian media job that I had to accept whatever I could find, even this far from the centre, even this far out in the bush. A few years ago, living in Tokyo with its 13 million people, all its Michelin starred restaurants, art galleries, vending machines, convenience stores, amazing fashion, I would have shuddered at the prospect that my life would or could take this change in direction, landing me right back where I as an I began! That kind of future would have seemed utterly incredible, incomprehensible. The NSW bush was where I was born (Condobolin), enjoyed the first fruits of boyhood (Trundle), and later got my degree (Bathurst). As a matter of fact, I had also lived in Moree as a toddler, although I can't remember anything of my life there then. My first memory is of a house fire we suffered in Glen Innes, in the mountains to the east. Now, the Australian outback is a fine place to grow up or study, riding bushbikes through the scrub, looking for birds' eggs, or reading Baudrillard on a genteel lawn, where Andrew Denton used to play his pranks; however, after all my years living in Sydney and then Tokyo, there was no way I could return to a small town life, not in a million years. Not, unless I changed the narrative of my life itself, rewrote the founding myth, the Grand Algorithm that orchestrates my ambitions and dreams... (For the full story on how I rethought and rewrote my Grand Algorithm while on the way to and in Moree, click here.)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pop Up Shops, and Art Incubators: A Brand New Way to Animate Tired Old Urban Space

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cold Air-Con, and Ethnic TV: Back on the Vagabondist Path!


Cold air-con, and ethnic TV, at Bohemia Resort, in Cairns.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Port Douglas: Another Fake Town, in a Part of the World Which Has All too Many Real Attractions

A FEW DAYS AGO I COMMENTED HERE THAT I WAS FEELING A LITTLE JADED AFTER ARRIVING IN FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND (FNQ) FOR MY THIRD VISIT IN 18 MONTHS, AND WAS WORRIED THAT I HAD EXHAUSTED MY CAPACITY TO FIND ENTERTAINMENT AND INTEREST IN THE REGION. A little bit later, over at Google +, I noted that FNQ seemed to be suffering from a downturn in the tourist industry, a possibly permanent nosedive. Meals at the pubs seemed smaller and more generic, and free breakfasts at our resort now costed AUS$5.50 (for toast and cereal!), in an attempt to dissuade long-termers from abusing their privleges. Flimsy evidence to go upon, but I know a downturn when I smell one, or taste one! My old watering hole the Blue Sky Brewery has closed down... that's as sure a sign as any! I've read that arrivals at Cairns Internatio​nal Airport fell from a record high of 1.2 Million in 2006, to 550,000 in 2009. This year (2012/13), 750,000 arrivals are expected, thanks to the booming Chinese sector. Queensland is a state with a two-speed economy, and areas like Cairns have a skills surplus... I saw that in the Australian. Of course, talk of a tourist slump in Queensland is nothing new, and you would expect the Australian high dollar to have a dampening effect, but I think the industry's woes are more systemic, even cultural. Go to any resort or hotel in Cairns, for example, and you will get bombarded with brochures advertising activities like sky diving, bungee jumping, or even tours which combine them (dive on a reef, and then a helicopter which zoom you inland to a waiting bungee rope. That's cool and all, but I can't help but feel there is something tacky about focussing on this style of tourism, especially considering the real and untamed beauty of the environment here. There seem to be too many brochures for horse riding tours on the beach, and not enough brochures just about the beach. Do you really need to jump out of an aeroplane on the reef, to appreciate the reef? You can jump up out of planes anywhere in the world, but real coral reefs are relatively rare (and getting rarer). I can sense something depressingly Australian in this focus on the high octane, perhaps even a glimpse of the Cultural Cringe. It is the same kind of mentality which erected the Big Banana. In a part of the world which brims with real world colour and culture (indigenous, pioneer European, Asian), there is a tendency to cover it all over with fakery. That's what happened in Kuranda, and that also seems the fate to have befallen Port Douglas, the celebrated resort town north of Cairns, which I have visited today... (To read my complete post on Port Douglas, click here.)

Driving to Port Douglas from Cairns, on a Sun Palm bus.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rustic Homes & Quirky Folk: Walking in Cairns

IN MY DREAM LIFE WHICH IS PRETTY MUCH BECOMING REAL, I WOULD TRAVEL THE WORLD LIVING OFF MY ONLINE INCOME AND BASICALLY HOP FROM COOL ATTRACTION TO THE NEXT. The city of Cairns, in northern Queensland is very much an ideal candidate for me to hang out in for a couple of months, as I awaited the next boat or plane out to another haven (perhaps Port Moresby, or the Torres Straits). It is small enough not to be a rat race, but big enough to be creatively vibrant (in a fashion). It is home to all manner of strange and quirky minorites, such as resident Japanese working holidaymakers and Indian taxi drivers. There is a huge Aboriginal community in town... in fact there are about five kinds of Aborigines in town according to my Sydney buddy M Tumbers, but he was counting the Japanese as being one of them. The architecture, both in the centre of town, and on the outskirts too, is similarly quirky... (For the complete Cairns Architecture guide, click here.)

Rustic homes in the Queenslander style, raised off the ground to protect the occupants from floods, in the streets of North Cairns, in Australia.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Avoiding Those Second Third Time Around Blues: Round Three in Cairns

I JUST HIT THE GROUND IN CAIRNS, NORTH QUEENSLAND, AND ONCE AGAIN AM STAYING AT THE BOHEMIA RESORT WITH MY FATHER. This is actually the third time I have been to Cairns in the past 18 months, and the town has become a kind of north pole or home away from home during this current spell in Australia (a spell which will expire, I expect, in early 2014.) Cairns was the place I fled to like a refugee, after the great Tohoku Earthquake rattled me out of my 10-year slumber in Japan, and propelled me on to the path of True Vagabondism. It was a reintroduction to the land of my birth, and a refresher course in Australian culture (loud dance and rock music, guys with their shirts off, strangers saying "G'Day" to you heartily on the street). Such a different world to the one I had left behind in the Land of the Rising Sun, just a couple of aftershocks earlier! I was only in town for half the morning and half the afternoon, but the town exerted a profound effect on me. About four months later I was back again, this time with my Dad, who wanted to winter here and check out some birds... we ended up staying nearly five weeks! My online income was booming at the time, and I thought this long tropical adventure was just a taste of the global Vagabondist wanderings which awaited me, once I had repaid my debts: this was the template for how I wanted to live my life, a Digital Nomad travelling from Paradise to Utopia! Cairns was the place in which I dreamt up the One World Orbit, the ongoing blueprint and mission statement for this website (and my life). I walked around town, looked up at Aboriginal art galleries, drank in the bars and clubs every night, and imagined that one day soon I would be able to support myself financially just from writing about these experiences. Carried aloft around the world, by the winds of online income! It was an idealistic dream; the weather changed, the winds changed direction, and I met a big reality check, about two months later, while I was living with my parents down in NSW. My online earnings slumped, and have not yet recovered. Ma, iya, as they would say in Japan... shou ga nai!. The show will go on, and I will make the Orbit happen, one way or another. That so much is beyond doubt. What is in doubt, however, and this is what it struck me shortly after arriving in Cairns today with my father... can this town wow me for a third time? It wasn't my choice to be here, and I am spending money that could be going for my ticket to Cambodia in 2014, or entrance fees to Angkor Wat. Much as I loved this place last year, I fear I am pushing my luck, in expecting to deliver life changing magic three times in a row. In any case, at least I am back in the tropics!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Thailand's Secret Tourist Destinations

UK-BASED TRAVEL WRITER LIV RABAN HAS WRITTEN A SECOND GUEST POST FOR ME, THIS TIME ON THE SECRET TOURIST DESTINATIONS OF THAILAND. "Although Thailand is a vast, magical haven for tourists," Raban writes in her latest piece, "it seems that we only ever hear about the same places: the bustling city of Bangkok, the jungles tours of Chiang Mai and the southern Islands famous for their Full Moon Parties. Many backpackers want to experience something new Ė something slightly off the usual tourist trail..." (For an introduction to some of the secret tourist destinations in Thailand, click here.)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Beware Petronas Job Scam

I OFTEN RECEIVE RESUMES FROM INDIANS, PAKISTANIS AND RESIDENTS OF THE MIDDLE EAST LOOKING FOR WORK IN MALAYSIA. Sometimes I get emails asking for advice on the job market there, but since I am not Malaysian, it is hard for me to provide a constructive reply. I have seriously considered working in the country, however, and have enough experience to know that not every offer is as golden as it appears. It was with interest, therefore, that I read this email recently from a certain T.M., from India. T.M. seems to be the latest victim of a malicious Malaysian scam currently doing the rounds. The Indian gentleman wrote: "I want to work in Malaysia with my prestige and dignity.At present I have got the opportunity from Petroliam nasional berhad(petronas) if possible please help me by providing information,whether this company is real or fake.They claiming that they will provide me 189200$ per month and for that I have to pay there travel agent GRANDLOTUS TRAVELING AGENCY MALAYSIA... Please help me by giving me the proper information regarding there intention..." (For the full story on the Petronas job email scam, click here.)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Asian Tourism Industry Booms Despite Global Recession

LIV RABAN, A UK TRAVEL AND BUSINESS WRITER, WAS KIND ENOUGH TO WRITE FOR ME A GUEST POST ON THE ON GOING BOOM IN THE ASIAN TOURISM INDUSTRY. Raban writes: "Last week came bearing good news for the Asia-Pacific travel industry. The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) announced on Thursday that in the space of just one year, the number of international arrivals into Asia-Pacific destinations had increased by 10 per cent. This is a huge climb in such a short space of time, especially at a time when so many visitor countries are facing increased financial hardship and austerity measures..." (For the full story on the Asian tourism boom, click here.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Watch Out for Travel Club Scams

EMILY GREEN FROM COPY FOR BYLINES WAS KIND ENOUGH TO WRITE FOR ME A GUEST POST ON THE DANGER OF TRAVEL CLUB SCAMS. Since I am an inverterate deal seeker and also a little paranoid, I felt compelled to publish the piece! Green writes: "Vacations can cost a pretty penny. Nowadays many companies offer promotions and travel deals that allow vacationers to catch a deal on a trip. This comes in handy whether you're looking to save money on a hotel, a cruise, a honeymoon or getaway, or even if you're looking to save some dough on business travel..." (For the full story on how you can avoid being scammed, click here.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Eastwood, Sydney, NSW (A Little Piece of Korea, Surrounded by the Australian Bush)

AT THE WEEKEND I WAS AT MY BROTHER'S HOUSE IN EPPING IN NORTH-WEST SYDNEY, AT A REMISSION PARTY, WHEN I TOLD MY BROTHER'S PART-CHINESE NEIGHBOUR THAT I HAD JUST COMPLETED A 10-YEAR LIFE IN JAPAN. The neighbour asked me if I missed Japan, and I said I surely did. "You should go to Eastwood, then; it's just down the road," he replied, a gleam in his eye. "It's like Chinatown, except it's full of Koreans. It might remind you of Japan... people eating and shopping for good Asian food." A few days later, reading Murdoch's local rags, I discovered that Eastwood's Rowe Street and Railway Parade were listed among Sydney's "ethnic eat streets", suburbs which the NSW Government wanted to exploit to promote international food tourism. Since I have always been a fan and promoter of ethnic enclaves, I knew I had to go down there, and check it out. The next day, I was in Eastwood... (For the full story on what I discovered, click here.)

Korean hangul and Chinese signs line the mid morning streets of Eastwood, in Sydney's north-west.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What You Can Learn About Yourself as a Dater (By Looking at the People You Date)

ANDY BURKE FROM WOMEN DATING MEN WAS KIND ENOUGH TO WRITE A GUEST POST FOR ME, ON HOW TO BECOME A BETTER DATER BY STUDYING PAST MISTAKES. Burke writes: "If you're blaming everyone but yourself for your dating failures, it's time to take an internal look at why your love life is going awry. Instead of putting the blame on your dates, take these tips on what you can do to improve your dating life by some simple self-reflection..." (For the full story on what you can learn about yourself as a dater by looking at the people you date, click here.)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Malaysians Fail to Get into Harvard for Second Year Running

DESPITE RECORD RESULTS IN THE LOCAL SIJIL PELAJARAN MALAYSIA (SPM) EXAMS, MALAYSIAN STUDENTS HAVE FAILED TO GAIN ADMISSION INTO THE WORLD'S MOST PRESTIGIOUS UNIVERISTY, THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER REPORTED TODAY. Harvard Universityís selection panel chief for Malaysia, Datuk Dr Goh Cheng Teik, said that not only did no Malaysian student receive an offer letter to attend the prestigious institution, none were apparently even good enough to make it to the interview rounds.

"This comes after a controversy erupted over the quality of Malaysian education when Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin pointed to a World Economic Forum report to claim that Malaysians had a higher standard of education compared to that in some advanced countries," the Insider's Lee Wei Lian wrote. "Opposition lawmaker Tony Pua rubbished Muhyiddin's claims, pointing to another international study -- the PISA 2009+ -- that showed Malaysian students lagged far behind western nations in terms of literacy, mathematics and scientific understanding..." (For a further insight into Malaysian education and universities, click here.)

Sunday, April 7, 2012

JPA Scholarships: A Billion Ringgit Throwaway?

WITH APPLICATIONS FOR JPA SCHOLARSHIPS OPENING TOMORROW, LOYARBUROK HAS PUBLISHED A TIMELY ARTICLE CRITICISING THE METHOD BY WHICH SCHOLARSHIPS ARE AWARDED. "Whoever rules the Government in future, itís imperative that JPAís overseas scholarship policy be revised," concludes the article's author, Hafidzi Razali. "Straight Aís in SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) alone donít equate to the excellence deserving of golden (yes, itís that expensive) opportunities abroad. Overseas institutions too, arenít necessarily exceptional just because theyíre located in the US or UK where hallowed institutions like Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford are found. More importantly, a more refined approach will ensure meritocracy at its best, while improving the standard of our local institutions with billions saved as well as a better pool of students to choose from..." (For more news on Malaysian education and scholarships, click here.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Oxley Tower, a New Development in Singapore

I GOT AN EMAIL FROM A GENTLEMAN CALLED WILLIAM CHOO THE OTHER DAY REGARDING A NEW DEVELOPMENT IN SINGAPORE, THE OXLEY TOWER. While not strictly Vietnam related, I thought it was still relevant to this blog, as it kind of illustrated, once again, that Asia is where it is at when it comes to high rise towers. Over in Tokyo, where I used to live, looms the Sky Tree. Singapore has its share of great towers too. "Conveniently located within walking distance of Tanjong Pagar and Raffles Place MRTs," Choo's email read, "Oxley Tower is a dream come true for professionals seeking a cosmopolitan lifestyle right in the heart of the CBD. The stunning 32-storey office/shopping commercial development consists of a 3-storey podium, 29 Storey Tower and three Basement Car Parks. Business owners can have quick access to their offices, supplies, vendors, partners; as well as F&B, entertainment joints and top-notch recreational haunts such as Clarke Quay and Marina Bay Sands. One can also commute conveniently via major expressways like the CTE, KPE & ECP, which are just round the bend... (For the full story about Oxley Tower in Singapore, click here.)

The Oxley Tower rises from the streets and suburbs of inner Singapore.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Improved Performance in IT/ITES Services Boosts Demand for Residential Properties (in Chennai, India)

INCREASED JOB SECURITY IN THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT) AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ENABLED SERVCIES (ITES) ARE LIKELY TO HELP SPUR DEMAND FOR RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES IN CHENNAI, ACCORDING TO LOCAL MEDIA REPORTS. Property sales in Chennai rose in the final quarter of 2011 on increased buyer interest, a trend that was followed in most Indian metros. Over the past year (2011), by contrast, residential sales in Mumbai dropped by 28 per cent. Interestingly, the preferred size for 3BHK apartments has also increased since the end of the recession. Jones Lang LaSalle India's residential services head for Chennai, Siva Krishnan, claims this is down to an improvement in the performance of IT and ITES industries. "Over the last 12 months, it has become increasingly evident that Chennaiís residential real estate market is significantly dependent on the IT/ITES sectors," Mr Krishnan told City Express last month. "With employment stability in these sectors looking a lot better now than it did in 2010, demand for homes has now reached a comfortable and dependable growth trajectory from which developers are taking their market cues." (For more on the Chennai real estate market, click here.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How to Deal with a Bad Date

ERICA St. CLAIRE FROM CATHOLIC SINGLES DATING SITES WAS KIND ENOUGH TO WRITE FOR ME A GUEST POST ON THE SUBJECT OF BAD DATES, AND IT IS APPROPRIATE FOR ME TO PUBLISH THE POST TODAY, WHICH IS OF COURSE SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY. "If you're single and in the process of dating, you might have enough bad dates under your belt to write a horror story - or maybe even a series," the article reads. "And sure, bad dates are expected to happen from time to time... but when they do, there's no doubt that they leave you feeling awkward, disappointed and maybe even questioning the entire human race as you swear never to go on another date again. So the next time that you're on a date that would be described just about as far away from 'good' as possible, be sure to keep the following tips in mind for dealing with it..." (For the full story, click here.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Are You Ready (For the Social Business Revolution?)

COMPANIES AND ORGANIZATIONS WILL BE INCREASINGLY FORCED TO EMBRACE SOCIAL BUSINESS AND IMPORT THE 'WISDOM OF THE CROWDS' INTO THEIR INTERNAL OPERATIONS AFTER IBM'S LANDMARK LOTUSPHERE 2012 CONFERENCE, HELD LAST MONTH, RADICALLY LOWERED THE BARRIERS TO ADOPTING COLLABORATIVE TECHNOLOGIES. While social media has become the buzz term of the year, it makes sense that no enterprise can succeed socially unless it becomes a social business internally. A survey conducted by IBM last year found that, indeed, most companies were failing in their social media strategies. But as Gartner analysts have pointed out: "By 2014, refusing to communicate with customers via social channels will be as harmful as ignoring emails or phone calls is today..." (For the full social business story, click here.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Full Time Writer/Researcher Needed in Malaysia

  • a) Malaysia's top CEO and their success stories.
  • b) Malaysia's Top Brand success stories, philosophy.
  • c) Industry competitiveness Report.
  • d) Highlights of corporate growth.
  • e) Business premise special report.
  • f) Issues in malaysia's supply chain management
"Report will be published as columns /articles/special report in Malaysian newspapers and Blog." (For more details about this job, click here.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cattle Station Hopping, in Cape York Peninsula, Queensland

By Robert Sullivan. Contact me by email: Visit my profile.  
phone: (0422) 204-477 (AUSTRALIA)

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