Crowded World, Australia


» Seafood Christmas in Australia (With a Cooling Japanese Heart!)
» Pop Up Shops, and Art Incubators: A New Way to Utilize Urban Space
» Ayr, from the Air
» 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?)
» Cattle Station Hopping, in Cape York Peninsula, Queensland

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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.

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 New Way to Utilize Urban Space


Friday, August 31, 2012

Ayr, from the Air


THE LITTLE TOWN OF AYR AND ITS DISTINCTIVE PENINSULA, VIEWED FROM OUR QANTAS FLIGHT YESTERDAY HOME FROM CAIRNS, TO SYDNEY.

Ayr, seen from the air.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

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


SOMETHING ABOUT A ROOM WITH COLD AIR-CON, AND ETHNIC PROGRAMMING ON TV, WHICH MAKES ME FEEL LIKE I AM VAGABONDING... BACK ON THE VAGABONDIST PATH!

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

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 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!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

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

Crowded World


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.

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?


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.)

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.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Are You Ready (For the Social Business Revolution?)

Naff names are dime a dozen when it comes to Asian urban developments (hell, I fled Japan partly to escape this kind of crap!); overlook the name, however, and EverRich II promises to be an exciting development. Even more exciting than the EverRich I! Architecturally, EverRich II is envisaged as a looped wave or Mobius strip (some might say it looks like rollercoaster.) Inside the loop, a green courtyard is supposed to evoke a tropical rainforest. When completed it will comprise 41 storeys and 4500 high-end condos. Inside, there will be everything from a school to a basketball court and a supermarket. See this SkyscraperPage forum for pictures and comments. Construction should be completed by 2014.



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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 Full Time Writer/Researcher Needed in Malaysia


I RECEIVED AN EMAIL YESTERDAY FROM A MALAYSIAN GENTLEMAN WHO SAID HE IS LOOKING FOR EXTRAPRIATES TO WORK AS FULL-TIME WRITERS/RESEARCHERS. The email read: "Researcher and writer is n
  • 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



    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.)

    Sunday, December 11, 2011 7 Online Dating Mistakes That Could Break Your Heart Bank


    CINDY McDONALD FROM BEST CHRISTIAN DATING SITES KINDLY WROTE A GUEST POST FOR ME ON THE PITFALLS OF ONLINE DATING. "If youíre single and looking for love or companionship online in this day in age... itís no secret that it can be tough out there," the article reads. "And because of the dangers hiding behind every '.com,' not only do you have to protect your fragile heart from being broken, but you also have to protect your wallet from being robbed. So before you take to the dating scene on the web, it is essential to educate yourself on the various mistakes that could leave you loveless and penniless. Check out the following financial pitfalls in online dating and tips for avoiding them in your quest for a cyber-relationship:... (For the full 7 Online Dating Mistakes That Could Break Your Heart Bank story, click here.)
    Sunday, December 4, 2011 Feedback: From an Expat Living in Phuket

    I GOT SOME EMAILS RECENTLY FROM AN EXPAT LIVING IN PHUKET, AND IT SEEMS FROM THE TONE OF HIS WRITING THAT NOT ALL RESIDENTS OF THE RESORT ARE APPRECIATIVE OF THE RECENT RUSSIAN INVASION. "Most of us retired here do not liked being swamped by Russian or for that matter any tourist group that comes here that sticks to together in groups and overwhelms beaches, hotels or specific tours," wrote the expat. "At times you might thing you are in Odessa at some Phuket beaches surrounded on all sides by boisterous and uncommunicative Russian, (their English or other language skills minimal?")... (For the full Feedback from an Expat story, click here.)

    Monday, November 15, 2011

    Safe Dating

    I READ AN ARTICLE ON THE INTERNET RECENTLY (NOVEMBER 2011) CLAIMING THAT WOMEN CAN TELL IF YOU ARE UGLY OR ATTRACTIVE, MERELY BY READING YOUR PROFILE ONLINE. They say women are more intuitive than men; maybe they can pick up on clues, like your choice of words. As Australia's Herald Sun rereported yesterday (November 14): "A study to be released by psychologist Rebecca Brand from the Villanova University in Philadelphia found more attractive men were able to portray their level of sex-appeal in their self-description." Which makes sense to me; sexy guys are more likely to be confident in everything they do, including their online banter. And nine-tenths of sex appeal is confidence. Confidence is one thing, however, con artistry is another; it would be foolish to believe everything you read on the Internet. Best Black Dating Sites is an African-American organisation committed to safe dating on the Internet, and regularly reviews hundreds of online black dating sites to help readers quickly find the best deals, coupons and dating sites that do not compromise on safety. "You might think you know a person after a few emails, but the truth of the matter is that it could be anyone sitting on the other side of the internet," the Best Black Dating Sites warns on its homepage... (For the full safe dating story, click here.)

    Monday, October 10, 2011