October 21, 2018
In 1979, China and Vietnam fought a brief border war. One reason for China’s aggression was Vietnam’s toppling of the China supported Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. These days, this particular war is not mentioned much in China. But in the early 1980s, there were some books and movies that depicted this war. I will recommend the movie 高山下的花环 (Garlands at the Foot of the Mountain).
What I find interesting in this movie is that they never show the Vietnamese soldiers. The story is told from the point of view of a group of Chinese soldiers who are sent to the border to clear the “Vietnamese invaders”.
The fact that China had previously aided Vietnam in the war against the U.S. is highlighted a few times in the movie.
There is one part where the soldiers are shocked to find Chinese supplied weapons and rice in a Vietnamese pill box that they had just cleared. There are some Vietnamese lettering on the wall that read “a decisive war”. A little later in the movie, the Chinese soldiers have run out of water and they decide that it is fair game to cut some sugarcane from the surrounding plantation. A short snipped from the movie is embedded below. Turn down the volume on your phone/computer as the clip starts with a loud refrain.
The whole movie with subtitles is on YouTube. You can search for it Via the Chinese title 高山下的花环.
Further reading on how this war prompted the modernisation of the Chinese army: A round table review of a book on this particular war
October 13, 2018
The red cloth monkey dolls or migawari-zaru
I once posted a photo of a lucky charm from Tokyo. This is a lucky charm from the Nara region that resembles a tumbling monkey.
September 29, 2018
Using this phone for five years
Apple is oft-criticized for selling expensive devices. I find that their devices have a much longer life — both in build quality (less prone to falling apart) and software life. This is a hand me down iPhone 5s from 2013 that I have been using as my second phone - I slot local SIM cards in this phone when I travel. I just updated it to run iOS 12. Everything works well.
I think the longevity works in Apple’s favour. Many of these older devices find their way to people who may not buy a new phone in a hurry. This helps in cultivating future customers.
Another hack, when you travel, drop in a local phone shop and check the resale value for popular phones. In particular, I will recommend the phone shops in Phnom Penh — they are open till early morning and are a surreal slight.
September 20, 2018
Hostel culture and travels in South East Asia
South East Asia
September 15, 2018
The gent from India and the curries
I like the logo of the Indian Curry cafe in Osaka.
In Saigon too, next to the place I often stay is a Japanese run Indian Curry shop called Cari Vidu. They also have such an Indian man logo.
The mysterious Indian man also appears on some Vietnamese sauce.
September 2, 2018
The Indonesian diversity
Indonesia is fascinating, maybe because it always reminds me of India with its diversity, spicy food, and the omnipresence of fairness creams.
From a book that I am reading.
Indonesia: Exploring the Improbable Nation by Elizabeth Pisani