November 1, 2018

Such a cute

Such a cute

She said she does not believe in Valentine’s day or Halloween. But I always believe in her.

People
October 23, 2018

The mysterious loss-making yet expanding foreign fast-food chains in Vietnam

A few weeks back there were some articles about fast food companies losing money in Vietnam. They even had some experts explaining that foreign fast food can’t compete with cheap local food in price and variety. (I think that there is a big enough market for both) . Yet, you see many such companies opening more outlets. What is this mystery?

Is fast food really making a loss

Actually, you just need to dig a bit more and you’ll find the answer. It’s not just fast food, nearly half the foreign-invested enterprises report losses. They allegedly make use of transfer pricing (activities that make use of legal loopholes and complicated paperwork) to show smaller or absence of profit. Even the party newspaper has weighed in on this. http://en.nhandan.org.vn/business/item/6444402-transfer-pricing-a-challenge-to-vietnam’s-tax-authorities.html

I recall people making the same argument in China about 15 years back. China too had a lot of affordable and diverse range of street food. Over the years local and foreign fast food chains have become a part of everyday life. I remember in the early 2000s, Mc Donalds targeting grandparents who used to pick up their grandchildren after school. They had a spacious play area for the kids.

Dinosaur in a Chinese Mc Donalds

I found this dinosaur at an Mc Donalds in Beijing in the spring of 2004. People usually go to the fast food places when they feel like sitting in air-conditioning and away from the pollution of the street.

Vietnam Food
October 21, 2018

Garlands at the foot of the mountain (movie)

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).

A movie about the 1979 China Vietnam War

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”.

A movie about the 1979 China Vietnam War

The fact that China had previously aided Vietnam in the war against the U.S. is highlighted a few times in the movie.

A movie about the 1979 China Vietnam War

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 clip 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.

The migawari zaru from nara

The migawari zaru from nara

The migawari zaru from nara

Japan Osaka
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.

iPhone 5s running iOS 12

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.

Late night phone shops in Phnom Penh

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.

Tech Apple
September 20, 2018

Hostel culture and travels in South East Asia

Podcast South East Asia