Tuesday, April 29, 2008

For Here or To Go

In my post, Candlewood Suites, I mentioned that “wages are high in the United States. Anything self-service is cheap.” This basically explains why Americans eat so much fast food. I also ate fast food a couple of times a week when I was in the States.

There are lots of fast food chains in the U.S., some of which have not yet come to Malaysia. One of them is In-N-Out Burger. French fries of In-N-Out Burger were my favorites…

Another fast food restaurant chain is Taco Bell, which specializes in Mexican food such as tacos and burritos…

El Pollo Loco also specializes in Mexican food. It is famous for the ‘flame-grilled Mexican chicken’. I usually went there to eat chicken bowl with rice…

Jack in the Box had a more diversified menu. My favorite was Fish and Chips. Its taco was also great. This fast food chain even had Vietnamese egg roll…

If I wanted to eat ‘healthy food’, I would go to Souplantation, famous for salads and soups. OK, this probably doesn't qualify as fast food…

In Malaysia, when you walk into a fast-food restaurant, the staff would ask you, “Having here or take away?” In the U.S., they would say, “For here or to go?”

Friday, April 25, 2008

Traitors to the Han Chinese

In China, the most serious crime a person can ever commit is to be a hanjian – traitor to the (majority) Han Chinese. This is a crime comparable to apostasy in Christianity.

In 1999, following the bombing of Chinese embassy in Belgrade by American fighter jets, anti-US protests broke out in China. Chinese demonstrators gathered in front of McDonald’s and KFC to vent their anger.

In April, 2008, a few months before Beijing Olympiad, pro-Tibetan groups staged anti-China protest in France, where Olympic torch run was being held. In response, furious Chinese netizens called for boycott of Carrefour – the French retail giant which had more than 100 outlets in the country.

I am thinking: had the Chinese employees of McDonald’s, KFC and Carrefour become hanjians overnight?



1999 年,在中国驻南斯拉夫大使馆被美军轰炸后,中国爆发反美大示威。示威者聚集在麦当劳和肯德基前发泄他们的怨恨。

2008 年,当奥运火炬在法国传递时,西藏支持者举行反中国示威。愤怒的中国网民号召抵制家乐福。


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Candlewood Suites

When I worked in California a couple of years ago, I stayed in a hotel called Candlewood Suites in Garden Grove.

My room was pretty well equipped. There were TV, CD player, kitchen, microwave oven, coffee maker, refrigerator, dish washer, iron and ironing board. I could use the washing machines (outside the room) for free, though I needed to buy detergent. A gym was located on first floor. The rate? Less than $40 for anyone who stayed longer than a month. (It should be higher now.) That was cheaper than most motels.

How could Candlewood Suites offer so much at such a low price? In most hotels and motels, housekeepers tidy up our room everyday. In Candlewood Suites, they came once a week. That was hardly a problem for me, as I was used to making the bed myself. If I wanted extra soaps or towels, I could get them from the front desk. If a guest checked in late, he or she could collect the key from a safe deposit box. By reducing the number of employees, the hotel was able to keep the operating cost low, and the saving was passed on to the guests.

The catch was, of course, one had to stay for at least a month. If you are merely visiting Disneyland in Anaheim – just next to Garden Grove – motels are the better choice.

Wages are high in the United States. Anything self-service is cheap.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008








Sunday, April 20, 2008

License to Shoot

I came across a story in BBC News Online…


Phil Smith thought ex-EastEnder Letitia Dean turning on the Christmas lights in Ipswich would make a good snap for his collection.

The 49-year-old started by firing off a few shots of the warm-up act on stage. But before the main attraction showed up, Mr Smith was challenged by a police officer who asked if he had a license for the camera.


(Read the full story here.)

License for the camera??? What the…

Just as digital cameras are becoming more common everyday, misplaced fear for crime and terrorism is preventing amateur photographers from enjoying their hobby. I personally have been stopped by security guards from taking pictures in shopping malls, LRT train station and KL Low Cost Carrier Terminal.

It looks like I should return to Khaosan Road, Bangkok, to get a fake journalist ID

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why drive a Truck

A professor in my university drives a pickup truck. So was my former co-worker – a lady programmer.

I see lots of pickup trucks on the road, most of them are not loaded. Which makes me wonder: why would one buy, and drive, a truck if he or she is not going to utilize the storage space fully?

Maybe they think trucks are safer. (But they endanger other road users.)

Maybe they ‘need’ one to transport furniture from Ikea once or twice a year.

Maybe they need one to tow a boat.

Or maybe, as someone put it, they simply want to “express their aggression”.

Can someone please enlighten me?

P/S I am also thinking if truck rental service is a viable business. If you only need a truck a few times a year, rent one instead of owning one. On regular days, drive a fuel-efficient car.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Songkran in Malaysia

Songkran, which falls on April 13-15 every year, is Thailand’s New Year. In the past, perfumed water was sprinkled on family members and friends as a form of blessing. Today, this religious ritual has evolved into a water throwing frenzy.

Songkran is also celebrated in Wat Chetawan, a Thai temple in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. On April 13, 2008, I went there to experience this festival. Since my camera was not water-proof, I had to take pictures from afar.

Nonetheless, I still got wet as someone poured water over my back. Fortunately, my camera was safe. I reminded myself with the Thai spirit of mai pen rai – it doesn’t matter!

Wet warriors with water guns…

The battleground…

The big one…

Sunday, April 13, 2008

八卦 Post (二)

[八卦 post (一)在]





By the way, 听这对年轻情侣吵架也是一种娱乐

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Food Crisis

Freak weather, rising oil price, use of biofuel as replacement for oil, growing consumer demand in China and India. These are the factors which contribute to soaring food price.

According to United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food price worldwide rose 23% from 2006 to 2007. Grains went up 42%, oils 50% and dairy 80%. A food crisis is looming!

My plea to Americans and Vatican:

(This is a joke…)

Dear Americans,

As a short-term solution, please take up Atkins Diet and consume less grain. You can save the world. At the same time, you will slim down.

(Now this is serious…)

Dear Pope,

As a long-term solution, please lift the ban on contraception. The world population bomb is ticking and we are running out of food. Not to mention that condom reduces the risk of HIV infection.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Have you got enough sleep?

I sleep a lot, terribly too much.

I sleep 7 hours everyday on weekdays, and slightly more on weekend. I know there are many people who sleep just 5 hours everyday. I must be wasting a lot of time, and I feel very guilty about it.

I don’t always sleep so much, though. A few years ago, when I was a contract engineer for Ericsson in California, I worked nights for many months. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a person who could sleep well during the days, and found it hard to re-adjust to ‘normal life’ on the weekend. I nodded off many times when I was driving back to my hotel after 6 am, and overshot the freeway exit once.

We (the engineers) usually worked from Monday to Friday, but occasionally the clients asked us to work from Sunday to Thursday so that they could be off on Friday evening. We worked at night in order to minimize the impact of possible disruption to cellular networks.

In December that year, Ericsson and one of its clients wanted to close accounts, and the engineers were told to complete as many projects as possible. We worked days and nights, and were soon very exhausted. (Less risky tasks were done during the day.) Then, something went wrong. There was a network outage. Ericsson and the client hold a teleconference to discuss this incident. There were lots of hoo-hah and finger-pointing. Finally, an enlightened manager from the client side said something which I still remember after so many years, “Do not overwork. If you are tired, you make mistake.”

Tell us how many hours you sleep everyday. Do you think you are sleep-deprived?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Eco Bag

I have been pondering for weeks whether to buy an eco bag – the environmental-friendly thing that is suppose to replace the plastic bags. There are a few reasons which explain my slow reaction:

Firstly, eco bags are not cheap.

Secondly, it “doesn’t feel right” to bring an empty eco bag, especially if you are a guy.

Finally, if I use an eco bag when I go for shopping, I will be stopped by the security guards on my way out. You know, we don't like to be treated like thieves.

A couple of days ago, I bought some books in Kinokuniya. I was carrying a backpack then, so I told the cashier that I didn’t need a plastic bag. At the exit, I showed the receipt to the guard. The guard checked the price of the books, one by one, before letting me go.

If we want to dispense with plastic bags, I think the businesses should come out with some foldable eco bags that can be kept in lady’s handbags or my backpack when not in use.

Perhaps the most practical approach – though not the greenest one – is to use bio-degradable plastic bags. Consumers want convenience, and bio-degradable bags will give them just that. Plus, the security guards are less likely to stop us.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Marketing in China

A number of years ago, I went to China on a business trip. I was in a city called Jining (济宁)in Shandong Province for two months. There, I came across a restaurant called California Beef Noodle King (美国加州牛肉面大王).

The logo of the restaurant featured a man – supposedly the founder Mr. Li. It reminded me of KFC’s Colonel Sanders. Incidentally, the restaurant’s trademark and logo were painted in red, same color as KFC.

A few months later, I was on another business trip, this time to California. I frequented many “Chinese American Restaurants” during my stay there. Some of the most common Chinese American cuisines included Beef and Broccoli, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Kong Po Chicken, General Tsuo’s Chicken, Chap Suay and Egg Foo Yong. Not to be forgotten are the ubiquitous Fortune Cookies. Beef noodle? I am not sure if it ever existed in California.

Chinese consumers probably think that international brands are better than home-grown ones. Mr. Li clearly selected a Western-sounding name for his business. Smart marketing move . Last check, California Beef Noodle King is doing pretty well in the Middle Kingdom, but I doubt it will ever be great in the Golden State.

China's home-grown California Beef Noodle King


Maybe I should open a curry food restaurant in China and name it Texas Curry House (美国德州咖哩餐厅). What do you think?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

八卦 Post