Monday, April 19, 2010

The Other Asia Cities: The Ones Not In The Top 10

So I've done the Top 10 Places To Do Business & Play In Asia.. but what's missing from there? Here are the 3 places that I've visited/ stayed but sadly, they are not in my top 10 list.

1. Hanoi

Quaint Hanoi with its picturesque countryside nearby makes this place seems all good to live.

But why not in top 10 then?
Well, I've not visited Ho Chi Minh, so maybe if u compare the 2 cities, the latter might be a better place for business?

And yes - business wise, I admit Vietnam is an emerging market, which many companies namely from Singapura is looking to go into.. but the one thing that irks me most - is the experience with the Vietnamese there.

The word is 'clever to cheat' & very rude (well, that's my experience anyway - yes, I know there are nice Vietnamese around, but the ones I met - well, they are like that!)

So, sorry, Hanoi, ur out! (people really plays a big role in my decision!).

2. Hong Kong
Bustling as it is, it really depends on what business you are doing.. Yea, some say (or shall I say nearly all Malaysian Chinese) think that the movie hub is still, err.. HK? Honestly, what's so great bout the movies from there lah? (If only Malaysians learn to watch movies from our neighbouring ASEAN countries, HK movies will have really no other market lah - maybe except for their cop shows which I admit are good).

In any case, I again, didn't have had a great experience with the people there. Now I don't expect the friendliness of the Thais, but Malaysian style also can already mah (or for that matter at least the neutral China Chinese!).

The thing about these Hong Kees - if you speak Mandarin, they think ur from mainland China & they are extremely rude to u (they will even scold!). But then again, they don't really know how to speak English either - and u call this a former British base? (sure or notz? Wa lau weh).

Btw I read in a book once too that Hong Kees think they are like the best in the world. Well, if ur like those Shanghainese living in Shanghai, can lah u put ur nose high high. But ur just HK - a past of emerging China, so I think a good humble pie is most welcomed!

And to add on it, if one has to choose to live in a China city just get into the China market - there's always Shanghai, Beijing or even Taipei!

So sorry, HK, u too are out!

3. Singapore
Now, I'm gonna thread this very carefully here. Don't want Uncle Lim to read this (though it will be an honour if he do).

Well, I like the island in many ways (like for the fact that its an island and that the malls are quite nice though somewhat small small).. and am relieved that finally Singapore is finally opening up, giving it much more life than that of a government-tell-you-what-to-do image.

Biz wise, my observation is that if you are in the shipping (import/ export) biz, the Singapore port is really great (in Asean at least). And if I'm not wrong, so is the banking industry.

But here's the downside: the market size in Singapore alone is way too small, plus rental & HR costs are high. And the media industry is even smaller - more so when compared to that of her 3rd world neighbours (awww).

The most irritating parts - Singapore is not as efficient as it potrays to be (eg emails to government bodies not returned - even after sending in numerous times, long queues at post offices, long queues at government departments, delay work by Singapore firms/ Singaporeans), the very rigid ways of work (yeah, we've heard the you cant do this, you cant do that), the sometimes not so friendly officers (this depends cos on good days they can be smiling ear to ear & superbly helpful while on other days they aren't), and I guess the housing..

Well, on that point, u most likely can only agree with me & most of my friends from the neighbouring ASEAN countries if like us, u have the opportunity to live in houses and not flats... cos while yes, it's a good thing blah blah blah, but having funeral wakes at the ground floor while u sleep upstairs, and having bird droppings at the carpaks, shit in the lift, leaflets thrown eveywhere at the letter box... err, where is the clean green Singapura image? Something is so wrong about this image Singapore potrays in their glitzy adverts and their real life living! (read: other/ more Singapore myths).

So, I'm sorry, Singapura, as much as I'd like you to be in the list, but you're not.

Well, there u have it. 3 cities which is not in my list for business + pleasure. I'm sure some of you will argue.. some of you who have not stayed in this places, or for that matter citizens of these places. But then again, this is my list.. what's yr top 10 then?

*Now, just a caveat, these are my personal experiences & personal thoughts. U might have a different experience altogether. I respect that, and I hope u respect this opinion of mine too. In other words, rileks sikit lah hehe

*To my Singapore kawan, u know yrself well enough lah.. most of u don't fit into this bad category lah... and u make Singapore a better place, so don't in any way feel offended wor :D

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

I Talk... Whoa!

Don't u all agree that although there seem to be so much competition on phone call rates, but it is still expensive? Especially if we want to make an overseas call... or even to sms locally?

i talk whoaWell, that could be a thing of the past if TM's enhanced I Talk Whoa hits it right, which promises low call rates & sms.

Now, we've heard bout I Talk, but this is kinda different in lots of ways - firstly, its an online thing... yeah, u can say, it's a competitor to Skype in many ways!

But then, there's more to it as well... The guys behind this product has incorporated other functions like combining yr emails, social networking sites.. and even allowing yr email to be sent to you like a push mail (and no yr phone dont need to be push mail ready for it). Caya right?

Well, how important are these functions - I don't know. But for now, I'm looking forward to making those cheaper calls to overseas.. where the rates go as low as RM0.05 sen to Singapura. This of course to me is quite a steal!

However, one thing to note.. the rates to the other destinations may not match that of some other online providers.. but then again, the plus side is that the call do not lag – which for me is quite a good thing for business purposes!

So, now I can talk long long... whooaaa! Hehehe!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Top 10 Cities To Do Business & Play In Asia

Having visited a good no. of cities in Asia, here's my very own top 10 cities To Do Business & Play:

10. Penang, Malaysia
Island life meets city life and history, culture, nature.. well, yes, Penang, just like its country, Malaysia, surely seem to have it all. The city is somewhat laidback and has a good mix of old & new, making time pass in this city not too hurriedly.

And besides the city, what attracts me is northern of the island where lies the Batu Feringghi beach. Though Penang's beach may not be the best in the region, but this city can be proud of itself for how many cities have a beach - not to mention, with white sand too?

And oh yeah, the food. Need I say more?

9. Bali, Indonesia
It may seem odd for some business people to actually live here and not in the capital city, Jakarta.

But well, life is much healthier here especially if u like much more space & lots more greens. The people here are friendly (quite comparable to the Thais), and one can get many talented locals who actually speak decent English.

Business wise - it's good to do those that target the tourists market or those having to do with lifestyle. There is already a ever-ready tourist market here, and the Bali brand is quite well known in the region for their products & services (eg spa).

Entertainment & relaxation- you most likely cant get enough of it. The island is big enough to explore and many establishments & natural wonders to enjoy the evenings & weekends. Life here is pretty relaxing too - think out of Kuta beach.

8. Seoul, South Korea
My experience with Seoul is just ok. Mainly because they don't really speak much English so its a bit hard to communicate with the Koreans.

But then again, Seoul has made its mark in Asia's entertainment world and should be something those in the media business should consider. Their working standards are near the Japanese (though I think not there yet - sorry!), so is something one can learn from as well.

Btw just like most other cities in Asia, Seoul has many different faces - depending on which type u'd like to explore. And its located quite strategically in northern Asia!

7. Beijing, China
Mega. That's one word to describe Beijing. With nearly 20 million people living in the city itself, Beijing is a definitely a good place to consider for business. And of course, being a city in China is a plus point to enter the big China market.

The city may not be as exciting to its sister city, Shanghai, but the people are waaaayyy friendlier, though somewhat more conservative. Language is not much an issue if one can speak decent Mandarin, at least.

6. Jakarta, Indonesia
Huge city in a large country, there's lots of business opportunities to explore in South East Asia's most populous nation & amongst the top 5 in the world. One can just be a jaguh kampung here and live a happy & rich life.

Talent wise - the people here are generally nice and the business executives speak good English as well. People here are also quite creative - close to that of the Thais & Filipinos.

5. Shanghai, China
The one main reason to go into Shanghai is because that's where all the money is. So what if China has 1 billion people? One need to know where those who can afford to buy your products are.

And stylo & rich Shanghainese do seem to have it & want to flaunt it too.

People here are okay - you don't get those smiling faces on the hustle & bustle streets but then the plus point is that the Business Executives speak good though a bit weird American English.

4. Taipei, Taiwan
The best Chinese city - that's Taipei for me!

It's quite an abuzz city with many things to offer. Life can be fast paced or slow, depending on you yourself.

This is a city to consider for it is currently the hub for the media business (HK what, where?). And besides, Taiwan, is also in many ways a gateway to the Chinese & China market though not directly.

The best part of all & why it is the no 1 Chinese city - the people are quite friendly and polite! (better than all the other mega Chinese cities - Singapore included!).

3. Manila, The Philippines
Many of those who do not know Manila or the Philippines well enough, may disagree with this.

But hear me out. Manila to me is a super friendly place (yes, I emphasis a lot on friendliness!), and the best part - the people here speak English pretty well. And they are quite talented too!

The media industry is huge as well (though it is a pity that its not exported much).

Mall-ing at their mega malls is a good way to relax. And one wanting to go for a holiday over the weekend - well, head over to any of the other islands & beaches.. or if that's too much a trouble, just drive to the nearby hill resorts!

2. PJ (aka Petaling Jaya), Malaysia
Abundance in talent, with people who can speak multiple languages for you to expand to other markets in Asia - well, the best place is definitely Malaysia. And the best city - non other than beloved Pea Jay!

People here speak multiple languages, with most of them knowing how to speak English. You want to go into the HK market - well, they can speeak Canto. China/ Taiwan market - there is those who speak Mando. Indo market - well, they can adapt their Malay language to Bahasa Indo!

Life here is somewhat more chillax compared to sister city, Kay El. It enjoys a little bit slower pace of life, though interestingly things do get done still.

Food is generously good. And despite the increasing traffic jam & occasional flood, PJ is still a very live-able city.. a good mix of residential & work. And over the years, PJ is getting much more fun with more places to hangout after office hours. But if that's not enough, just take a short drive to sister city Kay El!

1. Bangkok, Thailand
Ah.. the Land of Smiles & the City of Angels. What can go wrong here? To me, nearly nothing.. maybe except that not all Thais can understand English. But then again - understand or not, they will still get things done your way!

Thais are very creative too - their designs are unique.. and so are their business ideas. Nearly everything can be a business - just like turning the truck into a bar, selling 'branded' ice tea by pushcarts and opening a full booth just to sell pens at the BTS stations!

But most of all, it's the people that matters most & that is where Thailand scores! The Thais do make sure that every small detail is taken care of.. and with the ever smiling faces to come with that (don't it just melt your heart?).

But if that's Thais in general, then what about Bangkok? Well, this mega city has so many things to explore & do that one can never get enough. Every area in Bangkok is like a place to explore by itself, even if it means a few BTS stops away!

Bangkok maybe a bit hot & humid, but covered shades are aplenty and transportation is readily available - there's always the trains, the clean taxis or the extra efficient tuk tuks.. and I think they rank 1 in transportation here in S.E.A!

With all these good points, yes, Bang-kok, you truly deserve to be no. 1!

Well, there you have it. My top ten list for Asia. The only cities I didn't get to review would be the cities in Japan.. which I believe will be in the top 10, without doubt, once I've visited them.

Next up - Why some cities didn't make it into my top 10 list!