Some time in Asia

I like to travel. I like to experience new things. That being said, sometimes you just get burned out and want to sit at home and binge-watch Archer or something. Burnout is a real thing, and it’s a little insidious. Initially, you don’t realise that anything is different, but if you get the chance to think back on what you’ve said, you’ll find that there are inconsistencies. At some point you hear the words coming out of your mouth and think “Am I really this much of a dick?” Your motivation for pretty much anything goes out the window, and you can find yourself turning infinite scroll on Reddit and just watching the world go by.

It’s also amazing how quickly you can get over it; a 4-day long weekend with nothing to do can get you enough energy to clean out your to-do list, and then suddenly you’re back on top again. That and not being hungover. I’m now trying only to drink professionally (more on that later) or when there is a special occasion (I met TheHivemind recently, so that was worth celebrating with some beer… or a lot of beer. And whiskey as well because we are manly).


Anyway, I’m taking leave in August so I’ll probably be a little bit more on my A-game from then.

I’ve also started writing daily, and after I do this blog post I’m going back to Zemlya 2 (Tentatively called The Zemlya Confederacy,  but I need to check to make sure that I’m not accidentally ripping of Bourne at this point). By the end of today I should be at 60k words, which is my self-imposed limit for a minimum viable novel. There are 6 scenes left (a chapter is 2-3 scenes) so in a fortnight or so I should have a first draft. Anyone coming to Comiket might be able to see that I guess…!

So, back to Asia. I went to two new cities in the past week, Chang Sha in the Hunan province, China and Mumbai (formerly Bombay) in India. The featured image in this post is that of Chang Sha.

These cities are really quite different. China is very interesting in that the government still has a lot of control, but a lot of the money lies in the hands of private citizens (the wage/wealth gap there makes the US look like a communist country). Since their options on investment and foreign spending are limited, there is a lot of speculative buying. As a result there are a lot of nice houses and buildings which have no residents. They are just investments by the wealthy that will be sold in 5-10 years when the population in those cities builds up. And that doesn’t matter if it is Chang Sha or Shanghai; there are massive buildings everywhere that are basically ghost towns.


Mumbai, on the other hand, is like a crossover between Phenom Penh and Tokyo; it has the mix of new buildings and shanty towns but also the population of Tokyo. One of the most interesting things about Mumbai though is that everyone has a satellite dish (or two); even if hey can’t afford windows or a roof, they will make sure they can watch TV. Who needs potable water when you can watch the cricket?


I think that both India and China are the go-to markets for any company that wants to expand, but the rules are completely different to working in the Western world. For a start, even though China is about to surpass the US in terms of absolute GDP,  there are nearly 4 times as many people. And, as mentioned above, the distribution of that money is such that you can easily expect that a similar worker in China is earning 5-10 times less than their counterparts in the US. The rigid cultural structure is also present in both India and China, where the adage “children should be seen and not heard” seems to apply to everyone, regardless of age. Thus, only when it is socially acceptable to be talkative (i.e. when you’re drunk) will you find that people are willing to talk to you. In fact, in a lot of places, you need to share a number of meals and lots of drinks for people to trust you enough to do business. Think of it this way; if you are willing to get blind drunk with someone, then you are obviously not hiding anything. And this is why I am cutting down on my home or social drinking – because hangovers suck and I have to get a few of them purely for the sake of business.


I’m thinking about doing more little pieces like this, so please comment below if you think this is what you’re keen on, or let me know if you’d prefer me to head back towards more “writing life” stories, or just sticking with photos.

And of course, like/share/subscribe. It seems cliched but it really makes a difference if you show this to a couple of people. Thanks! Please check out the captions on the photos as well for some more explanations.


Every major roadway in China seems to have this cyberpunk-ish LED lighting underneath it. It would be cool if the colour changed to show the weather or the traffic status or something…
So I finally ended up eating snake. There’s not much meat, lots of bones, and it was marinated to hell and back so all you could taste was ginger and chilli. I’ve also had frogs, and some other unspeakable horrors that we can leave for now.
“Bread” and “Bag” are written the same way in China. But I liked this as “The Danish Package” sounds like a cold war spy thriller.
This is from a major broadcasting station in China. I was there to show them a solution to help with their cabling. Then I saw this and realised just how much they needed our gear…
In Chang Sha city they have turned a large old castle into a restaurant park. It’s the biggest surviving castle of its type in the world.
This is the entrance to the castle restaurant park.
In the rain, the staff from the Castle restaurant park will use these picnic umbrellas to get you to your car – even if you have your won umbrella.
A broadcasting tower in Chang Sha city. The air is cleaner there than Beijing or Shanghai, but there was a lot of rain.
In India, the biggest selling point of any phone is how well it can take Selfies.
I’m glad that this one is complaint, but does that imply that other eating houses are not fire compliant?
This Binary lift. I kind of hoped that you had to enter the floor number in binary, but there were only two floors.
Due to the density of cell coverage in Mumbai, and the vast number of carriers, you see so many 4G towers everywhere, hastily assembled and poorly cabled.
If you look closely, you’ll see that most of these shanties have satellite dishes…
These three-wheeled tuk-tuks are a stable of India and Cambodia (and a lot of other south-east Asian countries)


Everything in India is busy. There are billboards that seem to go on forever, like this one with a whole bunch of random street signs posted on it.
Billboards for financial services seem to have to include all of the fine print on the actual advertisement itself, meaning that you end up with these mammoth billboards with unreadable text…


Believe it or not, this is the entrance to Mumbai’s biggest broadcaster; a single elevator from the 60’s (or thereabouts). Upstairs they are playing out something like 50+ channels…




6 thoughts on “Some time in Asia

  1. Thanks for sharing your travel experience!! and I can totally resonate with travel burnout – I’ve been on the road for 4months – and some days you just gotta binge watch Netflix!!

    1. Yeah I’m on a permanent 50% travel schedule. The last few months have been pretty hectic; since April I’ve been to 4 continents. It’s fun but you need to look after yourself! Keep well

  2. I really like these kinds of blogs where you go into the living situation and culture of places you visit. I for one would love to see more of these. Thanks for all your hard work!

    1. Yes, somehow this post has been the most popular one in a while.

      Maybe I’ll just comment on the places I end up in. There’s been a few in the past 3 years…

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