- [Sunday 29th November 2008]
The trip is long gone now, but I took a very long time to process all the pictures. I am sure that you all will forgive me and enjoy them, I was quite inspired during this trip and I really hope that you will like them...
- Newcomer and Weekly roundup
- [Monday 17th-24th November 2008]
The previous week has been quite eventful, I was back at work again and of course I had to catch up with three weeks of gossips, happening and so on. The weather turned bitterly cold last Thursday, I don't like cold weather all that much but is seems that this year we are in for a cold winter (last winter was rather mild in my opinion).
Work situation is not easy, the company is suffering the global crisis, and even though this is quite common for all the other players and industries, it is not something that we alleviates the pain. I think that this recession is going to reap a lot of victims, and the only hope is that we are not going to be among them.
In Italy the situation is fine under the banking point of view, but it's terrible under the political side, and the general economy is crap thanks to our enlightened political class. The feeling that we have is that we are completely powerless, it's a great shame because we deserve so much better. But that's the problem with Italians, the "not in my backyard" policy is too extreme, people cannot care less UNLESS it touches their interests.
Only then people go in the streets, start protesting and so on.
Anyways since I am not activist, I think that I should not venture further, in the end I see my country with a little different mind due to the years spent abroad, and although I never liked what I saw, I stopped trying to change people around me. It's just impossible.
Going back to the week, I have to report the new technological arrival at home. My very own backup server!! An Ubuntu micro server, fanless, 2 500GB HD for parallel backups, all components bought to save as much energy as possible (the whole system consumes around 40W with 90W peaks at startup and maximum usage). Finally I have backed up seriously all my pictures and mp3 and now I can proceed with the re-installation of Leopard on my Mac (Leopard is not that great as I thought, it gave my macbook several problems and kernel-panic attacks).
Of course the new computer forces me to learn at least the basics of Linux, which is good of course, so it will take a little time before it is properly configured (cronjobs and the likes), but I am confident that I can do it. The ideal will be that it switches on when computers linked to it go online, then it should rsync whatever he needs to, and then if computers are not online and it has been idle for some time it should power off by itself, making sure that it rsynced all files to the other HD. It can be done I think..
As for the rest nothing much to say, Christmas is approaching and we are already working on the presents list.
- 400.000 Euro
- [Monday 10th November 2008]
Travelling is a good thing. You meet really interesting people for sure!
So let me ask you.... What is the most expensive item that you have ever held in your hands (save from "family jewels" and the like...)?
Today I have gone to the office of the owner of our distributor, he is into the watches business and as I said in the previous post he's into the expensive sort of watches.
Today I have had the chance to actually hold his personal, unique watch...
A 400.000 Euro is not something that you normally hold in your hand, and I feel quite privileged to have had the chance to see their products, something that normal people do not even dream of seeing (until 2 days ago I didn't even think it existed)...
The whole watch is made in white gold, with a storm of diamonds cast on it, it must have been more than 20 carats for sure, with a total weight that was quite high considering the precious materials that it's made of!
The whole thing is a masterpiece of mechanical engineering and of jewellery, they supply people like the King of Thailand, and several middle eastern Emirs.
Apparently they have customers that carry even 40/50 of these watches (the "cheaper" 50.000 Euro ones)...
Well I guess that there are people out there with an incredible amount of cash, for them 50K euro is like 50 euros for me...
Oh well, an interesting experience!
- Singaporean Watches
- [Sunday 9th November 2008]
I am tired. I need rest.
I have been working continuously for the past three weeks travelling on Saturdays and Sundays to save time form the normal week when we need to see the clients.
I arrived yesterday night at 23:00 in Singapore after a working day in Taipei, and I dropped dead on the bed.
Today working Sunday around the shops, and I even found some time to buy a mobile phone as my personal one has one lost in Hong Kong at the beginning of the trip. I have to say that I know very little about mobile phones and infact I managed to buy a phone that in Italy I could have get for a cheaper price... Italy apparently is very competitive on that sort of technology. This even left me a bit bitter as I always think that Asia is cheaper on everything, but apparently it is not true on everything... (I checked on the internet the price after I got it...).
In the evening we had a very nice Teppayaki dinner with the owner of the distributor that we have here, his main business are watches from Switzerland, and once again I thought that he was dealing in the cheap ranges.
Well, I was sadly mistaken, he does VERY expensive watches, some ranges are worth 700.000 EUROS!!! The watches are obviously full of diamonds and every expensive things, the top engineer is a guy from Italy that is an expert of nano technologies!!
Oh well, you meet very interesting people going around the world, that is sure!
Singapore is a place where I guess I could live quite happily. It's very European, but the mix of three ethnic groups (Malay, Chinese and Indian) make this place very interesting and various.
Tomorrow another full day here and then off to Kuala Lumpur for the last part of the trip, then finally on Tuesday night I will be packing to go back home, I really look forward to it, as you can imagine...
- Airports for people not taking planes...
- [Saturday 8th November 2008]
"Hotels are like airports, people come and go, minding his/her own business and of you go...". This is a quote from my boss, ho's travelled all around the world in more than 80 countries (almost half of the countries that we have on earth)...
I find this thought quite illuminating when it comes to hotels like the ones where I normally go.. I step on a plane to find myself cast into another airport where you are not there to catch a flight, but normally a taxi to the client's place...
I have stopped in Taipei 1 night, I have a beautiful room that it's almost half of my house in Florence, but I couldn't really enjoy anything of it because I stayed for such a short time.
Today, quick visit to the marketplace, then on a plane again to go to Singapore where I am meant to be until Tuesday morning when I will make a new experience, travelling to Malaysia.
Ipod back to normality (fortunately), though I expect yet more troubles from the battery, maybe he overheard that I want to buy a new Ipod Touch and started to act strangely in retaliation for its early retire. (I am sure that computers understand what we say, write etc etc... They are just playing dumb... It could be a nice script for a new Pixar movie along the lines of Toy Story...)!!
- I woke up in Taipei
- [Friday 7th November 2008]
..... and I woke up in Taipei!
Yes I left Japan very early this morning, at 5 o'clock I was already dressing up to go down south to yet another island in Asia.
Taiwan must be a nice island, shame that I only saw Taipei, a classic busy and terribly crowded city, pretty much like other cities on this side of the world.
Nothing much to say, apart from the early morning call, the first appointment with a client by myself, the lovely dinner at a Xiao Bao place (dumplings), and now the well deserved rest in the hotel.
One negative note is that my Ipod is looking dodgy... The battery completely empty even if I hardly used it in the last two weeks (and recharged it once already), it started rebooting at the apple sign coming up on the screen. Fortunately after leaving so SOME HOURS to recharge eventually it decided to boot and now looks fine, but I suspect that the battery pack might be in need of a refresh, and for what I see on the net it's not an easy task... :(
Tomorrow check of the market and at 15:00 other 4 hours of trip to Singapore!
I feel the trip coming to an end, and I must say that I really look forward to my bed in Florence next week on Thursday...
- Lucky or Insane?
- [Tuesday 4th November 2008]
Both probably. I was both lucky and insane when I started working seriously with Japan, almost 8 years ago.
Now I see things in a different way, I feel things in a different way, and incidentally I am doing new experiences.
One of them has been the situation that I found myself cast into this afternoon. It was me, our agent and my supervisor at the shop of a client of ours. Since I have just started the new job it's quite hard for me to have a clear idea of the new business, the numbers, the orders, the clients themselves.
Well my boss today completely overturned the rules to which I aided for a long time in dealing business here. He got upset at a request of this client that is clearly a minor player for us (but in my head he's still A client)... In the end we walked out of the door, possibly not to return anymore. No rude words or screaming took place, but the tension was clearly going around the place, and in the end we had to play fireman on the flames of anger to quench the whole thing in a decent manner.
So far, even in front to stupid claims (though this time I think that the client had grounds to complain), we have always tried to accommodate the requests of the client with the position of the company. After all future business is always something that you need and I am not really keen in throwing it away. In Japan it takes a lot of time and explanations to get the quality issue working, sometimes I even discussed about quality matters for months.
In this case it all ended up with a dry "no" and we left.
In a way it's good that he had such a strong position, because I am offloaded of all responsibilities, and maybe we can salvage the relationship. On the other side the whole thing was a bit "weird" and me and the agent felt quite uneasy about the whole story. Maybe I am behaving too much "Japanese", my strength becomes my weakness?
In the evening another client told us that that guy is loosing support from a lot of distributors because he's too strict with quality issues, so in a way he corroborated my boss's action. But still I feel something is wrong underneath, and I cannot stop thinking that maybe there are deeper feelings to what he did (he doesn't like Japan very much).
Oh well, today I have learnt that I can be an asshole with a client and get away with it! Interesting...
- Once upon a time...
- [Monday 3rd November 2008]
Life is strange. Coming back to Japan always makes me feel at home from one side and quite alone on the other. Especially when I meet new people there is much talks on the whys and hows of my Japanese language.
I cannot hide a lot of pride in telling what I have done, on the other side remembering those years is also quite painful because they were rather magnificent and they went away.
On the other side I am in a new job, new company, new colleagues and new problems to face. I look at the challenges that are ahead with a bit more experience, and I can see that unless the company is willing to invest heavily in this market there will be little chances to make things better.
But in a moment like this, who sane of mind will risk a lot of money in a strange market like Japan? A place where companies ask for custom made products, a level of quality that is virtually impossible, low prices and more than anything small quantities?
It used to be a similar problem in the previous experiences, I start thinking that all other sectors of business in Japan are the same!
Well, I should not bash the Japanese system all that much, China and other places have their own peculiarities too. But here I feel that I have to make a difference, and I am a bit puzzled on what can I do to get better figures. Pressure from expectations? Probably. I am not the cocky guy that thinks that can do it all. Not the usual salesman, uh?
I still remember that when I was around 15 I started developing this thing that I was sure that whatever life had planned for me I would never travel by myself.
Look at me now. I mean the EXACT CONTRARY!! Not just plain "different", from black to white! This teaches that whatever you want to do or plan to is completely useless because the path that we walk is too unpredictable to plan it ahead.
Do I like the job? Yes, it has a lot of positive sides, I am not denying it. I probably would miss my nights at the Century Hyatt in Tokyo (now Regency Hyatt after a huge refurbishment), but I also miss Florence and a normal life, less by myself and more together with the people I want.
And then I think that when I am there I feel bored, so in a way I am never happy! It's really a shit feeling this one, I wonder if it's just me or if it's society that thought us about that you DESERVE "better, faster, more" in any given situation...
And so I think back when life was simpler indeed, when my Japanese mum was taking me out for groceries shopping and the problem was to understand what she meant by "rinjin" when she asked me to pick things for her (by the way it's "carrots"), or when the Kanji test was about to arrive and I didn't know any of those! Or when a girl refused you, or when you had to think where to take the one that accepted your date...
- China and Korea
- [Wednesday 22nd October - Sunday 2nd November 2008]
The first leg of this quite long business trip saw me respectively in Hong Kong, Zhongshen, Guangzhou, Shangai, Beinjing and Seoul.
China was the most interesting part so far, mostly because the last time I was there was 3 years ago and of course it has much changed, although some parts are still the same.
Zhonshen is a "small" city of "only" 1 million people, mostly build around the factories that surround it. When we arrived it was already night, after a short boat ride from Hong Kong, and it looked extremely deserted. Watching people driving mopeds and bikes, almost no cars visible, but with streets that have five or six lanes for each direction, gave me a bit of a desolate feeling. We stopped just one day to see a client there, so there is little to tell about it.
Guangzhoug on the contrary is the third city in China, and it's HUGE. We did not stop in the city as we had to go to the airport, we just went to the fair there, a place that is twice as big as the biggest fair hall that I have ever seen in Paris (Parc des Espositions). China has a scale that we cannot really imagine, and even when you are thrown it in your face it seems incredible!
Shangai and Beijing could be like Tokyo and New York. There isn't a lot of difference. I managed to spend some time by myself roaming through little streets, and it was quite great because outside from the sparkling centre of the city you get the feeling of what China is really like, or at least what it used to be.
There was a point where we were in the taxi and the street was crowded with people, bikes, kids... It's like I imagine China must have been a long time ago... Marvellous!
It makes me want to discover this great nation even more.
Korea is still Korea, I am not too fond of Seoul, too crowded and with far too many cars. It's really out of God's grace to drive 30 minutes to make 4 kilometers! Apart from that food is great as usual, and Korean people are very nice to foreigners, and they do their best to be as welcoming as possible. Here we went for a traditional Korean sauna, which was a great experience, and an Italian restaurant, which was quite the opposite in terms of experiences...(not to say CRAP).
Then Japan. I am writing from Shinjuku, the hotel that saw me for the past 8 years coming to this marvellous place that I dearly love. But that deserves another post...
Pictures have been made by the bucketloads, especially in China, so I will post them when I go back (or earlier if I get the time), some of them are really great, this time I am focusing on "people in Asia" and I went through difficult ways to steal shots of real life without upsetting the people! :D
- Lox, Lorenzo... ME!!
- A little introduction about the author and the blog itself. Plus contacts and CVs... You never know!
- A Selection of the best pictures that I have taken all over the world during the years, all nicely indexed by year and geographical area. Jolly good!
- History of this Blog
- A collection of all the articles that I have wrote so far, divided by month/year.
I have had the bad idea of writing my e-mail address on the board before, so this time I'll try to prevent some spam to get to me by putting this little image.. Let's hope it does the trick!
A reminder to Myself
Left and right
Like day and night
That's what makes the world go round
In and out
Thin and stout
That's what makes the world go round
For every up there is a down
For every square there is a round
For every high there is a low
For every to there is a fro
To and fro
Stop and go
That's what makes the world go round
You must set your sights upon the heights
Don't be a mediocrity
Don't just wait and trust to fate
And say, that's how it's meant to be
It's up to you how far you go
If you don't try you'll never know
And so my lad as I've explained
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
You see my boy it's nature's way
Upon the weak the strong ones prey
The human life it's also true
The strong will try to conquer you
That is what you must expect
Unless you use your intellect
Brains and brawn, weak and strong
That's what makes the world go round