October 25, 2021

A certain Malaysian city

You know you’re spending too much time on Apple stuff when you start spelling a certain Malaysian city as iPoh.

Malaysia Travel
October 20, 2021

The map

I saw a 170 bus and remembered a map I once made for a first time traveler from Singapore to Malaysia, hoping that she would not get lost. Now I hear, most of Penang is lost in her.

travel Malaysia
August 7, 2021

Favourite second-hand book stores in South East Asia

These shops are not just about books, but this is where I met many interesting people in these cities. Visiting these places on my travels often meant that I had to book extra luggage for my return flight, but it was always worth it.


The stores are

Dasa Books, Bangkok

D’s Books, Phnom Penh

Books of Awesome (BOA), Saigon

Bookworm, Hanoi

March 30, 2021

Naughty AI

Sometimes AI is naughty. Last night I set up Siri to control appliances. I gave them Russian names - who dare hack devices that show up in Cyrillic. The lamp is called Solaris (an alien planet from a Polish novel/Russian movie). The fan is called Buran (snowstorm).

Appliances with Russian names

As I was waking up this morning, drowsily I asked Siri to Play some music”. It starts playing the Soviet anthem. No need coffee anymore.

R/musictheory discussion on why it sounds so good. 

March 26, 2021

The Great Bitter Lake Association

The ship stuck in Suez Canal reminds me of an incident from late 1960s. At the start of the Six Day War, Israel quickly captured one side of the canal. To prevent Israel from using the canal, Egypt blocked the canal with debris. 15 ships got stuck in the part of the canal called the Great Bitter Lake. The ships were from opposing Cold War camps - West Germany, the UK, the US, Bulgaria, Poland etc, including one traveling from Singapore to the UK carrying toys for Woolworths (1960-70s SG used to manufacture many consumer goods).

Overlooking their idealogical differences, they formed a sort of pseudo-country called the The Great Bitter Lake Association. They organised parties and sports events to keep up the morale. They even issued their own postage stamps. It’s an interesting insight into how humans try to make the best of any situation. I heard about this some years back on a Radiolab podcast.

The Great Bitter Lake Association

February 20, 2021

The Land of Big Numbers

These days we can only travel via books or movies. This collection of short stories is by a WSJ reporter who was based in China. Her stories are extrapolation of news stories that you may have heard from China - a farmer building an aeroplane from junk, passengers stuck in a new metro station, sudden craze for a fruit or food etc.

Podcast interview featuring the author