Author Archives: beijinghome

An update: Singapore

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It’s interesting to see how things turn out. And we end up in Singapore now!! We both agreed that Tokyo wouldn’t be our permanent home location, but we didn’t expect an opportunity to move to Singapore come up so early either. Long story short, we are almost 4 months in Singapore now after spending 21 amazing months in Tokyo.

At our age, I consider ourselves lucky to have the chance of experiencing three great cities in Asia: Beijing, Tokyo, Singapore. Each has its own personality and unique in its own way. Looking back at our times in Tokyo, I would say that we made pretty good use of the stay: We explored most of the corners in the city (many by walking), sampled many well-hidden eating places and frequented some historic and exquisite coffee shops.

We also traveled a lot outside Tokyo, from crowded touristy places of Osaka and Kyoto to the very far east of Hokkaido, from historical Nikko to beautiful and humble Atami. Tokyo nurtured some habits into our life as well, like jogging, putting an extra pair of shoes in restroom, etc. I’m happy to say that there are not many regrets when leaving (Of course there are some but they are a good reason to go back!).

After moving to Singapore, we spent our first 3 months in a service apartment. So we can honestly say that we are tired of the white linens in hotels 🙂 The service and the rooms are very nice, good location and everything, but we were excited to get our own rented place and start to experience the life as any normal Singaporeans or expats that got the city packed.

We are happy about where we are and trying to establish the order of our island life, but change may quickly as these past two years show. Who knows where our next stop will be? Somewhere else in Asia? Europe? America? I’d like to keep options open.

Not-so-latest latest update about us

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Update in summary: We moved to Tokyo, period. For work reason, period.

It’s been four months (that’s where the not-so-latest part came from) since we moved here. First of all, I want to thank my husband for his ceaseless support. He quit his job without any hesitation and agreed to move with me. We are now settled down in a cozy but very small apartment not far from Tokyo Tower. Four months make me feel like a somewhat local here, though the Japanese words I know how to use are no more than 20. However, looking back, it feels like a quite long while since we started living in Tokyo.

What made us move to start with? For over a year, I had been looking for internal opportunities in and out of Beijing. The team members are great but the job itself didn’t give me much sense of accomplishment and achievement. Within Asia Pacific region, I primarily searched all opportunities in Singapore but one day, a co-worker mentioned something about working in Tokyo. I was struck with the idea: why not check positions in Tokyo? That’s how I landed with the current position. But I have to say, the strongest motivation, aside from the previous role, is the team’s decision to move to Hong Kong. I’ve never been a fan of that place.

Last weekend, all the members from my previous team moved to Hongkong, which made me wonder how time flied. The communication of moving to HK was made last September but it feels so close by. When checking some photos, I can’t believe that they were taken in 2012 or 2013. This made me more miserable in the sense that I can’t recall what I achieved or did in the last couple of years. I want to do something monumental to remember how my life goes by. It doesn’t need to be magnificent. What matters is it makes sense to me.

Wish you all the best until next blog:)

Some distances are just difficult to cross

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Upon graduation, the distance between my best friend and me is 2,372km. The distance between another good friend of mine and me is around 1,000km depending on which city she studied whereas I studied and am working in the same city. The distance between my parents and I is 751km. Nine years ago, the distance was 100km.

Sometimes, I’m amazed at how small the world has transformed into. It is so small that you can reach someone by a call, a ticket or even a click. I have been enjoying the convenience that technology has brought. However, recently, I more than ever have an acute sense of the difficulties some distances have imposed upon me.

I know my best friend is just a phone call away, but I don’t know why I haven’t called. We sent each other postcards or SMS expressing how much we miss one another but we never actually talked. I’m not sure if distance has really distanced us. Perhaps, it has. We don’t hang out with the same people any more. She goes to pubs, party late and drinks a lot. I go to library, visit museums, and don’t drink. The names on her lips are nobody to me. My life has set in a certain routine and I’m contented with it, but it’s true that I can sum it up in a very short sentence. So what to share? Will she consider me boring? A married boredom as we used to call others? I’m afraid to find out. What fears me more is that maybe we are actually growing apart. If we talk, we will realize. But we don’t want to admit this so we just don’t talk and in that way, the bubble doesn’t poked and we are still best friends to each other.

For years, there’ve been some opinions that I’ve held concerning my father. For instance, he never praises me and he feels proud of his so-called “discouragement” education method. The other day I was having a very bad day at work. My father sent me an SMS asking me to check benchmark grades for some universities. I didn’t see it until five hours later. So I Googled it for a while but didn’t find related information. Work was piling up so I replied, “I didn’t find it.” Seconds later, another message came, “You’re stupid. Your brother has already sent the info. to me.” At that moment, “YOU ARE STUPID” seemed to be the last straw to crush me. This is what he often describes me from when I was a little child, to when I entered one of the best universities in China, to when I found a job at one of the best companies in the world. And he still called me “stupid”. I wanted to yell at him, “Stop calling me that!! You don’t know how much pressure and depression this has caused me.” My tears were on the verge of breaking out, and I tried hard to sniff them all in. I was still at work. The clients were priorities. I can’t cry. The anger and somewhat humiliation prompted me to call him but for some reason, I was checked. I have put up with this for so long, there’s no reason that I can’t wait for one more day. Then I never called. My father really feels proud that he doesn’t praise us, always gives us discouragement. He sees this as a motivation for my brother and me. When I was recommended for master program without any exam, he called, “I read it from somewhere that 1st tier students choose to work, 2nd tier study abroad and 3rd tier will earn master at home.” But did he seriously know the competition? Did he know how hard I had tried to earn the spot? He didn’t ask. I know and I believe that he must have felt proud of me, for out of 320000 students, only 62 entered my university and I was one of them. But I haven’t heard him say it. Is this the conventional Chinese way of parenting? I don’t see this occur in every household. My parents-in-law always gave encouragement to my husband. Will I have the courage to tell my father how I really feel about his “discouragement” parenting? Maybe not, maybe never.

Free and open

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How would you describe the era you are now in?
To me, Charles Dickens’ words have already answered this:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
We had everything before us, we had nothing before us.”

It’s been a while since the last post. A lot has happened. Nothing has happened.
Life has been the usual, for us. But for some, it can’t be any more different. The new leadership took over power which means a tough time for their opponents. As we like to put it, “New broom sweeps clean” or literally “new official has three measurements”, we have observed a few. A few corrupted officials were exposed; more scandals are coming through. Sometimes, you are just amazed at how much money they dare to collect. Houses of millions worth, mistresses one after another, how and where did this amount of money come from? New leaders say they will not tolerate corruption, so will this trend of exposure continue? I’m not sure. One exposure means thousands hidden and I dare not think how many more these are. What’s the hope for future? Or do we, ordinary people, have a future here?

I used to despise those who immigrated abroad. I thought this would never, never happen to me. However, at that time, I didn’t know the kind of society I would be in when I grew up. Most of the friends I know are talking about immigration. I love my country. There is no other place that can compete with my country. However, now I know “country” and “government” are different. I still love the culture, the customs, the people and the places. I still want to learn more about the history, the architecture, and everything. I firmly believe that the future of the country is bright and things will be better. We are now in the middle of change. But I also believe that for my generation and maybe for the next, we will be in struggle and there’s no hope.

Maybe I’m a coward but I want to live in a simple, safe way, to be able to breathe clean air and eat safe food, I want to know that my efforts will win me an apartment, not that I’m always chasing after the increasing housing price. I want to be able to speak freely, and move freely. I want to know that when after serving the country, when I’m retired, I will have enough pension for living. Now because of a stupid Residence Certificate (hukou), I pay high tax to Beijing but can only receive pension from my small hometown because I’m not a Beijing citizen. The pension of my hometown can be only one third or worse of that of Beijing. Is this the kind of future I expect myself to be in when I’m old? Here money is the most important. People are labelled and classified by how much of money they make. It’s the only thing they talk about. Here I am lost.

I’m lucky that I’m in one of the most respected companies and the company is really great. What’s funny is it’s hard for us to do business here because of censorship. There is a global campaign to pledge free and open Internet but I’m afraid of signing since I am worried about the censorship. Will they track me down? What will they do? Back to 2006, I could use Youtube and Facebook. There was no problem against Google search or Gmail. Now it’s difficult to connect to google services and Youtube and FB are blocked ( the list can go a long way). I have never felt this isolated and constraint.

For those that are braver than me, please check this out:
http://www.freeandopenweb.com/?utm_source=freeandopen&utm_medium=hp&utm_campaign=fo-p2-hp#loc=3/8.0000/22.0000

The Mountain of Soul

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Last Saturday, we went mountaineering. We chose the highest place of Beijing, the Mountain of Soul, located in the western end of Beijing. On our way up, we saw horses, cows and pet dogs running and lying around, or snoring off. As we got higher, mountains and moors spread and stretched themselves to where the sky ends. On the sea level of 2300 m, I felt my heart beating really fast and am constantly out of breath.

Live Life to the Full – On Reading Losing My Virginity

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Interesting title, haha

Some points to note:

1. Branson seems to have a born strong business sense. His mother’s entrepreneurship may partly contribute to this. His way of developing the company is interesting. When he set up a first record shop, he then purchased a recording studio, then built his own music label. Even when he was struggling with money ( the motive to have record shop was to get through cash crisis, or they would go bankrupt), he always thought big. He was willing to take risks and never play safe. With every penny he made, he tried to make more out of it. Invest instead of staying safe. Always on the lookout for opportunities.

2. He is a natural leader. He knows other people’s strengths and shortcomings. For instance, he knew Simon had a good taste in music. Even when they first didn’t make any money, he still believed in Simon and supported him when Simon was confronted by other partners. Eventually, this paid off. Some of the musicians they signed became big names, like The Sex Pistols, Sting, etc. Please remember Virgin Music at that time was still very small that didn’t even afford 4 million pounds.

He always has vision and welcomes challenges. In many ways, he is unorthodox. Being a player in music industry, he opened up an airline, which the company became famous for. It’s hard to say which industry Virgin falls into nowadays. Industry barriers, hesitation on entering new areas never seemed to bother him. He believed on guts. Luckily for him and his employees, he is blessed with clear judgment.

3. He is very unorthodox in many ways. I have mentioned his business part in the paragraph above. Aside from that, it is also showcased in how he won his two wives. He fell in love at first sight with his first wife, who at that time had a boyfriend. However, he gradually attracted her and by stealing her belongings at her boyfriend’s, they moved in together. His second wife was still married when they went out. He is not a goodie-googie boy and he didn’t even try to hide that. He has no problem to reveal his past history, though some of it might seem inappropriate to some people. For instance, when one of his girlfriends got pregnant, they chose abortion. To me, successful people have a general tendency to hide their past, and set up a glorious image in front of the world, like they have some saintly qualities. This makes them unapproachable. Branson didn’t have this problem. He is candid. He wrote the autobiography on his own life and that’s it. Good or bad, it’s part of him and made the person he is today. For this, I salute him.

4. A loving, supporting family is very important. I hope one day I could do the same for my children.

5. The book was written in such a way that you can just feel his enthusiasm to life and work. He wants to live life to the full and he was, is and I believe, will be doing it.

Live life to the fullest as you only have one chance.

A part-time job makes you a real full-time worker

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I was stuck in a translation job from English to Chinese for the last few days. So my whole day is like after my day job, I continue with my evening job. Last night I even worked into the dead of night, past 12 p.m!

You know, everyone is exhausted after a full day’s work and wants to relax. And I’m no exception.

Are you thinking maybe the payment is attractive? Otherwise why would I have to do it?

You’re wrong. When the day job doesn’t give you a fair pay, you have to make up for your expense by having a second one, or quit and make for a more lucrative one. But the possibility of the latter is minimal in the job market for an English language major in China.

The choice I made is trading freedom of like twenty hours this week for more freedom in buying staff. Would that be a fair trade? Is my day job a fair trade of freedom? I can never tell. Perhaps this is just not the way things are working, and I probably should change to other lines of thinking.

If I compare my jobs with other people, at least I find fun once in a while in translation and avoiding translationese and trading the meaning in one language to another.

Any opinions on deciding on a part-time job in expense of your hours of happiness? or opinions on being a translator?