December 5th, 2006

Xiamen Trip


riyuegu14a.jpgPerhaps my Chinese host in Xiamen thinks I am too thin (I am not!) but they are very determined to make sure I put on at least 5 kg before I leave Xiamen. Regardless of the Chinese tradition of “finish everything you had on your plate, even one grain of rice”, every meal I had so far is twice as much as I can finish, and then more. And I had all sort of werid animals as food, including a supposingly endangered animal but disguise as something else. Dont ask…I dont want to know either.

The most fun part is the trip to 日月谷温泉 (RiYueGu Hot spring). It is definitely one of the best hotspring I visited. It is fairly new (built 3 years ago) by Taiwanese, very elegant and lots and lots of pools to choose from. The weridest is this pool where they have very small hotspring fishes from Turkey. You go into the pool together with the fishes while the fishes eat away your dead skin…My Chinese friends told me it is ticklish feeling. I politely declined. I am not going to feed the fishes :P

December 3rd, 2006

On the way to Xiamen

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I am on my way to Xiamen. Come to think about it, it is the first time I am flying on Silkair so I am not sure what to expect. If you are wondering I am going to Xiamen and not to Hong Kong for the big ITU World 2006, you aren’t the only or the first to ask. No, I didnt plan for the trip ITU World…I didnt thought I need to be there. But as it turns out, I may have to end up doing a day trip over for a brief meeting. But lets see.

The last two days was kind of crazy for me. I fly back to Singapore on Thrusday to have dinner with Cory & Jean from SecondLife who was in town. They also gave a talk at SMU which nearly 300 people turn up. I have to wait nearly an hour for all the fans to finish shaking his hands and asking questions. By the time we settled down for dinner, it is already 9pm.

Series of meetings later, I am back in the airport flying out. I feel quite bad for my wife and kid who hardly have any time with me…Sorry :-(

Incidently, my little daughter discovered Youtube yesterday. She refused to go to sleep until she got her Hello Kitty..and still crying for more after watching it twice. :P

For me, I enjoyed the rejoice, the FU (Thanks Rob :-) as well as the bullshit :-)

October 24th, 2006

Edwin Nimpuno



Edwin J. Nimpuno, the former Indonesian banker I met in Shanghai.

He is now retired in Shanghai but still actively investing in property in Shanghai as well as helping various groups like Tuan Sing (another Indonesian group which is investing big in Shanghai).

With permission :-)

October 17th, 2006

Shanghai Shanghai


This isn’t the first time I was in Shanghai. Yet, Shanghai is a new city to me every trip. The more I come, the less I seem to know about the city.

Shanghai development is still going fast. You can still see a lot of buildings being built. The streets are packed and people are rushing from one point to another constantly, just like any other cosmopolitian city. But friends told me behind this exciting front, the development is saturated and people can feel the the growth rate is slowing down as compared to the last few years.

I also had several meetings that sadly I cant blog about yet. But suffice to say, it was an eye opener for me. I can really sense that the young people are in charge! I feel old! :-P

xiaolu.gifI suppose I can share this anecdote: I had two dinner last night (man I am still stuff!). Met some really interesting young people in Shanghai over dinner. The pretty young lady sat beside me was really surprised when I asked her name. I suppose when you are 李小路 (picture), you don’t go unrecognized here. Gosh I was embrassed. :P (btw, I learnt that she started acting when she was three…)

I am back in Beijing for a lunch appointment and will be flying back to Singapore tonight.

Overall, this was a very useful trip for me. I should do this more often.

October 15th, 2006

Xiamen Shanghai


Got into Xiamen at 1am in the morning, catch some sleep before going for my 9am meeting. Before I went to Xiamen (my first trip btw), a friend told me Xiamen is one of the best city in China.

It is not as well developed as Shanghai or Beijing and it is a much smaller city (about 1M people). But the roads are not jam, people are more friendly and relax. Above all, yep, it is beautiful little island, very nice beach and a great weather. It is the “Hawaii of China”.

I wish I have more time to explore Xiamen (perhaps next trip) but I have to catch a 4pm flight to Shanghai for a dinner appointment with a friend. I know he reads my blog (hi! :-) and I am not certain if he minds me mentioning his name here. Anyway, he was one of the most influential banker in Indonesia before 1997 (financial crisis) but now retired in Shanghai (but still invest in Shanghai properties). And gosh, he is really funny and I really enjoyed hanging out with him :-)

After a long day, I managed to wiggle my way back to Pudong and now settled down in Andy’s apartment for the night. Thank god he has proper wireless here…but I probably should get some sleep. Another long day tomorrow.

October 13th, 2006

Beijing 24 hours

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minzu-hotel.JPGArrived in Beijing yesterday. After a long jam, finally arrived in Haidian District (海淀区), put down my lungage and then head off to Minzu Hotel for dinner with Andy Jacobs who happens to be in Beijing for a company party at the Great Wall tonight.

Went to CNNIC this morning to catch up with catch up with Mao Wei and bang into Shen Yang (沈阳), the editor of the QianLong. Havent met Shen Yang since Kyoto two years ago but he got a new title now: Comittee member for WG for Blog, Internet Society of China (ISC). Apparently, they are having a meeting to discuss the “policy for blogs in China”. Wow, I want to be in that meeting! But damn, Shen Yang said ‘No way!’.

Regardless, I spend a wonderful morning with Mao Wei who gave me an update of what they are doing. They just launched a mobile keyword service, a service where you can search and look things up using SMS on mobile phone. Pretty cool but it is not making a lot of money yet. Speaking of making money, I was pleasantly surprised when Mao Wei said that Chinese IDN under .cn is making as much money for CNNIC as the English domain names. The numbers are still small (~300,000) but Chinese IDN is fetching a prenium (~20USD chinese over 3USD for english). This is mostly thanks to the support of IDN in IE7. :-)

After that, I rushed to Beijing University to have lunch with Dr. Charles Lee who is giving lecture here this week. I met up with the team of MBAs who is working with him on his new venture fund. Young and smart folks! How smart? Statistically, the chance for someone to enter Beijing University is equal to the chance for someone in Singapore to win the President Scholarship. So go figure.

PayEase-StandardLogo.JPGAfter a wonderful lunch, I went over to PayEase. I think I can finally blog about this now since the deal is closed – we invested in PayEase last month. PayEase is the oldest (>7 years) e-Payment company in China supported by Beijing government with one of the largest transaction volume. It was one of the award winners of Red Herring 100 Asia 2006. I was asked to keep an eye on this investment so I catch up with the management to get a progress update. They did good this quarter! :-)

24 hours in Beijing and now I am back in the airport flying to Xiamen. Going to spend a night there before flying to Shanghai tomorrow.

October 12th, 2006

Industrial and Commerical Bank of China

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A friend just pointed me to this article: ICBC’s indicative price range offers discount versus peers

Price range indicates pre-greenshoe deal size of $15.9 billion to $19.1 billion for combined H and A share offering. The offering has the potential to become the world’s largest IPO.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has set a price range for its mega-size initial public offering. The range will value the stock at a discount of 10-22% to China Construction Bank – which is widely viewed as the bank’s closest comparable, sources familiar with the offering said yesterday. Based on current market prices it will also offer a discount to Bank of China, albeit a smaller one.

This was brewing for a while while touted as the largest IPO in the world. Now the figure is out, it looks like it may indeed be the largest one.

Read the rest of the article too as it contains very useful stats. If the report is true, the assets are extremely attractive.

Oh yea, I burst out laughing in the Krisflyer lounge when I read this (I got a few werid stares right now *glump*)

At the end of June, the bank had over 150 million personal customers – equal to the entire population of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines combined – and 2.5 million corporate customers. The number of domestic branches totalled more than 18,000.


Oh yea, I am on my way to Beijing right now and perhaps over to Shanghai over the weekend.

September 9th, 2006


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flexopower.JPGI got the most interesting speaker gift this trip: Flexopower, a portable solar battery charger for mobile phone made by a company in Johannesburg. I havent got the time to play with it but it sound pretty cool. Hey, now I can continue to make phone calls under the hot sun!

I also visited a very cool company by Rael Lissoos called Magnolia Wireless. It was tons of fun talking to Rael and I spend a whole morning with Rael while he drive me around and showed me some of his project. You can find more info about Rael on Esther Dyson’s flickr :-)

Notes on South Africa:

– There are 3 mobile operators: VodaCom, MTN and CellC. VodaCom, is the JV between the incumbent Telkom (51%) and Vodafone (20+%) (how surprising :-) and is the largest operator.

– They have both 2G and 3G network. For value-added service, VodCom offering HSDPA as well as DVB-H with 16 TV channels. Average ARPU seem to be pretty good at around US$50. (versa US$12 for fixed line).

– There are about 25M mobile subscribers out of 46M population.

– Internet access is expensive: on average, people are paying about US$35-40 for dialup access. One of the reasons is that South Africa has the most expensive international bandwidth at US$11,000 per mbps (other countries along the west coast of Africa is paying on average US$2,000 per mbps).

– There is this mobile app called MXit that is taking South Africa by storm. Basically, it an IM client….Er, what so special? Well, SMS cost about US$0.10 each and the data plan for 1mb cost only a small fraction of that. So the obvious choice is to dump SMS and use IM on their phone. According to a SMS Text, MXit now exceed 1M users, growing at 10,000 new users per day! A story of a simple idea at a right place at the right time…

September 4th, 2006

The Castle Kyalami


Arrived in Johannesburg and checked into The Castle Kyalami outside the city. This is where iWeek is going to be held.

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There are wireless in the hotel but it wasn’t working very well. The hotel staff unfortunately is not helpful. So, I went around the castle and managed to figure out the cabling and found the wire room and get a bit of connectivity :-)

September 3rd, 2006

On my way….

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It was a crazy back in Singapore. Less than 4 hours of sleep daily, running from meetings to meeting in the day time, and then chucking out reports in the evening and reviewing contracts in my sleep. Gosh, I havent even see my daughter and wife for the last 48 hours!

Now, I am on my way to Johannesburg, waiting for a flight at 2am. But oh boy, I am glad. I can finally catch up some sleep! and perhap some reading…I actually got some new books lately. :-)

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson and An Army of Davids by Glenn Reynolds

But those book has to wait since I haven’t finish my presentation for iWeek on wireless broadband yet. And I need sleep…