Monday, December 08, 2008

I'm done!!!

After 1 year, EUR50,000+, tons of work, I'm finally DONE! Classes ended at different times for everybody, but mine finished at 5pm on Monday. (well, officially, I had to leave class at 4:30pm to catch a plane)

In true tradition, I've left right away for vacation, travelling with friends to Kunming, China, with a stopover in Hong Kong. I
'm in HK right now, after visiting the city for 1 hr, sleeping for 6, and then checking in to my next flight. Kinda cool, I had a chance to eat some true HK dishes, admire the skyline, all in time to come back to the airport before the airport express train shuts down.

It's strange, because I don't feel any different than when I started, except maybe a little more disciplined, and a little bit (ok, a lot) tired. It doesn't quite seem final yet for me, especially given the job situation.

At least graduation comes by on the 17th, I get to travel in the region for a bit, and should be back in the US by January.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Top Gear and Roasted mini-crab snacks
Today is my last weekend of real homework/classes!! And so, while slacking off in school, my roommate and I were watching Top Gear, the BBC show about cars, and this episode was about racing through Japan on public transit vs. a car. In the show, the host, Jeremy, was given some Japanese snacks to eat while he drove, including some mini-crabs. I thought it was a joke, until my roommate came back with the exact same snacks from the grocery store next door.

It's gotta be the weirdest things I've ever eaten. They are actually real crabs (small thumbsized ones), that seem to be fried, and then there's a sweet sauce with sesame seeds on it, like typical Japanese snacks. I thought it'd be really hard to eat, but it's a bit like softshelled crabs. It's SO wierd to look at these things, because they're real crabs, they have arms, eyes, and everything. Even if you bite halfway into one, there's "stuff" on the inside of the main shell.

And I have to say, it's kinda tasty. Crab flavored, as you might expect.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

More Cabaret Videos - (inspired by the Japanese movie Battle Royale)

Incredibly hilarious, although there might be some inside jokes that aren't as well appreciated, but plenty of references and physical comedy. Read the movie notes on YouTube to see the references...The shaven-head guy giving out weapons (and dancing at the end) is an American statistics professor here. As you can see, he's quite fit, and apparently, he was at a bar in Singapore, where another guy was trying to pick a fight with him, giving a hard time, making nasty comments to the girl with him, etc, expecting that he was some fancy ex-pat. The guy asked him what he did, and he said "I'm actually a US Navy SEAL, on assignment to provide combat training to the Singapore Armed Forces". Apparently, it was so believable that the harassing guy shut up and was trying to become his best friend!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I can't believe this incredible year is coming to a close so quickly. We had our Cabaret event, with incredible hilarious student skits, and some really great memories about the past year. Here are a few of the videos... including an incredibly funny Mac vs PC (or iNsead vs HBS) themed commercials...

iNsead vs. HBS - Language

iNsead vs. HBS - Out of the Box

iNsead vs. HBS - iTravel

It's Nine in the Afternoon Lip-Sync

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What's in my Wallet?

Just got back from my trip to Geneva / London for a VC conference. You know you're from INSEAD when you can act as a one-man money changer! This is a real snapshot of what was in my wallet today: (top to bottom)

US Dollars, British Pounds, Swiss Francs, Cambodian Riels, Malaysian Ringgits, and Singapore Dollars. And that's just the currencies I used within the past 2 weeks...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Movie stars at the VC Conference in Geneva?

Not sure if the MBA has shortened my attention span, or if this conference is a bit too long-winded, but I'm typing this post out in the middle of the conference! Good thing wifi is free.

The funniest thing about this conference is that we have a host that looks/sounds like the manager from the Office (Steve Carrell's character), and he can't read people really well, which has lead to sadly hilarious problems, and there's a presenter that looks and sounds like Alan Alda...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Angkor Wat

From Angkor Wat

Blogging from the road... now in London Heathrow, on my way to Geneva. Just got back from a weekend at Siem Reap / Angkor Wat. It was an incredible experience, travelling with my classmates for a weekend. It was the first time I've been to a country where everything for tourists ran on USD. Restaurant prices were quoted in dollars, not the local currency. Anything that you buy, would be based on dollars. The only time you might receive local currency is if the price was like $4.50, then you'd receive local bills for change.

Cambodia is a poor country, if not one of the poorest in Asia, but you really see an entrepreneurial class developing. Our very nice boutique hotel was $56/night... and that was for a HUGE room. The basic room was $30/night. Meals at nice restaurants would be $5-7 per dish. The infrastructure is clearly developing, and seeing young kids selling things at the major temples is a bit disconcerting when they should be in school, but I had the impression that tourism was really a major force in developing the economy. A lot of Asian budget carriers are flying into Siem Reap, which really is a small town, and there's a hotel boom that's happening. And all the accessory things, like spas, restaurants, entertainment, are developing around this.

It's all an amazing change from the 70-80's, where the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnam war created a lot of trauma for the people living here. There are still landmines being cleared here, and you can see victims playing for these "landmine victims bands", playing traditional music for money. Even our guide was telling us stories about how he and his family used to survive in the jungle during the Khmer rouge era. It's amazing for me to think about his experience, from surviving in the jungle, to now, a grandfather, seeing his kids/grandkids grow up safely, earning a decent wage from being a tour guide, exposure to so many foreign tourists, and having very good English skills.

Would definitely recommend a visit to Angkor Wat/Siem Reap... friendly people, amazing history and temples, and your tourism dollars can go directly to improve the economy of this amazing country.

Photos are, as always, up on picasa.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Monsoon Ball 2008

From Monsoon Ball

I don't normally go to these types of events, but Monsoon Ball is the last big social event for our class, and I'm really glad that I went, because it was completely fun. They had rented a whole lobby of a hotel, there was an outside patio with snacks, 2 rooms with music, dancing, and lounging areas. Monsoon ball was a campus-wide ball, including staff, current students, and alumni that were visiting for Meeting in Asia Alumni event. The official dress code was "black tie", but national dress was highly encouraged. So, lacking a Chinese suit, and not wanting to sweat it out with a shirt, jacket and tie in the tropical heat, I went to the nearby touristy shops in Holland Village and found this great Chinese style jacket. best part: No ironing required! And, not too expensive, S$50, or about US$35

It was so much fun to see all my classmates dressed up for the evening, and the different hybrid national dresses, like seeing an English guy wear a Indian Kuta, or a Taiwanese girl wear a Chinese cheong saam, but made from Indian sari material.

Photos are posted at:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Lots of upcoming trips

Hard to imagine that I'm almost done, but I've been a good student and haven't done too much travelling in the region, because I didn't want to miss my classes. But, now that I'm almost finished and planning to leave the region, I need to finish up my travelling. I'm excited, the following trips are coming up:

Nov 14-16: Cambodia / Angkor Wat
Nov 17-22: Geneva for a VC conference (courtesy of my summer internship VC firm)
Dec 5-7: Possible trip to New Delhi/Agra to see the Taj Mahal and meet up with my former collleagues from the US
Dec 22-28: Penang/KL (no, not my initials, but Kuala Lumpur)
sometime in January: Return back to the US

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day in the life of Kent..
Taken from the real events (and times) of October 29th...

7:50am - Wake up before the alarm, but decided to go back to sleep and wait for the alarm to wake me.

8:30am - Alarm goes off... but decided to hit snooze

8:40am - Finally woke up for real, started to wash up, prepare myself for school

9:00am - Leave the apartment, walk to school, and on most days, I pick up a steamed bun (bao zi) at the coffee shop on the first floor. Today, I'm still full from yesterday's dinner, so I don't get breakfast

9:10am - Check the clocks at the entrance... 9:10am, go to my locker to pickup reading materials

9:15am - Check emails, read the online site to catch up on the news that happened overnight. (and hope that there wasn't any more financial damage on Wall Street from the night before)

10:00am - Start preparing for my interview on the next day, reviewing my resume, going over case questions, and comments from my last interviewers

12:00pm - Attend Global Strategy Management class, where we discussed the case about whether INSEAD, a European school, should expand to include an Asian campus.
1:30pm - Class ends

1:45pm - Grab a quick lunch in the cafeteria that's full of students just finishing classes, chat with some friends that just arrived from the European campus, and prepare for a 2pm class
2:00pm - Attend the Models for Strategic Planning class... class finishes at 3:30pm
3:45pm - Attend the Business Plan Workshop class until 5:30

5:30pm - Attend the Entrepreneurship day lectures, with a special session on "How to get a job in Private Equity", with 3 people that are already within the field.

6:20pm - received a call from a friend, reminding me that we're supposed to leave early for a surprise birthday party for another classmate
6:30pm - Entrepreneurship day lectures finish, went to the lobby to share a taxi to go to the restaurant for a classmate's birthday dinner

6:40pm - While in the taxi going across Singapore on the AYE, admire the incredible view of the Singapore skyline at sunset (on the left), while laughing at the jack-o-lantern that's hanging from the Singapore Flyer (on the right, but not pictured)

7:00pm - We're first to arrive at the restaurant, so we decide to buy a birthday cake for our classmate at the nearby mall. While waiting for a stoplight, I get "bombed" by a bird flying above. Yuck!

7:34pm - Our friend arrives at the restaurant for her surprise birthday dinner! Except, we're seated at the front of the restaurant, and there's these huge windows, so she could see us waiting there!

9:45pm - Leave the birthday dinner a little early with a classmate to go back to INSEAD for a 10pm interview call with the US

9:55pm - Arrive back at INSEAD, prepare for my interview with the US, but the interviewer re-schedules the meeting.

10pm - 11pm: Prepare for my McKinsey interview the next day, reviewing Case In Point, and lessons learnt from previous case interviews.

11pm: Take a call from a US recruiter for VC firms, talk about career goals and explaining my resume

11:30pm: Return back to my apartment
11:45pm: Iron my shirt for tomorrow's 8am videoconference interview with McKinsey New York
12:00am - Sleep! Need to get up at 6:30am the next morning to make sure I arrive at the McKinsey Singapore office by 7:30am.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Follow-up on Evolvence Capital

A few posts ago, I spoke about our video-conference with the people from Evolvence capital in Dubai/India. One thing I didn't mention: this was the first time I realized the power of the LinkedIn network. In the class, my classmate decided to lookup the guy we were speaking to (the founder of the fund). According to Linked in, he was already 3 degrees away from this founder. I decided to do the same, and found out that I'm also 3 degrees away from this guy as well. It was me, to one of the MPs at my summer internship, to his contacts, to this guy.

The power of personal networks is staggering - you may be already connected to people that you just recently met for the first time, through other people. Hopefully, my LinkedIn network will result in some job offers, given today's MBA recruiting situation..

Little Canon Camera, you served me well. Rest In Peace..

I typically carry two cameras around when I'm travelling, my DSLR, and a small Canon SD1000 for quick shots when I don't want to lug out the DSLR because it's too big. Well, something happened to my SD1000 while in India...

I normally carry the camera in a holster attached to my belt. Well, while in India, I went to go use the toilet, and the only one I could find was a squatting toilet, the type that is level with the floor, and common in Asia. Well, after I got up from the toilet, I saw my camera case slip off my belt, bounce on the floor, and into the toiletwater!!!

I was completely stunned... I didn't know what to do! Was it still there in the water? Or did it sink? What about the photos on the camera? Obviously I couldn't flush the toilet with the camera there.. so I decided to go for it and pull it out! (probably one of the grossest things I've ever had to do). I quickly pulled the camera out of the holster, and it still seemed dry, probably because the holster protected the body from the water. When I opened up the battery compartment, it was still fairly dry, with 2 little drops on the battery. So, I held out some hope. I let the camera dry out, didn't use it until I returned to Singapore.

Then, I tried to turn it on..... the lens extended, but nothing showed up on the screen, then an error said "Lens Error. Restart Camera". And no matter what I did, it always kept returning back to the error. Thus, it was dead. =(

It's sad to lose a camera, but at least I was able to retrieve the photos from the memory card. And, while it seems strange, it makes for a funny story. What would you have done? Gone for it? Or left the camera in the toilet? ANd the worst part was, as I was using the toilet, I noticed that my camera was pulling down on my belt, and I remember thinking, "must be careful that the camera doesn't drop..."

Luckily, I was able to find a half-decent deal on a camera here in SIngapore, so now I have a nice new SD1100, a newer model and 2 more MP than I had before.. and it comes with a fresh new case. Need to remember my lesson now and make sure i put my camera case on the other side of the belt where it's less likely to fall off!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Evolvence Capital videoconference

This last period, I took a private equity class, probably one of the coolest classes ever while at INSEAD. Private equity is a class of private investments, making investments in non-listed private companies, such as venture capital. The professor worked really hard to make the class very interesting and interactive. For this particular session, we studied a case where an ex-Abbott research scientist went to do his MBA, ended up at McKinsey, and left to setup his own Dubai-based, India focused life-science investment fund, and the case asked what steps he should do to startup his fund.

For the class, the professor actually was able to get the protagonist in the case, as well as an investment manager from his firm to do a videoconference with the students at INSEAD. The scene was exactly something out of a movie! Just like a scene in a James Bond movie where James Bond, MI-5, and the CIA are all working together to solve a problem. We had two huge screens, displaying a live video feed of Hari Buggana (the fund founder, based in India), and one of his investment managers in Dubai. They discussed what actually happened in the case, along with answering questions from the students.

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But the scene was just totally incredible– two huge screens, simultaneous video-conference between Singapore, Dubai, and Hyderabad. (see above) And – it was all run over Skype!

I really identified with the people in this case, because the protoganist was a research scientist that left to do an MBA, and one of the first people that he hired onto his team was a CWRU PhD in finance! After this class, we all wondered if our post-MBA life stories would become cases that future INSEAD students would study? (hopefully good stories, and not bad)
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

First Day in India

Like most of my travels, this one started out really hectic. It was the 2nd day of our break, and I was working on job applications. We decided to go out for an early dinner, but it took us a while to get our food, and by the time we finished, I had to quickly dash back to school and gather my things.

Arrived at the budget terminal, where I flew Tiger Airways for about US$250 to Chennai. I seem to always pick the wrong lines to checkin, because by the time I got to the counter, the people in the other lines had already cleared out, and they were pretty much closing the desk, despite me arriving 1.5 hrs early!

Apparently, there is a very small limit on carry-on items - 7 kgs or 10 lbs. They didn't check the weight until AFTER I had checked-in my luggage, and my backpack came in at 8kgs. She said I needed to reduce the weight, but I couldn't throw anything out! I only had a laptop, camera, and books from the library. After frantically looking for space and stuffing as much stuff as I could into my pockets, she just waved me on without checking again. Note: some laptops are already 8 lbs, 5-6 kgs!

From Shanthas Wedding - Chennai

When I arrived, it really felt like a foreign land. Lots of people waiting outside, but only a few taxi touts. Made my way to the counter to the prepaid taxi booth, where I got into a taxi that looked like it was from the 1950's. And, in true 1950's style, no seat belts in the back. Apparently, these Ambassador cars are the mainstay of the Indian market, and it's not that they're made in the 50's, they're still made now, but this style has become really popular. Just recently when the market opened up, then you started to see more newer looking cars.

Arrived at the hotel after a little bit of confusion. Prepaid my Rs3000 (US$60), and checked out the room. Not bad for US$25/night! Clean, fan + AC, TV with a kazillion Bollywood movies, and western toilet (important point for a later story).

From Shanthas Wedding - Chennai

Next morning, I had a fantastic breakfast. I felt that all the things I've learned from my Indian coworkers have all prepared me for this day. I went into the hotel restaurant knowing exactly what I wanted... vadas and idli, with a cup of chai, just like what serve at the former Udupi Cafe along Central Ave. In what became a common trend, the waitstaff guy seemed surprised that I wanted to order Indian dishes, and then would follow-up asking me if it was too spicy. My response: Spicy is GOOD! Total cost for breakfast: Rs100, or about US$2. Unfortunately, I was too hungry, and took the photo too late after I finished the vadas and idli, but was still working on a new plate of puri in the background. (upper left corner)

After that, I hit the road with my friendly driver Sagan. (or that at least what his name sounded like... I just kept on thinking Carl Sagan...)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just back from India

From Shanthas Wedding - Chennai

Just got back.. fantastic experience, more stories to come!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Going to India!

I can't believe it, it's the end of P4! Two more months, and I'll graduate! I have been so incredibly tired this whole period, trying to keep up with coursework, interviews, interview preparation, final projects, etc. And even today, our first day "off", I still found myself working on some miscellaneous items, and 2 interviews.

Did I mention how tired I am?

And now, I need to quickly prep for my first visit to India! My good friend/colleague from the office is getting married in India, and I'm visiting! Departing tomorrow night.

Some cool events that's happened this week that I'll blog about soon:

  • Visit of the Crown Prince of Bahrain to INSEAD (with pics)
  • Interviews
  • Upcoming trip to Geneva
  • P4 classes

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

Ok, so this post is a little late, but Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival was about 2 weeks ago. It's pretty festive here at the moment, first the beginning of Ramadan, then Mid-Autumn Festival, and in a few weeks. Deepivali. This was the first time I was in a Chinese country for Mid-Autumn, and it was a nice experience. I've noticed that the traditional foods, like mooncakes, that I've had for mid-autumn are really *traditional*, while Singapore seems to have moved on to more exotic kinds, include "ice-skin" mooncakes, or "snow-skin" frozen mooncakes, or even durian mooncakes.

Bunch of us went out for hotpot (or steamboat as they call it here), and then to this mooncake market at basement of a major department store here. It was completely crazy! It looked like a trading floor of a stock exchange, with a bunch of vendors trying to get rid of all their stock on the last day. There were samples everywhere, discounts, freebies, etc. I got a small box of "ice-skin" frozen mooncakes, and a small box of lotus seed mooncakes. Check out the pictures, it comes in this beautiful box...

Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm going to India!

I'm going back for a former co-worker's wedding in Chennai in October. The timing is perfect, it falls right during my break between classes, so I have a full 5 days in Chennai (Madras). And, all for a total price of about US$230. Hard to imagine I'm going to India, I've always wanted to go, and its only about 4 hours away from Singapore...

I sent off my passport for the Indian Visa back on Sunday, and had an interesting experience. The Indian Embassy has outsourced the work to Mustafa Air Travel, the same owner of Mustafa Centre, which I've previously blogged about (ie, the Wal-mart of SIngapore).

Interesting process.. they required a reference contact in India, but I explained that my friend was Indian, but now in the US. THen they said, OK, how about her address? I didn't know it, so I thought I'd call her, but then realized it was too early in the US. Then the lady said, "ok, here's a list of hotels, just pick an address" Doesn't matter if I planned to stay at that address or not

So funny, because it's like it really doesn't matter anyways, but why make us go through the work?

And then, because I had a US passport, I have the privilege of paying more than than Singaporeans, but I guess its a legacy of the US charges for American visa. (about US$100)

B's Birthday

It was my roommate's (let's call him B) birthday a few days ago, and we completely threw a huge surprise for him. It came together all at the last minute, but was totally hilarious at every step of the way. Here's the story:

We have these "closed door" breakout rooms (BOR) for group work here, and sometimes, some people like to "stay" in the same BOR every day.... so, in effect, becoming like their personal office. I used to get teased for this too, since I liked a certain corner in the school, I'd always refer to it as "my office", as in... "yeah, I need to go study, you can find me in 'my office".

Well, my roommate particularly loved his office, since you'd NEVER see him around campus, except in his "office". And, this office has huge windows on one side that faces the library and the entrance of the school. So, for his birthday, we decided that we'd do a little "office decorating"

So, another classmate and I were at school really late the day before (ie, 12:30am), and so we decide we'd go ahead and decorate. Problem is, we didn't have a lot of streamers, balloons, or anything like this. So, we had to be creative with the things we had in the room.... and after a long day and a late night, ideas starting flowing from left and right. I have to say this is one of the funniest things I've ever done, and as my classmate said, "these are the things that you'll remember after you graduate..."

1. We posted a bulletin over the office number on the saying "B's Office, BOR 347", on official school logos
2. We took the big flipchart sheets of paper, writing "Do not enter", and "No studying allowed" , attached them to the windows facing the outside, and inside, it said "Happy Birthday"
3. We put happy b-day signs all over the inside of the office
4. I covered up all the numbers on the phone except for his age.

As we left school, we realized that the posters on the windows were SO BIG that you could see them from the street level! We were snickering as we left the school that day...

The next morning, B finds his office completely changed. He was really confused and embarassed. Then, he saw the big posters from the inside... then went outside to see what they said (ie, no studying!) He was so embarassed, we later found out that he took down all the posters.

Then, enters phase 2: the surprise birthday cake.

One of our classmates was supposed to take him out to dinner as we "re-decorated" his office and surprise him with a cake. Except... B escaped from us earlier than expected, and decided not to go to dinner.

So, as we were in his "office" waiting for him, we had to come up with something quickly, because the students getting cake just arrived as B was getting ready to leave the building. We had to get him back, but how?

ANother classmate said, "we'll call him and tell him his computer is on fire". Nobody thought he would believe it, although he did cover his computer with his sweater before leaving. So, as we called him, we saw him through the windows at the entrance. My classmate said "B, you better come back now. There's something wrong with your computer, there's smoke coming out". Immediately, we saw him run into the buliding, and in what seemed like less than 2 seconds, he ran up 3 flights of stairs and showed up to the BOR, where we surprised him with cake! I never thought somebody could arrive so quickly from the ground level to 3rd floor of a building!

He was hilarious, he said "my heart was beating sooo hard, how could you fool me like this? I thought I was going to lose my computer".

Ahh.. great fun and great memories!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Surprising Comments..

Every once in a while, you hear a really surprising comment in class.. I don't mean the really good questions, but more like inappropriate comments that you think wouldn't happen in an international environment like ours. I witnessed a 'train-wreck' a few days ago in a finance class, where we were discussing whether a startup needed a CFO. The professor had called a number of students down to the center to discuss this topic, among others.

The discussion went like this:

Professor: "Does this company need a CFO?"

Indian student: "Yes, it's clear, because reason x, y, z, and they need somebody to look over the financing documents."

Korean student: "Yes, those are good points, but I don't see why they need one. Why pay a CFO salary at this stage of a company, when you could just hire a lawyer?" (me: interesting question!)

Indian student: "No, that's not enough, because you have to consider x, and y"

Korean student: (in a civil tone) "Yes, I understand your points, but I still don't understand why they need one right now."

Indian student: (in a bit accusative tone) "Well, maybe in China you don't need a CFO"

Korean student and his friend: "I am not Chinese!"

Whole class + professor to the Indian student: "BOO!!!"

Meanwhile, turns out that this Indian student's seat was next to mine. As she returned to her seat, the other classmate next to me said, "Great job, you were able to make 1.2billion people mad at you at one go". To which I was almost tempted to say "Yes, including the guy sitting next to you", but she seemed pretty embarrassed already at her outburst.

It's really rare to hear really insensitive, if not racist, comments like these in class, especially in INSEAD where it's very international and you'd think the students are more sensitive to international topics. That why when events like these happen, it's really shocking, and hope that it's not a true representation of the person's personality.

Monday, September 08, 2008

From INSEAD France

INSEAD France photos up

After a long delay, my pictures from Fontainebleu are uploaded to Picasa, including pictures of our wonderful "village cottage" in Bourron Marlotte, and the campus itself.

Link to INSEAD France Album

Thursday, September 04, 2008

My own Amazing Race

I'm a huge fan of the TV series "The Amazing Race", CBS's reality show where you form teams of two people, and travel around the world in what's essentially an elaborate scavenger hunt, with some "made-for-TV" drama added.
I just realized today, that my experience this past year, has been essentially my very own Amazing Race. Within the last month, I have travelled to 4 continents in the course of 4 weeks. First, a summer in Switzerland (Europe), then a brief vacation in Morocco (Africa), then visiting friends and family in the US (North America), and finally returning back to school in Singapore (Asia).

Simply amazing, isn't it? And being back with my friends from all over? Completely wonderful.

What am I going to do after I leave this place in 4 months? Life in the US would seem so plain after something like this...

Credits: Amazing Race Logo from CBS

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

How Much I've missed Singapore..

It's really amazing to think that Singapore is feeling like home to me now. When I arrived last week, I felt like I was returning home. I knew where to go to get cash in the airport, taking the taxi back to Dover felt so natural, Today, as I walked to the bank, I wondered what it would feel like to close my DBS bank account at the end of my term here, the only permanent symbol of my time here in Singapore.

In that first week, walking into INSEAD, seeing all my old friends was a great experience. It's funny to think that some of these people I haven't seen in 4 months, but it seemed just like yesterday when we last spoke. Happily and sadly, we'll be graduating in 4 months, and it may be a long time until I see these people again...

P4 is definitely a different experience, I think everybody is a bit more relaxed, nobody is jockeying for position like in P1-P2, when you're trying to establish your reputation.

It's now recruiting season, as companies come for on-campus recruiting, and you definitely see the change in people. Students are dressed better, everybody is studying/preparing for case interviews, and the general mode has become a lot more professional. We're definitely entering the job market at a difficult time, and there will be lots of competition for positions, but thinking back, these past 8 months have been an incredible experience, and I'll be very sad to say goodbye to this place and all my friends/colleagues here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back to INSEAD

Photos from my Swiss summer are now up on Picasa.

First time blogging from the road, since I'm currently at O'hare waiting for my plane to Tokyo, and then to Singapore. I left Geneva last week to come back to the US to visit friends/family, and now 1 week later, it's time to go back to Singapore. My summer has completely flown by incredibly fast. I had a great internship in Geneva, made some great friends/colleagues at the VC firm, and was so fortunate that they've involved me at very high levels, including due diligence, interviews, and providing advice about their future investments.

Like Belgium, I think I'll miss Switzerland, especially Geneva. It was so incredibly international, almost like the UK or US. And there are quirky bits, like all the Arabs who visit during the summer, with their fancy cars. You know that there's a huge Arab market when even the street musicians have signs in front in French, English and Arabic! And Geneva was very quaint, easy to get around, beautiful views and weather. But unfortunately, sometimes, VERY expensive.

For example, check out the picture above. This is for a regular piece of rump steak. The price: CHF65/kilo. With an exchange of 1 USD = 0.95 CHF, that works out to be $28.06 per pound! No wonder the Swiss are so healthy and thin, you can't afford to eat meat! It's also a bad sign when even the simple ethnic restaurants (Turkish or Asian) are charging nearly $18 for simple dishes like kebabs or fried noodles. Actually, the problem is because of Swiss protection of their farmers. It's cheaper to cross the border to France (2o mins away) to shop for food, but the border guards actually check to make sure you didn't bring more than 500g (about 1 lb) of meat back into Switzerland.

And now, time to say good bye to summer vacation.. and hello to INSEAD. Can't wait to start classes again, and meet up with all my friends there!

Marrakech Food Guide

I've finally uploaded all my Marrakech pictures on Picasa, and decided to end my Marrakech trip report with a food review.

Overall, good eating for good prices. I wish I would have had more time to try foods in the night market, but with only 2 nights, it's hard to try everything. I was surprised to see that the Moroccan dishes are pretty lightly spiced, it's even lighter than the Middle Eastern dishes, and not spicy hot at all.

My favorites: Pastilla (the flaky pastry), and orange juice!

One of the best meals in Economy - courtesy of Royal Air Maroc. Spiced beef with rice. Wonder if its also halal?

Breakfast: Freshly pressed orange juice, US$0.50. I'd order 2 glasses at a time, and visit 2-3x a day. It was that good. Great thirst quencher when its sooo hot out in the afternoon

Pastilla, flaky pastry dough, wrapped around shredded chicken and couscous. Sweet and Savory, and totally delicious

Spice Market, with heaps looking like the tips of crayons

"Luxury" lunch ($15) at a nice hotel. Grilled fish with olive oil

Moroccan Sweets

The Night Market in the Medina, grills and food everywhere! The Arabic influence is clearly seen here, reminds me of pasar malam in Malaysia, and the night markets in Taiwan

Merguez (spicy Morrocon Sausage, except for my taste, it wasn't spicy at all)

Kefta (spiced ground beef)

Some kind of soup, haira, I think it's called. It's a simple lentil soup

Simple dish of fried fish

The kebab guy, preparing his items

Coke in Arabic!

Sweet Mint Tea, sounds like it'd be good, but it's more like drinking hot toothpaste

Lamb Tagine, pieces of lamb, slowly stewed with peas and potatoes, and light spices