up, up and away!
singapore sunset
amw
I tried to extract myself a little bit from the drama this week.

I actually don't think this company is as bad a clusterfuck as some of the other ones i have worked at - it's certainly not as openly toxic - but there are some weaknesses in management, and those are exacerbated by the multicultural team. There is a sizable French contingent, including the French CTO. Then there are Indians, Hongkongers, mainland Chinese, Filipinos and me. And we are spread across five different countries. In a normal company it's already a challenge to balance managing different personalities and cultural backgrounds, but i think here it's a whole nother level of complexity. Solving that is why companies pay managers the big bucks. Unfortunately here i don't think the guys at the top are skilled enough to get the whole machine working smoothly, or at least not yet.

Since i was not hired to be a manager, or a tech lead, or anything other than a mushroom, i told my boss (Indian, located in Singapore) that i just wanted to work with my sidekick (Filipino, located in Cebu) and focus on getting some products out the door. Sure, i can solve build, branching and release problems. I can communicate with everyone and get them all aligned and motivated. But there were already guys responsible for doing that, and since they're still in the middle of a reorg, throwing another cook in is just making it worse. Just let me keep my head down and sling code for a while. Let me keep my sanity.

We'll see what this role develops into - the last three companies i started as a line developer and got promoted to team lead, and before that i started as a line developer and got on release management. So i know that kind of thing will likely be on the cards again... But for now? Fuck, i am just getting used to working full-time again after 10 months off. This is the first goddamn weekend since i started work back in January - and that includes a week-long holiday - where i actually felt like i had some energy to go outside and do something.

It might have helped my morale that my first paycheck finally came through. It's the lowest income i've had since i was stuffing envelopes as an office temp - bang on minimum wage in a developed country - but it's all relative. I am still making twice the median salary in China. I feel like an asshole, but given this is the supposedly the lowest rung i guess there's nothing can be done. Once i am more settled maybe i can find some other ways to give back to the community.

This weekend i said the hell with asceticism and splurged. I went to Starbucks again, which apparently is the only place in this goddamn country that sells coffee beans, and bought their local speciality - Yunnan beans. They probably cost more here than in Seattle, but that's the price Chinese pay for buying all their luxury goods from foreign companies. I will let you know how they taste when i get around to brewing a pot. Because my second splurge was a fucking Mobike.

Let me tell you. I have been itching to ride these share bikes since before i even left Germany. When i first read about them a couple years ago i was already hooked. Everyone in the Berlin office was buzzing about them. After i arrived in China i was desperate to try one out, but due to recent crackdowns on money laundering and tax evasion, it's become much more difficult for foreigners to open accounts here. So... no account, no bike. Last month, thanks to my new residence permit, i was able to open an account, but... no money, no bike. Today i was finally able to drop the 300 kuai deposit and jumped on.

They are everything i hoped for and more. Now, i have ridden these bikes before when friends unlocked them for me. But riding a share bike because you are going somewhere with a friend is not close to the same experience. By definition when you go somewhere with a friend you have already given up your freedom. When you are on your own, however? Holy fuck, it's like having a pair of angel wings in your back pocket. Decide you don't feel like walking? Grab one of the bikes (they are literally everywhere), scan it, bike it wherever you want to go, then leave it there. The end. I almost cried i felt so free. This is the fucking future.

Want more impressions? Of course you do. Share bikes take a huge dump on rental cars (which i have used all over the world), car-sharing (which i used in Toronto), regular docked rental bikes (which i have used in Istanbul, Shanghai and Taiwan), mass transit and obviously every single form of private transport ever. This is the dream. You can go wherever you want, whenever you want. There is no opening hours. There is no wait time. There is none of the guilt and stress of private transport. It's just. You wanna go somewhere? You go. You wanna walk around instead? Just do it. I can't even tell you. It was such a thrill.

It's sad the concept doesn't work outside of the city.

But even in cities you can always find places to go that feel like a proper outing. I decided to ride around the Shenzhen reservoir, which i guess is about 20km or so. I stopped off at Dawang village, where i visited during Spring Festival. It turned out to be just as busy as i expected, but not particularly more busy than anywhere else in the city. And - charmingly - it didn't feel as packed with douchey weekenders as i thought it would. It seems the people out on the streets playing basketball and nattering and drinking tea were just the locals come out to enjoy the sun. I sat on a stool and ate some noodles then moved on.

On the east side of the reservoir, up against the mountains, all the trees were in bloom. It seems i was a touch too late for a cherry blossom Kodak moment - maybe it peaked during the week - but the air was full of color and smelled sweet and clean. It was a rare day where you could easily see from Wutongshan to the hills of Hong Kong and all across Luohu. I almost wanted to head up for some sunset vistas, but the wind was whipping in my ears and i decided today was a day to enjoy my wheels. Tomorrow i can climb. And, besides, i had already snuck in a climb of the little green bamboo mountain between my place and Starbucks.

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When i got back to my neck of the woods i said goodbye to my trusty steed, grabbed a jasmine ice tea, then ducked into Walmart for a few groceries. I decided to spoil myself by getting a dragonfruit. They are out of season right now and currently being imported from Vietnam, but goddamnit it's my first paycheck and i don't care. I can't think of anything big to splurge on besides a new tablet, and that doesn't have much point until i get the internet hooked up, so dragonfruit it is. Perhaps i will eat it tomorrow while i sip my very expensive coffee from Yunnan province.

I was hoping to catch up with F tomorrow - maybe head over to Hong Kong to climb my favorite mountain near Fanling with the creepy buddhas and then eat a pork bun and drink beer and waltz back to fucking Luohu just across the border instead of ass-end Nanshan like i used to - but i haven't heard back. All good. Even having tried to shift down a gear at work i am still destroyed. And sunkissed, from today's excursion. Plus, oh, did i mention i'm sick? I'm choosing to ignore it because, goddamnit, i finally got paid and the weather is awesome and i don't want to spend another weekend in bed reading the paper and feeling sorry for myself.

Well, even if i still do that tomorrow at least i will have a dragonfruit. And burning thighs.

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