April 25th, 2019

singapore sunset

hot day bike trial

Getting the work permit figured out at my new employer is proving to a be a little more of a pain in the ass than it was at my previous two employers. Mainly because they are going through a third-party visa/immigration firm, which means everything takes twice as long to get to the government and back.

After the debacle that was my Canadian immigration process i am now convinced immigration lawyers exist solely to cheat money out of desperate people. They turn a process that is already stressful and humiliating into... well exactly the same, except more expensive and more time-consuming.

It's taking so long to get organized i don't think i will be able to go on a mini holiday between jobs. I wanted to go to Hunan province this week to see Mao's birthplace. Now next week will be smack bang in the middle of the Labor Day holiday and the 100 year anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, so the trains and hotels will almost certainly be booked solid. Sigh.

Today i biked into my new work to file some paperwork. In the morning it was already around 30 degrees and 75% humidity. It was far from the worst commuting weather - that would either be raining or high pollution days - but it was not a brisk spring ride either.

It went well.

It took me about half an hour to get to the top of of Keyuan Rd, which doesn't feel like very far away from my house. That first half an hour was mostly spent waiting at red lights and BMXing through the edges of construction sites. Up my end of town they are busy building a riverwalk/greenway and a new onramp so it's a bit a mess. But from Keyuan things open up.

Well, okay, the stretch between Beihuan Blvd and Shennan Blvd is a total shit-show. For some reason i cannot figure out, the sidewalks were shoulder-to-shoulder with pedestrians grabbing breakfast from the street vendors and heading into work. I guess if i had just moved to China i might have found it claustrophobic, but these days i just ring the bell and scoot my way through the middle, that's just how it is.

I hit Shennan Blvd around 45 minutes in. Although there is some subway construction messing up the roads down there, the road is much wider and it was a fairly smooth run all the way down to the bay. I stopped off just before crossing Binhai Blvd to get some steamed buns, then parked in front of Shenzhen Talent Park.

It was 1 hour and 5 minutes in and i had 55 minutes to spare so i sat under a tree and ate my buns. I studied some flashcards, then wandered around a bit in the shopping mall with the Maclaren and Bentley dealerships. Right now it's unfinished and most of the storefronts are empty, which gives it this really bizarre vibe of waiting for the billionaires to arrive. Or maybe they all just got eaten by zombies.

My new office will be great. It's got all the tech company perks. Massage chairs. Sleeping pods. Quiet rooms. Espresso machine. Xbox. Shower. Gym.

You know, even if the work turns out to be as stressful as my last job, all those perks plus the 21 days of annual leave will really do a lot to cancel it out.

I was looking through LinkedIn and musing at how many of my ex-colleagues have ended up at big tech companies. Facebook. Google. Apple. Amazon. Oracle. Dell. Microsoft. IBM. This company i'll be joining is not exactly one of those giants, but it is a subsidiary of a NASDAQ-listed Chinese powerhouse.

When i was young i thought it would be so cool to work for one of these epic tech companies. Then i did and it was awful, so i quit and went back to small- and mid-size verticals. In Germany i tried again with a major e-commerce firm but noped out there too. I dunno, i think i wanted to work at places where i could have an impact without having to douche my way into a VP or CTO position.

Now i am realizing a lot of executive- and middle management-averse people my age seem to end up in those big tech companies anyway. I wonder if it's because eventually they just got tired. Every company has the same old bullshit, so you might as well just pitch camp at one with great pay and perks. My ex-colleagues who made it into the FAANG (Facebook/Amazon/Apple/Netflix/Google) bubble never left.

It's so annoying that we have to work to live.

Tomorrow i will do the commute again to sign some other paperwork. And then... well, maybe i will skip Mao Zedong's house for Mayday and head over to Nanning again. It's not much of a vacation destination because it's just a nondescript tier-two city whose only claim to fame is that it's the last stop on the Beijing to Hanoi express. Perhaps that means there will be less people around. I liked it last time i was there. Guangxi in general is pretty chill.

We'll see. I wish you could book trains day-of in China and didn't need to plan one or two days in advance.

Here is a photo taken from a little park near my house, looking back in the direction of the village where i live. To be clear, when i talk about "villages" in Shenzhen, i mean urban villages like New York's Lower East Side or the old Kowloon Walled City.



On clear days this town is pretty great.