Posted by: yannaungoak | August 19, 2009

Singapore: Jet lag diaries

I got in yesterday at 1AM, when my biological clock was probably thinking it’s still 1PM, was up the whole night, and went to bed at 6 in the morning. Woke up some time in the afternoon, and was incredibly sleepy by 11PM, and thought it was wonderful that I was going to fall asleep at a proper time. Tough luck. At 2 AM, I was wide awake.

This brings us to me blogging here about it. Problem is, the internet connection SUCKS! The more pedestrian levels of hell must include some version of this insomnia + internet outage thing in the package deal, you know, before all the fancy fires and demons stuff. Or maybe they don’t have internet in hell, if they do, maybe the RIAA is your ISP.

Well, anyways, I should probably say something substantial.

So, I have two cousins that will be mentioned here on this blog. First, is Bosscousin, who resides in Myanmar and is my employer, as the name implies. He has a lovely little three year old daughter named Ku Kuu and is a skilled businessman, completely self-made too. Next, is Othercousin, she’s Bosscousin’s younger sibling, also works for him, and resides here in Singapore. She just got married last month and the guy, Ko Htike, is swell. I just met him when I got here and we’re getting along really well. I’m living with the newly married couple in a nice apartment right in the center of town that Bosscousin has rented. Bosscousin and Othercousin aren’t their real names, which I will be protecting in the interest of privacy.

My work officially starts tomorrow, kind of. We’re meeting some folks from Singtel, which is the largest telecommunications company in Singapore, so that should be interesting. Maybe I should first mention what my job entails first. Well, I don’t really know yet, but I’m kind of like a general chameleon for whatever job that needs doing that fulfills the dual criterion of requiring someone who speaks English well and someone who is a family member (i.e. trustable). It’s kind of a small family business, so there’s lots of flexibility. The office is located in Peninsula Plaza, which is the nerve center of the Burmese community in Singapore. It’s a mall where probably about 70% of the shops are Burmese stalls. Burmese food, clothing, books, movies, air tickets and money transfers to Myanmar, internet cafes where folks can VOIP with friends and relatives back home. Anything a Burmese expat might want, she can find at Peninsula plaza.

The project we’re working on right now is to provide some kind of mobile services for the Burmese community in Singapore. There’s a sizable Burmese population in this city-state (~100K) and just like every other segment of the population in this country, they are avid consumers of cell phones and web media. I will definitely write a whole series of posts on internet and mobile culture in Myanmar. It’s something that has just recently emerged in the past few years (which means I wasn’t there to experience it), and it’s all a nice wonderful shock to me that people can actually send text messages in Myanmar now! And now that they’ve started doing pre-paid SIM cards, apparently even roadside snack stall owners have cellphones now! It totally reminds me of this concept of favela chic, that was coined by Bruce Sterling the science fiction writer, that he elaborates on in this highly entertaining lecture here (which btw is awesome and should be watched by everybody). I think his description is spot on:

At the low-end is ‘Favela Chic’. It’s when you ‘lost everything, but you’re wired to the gills and big on Facebook’.

But you really have to listen to it said in Bruce Sterling’s signature dry sarcastic drawl to do it the proper justice it deserves, so go watch the video!

I should stop before this post gets too long. And I haven’t even gotten started on the food at Peninsula! Well, bottom line is I’ve made the halfway across the world journey safely in one piece. And things seem to be good.

Oh, oh… and I cut my hair. It’s really short now.



  1. Hey Yan Naung Oak,
    Your short hair should suit the hot weather better. 🙂
    Why do the Burmese in Singapore need their own mobile service? Do they have specialized needs—like texting in burmese?

  2. Yeah, the weather is pretty unforgiving. I can explain to you about work when we chat.

  3. […] 30 June, 2010 – Two important things happening today. (1) It’s the last day of my second job in Singapore. (2) I’m moving house, again! It’s the fourth place I’ll be living in since I got here last August. […]

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