Did I remember the trip last year?

Oh, yes I do.

I have to say email marketing done right still works, even though we are bombarded with numerous junk on a secondly base.

That’s the subject line of an email from Airbnb, one of my favrouites sites. It was perfectly timed at the same month we went on a road trip as a family last year around the west coast.

As a digital native and also a practitioner myself, I successfully gifted a digital-driven trip to my parents, who are only barely stay digital on Wechat.

The trip started as an idea of “act while you can”. Back in 2008, I planned everything down to daily schedule with my grandma to the States. However, just the day before I asked her to go to our family doctor to get some safety med just in case. Her blood pressure turned sky high and the doctor strongly advised against going. That was it. My grandma never got to use her American visa. With that in mind, while my mom and dad are still mobile and healthy. We decided to go on a family trip.

How digital was it –

  • My parents’ ticket to SFO was redeemed by my Asiamile mileage online. It blew off my hard-earn 144,000 miles over the past couple of years. (To be honest, I did try to NYC, California and Dallas in less than 12 months and Bali and Amsterdam some time slightly earlier).
  • My ticket to SFO was bought directly from the airline website and the air tickets to Van Couvar and train ticket back to Seattle and air ticket back to SFO were all done directly on the relating sites.
  • I tried searching some online tool to plan for our itinery. Only the Roadtrip planner was good for a while. So I went back to the old-fashion Excel file to fill in the dates, temperature (I used Google to check the weather down to the days), where we will be, whom to meet and rough budget. I also shared that with my two aunts who we would staying with.
  • For the cities, we didn’t have free accomodation, we turned to Airbnb. We booked a stunning flat in downtown Van Couvar and Seattle.
  • We also booked the rental car in advance.
  • When we were on our rental car, we used Google Map to navigate  to tour along California 1 and Yelp to look for resturants to dine in.
  • While we were not using the rental car, we ubered or lyfted. It worked perfectly fine.
  • We used Wechat, Whatsapps and Facebook messager to communicate with our friends and families.

It was a small step for me, but a huge leap for my parents. Look forward to our next trip Hawaii this Christmas.

遺憾美 – What if…

前言

太久沒有寫作了, 來到快到3月底才開始2016年的第一篇, 有感提筆生疏. 現在答應自己在庸庸碌碌的生活中, 停步下來, 把每一刻的小感動寫下來, 保觧僅存講故事的能力. 雖說獻醜(我可真的忘了醜寫怎樣寫, 要在Yahoo Dictionary 查 “Ugly” #somin). 不如蔵拙, 但寫作對我來記是一個理清思路, 思考人生的方法, 就讓我來獻一下醜. 

記得去年在社交媒體上,  有一套電影吸引了我的注意 – “哪一天我們會飛”. 本想到戯院看, 朋友們的-評價好壞參半, 但不知什麼原因, 也淡忘了.

上星期在飛機, 偶然看到了這套戯在Movie List上, 就選了來看看. 原來對該片沒抱很大期望, 但故事遠遠超我意料. 故事的巧妙構思, 使我看完電影還不停回咮著. 故事訴說一對人到中年的夫婦經過歲月的洗禮, 為活而活, 外表風光但忘郤了對生活的熱情, 如行屍走肉地活著. 偶然的機遇下, 回憶學生時代的青澀初戀和重拾年輕時追夢的熱血, 完一個故友的心願. 初戀的情節似曾相識, 令我不其然聯想到一套總是令我感動不以的電影 – 情書. 兩片的遺憾美也是始於年輕是擦身而過的暗戀, 到了長大後才發現的的由衷感動, 的確有異曲同工之巧. 兩個故事的男主角也是對之後的女友看似一見鍾意, 但其實只是女友和初戀對像很相似而已. 而在電影倒敍時也已去世, 到女主角發現和時已經追也不回, 只有淡淡的遺憾美 – “情書”中女主角在書簽後的插畫, “哪一天我們會飛” 中女主角發現在獎杯下的登機證. What if 情書的女主角一早就看到書簽? What if 在”哪一天我們會飛”的女主角看到了紙飛機的留言? 在”哪一天我們會飛”中, 少時的三人行, 女主角周旋於兩個心儀自的的男生中間, 微妙的友誼和青葱少年情,  第三者說男角A令她想起以前的男友, 而男角A是因為第三者令他想起他女主角年輕的時代,  其實第三者以前的男朋友正是男角B, 最巧妙的地方是第三者的前男友正是男角B, 因為男角B鍾情的也是女主角, 可謂超越時空的四角戀.

除了感情線外, 電影的重拾追夢的熱忱值得我們反思. 男女主角其實也是夢想成真, 做了兒時想做的工作, Living their dream. 但他們倆也忘郤了對夢想的初衷, working to live, not living to work. 夢想成真又如何? 劇中男女主角最後也因為亡友對夢想的執著激勵, 重燃對生活的熱情. 可算是Happy ending.

記得兒時的夢想嗎? 是否已經活在夢想生活中, 而郤身在福中? 在成長是又有多少段令你不斷回想的What If…的遺憾? 無疾而終的初戀總是美麗的, 因為它是一個夢, 沒有生活的洗滌, 還留有許多你腦海裡的想像空間. What if…

 

 

 

[Flash of Genius] Tmall Apple Product Launch

Chinese creativity never fails to amaze me.

Today, there’s a top banners on the biggest eCommerce platform in China – Tmall.

On the top purple banner, the Chinese reads “Secret Apple Product launch 2015”.

Tmall Home Page Top Banner on May 6, 2015

Tmall Home Page Top Banner on May 6, 2015

When you click into the banner, you’ll get the idea – A landing page with a typical Apple/Mac look and feel only with Real Apples in the key visual. (See the page here)

Landing Page for Queens Apple - sells actual apple - the fruit.

Landing Page for Queens Apple – sells actual apple – the fruit.

Looks Familiar?

Apple Feature

Apple Feature

Apple Feature

To top it up, they actually mock Apple to the max by creating a product videos completely Apple Style. I seriously love the video and the whole creative idea. (What exactly does a VP of Visibility Reduction do?)

Queens Apple Product Video

Queens Apple Product Video

http://cloud.video.taobao.com/play/u/788020900/e/1/t/1/p/1/25046539.swf

Yes, they are selling real apples from New Zealand.

This is by far, the best apple-mocking campaign I’ve seen (Apart from the whole Xiaomi craze).  Have a laugh and enjoy!

Follow-up:

It didn’t stop there:

Queens Apple and Tmall Internatinal worked with two top celebrities who are currently starring in the celebrities dating reality show “Let’s fall in love” (我们相爱吧)

With their Quotes, which had been hot topic on Weibo since the show aired.

Ren Zhong's Apple Packing with his famous quote

Ren Zhong’s Apple Packing with his famous quote

Shangwenjie  Customized Packaging

Shangwenjie Customized Packaging

Of course, KOLs (Nice adaptation of Coke’s “Share a Coke” – Isn’t the packaging familiar too?

KOL Posts

KOL Posts

They also built up the hashtag/ Topic on Weibo #AppleforReal# (真的是苹果)- It’s less than 48 hours since its debut on Tmall, the topic itself has over 20 million views and 17K Tweets and definitely counting.

What’s more? They have sold out over 30K packages of Apples in less than 2 days before they apples are picked. Isn’t it a marketing miracle?

Sold Out Banjner

Sold Out Banner

Well done, Tmall International! I wonder when international news will pick up the story.

Radical Transparency – Everlane

Quite honestly, I never heard of this name until later in 2014. It caught my eyes on my Facebook feed – the New IT bag in a cheaper price favoured by celebrities (sadly, it was from style.com. I will definitely miss their editorial content). Now I am one proud owner of its Petra bag.

Everlane.com its online store

Everlane.com its online store

Everlane is a strictly web-based fashion & lifestyle brand, launched in 2010, from San Francisco, founded by a fashion outsider. They got instantly famous/popular by telling the ugly truth of the markup of designer apparel’s markup by their infamous Twitter campaign:

Infograph on Designer Brand's Markup

Infograph on Designer Brand’s Markup

Their fascinating story started ever since…

Radical Transparency is of course their Unique Selling Point (USP), providing affordable luxury-quality fashion and lifestyle products.  To top it up, they hired former designer director, Petra Langerova from Gap to lead their product development. (Their best selling bag is called Petra. Could it be a coincidence? Of course, NOT).

Take a look at these:

  • Sales reportedly grew more than 200 percent from 2013 to 2014.
  • At Feb 2015, the waiting list for the Petra bag was 7,500 long.

What’s the secret for success?

1. Transparency about the production and pricing (They never offers discount) – Education too

How Everlane's famous Petra Bag is priced

How Everlane’s famous Petra Bag is priced

2. Quality products at affordable price –

My bag was made in Italy with 100% Italian leather exterior and it was only US$395.The products were made in countries that are expert in manufacturing that line of products.

Screencap from everlane.com

Screencap from everlane.com

3. Stellar Designer – Petra Langerova (PR and relationships with fashionistas follow)

Imagine all the PR story follows and the credibility that was already built for her capability and creatively. (Read more Here)

Photo Credit: Fashionista.com

Photo Credit: Fashionista.com

4. Celebrity seeding and ePR

That’s what caught my attention first. Both Angelina Jolie and Olivia Munn were carrying a bag below US$400.

Screencap from the style.com article

Screencap from the style.com article

5. Pushed their messages of non-elitist fashion for the people with social

Hey, fashion can be for everybody. Own your luxury quality fashion item and look good. That appeals not only to the fashionables but average Jill like me.

6. Break Rules and operated like a tech company

Quoting style.com “The starting point for Everlane might have been fashion, but it was fierce social media know-how and a well-executed digital strategy that have quickly brought it to the forefront. Through Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, et al., Preysman and his team pushed their messages of non-elitist fashion for the people and transparency about the production and pricing. Both themes hit the nail on the head, tapping into two major consumer trends. ” (Read more Here). Having your t shirt delivered faster than a pizza, woot, I will sign up for it!

Here’s my route to my first Petra:

I Love my Petra Bag

My Little Journey to my first Everlane Petra Magazine Tote

While, I’m loving my bag and carrying it everyday possible, I showed the idea to a friend who’s been in luxury for a while. His first impression was nice concept but I can get my Uniqlo for similar quality for a fraction of its price. – Brutally honest but definitely true. My bag is priced right to me though ;-p

Travelogue Day 3 in Maldives

A few things I learnt today:
1. Most of the excursions started before 8:30 in Hulhumale
2. Club Med Kani is a nice resorts, probably one of the nicest. However, one way transfer costs about US$200 so for the round trip alone is enough for me to have a small getaway to a nearby country. So I could only hope, in due time, I’ll feel comfortable to afford it. (Definitely not now)
3. Friday is the rest day for Maldives. Offices are closed. Ferry to Malé doesn’t run until 1:30pm

It seemed like i ran out of options when i reached the lobby by 8:50am, still dirty (the hot water wasn’t working in the room and I went to bed leaving sea water in my hair. Frustrated, I talked to my new travel mate, who was even more frustrated because the revolutionist forgot to book her diving trip, her sole purpose here. Running out of the normal options turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

We decided to go and Chillax at the nearby beach till the ferry ran and ventured into the city and toured around.

The Hulhumale beach is just stunning with clear water sectioned into difference colors thanks to the difference in depth. The view itself cleanse your mind and soul.

It’s a no bikini beach. So we had to wear shorts and t shirt on top of our bikinis. I didn’t expect to do snorkelling but my friend brought her own set and her fins. So I bumped up my courage and had a try. My first try wasn’t that successful due to my poor swimming skills and the corals were quite sharp and I barely stood. I returned quickly and buried myself into the world of Robert Langdon.

My friend came back from another dip in the water and encouraged me to use the fin and try again. This time was a lot better. I couldn’t quite control the fin but it floated. I could stand after first falling. I managed to see some fish. Well done me!

Tanning with my t shirt and shorts on weren’t too bad. I still managed to get some color and read my book. Slightly difference from what I envisioned – tanning in my bikini with a cold beer in one hand and a good book on the other. Did I also mention that alcohol was prohibited in the whole Hulhumale Island? Detox!

So we went back to the hotel and take a shower in out soaking wet attire. The second cold shower I had this trip. I couldn’t stand but wash my hair with the cold water. Quite an experience actually.

We took the bus to the pier (N2 – neighbourhood 2 to ferry). We waited for about 10 minutes at the bus stop along with a local family. The people here are so nice and kind.

At the pier, we just missed one ferry. A putter group of tourists (a mixed group of Chinese and german students) laughed at our disappointed looks. I overheard they spoke mandarin together. I must say I’m impressed. The Chinese guy spoke conversational mandarin to the other two white guys I. A reasonably normal speed. The two guys totally understood. One of the guys held the door for us and spoke something in Chinese. I retuned with a “xiexie”. When we took photos outside of the ferry. The same guy yelled “kuai dian Er!” (hurry!) obviously teasing our photo taking. When I walked past them, I said in Chinese “I speak Chinese too” as a return to their teasing. Too bad that we sat too far away and they went on to a taxi right after the ferry so we didn’t talk.

Apart from normal passengers, bikers with their motorbikes got on the ferry too.

With the idea “Malé is one of the most disappointing cities in the world” in mind, I had zero expectation. There was a guy outside of the pier asking for money scared me a little. Many of the restaurants looked dark and dodgy with only male patrons. We just walked and tried to go to a restaurant for lunch. After a few turns and asking the way, we stumbled upon a nice outdoor restaurant overlooking the artificial beach. Yay! One tourist attraction hit! Free wifi at the restaurant. We googled hard immediately on what to eat and where to go.

We tried the signature dish in the restaurant ( Blue thunder), which is a sandwich with meat and melted cheese.

With big urge of trying out local food, we picked two more Sri Lanka dish – Devilled Prawn (a spicy version of sweet & sour prawn) and kothu roti (similar to Indonesian stirred fried fat noodles with meat). They are really tasty with strong favours. We were the only female patrons there and other male patrons just stared at us.

My sense of direction was just bad. We were supposed to be 1 minute away from the friday mosque but we couldn’t find it. Instead we walked all the way to the tsunami memorial statue. The sea view along the wall was breath-taking. You could take photo from
All angles and they all look good.

There were surfers too, surfing in the city centre.

We also stopped by having a coconut. When we asked for a spoon to pick the inside. The seller just cut the coconut in halves and slide a small portion of the skin and asked us to use it as a spoon. It worked! How smart!

With views like this, who needs fancy dinning tables?

Somehow, I was still under the impression that we could find a mall to walk around with restaurants and clean toilets. We asked the way again and the guy seemed puzzled. It couldn’t be good. We followed his direction and found ourselves slowly moving to the shopping area.

The color cloth shop fascinated us. Touching the different fabric and imaging how there fabric can mix together to build beautiful clothes was nostalgic and new in a way. It reminded me of my mom bringing me to cloth shops back in mainland China when I was little and buying cloth to make clothes for me; new in a way was that I was never that close to so many different fabric and textures and colors.

After a few turns, we finally found the shopping street where we were supposed to go. It’s a lot busier than any others streets and festive. When we finally decided to walk back to the pier, we found the mosque. We were really close indeed. And we found an outdoor restaurant for an early and light dinner. To our great surprise, there were many other female patrons there and mixed tables of male and female. That was actually new to us in Malé. Our meal was delightful with a mix of spicy Thai salad and a calming spaghetti cabanara, finally something not spicy.

That concluded our relaxing day with a combination of beach and touring.

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If you are Asian and have the white fever, you want to read this…

My friend’s divorce came as a shock to me. They were happily married for almost 5 years (at least on social media). I heard this from a visiting friend and he called it quit. To skip the story, just scroll down.

Here’s the story – I met her all those years ago while we were partying hard, very typical at a drunk bathroom talk. Both of us were looking for a perfect boyfriend in the hopeless place (Alright, I’m not that young. The song hasn’t come out yet, even though we had seriously self-esteem problem, ridiculously high requirement for a boyfriend and absolutely no money. We went out, got drunk, drunkenly hooked up with someone and felt shameful the day after. It was a vicious circulation. You were desperate and you went out drinking. The more you drank, the least likely you would land on someone remotely nice. We went through some very dark, depressed and self destructing phrase. We were in bad places.

She is a very nice person. She and I both moved on and randomly connected on social media. She introduced me to a way to meet new people, instead of trying our luck in the meat market, aka, the clubs. Soon after, she landed on a jet pot. She found him, a fresh of boat expat, who ticked all her boxes. They were Happy and compatible – he made jokes and she laughed; he was loud and she never seemed to mind or feel remotely embarrassed. Their happiness was contagious as well. She become more gracefully, organising big parties and always out and about with a big entourage. I was invited to a few parties and met their friends. She had to leave for a year. I still remember that at her farewell party, a few of the ‘girlfriends’ remarked, they wouldn’t survive the long distance. However, they proved the girls wrong. They survive and came even stronger together. There was a big ass welcome-back party and everyone was there. After 3-4 years of comfortable (at least on the outside) live-in relationship, they tied the knot with an extravaganza wedding. She was a lady of leisure and a stay-in housewife after the wedding. They travelled to places and even kept a very cute dog. She showed her amazing cooking all the time.

What went wrong? There are always the girl’s version and the guy’s version. It took 2 to tango but the guy version made sense to me. He was unhappy (guy’s version – he tried talking to her but she never listened). They wanted to have a baby and after a long period of trying the stress grew bigger. He wanted to go out and have fun with friends and she preferred to stay in. In the end, to the guy, it seemed all the marriage was about producing a cute mixed baby. With love wearing thin, he also wasn’t too pleased with the whole single income family thing with the wife enjoying the leisure life. He didn’t want to bring a kid to an unhappy marriage or wake up one day and realised he’s grown old and has wasted his time feeling miserable. He called it quit. Wise decision (I wouldn’t say it wasn’t cruel or sad).

Morale of the story?
– You can have a preference of a certain type, be it a race, a body type, an accent etc. However, it shouldn’t be your sole criteria for choosing a life partner. I have to admit at one point, I wanted to date a white guy partly because I wanted a mixed baby (Selfish gene + self pride). After a few years of experience (not voluntarily), I realised it’s all superficial and dumb. To top it up, Guys HATES this. They want to marry you because you are in love and he’s special to you, not because you can make a cute baby and feel good about it.
– Always have your own life no matter if you are single or in a relationship. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you need to stay together all the time and going out doesn’t make you bad. While trying to have a life together with shared moments and friends, have your own support system and be independent too. Everyone can have some freedom or a breather no and then. Don’t suffocate your relationship. Breathe!
– Be honest and financially independent. This is extremely hard for Asia ladies. First to be honest about your financial situation. You don’t need to count down to a single penny to our significant others. More often or not, some ladies tend to have some proud pretending to be more well off then they really are. Girls, don’t expect your men will pay for anything because they won’t, at least not always. Have your own job or your way of maintaining a healthy finance status. Guys dig it when you pay for them sometimes (not all the time, of course).
– A follow up point. Don’t assume guys always make more money than you. I’m sure you are not a gold digger but it’s hard not for Asian girl to expect that. It comes to a point on how much you fall for this person. Of course, if you smell something fishy, like he’s a feud or something, trust your instinct.
– Baby or not baby. A baby is a blessing. However, it’s not the only way to happy marriage. Relax! Don’t let the stress eat you. If it happens, it happens. There are many babies around the world needing loving parents. I used to have this nightmare that I would have stress getting pregnant after getting married. I was stressed by even thinking about it. Don’t get me wrong. I totally love babies. It’s just that I don’t want the stress to hurt the loving relationship.
– Bust your fantasy bubble. White are not always better. They are not always gentler, more romantic. The list goes on. I can’t deny that Asian girls might find average looking white guy hot and vice versa. It’s not about look always. In the end, it’s the whole of you, personality, look and timing etc. The yellow fever can get you the first few encounters, but as days go by, your true self will reveal. The worst is that there’s nothing beneath the beautiful appearance.

I once was a girl hoping to find a white boyfriend and turn him into a husband and a loving father with the cutest mixed baby. It didn’t turn out that way. I feel so that for my ex that he has to endued so much of my selfishness. I put so much pressure on this poor guy who loved me on marrying me.

Not that I’m superior or something, I’m just glad I learnt things the hard way and come to my current status of mind. Good luck all the girls out there hoping for love.

You might find love in the hopeless place. 😉