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Ho Chi Minh City

September 21, 2016

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), a brilliant and buzzling place I'd like to call a perfect chaos.
 Formerly named and still popularly referred to as Saigon, it is the largest Vietnamese city situated in the country's south.
A blend of Vietnam's culture and commerce, the city has increasingly become an expats' favourite.
A center of endless energy and discovery, HCMC consists of the best of two worlds:
from the classiest of restaurants to the tastiest of street stalls,
from the choicest of luxury fashion boutiques to the scrum of the markets,
from the finest of hotels to the cheapest of hostels.
This city undoubtedly leaves a lasting impression on the traveller's mind. 

My favourite thing: street food - The Lunch Lady is a must try!
My worst experience: riding in an illegal taxi - please only stick with Vinasun Taxi

Things to try/do/see/explore:
.vespa tours.
.ben thanh market.
.pham ngu lao street.
.notre dame cathedral.
.war remnants museum.
.central post office.

Gaining Competitive Advantage

September 15, 2016

In order to gain a sustainable competitive advantage in today's rapidly changing world, at the core level, you need to look at 3 things - Products, Services, Relationships.

1. Products
Having competitive products means your products are as good as that of your competitors.
Note that many businesses try to build an advantage at this level by having superior products.
However, any advantage gained here will not be sustainable.
This is because even the most intricate products are susceptible to reverse engineering and replication.
The advantage gained here will surely erode within a few months or a couple of years.

2. Services 
An advantage at the services level is relatively easier to build and maintain.
This is because services are more intangible and less price-sensitive compared to products.
However, in order to excel at this level well ahead of competition, it is quite expensive and mostly not cost effective.
Additional service costs money, so the services you provide are largely constrained by the financial parameters of your business.
Service is only a building block to competitive advantage, bringing us to the next level:

3. Relationships
Contrary to the belief that 'keiretsu' and 'guan-xi' are working concepts restricted to the East,
relationships are crucial to all businesses and cultures.
 Relationships are built upon human connection and mutual trust.
At the customer level, it means fundamentally caring about your customers.
In order to be interested in what you are saying or offering, customers need to first know and believe that you care.
Done well, this is the most cost effective and high yielding level.
It is also the key to true sustainable competition advantage.

San Francisco

September 14, 2016

Situated in northern California, San Fransciso
was synonymous with the hippie counterculture in the 60s;
was the center of the dot-com boom in the 90s;
more recently known for the Bay Area food movement;
now the home to tech unicorns such as Airbnb and Uber.

While there, I visited:
.golden gate bridge.
.lombard street.
.pier 39.
.fisherman's wharf.
.cable cars.

A beautiful city with a sick vibe, can't wait to go back!


September 06, 2016

Barcelona, my absolute favourite city in Europe. 
The cosmopolitan capital of Spain's Catalonia region is an enchanting seaside gem 
with boundless culture and world-class drinking and dining scene.
 Known for its art and architecture, Barcelona is dotted with modernist landmarks designed by Antoni Gaudi.

Early morning jog along the Mediterranean,
Fresh seafood for patio lunch by the beach,
Mid day stroll through the cobblestone lanes of the Gothic Quarter,
Delicious tapas and a variety of inexpensive wine for dinner, 
End the night off at one of the many bohemian bars.
How can one not fall in love with this captivating city?!

The Six - Toronto

September 01, 2016

The 6, formally known as Toronto, is Canada's largest city and the fourth largest in North America.
The most multiculturally diverse city where over 140 languages are spoken.
Ranked one of the world's most livable cities, it is also a global center for business, finance, arts, and culture.

Never a dull moment in this vibrant metropolis
, here are just a few places you should visit:

.royal ontario museum.
.cn tower.
.st lawrence market.
.casa loma.
.distillery district.
.center island park.

Kingston, Ontario

Kingston, a city with a population of ~125k in Eastern Ontario, was named the very first capital of Canada in 1841.
Although this was short lived, Kingston remained an important military installation in the country's history.

While here, I
tried kitesurfing for the first time (what a thrill!!), 
admired various heritage properties, enjoyed the 1000 Island Cruise,
walked around the beautiful campus of Queen's University (founded in 1841).