Malaysia

Chilling at the pool in KL - Erik Winther 2014
My trainee-colleague Johanna has already left KL, and Angelica leaves Bangkok in a few days.

It is not without mixed feelings I realize that the first quarter of 2014 is coming to an end, implicating that my stay here in Thailand is facing the same fate.

So with only a few weeks left, I look back and enjoy my fantastic memories, while at the same time try to maximize the remaining days by ‘acquiring professional help’ from Stockholm. In practice my good friend Johan is visiting; a high-performer who rarely omit a party or social gathering. I think we will have lots of fun on Bangkok’s dance floors!

Picture of Johanna, Angelica relaxing in front of Petronas Towers (background), shot from the pool area on 22nd floor at Johanna’s residence in KL during our visit there in February.

Q1 2014 is coming to an end

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Saab APAC Trainees - Erik Winther 2014
Realized that I haven’t posted this picture earlier. I shot this photo in my Bangkok apartment in January, when Frida’s and my adventurous vacation in Thailand and Laos was coming to an end.

So we made our way back to Bangkok, where three of my trainee colleagues had just flown in from Sweden. From left: Johanna (based in Kuala Lumpur during her months abroad), I, Angelica (Bangkok), Cathrine (Jakarta) and my travel companion Frida (Linköping).

Colleagues in Asia

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Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, standing tall in the night - Erik Winther 2012
My colleague Angelica and I visited Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, KL, last weekend (and our friend Johanna of course!). Despite the fact that Malaysia’s labour force is just a third of Thailand’s, their economy (GDP) is almost as big. The difference is obvious when strolling downtown; Thailand’s sidewalk-life with hawker stalls and salesmen all over is completely gone.

Just as Norway and unlike Thailand, nature gave Malaysia oil. Black, shiny liquid gold. It rarely get as obvious as on the border between oil-rich Brunei and rural Sabah; even though Sabah belongs to Malaysia. But what characterizes non-renewable finite resources, such as oil, is that today’s consumption rates are in practice borrowing wealth from coming generations as the resources’ reproduction rates are much slower.

Thus a great deal of consideration should be made when regulating the usage of natural resources. In that sense is Malaysia far behind Norway, as they spend 30% of the oil’s value as soon as is pumped up to the surface. Norway, indeed having far higher living standard and a GDP per capita ten times as high as Malaysia, are spending barely 2% of the value and put the remaining value in two sovereign wealth funds (known as the Oil Fund); which happen to be the world’s most valuable funds.

Picture from a previous KL-visit in December 2011.

Petroleum

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Scooter in Hua Hin - Erik Winther 2014
With the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) that makes the ASEAN countries consider themselves as one single market by 2015 and Thailand being the prevailing car manufacturer; with Thailand’s ‘first time [car] buyer’-promotion for its people; with the recent termination of Australia’s automotive industry; with low labour costs; and lastly with the fact that Thailand still demand 100% import tax on all vehicles manufactured abroad; there is no doubt why all car manufacturers set up production lines in Thailand, each of them with huge capacity. By 2017, the research company HIS expects ASEAN’s annual demand exceed 3.3 million cars.

Yet despite the collision safety arguments and the possibility to turn on the air conditioning when queuing, status is the only reason for the Thai (and ASEAN) people to replace their numerous, reliable two-wheelers. I mean, few things makes one feel as free as jumping on top of one’s bike and leaving the car queues behind on the way to the beach.

Picture of the 125cc-scooter I rented during a weekend trip to Hua Hin; the capital of retired Swedish seniors.

The Automotive Industry

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Today we’ve been booking meetings and arranged things all day.
We scheduled the meeting with Paul Kukubo, the CEO of Kenya’s ICT Board, and his colleague Lawrence Nduva. That is one of the most exciting meetings possible for our project, so it feels great to have it in the calendar :)

Arranged a couple of other meetings with local entrepreneurs and used our connections to get in touch with Rwanda’s Development Board during our stay there. Also set up the meetings for tomorrow; with the former ICT-strategist of PwC Africa and a key person at Ericsson.

A meeting with the sharp and friendly entrepreneur; and Sandbox-ambassador, Mark rounded off the day. Nice!

Picture from Januari, showing Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Progress

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I have a few friends out there, who just like me are thesis writers and blog about it. Say Hola to Malin in the Caribbean, हैलो to Rasmus & Kajsa in India and Hai! to Erik & Viktor in Malaysia.

Unfortunately, Erik & Viktor’s blog is more of a photo album on facebook, so you probably need to be fb friends for you to see them. Please notice me if I forgot to add someone.

To you guys mentioned: Enjoy!
And for the rest of you; stop reading and get out there you too! :)

Bloggers

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KHU main gate at full moon
So, the time has come. After waiving off all the exchange students, one at the time, am I now waiving bye to Korea myself.

This has been a truly amazing year and I am filled with gratefulness to all of you who have shared those experiences with me. The biggest and most important gift of being here is obviously the wealth of perspectives, and the friendships themselves, by spending time with amazing people from allover the world.

A deep, humble and happy thank you to my new friends from
Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ghana, Guatemala, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Rwanda, Sweden, Tunisia, UK, USA, Vietnam…and of course everyone from Korea.

You will always have a place in my heart.

Goodbye

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Three months have passed since I arrived in Seoul for the spring semester. Three super fast and fun months with lots of new and old faces. But with one more month to go, including numerous exams and hand-ins, is it perfect timing for testing another metropolis “in the neighborhood” and celebrate Buddha’s birthday with a few days in Tokyo!

Accompanied by Finish Lena and Austrian Claudia am I leaving Korea on Thursday, expecting lots to see and hard times to communicate; despite that we speak more than ten languages together :)

Picture from January, showing Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Buddha’s birthday

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Traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.
Okay; some lucky (or illegal) trades on the stock market might also create fast profit, but not until you sell the investments again.

Picture from my flight from Kota Kinabalu (KK) on Malaysian Borneo to Manila in the Philippines. I climbed the mount Kinabalu (the peak outside the window that is the highest in the Malay Archipelago) two days before the flight; something I do recommend because of the extraordinary panorama.

Buy richness?

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