21 January 2006

Finally Singapore

A great day on my trip, seeing boarding Singapore Airlines in First Class, then checking in to my room at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia. Paris is my favorite place to travel because of my comfort there and the time my wife and I spent there when traveling. Singapore is a close #2 for me. Of course, I forgot that it feels like New Orleans in August all the time here (so no shorts or sandals packed). I have a big king size bed, a high speed internet connection, a bathtub that faces the harbor (similar to this view but picture my view from a building on the right side of this photo), sumo wrestling on TV, able to hit all of my favorite bloggers once again, and no more hard travel.

Let me quickly get a postscript of my time in and around Shanghai. I first visited China in 1995 I think, and I've been there six times (eight or nine if you include Hong Kong). Shanghai is probably the best of China, much better than Beijing. It is something to behold to see the rapid level of growth going on in China. First, a billion people really is alot, no matter how many ways you look at it. I was able to see the industrial revolution first hand, and I've posted a few things earlier about that (no heating of most industrial buildings). Engineers make around $10,000-15,000/year. Most people still travel on either scooters or bikes, with some factory workers living on location. I was able to see some very underdeveloped areas for the first time. What you see is the significant potential to continue expanding into low cost areas within China. The level of resource consumption is increasing dramatically, and I can't imagine growth not continuing there for the next twenty years at least. Not necessarily my favorite place in the world, but not bad by any stretch of the imagination. Shanghai traffic is worse than Atlanta, just dreadful. And I assume there were about as many legal poker rooms as in Atlanta, although I didn't inquire.

One of the strangest experiences was a massage by a blind masseuse. There were eight massage tables in one fairly chilly room (this was a commoners massage place rather than the high-margin hotel spa). One guy got some sort of bizarre ritual where goldfish bowls were heated then sort of suctioned onto his back (like fifteen or twenty), then I'm not sure how long they lasted, then they are popped off. Well, one of them screwed up, and it looked like a charred marshmallow circle on his shoulder. I didn't get that, I got the $6 massage. A young, blind girl (probably sixteen-eighteen, maybe older) was led to me. She spoke minimal English, I guess massage English (turn over, back to me, are you cold), and she then proceeded to do her best to push my vertebrae through my stomach, then though the table, then through the floor I guess. So, you sit there and try to be brave but then you wonder, if I'm paralyzed and can't speak Mandarin, will they just throw me out back? This young lady is paid who knows what to be led into this massage room and smash muscles all day. Blindness is something that I'm not confronted with ever, so it is off-putting. Hers was a methodical, mechanical movement, just very weird.

A couple of other random other topics then I promise poker. Saw Proof with Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, and Jake Gyllenhaal. Another movie I haven't heard of that is actually very good, and Paltrow is very good I think. Also saw Just Like Heaven, which was better than I expected. OK, I have to admit a movie has to be pretty bad for me not to like it, especially if it is in a theater, so take this with a grain of salt. Strangest song I heard in the van during my two-day travel ordeal: Crazy for You by Jesse Johnson (also on my iPod). Jesse Johnson was the guitarist for The Time, which was the Purple Rain antagonist band combating Prince. Spent alot of time listening to my iPod in the van, and my iPod is a strange mix to be sure. Great songs on my iPod (in no particular order): Say a Little Prayer (Aretha), Tennessee (Arrested Development), Lovesong (The Cure), Outstanding (The Gap Band), Virtual Insanity (Jamiroquai), Anotherloverholenyohead and I Wanna Be Your Lover (Prince), Primavera (Santana), La Tortura (Shakira), Kiss Me (Sixpence None the Wiser), Fragile (Sting), Fairy Tale (Toni Braxton), U2, The Police.

So hotel poker. Is there anything unique about playing in your hotel room? First, maximum sensory overload, with the TV on. For the Closet Poker Player, you have unlimited playing freedom, which is just great. I have to be careful with budgeting time, and being halfway around the world (+13 hours vs Eastern time) makes if a little light for finding players at night here/morning in the US. Add room service into the mix, and it's hard to argue against playing in a hotel room if you're going to play online. If you're hard core ten-tabling, then I guess it gets cumbersome bringing three screens with you, but you do get two checked bags...

One final note: is it possible not to just focus on a nemesis? A nemesis is someone who keeps taking you, either sucking out with their draws, raising you out of pots, or having the goods when you almost do. I often just laser focus on playing against them, most of the time to my own detriment. Does this happen to you, and how do you get out of it?


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