The country side

Sorry for the late post – I was held up with work that piled up because of all the activities I engaged in this week.

I had lots to do.


But still, I spent 5 days of the week doing something else but work.

Last Theme Field Trip

My theme paid a visit to ERIC’s Prefab Homes Factory where we got to observe first hand how prefab homes were manufactured and assembled. The hospitable staff there also took us on a tour to see their show houses. Along the way, our knowledgeable professor gave us some insights as to why the prefab homes were designed in a particular way.

Inside of the factory
Meditation hut for monks; to be located in Jeju, Korea
Interior of the hut

We then continued our journey to Liangzhu National Heritage Park to have a look at the semi-constructed information boxes. Construction of the information box ceased halfway because the designers realised that their design had some fundamental flaws. Their first glaring mistake was to place the air-conditioner vents facing the entrance of the information box. When entering the information box, visitors receive a “warm” welcome in the form of hot air blowing at their faces from the air-conditioner vent. Another mistake is in the choice of material for one of the walls. One of the glass walls was designated for the installation of LCD display screens which blocked out most of the view from that wall. Furthermore, the screens would only be switched on at night, meaning that in the day these large screens serve no purpose other than obstructing visitors from viewing the scenery outside. It makes me wonder why that wall is even made of glass in the first place when visitors are clearly not going to benefit from it.

On the way to the Information Box

The Information Box
General terrain of the site

This case study emphasised on the importance of well-considered design to minimise wastage of time and resources.

Visit to Alibaba Xixi Campus

I was among the privileged to visit Alibaba Xixi Campus.

Alibaba Xixi Campus

Over there, I was introduced to 无人超市, a store with no sales person, no cashiers but cameras and cameras everywhere. Entry into the store involves linking your Alipay account with the store and facial recognition. The payment process is as follows: the cameras present would first scan your face and then check if you are holding any merchandise, if you are, then money would automatically be deducted from your Alipay account.

Entrance of the store
Cameras, cameras everywhere
Smile detector which issues discount based on how well you smile. One thing I am curious about is whether the technology can discern between an actual human face and a photo of a human face
Gantry at the Exit

Employees working for Alibaba have to engage in at least three hours of community service annually. From a Singaporean point of view, three hours of community service annually seems quite little. But, from the perspective of a Chinese employee, three hours is actually quite a lot considering that they work long hours and even on weekends.

Three Hours for a Better World

We ended the excursion with a visit to More Mall (猫茂), a “smart” shopping mall opened by Alibaba. Within More Mall, there is this giant screen displaying the statistics of the mall. This includes the number of visitors and cars for the day, the number of vacant carpark lots, the age group and gender distribution of visitors, the heat signature map of one floor, store rankings based on popularity and the environmental conditions within the mall. I found this very intrusive; it felt as though I was under constant surveillance.

Large Display Screen
Application that lets you try on clothes without actually physically putting on the clothes
Looks like the technology can’t distinguish between male and female properly yet
Us getting fascinated by “Jarvis”

Some recreational facilities within the compound
Biking is one of the primary means employees use to get around the campus

Some photos of the compound
Talk by one of Alibaba’s Employees
Group Photo!!!

Traditional Bamboo Craft Workshop

Remember my visit to “The Oriental Bamboo Art of Living Exhibition on Asian Bamboo” in week 4? You probably don’t, but anyway, it piqued my curiosity about bamboo craft. And so, I signed up for this 3 day 2 nights Traditional Bamboo Craft Workshop at Baizhang Village (百丈竹意小镇) to feed this curiosity of mine. Over there, I learnt how to weave bamboo strips into a bag and a ball. Admittedly, I was quite bad at weaving; the master had to touch up most of my weaving for my bamboo bag to even look “ok”. On the last day, we made a trip up the mountains to experience bamboo cutting and shaving. Until now, I still find it impressive how the weaving structure can both hold the bamboo strips together without using any adhesives and bear weight so well.

Our home for the 3 days
Our room for the 3 days
Bamboo Strips
Some of the things one could weave with bamboo
The master explaining his work
Us hard at work
My half completed bag

Random pictures I took while taking a stroll around the village
View from above a giant rock
Group photo on top of the rock
Cautiously climbing down the rock
Spring Water!!!
Trekking through the bamboo forest

Bamboo cutting and shaving in progress
Us and the fruits of our labour

This pretty much sums up the week. Got to go now – I still have a model to make!!!


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