“Travel is not a destination, but sharing life with people.” I

I was alone in the center of a small Chinese town, the weakly glowing
streetlights hardly illuminating the streets. The silence was heavy and
absolute. It was different from the eternal light and sound of Shenzhen,
and the high elevation gave the air an unusual taste. Things were not
the same up here in the mountains, and this strangeness seemed a bit
menacing. The roads had been tarred, courtesy of the rich central
government who gave special attention to the Chinese minorities, but the
villages up here in the mountains of Yunnan province did not have many
cars to wear down the roads. So they felt incomplete, and leaves lay
about, their crushing beneath my feet giving my walk a strange

learned this from the owner of UKrumlose restaurant

A group of men sat in a doorway smoking tobacco from a big bong,
watching me walk past with impassive faces. I hurried a bit. What I was
looking for was near, I knew. I turned a corner into a small side
street, and saw it – the red and blue glow of the humming fluorescent
lights, the pictures of the scantily clad lady with big breasts. I had
found the local internet cafe.

when I was traveling in the Czech Republic the summer of 2013. It
changed my

I walked in through the narrow doorway, squeezing past a young teenage
couple holding hands and staring out of the door. The guy had a scar
across his forehead, I wondered idly what their story was, it may have
been an amazing love story, it could have been endlessly tragic, perhaps
they were completely boring. I’ll never know, because I walked into that
room and was hit by the combined glow of hundreds of computer screens,
different figures danced across many screens in some dance dance
revolution clone, colourful websites reflected off the eyes of engrossed
guys, smoking men scrolled through the news, cliques of teens starred
together at a screen and shouted and laughed. The room was huge and it
was filled with people surfing the internet and playing games. The
internet cafe, long thought to be dead, had simply retreated here into
the mountains, and it fed the local population with all the
entertainment they could not afford to have at home.

ideas about travelling.

After the necessary registration with my passport at the counter, I
bought an entire night of internet surfing, starting off by checking
what was new at techcrunch. I went through the usual schedule of
websites I read, skipping only facebook and twitter, as they don’t work

A Birthday  Party Fell From The Sky

Being the only foreigner in there, I was getting a lot of looks, giggles
and yelled out “HELLOs” from the kids around. I expected them to come
talk to me at some point, so when someone tapped my shoulder, I was
suprised that rather than some spiky haired teenager, it was a somewhat
middle-aged smiling man with a cigarette dangling from his lip. He
introduced himself with the sentence: “TechCrunch is my favorite
website, too”. His english was heavily accented, but good.

Xin Obaid

I simply looked up at him, unsure what to reply. I didn’t need to say
anything, because he started talking to me about the last few articles
he had read on TechCrunch. I got only a few sentences in, mostly in
agreement with his somewhat unusual but pretty insightful opinions about
what they wrote. He spoke as if he had never spoken to anyone about
TechCrunch, and needed to get all his thoughts out.

I never dreamed that, for my 50th birthday, I would have a very unique
party with lots of strangers in the old town of Cesky Krumlov in
theCzech Republic, and all for free. But, it really happened! Today—
four years later, when I think about it, I remember it very clearly, as
if it happened just last night. It was an early summer morning, before
6am, in Cesky Krumlov, (let us call this amazing old town ‘CK’), and I
was walking on an old cobblestone road, which was so narrow that no more
than two people could walk abreast. The smell of the air seemed very
different from any other place I had ever been—–it was vibrant with
the scent of free spirits, unrestrained passions, and love, all of those
mixing and swirling around me. “Why?” I asked,and then came the answer,
from myself, “because here is the source of Bohemia.”My mind was rushing
like a wild horse, filled with so many thoughts of that amazing, almost
800 year old town.

After 30 minutes of mostly listening, he invited me out to have a drink
with him and his friends. He excitedly made phone calls in the local
dialect and we went out. We walked over to some local food place, and
sat outside on plastic chairs, several beers quickly appearing on the
table. Soon, several of his friends popped in a shinily new BYD car, and
they joined me.

图片 1

He told me what he does: he sells software. And he sells a lot of
software. Every month, he makes more than $5000, which is more than 50
times the average salary where he lives. He told me how he does it, and
it’s a bit unusual.

Cesky Krumlov __CK 小镇 ,欣儿摄于二零一二年11月七日

He had learnt how to program from a friend of his. They had both moved
to Kunming and started working, but when his dad got sick, he had to go
home and farm to keep the family alive. His dad was sick for close to a
year, and they needed money. Unable to travel, he had started looking
for jobs on Odesk, Rentacoder and such sites based on recommendation
from his friend. After writing some software for a client, he noticed
something important:

“Hello. Good morning,” a voice said suddenly from behind me,just a short
distance away. I was scared. I looked back and there was a man behind
me. I  subconsciously held my arms with both hands, as if this could
make me calm down. I even did not say hello to him, I just began walking
a little bit faster.The man caught up to me and said, “Do not worry. At
least we have somethings in common.” He was then standing next me. I
even did not know what he was talking about. I said, “What do you want?”
He pointed to his hat and my hat and said, “We both like to wear hats,
right? “ I realized he wore a blackVictorian style hat and that he was a
tall young man. His eyes were gleaming. I  said hello, and then goodbye
to him, and turned to go back to my hotel. He followed me and asked if I
had any plans for the day. I stopped and looked at him; I shook my head
“no” but then said, “Actually, today is my 50th birthday.”

– If he simply looked at the list of software projects available for
jobs, he would have ideas on what software to develop.

He seemed excited, raised his hands and cheerfully said, “We are going
to have your birthday party in my bar. Please invite all your friends to
come, and this party will be free.” I laughed because he acted as if we
were old friends when in reality we were strangers. I told him I didn’t
have any friends there, that I was a traveler, and that I did not know
him. He took a little pine from his t-shirt and gave it to me. The pine
was his bar’s logo. He told me I could invite any one, including the
people who were staying in my hotel. He said his bar was located ahead
on the beautiful narrow road, and that if I continued to walk along that
road I could not miss it. Finally he said, “I will see you and your
friends tonight at 6:30.” Then he waved the hand that was holding his
hat and walked away.

He did this, and rather than making software for clients, he created his
own software products, which he put on the internet. He said that 3 days
after he copied a simple idea from the rentacoder list on his website,
he was making 2 sales a day. $20 per day, which basically doubled his
monthly earnings as a farmer. He continued working on more products and
copying more ideas, and soon he had 10 different software that he was
selling. Sales were low at the start, but even then for him it was a lot
of money.

图片 2

He kept doing this, cloning software he found that people wanted by
looking at open projects on rentacoder, most of his software being
related to video encoding. Additionally, he would take open source
software, change the way it looked and sell it online. He said he’d get
a few refunds, but most people would purchase it without complaining. He
said he tried selling Firefox for a while, but sales were very low due
to the free competition.


At the moment he’s making more than $5000 a month, and he’s been making
it for more than 4 years already. He’s one of the bigger players in the
video encoding software market.

I watched his shadow fading and fading on the ground…… kind of

As I left, he dropped me off at the local hotel where my friends were.
He shook my hand enthusiastically and said he would email me, but that
he had to sleep now, because he had to go to the farm early the next
morning. Surprised, I asked him why he still farmed. He shrugged and
lifted his palms in that typical smiling manner that the villagers there
have. “No why!” he said. “I enjoy farming”.

like I was watching a mysterious movie that was not part of reality. I


back to my hotel wearing the pine that he gave to me. I liked the logo
pine; it

was so cute.

“Good morning, Xin! You came back so soon.” The hotel

owner, a friendly young lady, warmly greeted me. I was going to say

morning” to Skppy, but she cried out: “Oh my god! Did you go to U
Krumlose?” I

said, “What do you mean?” When she pointed to the bar logo pine, I

what she meant. I looked at Skppy for a moment and I told her everything

happened a few minutes ago on my walk. Skppy cheerfully answered, “That
will be

wonderful! I will help you invite the people who stay in our hotel. We
will see

you there.”

The hotel I was staying is a beautiful small hotel facing

the quiet river. The owner was an amazing woman. She loved to draw, and
many of

her paintings were on the hotel walls. Her name is Skppy, so she named

hotel “Skppy.”

图片 3


That day I took a tour of the town. About 6 pm, I followed

my heart and went to the bar. I was so curious about what would happen

night. When I saw the logo hanging on the door, I felt as if a best

stood gracefully at the threshold greeting me. In the bar I saw Skppy

on a table painting in her big notebook. There was another woman sitting

her.  I also noticed there were at about 20 other people in the bar as

The owner came out from his kitchen and asked my name, and

where I was from. Then he knocked on the shaker in his hand and signaled

everyone to be quiet. He began to announce: “Our friend Xin’s 50th

birthday party starts right now! She is Chinese and lives in United
States. I

will mix 50 different types of flips for all of us to drink and
celebrate. All

drinks are free of charge!” Everyone cheered and cried, “Xin! Xin! Happy

birthday to you!”

图片 4


The owner led me to the kitchen where he introduced me to his

wife. She was a very beautiful and elegant woman. She had a long golden

that came down to her waist. She looked as if a lady from an eighteenth

oil painting had jumped out of it into that kitchen. When we hugged each

I told her that she looked like a beautiful oil painting. She was

and her face blushed red. She was making special food for me, a dish

steak tartare. It was absolutely the most delicious food that I ever had
in my


No Comments, Be The First!