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Egor Homakov

Security Consulting | @homakov | Homakov.blogspot.com
Apr 12 '14

HK vs Singapore

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If you know me, you know how much I love big cities. After some traveling in 2013 I ended up with staying in Bangkok for a year.

It’s still a perfect city for me and conditions I had back then. When I was choosing the “expensive” parameter was one of the most important to me, but now I changed my mind. It’s fine to live in a city and spend 100% of your income if you *do* love this city. 

Bangkok is OK, and I can go to any restaurant and not feel that I can’t afford it, but what I realized - it’s 3rd world and will stay 3rd world for next 50 years. Thais just don’t want to work, they don’t wanna attract investors, they don’t want strong economy and smart foreigners. Their government is that stupid they buy overpriced rice and screw it.

Building a great city is just like loosing weight. You have to follow many strict rules at once.

Lee Kuan Yew went entire country on “a diet” 50 years ago, and look at Singapore now - slim and hella attractive woman.

Thailand, Russia, India, China - we all can see an economical growth, but actual living there is as horrible as it was 50 years ago. Nothing is gonna change until someone will do it. 3rd world is gonna stay 3rd world, even having a 1st world economy.

There are just a few cities in the world I would like to live in (not considering the expenses): Hong Kong, Singapore and New York.

Such cities as Istanbul, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur look promising to me but still far from what i need. I am not going to live along with Muslims (and other religions zealots, but muslims are the worst), ever. 

I am trying to figure out which city is better:

SG:

  1. plausible to get citizenship quickly, up to 3 years.
  2. city infrastructure is awesome, “city in a forest”, very comfortable for a megapolis. Pretty clean environment.
  3. skyscrapers (i love them!). there are “fake” skyscrapers in SG, none of them is in even top 100 of tallest buildings. Only Marina Bay area has a few tall buildings. Government seems to protect city from super tall developments, and it’s gonna heat up the rent in a long run.
  4. Everybody speaks English, but there’s nothing interesting near this country (only Malaysia and Indonesia). 

HK:

  1. will never become a citizen
  2. while HK is clearly nicer than shitholes like Shanghai it has some smog anyway. Not so many parks and grass.
  3. I literally feel high when I’m in HK. #1 in the world rank by amount of skyscrapers and many of them are in top 100
  4. Nobody speaks English (I do neither!). One step away from China, close to Taiwan, closer to South Korea and Japan. The location is better.

If you have anything to add please share. I am still not sure where will I move this October (my rent and Thai visa ends).

Jan 3 '14

year://2013

Last year was nothing outstanding besides around-the-world trip. More importantly I finally settled down in Bangkok and can work harder in more stable environment. 

Hm. Not satisfied. 

Sep 18 '13

Traveling around the world for fun and profit

After my South Eastern Asia trip I decided to travel around the world. Namely following places: 
Bangkok > Moscow > St Petersburg > Barcelona > Valencia > Granada > Sevilla > Madrid > Istanbul > New York > Boston > Philadelphia > Washington DC > San Francisco > Seoul > Shanghai > Bangkok.

Photos are here https://plus.google.com/photos/110421481014101227624/albums short insights I want to share:

Spain. Actually I planned to do all over the Europe trip but Spanish embassy said: “Haha, Spain only” by giving me an LTV visa. Thus I visited 5 most popular cities in Spain, spent there 35 days and shitloads of money. It was a bad idea, I’m definitely not into Europe and their lifestyle.

Istanbul, Turkey. Famous coffee, delicious delights, vibrant nightlife (which i don’t participate in, i’m a nerd!), modern metro. Definitely, getting rid of islam would make this city suitable for me (i am not tolerant atheist. religions suck!)

The USA. Let’s have it straight: NYC is great, I mean Manhattan. Other cities are not much.
"Neighboorhoods". Only in America, there are safe and unsafe ones. Can you imagine, country that spends billions on military/police, yet has "bad" neighboorhoods? In Bangkok, Seoul or Singapore it doesn’t matter where and when I go for a walk - nobody is gonna mess with me.

"But Thailand is 3rd world country". Come on, in SF there are homeless/drug addicted folks everywhere. Go, tell them they live in 1st world country.

Suburbs = living in the middle of nowhere surrounded with forests. Perfect option for misanthropes!

American life is “safe-and-quiet” house in “safe-and-quiet” neighborhood with 9/5 job and some shopping malls around.

No doubt, it is still better than Russian life in all senses. But I don’t need “safe-and-quiet” life, fuck that. I want to party with friends til 5 am, share asian food, go to stiptease bars w/o ID. I don’t want to have a car, I like metro. I don’t want a big house in forests, I prefer a cozy apartment in city centre. That said, I don’t consider relocation to US anymore.

Seoul has great metro system, 2nd most used in the world. Korean food is… cannot say anything good about it. City is really clean and modern. Koreans dont speak English though, I am not up to live in such a place. 

Shanghai is dirty and noisy. To use “free” wifi you need local mobile number, I don’t have a phone so I can’t survive here too long. Fucking great firewall annoys everyone, fucking socialism rules are obviously shit. Chinese people appears to be labor for 1st world countries. Those skyscrapers are built for 1st world “people in suits”. My impression of the city is Saigon but 10 years later.

Previously I had an idea to learn mandarin here. Yes, more than billion people speak chinese. On the other hand, 95% of these people are extremely poor and not educated peasants - wanna talk to them, huh?.

Left 5% are likely rich and smart people, and since they are smart they speak English. In fact, there is no point in learning Chinese yet.

Was it expensive?

I don’t know exactly. Totally, about per 3000 USD for Russia, Spain and the US, 1000 in Istanbul, 1000 in Seoul+Shanghai = 11000 USD spent in 5 months trip.

What do I do for living
Security consulting, details at www.sakurity.com

Future plans:
For sure I love Asia more than Europe and America so I am staying in Thailand for a year or more. Meanwhile I will check out surfing on Bali and kite surfing on Borocay, plus Cambodia and Laos for visaruns.
In 2014 I plan to visit other asian megapolises: Taipei, Schenzhen (no more china maybe?), Tokyo, Macau.
In 2015, in theory: India > South Africa > South America (by that moment i must learn basic Spanish).

A pity, only few places left I’m excited to visit. I don’t care about the rest. Say, Paris or Rome, for some reason I have zero interest to see them. Maybe it’s sort of travel-hangover.

So how can I describe the output of this trip… No, it wasn’t life/mind changing. But it is essantial experience, since now my comfort zone is quite of the Earth size. 

Fun: engaging in everyday life, polishing your communication skills, meeting locals and other travelers.

Profit: finding “personal paradise”. You must see other places to find out what you like more/most. No matter where you was *born* or *used to live*, you need to decide for yourself where you *want to live*. I did and don’t regret much about time and money spent.

Jul 9 '13

Top 5 sights

Here are my personal top 5 of views.

I’d be happy to add a link to your top 5, ping me on twitter.

5. Vitosha, Sofia

4. Marina Bay, Singapore (i’m loving the whole marina area)

3. Tarifa, Spain (sights from mountains top, Africa sights and windwindwind)

2. Phi-Phi and Krabi, Thailand

1. Hong Kong sights (out of competition, I am urbanist and this is what I enjoy)

Yours?

May 22 '13

Eurotrip 2013

After 6 months in Asia, before N months in the US I decided to go to Europe for 3 months (26 June - 24 Sept).

Vienna is the starting point. Also I plan to visit Amsterdam, Prague, Frankfurt, Paris and big cities in between.

Since Europe is 2-4 times more expensive than Asia I must follow some budget limit. Namely $33/day for accommodation, $3000 + $4000 for food and fun = $7000 for the whole trip. Let’s see how it will work.

Plan A: interview in US embassy in Moscow on June 11, trying to get austrian visa, if they reject trying to get quick spanish visa. (I don’t have booking of all 90 days, but I need to present it)

Plan B: if they also reject I calmly say “fuck you” to all of them and go to Thailand again.

Preferences: I like busy and modern cities (as Frankfurt). On the other hand I enjoy relaxing and cheap cities with great cultural background (Lisbon maybe).

If you traveled in Europe and can recommend me something specific what I should visit — would be happy to hear your experience.

Apr 27 '13

When you’re 20 years old

(I’m 20, horay!)

it feels you are still 17

your achievements are smaller than anticipated when you was 17

and no shit given about that

you prioritize new friends and travel experience over money

you understand that you’ll sorry about it in 25+ (but not sure)

extra weight / appearance is somehow the last thing i care about

also, i am not going vegan, neither quitting drinking alcohol. 

Russia is not my homeland anymore and I expect the next come back in 3-5 years

those 6 months in Asia were the first cool thing in my life

well, what’s going to be second?

random photos.. beware i am a terrible photographer:

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Apr 16 '13

When you you go to the club on your own and say you’ll meet your friends inside

whenyouliveinberlin:

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Inspired by ojhannes

Apr 15 '13

Saigon, Singapore, Hong-Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok

I am fond of the big cities with exciting skyscrapers, airports, subway systems, futuristic parks. This makes me feel freedom. Population threshold is 5mln. 

Relying only on my experience, I might be terribly wrong in some ideas because I did not live in these cities for years.

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam.

In fact this is not the capital of Vietnam, but I haven’t been to Ha Noi (it’s cold there). Saigon is just the biggest city of Vietnam - population reaches 10 mln.

Prices: it doesn’t look expensive at all. 300 USD should be enough for a decent accommodation (not too decent, i didn’t notice much of condos).

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Comfort: dirtyish. there are nice parks but usually just horribly looking local buildings and more nice-looking hotels. Vietnamese food is delicious, I used to order Pho if i’m way to hungry to wait some grilled fish/squid/crab.  Vietnamese coffee (with condensed milk) is a must-have experience. Strong but sweet, everybody drinks it like everyday!

Weather: Seems not rainy at all. Not too hot. I spent 3 months on Mui Ne and didn’t experience a single rain! Can you believe that?

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Freedom: Welcome to socialism. I’m kidding, there are Burger Kings, StarBucks(only one, big one) and anything else. I’m fan of Highlands Coffee.lovely place, has many prospectives but not as advanced as other cities. Let’s give it another 3-5 years and check out again.

Singapore

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Europe-lovers will love it too. Someone obviously cloned a little German town and put it below of Malaysia. Population is 5-6 million but I didn’t notice many crowded places (I spent 4 days here). I visited Orchard on Christmas.

The cleanest and safest city in Asia (others say Hong Kong is number 1 but i dont buy that).

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Freedom. While you are restricted to not drink and eat in MRT (Fine is $5000, ZOMG)

Hong-Kong

HK demonstrates us prosperity and luxury in all aspects. Sport cars, mind-blowing buildings and boutiques. From victoria pic to star ferry, every place is must visit for tourists.

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Also taxfree and very business-welcome city. You should buy an Octopus card and you can buy stuff in 7/11 just swiping this card.

HK is SAR (special administrative region), a different country, only politicly belongs to China. No firewall and other bullshit. 

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Probably the most expensive city in the world. Minimimal rent starts from $1500.

Kuala Lumpur

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Besides Pentronas and KLCC there is nothing to look at in KL. Not interesting for tourists but quite comfortable for long stayers. I could get lots of Indian food and Chinese too for affordable price. Public MRT is good but messy. Every line is owned by different companies, this is annoying.

Don’t take religion here serious. Nobody cares about Allah and stuff, girls wearing “paranja” choose new hot dressing in boutiques and eat in mc donalds. People say it is not safe enough in KL, pickpockets etc. Probably I could live here several years.

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Prices are somewhere between Bangkok and Singapore. Clean and affordable.

Bangkok

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Thailand is the most visited part of Asia by backpackers, IMO. So almost every tourist will be here someday. My first impression was not good, it was too hot and dirty near National Stadium. After 6 months I came back and liked it. Affordable, many condos with various facilities, many places to go out.

Can be called the most comfortable city in SE Asia, if you acclimatise to humid and hot weather you like it. 

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Moar photos of my half a year trip.

I’m heading to Moscow on April 23 and starting to think about the next trip.  Previously I was thinking about UK/US but retarded and humiliating visa policy of these countries pisses me off - I’m completely not welcome there.

So here is what I think about: Seoul, Ha Noi, Tokyo, Osaka, Beijing, Shanghai, Macau, Taipei. +suburbs. Final destination is Bali, will stay there for 3-6 months. Maybe I will visit Borocay on Philippines too.

P.S. what I clearly not going to do is to stay in Russia. This is most likely the last time I come back (gotta exchange my domestic passport). 

P.S.2. Fucking visas fuck you i fucking hate you.

Mar 3 '13

Commit that changed my life.

Originally it was a prank intended to prove insecureness of the default Rails configuration. It was a dirty “dick move”, the most scriptkidd-ish and silliest attack I ever did. There are many reasons to blame me and this action, but the story is out of date - year has passed.

Some apologies that should have been said a year ago: Sorry, Github, it was very kind of you to reinstante my account. Sorry, Rails Core Team, for my childish behavior and thanks for understanding, everyone.

Frankly, until 4 of March I did not know a lot about web security.

At least it was clearly far away from my main interest: programming. 

But then I instantly understood how exciting security can be. 

Pure art! When you find a major flaw in a popular website you understand nothing is perfect and everything is possible. You start to believe in yourself

It made me super curious about web security. In the following months I read a lot on random topics: OAuth, browser security, OWASP and ruby-related things. 

I did some contributions in 2012. I plan to work & study harder in 2013. My decision is to finally switch to security. Yes, it looks like I am not a programmer anymore. I am a security researcher.

Mostly web for now, but I do my first steps in other fields too.

I would like to share my experience doing consulting — you can hire me.

Changes in real life are nice: I left St Petersburg, Russia. I see no future for myself in my country and I am open to changing citizenship and seeing the World. Spent 2 months in Sofia, then my German working visa got rejected and I decided to start traveling around-the-world. 

Hong-Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, at the moment Mui Ne in Vietnam — now it’s 5th month in South Eastern Asia. Going back to Bangkok in 4 weeks. 

I plan to travel to UK/the US this summer badly, as a tourist (hope no visa issues will come up, it looks like i need an invitation to be sure).

I am going to craft groundbreaking security goodness and work harder to establish my own small business.

Yeah, even a single git commit can change the whole life quite dramatically. Cheers!

Jan 12 '13

Backpacking. Nothing Exciting About It.

I see a lot of backpackers: young people in their 20s(rarely 30s) travelling in South Eastern Asia.

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Over and over

In fact if you’re english speaker, every day in a hostel will be a Groundhog Day. You hear such dialogs from all corners:

- Hey, where are you from?

- Canada/England/the US(pronounce proudly)/Europe(usually germans or scandinavians - I love them)

- Where are you going and what did you visit?

- Thailand/Malaysia/HongKong/Singapore/Vietnam/Cambodia/Indonesia etc(put them in two groups randomly)

That’s pretty much it. Oneday it will become annoying you get tired and start trying to avoid such conversations. 

Degradation

That’s what I see. When you can live in comfort conditions for $1000/month it’s easy to relax, drink beer at 1 PM every day and enjoy your life. Especially when you travel spending your parents’ money. Life is as simple as possible. No office, goals, debts to pay and family. It’s very hard to keep yourself in shape and keep learning. Take calendar and strike all the months you live this way. You didn’t achieve anything - so you didn’t live these months.

If I ask a backpacker about his occupation he looks at me like I’m mad. “I’m so young, i don’t know what i wanna do. kinda business or maybe i will take photos for living”.. “Shut up, stop wasting mom’s dollars and get a fucking job maybe?” - that’s on my mind.

On Koh Phi-Phi an american backpacker got very drunk(party hard - why?) and literally pee-peed in the corner of full 24 beds dormitory. Everyone was shocked and I was about to smash into his face but decided it would be too “russian” of me. 

BTW Sorry, but I’m Russian

Nowdays, being russian is not cool(и некруто быть русским). It’s a shame. If american think his country is the best I think the opposite about mine. Usually I avoid ‘from’ questions or respond that it’s a secret but my stupid accent is obvious.

People ask about Pussy Riot case, current situation, putin etc. I don’t want to associate myself with my country because of it.

What You See is Not What It Is

I met a journalist in Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur. We started talking about rainy weather and later went for lunch. He made a very good point: backpackers talk about smiles and happiness everywhere missing obvious - not everyone is happy. He told me that people are smiling because “whites” have higher status and have money. “if you see other asian you wonder about his education, job, income, car. If you see white guy in crocs - you are trying to look happy and ready to help”. 

Actual progress

If you are going vagabund you might be thinking about improvements at everything: career, relationships, friends, experience. IMO you won’t get anything of it just by flying to a new place every month. Don’t take it for granted, you will barely get new experience if you will not seek them by purpose. Seeing places IS NOT experience. You can see them online on Google Images. Yep. Traveliving is not any different from normal living. Warm climate, cheap products, sea - but nothing else.

Wanted to change yourself by “seeing the world”?. Sorry for ‘hurting’ your feelings and dreams then. You won’t get what you’re looking for in the trip. So: don’t search it in cheap tropics, or anywhere else - search it inside of you.

P.S. I am NOT a backpacker. I’m rather a flashpacker. I don’t have a backpack actually: just 2 small bags. I don’t travel on cheap either: my average spendings are $3000/month. But I do same and visit same places so I know it well.

P.S.2 I don’t mention pros of traveling, there are too many. I love it anyway. Photos