Of flies and mosquitoes

One of the new things I’ve started to experience recently is the feeling of missing home. Maybe it’s old age. Maybe it’s knowing that I have some people dependent on me back home.

Whatever it is, it’s a new experience. Being someone who didn’t travel overseas to finish college or university, I never had the experience of leaving home for very long periods of time. The longest time I spent away from home was during my one month-long TESOL course.

In the past 6 months, I’ve probably been away from home for almost two months. And it’s just the beginning. Beginning next year, I’ll be traveling again for work every month or so. It’s crazy. Earlier this year, my girlfriend, Milin was contemplating moving to Hong Kong for work. She declined the opportunity – it would have been a breakup or a long distance relationship. Now it feels like an LDR, except that I’m the one who is away from her instead. Funny how life throws you curve balls.

Anyway, enough rambling about being away from home. But one thing I will say is that we’ve got awesome food. Also, our weather isn’t terrible. Sure, it gets extremely hot at times, but you can just stay indoors and enjoy air-conditioning.

Incohesive ramblings begin

I came back to Malaysia from Surabaya a few days ago. Was there for the Big Bad Wolf Surabaya sale, and while it went alright – Jakarta and Bangkok were better.

At this sale, I didn’t really interact with the part-time crew (was mostly in the management room handling orders) so I didn’t make any new friends. I did see some old faces from Jakarta, so that was nice. However, on the last night there were some interesting (albeit unpleasant) surprises, so let’s just say I learnt that you can’t judge people by their appearances.

Most of the event ran smoothly, we learnt how to handle queues, efficient hall layouts and other operation-related activities from our recent overseas sales. One thing that hasn’t improved for me was communication – my poor Malay language skills and lack of effort to improve are here to blame. I had to resort to using Google translate and speaking in broken Malay a lot of the time.

It didn’t help that Malay words had different meanings there. Like I was ordering food at a restaurant, and the waitress told me that the fried rice I wanted was ‘kosong’ (empty/blank) which we use to describe food as plain/normal here. So I responded, that I didn’t mind ‘kosong’. She then passed me the menu and insisted I order something, I pointed to the fried rice again and said ‘kosong’. I said, ‘kosong’ is okay. Then she did the rotating wrist motion to show that there was ‘no more’ – which was how I realized ‘kosong’ meant finished or no more there. A colleague told me that ‘budak’ meant slave over there? I laughed.

The hotel I stayed in had a glass wall with a curtain over it. I think this makes it 3/3 for hotels with see-through showers during all my overseas BBW sales. Is it the latest trend in hotel design now?

I think our staff this time around were more vigilant – our children’s’ tables weren’t a huge mess by the end of the sale. But also, we had a ‘mixed books’ corner that quickly grew out of hand a few days after we set it up. Which brings me to my next learning – short-term solutions are called short-term solutions for a reason. They usually stop the bleeding – until your next band-aid. More thought is going to be needed to fix the mess we get in our book sorting areas.

Indonesian food was decent. We had some good meals and plenty of sausages. But I think everyone from Malaysia had food poisoning at least once. I almost fell sick – not sure if it was from being cooped up in an air-conditioned room all day, my stomach not agreeing with the food, or just lack of healthy supplements in my diet. Good thing I powered through and didn’t have to call in sick any of the days.

Assumptions get you into trouble. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Even if you think those questions are stupid and something you should have the answers to. If you don’t know anything, ask and learn. Be chastised for asking, it doesn’t matter. It’s better than doing something you think is right but getting fucked over it in the future. Better to be a dumbass now than a smartass who thought they knew better.

I had trouble finding bonjela in the pharmacies over there. In Indonesia, they use something called Albothyl to treat ulcers. It tastes like shit, it’s not colorless and difficult to apply. Note to self – bring your own medical supplies with you when traveling.

Laundry over there is dirt cheap. I paid about RM3.50 per KG of dirty clothes. Cigarettes cost about RM6. However, I only bought 2 packets while I was there. I think I’m vaping more than smoking these days – also, it was much more convenient to vape (I could pop out for a drag or two and come back in as opposed to finishing a stick).

Oh, there were plenty of flies and mosquitoes where we were. Not a day went by where I didn’t have to shoo away a winged creature. Good thing I had some insect repellent with me, and we had cans of bug spray in the office. From the second day onwards I decided to keep my hoodie on so that I wouldn’t get bitten or be annoyed by bugs.

Other things I learnt – how to prepare delivery orders, invoices and stock write-offs with Flexilite, cross busy-ass roads by sticking out my hand, and enjoy crackers + chilli with every meal.

I visited Starbucks and was amazed at their customer service. The cashier took my order and got my name for my cup. When I left the place, another staff who overheard(?) my name said ‘goodbye George’ when I left. It was a small thing, but it made a big difference in my experience. Also, Starbucks is pretty consistent everywhere – can’t go wrong with the standard Americano.

ramblings end

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