Austin 2019: A new save point

Tonight, we finally moved into my sister’s new home. The place is beautiful, many rooms, high ceilings, wide open spaces, a nice back yard and front porch – pretty much everything you would want in a home. Apparently, they bought it for a steal too. On the downside, there’s no internet yet and cell coverage here is terrible, so I haven’t been doing many online activities. I guess this gives me a chance to be productive tonight – or to chill out playing videogames or watching shows. The weather has been much better today with no rain and wind that numbed my hands every time I went out for a smoke.

Snuggles has somewhat settled down, but she still barks a lot at my sister’s husband. Not sure why, hopefully she’ll become friendlier over time. She enjoys running all over the place though. Especially up and down the stairs. It’s something she never got to do when living in my apartment back in KL.

The more I hang out with my younger sister, the more I realize how much she’s like me. If you’re reading this Beth, it’s a good thing! (in my opinion) She talks in the same monotonous tone, has a chill outlook on life, and isn’t concerned with silly subjects like politics. Way to go. She and her husband have been wonderful hosts (I know it’s not just because I’ve been helping them to move boxes) and have made me feel at home in this foreign city. I’m definitely looking forward to coming back here in the future.

Austin is full of mosquito hawks. These things look mean but they’re supposed to eat mosquitoes. Only issue is I haven’t seen any mosquitoes around. Maybe because they’ve been doing their job. Or they think I’m some big mosquito. Who knows?

Sitting on a couch in a driveway in the middle of the night just to get internet. Nothing suspicious right?

Austin 2019: So Cold I Could See My Breath

Last night, when I checked Google Assistant to find out what the weather was going to be today it told me that it was going to average 3-5 degrees Celsius. Initially, I thought it must be some kind of error, or maybe it was just a mistake. How wrong I was.

Fast forward to many hours later, this morning I took Snuggles out for some fresh air – it was cold as fuck. Google didn’t lie. The worst part? It was cold for the whole day. It felt like being in the UK during winter again. Except I spent a lot more time outdoors instead of hanging out in nice warm offices. The cold weather persisted all day long, and it’s still cold now even though it’s probably the warmest it’s been all day (7 degrees C).

Fortunately, the rest of the week will be back to normal – 13-15 degrees. I’m so looking forward to tomorrow. If I knew today would be this cold, I would have packed some gloves. I don’t miss having cold hands. Smoking was slightly more fun though – I’d exhale way more smoke than usual.

Snuggles seems to be slightly racist. She barks a lot more at people of a certain color than others. Dogs are supposed to be color blind right? Maybe something else is triggering her. She’s still super attached to me. It’s going to be difficult leaving her behind 🙁 those puppy eyes could melt the coldest heart. Sigh.

On a happier note, Austin has some pretty good ramen. Not as amazing as Tomita, but still very authentic and delicious. I highly recommend Tatsuya Ramen if you’re jonesing for a fix (of that Limp Bizkit mix).

Another day of activities ahead tomorrow, the wedding is only 3 days away now!

Austin 2019: Dog City

So one of the reasons why I chose to bring Snuggles to Austin was the fact that this was supposed to be a dog-friendly city. The truth is, it is. It’s amazing how well dogs are treated here in contrast to Malaysia. People bring their dogs everywhere, and some places even let you bring dogs indoors. At one restaurant, they even brought out a huge bowl of water for Snuggles to drink from. At another bar, the cashier even came over to play with her and feed her some treats.

In Malaysia, I get stares for bringing Snuggles to public open parks, even though dogs aren’t prohibited there. You need to bring them to places that specifically mention dogs allowed. I remember when I was a kid, we brought our dog to a public park, and a Malay kid started crying and screaming until he fell off a swing/slide (memory is a bit hazy for this one). One lady, who wasn’t even the mother of the child, came over to chide us. We didn’t even do anything to upset the kid, we were just walking past the park. It was hilarious. If I had been older/more eloquent back then, I would have yelled back at her.

Anyway, if you ever want to live in a city where dogs are treated like how they ought to be treated, Austin should be up on that list. The whole experience has been fantastic for Snuggles so far. Hopefully she’ll grow to love it once she gets over me leaving her behind.

Today was a lazy day – eat, shop for dog stuff, helped my sister to move some stuff into her new place, and drinks at East Cider. If you’re a fan of cider, they have some topnotch drinks. Definitely worth checking out again. Am back in bed, getting some rest so I don’t waste half the day sleeping it away. It’s been a great first day, am looking forward to the rest of the week! Here’s a picture of an exhausted Snuggles.

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sleeping doge

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Austin 2019: Early AM

My plane trip to the US has finally come to a conclusion. After a flight delay (I’m surprised it was the only delayed flight of my trip so far), I touched down at Austin-Bergstrom airport. One thing good about flying late is that there usually aren’t many people on it, and you have a higher chance of not having to sit next to a stranger. A big plus when you’re traveling alone, in my opinion. You don’t have to bother people when going to the toilet and vice versa, you don’t have to worry about your shit getting stolen when you’re sleeping (maybe I’m just paranoid). Also you won’t have to worry about intruding in each other’s personal spaces.

I slept during the whole flight – I guess the trick to not staying awake is to remove all entertainment (it was a small plane with no personal entertainment systems for each chair – there was a common display playing Bohemian Rhapsody (good movie btw). I put on a podcast and shut my eyes.

Most importantly, operation: migrate Snuggles has come to a conclusion. I have successfully brought her over to Austin where she will be spending the rest of her life. Like Jason said: she gets to be American before me. Heh.

She’s super attached to me right now, despite my sister being her favorite back when she was still in Malaysia. I guess she must have forgotten about her after all those years. Hopefully she warms up in the coming days – not like she has much of a choice. On the bright side, she’s going to have a nice backyard to run around and do dog stuff in. Not like back in KL where she’s cooped up in my tiny apartment.

I finally had my first shower. Also, my sister cooked me some instant ramen for supper. She also mentioned that there are some good ramen places here in Austin, so I think I’ll be having more tasty Japanese noodles in the coming week.

The weather is great, just right for me – not too cold or hot. What a great start to this trip.

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snuggles' new roommate

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Austin 2019: It Was A Plain Ride

(Bonus points for figuring out this title’s reference)

My flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles was uneventful. JAL food isn’t very good, in my opinion. I had three different meals and they were all meh desite them trying to be all fancy when it was unecessary. There was a flyer served with the dinner course, telling us about the airlines’ chef program and that the dishes we were eaten had been created by two rising stars.

I watched many films – not sure why I wasn’t sleepy, only slept about two hours out of the whole 10.5 hour journey. I watched – Tomb Raider (meh), Johnny English Strikes Again (aight), Thailand Only (pretty funny, though the last act with the ghost felt so out of place, Tag (was pretty bad, couldn’t bring myself to finish it), and The Shape of Water (meh, strange sex).

Landed in LAX this morning, I finally got to see Snuggles. She seemed alright, I let her run around the handicap toilet for a bit, where she took a leak (I cleaned up of course), and I fed her some snacks and water. Just one more flight and she’ll never have to get on a plane again (at least not anytime soon!). I checked her in early so I’m currently wasting time at the airport, waiting for the next flight. Not sure if I could have planned my flights better, but having two long-ass transits is a pretty big waste of time but I was constrained by my budget and travel-with-a-pet requirement. It would have meant an additional day not spent traveling. Oh well. I haven’t showered in over a day. Fortunately, I haven’t been sweating, thanks to the cold weather – if not I’d probably be reeking right now.

Nothing much to say, except that the lack of indoor smoking areas here is a bummer – it’s a real hassle to exit the airport for a smoke because you need to go pass security again to reenter. So I have been relying on Snus, which have been great. Getting a tobacco fix in the plane and airport without breaking the rules is a win in my book. Oh, I encountered my first all-gender toilet today. I was genuinely confused for a moment this afternoon heading to the toilet when I saw ‘all-gender’ signs on both sides. I had to walk further down one direction to find the male toilet. Was a first for me, I wonder if they are frequently used or as vacant as the handicap toilets in Malaysia.

One more flight til I reach my destination tonight, will write again if I haven’t passed out by then.

Austin 2019: Ramen Head

Landed in Japan safely! After being approached by the staff with a welcome sign – they wanted me to provide documentation for Snuggles. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to go see her. Sad. I wonder what’s going through her mind right now.

Think about it – imagine if you were thrown into a cage, carted around in a large building with unfamiliar, then taken away from the only people you know and then stored in a waiting room for an unspecified amount of time (dogs don’t have watches, neither do they know the time for the flights – how long they need to wait for the flight or how long the flight is going to take). You get on a plane surrounded by other crates and maybe some pets (unlikely since I didn’t see anybody else checking in a pet at the counter). You don’t know where you’re going, or what the sensation of going up into the air means. It must be harrowing.

You land, you think it’s over – but no, you’re still in your cage and brought out to another area. You don’t get to see your master just yet. You wait for an unspecified amount of time until it’s time to fly again. It’s like a neverending nightmare. I hope she’s not too stressd out. Snuggles, if you somehow find a way to access my blog, read and understand English, stay strong. We love you, and we’ll be together soon!

Besides my incessant worrying about my dog, I did manage to enjoy myself a bit. Since I have ten hours here in Narita, I had breakfast at the airport. Tomita Ramen – yes, the very same one that was featured in the documentary, Ramen Head. Now I have no idea if this holds a candle up to the original restaurant, but for what it’s worth, the ramen was fucking great. Hands down the best Tsukemen I’ve ever had. I wish the broth was hotter to counteract how cold the noodles were, but maybe it was meant to be served this way. The fact that I didn’t have to queue up at 5am to get a bowl of noodles was a plus. Regardless, I enjoyed my meal a lot and hope to eat it again in the future.

It has started drizzling (typing this post outdoors right now, the weather is chilly/great – 12 degrees celcius. Good thing I have a hoodie. And a beanie. It’s been a while since I’ve worn it. Until my next update.


Austin 2019: Prelude

So, I have a two hour long wait before my flight to Japan. I thought I’d bang out a post since I haven’t been writing in a while. I brought my Planck to travel with me. I feel like this would be the board i’d miss the least if I ever lose it. Not that I hate it or anytthing, I like it a lot less than my other boards. On the bright side, I might be a better Ortho-user by the end of the trip. Because I’ll have no other keyboards to turn to as backup when I don’t feel like using it anymore.

Honestly, I think it’s just because of the XDA keycaps on this keyboard. The lack of gaps in between each key really frustrates me sometimes. Like, when I can’t tell if I’m moving from one key to the next before hitting it, I consider it a fail. Maybe if I wasn’t a touch typist. But I am, and I feel like it would be a skill detrimental to lose. After all, it’s only on this keyboard that I’m having issues. I think I would struggle less with a staggered 30% keyboard. I’ll throw on a set of DSA keycaps in the future to see if my typing experience improves.

Anyway, that’s just a random rant. It doesn’t really matter. I’m typing fine on this. Not the best but it’s passable.

So what am I doing with my last two hours in KL on a Monday night? I had a smoke earlier, now I’m sitting at Dome, waiting for a drink to arrive. It has been a while and this place isn’t crowded. They might have forgotten. Or it takes a real long time to prepare an iced long black. I’m not sure. Hopefully it won’t be too long since I am feeling a bit thirsty.

Oh wait, let me back up a bit for those of you not in the know. I’m heading to America tonight to attend my sister’s wedding. Yes, she’s off the market guys, too late. I’ll be there for about a week. I haven’t attended a wedding in the United States before, so that should be an interesting experience. I’ll also be the first official guest to stay over at my sister’s brand new home. Should be fun, since I’m also helping them to move in. Oh, and I have a companion with me but I won’t get to see her for a long time.

It was a lot of trouble, but I managed to get Snuggles on the first leg of the flight to America. Yes that is right, our little schnoodle is migrating. I’m gonna miss her, but it’s probably for the best. She’s going to have a nice backyard to run around in. And dig holes in. And catch rats in (hopefully there aren’t any rats in the house). I think she’s going to love it there. If anything, at least she’ll get to enjoy better weather. And she’ll be reunited with my sister after so many years.

Since there are no direct flights from KLto Austin, I had to get a flight that was reasonably priced with the least amount of stops (to bring my pet along – more info in a future post), I’ll be landing at Narita airport in Tokyo Japan tomorrow morning. I’ll have a 10 hour layover so that will give me plenty of time to look for some food to eat. And more time to bang out another blog post. Until then, stay tuned (assuming this isn’t the last post I send out lel).

I’m actually looking forward to catching some movies on the plane. It’s been a while since I watched a movie on the airplane.

A Window Into the Soul

When you don’t write constantly, you lose the drive to keep writing – at least that’s what I’ve found.

Which is probably why I play so much Dota 2 – because I keep playing it. I recently finished the space opera Mass Effect, man that was a good game. I finally understand the all the hype surrounding it when it came out. I’m definitely going to play part 2 and 3 eventually. It’s about time I play these classic games while they still run on modern systems. For those of you who haven’t played it yet – it’s like KOTOR but with real-time combat. If you’re a fan, you should check it out. I highly recommend it.

I didn’t do much this Chinese new year – but that’s okay. I think red packets will be replaced by NFC or some other cashless technology in the future. Saves time putting money into red packets, and then removing them when CNY is over. Plus you can easily adjust the amount of money you give to different people, and you could probably do some chargebacks if you regret giving money to some people. Also, you don’t have to worry about getting mugged when you’re carrying all those bank notes in your bag. Muggers are real.

Lost some money gambling, again I’m more of a gamble to be social than gamble to make money kind of guy, so that’s alright.

In terms of personal projects, I’m happy that I’ve managed to record a couple of demos recently, and I’ve been keeping up with my 1 show/month target. Animal Bus has been progressing – not as quick as I’d like, but at least it’s getting somewhere.

Other than that – I made some mods to one of my keyboards recently – the KBDFans HHKB Tofu. I got some holes cut in its sides and spray painted the case purple. Photos on my Instagram.

Oh, I survived a hungry escalator the other day with my foot intact. My super comfortable Miniso flip flops now have a chunk near the top removed. Nothing happened to me, I kicked off my flip flops just in time. I can’t say I wasn’t worried at all, but I knew my foot wasn’t going to get caught. I guess you could say fortunately I wasn’t wearing sandals or shoes. Since that day, I’ve been a bit more careful when using escalators.

Lastly, I set off for Austin, Texas next week. Am really looking forward to it. Barbecue, Dr. Pepper and my sister are waiting for me. Can’t wait.

I’m going to try to get back into the groove of blogging more often. I think it would help me with my work as well. It feels good releasing a stream of thoughts onto a page. Having a nice keyboard to type them out with also helps. And if I don’t blog, how are people who don’t talk to me often going to know about what’s going on in my life?

These posts are like a window into my life – or soul, if I’m being melodramatic.

Thank you very much for reading. <3

Handling Fees

So, the other day I received a letter from the customs department, telling me that I had a package with them and I needed to pay taxes for it before I could get it. Initially I responded to their letter, saying I was okay with Pos Malaysia handling it for me like they had in the past. All I would have to do was head to the local post office, pay them and collect my item. However, days went by and I didn’t get a call or email telling me to collect my package. I figured something was wrong, so I gave the customs department a call.

At this point it had almost been a week since I had told them to go ahead with Pos Malaysia as my handler, so imagine my surprise when I learned that the package was still at the customs office in KLIA. I decided, fuck it – I’ll go pick up the package myself. I get to save on the RM50 handling fees, and bring it home with me on the same day.

It’s been a while since my last drive to KLiA, and man that place is far as balls. Driving there was close to an hour, with tolls on the MEX highway. The hot weather didn’t make it any more pleasant. At least when I go there, parking was free and there was plenty of it.

That made me think there weren’t many people that day. I was wrong. The waiting area was packed. It was going to be a long day.

There were many steps involved in the whole process, here’s what I did:

  1. You sign in by showing your customs letter and giving your identity card to the guards at the entrance. They hand you a pass and tell you to enter the building and look for counter 1.
  2. At counter 1, you pass them the letter – they head to the back, dig out your package and pass it to you. They then tell you to proceed to counter 2.
  3. At counter 2, one of the staff will ask you to open up the package and you have to tell them how much it costs (show them an official receipt).
  4. They will then fill up some paperwork and ask you to bring it to counter 3, while you leave your parcel at counter 2.
  5. So on you head to counter 3, and pass your documents to the person behind the glass. They tell you to wait, so this part depends on on how many people were there before you.
  6. After a while, they’ll call your name and give you back the documents, which you have to bring to counter 2. At counter 2, you pass the documents to them, and they ask you to wait again. I’m not sure what goes on at this stage, but the end result is them giving you a document which states how much you have to pay for the item.
  7. You then head back to counter 3 and pass the documents to the person behind the glass. You wait again, until your name is called. You then go to the counter to pay the fee. You collect the documents and head back to counter 2.
  8. At counter 2, they verify that you’ve made the purchase, then give you the green light to leave with your parcel.
  9. You head to the guard house to return the pass and to collect your identity card again.
  10. Get in your car and drive home.

The above process took me about 3 hours at the customs office alone. So if you factor in the traveling time, that was about 5 hours of my day gone. Just like that. A huge fucking waste of time.

I probably should have paid the RM50 handling fees in the first place, but I guess now I know for sure. Also, they were being lazy and my parcel hadn’t moved in days. So I felt compelled to do something about it.

TL;DR, is it worth paying handling fees? If you have an afternoon to spare, and you live close by to the customs office, sure. If not, just give Pos Malaysia the handling fees, it’s worth not going through the hassle.

Happy New Year, Gig #117

One year ago, I started the journey to clean my room, and one year later – I’m not done. But that’s okay. It’s something I’ll have to eventually get around to, if not my room will turn into a location for a new season of Hoarders. What makes cleaning up your room such a difficult thing to do? I guess I’m just lazy. And I don’t feel like it’s worth enough of my time. I’d rather spend it doing fun stuff and goofing around. Crazy huh?

Writing about it now makes me feel like I need to change my attitude towards having a clutter-free room. There are many cases for having a clean room, and nothing against it. There is no reason why you should have a messy room. I guess it’s more the part of me who likes to hold on to old, useless trash instead of giving it up.

I’ve got tons of stuff in boxes, untouched since the day I moved in to my current home. I haven’t looked at them for the past 10(?) years – there’s no reason to think that I would look at them in the next 10 years. Time for them to go. Stuff for other people to make use of, or even the trash. There’s really no reason for me to hold onto so many things.

Clean room means a healthier environment, which is great. Less stress – since you don’t come home to a messy room, you won’t have to worry about having to pick things up. It also means more storage for me to keep other things in the future. Having a clean room is a benefit, so I shall keep that in mind as I continue clearing out stuff this week.

Happy New Year to everybody, maybe I’ll spend more time updating this blog this year. Once a week feels a bit too little. We’ll see.

In other news, I’ve got my first gig of the year happening this Thursday – at where else, but the KL Journal Poolside Open Mic? Feel free to drop by for some cool tunes and cool beer.

Poolside Open Mic #71 ft. Ash [Facebook Event Page]

Time: 8 PM – 10:30 PM
Date: 10th January 2019
Venue: KL Journal Hotel [Google Maps]

The Poolside Open Mic is our 3rd longest running open mic night which happens every Thursday evening right on TOP of The KL Journal! Each installation features one of our finest musicians, with this one featuring…

***ASH***

Armed with just a guitar and her soothing voice, and her eclectic blend of soul, RnB and bossa nova, Ash is a KL-based singer-songwriter who has just begun her journey into the performing arts. Often spotted at indie haunts such as The Bee, The KL Journal, Merdekarya and PLOY, she uses the stage to sing stories of her personal experiences with a subtle mix of melancholy and sensuality complimented with her delicate guitar playing style. With a decent repertoire of originals and covers under her belt so far, expect to see more of her in the near future as her journey has just begun.

Follow her: https://www.instagram.com/ashneese/

***OPEN MIC***

#1 2storeyheart
#2 Sia Nicholas
#3 Wasif Hyder
#4 Raymond
#5 Adz King
#6 Juan
#7 Nero
#8 Amr Mohsen

To sign up for the open mic, email us@openmicmalaysia.org 😀

~

Open Mic Malaysia is the brainchild of Shaneil Devaser, frontman of The Endleaves. Established in 2012 and currently operating in the Klang Valley, Kota Kinabalu and Johor Bahru, Open Mic Malaysia aims to create sustainable avenues for bedroom musicians, singer-songwriters and professional musicians to share their music and experiences with each other and the public, over evenings of wholesome indie goodness. In partnership with other like-minded musicians from across the country, Open Mic Malaysia aims to… Make Malaysia Great (for indie music) Again.