29 May 2008

What a long journey!

Actually, I am on a long journey to reach a destination that is just a time zone away from where I live. In the past, I had taken long journeys too but those trips were from point A in one time zone and to point B in many time zones away. I left home about 24 hours ago and I am still not where I am supposed to be. So far, it has taken two flights of about two hours on Airbus 330 aircrafts and a stay in a hotel. I have another flight of about 1 hour and forty minutes. My journey home will pretty much the same.
It’s not so bad but at the start of this journey, I lost my bank card. There rest are ok. I am on business class in one of the flights, get to stay at a posh hotel in the airport and I get to see my friends (although for a short while). Anyway, I hope everything will be ok until I get home. Anyway, I am off to my next flight now.
(183 words)

This airport (CGK)

Actually, I’ve been in this airport for countless of times. For me, however, it is usually out of the arrival hall and into the taxi or waiting car and out of the taxi or car into the departure hall. This by far the longest time I’ve spent in the airport. It’s a busy airport due to the sheer number of citizens and airports around the country. It’s no Changi or KLIA but I think I still like it. Why? It seems lively and full of people. I hate seeing KLIA when it’s not the holiday or hajj season. Nobody seems to be around. But not here.

Of course, this airport has shortcomings but when you look at the interior design, you know you are not in some Western airport wannabes. Usage of local traditional motives is numerous in CGK. If you go to KLIA, tell what do you see? KLIA might as well be an airport in America or Europe. Maybe, they should have used a Malaysia architect to design the airport. And now, you can see a mini KLIA in the airport I use most, the Kota Kinabalu International Airport. Aping the West is not always right.
(200 words)

Another post from being stuck in the airport

One of the strange things in this airport is the number of times I’ve been approached by men and at least, one woman, trying to sell me watches and perfumes. It seems they approach a certain type of people, so not everyone. Based on my travels, I can say we can tell a little about a country the moment we step out of the arrival hall. Here, I can see a lot of people milling about, probably waiting for their relatives and my case, someone to buy their wares. I am not so sure if the stuff they are trying to sell are originals and knock-offs. I dare not to ask, even the price. Usually their sales pitches are met by a raised hand or a nodding of the head, saying no. Anyway, I think all the salespeople are just doing it to get some money to get by. It’s basic entrepreneurship or survival, whichever way you look at it.

At the same time, I saddened that if anyone comes to KL, they will be met by touts who are trying to fleece the visitors by offering taxi services at horrendous prices. What the authorities could do is put up a big sign in all major languages to warn travellers to buy tickets only from the counters or use taxis which are approved by the airport. Last month I saw a big sign in yellow at the Bangkok International Airport saying just this.
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Stuck an airport

I am now stuck at Sukarno Hatta International Airport in Cangkering, Jakarta (CGK) waiting for my onward connection to the town I am supposed to travel to. I have about 6 hours to kill. It’s a bit risky to go to the city centre, with the jam and all. I really don’t want to miss my flight, which is twice daily. The other one is in the morning.

There isn’t much to do at the airport. So, I just walked aimlessly around. Checking where I would check-in for my flight and so on. And then, I saw this girl standing there, in the midst of the people around the airport.

She was holding something which caught my attention. What is it? It’s a brochure for a reflexology centre in the airport. We made small talk and I agreed to follow her to the centre. I opted for an hour foot massage, and nothing more. My masseuse was a very friendly and talkative young man by the name of Bambang from Lampung. After the massage, I feel relieved as my feet were killing me.

Now I have to find something else to do until my flight. There’s lunch and maybe some more posts in between.
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27 May 2008

Going away again, but not for a vacation

I am supposed to be on leave for an extended time for the next few weeks, but it seems my bosses got other plans for me. Well, if it’s up to me, I’d say no. I need my rest, people! But then again, it’s not up to me and I have to go. I’ve got two places to go to.

First, I’m going to a neighbouring country for a meeting. My employer signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with another organization in this country, so we are trying to materialize something out of it. It sad that some MoUs signed before have remained as they are, MoUs. They became just a photo opportunity with some big shots and so on.

Secondly, I’m off to another Malaysian state to visit students, who are undergoing their practical training. Students where I teach are required to undergo practical training at the end of their studies. Usually they choose a place near their hometowns, which I don’t mind as long as the organization where the training takes place is relevant to what they studied and has opportunities to absorb these students as employees. That’s why the training is at the end of their studies and not in the middle. Anyway, as always, there’ll be some students not considering these in mind when selecting the organization for practical training.

I just hope there’s no third place to visit anytime soon.
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Five Words You Need to Know When Travelling

Maybe seven words if you include 'excuse me' at the beginning. Everyone knows that English is an international language and more and more people around the world are speaking and learning English. As such, all you need really are the translation and correct pronunciation in the local language of 'Excuse me, do you speak English?' And also of the word 'No' as if the person you ask can speak English, he will probably answer with a 'Yes' in English, of course. I did just this during a vacation in Europe when I visited six countries with six different languages. Not many people have the capacity to learn that many languages. Of course, it also helps to learn simple daily conversational phrases or the numbers but when you are lost, the best way to find help is to find someone who speaks a common language with you.

To get started, here are the seven words in the languages I know. These are transliteration of the language stated which maybe written in an entirely different alphabetical from English.

Arabic: Law samat, hal tatakallam al-ingiliziyya? La.
French: Excuzi mwah, parley voo anglais? Non.
Italian: Mi scusi, parla inglesi? No.
Mandarin: Kingwen, ni shuo ying-wen ma? Meiyou.
Portuguese: Desculpe, fala ingles? Nao.
Russian: Izvenyeteh pahjaloosta, ti gavarit pa angliski? Nyet.
Spanish: Pardon, habla ingles? No.
Thai: Kao thot, khun phuut phaasaa angkrit dai mai? Maidai.
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26 May 2008


Other than reading, the other thing I enjoy is watching movies. A good movie, for the duration of it, keeps you focused on the silver screen. That's why I'll try to watch my movies in the cinema and not on video, VCD or DVD at home.

Movies take you away for that one a half, two, two and half or three hours. You'll forget about the mountain of work in the office or personal problems that you might have. At times, however, I still catch at home the few movies which I might have missed for one reason or another, including not being screened in Malaysia.

Having said all that, I don't watch all kinds of movies that come to a screen near me. I gravitate towards all kinds of movies particularly science fiction, action/thriller, heavy drama, comedies and sometimes, cartoons. I draw the line, however, at horror movies especially those with paranormal themes. Not even if you are buying. See you at the movies!
(167 words)

Books, I Love

I love reading. I can get engrossed in a book or a magazine and sometimes, even a newspaper. But am I well read? I doubt so. You see, I'm pretty selective in what I read. I don't just read everything.

What do I read? I like fiction, autobiographies, travelogues and books on my interest areas (management, finance, fashion, interior design and origami).

Autobiographies and travelogues are pretty much non-fiction, I think, so its interesting to read up about other people's lives and travels.

As for fiction, I pretty much read only all the works of authors I find interesting. So far, those who caught my interest are, in no particular order, Jeffrey Archer, Paolo Coelho, Bryce Courtenay, John Grisham and Robert Ludlum. Nevertheless, I still read works of fiction by other authors recommended by friends and the best seller list.

Do I have a particular favorite book? Well, yes and no. There are books I refer to all of the time. Then, there are books I don't mind re-reading. I don't, however, consider these my favorites. However, I'll be willing to recommend books for your reading pleasure.

By the way, don't you worry, none of my recommendations will be books in the area that I primarily teach. I doubt that these books will interest you in the way they interest me. Still, I can probably recommend one or two you can read up about what I teach.
(238 words)

25 May 2008

Time to Visit Sabah

If you asked me, its probably May, if you are into culture and the month before Eidul Fitri or Hari Raya Puasa (Ramadhan in the Islamic calendar), if you are into food. The time to avoid is the rainy season, usually towards the of the year.

If you come in May, you will be visiting during Sabah Fest and Harvest Festival or Tadau Kaamatan when a lot of cultural activities take place. Not to be missed are the launch of the Fest at the beginning of the month and the festivities of the Festival during the last two days of the month.

As for the month of Ramadhan, throughout this month, various food bazaar will be up and running for everyone, Muslims and Non-Muslims alike, to savour the food usually not available during the other eleven months of the year. Coupled with other types of food Sabah is famous for, such as seafood, you will get many choices of treats to eat.

On the hand, November and December may not be the best time for you to visit Sabah due to the rain. No, the attractions opens year round but the rain can get in the way, sometimes. Unless your idea of a vacation is staying indoors most of the time, then the rainy season is not a good time to visit. Then again, it doesn't mean you shouldn't come during this time. Malaysia, after all, is the land of eternal summer.
(244 words)

20 May 2008

10 Things To Do in Bangkok

I went to Bangkok for my recent vacation. For me, it wasn't something new. In my last two jobs, I've been to Bangkok for work for so many times that I've lost count.

My trip this time, however, was fun as I went with my friends. Trips like this are always fun. It is not so much the place we visit but more of the companionship.

Anyway, if you ever plan to visit to Bangkok, make sure it's over a weekend. And here are ten things you can do while visiting:

1. Shop at Chathuchak Weekend Market & Suan Lum Night Market
2. Shop at MBK, Siam Paragon & Siam Centre
3. Visit the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kew (or other Wats) & the National Museum.
4. Take a river cruise at Menam Chao Phraya
5. Watch Muay Thai (Thai Kickboxing)
6. Walk around or have a picnic at Lumpini Park or Sanam Luang
7. Visit Ayuthaya
8. Visit Floating Market at Damneon Saduak
9. Visit Kanchanaburi
10. Eat real Thai food

Nos. 7, 8 & 9 are not in Bangkok but they are just a few hours away. You can easily arrange for the trip from Bangkok.

As for me, I know I'll probably be back again in Bangkok in the near future.
(216 words)

08 May 2008

Going away again

After the all hard work these past two weeks, I am going to take a short rest from work. I am going away again with my friends. I’ve been to the place we are going to for many times (for both work and leisure) but I really don’t mind going again. Anyway, it’s not so much the place but the time you spent with the people you travel with. I hope the trip will turn out well as planned. The photo above should give you a hint of where I am heading.
(94 words)

Mark mark mark

It’s been a while since my last post, I know. I’ve been busy the past two weeks for two reasons. First, it was marking exam scripts. Oh man, if there’s one thing I hate about my job, it’s marking exam scripts. I just don’t enjoy it. The first time I taught I had a course with over 250 students. It took me more than a week to complete the marking. Last semester, I had a course with over 450 students! Marking for that course took like forever. This semester, it was not so bad with just over 70 students.

But then again, marking exam scripts is well, marking exam scripts. There’s nothing to like about that unless my students get to answer all the questions well, which is like rare. I usually let the students know the chapters, usually 5 or 6 out of the 13 or 14 chapters we cover in a semester. I am happy if they get half of the answers right as our final examination is about half of the course grades. But, some of the students can’t even do this. As an educator, it frustrates. me I think they want me to give them questions before the examination. Hello, like that’s going to happen. Anyway, I’ve completed my marking already.

And the other reason is I’ve been teaching on the past two weekends for one of our commercial programs. It was a new course for me, so I had to prepare.

(248 words)

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