Baggage

March 9, 2014

Little misadventure last week. I was scheduled to fly from KL back to Singapore late on the 6th, last Thursday. I’d booked the last available flight so that I could do as much work as possible on the day itself, but I ended up just looking at logs and trying to provide reasons for systems not working that I don’t understand. That’s been happening a lot lately, and I’m getting rather sick of it, but that’s a story for another day.

In any case, the long-and-short of it is that I missed my flight. The taxi pulled up at the airport 40 minutes before departure, and by the time I’d found the check-in counter it was empty, with only a “CLOSED” sign to let me know anyone had ever been there.

Thankfully, KL’s LCCT airport isn’t quite as horrible as I’d imagined. I managed to buy my tickets for a flight back on the very next day at 6AM within 30 minutes with AirAsia (my original booking was with Tiger), and the bulk of the delay was in getting cash from the ATM. The airport was bustling with people, and there were still some retail shops open, even though they weren’t selling anything I’d be interested in.

I considered my options: spend money sleeping at the airport hotel (surprise! there was one), hug my luggage the entire night while grabbing what sleep I could in the lounge, or travelling back to Petaling Jaya where the company apartment was, only to return in another 6 hours. I decided for the hotel–risking airport pickpockets and KL traffic seemed like hassles I didn’t want to deal with at that point.

The worst part about LCCT is that the only hotel, a Malaysian budget chain “Tune” was 500m away. Some more adventurous travellers walked with their luggage, but not having had dinner that night I didn’t have the energy for it. Thankfully, there was a transit bus. I found a queue and asked a middle aged chinese couple in their forties if it was for the hotel bus. She smiled, nodded at me, then turned to her partner and linked her arm in his. After the stress of the evening, her smile comforted me. I suppose might be why I paid them extra attention that night. It struck me that they had no luggage on them, unlike the rest of us in the queue.

There was a pretty good mix of people at the hotel–some like me who’d missed their flights, some who needed a place to rest for a couple of hours while waiting for to fly somewhere else. The poor reception desk was swamped with a line of irritated, tired people

The couple I’d queued behind were in front of me at reception too. Only he booked the room, though. She sat quietly at the far side of the lobby, on a white faux-leather lounge sofa just looking on serenely. He spent quite a long time questioning the hotel reception about the costs of various services (the hotel charged for towels and even air-conditioning), so I think the money must have mattered to him. I couldn’t tell if he was Singaporean or Malaysian from his accent; he sounded better educated than a typical kopitiam uncle, though not overtly ang-mo-pai, and had the manner of a man trying to be casual in an unfamiliar situation.

She had on a sleeve-less black dress, which revealed arms with a little more fat than was fashionable, and her hair was a simple shoulder-length affair, but she still looked oddly elegant–almost detached from the roomful of irritated, tired room-seekers. Perhaps it was her posture–it was excellent. She looked relaxed, trusting that he would be able to take care of things, although the other line moved quickly on as he checked and calculated prices. He finally finished his booking, and as I took his place to make mine, I noticed out the corner of my eye how they communicated, silently. He turned to give her a slight nod–all the signal she needed to join his side at the elevator. They held hands.

Despite spending the money for it, I hardly slept that night, having recently become addicted to Knights of Pen and Paper. I finally crashed at 1:30AM, only to wake at 4AM to stumble, bleary-eyed, to the airport.

It turns out they were on the same flight I was on back to Singapore–I caught a glimpse of them at the check-in, and again at the waiting area, just sitting together, holding hands without talking. We landed safely in Singapore, and the last I saw of them they were walking down the corridor after clearing immigration, ignoring the duty-free and the luggage carousels. There was nothing they wanted to buy, they had no baggage. She had nothing but a little handbag; The only thing in his hand was hers.

I’m not sure why they had to take an impromptu trip to Singapore, what their relationship was, or why they had to stay at a dingy airport hotel. I don’t think I it was a planned vacation, at any rate, or at least it was one which didn’t allow very much time. Maybe it’s just all the Sherlock and Elementary I’ve been watching, which makes me think I can deduce something about two strangers from the little I saw.

But I think I know enough to recognize what doesn’t need words to explain. I think I saw love.

And I hope when I’m forty someone will still want to hold my hand.

Ipoh 2013

December 30, 2013

Spent 2 days in Ipoh with HS and her friend.

There was plenty to eat, but precious little to see. We went to the mildly-interesting train station and city hall, but not any of the caves or temples. I’m given to think they would have been only mildly-interesting as well. The nightlife was, as far as I could tell, non-existent.

I’m not entirely certain if it’s Ipoh’s fault for being boring, or if I just had a guide who was somewhat lazy and ill. To be fair, he was a local and the problem with asking locals about interesting things to see is always a tricky business. After all, it’s difficult to gauge how interesting something you’ve grown up taking for granted is. Also, I was a bit of a third leg, so my views on Ipoh may have been somewhat coloured.

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Still, HS and I weren’t supposed to be there for the sights anyway–it was meant to be a working trip, after all. We didn’t get much done, though–well, not the work we set out to complete, anyway. We did get our hair done and put on a couple of pounds.

Overall not one of the most productive or enjoyable trips I’ve taken, but at least it didn’t cost much.

Second time in Taiwan, though this time it wasn’t as part of the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces). I kind of preferred it when I was, though. This time we stayed mostly in Taipei, which proved to be rather tiresome quickly, especially with the mountains in the background beckoning their escape into nature. I’m starting to think that perhaps I should start making good on my promise to go back to Nepal or somewhere with mountains to climb and verdant rolling plains again.

Hong Kong

March 5, 2007

Just back – not quite as exciting as I’d hoped. All developed Chinese-majority cities look too much like Singapore – the differences aren’t quite as exotic as I like.

I’m just back from Bintan, where my company had its annual year-end review – a day-long meeting where we all talk a lot about nothing in particular.

I’m back so late because it was a monsoon day today, which meant a lot of rain and wind, resulting in a choppy ocean and the ferry going slower than usual and also the difficulties in disembarking. There was only a single exit point off the ferry, you see, which allowed egress to only one nauseous and seasick company at any single time. And egress off a ferry rocking like an insane roller-coaster-to-nowhere isn’t easy, especially for nauseous little old ladies. Not that I was thinking very kindly of said little old ladies whilst queueing up behind them (as they missed chance after chance to jump the tiny half-metre to shore), since the queue area smelt like vomit and more and more queuees were succumbing to the side-effects of partaking in the amusement-park Ride-of-Doom the longer we stayed there.

Whenever I watch disaster movies and see the young or old get shoved aside by some young virile male desperate to save himself I feel it is impossible that anyone could be so inconsiderate as to allow the old, wek or sick go first, but now I’m not so sure what I would do myself, should my survival be compromised by the ability of some old lady who’s too afraid to save herself.

But enough of the ferry. I had intended to talk about work, actually. In broad strokes, if not in detail, in case I get found out and get dooced.

I hadn’t intended to stay so long in this comapny. I don’t fit in, and it doesn’t fit me. I’m not a particularly positive person (in the sense of the word used mostly to refer to people who give logical objections to your stupid ideas) and I don’t believe in being motivated by someone who screams and shouts at you. In fact, I have been known to have a cynical and sarcastic streak about me, which doesn’t make me the best kind of person to have standing saround muttering comments as participants cry about how tough and touching the last motivational activity was.

But really, this possibly could have been the best possible job I could have taken as a cynic. Nothing has reinforced my belief that motivational courses and all their ilk is bullshit than trying to sell them – or at least helping others sell them. Whilst I don’t discount the fact that some people (in fact, an overwhelming number) find these things useful to some extent, being able to see backstage has given me nothing but disgust for the entire process. I guess it might be like they say – if you want to find the meal tasty, don’t look at how the chef prepares it. Even within the company, there is a strong undercurrent of self-ridicule at our own product, even in the people who conduct the programmes.

If anything, I am more cynical about these things than when I first joined.