Trip to Oriental Paris – Part 1

(Part 1 of many parts, I hope)

(The flight was full but I was looking forward to the trip with a good selection of on-demand movies to kill the time. MAS’ inflight service and food was tip-top as usual, something that holds an edge over other airlines)

It literally started with a BANG!

Another overseas trip and I was kind of “ok” of missing Deepavali again. I was packing my luggage and somehow realized that I did not pack my toothpaste (ya, of all things!). I checked my drawer and realized that we have run out “travel sized” toothpaste. The fact that I will be staying in a 4 star hotel where they provide complimentary tooth paste on daily basis or I can always buy one at the nearest convenience store did not occur to me. I looked at my watch – there was 4 hours to kill before I need to head to the airport.

So, I decided to go and buy myself toothpaste and just as I was leaving the house, my son ran up and wanted to follow me (I guess he is already missing me). So there we were after buying that all important toothpaste, in the car chatting and listening to good music when we neared a junction. There was an old beat up Wira at the front. I waited for the car to exit the junction and somehow I kept looking towards my right. I saw there was a gap in the traffic and decided that the car at the front had exited and foolishly pressed on the accelerator. BIG MISTAKE! The bugger did not move at all and all I heard was a loud bang.

Damn! My first accident on my new car and it was due to a simple silly mistake (or rather toothpaste). I came out after telling my son to sit still in the car. First thing I looked at was the other car’s bumper (I was dreadful to see the damage on my car). The damage was not that bad and being a Wira, the bumper clip had come out and I knew that it could be easily fixed. The driver came out – an old man and he looked at the bumper and started to exaggerate the damage – he said the whole bumper had gone under his car but I was not buying it (I admit that it was my fault and I was willing to pay for the damage but not to the extend that I was willing to be taken for a “ride”)

Then I turn to look at damage on my car and I got a shock. Not a scratch at all. At bit of the bumper plastic came out of place but I managed to fix that in back (I later realized that 2 bumper clips had came out as well but it was not that obvious). We exchanged some details but surprisingly the other driver did not take down the most important details of all – my phone number.

As I am rushing for the airport now, I decided to take him to the nearest workshop which I knew. I went over and had a “friendly” chat with the workshop owner and discussed the cost to repair the damage – the whole thing was settled for RM60. I paid the owner the money and told the driver that he will get his “already damaged before this accident” bumper fixed. Then I rushed back to the house, threw the bloody toothpaste into the luggage and went down to put the bag into the car. I double checked my car for any more damage but nothing bad was visible from the front. I need to check this again when I take my car for the next service. But it was painful indeed, very painful.

Made it to the airport in good time and met up with a colleague of mine who was traveling with me. Body wise, I was at the airport but my mind was elsewhere – wondering if I could have turn back the time and avoided the accident. But you know what the most painful part of the whole journey was – I never used the toothpaste that I bought in Malaysia. It was not a good start that I hoped for but for now, I was looking forward to the 5 ½ hours journey and almost a month long stay in Shanghai – the Oriental Paris.

To be continued…

Flight Delayed

Made a quick trip “down under” last week…

(I must admit, Changi is one well managed airport with plenty of signage to ensure everyone knows where to go – provided you know English. Price of items sold at the airport is at the high side though. But I guess the most unsettling thing at the airport is seeing young girls walking around with sidearms – I am sure they are well trained on firearms and tactics but still, it is very unsettling. Image source: http://alicetravelstory.blogspot.com)

Overall, the journey was good – we made it in time for the business meetings with plenty of hours to spare, the meetings itself went smooth and without any major hiccups and I had one of the best coffees ever at a small stall by the roadside.

We were half way through the meeting when I got a SMS saying that the return flight has been delayed by almost one hour. One hour delay was not that bad but considering that we had expected the meeting to finish early and will have at least couple of hours to spare, adding another one hour was not something we readily welcomed. But we were still grateful for the heads-up.

We decided to kill time by visiting the nearest watering hole and ordered ourselves some beers to lose track of the time. The alcohol did the trick but not the final bill – beers were still cheaper in Malaysia. Halfway through our beers, my colleague posed the question – what if the SMS was wrong and there were no delays and we end up missing our flight. Fearing the worst, we finished our beers and rushed to the airport. It was peak hours – we knew that the MRT would be packed but we managed to find enough space to squeeze through and the MRT journey back was smooth.

We reached the airport early and headed to the counter to check-in. It was confirmed that our flight was delayed by almost one hour. Somehow, that was a blessing in disguise – we had an excellent early dinner and check out the many duty free shops at the airport (although many of the items on sale were overpriced).

The delayed flight was rescheduled to departure at 9.15 pm but by 9.20 pm, we did not see the plane at the departure gate. We wondered if there is going to be another unscheduled delay. At almost 10 pm, the plane finally taxied in and it was almost 10.30 pm when we finally took off – after almost 2 hours delayed.

I do not know what the real cause of the delay was but I suspected it to be the bad weather in Klang Valley – I managed to catch the weather forecast. We were hoping to hear the reason for the delay from the flight attendants but other than “sorry for the delay”, no reasons were given. As we were reaching the runaway, the captain spoke but other than “we are 5th plane on the queue and we will be taking off soon”, nothing was mentioned on the delay either.

I guess for others, the fact that the plane arrived and despite the 2 hours delay, the flight is taking off without further delays would have been good enough but if the airline staff had mentioned the reason for the delay, at least for courtesy sake, it would have been, err nice.

It was already bad that the flight was delayed by an hour and it got worse with the further delays before we can finally depart. At least knowing the reason for the delay would have been some relieve to the immerse frustration and anger on the delay. I mean it would have been happier to say that “my flight was delayed because of thunderstorm” than “my flight was delayed but I don’t know why”.

A couple years ago, as I was sitting in an Emirates flight out from Dubai, there was a delay in departure. We have already boarded the plane but the plane was not moving even after all the passengers had checked in and the flight safety drill has ended. The captain came over on the intercom and apologized for the delay. He said that the ground crew had detected something and making another round of check just to make sure that the plane remains safe. We appreciated the announcement but at the same time, we did not welcome the news that there was something not right with the plane.

But then, I guessed the captain detected the same anxiety and came over the intercom again. This time, he said that there no problem but to ensure of the safety of the crew and the passengers, the airline staff just wanted to make double sure that all systems was working well. This time we breathed slightly better. In the end, we reached our destination several minutes early and without any problems.

Flight delays are understandable but the silence as to why there was a flight delay is not.

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Nice But Short-Sighted?

It’s good to be back…but I catch cold once arrived, sigh

(My usual lunch when I was away – the portion was big and it was good but seriously the noodles back in Malaysia is still the best – plenty of “ajinamoto” and much cheaper too. Photos & videos captured on Nokia N8)

And immediately after my return to home, I have been busy with…eating. I lost about 4kg and somehow it seems like events that have been lined up after my return home may make it impossible to keep up with that 4kg lost.

My brother-in-law and his wife celebrated their newborn and the celebration food was heavy – with huge prawns and spicy mutton. Then the next day after a heavy lunch at Pizza Hut, I had to attend my nephew’s birthday in the evening– another round of chicken and mutton on the house. The next day after attending a close relative’s open house lunch which had huge spread, we went to a wedding in the evening. An Indian wedding that is and chicken and mutton would be one of the must have dishes.

Talking about the wedding, from the very start, we were a bit lazy to attend the wedding – and it had nothing to do with the bride or the brides groom. We were not that close but we knew the parents and grandparents rather closely. We were a bit lazy because of the weather – it was raining cats and dogs (you know how bad the rain has been in the last few days) and it was so niceeeee to sleep. But we knew we could not give the wedding a miss – we already done that for the engagement. So, we dragged ourselves to the wedding – it was still raining when we left the house but stopped by the time we reached the wedding hall.

Perhaps due to the rain (or the RM1 parking fees, I don’t know) the cars at the parking lot seemed sparse and I managed to get a good parking spot. I dropped my family off at the entrance before I went off to park the car. The air was cold and surprisingly fresh. I walked into the hall but what caught my eyes was not the crowd but the arch at the entrance litted full of burning lamps.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0Hrb8zlzc]

On the onset, it looks nice – it was not overwhelming as well but who ever had thought of having an arch full of litted lamps at the entrance probably did not think of this dreadful scenario – a large crowd barging in and someone’s clothes (sarees especially) falling on the litted lamp without them realizing it and catching fire. It is almost like walking through an arch of fire. And if you see in the video above, one lady almost get her saree on the fire and thankfully pulled in time.

At the very least, they should have stationed someone to keep an eye on the litted lamps as people walking in and out of the arch. Artistic values is one thing but whenever there is a big crowd, safety should always comes first. But thankfully nothing serious happened and the wedding continued without any other incidents.

Overall, it was a good day – with additional load of the delicious food from the dinner, of course.

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Still Here

An interesting email dropped into my inbox today – it is from my weekly Chinese horoscope and interestingly it said “Early November is overflowing with the scribbling of lists and organizing of schedules”. Interesting because I just completed a long checklist and finalize project schedule for the weekend

Sorry for long absence – one was due to work but the other reason is that there is a “great wall” blocking access to Facebook, blogs and Twitter, So, I have do without those for now and update only after I come back.

P.s. photo caption – the view from my room at night – taken with a N8

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