Iâ€™m an average guy whose been blessed with above average experiences â€“ this one happens to be a business trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to collaborate with our off shore coders to build the faÃ§ade of a Service Oriented Architecture. If you donâ€™t know what that is, no problem, this post is more for my friends back home â€“ and a very special 7 year old girl whom I wish I would have brought with me.
Well Iâ€™m here. A bit tired, but certainly not hungry as first I was treated to a series of Japanese treats on a big old JAL 747, which while staffed with incredibly polite and attentive staff, could have provided economy seats a bit more comfortable for those of us over 5â€™9â€. Still, no complaints, not even over the middle-aged Japanese woman who literally freaked-out with disdain when she saw this swarthy American of Greek descent sit next to her. Donâ€™t worry, her conspicious distaste for me via her literal â€˜nose-holdingâ€™ and attempts to get re-seated were rewarded with ironic chuckles by me when I was served first because I do what I always do on an international flight: request a veggie meal. No sense getting bloated down on a 30 hour journey with a meatball that wonâ€™t digest … though I cannot for the life of me comprehend a mentality that would prevent one from getting to know, or at least be remotely friendly to someone spending the next 14 hours inches their immediate right … how are we all ever going to get to peace if we don’t take such opportunities to get to know each other.
Okay, one other travler’s kvetch: not sure if itâ€™s cultural or part of the JAL thingie â€“ but I was having a hard time adjusting to a situation where everyone else loves to stand in line and slowly and thoroughly process one-at-a-time â€“ even if it made our take-off from JFK 1 hour and 45 minutes late!
On the up side, and I do suspect this is cultural, the fastidiousness I was witness to was past any measure of impressive – and everyone else was incredibly polite and welcoming. Iâ€™ve never been in planes and airports so incredibly clean. No lie, one could take the Tokyo airport and turn it into a restraunt without so much as having to wipe a single counter â€“ if the price of admission was the passion for lines, it was worth paying just not to feel filthy upon arrival.
Speaking of cultural, Malaysia did not disappoint! Though my arrival in Kuala Lumpur was about as uneventful as similar above-average experiences for this average guy in Singapore and Hong Kong in 2005 and 1994 respectively. Spending a day in Kuala Lumpur had me almost immediately immersed in different, and dare I say exotic culture â€“ a similar recollection I enjoyed in Hong Kong â€“ not so much in Singapore which perhaps because of where I was staying, felt more like living in one large shopping mall.
My immersion is perhaps facilitated by the politeness of everyone here from the hotelâ€™s desk concierge to the clerk running the cash register at a nearby 7-11 where I purchased some mineral water. I like all this politeness â€¦ I like it a lot … and it is a credit to the Malaysian population!
I did find it ironic that while in the States I can get free wireless at the Holiday Inn Express, though not at a Starbucks â€“ that half way around the World the opposite is true. It also made me grin a bit that most of my work yesterday was performed offline as I did not go into our business partnerâ€™s offices as today was a national holiday here.
Still, the type of preliminary work I had to execute was done well enough in the hotel room, which after 7 hours gave me a hankering for a â€˜venti half-caffâ€™ â€¦ which in itself worked into a charming anecdote as I had to train the staff at the nearby Starbucks here in K.L. what that meant. The charming aspect being how eager the staff was to learn about U.S. coffee culture â€“ as much as Iâ€™m interested in theirs. Tomorrow night, I switch to tea which seems to be their strong suit. Hey, when in Rome â€¦ or should I say KL â€¦
After the work got done, my Malaysian counterpart drove by to pick myself and another U.S. based co-worker out to dinner. Some discussion which basically went â€œI donâ€™t care, surprise meâ€ ensued which ended with â€œwould you be interested in Korean Barbeque?â€
My U.S. compatriot and myself, both living and working near the home of good Eastern Carolina BBQ (yeah, Iâ€™m talking Starlight Inn quality kids) â€¦ we were immediately intrigued and up for the task â€¦ especially after some jaw dropping driving that reminded me back of the days when I lived in NYC; only here everyone is expected to drive â€˜non-defensivelyâ€™ as possible (more on that later).
I say task because as you will see from some of the linked photos, the three of us ate like kings for about $20 U.S. including gratuity. Four different types of marinated meats BBQâ€™d in a spit fashioned into the middle of a table surrounded in a sea of somewhat spicy but oh-so-delicious appetizers and side dishes. I never thought Iâ€™d ever find myself enjoying anything based in/on Kimchi, but indeed I did as Iâ€™d take a home-spun pancake (pasta) recipe they served, put the saucy and sautÃ©ed veggies onto a big leaf of lettuce, top it off with the pork or beef and â€¦ oh mercy â€¦ themâ€™s good vittles Mah!
Back to the hotel, and on my way to the fitness center a lesson and reminder to always bring my camera with me as I missed an opportunity to take some photos of individuals playing ice hockey in the rink located on the bottom level of the 6 story mall located, actually connected to the rear of the hotel. Yeah, and here I was merely surprised earlier today just to see ice skating at all!
There are still many hours of hard work and no small amount of job pressure, as it is expensive for my employer to send someone half way about the Planet to lead and leave a programming framework and legacy.
That said, these above average experiences are fuel for my fires to perform well â€“ now if my body could just adjust and get some sleep I wouldnâ€™t be sitting here on the edge of the bed blogging offline â€“ tasting already the morning coffee Iâ€™ll enjoy when I go to post this entry.
Yeah, I know I said tea â€“ Iâ€™m saving that for when I get back from the office!-)
tomorrow Thursday, hopefully with some more photo ops. Ask questions if you gotâ€™em â€“ and yes, Iâ€™ve been in contact with the community of Christians who blog â€“ probably an impromptu meet-up this weekend. Iâ€™m a day ahead so no need to worry about catching up; btw, tomorrow is going to be a great day so enjoy yourselves!
And now for a very special little girl: hello sweetie-pie, I hope you enjoy the pictures of myself, Mr. Ed and Mr. Siong. We had a very big and tasty dinner I would share with you, once you learn to try new foods and enjoy new experiences â€¦ just like Daddy! Xx00 â€“ I love you forever!
And for the rest of you: stop saying â€œaawwwwwwwwwwâ€ â€¦ just because Iâ€™m half-a-world away doesnâ€™t mean I canâ€™t hear you!-)