Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Goodputty! Things are great but others are sucky

I only just realised that the second anniversary of Goodputty Design has passed me by without me noticing!

I guess I should do something special to give clients who have supported me and all that jazz because studios tend to do that (as we are told in the countless expensive design books we purchase), but I don't wanna rush something out and do it for the sake of doing it. It just wouldn't come out right.

Happy 2nd birthday anyway!

I went out for dinner tonight looking for sizzling hot plate noodles, but couldn't find any in the shops near my place. MAYBE tomorrow at the Pavilion food court? I'm going to Pavilion tomorrow night to watch Michael Jackson's This Is It! How Thrilling. I'm actually being Bad and skipping bartending tomorrow just for that hehe. Well, it's Human Nature to choose fun over work, right? Okay, enough of the song names, I'm just making you roll your eyes.

Beat It.

On a side note, just for frachely (and anyone else interested), check out the music of GusGus. So far I've heard two songs and it's sounding good. Another one is Flunk.

Had another early morning today for Dutch class. Also, my uncle came over to help me fix my backyard tap. Well, he came to check it out and buy a new tap for me, and when I came home, I fixed it all by myself! How handy am I, huh?

Early morning, hence the tiredness in the afternoon. Took a really, really speedy nap of 10 minutes before dinner and I'm feeling much better for it. The creative juices seem to be filling up as well. All sorts of fancy ideas spilling out. How great is that?

I miss Schrobbenmaster because he's been working at Leiden Centraal for the past 2 days and will be there till Sunday. Sucks.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"It's not my department" attitude at Tan Boon Ming. Bad!


I woke up this morning at 10.30am, without any alarm, which is really an improvement because ever since I came back I've been waking up at lunchtime if I don't set my alarm. I've been feeling really heavy and drowsy the past couple of days, but feeling much better now. Sleeping times may be going back to normal!

I went to the living room to check my phone if anyone had called. The washing machine is supposed to come within 1pm to 3pm today, but knowing delivery people, they'll always come when you least expect it. So I already half-expected to find a missed call on my phone. Which I did.

So I called the washing machine shop to ask if they'd called earlier. The guy was at lunch so the woman who answered asked me to call back. I asked if she could just tell him to call me back, and she says, "I think better you call back in an hour.".

So I tried asking about the call earlier. "I'm supposed to get a delivery at 1pm, but someone called me this morning..."

And she interrupted me and said, "Sorry, I'm not in charge of delivery.".


Well, they had better come today because I was really so excited about getting a new washing machine, and if I don't get it today, someone's gonna get an earful!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Really fake real real fake real flowers

I just got back from IKEA with Mumsy Bumsy. We were looking for mundane things like shelves and small saucepans. And as always happens at IKEA - and no one is immune - we bought other things as well. I got new cooking utensils for under RM2 (my current ones are kinda destroyed) and a new toilet bowl brush. Oh, and a new purple pot for my new balcony table plant. It looks really nice!

While I was browsing the pots and plants area, I saw these pots of brightly-coloured gerberas that were quite nice. I had to lift one out of a pot in order to measure the pot, if it was big enough for my plant. I was surprised by how it felt! It was kinda rubbery and didn't feel like a plant. That's when I realised the gerberas were fake! No wonder they were so bright and thriving in that underground of an IKEA building.

Mumsy Bumsy came over a little later to take a look. I asked her if she wanted plants to place around the house and the gerberas caught her eye as well. We walked round the pots looking for one which was suitably "in bloom" and yet didn't look too artificial. While Mumsy Bumsy was admiring one of the bright red flowers, I started touching the petals of another. And was amazed by how real it felt. I was really impressed by the attention to detail and the materials they must have used to make the petals. The leaves were a little rubbery, but the rest of the plant was really well done!

Mumsy Bumsy finally chose a plant, picked it up and looked at the label, then said, "Why does it say it needs direct sunlight?". I thought for a bit and replied, "Maybe it's so it looks real.". There was a pause. And Mumsy Bumsy goes, "These plants are real LAH!".

Egads, there I was, marvelling at how real the flowers felt, and actually stroking it and peering closely trying to see what material they made it out of, when the whole time, it was true Mother Nature!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Clocks go back, Liverpool wins and Ultraman saves the day

Just a quick check-in before I head to dreamland. Yes, I do dream every night.

Nothing much different from the routine Sunday today. Took an enjoyable nap in the afternoon, and was pleasantly surprised to find out time was moving slower than I expected. Until I spoke to Schrobbenmaster who told me the clocks had gone back in Europe already. I was looking at my iPod, which is still on Amsterdam time so that I don't have to calculate what time it is in Europe, and thought that it was earlier here in KL. Gah, that extra hour had been snatched away from me.

I have dinner every Sunday with the dad and family, and tonight the aunt and cousins came over as well. It just happened that tonight was also a big night (or rather, afternoon) in the Premier League. My cousin, The Doktor, is a huge Liverpool fan along with my stepmum, but they were both overpowered by the Manchester United supporters in our living room.

Eventually, Liverpool won 2-0, so I know someone who'll have sweet dreams tonight!

I spent most of the game destroying bad guys with little Ultraman finger action figures with Baby Arran (okay, he's 3 years old, but he's the baby in the family). The bad guy we had to defeat was Royal Yelly controlling an Ultraman impostor, who was stuck in the Halloween Lift, which couldn't stop going up and down. After we destroyed him, my Ultraman hero got stuck in the Halloween Lift instead, and the bad guy was resurrected from the floor at our feet. But Baby Arran wouldn't have any of that, and promptly picked up the impostor, ran to the end of the living room and threw him on the floor where Royal Yelly couldn't resurrect him again.

Too complicated a storyline? Go back to your soap operas.

Time for some vocabulary studies then off to get some much-needed rest before a work meeting tomorrow.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Work at WIP, eerste Nederlandse les and PHOTOS from Schrobbenmaster's birthday

See my dedication to my blog readers? All 3 of you? Okay, 4... no, 5 that I know of. How popular am I, huh?? Anyway, I was saying I was so dedicated to you guys because my right arm and shoulder is really sore, but I thought of you guys and how I entertain you when you're bored, or when you're on the train, or on the poopbox, or simply vegging out in front of the TV, reading during commercials.

Last night was my first night at WIP behind the bar and I was placed at the mojito station. Geez, we must've made nearly 150 to 200 mojitos last night? And it wasn't even as busy as it normally is. Muddling (crushing) the lime, mint and sugar together sure needs muscle power! I think I might be at a different section tonight though, as the bar manager wants me to learn everything asap. Also, it's really tiring standing up nonstop. If you're working the whole time, it's not so bad. But when you have to just stand and look attentive, gosh... my back really hurt a lot.

Incidentally, it's funny watching intoxicated grown-ups. And the westerners tend to be more subdued here compared to, say, in England. But that is probably because they're older here. And they also tend to drink alone more than Asians.

Yesterday was also my first Dutch class. It was fun. She went through exercises to see how much I already knew, and she said I was already pretty good in the basics. Well, I can tell you, I probably am the best at things to do with trains and train stations. She asked me to match 'de' and 'het' with the nouns in the exercise (they are similar to 'le' and 'la' for French nouns). And then she asked how I knew it was 'de trein' so confidently. Yaaah, if she only knew how much time I spent in train stations. Geez, the best Dutch sentence I know is probably, "The train to *insert place here* will leave from platform 5 at 5.30pm.".

Anyway, more photos from Dutchland. The weekend before I left for KL was Schrobbenmaster's birthday. I've already put photos up of our dinner at Azzia, where we went on his birthday itself. The day after, his parents came to Rotterdam to spend the day and have dinner.

Schrobbenmaster wearing the shirt we hunted high and low for, a gift from his parents. Finally found one that fit well and that suited his style in de Bijenkorf. Dutch brand from Amsterdam, just so happens.

The parents.

The menu.

First, we all got Dutch menus. Then Schrobbenmaster asked the owner for an English menu. And this is what I got. After staring at it for a couple minutes, I swapped it back for the Dutch menu. That one makes more sense. Tell me, what's a clams sailor's blouse? How are you supposed to order that and know what's coming out?

The next picture is just from a newspaper, with a headline I thought was cute. Cuz the spelling used is so un-English, it looked cute to me.

Maybe I should rename my blog: "Sjoebs Boebs".

Time to clean up the house. And hopefully not strain my arm any more than it is. I hope my dad's massage chair is working cuz my neck and shoulders seriously need some rubbing as well.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

PHOTOS: Art class #2... such yonks ago

Since Schrobbenmaster gave me his old MacBook Pro, I've only been using it and neglecting my big old 24" iMac. Aww, poor thing. It's just so much more convenient using the MacBook when I wanna watch shows in bed, or want a change of scenery from the office to the dining table.

Anyway, Royal Yelly (formerly known as Yelleh Belleh) needed help with the scanner on the big iMac, so I decided to poke around in my old files. And once again found a folder with photos called Blog. And there's even a Blog 2! So I guess you folks can look forward to lots of pictures in the near future.

Wow, it feels like such a long time ago. These are photos I took of the kids doing one of my favourite lessons: filling up a cow with patterns and things they like. Encourages creativity.

One of my favourite students goofing around.

Her cow turned out very nice indeed. I think I may have lent her a hand somewhere in there, but on the whole, very nice. I always make my students fill everything with colour cuz I hate white space in artwork (let's not go into professional paintings and all that).

Egads, that boy, I remember him!! Very naughty, very noisy, impossible to control. But turned out to be an intelligent, creative boy (when it suited him). Yes I know, usually it's the intelligent kids that cause trouble. But their parents really have to teach them to respect authority at the same time. Can't just let them do whatever the heck they want! Especially when it disrupts other people's learning experience. Anaelle (above, my favourite student) is proof of that. Heh.

I can't really tell who this is. I had a couple of blonde little girls in my class. But I'm pretty sure it's my fave student. Joking around again. Maybe she's trying to be Wall-E. Note how she's taped her mouth shut. Kooky.

This is a really old photo. I did this lesson quite early on, blowing paint around to create shapes and patterns. In here he's creating a volcano. Which ended up really, really, really... quite awful.

Nothing special about this piece, except I like the way the colours mix at the bottom... those red, purple, yellow streaks are quite a turn-on to me. Kinky.

Okay, I DID have more students than just this girl, but I guess she was always the most interesting.

This is a really typical pose of hers. She's always so curious and so interested in everything. And she'll just open her mouth and ask straight out. Never rude though. Kudos to her parents. French parents.

This is another cute one who joined late. Extremely quiet, until she goes bonkers. I had her, for one whole class, keep repeating, "Where's my gum, yo?" gangsta-style, just cuz she liked the sound of it. Even some of the other students were asking her to stop. And then they got addicted to it too. Sigh.

I miss the kids, but I'm glad I'm not taking the class anymore. It was just too much work thinking up lessons every week that were interesting enough. I also wasn't getting paid as much as I should have been for the amount of time/work I put in. Well, maybe in Dutchland they'll value art lessons more and I can charge the equivalent of what my Dutch teacher is charging me!

(First Dutch class tomorrow, btw. Gotta wake up early, arrghh!)

PHOTOS: Working in Amsterdam and train journeys

Schrobbenmaster started his first job in September, and three weeks later, he came home and told me that his office needed a part-time designer for a week, as their full-time designer would be on holiday in Ibiza when a certain festival newspaper was supposed to be created.

So I said fine, that sounds great. It'll give me something to do and a little money on the side.

Well, one week turned into two weeks, which turned into two and a half, which ended as three. And only then because I already had to fly back to KL. I even met the poor designer who had gone to Ibiza and who then came back and had nothing to do for the two weeks I was there. Bah, that's life.

For those of you who aren't on my Twitter, here are photos of the office I was working in, in Amsterdam.

I started out by sitting at the designer's desk, which is right at the end of the office, all alone, until Schrobbenmaster joined the company.

Schrobbenmaster at his spot, and one of the bosses sitting in the special cubicle further back on the left.

The main entrance to Leiden Centraal, and the banners for the festival.

When the full-time designer returned from Ibiza, I shifted to the spot next to Schrobbenmaster and I started bringing my own laptop to work on. The screen is connected to it, and it was more useful having a larger screen to work on. It's currently showing the full program of the festival. That was the worst page to work on!

In Dutchland, people usually eat lunch in their office and they only get half an hour. The office orders food to be delivered, and everyone makes their own sandwiches or salad or whatever cold stuff there is. And drink milk. So healthy. In some offices, the employees pay a minimal amount monthly for the food, but in this company, they provided us with lunch.

Shown above is brown bread with... probably some sort of ham and some sort of strong cheese in it. They sometimes had crab mayonnaise which was like the kani mayo sushi I love to buy at Jusco. And only in the last few days I decided to try the sambal manis, which made me regret not having it sooner. It was so delicious! Turns out everyone else thought so too, and I only managed to eat it for 3 days.

In the train on our way back from work. That's a new shirt I'm wearing, actually the only long-sleeved top I had. I had gone out with the sole purpose of purchasing a long-sleeved top to wear to work. Also looked for boots because I was feeling rather loser-ish wearing my ballet flats with socks.

Egads! That's the program I'm working on again. Oh, wait a minute, no, Schrobbenmaster had requested to see it because he was organising something. And I was typing a blog post about the journey back home.

This is from another journey, when we were sitting in the cramped space just outside the main seating carriage and near the doors. We sometimes sit there when it's too crowded in the carriage, or we just want some privacy. It's not very comfortable though, as you can see.

Whoopee, ending here. Tired eyes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The IBC 2009 at Amsterdam

I think it's time to finally upload some of the photos that are sitting on my desktop in the folder called Blog.

I can't remember if I mentioned it before, but some time in September, Schrobbenmaster and I went to Amsterdam to attend the IBC 2009 (International Broadcasting Convention). It had nothing to do with me and graphic design, and everything to do with televisions, digital cameras, video cameras, broadcasting, satellites and the future of digital technology etc etc etc. But it was free and Schrobbenmaster had signed up to attend, even got it approved by his boss, saying it was for work purposes, so there you go.

Also, to end the day, there was a free screening of Ice Age 3 in 3D. So that was a nice bonus.

Me at the Philips booth. It was neither warm nor cold in there, so I kept having to wear my jacket, then take it off, lug it around, then put it on again, then take it off. Bleh.

This one was so Minority Report. They had probably one of the most expensive booths there. There would be a woman talking on the screen, and while she spoke, key words would appear scrolling across the arch behind at the same time. It was just really all so futuristic and cool!

Schrobbenmaster posing with some nice shadow background action. Amsterdam RAI has so many different halls, it was really tiring walking to all of them to check out all the exhibitors.

People sunlounging, although I don't know why they're doing that right in the grounds of a convention centre. Perhaps they also find it really tiring walking around. Honestly, I think they look pretty stupid.

Just thought the pattern in this lightbulb was cute. Oh wait a minute, is it called the filamen? Okay that's spelt in Malay and I can't be bothered to look up the English name.

This is the section for drinkers and people who can spend company money to buy expensive, overpriced food at the makeshift cafe/bar. There was music and it actually looked pretty good, if not for the puffed up men thinking they were cool drinking on a Monday afternoon in their office clothes and the women in pants and ugly shoes, all wearing IBC 2009 tags. Makes it worse knowing that most of them will be going back to some gloomy, pathetic airport hotel at the end of the day.

Because Schrobbenmaster and I were not there on company expense, we ventured out across the road to a cafe to have a quick dinner before Ice Age 3. I was craving for a burger, and I got something like it. At least it was hot.

I guess on the whole it was quite interesting to see all those futuristic things, even if it meant being around sad men who had been sent there from all across the world by their companies. It's not always the best thing to be sent to these kinds of conventions, although it might sound cool to your mates, like, "Hey I'm going to Amsterdam! Company paid trip. Hah (I'm so cool)!", and they're supposed to reply, "Wow, make sure you have lots of weed and go visit the prostitutes! Hergh hergh hergh!". But of course, the reality is that they fly to Amsterdam, stay really far from the weed and prostitutes, in some gloomy, lifeless hotel in the middle of nowhere, and don't have time to visit the city before they have to fly back.

You know what else was a waste of time over there? Companies from China and Taiwan who just paid for one square meter of booth space to save money, employing 2 bored girls and 1 timid man, placing one poster up with the name of their company, and then expecting people to want to drop by and say, "So what do you have for me?", when there are superb booths like Philips, that Minority Report booth that I can't remember the name of, and... other really high-tech companies which I know but can't remember now. And no kidding, there were at least 10 of those booths there, with absolutely no visitors.

Well, it takes money to earn money! That's my motto. That's why I spend so much.

A day of errands, but a wasted one

How quickly it's become October 21st! Has it really been more than a week since I was thinking, "Oh noooo I have fly back to KL soon!".

I finally got my car back from the workshop, so I decided to run some errands today. When I go out, I like to do everything at one go, so I don't have to keep popping in and out. Such a waste of time and energy, especially when every time you step out of the door you start sweating.

So I lined up paying bills and buying new paint for my front door and a new lightbulb for my fridge on my list. First, I went to EON Bank to pay my internet bill over the counter. Yes, I know, it's quite stupid that I can't do it online. But they're only linked to three banks, none of which I use. And there doesn't seem to be a facility for Interbank Transfer. So inconvenient!

Thank goodness EON Bank was empty. Can't say the same for my experiences at RHB, Maybank and Public Bank though. Sometimes it's nice to use a bank that's not popular. Haha.

The guy at the desk was really helpful. He saw me holding my bill and recognised it, and he showed me where to get the form and what to fill in. And I spoke to him in Malay out of respect. I figure, if I'm in a fancy restaurant and the Malay staff attempt to speak English to me, I'll speak Malay to them when I'm in a public place. But generally, the staff in banks have reasonable English anyway, it's just that I think they appreciate it if we don't force English on them when we're all Malaysians anyway. Wow, what a big paragraph of being considerate, being a good neighbour and being friendly that was.

Anyway, it was a pleasant experience over the counter. Then I thought that since I'm in EON Bank, I may as well pay my car loan. Otherwise I normally have to rush to the bank, stop my car in the nearest (illegal) spot that's not blocking anyone and race to the cheque deposit machine so I don't get a ticket. Because the closest EON Bank to me is in Bangsar, and that place NEVER has any parking spaces available.

I even brought my chequebook with me to pay the car loan. Then I remembered that I had RM50 short of the amount I had to pay. Damn being broke! So I walked out and back to Bangsar Village, where I headed to the hardware store for my lightbulb and paint.

Of course they didn't have my lightbulb (no one seems to sell fridge lightbulbs, seems I have to go to one of those little hardware stores that stock up on all sorts of junk) and after spending 20 minutes choosing the colour of the paint I wanted, the shop assistant discovered that they'd run out of the base in which to mix my paint. And he said, "We've already ordered it and it should come tomorrow. Or the next day. Uh... by this week.".

That's the thing about having bad management. When you don't keep products in stock, you lose customers. Will I be going back tomorrow, the next day or by the end of the week? Of course not! I'll be going somewhere else for my lightbulb and paint, thank you very much. Next time, keep your products in stock, or don't sell them at all. A waste of space and a waste of time.

So having had a wasted journey in the rain today, I thought I should spend a few more minutes in BV at least buying something like food. So I went to Cinnabon to get a chocolate cinnamon bun, which used to be my favourite. Then I went to Village Grocer to get Lay's. When I discovered that it costs a ghastly RM16! Omg, why would I spend so much on junk food? Instead, I bought the Lay's Stax that's made in Thailand which is only RM7 (which is still a lot for junk food, btw). Doesn't look like Lay's, more like a smaller Pringles.

Anyway, then I came home and happily in anticipation heated up my cinnamon bun. And it was such a letdown! Hardly any chocolate and filling in it, it's such a waste of RM3.60. I would only pay RM1.50 for that. Beard Papa has NO competition whatsoever!

So until they improve their quality, or go back to what it used to be, I urge everyone to stop paying RM3.60 for NOTHING at Cinnabon!

Oh, but don't go to Beard Papa either, otherwise I'll have to wait in a long queue to get my puffs and cakes. Just... maybe not snack? Then the overweight problem can disappear on its own. Thanks to Cinnabon and me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My newspaper! My biggest project to date!

I woke up this morning wondering what day it is. "It must be Thursday because it feels like a Wednesday, and I always get it wrong. But wait a minute, I came back to KL last week, so I didn't miss one day of my life doing nothing (the Monday I spent at the Hotel Ibis), so it might even be Wednesday. Okay, let's retrace our footsteps... (and after 2 minutes)... oh, it's Tuesday today. Weird, it feels like the end of the week."

Yesterday, Schrobbenmaster arrived at the office and messaged me on Skype:

"Guess what I have in my hands?"

"Koekjes!!" Cookies. Wishful thinking, as even if he had my dubbel chocolade cookie, I wouldn't be able to eat it anyway.

Here's what he had...

My newspaper! It looks so much better in print. I'm really sick of seeing it on my computer screen by now, but seeing it for the first time actually printed out (even if I'm seeing the printout on my computer screen *ahem*) is really thrilling.

They've just printed about 70,000 copies (correction: 750,000 copies!) to be inserted into de Volkskrant newspaper and delivered to households everywhere or picked up at newsstands, and they'll also be distributing it at Leiden Centraal (train station where the festival will be held).

Mmm... I just love freshly-printed, neatly-stacked, tightly-wrapped bundles of paper. Especially when it's my design!

I'm so glad the front cover turned out looking better in print than onscreen. The front cover was actually the page I was most dissatisfied with. Mostly because I had to follow the use of the yellow background banner, which is the theme of the festival and applied to all banners and posters advertising it.

This dude kindly allowed Schrobbenmaster to snap a photo of him distributing the paper at Leiden Centraal. Oh golly oh golly, I can't wait to hold it in my hands.

Schrobbenmaster's dad reading the paper at home. How awesome to see people utilising something you've "made". By the way, Schrobbenmaster also contributed to the paper by snapping some portrait photos, like the one of the girl above.

Sometimes I think to myself, "Is it sad that I don't have a stable income yet at this time of my life?", but it really helps that the work I do has good exposure and I have such very interesting experiences to make up for lack of stability. This newspaper is definitely the biggest thing I've done to date and will be the most widely seen (plus the highest paid job I've EVER done, goodness, to think of it converted into RM is incredible) so I'm really happy I got the opportunity to do it. If my work wasn't so unstable I would probably never have been able to do something like this.

Thanks to everyone who made it possible, especially Schrobbenmaster :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Starting my journey to Dutch-ness

I feel so proud of myself today because I wasted no time in calling up the Dutch teacher recommended by the embassy. They'd recommended two, but one is currently too busy, and I had to wait till today to call the second. She seems keen to help and is really friendly. That's my experience with the Dutch - if they're nice, they're really, really nice.

Talking to frachely on MSN as well, she gave me an idea that I could use podcasts to improve my listening skills. She had listened to an Italian mp3 on her way to work for two weeks prior to her Italian trip, and it seemed to really help in her pronunciation and speech. So I just subscribed to Laura Speaks Dutch, which received good reviews, and so far after listening to 3 episodes, I'm really happy with it.

(I just went to the balcony to bring my laundry rack in, and glanced at the neighbour's balcony where he has really big leafy green plants. So jealous. Mine are literally hanging onto their last leaf. It's an oasis in his balcony and the desert in mine.)

Tonight I'll receive an email from the teacher with her schedule, and I hope she has enough time to give me an intensive course, because I aim to sit for the inburgering exam at the end of November, or at the latest, mid-December.

Will keep you guys up-to-date with my progress!

On the subject of language, I also met with the chef at WIP (Bangsar Shopping Centre) who's French, and he seems to be quite willing to help me practise my French. I don't know how good an idea it is to be practising two different languages at the same time (Dutch and French are from different "families" as well, so they're not as similar to each other as French is to Italian/Spanish and Dutch is to German/English), but it would be good to be able to brush up on my French anyway.

And talking about WIP, I'll be working behind the bar every Friday and Saturday, so if you wanna have a night out in a hip restaurant, come visit! Do make a reservation on Fridays though, as they're always fully booked.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How KLM added 24 hours to my 12 hour journey home

I finally feel like writing about my journey home. It's really interesting, but not a nice thing to think about since it meant the end of my 3-month "holiday" in The Netherlands.

I was due to leave on Sunday night (11 October) from Schiphol Airport at 9pm. Eenbrauw Ruben had very kindly offered to bring Schrobbenmaster and I there, so, knowing we had a heavy Samsonite and a piece of too-heavy-for-my-shoulders hand luggage to lug to the airport, we accepted his offer.

After checking in my Samsonite (with lots of prayers hanging over it, since it had to keep my brand new LCD TV in pristine condition), we had some Starbucks before walking to the departure area. Lots of goodbyes and tears later, I walked alone to my gate, which was really really far. Really far.

Schrobbenmaster had loaded a few shows for me to watch on the mac, so I started watching Saturday Night Live to pass the time and to lighten my spirits. Kept watch on the time, and as it drew closer to boarding time, I started wondering why there weren't any announcements yet. I'd got texts from Schrobbenmaster telling me that it had still been raining heavily outside when he left, but according to (I'm guessing every Dutch person's Top Site), it should be over shortly.

Finally, a few minutes before boarding time, there was an announcement for our flight. Not with the news we were all expecting!

"Ladies and gentlemen, there will be a delay with our flight as there has been a strike to the aircraft."

"Oh shit, the flight attendants and flight crew are on strike? Until when?? I wanna get on that plane now!"

"I'm sorry to inform you that there has been a lightning strike to the aircraft."

"Oh shit! Lightning strike?? Is this for real? I'm not getting on that plane!"

"So we are inspecting the plane now and to see if there are any repairs needed. We don't know any more than that for now, so please excuse us and be patient while we wait for more news."

Well, being patient took about another hour. Then the announcement came that they still don't know what's going on, and that the inspection is still underway. Then another hour goes by and they announce yet again that the plane is not ready, but they have found a replacement aircraft. Phew!

Too soon.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are still inspecting the aircraft, but we have found a replacement that can leave shortly. However, as our aircraft was a 777-300 and the replacement is a 777-200, we regret to inform you that a few people will have to be left behind. And by a few people, I mean one hundred passengers."

Silent scream (but trying to look calm and cool on the outside, for what reason I've no idea).

So not only did some of us have to be left behind, but we still had to wait for this replacement to be inspected and ready.

They finally announced that we had to bring our boarding passes to the gate and only there would we find out if we were on this flight. And they don't know how the machine chooses which passengers go. I wonder how true that really is.

So begins the one hour queue to the front of the gate. And I find out that my name is, of course, not on the list to leave that night. So there I go joining another queue for the rejects, who have to stick around until the plane leaves because there is "a possibility that you may still make this flight". That was just total crap. Because I was one of the last few at the gate when it was calmer, I managed to ask if there was any chance of me getting on later, and the lady smiled sympathetically and said, "Probably not.".

(Wow, I just gave a deep sigh sitting here remembering that scene.)

In the rejects queue, we received compensation forms (5 euros of phone calls, how little! And some 10 euros for food in the airport), and directions to the counter where we'd receive a hotel voucher for the night. They also told us that our replacement flight would be on MAS at noon the next day, so we had to be at Schiphol again at 9.30am for check-in.

By that time, of course, Schrobbenmaster already knew the situation and he was looking for the next train to Schiphol to accompany me and make my night better. It was already 1am by that time, and because of the usual chaos with trains and buses, he could only get there at 2.30am.

I just walked downstairs to get my voucher. I was directed to passport control, but I wasn't sure if I had to go through, so I walked to the two counters which were still manned but completely free of passengers, and asked, "Do I have to go through you?" And he replies, "Yes, otherwise we wouldn't still be here.". How rude. Did I ask to stay here 4 hours longer than scheduled?

Anyway, after getting my hotel voucher, I walked back out to the terminal and looked for a toilet because I really desperately needed it. After relieving myself, I looked for the shuttle bus stop to check the timetable, if they still leave at 2.30am. It was 11 degrees and raining outside, and I was only wearing a t-shirt, because I'd left all my jackets in Rotterdam. So unfortunate. So I braved the cold and walked in the rain to the bus stop, where there were about 15 people waiting as well. I found out that the shuttle only comes when called, and up to 2am, so no luck there for Schrobbenmaster. We decided that I should just follow everyone to to the hotel and check in, and he'd find a bus or a taxi to go there when he got to the airport.

After all that drama, I finally was able to rest in my hotel room at 2am (after having a quick bite at the cafe and chatting to other stranded passengers), take a nice warm shower and change into a dry t-shirt that came in the care pack they gave to all the left passengers.

Schrobbenmaster finally arrived at 2.30am, having had some luck with buses and timing. It was so nice to see him again, some comfort in a time of distress.

I set the alarm for 8am and tried to sleep as soon as possible because I was already tired and there wasn't much time to rest.

At 7.30am, I got a call to the room, and I thought it was a wake-up call, so I picked it up and guess what I heard......

"Good morning... your flight has been delayed. You're now leaving at 9pm tonight, so you have to be at the airport at 6pm later."

"Wh... what?" Bear in mind I only JUST woke up and was hearing such important news. "There's no flight at 12pm? And I'm leaving at 9pm?"


"So do I stay in the hotel room?"

"Yes you can stay in the hotel until 6pm."


At least I could sleep again.

I found out later that some passengers had managed to fit onto the noon flight with MAS. So I was, in fact, doubly rejected by the machine to leave NL.

Sigh, long story short, I stayed in the hotel all day. Schrobbenmaster went to work for a short while, but left early because he had gotten sick and was throwing up. So he came back to the room and slept all afternoon. I had nothing else to do but sleep, so I slept as well.

Finally, it was time to leave, and the whole farewell scene repeated 24 hours later. Except that this time, Schrobbenmaster was pale and sickly, and I was eating fries because the hotel had grossly lousy food and I was in need of some hot food.

This time, the KLM flight I was on left on time and everything was spit spot perfect. Except that I'd lost my aisle seat that I booked for the original flight, and now had to sit in between a French dude and a Dutch dude who almost got into a fight with the flight attendant for wanting to use the loo when the seat belt sign was on.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I checked at Schiphol if my Samsonite was on the flight with me, or if it had gone to KL on the original flight. Everyone was saying "Oh, they'll offload your luggage and it'll be on the same flight as you". But never believe their crap. In fact, the check-in woman was really resistant to checking my luggage's location and wanted to do things all her way first. Finally, she had to admit that my bag was, in fact, already in KL, and that I should just go straight to the office to pick it up.

What a relief! At least they hadn't lost it. And it meant that I wouldn't have to wait at the carousel, where my luggage always ends up being one of the last few loaded onto the belt.

Tired fingers now. That's basically my whole adventure, trying to leave The Netherlands. It was frustrating and worrying, but at least I could spend one more day with Schrobbenmaster (even if it was in a strange place, and he was sick).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Back in KL and everything's strange!

Well, I've been putting off writing a post, but since I'm rather bored right now...

I'm back in KL! And I've come home feeling quite surreal about everything, because everything looks so familiar, and yet I'm not used to it.

I used my hairdryer the other day, and only on the second usage did I remember that there are two settings, Low and High. Can't believe I forgot about that. The hairdryer I used in Rotterdam only had one setting and I'd gotten so used to that that I forgot all the old stuff!

This morning I made tea and when I was scooping the sugar out, I paused and wondered, "Do I use one or two sugars?". Can't believe I forgot that as well! In Rotterdam, we used the type of sugar jar that you turn upside down to get it out. And I always had 5 shakes of that in my tea. So I figured, it must be about two sugars in KL. Alas, it was only one, as I realised after drinking it.

Call me weird or whatever, but you just try it.

I've got loads of pictures to post as well.

Schrobbenmaster camwhoring in the Mexx store while waiting for me to try on some clothes. I hadn't done much shopping at all, so I was rewarding myself by going on a spree that day.

Cookies, glorious cookies! I really miss my dubbel chocolade cookie *sniff*. It was the most glorious cookie EVER. At least I have Beard Papa to compensate.

Ahhh... wonderful times. Shivering cold in the train station at Sloterdijk, waiting for the train home, eating my second double chocolate cookie of the day.

Okay time for some lunch (although it's 4.30pm right now). Gotta love jet lag... woohoo (especially when you don't have to work)!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

PHOTOS: Dutch photo

Schrobbenmaster took this photo and sent it to me:

It looks like such a Dutch picture, doesn't it? A big Heineken logo, a woman riding a bike with her little girl in  the front... and what makes it cuter is that she has a suitcase on the back (one wonders what her story is), not to mention this photo was taken just as she was cycling over the cyclist's lane symbol on the road.

How I added an hour to my daily 2-hour journey to work

Word of the day: vertraging = delay

The awesomeness of today is that... I have a swollen ankle.

It was supposed to start out nicely, being able to get up an hour later cuz Schrobbenmaster had a meeting at 10am in Leiden Centraal, which meant that I could follow him on that train then continue on to Amsterdam Sloterdijk for work.

Unfortunately, as I was walking down the stairs to the front door, I missed one (or a couple of) steps and tumbled down onto the landing, hitting the corner wall. Thankfully that landing is really small so I couldn't really sprawl out and hit myself in other places. My right foot did go all wonky and completely twisted itself inwards though, and when I landed, I immediately (almost automatically, even... I'm quite impressed) took my foot in my hands and put it right again. However, it hurt so much that I couldn't even breathe properly, much less talk to Schrobbenmaster and tell him how I felt. I just sat there paralysed for a whole minute and finally panted out to him that I hurt my ankle and needed a couple minutes for the pain to subside to some bearable degree.

There was no option to skip work either because today's the deadline for the festival newspaper and they really needed me at the office. And now the blessing which was the late meeting at 10am for Schrobbenmaster became the curse, as now we had missed that train and he had to take another train on a different route from mine and leave me alone at Rotterdam Blaak station.

I hobbled to Blaak on Schrobbenmaster's arm, where he boarded his train and I waited for 20 minutes for mine. I found a platform to raise my leg, which was quite comfortable. I waited and I waited... and an announcement came about my 9.35am train, where I understood everything except the one word. Which turned out to be the most important word: DELAY.

Basically, what I heard was: "Ladies and gentleman, for the train on platform 2 to Rotterdam Centraal, Delft, Den Haag HS and Amsterdam Centraal at 9.35am (blank) about 5 minutes.".

So I heard the "5 minutes", I checked the clock, but I guessed she wasn't saying "arriving in 5 minutes" because it was already 9.40am. So I guessed it was late by 5 minutes. But by the time 9.45am came, it still wasn't there, and she was still saying the same thing! So I was just thinking to myself, "Shit shit shit". But outwardly of course I remained cool and calm because I didn't want people to think I was crazy, panicking and hobbling everywhere with unfashionable white Nike shoes.

All of a sudden, the signboards changed, and my 9.35am train became a 9.44am train to Leiden Centraal, although it was already 9.50am. Panic, panic. Finally, a train came, and I hopped on (okay, hopped on as best I could with one lousy ankle). But when I got in, the running signboard text said I was on the wrong train! So I called Schrobbenmaster, and he told me to get off at Rotterdam Centraal.

Stupid trains.

Anyway, to cut it short, I finally boarded the right train. Even changed platform by listening to the announcement (so proud that I understood it). The train was empty so I could stretch my leg out on the ledge under the table. Unfortunately, 3 stops down, three old ladies came onboard to join me. The one who sat next to me very nicely said "Dank je wel" when I moved my bag for her. No one else has ever done that. And the two opposite me just talked nonstop until I got off. Which was irritating, because although I normally like little old ladies, she was preventing me from stretching my leg out.


At Sloterdijk, I hobbled off the train and to the metro. I'm pretty sure the conductor was looking at me weirdly as I passed, but gah, who cares. Struggled up the staircase with the wet railing assisting me (one perk of having a pulsating, painful, swollen ankle is that you don't feel the cold anymore) and waited for the metro to arrive.

Thankfully, Schrobbenmaster had arranged for one of the girls at the office to pick me up from the metro stop so I didn't have to take the 10 to 15 minute walk (on two working feet) to the office. Unfortunately though, she had stopped on the other side of the station, so after hobbling down the stairs and out of the station, after 10 minutes, she called and we realised I had to cross over to the other exit instead. So up the escalator, across the platform and down the stairs once again.

Ended up reaching the office really late, at 11.45am. Everyone was nice though, helping me with an ice pack and lifting my leg up. I think the boss was really anxious that I came late because it's deadline day. But as I sit here writing this at 2.21pm, I have had no work to do for the last 1 1/2 hours. So nothing much to be anxious about in my case, really.

Now I only have to look forward to a long work day, possibly leaving work at 10pm tonight. And then the nice long (slow and painful) trek back to Rotterdam.

(And oh shucks, my left leg is now numb from all the pressure and leaning on it.)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Schrobbenmaster's birthday

Word of the day: bijna = almost

I'm sitting on the train again writing this post, on the way to work this time. A little later than usual cuz we had a plumber over to fix the kitchen sink. Still had to wake up early though, unfortunately. Sigh.

Last weekend was Schrobbenmaster's weekend. I thought that it was gonna be a really busy and not very relaxing weekend cuz on Saturday I had to plan things to do (plus buy his present because I was at work all week) and on Sunday his parents would be down all afternoon.

It turned out very nicely in the end. His birthday started off with eenbrauw Ruben coming over for dinner and a chat on Friday night, where he told us how he brutally killed flamingoes when he was a student and needed money, by breaking their necks and selling each pink feather for 50 cents each*.

On Saturday after breakfast, Schrobbenmaster and I headed to town where I picked up a present and a card, and sent his Fossil watches to be fixed as a surprise. I got him a new bath towel. A nice one to replace at least one of the old towels which, after washed, feel exactly like biscuits.

(Train has just stopped at Delft. Just giving up-to-date travel information.)

Because we had a really long and exhausting week at work, Schrobbenmaster and I completely konked out after lunch for 3 hours. Just felt so heavy and drowsy. But it must have done some good, even though we felt so heavy after.

I wanted to bring Schrobbenmaster out for dinner but obviously didn't know any good places in Rotterdam. It had to be somewhere he hadn't been before either. Which is actually not that difficult to do, since most Dutch rarely eat out anyway. So I searched the internet and found some options. It was made easier by us having to walk, so the options had to be close to home. I finally found one called Azzia and called up to reserve. They were really friendly and I had a good vibe.

I had to borrow Schrobbenmaster's iPhone to check directions to the restaurant. As we walked along, he kept guessing which restaurants were down the street. He's a walking Rotterdam map, I'm tellin' ya. Which made my job of surprising him rather difficult, as he named Azzia in a list of restaurants down that road. And when I admitted that it was Azzia we were headed to, we just happened to pass by one of their small on-the-road signages, where he found out that it was modern asian fusion.

Oh well, so much for the surprise, but at least he hadn't been there before.

Reminds me of my grandparents' old house back in Butterworth.

They charge for every pot of tea you order! What the... pots of tea should always be refillable. It's the culture! Why eat at an Asian restaurant and not follow the culture? Just like all Thai restaurants have unlimited rice refills. Pffft.

Anyway, I had tamarind red curry goose which was really delicious, and we had dim sum as appetiser. Which also reminded me that it was my first dim sum in 3 months. I have a lot of catching up to do when I get back to KL.

After dinner, we went home to have brownies for dessert. I'm tellin' ya, it really makes a difference when you make brownies with butter instead of margarine. Never substitute the real thing!

On Sunday, Schrobbenmaster's parents came over after lunch, and I got a bouquet of roses from his mum. How nice! Then we headed out to town, where Moeder Irma followed me to look for boots and a long-sleeved shirt for work (to protect me from the cold, rather than to look professional... no such thing in that office). After V&D and de Bijenkorf (which was stupidly crazy in there), we still couldn't find anything that fit my comparatively thinner (than Dutch) legs, and, disappointed, we met back up with the boys and went to have cake as it had also been her birthday a few days ago.

I had chocolade truffeltaart and a kinda strangely strong-tasting black cherry berry tea in a cafe called Opa's Eetcafe. Nice interior but seriously understaffed.

For dinner, we went to Tapas Barcelona, just round the corner from home. It was really good, and it was great to have prawns again. Everything else was so filling - the meatballs, the omelette, the patatas, the chicken... when the prawns finally arrived, it was great! Plus it tasted the best, drenched with olive oil, herbs and chilli. Yummity yum.

(Passing some rather bland houses now. Thought I could end the post by writing something nice about my view on the way to work, but I guess not.)

So all in all, a really enjoyable weekend, and hopefully this week continues to be good at work and at home!

* Okay, I exaggerated. He was a Medical BioScience student and dissected loads of yucky animals, which unfortunately included tame, friendly flamingoes.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Looking forward to home and food!

Word of the day: kalkoen = turkey

I think I'm actually looking forward to going home. Sitting on the train, passing by shops I recognise but never go to here, like Domino's Pizza, Subway... just reminds me of home and how I can eat all those things when I get back.

Food here is great. You just miss old habits.

I just realised that in my last post I talked about work. If some of you are not on my MSN or Twitter, this may have been a surprise and you might be wondering what's happening.

Well, two weeks ago, the designer at Schrobbenmaster's work went on leave for a week. They needed a designer urgently to design the layout of a festival newspaper (festival as in music festival, arts festival... not like Deepavali or Wesak Day kinda festival). So they pulled me in, and one week became two, and two weeks have now become 2 1/2 weeks.

Gettin' paid loads for it, which is awesome.

That's the story of my working here. Been having a Dutch lunch every day at work, sitting at a table with colleagues, eating bread and cheese... sometimes I get my favourite crab mayonnaise 'salad' which reminds me of kani mayo sushi I always buy from Jusco.

Man, I haven't had sushi in 3 months. 3 months!!

Yesterday was the first day I discovered sambal manis in a jar during lunch. I actually saw it before, but thought it might be too 'foreign' to have on my bread. But I had an adventurous lunch yesterday and decided to try it. It was amazing! I had it with butter on my bread and thinly sliced roast beef, then spread the sambal manis on top. So lekker!

Sitting on the train back from Amsterdam (work is in Amsterdam) now (oooh, just passed a huge Burger King sign) and feeling really hungry. Schrobbenmaster is making pannenkoeken tonight for eenbrauw Ruben and I, as a treat for his birthday tomorrow.

Youngster grows up! ;)

Yum yum yum... (obviously already thinking of food)...

Looking forward to home and food!

Word of the day: kalkoen = turkey

I think I'm actually looking forward to going home. Sitting on the train, passing by shops I recognise but never go to here, like Domino's Pizza, Subway... just reminds me of home and how I can eat all those things when I get back.

Food here is great. You just miss old habits.

I just realised that in my last post I talked about work. If some of you are not on my MSN or Twitter, this may have been a surprise and you might be wondering what's happening.

Well, two weeks ago, the designer at Schrobbenmaster's work went on leave for a week. They needed a designer urgently to design the layout of a festival newspaper (festival as in music festival, arts festival... not like Deepavali or Wesak Day kinda festival). So they pulled me in, and one week became two, and two weeks have now become 2 1/2 weeks.

Gettin' paid loads for it, which is awesome.

That's the story of my working here. Been having a Dutch lunch every day at work, sitting at a table with colleagues, eating bread and cheese... sometimes I get my favourite crab mayonnaise 'salad' which reminds me of kani mayo sushi I always buy from Jusco.

Man, I haven't had sushi in 3 months. 3 months!!

Yesterday was the first day I discovered sambal manis in a jar during lunch. I actually saw it before, but thought it might be too 'foreign' to have on my bread. But I had an adventurous lunch yesterday and decided to try it. It was amazing! I had it with butter on my bread and thinly sliced roast beef, then spread the sambal manis on top. So lekker!

Sitting on the train back from Amsterdam (work is in Amsterdam) now (oooh, just passed a huge Burger King sign) and feeling really hungry. Schrobbenmaster is making pannenkoeken tonight for eenbrauw Ruben and I, as a treat for his birthday tomorrow.

Youngster grows up! ;)

Yum yum yum... (obviously already thinking of food)...