Posted by: eytliew | February 20, 2015

When perfect is the reason

They say that in life, everything happens for a reason.

So apparently, the Universe presents you with lessons in the form of experiences. You learn them over and over until you get it right, then you graduate. Relationships and love are of course, no different.

I don’t often post about my relationships, heartbreaks and such, because its so intimate and too personal to share. But I wanted to post this because I’ve been inspired by friends and new acquaintances I’ve met in the last year or so, and I’m hoping it’ll resonate with a handful of other 30-somethings, who understand the bitter sweetness of relationships.

So of all the relationships I’ve had, the most recent one has shown me that things REALLY do happen for a reason. And this ended, for the most perfect reason – I just wasn’t happy. Well, there’s more really, but this one stood out the most.

A bad relatioonship

When W and I (finally) broke up, I wasn’t sad, didn’t cry, and strangely, felt so liberated – a first for me. I wasn’t thinking about him, wallowing in bed or wishing it could have been better. I definitely didn’t have second thoughts about getting back, much to his mom’s disappointment. (His mom and I were friends first, before we met).

And when I wanted a “clean cut – no contact” break up, he seemed silenced by sadness. (He wanted to have “the freedom” to call me whenever he felt like saying ‘hello’. Well, buddy, you had “the freedom” when we were together . . why should I give you the freedom now that it’s over?)

We had it good for a while, but the last month was a constant emotional turmoil for me. I continuously wondered if it was me or him that was the root cause of our issues. As our relationship gradually deteriorated, it hit me hard – it was neither. It just wasn’t working out.

So here are the important things I learned from my relationships:

I am happiest when you keep my emotional tank full (i.e speaking my language of love) – dragging yourself out of bed to drive me to work,

Taking me to work, on clear skies

. . . Or cold winter mornings. Regardless, I knew you’d always be there

Buying me The New Zealand Lonely Planet Guide even though deep inside you didn’t want me to leave Malaysia;

Running 10km for a fundraiser together because you knew how important it meant to me;

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Being my photographer and support runner for the 10km fundraiser run

Driving over 80km every other day just to make sure I got home safe from late nights in college;

Making me a proper egg-on-toast with spinach and mushrooms and smoothie breakfast when you hate getting up early;

Trying to understand my work especially since it was the complete opposite of yours;

ACS

Working with people with special needs/ disabilities – not all partners would understand

Encouraging me to pursue my passions, even if it meant we were spending $50 on gas every week just so I could volunteer at the NGO,

Or worse still, if it meant we had to be apart – these little things spoke volumes about how much you cared about me.

Thank you for not understanding me and my needs, and often not knowing my language of love – ditching me last minute, breaking promises, dreaming of wedding lingeries during a shaky period in our relationship, not providing moral or emotional support that I needed.

I’m glad I saw the way you were with children, I learned that just because you love children, it doesn’t make you a good father.

Kids

Only two but a handful!

Our relationship redefined commitment – to me, it wasn’t that all-expense paid trip to meet your folks; or a holiday to look at the retirement home your parents had planned for;

How do you plan for future when the present doesn’t even exist?

Or including me in your will, or talking about a future I couldn’t imagine.

Commitment means staying focused on the current – being there for me and knowing your priorities as a partner, and only saying the things you mean.

Thank you for letting me be me, a history, culture and arts lover,

Trishaw mural

The trishaw mural up on Penang Road, an iconic stamp of Penang

Hawker roadside

To me, hawkers are more about art and culture than the food itself

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A sketch on inter-racial love (Muslim/Christian) during Georgetown Festival 2013

 

Charcoal painting of a Bangali Singh by Ahmad Zakii Anwar

Charcoal painting of a Bangali Singh by Ahmad Zakii Anwar

 

And a common sight – a “street Indian, nevertheless Malaysian” – By Ahmad Zakii Anwar

A sports enthusiast

Lions Dash

First fun event of the year – Lions Dash 10km obstacle course

 

Penang National Park, stunning view during high tide (never went there with W but hiked 5 times with friends and colleagues. . . )

A great believer in natural therapy and social change.

While waiting to be relocated, refugee parents scrape whatever they have to put their children through school. Heartbreakingly true.

Through our missed dates – walks on beautiful winter mornings, foreign movies, cultural workshops, music festivals and sedentary lifestyle, I learned what my deal breakers were – I am not interested in dating someone who needs convincing to go to events and places. Why bother? Life’s too short!

Culture Shot, my favourite Dikir Barat and all-Malaysian band

 

The sedentary beer lover – one I cannot imagine growing old with (yucks!)

Learning to enjoy sights alone:

Trishaw

A common sight on Penang Island – an old trishaw

Exhibition of Nyonya culture at the Peranakan Museum (I went alone, of course)

More on Nyonya food at the museum

I learned to be grateful to all who respected my vegetarian lifestyle, just as I respected your need for meat. And I got lucky you were so creative with food!

Delicious eggplant with feta

Thankfully, none of you were religious, allowing me to learn and explore religions freely. I’ve learned I needed to this understanding from my partner. Born and bred in Malaysia amongst a plethora of ethnicities, we’ve learned to respect other people’s right to beliefs and practising their faith.

Shrines

A shrine for Dato Kong, strangely popular and common to see non-Chinese communities praying

Prayer on the board

A beautiful prayer on the board of a faith based bakery

I’m not a subscriber to any religion, and never said it brought about (only) good to the world, but I choose to see the incredible things that arose from it – music (hymns, chants, “The Lord’s Prayer” by Andrea Bocelli is one of my favourite songs),

Churh rio 2

Church kept the boys out of trouble during their formative years

church rio

Singing along to hymns in church

cultural practices,

Thaipusam devotees

 

Ouch!!!

 

architecture,

Ruins of a beautiful church

 

Somewhere in Dunedin. . .

love and compassion for marginalised communities. .

Spring Learning Centre, an education centre for Burmese Rohingya refugees funded by communities of different faiths including churches and Christian educational institutions

Year 1 children at Spring Learning Centre

So really, what are the take-home lessons on love?

  • Trust your gut instincts
  • Do what makes YOU happy
  • Once you start second guessing, its time to let go
  • Letting go is sometimes better than hanging on
  • The other person doesn’t complete you, they complement you.

To all those who didn’t end up becoming “The One” :

Thank you for being a part of my life and in your own ways, teaching me the valuable lessons I needed to become the person I am today. 

In life

Posted by: eytliew | February 28, 2013

Au revoir frog dwellers

When I first started working at Abel Tasman, I made it a goal to finish a season.

Circumstances changed and made it impossible, especially after G was attacked by a dangerously violent man whom we’ve put a trespass notice against. After four and half months at the national park, we have both left our jobs.

During our time in the park, I’ve learnt alot about people. I’ve learnt how little some Kiwis know about their own country; I’ve learnt that those who brag about their achievements are not usually the brightest. I’ve learnt that the people who are most grateful are the quietest appreciators. I’ve learnt that some people don’t have a conscience, and will not remember you for the help you’ve extended to them. But that shouldn’t stop you from doing good and being genuine to people.

But mostly, G and I have learnt that despite the rotten apples, there’s bound to be some good sorts. Here are a few of my favourites (in no particular order):

We’ll start with Robster, or Robo as I call him.

Keeping to himself. . .

Keeping to himself. . .

When we first arrived, he kept mostly to himself, parking himself in front of the TV playing the X-box. An introvert, he said little and responded in mono-syllabic words. We would sit there watching TV and he would hand the remote over or usually pass the remote around or ask if there was anything in particular we wanted to watch. That was about the most he said.

I still remember the day we broke the ice – it was just me and him watching Bart Simpson and we got talking about prisons, and he asked if I had seen a particular movie. I said, no, what’s it about?

It went from Bart Simpson, prisons, his motorbike, his backpacking trip in America, to NZ$120/week training with the gym instructor that gave him his ‘big guns’, to him continuing weight training in the woods by pulling himself up on thick branches along the way.

Rob ready to rock and roll on his bike in Golden Bay

He flipped his sleeves and showed me his biceps. I laughed, not at him, but the way he did it. I found this introvert baker to be intelligent with a witty sense of humour.

Rob showing his 'guns' off

Rob showing his ‘guns’ off

Recently, three of us a had a computer game championships in our lounge area, and he impressed us with his gaming speed and fast thinking. Last week, we played Scrabble and I wished I had taken a photo of the game – he definitely had an above-average IQ for a baker.

Rob and G at Cape Farewell

Rob and G at Cape Farewell

A real friendship blossoms

A real friendship blossoms

I’ve watched Rob grow from a breakfast chef and baker, who didn’t know how to make staff meals, to making one of the best, if not, the best, chargrilled vegetables I’ve had in my life.

Eggplant with one of the best mushroom sauces I've ever had

Chargrilled vegetables with one of the best mushroom sauces I’ve ever had

His compassion and understanding of our dietary needs also makes him different. We’ve also seen Rob through some hard times, struggling to find his footing with the different chefs that have come and gone, and we know it hasn’t been an easy ride for him.

We get two pasta bakes every time Rob does staff meals!

We get two pasta bakes every time Rob does staff meals!

You can see why we love Rob . . . always a special pot for me and G!

You can see why we love Rob . . . always a special pot for me and G – one each!!

I remind him of the times he held the fort alone as dinner chef, after Michael Daly finished his contract. I remind him of the the one-in-a-million compliments that no other junior chef has received, like the one from the Italian couple who had lived in UK for ten years. During check out, they said dinner was “one of the best meals they ever had“. No other chef, apart from the Head Chefs, have received a compliment like that before.

The pavlova that Rob made for our farewell

The pavlova that Rob made for our farewell

We have had countless people come through telling us the brownies and Gluten Free Chocolate Cake are ‘heavenly’, ‘the best we’ve had’, ‘moist but rich’. We had a woman walk 40 minutes from the DOC Hut to buy more of the brownies after her kids had devoured the brownies in just minutes, because they were just ‘simply amazing‘.

The famous Gluten Free chocolate cake

The famous Gluten Free chocolate cake

He may not see it now, but I know Rob will succeed. Michael Daly, once upon a time our Executive Chef, saw potential in Rob and was a patient mentor. He reminds me of the time I worked at the PR agency with Chomaine and how she mentored all her PR consultants – with the right guidance and mentoring, one can succeed.

Michael Daly collecting herbs in the garden

Michael Daly collecting herbs in the garden

Michael Daly snipping herbs

Michael Daly snipping herbs

The typical Kiwis working in hospo that I’ve met since Christchurch can be described as ‘frog dwellers’, or ‘frog in a well, 井底之蛙 (jǐng dǐ zhī wā) or katak di dalam tempurung’ as the Malay and Chinese saying go.

Apart from going back to their hometown, and stopping by one or two big cities, most have never traveled to other parts of New Zealand, let alone overseas. Those who have traveled a bit, think they have seen the world, not realising what they’ve seen is only a mere fraction of what’s out there.

Vietnamese kids selling fruits on a boat on the way to a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Vietnamese kids selling fruits on a boat on the way to a UNESCO World Heritage Site

They’ve never been in dust covered trishaws, eaten from road side stalls, walked a market filled with spiders and bugs in jars and sharks’ fins, or been to a country where they are completely on their own.

Life for some - the real world!

Life for some – the real world!

A mother and her children outside a nice hotel in central Hanoi

A mother and her children outside a nice hotel in central Hanoi

They don’t know that corruption, bribery, poverty and famine exists, they don’t know that life extends beyond alcohol. Their life revolves drinking; it is interesting to note that New Zealand has a relatively high per capita alcohol consumption at 9.7litres/person, which totals 34 milion litres of pure alcohol per year.*

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Typical night for mother and child in the streets of Cambodia

They cannot comprehend the existence of NZ$8/day kitchen hand jobs, nor can they understand that their constant complaints about the weather and ‘humidity’, is a reflection of the Tall Poppy Syndrome‘ that is so prevalent among New Zealanders. They squeal like a girl when they see a dead bug, or when there are a few decomposing insects on the windows. Traveling to them, is going to another developed country where they are laden with comforts and conveniences from their own homeland.

Fancy an alfresco haircut?

Fancy an alfresco haircut?

It’s also a norm for hospo folks to focus on heavy drinking, partying and staying up late, and make their unhealthy lifestyle, the epitome of a much sought after lifestyle. When I first got here, people laughed when they saw me walking to the beach to do yoga and gearing up to go running. Some remarked they were “allergic to exercise“, while others queried why I’d want to run after a frisbee when I could be drinking on the beach. It made me wonder why they even signed up for a job in the natural bush environment. During the time I worked there, I was one of the few people who walked both the north and southern part of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. The rest preferred to get intoxicated and play card games.

New track to Totaranui

New track to Totaranui

The view of the northern part of Abel Tasman, on the way to Mutton Cove

The view of the northern part of Abel Tasman, on the way to Mutton Cove

An enthusiastic boy heading out to Totaranui

An enthusiastic G heading out to Totaranui with me

Day off? Out for a walk!

Day off? Out for a walk! Gleb, one of the few ones who actually appreciated the natural environment

View of Mutton Cove

View of Mutton Cove – no one has bothered walking this far except me and Gleb

Brian is the opposite of a typical hospo Kiwi lad. This 21-year old is an old soul in a young man’s body. Well traveled and matured, way beyond his years, Brian has worked and seen all sorts –  a hospo stint in America with Mexicans, a season in scallop farming, lived in a housebus with an ex-partner, traveled to UK and even adores Arabian food, a rarity among Kiwis. Conversations with him are never dull. What makes him a good sort is his positive attitude and ability to see the goodness in people and acknowledge the hard work they put in, despite what has been said about them. Unlike others, he doesn’t jump on the bandwagon, and join them in picking on others. His sensible work ethics, sense of responsibility and leadership, makes him an ideal candidate for any kind of role.

Brian, the wise one in the young man's body

Brian, the wise one in the young man’s body

We have long interesting chats about everything and anything and I crown him the King of Trivia. I pick up facts that would never have crossed my mind, like how much protein and healthy fat there is in “Coffee Avocado milkshake“.

I still find it hard to believe that G and I are always having decent conversations with this boy, not because he isn’t capable of it, but because it seems impossible to hold a decent non-Tall Poppy Syndrome talk with the other under-21’s here. G and I agree that they pale in comparison to him in almost every aspect – compassion, level of maturity, his eagerness to share and teach, zest to learn and desire to achieve.

I want to ask him to show the lil pups how great it feels to step out of their cocoon of comforts. I want to ask him to teach them the saying “With freedom comes responsibility” – you need to show up for work even if you’re drunk and tired; you need to find another way to work, even if the normal shuttle boat is full. This 21 year old has impressed us because he embodies the spirit of responsibility yet knows how to have fun.

To me, Brian has been reincarnated as a young surfer-like dude in this life destined for bigger things.

Racist comments are generally common in hospo, especially when we’re dealing with ‘frog dwellers‘ who’ve not seen much of the world.

Reuben is the one of the few exceptions whose never made a racist comment about Asians to me, and who has always made a sincere effort to ask questions about specific countries in Asia, instead of clumping the entire continent as a culture like the rest.

My true giant friend

My true giant friend

Looking at him, you wouldn’t expect this 6ft++ giant to be so gentle and sweet. His open mindedness and readiness to embrace new things astounded me – who would think that he would be into kickboxing and wanted to do yoga together? Who would think the tall lanky long haired gentle giant friend of mine, would speak up and defend the benefits of yoga and not care what everyone else thought about him?

I admired the fact that Reuben was so honest about his weaknesses, and wasn’t afraid to show it. In front of everyone, he said, “I want to do yoga so I can be flexible and do better at kickboxing.” His honesty is a rarity among the bunch of young uns.

Fee Fi Fo Fum! I won't eat you but leave me some food!!

Fee Fi Fo Fum! I won’t eat you but leave me some food!!

Who’d think this acoustic guitarist was far more cultured than the rest of the Kiwis? He has been to Indonesia, but had never bragged about his overseas trips, unlike others who would babble to anyone who was willing to listen.

Who’d have guessed that he was one of the only four people who stood by us when G was attacked? And, one of the only two who were brave enough to walk up to a dangerously violent man, as a witness to present the trespass notice, without even hesitating to think about his own safety?

Before we left, we invited a few people for drinks in our small flat. We wanted genuine company, people we could have a good laugh with, not frog dwellers who had no idea how to respond when I talked about the world outside of their homeland, or tall poppys who always retorted negatively to anything we said.

To all the young people reading this, and to those who have emailed me to say my experiences have been an inspiration to you, this is my piece of advice:

Don’t be a frog dweller (or a sheep!). Get out of your comfort zone. Explore and experience. There is more beyond the world you live in.

Don't be a sheep - expand your horizons!
Don’t be like the sheep – expand your horizons!

* NZ per capita alcohol consumption tends to be lower than Western European and Scandinavian countries.
Source: “The Real Story of Kiwis and Alcohol”, Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand

Posted by: eytliew | January 7, 2013

The little surprises in life

Sometimes, its the little surprises that make my day.

Like, an amazing lookout after a 15 minute slog up the hill.

Lookout point to Bark Bay

Lookout point to Bark Bay

Or, when a quail and her little chicks scurry across the path and I happen to capture that perfect moment on camera.

My favourite Kodak moment - a quail family crossing the path when I was on the way to Onetahuti

My favourite Kodak moment – a quail family crossing the path when I was on the way to Onetahuti

Great camouflage! Can you spot the quails?

Great camouflage! Can you spot the quails?

Or, when you take a photo from another angle, and discover that the same subject can be portrayed in a completely different light and look nothing like how it is conventionally viewed.

An 'underpass'; just fallen logs that rest on the other side of the narrow track

An ‘underpass’; just fallen logs that rest on the other side of the narrow track

The same 'underpass' - when you look at life from a different perspective

The same ‘underpass’ from the previous photo, but looks nothing like the original one. Life is like that sometimes. Try to look at things from another perspective, and you will see how there is no ‘right’ answer in life.

Or when a guest asks me to open the porter’s cupboard because she left something in her bag, only to pull out a box of chocolates for me, because “All the staff have been great, but you have been exceptional”.

A gesture of appreciation

A gesture of appreciation

Or, like today, when someone had folded up my laundry and set it nicely on the bench as I had done for the person before me.

My favourite surprises have been from the little children who’ve stayed with us. Last week, two girls waited patiently behind the counter while I attended to people. After ten minutes, they finally came over with 9 small squares of paper; it was a ‘puzzle’ they had made, specially for me. That evening, their mother came up to me and said, “I know you’re busy, but would be good if you can do the puzzle, perhaps before we leave tomorrow? The girls would really like to see it.”

The puzzle from the two girls

The puzzle from the two girls

In December, we had our first wedding of the season. The bride’s niece, Noelani, was hearing impaired and autistic, but wasn’t afraid of people, as opposed to some autistic children. Her favourite word was “Yeahhhh”.🙂

One day, Noelani followed me into reception, and started hanging out with me. I gave her some coloured markers, paper and explained I couldn’t play with her, but if she wanted to sit here and colour, she could. She said she had to go home. An hour later, she came back with her mom and handed me something that almost made me cry.

Her mom said, “Noelani told me she was playing with a friend. She likes her new friend. I was wondering who she was talking about.”

She had passed a piece of paper around the family, asking everyone to write their names, and then on the back of the chocolate box, she had drawn a thick lipped fish with an orange tail. She had put the room numbers on the top of the fish, in perfect backwards sequential order, and circled the number of the room she had stayed in. She motioned, in sign language that the picture was for me. And then, bashfully, she made the gesture “I like you” (translated by her mother).

A drawing from Noelani, the hearing impaired autistic girl

A drawing from Noelani, the hearing impaired autistic girl

Drawing out the family in sequential room number order

Drawing out the family in sequential room number order

As I end my post, one of my favourite quotes, also known as  The Ten Paradoxical Commandments by Kent Keith, comes to mind. It feels very apt for the situation that I am in – sometimes, I wonder if its any use doing what I do for people. But after this week, I know that everything we do, everything that happens, happens for a reason. 

Ten Paradoxical Commandments from Kent Keith

Ten Paradoxical Commandments from Kent Keith

 

*Mother Teresa had 8 of the ten commandments up on her wall. She added another line, and her version has been circulating around the Internet as “The Final Analysis” – Give the world your best anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.

Posted by: eytliew | December 30, 2012

A new adventure

I know I shocked many people when I said I was moving to Abel Tasman National Park (ATNP) for a job.

If I considered Tekapo isolated and far from civilisation, ATNP would be primitive and completely removed from civilisation. The only people living here are the 15 other people I work with. We all live on-site. The nearest town is a 1 hr boat ride + 20 minute car ride away.

The only other human interaction we have (apart from the people who work with us) are the people who stay with us, and the trampers who stop by for a cup of coffee before they head off on their coastal track walks. Since the season picked up, we’ve had the pilots, skippers and local bach owners come in to say hi. I’ve never been more grateful for Internet (wireless!) than I have been now – its the only connection I have to the outside world and keeps my sanity in check.

When we first started in October, it was very quiet. Some days, we’d have no trampers and no in-house guests; all we had were the 10 staff working on site. Now that we’ve hired young active adults for the summer, I’m enjoying my time off – when I’m not working a straight shift, a typical evening is a game of beach frisbee, or a run or yoga by myself.

Moving here was a calculated decision, and one that I thought about long and hard. Its not every day you are offered a job in a national park, and definitely not every day that you are given the second-commander-in-charge title after such a short stint in hospo.

In Tekapo, I was doing the same mundane thing day in, day out and the challenge was fading. There was no room for personal growth or career development. We were dealing with Asian groups on a daily basis, mostly from the country with 1 billion people – barging in, shouting and barking (not always but often), chewing with their mouths open, stomping their way around and complaining that Tekapo was too boring for them because our supermarket shut at 8pm and there wasn’t a cinema or a mall to go to.

I thought about the working hours and what I would do after work. I was afraid I’d be bored and lonely and driven to depression, without making new friends outside of my work. Tekapo itself was hard. With a population of 300 people, it marked the first time I’d lived so far away from ‘civilisation’ (i.e. malls, public transport, clinics, restaurants, cheap and accessible Internet connection).

But then I recalled my life in Malaysia where I worked 12-15 hours a day, sped home in 30 minutes, showered and went to bed. I often had only enough energy to say a quick hello to dad, before crawling into bed. There was no time to catch up with friends or reply anyone’s SMS. My routine was work-drive home-sleep and again the next morning. Work-life balance was unheard of. It seemed the norm for the bank I worked in, and the PR agencies across the industry. I had a friend who slept and showered in the office and didn’t go home for a week.

Here, I finish at 4.30pm-5pm (considered overworked here, past my 40 hours). If its a frisbee day, its usually get changed-dinner-frisbee. Some days, its snack-run/yoga-dinner or just a walk down the beach or the private airstrip just behind the lodge. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not dandy like this everyday. Because we’ve been so short staffed, and have minimum staff at Front Desk, I’ve had to work 12-14 hour straight shifts, sometimes doing three days in a row. On my days off, I try to do activities around here and explore the coastal tracks.

I’ve crossed the tidal estuary during low tide to Totaranui, and hopped on the boat back home. I’ve walked down to Onetahuti Bay and joined the sea kayaking trip and sat and observed seals 20m away. One of the best things about working in hospitality is the free famil trips we get – heli rides, kayaking, seal swims, and free boat rides to any of the points along the coastal track.

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Today, I had a long think about the little luxuries and comforts I’ve had to give up for Awaroa. But it also got me thinking, what price do you pay for everyday conveniences?

Would you give up the comfort of your own home, in exchange for a fuss free lifestyle? Everything is taken care of for us – rent, power, water and food.

Would you rather put up with 2 hour long traffic or bus/train rides just so you can enjoy the conveniences of a city? Or would you rather live in remoteness, enjoying a traffic-free life, and walk to work in 30 seconds?

Would you rather pay for a gym membership, and access it everyday, while you wait out the city traffic, or make use of the natural environment around you and pay nothing (except for insect repellant and a few sandfly bites) for it?

We were originally put in a shoebox room (or a golfbox, as Jenni calls it) with a double bed, chest of drawers, and a makeshift closet. The toilet was 40m away. It doesn’t sound a long way, but when you are busting in the middle of the night and the wind is howling outside, it does make a difference. We had to share a kitchen with the rest of the teenage shoebox dwellers. The bathroom was grubby because all of us shared it. Everyday felt like a night at a hostel. There was no sense of belonging for anyone. When Jazz, the restaurant manager quit her job, this one bedroom flat became available. We moved in immediately. It has a bathroom, for which I am grateful for, and a little room which we’ve converted into a lounge/kitchenette with a couch and an electric cooker. Its definitely made living a lot more bearable.

What I feel I’ve given up most isn’t my space and privacy, but a social life and being around real people. People with brains, people with a real sense of humour, and folks who can hold a decent conversation. Over the course of the period I’ve been in New Zealand, I have realised that many who work in the hospo industry are very boring people. The majority that I’ve met and worked with are one-track minded folks, who can’t think out of the box because they’ve not learnt to think creatively. Instead of anticipating and preparing for the busy periods, they leave it too late. As a popular Chinese saying goes, they often ‘dig a hole when the s*** is about to come out”

Many of them, especially the young ones, drink their money and lives away. Some of the younger ones who work here start drinking at midday on their days off, through the two days they have off. Its strange that only the Kiwis do it; the young foreigners who have joined us, are more sports oriented and somewhat seem more interesting.

People have chosen to work here for various reasons. Some have accepted the job because they have no permanent home to go to. With no savings, niche skills or qualifications, it leaves them with very little choice. Others have come here to save money, knowing that there isn’t anywhere they can spend their money on – no dairy, bakery or bar they can splash out on, and definitely no convenience or impulse shopping! The most impulsive thing you could do is ring up the water taxi and get out on the next boat. But funnily, even that is weather and time dependent – boats don’t come in when the weather is rough.

I came here for two reasons – gain more NZ work experience so I can develop a career in CSR and sustainability, and experience summer lifestyle in a national park. As the EarthCheck Coordinator for the property, part of my role is to develop environmental and OSH policies, a Sustainability Management Plan for the benchmark assessment, and conduct environmental awareness training for all staff. The isolation, ignore and challenges of this place has made it difficult at times, and there have been times when we have wanted to pack our bags and leave.

What makes it worthwhile isn’t the money or the people. Its the beautiful bays, new sports buddies, golden beaches in NZ’s most accessible national park, increasing sunshine hours and relatively healthy and (sometimes) happy lifestyle that we have here, and knowing that when we leave, we would have saved up a substantial portion of our pay, because we haven’t drunk it all away unlike the others.

Life is short. I believe that its more important to be happy, physically and emotionally healthy and experience the world, than it is to be pigeon holed as a success. Being free spirited means I’ve done things a little differently from people I know. I haven’t stayed in a job I hated for the sake of climbing the corporate ladder, or been afraid to move out from the industry because of the uncertainties that lay ahead. Instead, I’ve pursued what felt right for me.

Come April 2013, I hope I can say I’ve worked a summer in New Zealand’s smallest and most accessible national park, walked the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, lived a traffic free life for 7 months, eaten my veges from an organic garden, and become fitter (hopefully!!) in a natural environment without paying gym membership. Oh, and met the CEO of Hugo Boss Asia, and owner of Machine Guns Vegas, among the rich and famous who have come to stay with us.🙂

It may not be the epitome of success for a 29-year old, but I know not every 29-year old Malaysian can say this is an adventure they’ve experienced.

Posted by: eytliew | June 11, 2012

Rindu dalam hati

I miss home.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m not talking about the whole “I-miss-my-bed” or “I miss-roti-canai”. Sure, if I think about garing roti canai and teh tarik halia, I start salivating.

But no. Its not the food I crave.

I’m not a grouch, I don’t like to complain about things, especially when I haven’t been here that long. But there are just a few things I miss about home.

Language tops my list. I miss our unique rojak blend of language – Manglish, BM and all major Chinese dialects that we use in one sentence.

Its our ‘eat already’, ‘no lah, where got?’, ‘can meh?‘, ‘hah? so geng one?‘, ‘wah, why like that?‘ and ‘oi sibuklah kau ni!’ among the many phrases we use. After 28 years of saying ‘tapau‘, slipping out the word ‘takeout’ feels very foreign.

I miss having that idle Melayu banter that we use at work, the mix of English and Malay and being able to joke with colleagues, and have a fun game of “Marilah kita berbahasa Melayu sampai Hari Merdeka“. I miss saying “Alhamdulilah“, “Astaga!” and “Ya-Allah” without getting strange looks because over here, only Muslims are perceived to utter these phrases.

I miss starting a sentence with, ‘Dah makan?’, ‘What you eat just now?’ or Makan apa tadi?’ instead of ‘How are you?’. Starting the sentence with ‘How are you?’ sounded so phoney to me when I first arrived. I recognise its a polite way to start a conversation in most parts of the world, but I miss how food is always so central to a conversation for Malaysians.

I got an email the other day and it really made my day. I laughed so hard reading it because it had been so long since I felt so connected to home. It was at that moment I realised what it meant to be Malaysian. You can repeat this joke to ANY Malaysian, and they would understand it, regardless what socio economic group they belong to, whatever part of Malaysia they are from or what their mother tongue is.

Satu hari seorang nyonya first time datang KL. Lepas kena loteri, dia check in hotel mewah. Dia diiringi pelayan ke bilik penginapannya. Apabila pelayan menutup pintu, nyonya melihat sekelilingnya. Tiba-tiba nyonya menjadi marah lalu berkata…. “Sekius mi, lu ingat wa tua, mali kampong, tada tau duduk hotel? Lu kasi ini bilik ka? Kicik! Tada TB, tada lemari, katil tito pun tada! Haiya mau tipu olang kah?” Pelayan itu pun menjawab….’Sabar lah nyonya…., ini baru LIFT!!!!!!!’

Next on my list is having proper lunch and dinners. Having worked in so many different places in NZ, I’ve realised this: lunch breaks here are like toilet breaks – fast and easy.

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People here don’t seem to savour lunch. Some of my colleagues would rather skip their 30-minute unpaid break and go home earlier. This would be unheard of in Malaysia (unless, of course, you’re a foreign worker slaving illegally, those poor chaps) – no one skips lunch unless they have a deadline after lunch or on a diet.

Gone are the days when I cruise around looking for a nice little shop serving 3 dishes for RM2 (NZ$0.80) lunch. Gone are the Fridays where my lunch staple was always a big plate of banana leaf rice. Here, 6 feet tall men sit with a little tupperware, eating their toasties. Big burly construction workers hop into Subway for a foot-long and wharf it down in 10 minutes in their truck then head back to the digger. They just don’t seem to see the need to sit down and chew their food and relax for an hour. Why?

I miss going out for cheap breakfasts on weekends – roti canai, boiled eggs, cheese naan, wantan mee, rojak, white coffee, Hainan coffee – any of the 2 combinations above for under RM10 (NZ$4). Its not the food that I miss so much; its being able to drive out and eat a big hearty breakfast on any given weekend.

I miss the grubbiness of Malaysia (sometimes lah, not always). Life seems and feels so much more ‘real’ back home. The extractor fans in restaurants are always coated with grease. You always see rats running around or climbing out of the drains at the mamak stalls. The char kuay teow guy is usually sweating and/or smoking a cigarette while he fries your kuay teow. Children are always looking so sweaty and sticky, never tidy like the kids here. Waitresses come to sweep the plates off the table into a big pail, without the pretence that we have here where waitresses have to clear them plate by plate, glass by glass. Restaurants don’t see service or ambience as a priority: sweeping everything into the pail saves time and saves the patron holding their breath while the waiters do their job.

I know its a bad thing, but sometimes, it feels unreal seeing the crystal clear lakes and rivers. Litter in our drains, rivers, on the beaches and road is a reminder of ignorance, illiteracy, nonchalance and stupidity – all the qualities that make us human and most importantly, Malaysian. It is a reminder that 2020 isn’t very far away and we should be seeing less litter, yet Malaysians are still throwing tissue boxes out the window from their cars.

I miss our colourful festivals. I miss seeing the green ketupats on Hari Raya, the red fake firecrackers hanging off the malls during Chinese New Year, the intricate Kolam designs on Deepavali, the sing and dance Kaamatan (harvest) festival celebrated by the Kadazandusuns in East Malaysia and the other ‘miscellaneous” parades that we have all year round. Something always seems to be happening on the streets or the malls in Malaysia. The Easter Egg hunts, Christmases and St Patrick’s Day here, although fun, seem dull from a religious and cultural perspective.

Everything here seems and feels perfect. Our poor infrastructure causes floods in suburbs (see Ampang in 2004, actually its an annual event during the monsoon season), train stations and underground parking. Its unbelievable and very inconvenient. It reminds me how much the country needs to improve in planning and building.

I miss the biodiversity of Malaysia. The pine forests and beech forests here pale in comparison to even a simple recreational forest like Bukit Nanas where you can easily spot macaques, squirrels, spiders and plants whose names I can’t pronounce. Malaysia was listed as one of the 12 mega-diversity countries in the world and it is easy to see why.

Yes, NZ is a beautiful country, with its ‘dramatic’ landscapes, breathtaking sceneries from beech forests to coastlines in Kaikoura, 100m drop off caves and glow worms, clay cliffs, glacier lakes and living in a paradise like Lake Tekapo, I don’t have much to complain about. The Aoraki National Park was recently announced as one of the four dark-sky reserves in the world, and placing itself as one of the top stargazing places in the world. There are so many wonderful things about New Zealand that the world has picked up on, but how many Malaysians are aware that Malaysia also made it to the top ten countries to visit in 2010 by Lonely Planet? (Ironically, NZ was in the same list that year!)

I miss Malaysia’s diversity – culturally, ethnically, economically, linguistically and its taken me 8,000km and 6 months away from home to an entirely different continent to realise that yes, no matter how stupid and silly our politicians may be, no matter how hot and humid the weather is or how long the queue is to get your IC or driver’s license done, and how corrupted some of our officers are, Malaysia will always be home to me.

Posted by: eytliew | February 15, 2012

Published – Experiencing Kiwiland

When I started this blog, I secretly harboured dreams of becoming a writer and having my work published.

I thought, “Hey, maybe blogging will lead to something bigger, like extras in a movie who end up becoming lead actors, or Mariah Carey progressing from backup singer to full fledged Grammy winner”. I fantasised that someday, I’d have a job worth waking up to.

Well, here I am. I finally got what I’ve been dreaming about  :) Actually, not entirely, since its not a 9-5 job, but its still close enough.

My most recent article – about my working holiday experience that didn’t take me very long to write as I was bursting to spill, was published in The Star’s youth column and I was given full page, unlike the previous ones which were just 3/4.

Experiencing Kiwiland – The Star_Youth_Experiencing Kiwiland_311112

Although its my fourth published article, there’s still a sense of surrealism to it.

Its hard to believe that you can make money while traveling. Its hard to believe that you can make money doing what you love and keep being asked to do it. What’s hardest to believe is that, not too long ago, I was told my writing wasn’t good enough. After working for two of the most horrible bosses back-to-back, one of whom told me my writing was rubbish, the other of whom chucked my work aside refusing to even acknowledge my work, it was hard to climb back up again and do what I believed in.

Amidst all the nastiness, there were good people whom I am grateful to. There was my General Manager at the PR agency, whose motto in life was “”Perseverance is key”. When my drafts were being rejected over and over again, and I was edging closer and closer to the deadline, without any draft I could use, she was the only one who kept telling me to persevere, and that it wasn’t my fault that the CEO didn’t like my drafts. I remember one particular advertorial I had to write. He rejected all 6 of my advertorial drafts, and called me to his office, asking why I had ‘copied’ his way of writing. It turns out the rejection was his way of teaching. Eventually, after the six rejections, he accepted the first draft I had written and we used that for the shampoo advertorial. The GM said he just wanted to see how many ways I could start a story.

The other psychotic boss I had would refuse to entertain any of my drafts. I would work through midnights, sitting at the office, finishing as much as I could, and send her as many as I could (as per her request). I’d also slave through weekends, editing and writing for the 35 page newsletter that I was working on alone, that was due in 2 weeks. She would refuse to read it, until we got to the design agency at 2am. When we got there, she whipped out her red marker and starter highlighting and scribbling, circling and screaming at me. It was a hard lesson, but I eventually realised and learnt that it wasn’t my fault she had poor time management.

Helping out – The Star_Youth_volunteering_301111

I also had an old friend, who used to be my lecturer in uni. She was one of the few people who encouraged me to keep writing. She made me realise that just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, writing is the same : you need to continuously write to be a good writer.

So, as you can guess, my next article for The Star will be about how bad, sad, hard, tough, rough experiences make you a better person and leads you to wonderful things in life. After all, the saying “every cloud has a silver lining” wasn’t coined without a reason.

Posted by: eytliew | January 13, 2012

Wellington – A fresh breath of reality

Wellington was, well, not what I expected.

My journey in New Zealand was supposed to end in Wellington, where I was supposed to get a job and work from October through December, then travel through the North Island in December. But, nothing ever happens as its supposed to happen🙂 so I ended up living in Wellie for 2.5 weeks before moving to Lake Tekapo.

Wellington is an artsy city, similar to Dunedin and Nelson, but classier and funkier at the same time. Its a bigger city with far more cultural diversity and a bigger student population. Graffiti art, popularised by murals, can be seen all around Wellie. You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to theatres, musicals, art and music festivals.   What I noticed was that there was a hint of art and culture in the everyday things in Wellington.

Many people asked if I regretted staying in Wellie, and whether I thought it was a waste of money – paying two weeks rent for ‘nothing’.

I like to see it as part of my New Zealand working holiday experience. Maybe I didn’t get the temp job in the office as I was hoping to, but I got a waitressing job that was fun and paid good money. Maybe I didn’t get to attend as many big music festivals and art exhibitions as I would have liked to, but I got to watch the ballet “Sleeping Beauty” in the St. James Theatre and treated myself to a beautiful Italian movie “Ten Winters” which was part of the Italian film festival in Wellington. I finally got around to reading “Catcher in the Rye”, one of the classics I picked up in the nearby second hand bookstore. These are things I’d never do in Malaysia, either because it was too expensive, too ridiculously far or simply because I was caught up with work.

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I spent most days slogging up the steep residential streets in Newtown, challenging myself to get fitter. And I did. The first day I ran up one of the slopes, I stopped after 2 minutes (literally) completely out of breath. I thought I had run wayyyyy longer. The second time I ran, I did it for about 5 minutes. As you can probably guess, I improved after the subsequent runs and actually completed 30 minutes up and down slopes without collapsing on the sidewalk.

Finding a job in Wellie wasn’t hard, but that was also probably because I found work in the restaurant that hired the girl whose room I had taken over for 2 weeks. Yes, bizarre I know!

I befriended Sam, a half-Maori, half-Kiwi Caucasian girl in that restaurant, who constantly referred to herself as ‘black’ because of her half-Maori parentage. She cracked me up all the time, and was often the source of my laughing at my phone when reading her SMSes. When she found out I was vegetarian, she said, “Well, I’d love to eat vegetables all day, but you know, me and meat are like best buds (hooked her index and third finger to show best buddies).” She was also the friendliest person I met in Wellie, being the only one to invite me over for dinner and to watch the Rugby World Cup finals.

Ah, and being in Wellington during the rugby fever was simply incredible. Sam invited me over to watch the finals at her flat, where they dressed the cat up and all four housemates smoked a joint and sat in their living room stoned, probably trying to relieve tension because France were proving to be stiff competition.

If I could describe Wellington in three words, it would be “Artsy and real. ” Compared to the other places I’ve lived in, I felt more ‘at home’ with the poverty, street people, homeless folks, lower-middle class, crappy cars with smashed windows taped up with cardboard, dodgy looking people, graffiti art everywhere, ambulance and helicopters going off every hour. And, get this – a murderer was apparently released and lived in Newton, my hood! It was relatively safe to walk home at night after finishing work at 11pm, but I never felt secure after they told me this guy lived in Newtown.

Had I had been in Wellington longer, I would probably have liked it for the same reasons I dislike the other white picket fence towns in NZ – it is a fresh breath of reality that I desperately need. The other parts of South Island was too clean, too happy, too fairytale for me.

I was lucky that I was there during the Salvation Army’s Community Breakfast for the homeless. I was happy to give up my Monday morning and put my time to good use. For the first time since I got to New Zealand, I felt connected to the community. I was no longer just a traveler on her way, sightseeing from the bus, walking on the streets marveling at the buildings (nothing to marvel really, if you compare it to the high rises in KL), taking photos. I was assigned the toasting bread job, which saw me through 200 pieces of bread (one of the toasters died on us) at 7am. Watching the homeless shuffle in, sitting through the prayers, queuing for their cereal was a humbling moment. I got the odd grumpy fella, who didn’t look up or say thank you, and grunted as he shuffled along. But I didn’t mind any of that. I offered them the same respect as I would if I was serving in a hotel buffet. These guys were human too and deserved love and respect. What made them different was the paths they had chosen in life. Perhaps some weren’t so wise, perhaps some were shortsighted.

One of the homeless came up to me and asked if I believed in God. I told him I wasn’t religious and didn’t believe in anything as I was still ‘cherry picking’ and trying to understand the different religions in the world. He looked at me and smiled, and whispered, “You feel God. You don’t see God. I feel God with me everyday.” And walked off.

I stood there, impressed that this had come out of someone who didn’t look like the religious preachers I had known.

Looking back, what made Wellington memorable was the beautiful surprise at the ferry terminal. The ferry had been delayed for about an hour, so we sat in the Picton ferry terminal for a wee while. To our surprise, a group of young Maoris began entertaining with singing and dancing. I’ve always liked tribal music; there’s just something soothing about the melodies, beats, rhythm and the serenity it brings but I’ve never been more mesmerised by the music as I was that afternoon.

Wellington was a wonderful place – safe, culturally diverse, graffiti art, full of activities (not just tengok wayang, but there was theatre, ballet, plays, music festivals, art exhibitions), the Te Papa (The Museum). But what I liked most, and will remember the most about Wellie, is the fresh breath of reality of life that reminded me of home. Think again if you thought New Zealand was all sheep and cows and white picket fence.

Posted by: eytliew | December 1, 2011

Published – Teaching eager students

I haven’t been as regular with my blog as I would like to be.

Between moving in to a new house, settling in to a new job, doing split shifts and getting 4 hours sleep,  doing laundry and some housework, making meals, trying to skype my dad once a week and squeezing a jog whenever I can, I really haven’t had much time for anything. I’ve also been grumpy, groggy, annoyed and feeling down lately and going through a bit of an emotional upheaval with major changes in my life. Sometimes I get irritated with the place and people that I want to just call it quits and move away and go back to doing community development work, but I know I can’t because I’ve already committed myself to this.

So an email from the Youth Editor of a national newspaper back home really made my day yesterday. Its my second article, and its a full page again.

Article 2 – The Star_Youth_Teaching eager students 5 Oct 2011

The first article (Are you a product of cookie cutters?) was mostly lifted off the blog post where I talked about young people conforming and doing things that society expected of them.
https://chroniclesofmadlove.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/are-you-a-product-of-cookie-cutters/

It made me happy because getting my work published is something I’ve only dreamed about. The editor has also encouraged me to submit more stories, giving me a free rein on story ideas, which is amazing because stories from the heart are the ones that make the cut.

Posted by: eytliew | November 3, 2011

In pursuit of happiness

Today, I looked back and realised I’ve checked quite a few things off my “Things to do before I die” list.

2011 has been an incredibly eventful and memorable year for me. I had my share of extremely high ups, and extremely low downs.

Early January, I learned to swim. Finally. It doesn’t sound like a big achievement to people, but believe me, for some of us who have been trying to find the time and place to learn, and a reasonable fee, this was a major accomplishment for me.

Then came the decision that has changed my life forever – moving to Semporna to volunteer for Humana. Being in Semporna was hard,especially when I was there all by myself. In a place where children were begging on streets, selling plastic bags in the fishmarket, where every cent seemed so hard to earn, it wasn’t the paradise people imagined it to be. But what made it worthwhile was seeing the kids’ happy faces when I showed up for work. Whether it was the hip hop dancing they loved, Charade, Hangman, Youtube, musical chairs, freeze dance that they wanted more of, they reinforced my philosophy – everyone can make a difference. Its how you choose to live your life.

Since I’ve always wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, I checked that off my list too.

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Italy and NZ have always been two places I’ve wanted to travel to. I am thankful for everyone who helped make NZ happen. The photos I’ve seen, movies I’ve watched, and stuff I’ve read and researched, pale in comparison to being here. Whether its standing at the top of the hills, standing in front of the kitchen facing the lake or the estuary, running on the beach with the dog, I feel so much more calmer here. No words will be able to describe that feeling, and no picture will be able to justify what you see. Being in person here is so much better than watching any movie, trust me.

Among my happiest moments and biggest achievement, which I think all young people should consider doing, is learning to live on my own and living in all sorts of accommodation. Since I got here, I’ve learned to live on people’s sofas, living rooms and freezing back/store rooms with no heaters in the middle of winter. I’ve lived in mixed dorms and often been the only girl in there. I’ve put up with snoring (99% from drunk boys) on all sides of my bed. Living in a flat by myself for 3weeks was probably the highlight of living in NZ. Although it was an old flat, that had a hyper sensitive smoke alarm, I had the whole place to myself. I didn’t have to come home to loud music or blaring news on the TV or radio. I didn’t have to come home and clean up after anyone else, or be told off for leaving my things around. After a while, I realised those were little pleasures we all live for.

Traveling alone has always appealed to me in ways that none of my friends or ex-partners could understand. I finally checked that off my list too. Being alone for 3++ months has taught me so much. I’ve learned to appreciate company, I’ve learned to make important decisions on my own, I’ve learned to accept loneliness as a crucial part of this particular stage in my life, I’ve learned to ward off unwanted male attention, I’ve learned to ignore pleas for a relationship, I’ve learned to lie about my marital status (haha) – I’ve learnt the art of traveling alone as a female.

I’ve also learned that when you choose to travel alone, it is a conscious decision you make. You have to realise that you have no emergency contact. You have to realise that if anything were to happen to you, your family would have to fly all the way here. When you’re ill and need to go to the doctor, it’s a test of your ability to be there for yourself, especially in a big city like Wellington where the nearest doctor is a 20 minute bus ride away in the drizzle and gusty wind. My flatmates are bogons (morons), and I haven’t worked enough shifts with anyone to ask for help. One of the managers is a druggie and has an alcoholic problem; there is no one but myself to count on.

Dogs and cats (pets in general) have never been my cuppa tea. Prior to NZ, I had no affection for domestic animals, and didn’t take the time to get to be around pets. Since I got here, I’ve learned to walk dogs on foot and on the scooter. Dogs are like men – they become more stubborn with age. Its a sexist joke, but men have also agreed with my observation. I’ve also realised that dogs can be therapeutic for many, though I can’t say the same for cats (sorry, Sawyer just annoyed the crap out of me with his donkey attitude).

I learned to snowboard, something I wanted to try for a long time. I’m not very good, but I’m glad I tried and gave it a shot.

I saw snow for the first time in my life and experienced one of the harshest winters in  the history of NZ.

I’ve met so many interesting, hilarious, fun, horrible and whacky people in my travels. I’ve met some solo women travelers like myself, solo male travelers, duo male travelers, and talked to many people from all continents, from Malta, to French Guyana, which I’d never be able to do had I stayed in the job in Malaysia.

I also had a pleasant surprise when an editor of  national daily contacted me and was keen to publish a post because it was something youths could relate to. I’ve always liked writing but never pursued it enough to appear in anything. Having my article published was a sweet surprise and an accomplishment I’ve been waiting for, for so many years.

I’m happy I checked many things off my list. But I also know that it comes at the expense of tensed and broken relationships, a career on hold and a life in limbo. Has it been worth it? I wish Semporna and NZ hadn’t affected my relation/friendships so much, but I guess sometimes, we all grow, and if the people around us can’t understand or support our growth, then maybe its time to reassess.

I ask myself this everyday : “Would you give this up to go back to the life you had before? Would you give this up to go back to horrendous traffic and hectic lifestyle where you had no quality of life, where you often got home before midnight just to shower and sleep? Would you give up walking 2 mins (Franz Josef) and 10 mins (Wellington) to a hospo job, and replace it with a 1hour car ride in the traffic past 2 tolls everyday, just so could have what Malaysian employers define, a career?

Checking things off my list is my pursuit of happiness and part of the self-discovery phase of my life. It’s what makes me happy because I feel I’ve tried. At the end of my life, I want to look back and know that I’ve lived life to the fullest and that means I’ve tried, tested, invested, and maybe failed. But, at least I know I gave it a shot.

Go and think about what makes you happy, and just do it. Life is too short to dwell on the past or figure out how to make your next million, or worry about what will happen when you hit 40. My advice to people stuck in bad situations is, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

Don’t waste time regretting. Don’t live in the past. Let go and live in the present.

Posted by: eytliew | October 27, 2011

When victory is more than just a parade

I am lucky to be part of one of NZ’s most historic moments – the All Blacks winning the Rugby Word Cup 2011 since 1987. Being part of their triumph and living in this (daily) celebratory atmosphere is truly a priceless moment.

There have been several All Blacks parades in different parts of the country to celebrate their victory (I stopped myself from saying ‘our’ because I realised I’m not Kiwi, I am still Malaysian). Yesterday, I was in town to run errands, and coincidentally, my appointment was around the same time as the parade AND in exactly the same area.

Being so vertically challenged, I wasn’t able to see much past people’s shoulders, so I won’t bother putting my videos up. However, within a few hours of the parade, people had already put up their videos, some of which I’m still marveling at.

Here’s one of my fav players, Piri Weepu dancing :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2tlGMjUak0&feature=related

The NZ Band doing the Haka:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSszsS0XLyA

And other players in Christchurch:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izNZ6KAEUZE&feature=related

What really impressed me wasn’t the parade.

No, it was the way I felt patriotism and unity amongst the crowd. I felt that all these Kiwis in the crowd – of European and Pacific Island descent, were gathered regardless of their backgrounds, to cheer their national team. It was such a warm feeling, something I wish Malaysians could feel more often.

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I regret not being part of the Bersih 2.0 demonstration in July. I know I would have felt the same kind of unity (not patriotism) had I been there. A few years ago, I watched Lin Dan play against Lee Chong Wei. I was with a girlfriend, and we stood among the Indonesian labourers, then moved to the Malaysian side. The stadium was roaring with “Malaysia Boleh” and “Chong Wei! Chong Wei!” cheering LCW to trash the cocky World Number 1. It was one of the few moments in my life when I actually felt patriotism and unity amongst Malaysians.

Apart from the unity of Kiwis, I was also impressed at the way the entire event was organised. I found out about the event by browsing through a Wellington website wotzon.com  (more like a city guide), under the “Events” section. It has now been promptly removed, because, hey, the event is over.

I’m impressed at the way the road closures were handled so well and the fact that buses were going to town BECAUSE of the parade. How else are people going to get there? In KL, road closures would immobilise the entire city causing 25km long traffic jams, inconvenience to city and suburb folks, and of course, causing temper outbursts and incessant cursing. Most buses and taxis would also avoid the route, citing bad traffic as the main problem. Yesterday, buses, taxis and trains were running full steam to bring people to the city centre.

I’m not sure where we’ve gone wrong in our town/city planning, but we do really need to learn fast. And, I mean FAST. Our current population stands at 1.4million, according to Wikipedia which cites the stats from Jabatan Perangkaan Malaysia (National Statistics Department). I have a feeling the statistic is horrendously wrong. In 2004, I did a paper and clearly remember the population as 1.3million. How could it only have increased by 100,000 since then? In the little suburb where I live, 12 developments of all sorts have sprouted over the past 6 years.

Anyway, back to inefficiency. What puzzles me sometimes, though many will argue it is the same elsewhere, is our inability, and ineffectiveness to maintain websites. Information is often outdated. New events are not posted quick enough. There will usually be a scramble to get the website launched, with all the fireworks and hype, but few years down the road, when someone clicks on the website looking for events, there will be blank pages, or stale events that happened years ago. Or, like a bank I worked for some time back, the ‘Latest News’ would be the clippings I uploaded 2 years ago.

This applies to both the private and the public (government) sector.
*A quick check on a few government websites took me by surprise! They’ve revamped their websites, listing up to-date events. Wow! Good job! Malaysia boleh! :) 

http://www.nre.gov.my/English/Pages/Announcement.aspx

I’ve seen a lot of good and bad in NZ, and I’m not going to lie that NZ is an utopia to live in. Its not the ultimate white-picket fence life where everything is clean and green. No, its not. Do not ever be deluded into thinking that. While it may not be the ‘perfect’ place to live, it definitely outdoes Malaysia by a hundred miles, and a good start to a decent standard of living.

*The photos posted do not belong to me. They were taken off a few different websites. 

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