Archives January 2014

Cultural Differences

2 of the more socially accepted norms here are telling lies, and borrowing money. I would have thought it takes a shameless person to tell lies unreservedly, but it’s so common here that truth holds no meaning.

Telling lies is considered perfectly fine because of their Buddhist philosophies to avoid confrontation. It really frustrates me because of how ridiculously their lies can be sometimes. It’s like they are taking me for a 3-year old. It takes a lot of patience and tolerance to understand their principles behind it and how they’ve spent all their lives doing the same thing anyway. One incident that happened recently was when plates started to go missing from my office pantry and I knew without a shadow of doubt that a fellow co-worker was the culprit behind it. She was obviously too lazy to wash the plates after using, so I don’t know where she hid/threw the plates away. I confronted her about the missing plates, and she told me “I think students steal.” Seriously? Students stealing plates from the teacher’s office pantry? Maybe an animal would believe that, but certainly not me.

Then, about borrowing money, usually I would be quite embarrassed to ask someone for financial help. Here, it’s normal for people here to take loans from the government, from banks, from superiors, or from friends. Loans from banks are, after all, easily approved. (Even my mobile service provider allows loans for pre-paid services.) I guess this is the reason why despite their low incomes, they are able to afford high-end luxury goods or purchase the latest electronic gadgets.

I have to say that people borrowing money from me actually works out in my favor (provided they return it, of course).

I have a few hundred bucks floating around on loan and I really don’t press them to return me, because this is the only way I get to save money. If I keep all my money with me, it takes a lot of self-control to curb my spending and I don’t have the discipline for that.

Making the best out of situations here, perhaps?

Experiencing Winter

Thailand isn’t exactly the best country to experience winter. There is no snow. Nevertheless, Thailand isn’t very tropical either.

I have had vacations in countries with sub-zero temperatures, spent a week in London with rainy 9°C mornings, and a week in Europe with breezy 8°C nights. Not forgetting a week in California with 13-15°C nights that were quite chilly too.

Yet those vacations never prepared me enough for what I was about to expect here. The initial months were rather similar to Singapore’s climate. All I needed were a few singlets and t-shirts, although I also had a hoodie that accompanied me during my flight.

However, the past 2 months were so cold that I ended up bringing my ultra-thick fleece hoodie from Singapore. Temperatures drop to as low as 9-10°C in the night and it is impossible to shower without a water heater. (I have neighbors who don’t have water heaters in their apartments so I don’t know how they manage.)

Try taking a tuktuk in the evening and having the cold winds blasting into your face. My lips are cracked and my skin is slowly peeling. Street vendors can leave their fried chicken out in the open for hours, and the chicken still remains crispy from the dryness of the cold.

It is quite a new experience for me. Even with my water heater switched on to its hottest, the water, quite frankly, is just lukewarm. If I shower too late, like maybe 11pm, my nails actually turn purple in the bathroom.

Most of us have been to Bangkok. Most of us have walked through Chatuchak market perspiring under the afternoon sun. Who would have thought that I would actually need to sleep with the aircon and fans off? (The temperature this morning in Bangkok is actually 15°C, lowest in 30 years.)

And by the way, it has only rained ONCE throughout the past 2 months.

Having grown up in Singapore, most of us have no concept of how winter feels like, and living in winter is very different from holidaying during winter. I assure you no such experience can ever prepare you for something like this, and this is another reason why my current journey still excites me.

Ego

I am known to be many things.

A cell group member once called me an encourager, I’d like to think of myself as proven character, but back when leaving testimonials was still popular on Friendster, a friend once remarked that “Timothy is a seriously egoistic guy.”

I don’t deny that, because I know it myself.
I made an excuse back then, saying “My ego is the size of Jupiter, but trust me, that’s a good thing.”

That was almost 11 years ago, but some things never change.

I know I am an egoistic guy, but regardless how big or small, all guys have egos.

Recently, I had to get something done.
I would rather pay money to get it done, than to allow myself to ask a favour from somebody I hate, because otherwise that would make me owe them something in return.

That’s what my ego does to me sometimes.

I don’t like getting my ego bruised.

11 January 2014

With just 2 months left on my current contract, and with no decision to stay in my current school, I recently just updated my resume and am ready to start sending it out.

Recently I chanced upon a job advertisement that specifically asked for a Singaporean (or Filipino) graduate even though the job was just a entry-middle level position in a private university. Right now, my options are pretty open to anything that’s available, even though teaching jobs are the easiest to get, especially with several offers on hand.

Although money is necessary to survive, it isn’t the most important thing on my mind right now. I do ask for a ridiculously high remuneration in my resume, but then again I am open to negotiate. Give me a good working environment in an easily accessible location, where I can find affordable accommodation and modes of transport, and you have me as your next dedicated employee.

SIN-CDG

During my flight from Singapore to Paris last month, I was on board an A380 with 90% load. Mind you, it was a huge plane and even with a 50% load, you are already bound to have some assholes in the plane.

The plane approached Paris and as the plane slowly descended into the airport, I watched the altitude lower to around 3,000 ft. I looked out of the window and saw the airport terminal. The end of my 15-hour flight was finally coming to an end in a matter of seconds, but as the altitude lowered to around 2,700 ft, the plane made an ascend again.

The ascent didn’t stop until around 11,000 ft and then the pilot announced that we were unable to land because of bad weather and strong crosswinds.

We cruised around Paris CDG airport in that altitude for about 10-15 minutes before the pilot announced again that the weather doesn’t seem to be improving, and hence made a 1-hour journey to Zurich where we didn’t have clearance to disembark the plane. At this point of time, some people were already grumbling and making all sorts of requests that the air crew were unable to accommodate to.

I would like to emphasize again that the A380 is a huge plane and my flight had about 90% passenger load. There are bound to be some assholes in the plane.

I was seated about 5 rows from the front and for some reason, the cockpit door was left open most of the time. I saw that there was really nothing the pilot could do, because he was making trips in and out of the cockpit to get food and to visit the toilet.

Word must have got to him that some passengers were making unreasonable requests, and hence he followed up with another announcement saying that there was nothing anybody could do and that we really couldn’t land in Paris because of safety issues with regards to the bad weather. He then urged all those assholes to stop making stupid requests because, quote, “my crew, just like most of you, have holiday plans too.”

I would have applauded the pilot there and then, but I was one of the few Asians on board and it’d be a better idea to just stay low.

I recalled this incident and would like to make a special mention because of some comments I’ve read online regarding SQ317 making an uneventful landing in Azerbaijan. I am quite sure there are aviation laws governing whatever takes place before, during and after every flight, but there will always be unforeseen circumstances as well as unpredictable weather. Mother Nature is a bitch after all.

I think the most important part of every flight is not whether you arrive on time or not, even though I lost half a day just sitting inside the plane at Zurich airport, but it’s about arriving at your destination safely.

I learnt this when I was still riding my motorcycle – It’s about getting from Point A to Point B safely.