February 4, 2018

bitter memories : tour bus incident

I introduced a favorite TV show of mine to my daughter Regine, Malcolm In The Middle. She enjoyed it very much needless to say, and the show sparked many interesting conversations between us. She asked if I have ever known kids like those rascals in Malcolm’s family who could be so impervious to consequences just for the sake of doing what they think is fun. It reminded me of myself when I was a kid, the escapades I had with my cousins around the Greenlane neighborhood… and the wretched things we did. I told her all about it (much to her bewilderment).

One of it was what we’d refer to as ‘the tour bus incident’. It happened when I was around 8 years old. I was with 2 of my cousins called Kelv and Dobby (both are brothers). If you remember the name Kelv, then you’re right – it is the same guy I’ve written about 14 years ago. Dobby was the guy I wrote about here. Kelv was 9 and Dobby was 6 back then.

My mom would go to my grandma’s house for mahjong regularly in the 80’s, and because Kelv/Dobby lived with my grandma, we got to spend a lot of time together during weekends. We’d go around the Greenlane neighborhood to terrorize stray cats, vandalize properties around the church, and whatnots. But one of our absolute favorite thing to do, was to climb into a locked school nearby and had the place all to ourselves. One day, while we were doing that, Kelv noticed that there was a tour bus parked outside the school compound that belonged to one of the tour companies nearby. So he did what he thought was the coolest thing – he broke into the bus. We followed his lead.

Well, it wasn’t exactly ‘breaking’ because the door was unlock so, he was just entering. And you know how exciting it was for us kids to be in a bus without adult supervision. We’d climb onto the driver’s seat in turns and fiddle with all the controls available. I don’t exactly remember what we did inside but, I remember us liberating a stack of tour stickers – you know, those big round stickers that are used by tour companies to tag their tourist clients – from the driver’s compartment, and pasted them all over the bus interiors. What’s worse, we used the stickers on the school’s gate, then on the nearby walls, and everything else we could stick on.

We had a field day with the stickers and eventually, it ended when we reached home, back to my grandma’s house. But one mistake that we did not think much about out of sheer excitement, was the trail of stickers we left all the way from the tour bus kind of made it easy for us to get caught. The bus driver who eventually found his bus got broken into and full of stickers, was fuming mad and he’d followed the stickers all the way to my grandma’s house like it was the yellow brick road to the emerald city. And before long, he was at my grandma’s front door knocking on the door (I had gone home then). Boy my cousins had it so bad with their parents, especially Kelv, being the eldest and responsible for the whole thing. He got his ass handed to him by his dad. I got away scot free because I did not live there, so… it became a story of dumbassery that I’d remember for the rest of my life. (yep, we felt bad for Kelv).

Coincidentally, I ran into Dobby when I was having dinner with my daughter 2 days after telling this take to her. I brought the incident into discussion, and Dobby started to laugh like a jackass. Then he reminded me of another incident that involved a fire and a fire engine… which would be a story for another day…

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January 27, 2018

customer service

A few weeks ago, my vacuum cleaner died on me. Fortunately, it was still under warranty so, I sent it for repair. Fast forward a couple of weeks later, I received a phonecall. A young lady with a sweet voice greeted me from the other side…

Customer service: “Hi Mr. Ooi, I am Sweetvoice calling from Acme appliances. You sent your vacuum cleaner for a warranty claim 2 weeks ago?”

Me: “Hi, yes I did. Any problem?”

Customer service: “Oh, no problem at all. Just calling you to tell you that it’s done. We had to replace its motor.”

Me: “Great! So when can I collect the vacuum cleaner?”

Customer service: “Ermm, collect the vacuum cleaner? I… don’t know.”

Me: “So it’s not available for collection yet?”

Customer service: “I… don’t think so.”

Me: “Then, what is this phone call all about?”

Customer service: “To tell you about the repair, that it has been completed.”

Me: “No, I’m confused. So, you called to tell me that it’s completed but I can’t collect it?”

Customer service: “I… don’t know. Let me check with my senior…”

Me: “Ok…”

[she put me on hold, came back about 15 secs later]

Customer service: “Sorry Mr. Ooi, I’m actually new at work. I don’t know what should I do next. I’ll call you back when I have more information…” [kept on apologizing profusely…]

Me: “Ok…”

It’s a wonder how a sweet voice could have averted disaster of people shouting at her for being such a screw up.

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January 6, 2018

porcine Japanese woman in the laundry room

We were in Kyoto. I was having some winter itch and had to spent my time alone, naked, in the bathroom with a tub of vaseline (I purposely made it sound obscene but, it is actually not), so my wife Emily had to do the laundry that night.

Off she went to the hotel’s communal laundry room… but unfortunately, all the (coin operated) washing machines were occupied so, she decided to wait in that room with our bag of dirty laundry as one of the machines was about to finish washing. (but none of the owners were there so, she was alone when she waited in the laundry room). Then a short moment later, in came this fat Japanese woman with a bag of laundry. Seeing that all the machines were in use, she sat next to my wife on the bench waiting, and then struck up a friendly conversation.

She seemed fine at first, until my wife realized that she had a motive. She wanted to go first on the laundry, which seemed odd because the Japanese are known to be courteous people. I guess she must be one of those odd ones that didn’t make it within the standard deviation of the Japanese society. Not wanting to upset her, Emily iterated to the fat Japanese lady politely that she had to wait for her turn to do the laundry, which wouldn’t be up for quite some time. That was when things went wrong.

The fat lady snapped, and started to yell (that was what Emily told me) in Japanese. She was trying to reason that she only had very little amount of clothes (in barely intelligible English), and then started to bitch her remaining gibberish in Japanese. Shocked, Emily tried to ignore her and continued waiting. But she couldn’t help but notice the eccentricities of that fat Japanese lady who then resorted to talk to herself, raucously picking her nose and eating her own boogers like they were green tea flavored snacks.

By this time, Emily was really scared. Short of turning her head 360 degress and puking green slime, the fat Japanese lady looked like she’s possessed or something. Much to her relief, one of the owners then turned up to collect the finished laundry, and Emily quickly dumped our laundry into the machine and bailed the place a.s.a.p. When she left the room, the possessed fat Japanese lady was still talking to herself.

This was immediately channeled to me when Emily got back to the hotel room. I was urged to go to the laundry room to check on our laundry, in fear that the crazy Japanese woman might do something to our clothes. But because the machines had a locking mechanism with password protection, I decided to only do it when the laundry was done, which was about 1.5 hours later. When I went there, the lady was still sitting on the bench in the laundry room. But she wasn’t talking to herself… just sitting there, with a bag of laundry… waiting. I quickly went to grab the clothes, and then left the room promptly. To my surprise, she wasn’t as fat as I thought (it was different from how my wife described her) and she seemed pretty normal. So I clarified with my wife when I got back to the hotel room:

“I think I saw that lady, she’s still waiting there. But she seemed normal”
“Eeeewh… She’s still there??”
“Yeah, but she’s not talking to herself. She’s in a dark blue overalls, right?”
“Yes”
“Long hair? Not too old? in her 30’s?”
“Yes”
“But she doesn’t look fat. She looks normal. Not skinny, but normal.”
“No, she’s fat. Obese.”
“Couldn’t be. The lady I saw wasn’t obese. And she’s not talking to herself or eating boogers. Maybe she’s a different person.” (she could’ve ran out of topics and out of boogers, I reckon – but certainly she couldn’t shapeshift).
“I don’t know, could be her.”

Shapeshifting demon that could project herself to different people? Creepy. Fucking Japanese creeps. Someone with better imagination should make this into a horror movie plot… We can title the horror flick as ‘A night at the laundry room’…

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December 28, 2017

2017 roll up

2017 saw our traveling fetish switched into overdrive and went right ahead as planned. There’s never one day I do not think about traveling and where to go next. I know of a few travel heads who provided sound advice and I am thankful for that. This year, we conservatively traveled to 4 places and they were: Bali, Hainan, Bangkok and southern Japan (which we just came back from last week).

There was another place that was supposed to be in the pipeline – a road trip to Samui island – but that had to be canceled due to an important development in our lives – my daughter Regine has hit puberty and now she’s contending with her menstruation for the first time in her life. It first happened in November, but that was just some light rain. When we were in Japan in December, it suddenly became a category 10 typhoon. It wretched my heart to see her struggled with her cramps, and it was a really scary episode for both Emily and I – even more so that it happened when we were traveling. Reminded me back during the time when we had to take care of her when she was still a toddler when she got afflicted with virus infection and a raging fever.

Anyway, now that the storm is gone for the month, we decided to give her some time to get her shit together and learn how to deal with this ‘taiyeema’ thing in the coming months. It’s going to be important for everyone of us. We’ll resume traveling the world once she has that under her control.

2018 will be an important year for all of us. Big change is coming, and we’re hoping that we can cope it well. Not about to share what’s what in the blog here but, this will serve as a memory point for me to remember what I’ve anticipated at this point of time in 2017.

Bring it on motherfuckers!

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December 25, 2017

Tokyo, Japan – Itinerary and planning (3+2 days) – part 3 of 3

This is part 3 of my Japan trip (which I am breaking up into 3 parts, like below)
– 3 days itinerary for Kyoto (link)
– 2 days (0.5 + 1 + 0.5) itinerary for Kawaguchiko (one of the Fuji Five lakes, for Mt. Fuji appreciation) (link)
– 3.5 days itinerary for Tokyo (sans Disney Resort), 2 days itinerary for Disney Resort (Disneyland and DisneySea)

In the actual itinerary, I took most of the 2nd half of Day 6 to travel to Tokyo by bus, and when I’ve reached Tokyo, the first thing I did was to get the IC card for each of us. If you have a kid in the group, your kid is entitled to a half-priced IC card for junior, just like my daughter – which you’d need to purchase at the JR ticketing office (can’t do that from the machine). And then, I made a beeline to the hotel to reunite with my bags (they were sent from Kyoto via TA-Q-BIN, remember?), get my shit together again and set out to Odaiba. However, in the 5 days itinerary, that Odaiba visit can be parked anywhere in the evening, so I’m going to do just that for the sake of convenience…
Now, the disclaimer:

– Since I’d traveled all the locations above in the same trip, my actual itinerary took longer than just 10 days. It was close to like, 13 days (1 day for Bangkok, 1 day for traveling between areas in Japan, 1 day for inbound/outbound flight and misc time loss). If you’d like to follow the exact itinerary listed above for all the areas, you might want to account an extra 2 – 3 days to the 10 days.
– In December, Japan has a relatively short daylight (like Taiwan). It starts to get dark at about 4pm, so naturally, I shifted the daylight loss by starting earlier in the morning.
– It’s also getting very cold in December (although not the coldest yet). If you have a fear of cold, you might want to just go to somewhere hotter instead.
– This is an itinerary post, I’ll do a separate post for what I think about the places I’ve visited.
– This was planned based on 3 pax – my wife, my 11-yo daughter, and myself. I managed to hit > 95% of what I’ve planned, with almost perfect timing accuracy. If you’re planning for a group of more than 4, this probably won’t work as well for you.
– The main objective is sightseeing and to experience Japan (with the final 2 days in Disney Resort). The itineraries involve a lot of walking, averaging about 20,000 steps each day. That’s roughly about 16km of walking per day. If you’re not into walking or has a fat ass, this is probably not your kind of shit. (Go find one of those gay tours)
– The itinerary hinges on the assumption that you’d do your own planning/research on the public transportation. You can choose to splurge on taxi or go smart by subway/bus. Doesn’t matter. Just Google around for info.
– If your religion prohibits you from visiting buildings or monuments of other religious faith, this won’t work for you too. (Japan has a lot of temples, shrines and pig related obsession from its culture to food).
– The day to day planning can be shuffled around, depending on your dates of travel, as some of the places might be closed on certain day of the week. So, check your schedule vs the places of interests during your planning.
– This is just my own planning. It may not be as good as others’. If you think there are flaws with my planning, that’s probably because I’m an amateur.

Read the rest of this entry »

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