Mending shoes.

Stepping out of the bank after cashing in the cheque I ticked off another item off my “to-do” list. It was 6pm Monday and I had just left the office for the the bank to help pay for one of their orders.

Looked down at my shoes, I noted the tears and wears. Mind you – it was still good, but could use some fixing up. A cobbler had set up shop right next to the bank. With time to spare I paid a visit.

“RM8” he motioned with his hands.

8 Ringgit to fix all the tears on it. I nodded and he went  to work on it.  First applying glue on the torn parts followed by stitching. Noting other damages.

He started to make conversation while repairing, “This shoe is very old and still very good. How old?”

“Five years.” I replied.

“Walk many places.” He noted after finished up with the first one. “Shoelace broken, want replace? Only have black one.”

“Maybe later when you have brown colored one.”

Many places – not enough places, I can still count the number with both hands.

One morning when I was leaving for work, someone had stolen my previous pair after leaving out on the porch the night before. They had stolen all the shoes save my pair of crocs (it was the ugliest pair of crocs my family commented).

As it happened New balance was having a sale and picked up 2 pairs – one for work and one for trekking. The one for work didn’t last very long and expired only after 2 years. Only its partner – the trekking one is still with me today. Though I don’t think it will last much longer at the rate I am going.

Cyprus

Weather was cold and lonely.

I was the only engineer from Malaysia during the training. Fear crept into my mind  – the first company that had ever sent me overseas for training. A simple engineer overseas.

Made incredible friends – friends who have left the company when Cyprus faced financial crisis. Most of them were let go while those that remained had their pay frozen for years some even had to take a pay cut just to survive.

Sri Lanka

I had a fantastic team leader as well as a great project manager. The assignment wasn’t easy nor was it hard, it had me leaving my comfort zone. Everything was successful in the end.

Hearing about the exotic locations from other engineers, I was eager to visit those places – no such luck. To me any location that is not first world doesn’t really elicits excitements for me unless it is far away. Sri Lanka was just another Asian country to me, so or I thought.

I had a great time during the weekend sightseeing, realizing how much I needed to improve my stamina and getting over my fear of heights. Something I didn’t wanted others to know about.

Prague

An assignment in Europe – the stuff of dreams. It soon turned into a nightmare.

A long term assignment or we (a team) had hope. This assignment was plagued from the start – A project manager from India who wanted to travel even if it meant screwing the assignment over. My first encounter with the man later known as “The Rat” – this bastard was technically and ethically bankrupt.

He wasn’t even trying to hide it, he wanted to go to Prague so bad, he cut what was supposed to be a 3 week assignment of 3 engineers down to 1 week and 2 engineers so he could squeeze his fat ass into the budget for travel. Proudly boasted his achievements to anyone willing to listen.

Thanks to my co-worker, we went sightseeing during the weekend and had a pleasant time on one of the many tours on offer around Prague without “The Rat”.

Manila

Definitely a nice place to visit and I hoped to have the chance one day to backpack, the infrastructure of Manila is still underdeveloped. Major projects are being undertaken to upgrade said infrastructure in order to meet their future needs.

Not to say Philippines is not a nice, in fact while I was there, the people were fluent in English and more friendly than my home country. They were very tolerant of different kinds of people. A strong point in my book if there was ever one.

Some would say it’s because they can quickly recognize a foreigner and in hopes of getting money, are polite in public. I can’t argue with that since I live in Malaysia and have seen both the good and bad sides and no doubt the same exist for other countries, but like a friend said, “Live with an open mind and heart, but keep your purse close and tight.”

Jakarta

The longer I stayed, the more I cannot tell which direction Indonesia is going. It’s trying to go forward like all countries (except maybe for Malaysia, who seem to be having a penis comparison competition on who is more “Islam” when there isn’t any other competitors and declares itself the Savior of Islam by going backwards). People here are cautious to go forward.

Not to drum up the obvious religious reasons – Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world – a progressive Muslim country mind you. It’s much better than the craziness I have seen in Malaysia with them blaming dog petting events for tornadoes in another state.

Nairobi

First time I stepped out of the airport I knew I had gotten in over my head – the real truth of the matter wouldn’t be understood for months.

Here we were a couple of juniors with no leader to guide us, the PM was an idiot (he does have a PHD in economics, but that doesn’t help in his work) and our resource manager at the time was an even bigger idiot – if she wasn’t then I am worried that her natural stupidity was worse than her lupus.

But thanks to a certain friend and co-worker, I managed to get a chance to go on a Safari to the Masaai Mara. I never regretted to spend a little extra to take a jeep, and luck was really on our side.

Vietnam

I have been here before and every trip was splendid! Especially Monday and Friday at work – I have never found myself excited about going to work – for those who came along with me would surely understand. 🙂

Given the choice, living in Vietnam would be a great if my first choice Japan was not possible. There are many things to explore and do as the country advance at a rapid pace. I would definitely have a fun time living there.

So fun that I spent a month backpacking from Ho Chi Minh City to the far north in Sapa. It was a humbling experience.

Japan

How can I do an article about going places if I didn’t mention anything about Japan? It just wouldn’t be kosher. This pair didn’t come with me in 2009, but did for 2012 and it was still a wild time.

Wandered around Shinjuku and visit to Asakusa on new year’s eve as the gongs were rung signaled the arrival of the new year in addition the lighting up of the Tokyo Skytree to usher in the new year. My subsequent hike up mount Takao to witness the first sunrise of the year in blistering cold winds was a beautiful sight to behold.

The only sad part of the journey was the return home like all great vacations.

Thailand

Cheap food, cheap goods, and many things to enjoy. With Super GT never to return to Malaysia, fans of booth babes and racequeens have now turn their sights to Bangkok for their fixes – the Bangkok International Motorshow that takes place EVERY year!

Welcome by Thais thanks to the money spent by tourist, it is also loved by many photographers since Thailand doesn’t have restrictive censorship or council of Ulamas dictating what is right and wrong or what to think, eat and wear (this part is very much welcome).

My favorite part about Bangkok in their indulgence of art and culture.

I do hope to spend more than just a weekend in Bangkok in the future – a week or 2 might be in order for my next oversea vacation.

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