Friday, December 28, 2018


I know I sacrificed a part of myself in exchange for the stability of my sanity after I was embroiled in a messy, emotional situation for some time. Half a heart and a half a brain are now missing, scattered somewhere in the ocean far from me. It’s now a dark world in my brain, full of thoughts that can’t see the light of day. Thoughts that have the potential to scare anyone. Thoughts that no one is aware of.

I won’t say that I’m happy with all of the decisions made because it had to be done out of necessity. If I had a choice, I’d take a divergent route as it would’ve lead to a different ending. And perhaps I’d be happier. But it is what it is. I can’t whine. I can only blame the cruel stroke of fate for this. There should be an element of excitement now that I’ve passed all of my courses. Yet I feel numb - there is no sense of merriment. Not even a sense of dread at what is to come. Maybe I haven’t fully grasped the situation or maybe my brain is preoccupied with dark thoughts that I can’t think straight. The fact that I dreamt of a corpse could be indicative of my emotional state of mind.

The dream… I'm exhausted with maintaining appearances because it's causing a personality split in me. I can't assume the role of someone unaffected by the tides of hell when I'm struggling to silence my demons. It's not fun and not healthy either. For half of my life, what people see of me is not who I truly am. But I've done it in such a way that very, very few people could see it. Call it talent. Call it sheer luck. Call it whatever you want, but the truth is those struggles are mine and only for me to deal with.

Things changed the moment the plane landed on Malaysian soil and maneuvered the runway to its dedicated gate of arrival. What has made it worse is the fact that I'm like the odd one out. Reverse culture shock? I don't think so. I've returned often enough to be familiarized myself with the changes and updates surrounding the place. I feel like a vagabond in search of a permanent home where I can lay my sword and finally rest in peace. If you think I mean another beating heart, you're dead wrong, lol. I need to treat and repair myself first before I have enough energy to invest in a relationship with someone. Relationships take a lot of work from both parties; it's not a matter of boy meets girl, both fall in love, and voila. A lot of relationships wouldn't crumble like a deck of cards if it's as easy as it looks.

It’s a surprise that things turned out this way because it was not even in the scope of my original plan. If there’s something in life that I should learn from, it’s to expect and accommodate the unexpected twists. Nothing in life is perfect - because it wouldn’t be called life if things go according to plan.

Look, things changed the moment the plane landed on Malaysian soil. As the pilot navigated the curvy runway and brought the aircraft to a slow stop, my heart turned colder than snow. Inasmuch as I didn't fancy it, I had to be a meaner version of myself after what I experienced when I needed someone at the fragile moments. Oddly enough, I didn't want anyone to accompany me in the silence or even their words of encouragement. What I wanted was someone who would fully empathize and share the burden back then.

The end of the story is that I didn't get what I wanted, which wasn't a surprise. I've eaten enough crap to understand that life isn't all rosy. I just have to expect the unexpected and learn to work around it without losing my brains and spewing angst.

I don't know if all international students returning to their home countries will experience this because we're all unique in our own ways. I feel like I'm the odd one out, unable to blend into either culture. There's something missing at both ends of the spectrum. It makes me think whether I'm a vagabond in search of a permanent home full of peace, devoid of pain. If you think another beating heart would be the answer, you're dead wrong, lol. There are parts of me that needs treating and repairing before a relationship with someone can even take place. I'm not in the position to say much, but relationships require humongous sacrifices and effort from a couple. It's not a matter of boy meets girl, they hit off, and they become boyfriend and girlfriend. If it's as easy as it looks, there wouldn't be a trail of heartbreak.

Spoken like someone who's lived through it, huh.

The year is now coming to an end in a day or two - by the time I manage to complete this post and get it published (since I now have a tendency to procrastinate and delay everything to the last possible minute, especially if it is not work-related). Honestly speaking, it was an emotionally draining year for me to the point where I no longer recognize who I am.

Here’s to hoping that next year would be much better.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Gray Area

Exhaustion is thick in the air
With the memories of someone torn between two worlds.
A story of not belonging,
She's the odd one standing out.

Her smile is fake,
Glued together by weariness.
Her heart is cracked,
Dripping blood in its wake.

The misery she suffers,
The burden she experiences,
All are weighing down her shoulders.
The pain and aches suffocate her.

Her eyes speak of indescribable pain.
Yet no one understands.
Running deep into the forest,
She seeks solace from the silent torture.

Weaving from tree to tree,
Her inner demons are at her heel,
Ready to prance on her
And bring her down - once and for all.

Sunday, December 16, 2018


Now that I've been back for a while, the subtle changes that I've pushed aside are more evident. Maybe not for others, but definitely for me. Favors would not necessarily be returned once it has been given out, regardless of the nature of the relationship between both parties. It also doesn’t matter if it was willingly given or forced out of someone.

It is for that reason that I’ve kept people at arm’s length. I don’t want them to hurt me or flex their muscles at me. It has been more than once that they have proven me right: they are only there to wait for my downfall before laughing at me. I’ve had moments in my life where I’ve experienced such strong disappointment with former friends that I dropped them like hot potatoes.

I’ve also had moments where time and distance have erased the effects of their actions, leaving a faded scar instead. I’ve also had moments where I completely want to be left to my own devices. I’ve also had moments where I want to throw in the towel and take the next flight out of town without a goodbye. If my presence is not recognized by anyone and if there is only more pain for me, why should I stick around?

The things that I have seen and experienced have shaped me into someone who is easily suspicious of everything and everyone around her. I believe this is what you call trust issues. I don’t take words at face value anymore; I prefer to be proven wrong in my assumptions rather than be proven correct that someone or something is bad. Inasmuch as I want to pinpoint it on my major, it is irrelevant to the emotions that I now feel. Otherwise, it doesn’t explain why I was able to feign normalcy and suffer those thoughts alone? I never believe in speaking with anyone (including counsellors) about this because it’s better to deal with it on my own. That’s what I believe is good for myself, but I won’t recommend it, especially if you’re dangerously close to the dark route.

You'll feel more at ease once you're back, they said.

And how do I feel? Nothing’s changed. I feel as cranky and snappy as ever, ready to growl at anyone who blocks my way.

Give it some time, they also said.

How much more time do I need then? I’ve lived half a life on borrowed happiness. I can’t remember when I last felt happy and able to laugh out loud at something. I don’t want to snaffle more happiness from the rightful owners and it’s not fair for either one of us either. They also deserve a shot at finding their own merriment. How much more time do I need before I’m finally and truthfully happy? If the answer is the rest of my life, then I’ll surrender. Life is not worth living in that case; I need something at the end of the tunnel as an encouragement. Yet I don't want to create a cauldron of mess when I'm facing difficulties in dealing with the previous and current ones. It’s not easy to deal with the aftermath; it’s easier to cause problems but tougher to resolve them.

Whether we have received the shorter end of the stick or not, we all have our own battles to fight. I’ve friends who struggle with their demons behind closed doors. I can tell you from my personal experience that it’s depressive and weakening to tackle the inner demons on a daily basis. It is not easy to plaster a smiling face when you feel crap inside. But the signs are still there - it’s just a matter of how well you suppress/hide it. I've done this; I've lied through my teeth that everything is okay when all I want is to explode in anger and turn my bedroom upside down. So, I am aware of the dangers of bottling your emotions with the misbelief that you're best off alone. I won't expect everyone to understand the situation because they are contented with their lives and haven’t been dealt with a terrible deck of cards yet. Suffering and pain don’t exactly exist in their dictionaries.

Maybe that explains why I'm able to comprehend and empathize with their final decisions. When you are pushed to the edge or cornered and unable to crawl out, all you experience is emotional stress and loneliness. You find that living in the dark abyss has more peace. Days and weeks and months later, you can no longer think straight and want to end it all. You don't bat an eyelid when you choose your method; you just want it to be foolproof and effective.

Yet it is only when tragedy strikes that regrets are thrown around like flower petals. Here’s the thing; there’s no point about crying for the dead when all chances of intervening or making a difference have been blown away by the light winds.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Shipping from ADL to PKG: My Experience

Note: Only those familiar with IATA codes would know the acronyms that I used in the title. Also, since the following is based on my personal experience and interaction with the maritime industry, it might not reflect your situation. 

I never expected that I’ll have to do this, seeing that it was not part of my original plan when I left the country. What happened was the total opposite of what I gauged. After spending four years abroad for my studies, I had no choice but to ship 75% of my personal belongings back home, sigh.

Although I knew a tad bit about the shipping industry, I still fumbled with the process - since I didn't know the right people in Adelaide. I only know one and he's based in Port Klang instead.

Most of the shipping companies/container lines (I've forgotten the correct descriptive word for this) would not handle shipments from individuals, only those from companies due to bad experiences in the past. The next best choice is the freight forwarders. I won't blame you for assuming that freight forwarders would provide an expensive quotation. This is not necessarily true, according to Papa Carrie's former colleague. It all depends on your number of boxes, the overall measurement and weight, and whether it is FCL or LCL (full container load or less than container load).

After going through the right channels, I was given the contact list of freight forwarders in Adelaide. I eventually settled on one that I felt comfortable with. The quotation is based on the overall measurement in cubic meters and the need for a removal specialist/mover, but the person in charge should be able to assist you in converting it from centimeters to cubic meters. What I did was to provide the individual measurements in length x width x height in cm to the freight forwarder. The freight forwarder converted it into cubic meters and included my request for a removal specialist into the estimated quotation.

Once the preliminary matters were settled, I had to deal with the next stage. This was completely foreign to me… and I guess it's not something that most people are familiar with unless they are moving cross country or abroad with their furniture/personal effects. There would be a shipping document that you'd need to fill in after you've accepted the quotation - in which the details for consignee and consignor are needed, the number of boxes to be shipped and the commercial value of the products (if applicable) on top of the overall measurement and weight of the boxes.

I'd suggest that you keep a draft packing list by your side as you go along with packing the boxes. The draft packing list would be beneficial because you’d know what you have packed, in the event that there is a change of plans. Trust me, it happened to me twice. Furthermore, it would be of great assistance when it arrives at the destination. I know this is common sense, but label all of the boxes with numbers and an address label on each one. The freight forwarder would also need the finalized list for Customs declaration and clearance at the departing port (mine was Port Melbourne).

Another tip would be to obtain your quotation well-ahead of time from different freight forwarders and choose the one that you are most comfortable with. You can gather the list by researching on Google or asking family and friends for their contacts. Also, start your packing at least 6 weeks before your intended date of departure. This would save valuable time; I did mine at such a rush that I didn't properly focus on my exam revision. Let's just say that it did affect my final grade for all three courses. No complaints there.

Once the container has sailed from the originating destination, the freight forwarder will send another document to you. It's called the bill of lading and contains important details about your shipment, such as the vessel number and carrier as well as the estimated date of arrival for you.

At the time of this posting, my shipment is on a container with other people's cargoes somewhere and on the way to Port Klang. Based on my understanding of the maritime industry, the consignee would need a local forwarder's service to clear the cargo and deliver it to the intended address. You wouldn't need it if you are familiar with the local laws; just pay the Customs fees and you're able to arrange for the transport accordingly. I'll update this post after my shipment has arrived at my residence and all of the boxes have been unpacked.

The process should be the same worldwide - only the maritime requirements would differ.

Update 17th December 2018: I have spoken to Papa Carrie's former colleague on this and he confirmed the process is the same once the shipment has arrived at the destination. You'll need to appoint a freight forwarder to clear the shipment and organize your own transport from then on. If you have used an international freight forwarder who has worldwide branches, this process is made simpler as you just contact tthe local branch in your destination and take it from there.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Review of Ibis Styles Grosvenor, North Terrace, Adelaide

Note: The following is based on my personal experience so it might differ for you, my readers. 

As the lease for my apartment and the flight time differed, it didn’t leave me with much choice but to spend the night in a hotel in the city. So, that’s what I did - to save anyone else the trouble of sending me to the airport before sunrise.

The check-in process was easier than expected as I paid for the online reservation in full and in advance. I figured that it would provide me with a peace of mind if I did so. The receptionist would require you to provide a photo ID (either your passport or a driver’s license if you are a tourist from interstate) and the same credit/debit card that you used to make the reservation. Based on what I inquired earlier, there is a 1.3% surcharge for payments made with a credit/debit card. If it is a cash payment, there is a deposit of AUD $50 that the hotel would hold in the event that you break or damage something in the room. The online reviews that I read as part of my research revealed that there is limited elevator access for Ibis Styles hotel rooms and only available for the ones on the 2nd floor. I was worried about this as I didn’t want to lug the heavy luggage, only to climb the stairs to access the assigned room. Walking the alley of Mercury Grosvenor Hotel to reach the access for Ibis Styles was alright with me because what was most important was getting the luggage to the room.

The room wasn’t as cramped as expected when I opened the door. Maybe it’s because it was an overnight stay. Or maybe it’s because I’m used to staying in a smaller-sized hotel room. If there is a glass window and bare necessities (such as a clean, comfortable bed), I’m all good. Although you’d be greeted by a bed and a study table after you enter the room, there is some floor space to move around without bumping into the furniture. With that being said, it is a reasonably-sized room for me but may be too small for other occupants. Facing the bed is a cabinet to hang your clothes and an extra pillow. I searched high and low for the given pair of hotel slippers, but couldn’t find it as I forgot to bring my own from home. Next to the cabinet is the coffee and tea making facilities. There are packets of Nescafe Blend 43 and Dilmah on one side and the water kettle. The fridge is at the bottom while the TV is at the top. I didn’t notice any free bottled water, so I presumed that it was not included in the hotel rate. There is access to purified water in the laundry room for Mercure Hotel guests but never asked if this extended to Ibis Styles guests as well.

The blinds were lowered down as the afternoon progressed into the evening because the room faced other buildings and especially the floor to ceiling windows of a nearby hotel’s lounge area. I didn’t want to run the risk of indecent exposure to the public - which required me to use one of two options: either I switched on the ceiling lights or the lamp on the study table. The ceiling light was rather dim and made me feel even colder than I should, so I relied on the table lamp instead. This came with another benefit; the lamp provided enough warmth for the room to be toasty. A reasonable person in my position would’ve used the heater, but cold air circulated throughout the room instead. It didn’t help that it was a cold, rainy spring evening - and gave me the feeling that I was back in Taipei during their wintry season. I didn’t raise this with the hotel staff as it was an overnight stay and I wore a warm hoodie to sleep.

The important thing that I wanted was the availability of hot water in the toilet, so its size didn’t matter much. I observed that the toilet was smaller than average, but the space constraint was manageable. You’d have to remember to bring your own toothbrush and toothpaste as it is not given. There was only a small bottle of hair shampoo and a bar of soap by the toilet sink when I entered.

My initial plan was to skip the hotel continental breakfast and catch a cup of coffee before my morning flight. As a result of the lengthy delay, I purchased it (AUD $ 20) at the eleventh hour. The coffeehouse was small with access being shared by guests from both hotels so you can imagine the congestion when there are too many people at the same time. If there is not enough space, the guests would be directed to use the seating space at the bar downstairs. You can purchase it in advance, but only through a direct reservation with the hotel before payment. I wouldn't recommend buying it in advance unless you are absolutely confident that you'd be having the hotel breakfast.

The check-out process would be swift, especially if you don't have any outstanding amount with the hotel. You just surrender the key card to the receptionist on duty and an invoice would be printed. When the person in charge discovered that I was flying home to Malaysia, he took the initiative to wish me ‘Selamat Jalan’. (‘Selamat Jalan’ means Bon Voyage or Goodbye in Bahasa Malaysia.)

For the price that I paid (AUD $107), I believe that it was worth the money spent. I didn't need a higher starred hotel for the overnight stay; I just needed a place to crash before the morning flight. The rate warranted the services provided to me, but I can only speak for my own experience.

I guess this would be one of the hotels that I’ll consider if and when I’m having a short visit to Adelaide. It’s due to the accessibility to the tram and train services. Furthermore, it is within walking distance to Rundle Mall and the Royal Adelaide Hospital. The tram route also extends to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.

Things to Note
  • No free pair of hotel slippers
  • Bottled water isn’t provided, although there is access to filtered water at the laundry room in Mercure
  • No free toothbrush and toothpaste
  • The toilet is compact and small
  • The heating system doesn’t work well as it should
  • Elevator access is only available for the rooms on the 2nd floor. Other floors are accessible by stairs instead
  • Breakfast is NOT provided in the hotel rate. It is charged separately.

Monday, December 3, 2018


Let’s just phrase it in this way.

Although I was aware that I’d have to spend the night in a nearby hotel due to the situation, I wasn’t looking forward to the flight for a couple of reasons. One of which rested with my grades; it would be the second time that I flew out without first knowing whether I passed or failed the entire course. The other rested with my decision to leave. My friends - or at least those who knew about it - were saddened by the piece of news, but all I experienced was apathy.

It is a bit of a shock if you ask me. Yet some of the international students whom I’m acquainted with are in the same boat as me. Whenever we talk about our impending trips back home, we aren’t greeted with a wave of anticipation either.

The years that I’ve spent abroad has stirred something within me. Four years of biannual flights and continual exposure to two different cultures have shaped me into the person that I am today. I no longer retain the personality that I once had. I’m more suspicious than before and don’t take what people tell me at face value, choosing instead to conduct my own research as support or poking holes in their words. It’s not a good sign - as it means that I’ve lost complete trust in everyone and everything. The signs were already there, which helped me to accept what was about to greet me. It was as if the time spent in another country exposed me to things that I had never seen before.

I’m supposed to feel a wave of homecoming and excitement flush through me now that I’m back. What’s flowing through my veins instead is indifference. Surprise, not surprise. Maybe it’s the work of reverse culture shock. Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced so much that I’ve (momentarily) lost the ability to care or empathize. It might make sense, considering the circumstances.

Nothing has changed.

Am I incapable of acculturating to what was once a happier time?

Perhaps I’ve really lost my bearings - and need to collect the pieces I’ve left behind in my wake.

Due to the mishaps that occurred throughout the week leading up to my flight, I spent the night in a nearby hotel. I’ll share my review on my stay in an upcoming post. It’s not that I haven’t done it; it’s just that I’m not in the right frame of mind to complete and publish it. There has been a lot requiring my attention since I landed in the land of tropics - and I’m weighed down by the extent of it.

Experiencing a flight delay wasn’t something that I expected … yet it occurred. I’ve no idea whether it was the result of terrible weather conditions or something else, but it was enough to blow my plans apart. Had I known that there would be a delay, I would’ve headed for a quick coffee instead of heading to the airport earlier than everyone else.

Or bought myself a glass of beer at the Coopers’ airport branch.

As long as it’s something to soothe my growing impatience.

Even being on the phone with the sister for most of the time didn’t alleviate it either.

I was sleep-deprived as I spent an hour tossing and turning after receiving the update of a delay in the wee hours of the morning. This was because I had to rearrange my transport at the receiving airport. I would’ve taken the train or the cab because it’s easier and much more convenient, but Mama Carrie didn’t want me to take the risk since the new arrival time would be closer towards sunset.

Most of the flight passengers had glassy eyes when they spilled into the boarding area. I was only relieved that there was a convenience store for me to make a quick purchase of bottled water and Kit Kat. Although the passengers kept to themselves, you could see that they tried their best to remain calm yet the imaginary smoke blew from their ears. I wouldn’t blame them; it’s not fun dealing with flight delays. One even rested on his cabin luggage on the floor, oblivious to the silent tension of others and tuning everyone out. It wouldn’t surprise me if our moods were soiled when we finally boarded the aircraft some hours later. What was most evident is that cabin crew members were also affected. I don’t know if others saw it, but it felt like the steward whom I spoke to silently seethed at the change of events. Based on what I’ve read, the cabin crew is on shorter notice than passengers as they are required to arrive earlier in preparation of the flight.

By the time I settled into my seat, the anger turned inwards and reflected in my body language. I only realized when the fellow flight passenger broke the silence and asked if everything was alright. He commented that I looked restless… and fed up. So, I elaborated on the situation. We found ourselves deep in a conversation for the next five minutes or so about our differing university degrees and shared courses. To cut a long story short, we are now connected on LinkedIn and might be working in similar fields.
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