Thursday, 29 November 2007

The Land of the Logs

View from my hotel room

I was in Stockholm in September. Never in my life would I thought to find myself there. I don't really know much about Sweden, except maybe, IKEA. I was unprepared with the beauty of Stockholm, the offical tourism website was boring and the pictures looked dead. It didn't really leave a good impression on me. I was forewarned by my colleague to take lots of pictures, but I didn't believe her.

In reality, Stockholm takes your breath away. The cleanliness of the town, plus the gothic buidings, the cool crisp air, all added to the charm of Stockholm. It'd be interesting to know that Stockholm is an archipelago of 14 islands. The Vikings originated from here! How authentic is that?? And to prove it, they have a real life size Viking boat that sunk on her maiden voyage at the Ship Museum. Monuments of the king scattered in the city, the palace of the king and also buildings from the 18th century.

Like most European countires, their stores closes around 6pm, so all your shopping must be done before that. Souvenirs are plenty and affordable, provided that you don't exchange Kronor to RM, or Euro to RM (Euro1 = RM4.90).

There are about 200 Malaysians there, and what I can deduct from my brief visit there is that the Malaysian Embassy worked hard to maintain the Malaysian community by having regular gathering. During the Ramadhan, incidently when I was visiting, we breakfast in the Embassy and had Solat Terawikh together. I can see that the Malaysian community there is quite close and well knit.

There are some Malaysians who calls Stockholm home, like the couple who owned Restaurang Tullange, who hails from Melaka. Their children are born and bred in Stockholm, but still they kept the Malaysian citizenship. The sad truth is, Asians are second class citizens in Stockholm. They are usually looked down upon and bullied. Even if you became their citizen, it would still be the same. Therefore, it's wiser to keep the Malaysian citizenship than rather be a second class citizen in a froeign country.

Swedish are quite eurocentric, but surprisingly they are also adventurous, in the culinary sense. We had invited our driver to break fast with us, and they had gladly accepted Malaysian hospitality, trying every local cuisine that was served, even eating sambal belacan! Not an easy feat for an European.

Visiting Stockholm was interesting and I would definitely go there again if have the greens to support me! *sigh*

Monday, 12 November 2007

What UMNO General Assembly means to me:)

Every year we will have the UMNO General Assembly in PWTC and it only mean one important thing to me and my! Yep, that's right. We don't care about the politics mumbo jumbo, we only care about the hundreds of sellers bringing in their goods during the assembly. You name it, they got it....from the lowest quality of songket to the most expensive songket you'd ever come across in your life, from the best quality of brooches to the really cheap ones, and also, good quality hand painted batiks (now that the government is enforcing everyone to wear batik on every 1st and 15th of the month).
It's a jungle out there, with the thousands of UMNO delegates bumping and touching God-knows parts on your body. But being out there and bargaining for the wanted items is part of the fun. Some weird and outrageous things on sale this year: the tree that died and brought to life (elixir of life?!), terubok masin (fine in the market, but not in the open exhibition), RM500 kebaya top, RM6000 songket, the Dempo snow creams (hate them and their promoters), ladyboy selling perfume, Caely bras.
Can't wait for the next UMNO General Assembly. It's a shame that they always have it in the middle of the month, when your pockets have run dry!

Monday, 5 November 2007

Malaysia, and all that jazz

I've worked in the tourism industry for 5 years, and that by the industry's standard is still a baby. Because tourism is a life-long industry, its based on relationship, networking, trust and marketing. Well, you got to know how to market your country, u got to believe that your country have something special that others don't. That will be the edge that put you above or at par with the rest. Not just doing some event like the open house celebration just for the sake of doing it, but truly doing it from the heart. Malaysia is still lacking in terms of hospitality and attitude in the service industry. The degree of our professionalism is still questionable.
I've travelled to some parts of the world, and sometimes you are humbled by the fact that other countries have history older and richer and more enrooted than Malaysia like the Vikings. What are the Malays, but having orginated from Indonesia, the Chinese from China and the Indians from India? Aren't we all immigrants initially, and that's why people wants to ensalve us!
Western countries are more modern and developed, sending people into space can be part of tourism now. We have just sent an astronaut to space, and that by the western definition is not an astronaut but a spacetourist eventhough he had gone through NASA training....and we spent billions for that...not an easy feat.
Malaysia is growing on its own pace...we have natural beauty and history and the fact that we are truly multiracial, makes us truly Asia...other Asian countries may beg to differ, but can they argue that they have three major races that still practice their language, culture and religion freely? That is Malaysia, my friend, a true melting pot of culture.
Am proud to be Malaysian, but the government really need to buckle up with the development of the country whilst at the same time maintaining our unique culture. Too much politicking and cronyism could ruin a country.
I rest my case.