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…….The World Without Boundaries

Good Bye 2020, Hello 2021

Written By: jipp - Jan• 01•21

As I am writing this, I am flying on an Air Asia flight, crossing over from my beautiful homeland Sabah to Kuala Lumpur, the place that I have now considered my second home since I moved in from Sandakan about 9 years ago. It was supposed to be a surprise homecoming trip, since I already declared to my family that I was not coming home for Christmas (and I was supposed to mean it, with all the swabbing requirement and all. Urghh).

To go with the plan, I checked into one of the best hotels in town (I had always wanted to stay there, and I was waiting for the right time to do it) only to run into my niece who was working there as house cleaner, and was doing her round next to the room that I had checked myself into. Urghh, what a spoiler.  

And despite so, I still ended up celebrating Christmas with my family and enjoying every moment of it. Unfortunately, I could not stay long enough to celebrate the coming of the new year with them. It is almost certain now that I will be ushering in the first dawn of 2021, most probably on my own, in KL.

So, there is definitely so much, and yet so little, to talk about 2020. It was probably the only year where I did not do any travel trip outside of this tiny little shell of Malaysia since I started traveling out back in 2009. My travel diary for 2020 is definitely empty. When the Movement Control Order was first announced, I had at least one confirmed travel trip coming, which was to Taiwan where I was supposed to do a cycling tour with a bunch of my hometown friends.

Of course, with all the concerns about increasing number of imported Covid-19 cases making their full rounds all over social media, we decided not go on with the plan. We didn’t want to risk being quarantined for the entire days that we were supposed to spend there, or worse being condemned to death by Malaysians who were increasingly going anxious about the prospect of being overun by imported cases of Covid-19.

Part of preparatory training before going to the cycling tour in Taiwan before it was eventually canceled

What happened, and is still happening, in 2020 was definitely something that caught the whole world off guard. It’s safe to say that it was something that the entire world population was not prepared for. It was something that I would never have thought to occur, not in this very short lifetime of mine. And yet it happened and I would never see the world the same way I did ever again.

I was at my little office room when the Movement Control Order was first announced on the evening of March 16. Even though the talks of such order were already making rounds all over the social spectrum, it still felt so surreal when it was finally announced. For a moment I was stunned, unable to grasp and chew the whole idea in yet, and I tried to figure out how I was gonna deal with the suddenness of it. It did not really strike me as odd, until I punched out and drove back home and stopped to buy stuff at a grocery store on the way.

It was much more crowded than it usually was, and there were long queues of people at the cash registers. I could not help but feeling a little bit worried too, looking at how the people were scrambling to get their hands on stuff. And yet I told myself that things were going to be alright. I bought a packet of brown rice, in the hope that if things would go really bad, I at least still have some carbo to feed my stomach with. I did not buy any other thing that day.

The days and weeks and even months that followed were quite chaotic. There was so much uncertainly going on and people were enjoying cooking up their own theories and speculations. It dit not help at all that policies, laws and SOPs kept on changing from time to time.

The order was so strict in the first couple of months that I found myself sitting alone at home probably more than I have ever experienced in my whole life before. And yet I probably luckier than most other people, because I had the space, probably more that I needed, and I could always go and buy stuff without much obstruction because I was the head of the family that was non-existent.

While a part of me was still struggling to grasp the whole idea, another part of me was actually beginning to enjoy it before long. I mean, after working my ass off almost on a daily basis since I graduated in 2004 and probably beyond, I finally got the chance to take some time off and enjoy a long (pysical) absence from work. It almost felt like an early retirement really (except that we had to continue observing work from home). Heh.

Thinking back now, I would say, things would have gone so differently if it happened back in the early 90s and beyond when access to online activities and social media were still very much limited. I wouldn’t have survived through it with just mIRC (or whatever it was called).  If I had to admit something about myself, I would say I am a very homey person. I may be a case of one in a million, but I really enjoy my time at home – alone.  

I remember how the enjoyment did baffle and worry me at least a couple of times, so much so that I began searching about ‘Hikikomori’ when I happened to watch a documentary about it on Youtube. I have always considered myself a socially-skilled person, that I could easily fit into any form of society or societal organization (ahem!), and that I could always break into the shell of any social silo if you wish to put it that way.

And yet I enjoy myself alone at home more than anywhere else. I don’t think my times alone at home ever killed my social skills though, and yet I don’t intend to do more of  them in the coming years. I really think I should socialize more. I just feel that is the right thing to do.

No one can ever be sure of how 2021 is going to be like. I always believe that the world has its own ways of returning things into normalcy, and that what we are experiencing now is part of the cycle. What is happening now has probably been a little bit off the cycle, but it is still very much it – a cycle. I don’t think things are going to get back to normal in 2021 – not in its entirety at least – but things are gonna be on their way to it before the year even ends.

Travel-wise, many countries are gonna start opening their borders again, but people may still be hesitant about traveling, not until the things about the pandemic have settled at least to a safe degree. I am not gonna say no to a travel trip or two, but it all really depends on the restrictions that a country is going to impose on travelers coming into her. I mean, I wouldn’t want to travel to a country only to be locked in for half if not the entire period of the trip.  But really, I wouldn’t say no to a travel trip or two.

So – saying good bye to 2020, I’m really looking forward to a better 2021. Please bring it on already!

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A Short Stay at Kota Kinabalu Le Meridien Hotel

Written By: jipp - Nov• 07•20

So my job required me to go back to Sabah quite recently. It was my first trip back to Sabah since MCO was announced so suddenly early this year. Despite thousands of reasons to be sorry for for all days and weeks and months that I (and most other Malaysians of course) was grounded at home, the MCO or rather the damn virus for one did open doors of possibility for fancy hotels in KK, or probably even in the whole of Malaysia for that reason, to drag down their prices due to lack of businesses.

So, grabbing the opportunity upon seeing one, I picked Le Meridien Hotel – a hotel that I could hardly afford to stay at on a normal non-Covid rate.

Upon arriving, I picked a room from where I could see part of the city and part of the sea right through the glass wall. I could even watch the sunset from the room – and you know what they all say about sunset in Kota Kinabalu.

The bathroom was full of fluffy white towels, and the bath tub was shiny and immaculate, which was exactly what I would expect from a five-star hotel. I didn’t get to use the tub though – which was least surprising since I have one at home and had only used it once or twice in all my 9 years of staying there so far. Bath tub is not really my thing.

If there was one thing that really stood out from most other hotels that I had stayed in before, it was probably the bed. Or, perhaps, it was not really the bed, but the pillows. The pillows were so fluffy, so soft and they would shrink and grip around your neck when you land your head on it. It was so comfortable to be on I couldn’t stop wondering where the hell they bought those damn pillows from.

One of the reasons why I had wanted to stay at Le Meridien Hotel so badly was the existence of the swimming pool at the roof top, from where I could enjoy the sweeping view of South China Sea, with all the islands in the vicinity. Unfortunately, it was closed when I was there and I wouldn’t say I was not disappointed. Either they wanted to balance the lack of businesses out with the cut on the maintenance cost, or they wanted to avoid any possible transmission of Covid-19 through the water. After all, not much is really known about the virus just yet.

But just down the stairs from there was the café, which offers exactly the same view, except it was not an open air. Instead, the view had to be enjoyed through the glass panels, without the fresh air from the sea of course.

But of course my stay at the hotel was not all about the room and the hotel itself, but more of the opportunity to meet up with friends. For one it was close to Waterfront, which was to me a perfect place to hang out with friends. If truth to be told though, I had not been to this part of the city for so many years I had almost forgotten its existence. Now that I was back there again, I got reminded of the fact that there is so much that KK can offer.

So I ended up staying there for 3 nights. If truth was to be told, I was expecting more from a five-star hotel. There was nothing special about the hospitality. In fact, it was so ordinary. There was one time when I had already reached the door, only to be denied access to the room because the access card just went malfunctioned.

I thundered my way to the reception counter – which involved walking along the very long corridor, and going down on the lift and returned. I couldn’t contain my anger and frustration so I just spewed them out at the receptionist. I mean, I can’t believe why something so silly could happen at a five-star hotel.

LOL! Totally for the Photo only

But at least I could always say, I’ve stayed there.

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