Kuala Lumpur should be entering the summer-y season by now but it seems like heavy rains still here to stay. The rain created dramatic sunset — this is a major TIL for me.
The reddish hue that you see at sunset (especially during rainy seasons) is due to the reflection of light from the low-cloud base, which happens to be relatively close to the ground. This is how rain plays an important role in changing the hue of the sky from blue to pale-white, yellowish-orange (especially over brightly lit roads) or even reddish.
Also, you might know about it, but last week we concluded our team meetup in Langkawi, Malaysia. For some of the teammates, it was their very first team meetup. For some, it was a team meetup after 2.5 years of no traveling.
It was bittersweet, really. We were so happy to meet each other, but at the same time we had looming anxiety of what-ifs and general concerns about pandemic.
Anyway! We stayed at this hotel named Camar Langkawi. In 2019, my colleagues stayed on this hotel too when they had their team meetup and they wouldn’t stop raving about it. My team almost stayed there back in 2020 when we planned our team meetup. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the booking due to Covid-19. It was after 2.5 years we finally return there.
The only thing that I’m concerned about is the accessibility on the hotel. Their elevator is quite small in size and might not be suitable for wheelchair.
During the team meetup, we chatted about our work and our day (something like “How I Work”-chat) and the discussion gave a fresh inspiration to the team to exercise more and be healthy. All of us are tech workers and we are bound to sit on our desk of hours. Some of the teammates lead a pretty active lifestyle, and they shared some tips and encouragements for others (especially me, your self-certified potato) to start exercising. So, yeah, apparently swimming at 7 AM is therapeutic.
I’m typing this as I’m waiting for my flight from Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur. For the past week, I have been in Langkawi for a team meetup — a first (for the team) after 2.5 years of no traveling. Even right now, I must admit, I’m still nervous about traveling.
I might write about the beauty of Langkawi, but right now I want to write about traveling — specifically, on how we see the process.
I believe I’m not exaggerating when I said that the pandemic makes us traumatized. Even for folks who can be considered as “doing okay” during the pandemic, the whole thing definitely caused psychological scars to some degree.
Prior the pandemic, both Ari and I travel a lot. Ari with his job, me with Automattic. For me, specifically, it wasn’t as many as Ari’s but there were definitely some trips going on — at least for the team meetup and the Grand Meetup.
Then the effing pandemic happened, and we stuck with each other for a long 2.5 years. We underwent multiple lockdowns, and we fast realized we only got each other — four of us.
I’m the first one in the family who got the work-related travel. The team decided on a team meetup. Ari mentioned that he hasn’t heard anything from his office; especially with the office found out that the staffs can still do a good dang job remotely.
Oh how the anxiety flared in — and it was not solely me feeling it. I noticed Rey sulked on the night before my flight to Langkawi. I found myself stressed out about home while I was away.
Then, work-related trips starting to pop out on the company’s Slack channel. Some destinations are even further than Langkawi.
My goodness, I found myself dragging my feet.
So many anxieties, so many worries, and so many guilts. The guilt.
If you are expecting this post to end with an enlightenment, prepare to be disappointed.
Reflect upon your leadership and your direction, and then practise thinking, acting and communicating at the different altitudes. Even if you’re not responsible for setting your organisation’s vision, spend some time each week thinking and learning about the outside world, its possibilities, its changes, its trends and the resulting opportunities or threats, now and in the future (50,000 feet). Likewise, allot time for executing, implementing and doing (50 feet). Lastly, set aside time to reflect on who you are, what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how you can challenge yourself to be the best leader that you can be (5 feet).
It was when Ari and I visited medical clinic for our tummy problem when I saw a sign on the clinic door.
Along with the name of the doctors.
I might go take a visit. Perhaps after this month. I’m thinking July? August?
I have so many things in my mind with so many questions. Mostly “whys” and “hows”. Also, I really don’t want to self-diagnose myself — it’s one of the most dangerous approaches you can take on your well-being.
To have a professional looking into the Questions with me, and together we navigate the tangled ropes, would be wonderful.
I know I’m not alone.
And now, I can take up the sword and the shield, and meet the monsters. Or perhaps, it won’t be a monster. It will be me. Me looking at myself.
Are you familiar with police stakeouts? No, not seeing one. But the general term and sense. Familiar, yeah?
This is how it usually looks like in Indonesia.
Just like how police stakeouts usually are, the agents are disguising themselves as regular folks — mostly as food peddlers. Regular-looking guy, very unassuming, but holding a walkie-talkie and communicating with the other agents (you can see the person on the picture above is holding a walkie-talkie. A telltale sign he’s an agent on a stakeout.)
Food peddlers in Indonesia vary in forms. There are restaurants, stand-up bars/cafés, and the most common one is the gerobak (carts.) They usually walk around the neighborhood by making noises, signaling folks that they are around and calling hungry tummies. If you hearing a clink-clink-clink sound coming from porcelain bowl, it usually chicken noodles seller. If you hearing a toc-toc-toc sound as if the seller is hitting a piece of bamboo, it usually satay seller. If you hearing a clang-clang-clang sound coming from a wok, it’s nasi goreng (fried rice) seller.
One of the disguises commonly used by the agents are these type of food peddlers, the one using carts. They are high in mobility and tend to be low cost.
And since it’s a mission — police stakeouts and disguises — the food is rarely good.
Anyway! Last week we went back to Jakarta, Indonesia after 2.5 years, right. On our last trip to Jakarta, Wira got hospitalized due to food poisoning. The whole experience was enough to make me paranoid so I made sure everyone in the family chugging down Yakult twice per day a week before our trip and during our one-week trip.
It went okay. At first.
Wira and Rey are doing fine now. Ari and I… not so. On Monday, one day after we arrived back in Kuala Lumpur, Ari complained irregular bowel movements. I had the same problem on Tuesday. However, it was not super severe so we chalked it as regular tiredness after a trip and took some herbal medicines.
Yet the issue persists. Day by day, both of us have been feeling uneasiness on our gut. While it’s not really serious, it’s annoying enough. Ari and I decided to go to a clinic earlier today to check.
The doctor mentioned that both of us have a case of super mild food poisoning. “Commonly happened when people are traveling and eating food on the area,” he said. We got a couple of antibiotics, probiotics, and some rehydration powder which tasted like disappointment and tears of your cringey teenage years.
On our way back home, Ari and I listed down the food we ate during our time in Jakarta. Since Wira and Rey didn’t have the same concerns like we do, it has to be something that only two of us ate. Then it dawned on us: Siomay and batagor.
Okay. So it was siomay and batagor. Ari bought them on his way to the hotel after he met his high school friends. He bought it from a food cart nearby the hotel. Cool, cool.
Then Ari looked like something just hit him and he slapped my shoulder while I’m playing Two Dots.
“HE WAS AN INTEL!”
“Wait— what? What intel?”
“THE SIOMAY GUY! HE WAS ON A STAKEOUT! HE’S AN AGENT!”
“… … Now you are being ridiculous. How could you possibly think that?”
“IT’S ALL MAKE SENSE NOW.”
“I still don’t get you, but do go on.”
“I bought siomay and batagor at 10 – 10.30 AM, right. I paid him using 100,000 IDR bill.”
“… He didn’t complain?”
“HE DID NOT. And you know what? He had the change! He had money on his box! He accepted my money and gave me the change without any fuss!”
“Furthermore, the siomay and the batagor are all cold!”
“How could he— No. No siomay and batagor seller would let their food gone cold! I can get siomay at 6 PM and it would still piping hot!”
“See? And you know what? He didn’t appear on his spot on the next day!”
“HE’S AN INTEL ALRIGHT.”
You might be wondering what the hell is going on. Here are the explanations.
100,000 IDR bill in Indonesia is pretty big. A portion of siomay and batagor on food peddlers like that usually cost you around 10,000 to 20,000 IDR tops.
Most food peddlers hate big bills. It gives them problems when they have to give changes. Furthermore, giving 100,000 IDR bill in the morning time, when food peddlers just started their day, guaranteed you getting scolded by them. “Can you just give me a smaller bill? I don’t have any change for this!” and you have to run to other peddlers to exchange your bill to smaller bills.
So this siomay and batagor seller not saying anything and he even got the change for it is suspicious enough.
Also, we believe his stakeout duty is completed that day, as he was nowhere to be seen on the spot on the next day.