I often say to people I don’t like travelling for work.
Once upon a time I did.
It was exciting when I travelled for work for the first time, even if it was just a trip to Singapore. I was with a law firm who was asked to travel with a property developer flogging high end condos to rich Singaporeans. We went down for the parade and there were some sales clogged up so I guess that was a successful trip.
Later when I was with the fledgling investment banking outfit that was Phileo, I travelled – to South East Asia, UK and the US. I continued travelling to Singapore intermittently through my entire work life in KL. That was then.
Since uprooting from KL to replant in Oz, I have not liked travelling for work. I had to travel to Sydney and Adelaide in my previous jobs but never overseas. So a couple of weeks ago when I was asked to travel to an overseas branch operation, I had mixed feelings. I still didn’t like travelling for work but I was asked to go to the Malaysian operations of my employer. I was asked to visit KL. Such irony.
So last week I left Melbourne on late Saturday night. Tress dropped me off at the airport around 9pm. Night flights aren’t my thing but my boss had approved business class travel so it made for easier path. I got into KL the next morning – Sunday morning. After managing an early check-in to my hotel in KL I took a commuter train down to Klang and caught up with the family.
Jean Mih picked me up from the Klang train station and we caught up with the rest of the Chew clan in their favourite Sunday restaurant, the Hai Tien Lou. Uncle Mak and wife and their son Lawrence and an old auntie (Lau 3 Kim) were there with Tress’ parents, sister and nephews and niece. We talked, ate and went back to the house in Berkeley and later that arvo Jin Mih dropped me off at my mum’s.
Mei’s younger boy, Yu Jie, was unwell when I got there and not long after, mum, Yu Yang (Stanley) and I took him to the doctor. He was nursing a fever and with fears of dengue and zika, they did a blood test for him. Thankfully he was clear and later that night David, Jean and Nicole our niece joined us at mum’s for dinner. As always, it was good to talk and catch up. It was the first time I saw my brother since he was taken ill on New Year’s Day this year. He and Jean then dropped me off at the hotel before taking Nicole back to Subang Jaya, where she had commenced a matriculation/foundational course of studying. Nicole had done really well for her O Levels and aspires to study medicine.
It was then work for me from then on. I stayed at the Aloft Hotel in KL, which was very convenient. It was a 5-10 minute walk to the office, a 5 minute walk to KL central station which was a hub connecting the city monorail, commuter trains as well as the airport express rail service. I had taken the rail service coming in from the airport and found it very convenient. Malaysia, KL have come a long way in that sense. The hotel is also only a 5 minute walk to an adjoining shopping centre (the Nu Sentral) as well as a further 10 minute walk to a local hawker stalled coffee shop. I went there every day for my hawker fares and felt thoroughy satisfied each time. I would also swim every morning on the rooftop pool before heading into the office and it was warm water so that was terrific.
During that work week I caught up with a couple of ex colleagues and then again with David my brother who was a frequent visitor to that hotel, working on the benches in that hotel lobby’s funky connected hub concept.
The talks with the family, particularly with my mum and brother, were mainly focused on Kiddo’s recent announcement of her wedding with Mic. They were all very excited about coming down to Oz for that occasion and we discussed very broad plans for April next year.
I left the office on Thursday arvo, checked out of the hotel and headed to the airport late on Thursday and got back into Melbourne on Friday. By the time I got into Blackburn it was late morning/towards noon. I unpacked, did my laundry, fussed with LBJ and impatiently waited for Tress to return from work. She had started with World Vision a week before and was still relatively relaxed so when she got home early we went to our favourite local Italian, the Via Matta, for a different sort of dinner. Italian is probably the closest European cuisine to Chinese so it was a wonderfully pleasant transition back to local fares for me
On the day before I left KL, Kiddo, Tress and I had been exchanging messages and emails with a real estate agent in Canberra. Kiddo found a house in Monash in the ACT, somewhere close to the school she would be teaching south of Tuggeranong. Tress and I made an offer for that house, which was accepted and as I write, Tress and I are awaiting the contract for our first little investment property outside Victoria. It would be the second time Tress signed up to but a property before seeing it…