Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Panic Attack

I grew up in a family of neat-freaks. Everyday, my two aunts meticulously clean every nook and cranny of the house. One of them gladly added cleaning the bathroom every 4am to her morning ritual. Once she gets home in the evening from work, she cooks then scrubs the kitchen tiles and counters until they are spotless (to the point that they perpetually smell of Domex). My other aunt is no exception. Every afternoon, she would sweep and mop the living room, the dining room, my room (hehe), and even the terrace. She would also tirelessly clean up our messes, scolding us in the process. In short, I am used to living in a very tidy house.

I can also be a neat-freak. However, I usually let the mess accumulate a little then I would do an all-out clean-up drive. I am especially particular with two parts of the house: the bathroom
and the kitchen. The bathroom is sacred to me. Not only is it a place to cleanse the physical body, it is also where I cleanse my mind from the unnecessary pressures of real life. Most of my brightest ideas come up when I'm thinking in the bathroom. Heck, even Archimedes shouted "Eureka!" after stepping into a bathtub (or an ancient version of it). The kitchen is equally important. I love food and I love cooking so I ensure that the food I serve is not only delicious but safe.

This afternoon, our driver brought me to the apartment that the company found for me. It was my boss' old apartment. It's quite spacious: 4 small bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and two small balconies. All of these for the price of RM450 (PHP 6260). It's really quite cheap, especially since most flats of this size would cost around RM700-RM1000. They even said that I can sublet it. Most rooms would cost RM200-RM300 per month. If I can get others to rent, I can easily earn RM600-RM900 per month.

Such size can be an investment. However, it's worse than an unfurnished apartment - it's a dump. After my boss moved, the flat was rented by several engineering students.

When I got there, it seemed that the place has been abandoned for months. The floors are dirty and littered with hair. It seems like the past owners need a milder shampoo. In the living room, only
a broken end table and a rattan couch are usable. However, the cushions are too old and dusty to be of any use. I can probably try to wash and salvage them, but I would be better off buying new ones. Here's what the living room looked like after I cleaned the floors:

They even dumped all of their old and dirty stuff in this room:

The kitchen, or what's left of it, was even worse. The grime on that metal counter is so thick, I wouldn't want to put food on it even after bathing it multiple times with clorox. Honestly, it's in a state where it should just be replaced instead of cleaned.

The same goes for the bathroom. The tiles are lined with dried mold and mildew. The toilet, shower, and sink aren't working. Moreover, there are no usable appliances. I would have to buy everything from scratch.

The absolute worst of the lot is the presence of a certain pet tank. At first, I thought it was a normal aquarium. Apparently, it was home to a 7-inch snake. When we got there, this was the state of the tank:

We asked the landlady if the snake has died. Having pity for the creature, she looked after it. According to her, the snake was very much alive the last time she fed it - which was last week. The question is, where is the snake now?

I tried my best to clean the place with the limited resources that I have. But the thought of sleeping there chilled my very soul. The thought of dust, grime, and snakes slowly gave me a panic attack. I hurriedly took a few clothes, locked the rest of my stuff in the room, and went out of the flat.

So friends, dear fellow bloggers, do you think I should keep the flat?
I wouldn't mind investing, but I wouldn't live in here at this current state. If I had a few days to clean it up, buy some furniture and small appliances, and look for that damn snake, I can probably transform it into something livable. But is it worth the stress, the labor, and most especially the upkeep? How long will it take to make the other rooms enticing to promising renters? Or should I just seek for a semi-furnished/furnished room that would save me from all the hassle?

I'm really confused if I should keep it or not. But for now, I'm searching for rooms around the area, comfortable at the thought that I'll be sleeping in a hotel tonight.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day One

You might not be aware (and sorry if I didn't inform you Mr. Lao) but I've decided to move to Malaysia to work with the International Tropical Fruit Network of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Yes, fruits.

Here are some of my random thoughts for the day.

* The Philippine Government's protocols on OFWs and Expats aren't very clear. I was at a loss on what documents I need and which agencies to approach. I checked the website of OWWA and POEA and didn't find them useful. There were not clear guidelines on what to do. I asked repatriated expats for advice and said that my current documents are enough. When I got to airport immigration in NAIA, they were suddenly asking me for an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) from POEA. I would have to go to Ortigas and apply for a moot document that might take days to process. I stood my ground and the immigration officer asked me to go to the POEA desk. After an inquiry, it turns out that the OEC is a requirement for skilled labor. The government should really make clear cut guidelines and definitions on what requirements are needed for OFWs and Expats. Furthermore, these guidelines should be transparent and available in their websites. All these back and forth wastes time and money. When I got to Malaysian immigration, they let me through without a hitch.

* The Kuala Lumpur International Airport quite unique. While located in the heart of a protected forest and palm oil plantation, its architecture is modern. The whole place feels like a space-age biodome facility.

* I still can't believe that they provided me with my own office. It's pretty spacious! The walls need some decorating and they gave me the freedom to do whatever would make me more comfortable. Here's a tour!

* It's strange that there's almost no means of public transportation. Trains can only get you somewhere. There are hardly any buses around. Taxis are also pretty rare. I talked with my co-worker and it seems that most people own a car. All my co-workers drive to work in their own car. There's no means of public transpo to the office. Hence, they've provided me with a driver (and the company car) until I get my own ride. Uhm, kelan kaya yun?

*Since most people own a car, hardly anyone walks. It was eerie that I was the only one walking in the streets. I suddenly feel so poor. lol.

* I'm starting to become an expert in multiplying everything by 14. I know that you shouldn't mentally convert to peso every time you make a purchase. This time, I can't help it. Everything in Malaysia is at least 30% cheaper than Philippine prices. Food is really affordable. Clothes are also cheaper. I should have shopped here.

* Malaysians are some of the friendliest people I've met. Locals greeted me with a smile. During dinner, a stranger kindly moved a few chairs so I can pass through with my tray.

* I need to learn Bahasa. I get mistaken for a local. Or Thai.

* An open fly is funny in all cultures. A kid pointed at my crotch and laughed. I nearly cursed him to become an open fly when he grows up.

* For a country with huge coins (that are still usable, unlike yung baryang may butas), it's hard to find a coin purse. All I found was this teeny bopper coin purse.

* I'm in love with wintermelon tea and milo dinosaur. =D

* I still don't have an apartment so I'll be staying in a hotel for a few days. That's great. I'm not that excited to unpack yet.