Monday, March 19, 2012

Bidan Terjun Tour Attendant

"We cannot take you because you're too young 
and inexperience."

reason given for failing
to land the interpreter job

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The program and itinerary for the training course.

Bidan terjun is a simple Malay saying meaning someone who is requested to do a job that needs to be done immediately. I was recently asked to help out as an interpreter for a group of officers from the Royal Malaysian Custom who made a training course to their Japanese counterpart in Tokyo. Too bad that the interpreting job requires someone who is much older; so they rejected me. Never mind-lar, at least it means that I am still quite young lol wtf!

However, on the second day of the six-day study trip, I got an unexpected phone call and they were in need of a tour attendant immediately - in the evening on that same day. I was done with my graduation final year project and everything; and since I was basically free having nothing much to do, I accepted the offer. Although I didn't get to be the interpreter, getting to become a jumping midwife as a tour attendant also jadi-lah haha!

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Checked-into Hotel JAL City in Tamachi, Tokyo on the very same evening I got the phone call.

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Stayed at this hotel for the next two nights, which came with complimentary breakfast.

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 Nice and cosy single room for one, which has a flat screen TV!

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Toilet, in which the toilet bowl is equipped with washlet; something I used to have in my previous house. Damn miss it a lot lol!

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Got to work straight away later that night.

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Guess who took this photo for me? Hehe!

The job as a tour attendant is basically like the tour guide who holds a small flag, leading the whole group of tourists you see every time. But this time, the group wasn't really tourists, so no flag was used. Instead, we used umbrellas haha!

I am tasked to make sure the movements of the Custom officers from Malaysia from one place to another are smooth as if they just use Sunsilk lol! Since the come to a country where the local people generally don't speak English much, I will be like the middle man when they check-in at hotels, fill in forms, do their shopping, and sometimes, lead them into the correct toilets, just in case they ter-enter the wrong ones haha!

A very much simpler job, compared to the one as a interpreter, actually.

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Breakfast early in the morning.

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After a quick head-count, we left for the first destination. Guess what were they looking outside the bus?

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Snow! It snowed heavily that morning in Tokyo, giving them a rare chance to see snow.

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The first stop was Tokyo Customs in Koto Ward.

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The group was led to the meeting room as they toured the place as well.

Only the nine officers and Kak Yatie, who was the interpreter were allowed into the building. I was led into an open-space waiting area to wait until they finish their tour. It was gonna be about a couple of hours until they finish the tour, so I thought about going out to have a walk-out, since it was snowing outside haha!

To see snow in Tokyo is not often, and having it at the end of February was certainly something very rare. Even the locals were caught by the unexpected heavy snowfall on the morning of February 29.

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A government building at the background.

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A shop owner scooping the snow away from the walkway.

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Even the rubbish looked clean after being covered with white snow.

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At another crossroad near Jimbocho.

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By early afternoon, the pokok-pokok were already covered in snow.

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Delicious bento set for lunch. 

Lunch break came after that and I joined the whole team at one of the rooms to have our bento set. I was back to work again, explaining each dishes found inside the bento box. Luckily, the stuff served on that day were recognisable and not some weird stuff which I sometimes in bento box haha!

After lunch, they visited Nippon Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System Inc. (NACCS). The security here was quite high and no photography inside the building were allowed. Anyway, at this center, the Malaysian officers were briefed about the cargo management system at seaports and airports, and also visited the database room. We were required to take off our shoes before we enter as the room has high-precision machines.

Just a random thought though, what would happen if we accidentally sneezed while in the room?

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End of day one, and Serena came over to the hotel to bring the ladies to Odaiba and Asakusa later that night.

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Recharging ourselves for a good breakfast before the start of another long day.

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With Mr Zaidi and Mr Azman in front of the hotel, before we left.

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My first time entering the Ministry of Finance (財務省) at Kasumigaseki.

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Most of the government buildings in Kasumigaseki are old ones, and this one was no exception.

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The National Diet Building in Nagatacho, seen from the meeting room.

It was a rare opportunity for me to have the chance to invade into the Ministry of Finance. But you know what, it would be so much nicer of I get to bring back some of the fortune from there lol! The session there was something like a wrap up of the whole training course at Japan Customs, with both sides exchanging ideas in how they can enhancement the IT system for the Royal Malaysian Customs.

I just sat behind and listen to them, while completing my daily report and summarising the questionnaire from the Malaysian officers.

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Part of my job was to photograph the events throughout the training course.

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That Japanese guy (second from left) sounds very much like a Punjabi speaking English during that session.

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Datuk Ahmad Nadzri Embong (in the middle), the Director of the Division of Management and Human Resource, who led the group from Malaysia.

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Kak Syura, whom I met at a farewell party a few days earlier was brought in as the interpreter for that day, as Kak Yatie's child was sick.

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Sometimes, it is easier to get the message across through drawings.

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A group photo at the end of the session.

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Certificate presentation by the Director General of Customs and Tariff Bureau, Mr Shiboota Atsuo (柴生田  敦夫).

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A group photo at the end of the certificate award ceremony.

The meeting ended at around five and their next destination was to head to the hotel in Narita, as they were scheduled to take their flight home on the next morning. However, they hardly have time for sightseeing around Tokyo and after discussing with the driver, I took them to the fabric street in Nippori on our way to Narita to do some shopping for Japanese cotton.

There is a chain shop at this area - Nippori Tomato, which is popular among the locals and tourists alike who are looking for high quality Japanese fabrics at bargain price. It was amazing that the guys ended up buying more stuff than the ladies there. And I also get to learned a few stuff about picking fabrics from Mr Manaf, as he used to be the quality control office specialising on fabric at the Customs. There are two types - woven and knitted; woven fabrics will not stretch, but knitted fabrics will stretch.

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Shopping spree at the fabric town in Nippori.

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The shops here closes at six in the evening, so we only got less than an hour here.

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After we were done with shopping, we headed for Marroad International Hotel in Narita.

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The room I got was slightly bigger than the one in Tamachi.

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However, I guess the hotel is a bit old, as seen from the tiled wall in the bathroom.

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Took part of the group members for sushi dinner later that night.

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Some of them were not used to eating raw food, but some loved them a lot!

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Breakfast on the next morning.

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One last photo before they left for Narita International Airport.

That's the end of my three-day job as a tour attendant. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Football Game With A National Player

"In football you have an adversary;
in cinema that adversary is yourself."

Eric Cantona,
former French international footballer


Yup, I kid you not; we played bola with a Malaysian player, in Japan recently.

About a couple of weeks ago, the Malaysian students in Yokohama expressed their wish to have a friendly football match with us in Chiba. After all the arrangements were made, the Chiba-ians (pun unintended) agreed to be the host and the venue for the game was at Fukuda Denshi Square, near Soga Station.

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This is Fukuda Denshi Arena, the home venue to JEF United in the J-League Division 2, which has a capacity of 18,500 seats.

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United Park, where the fans can purchase the team's official merchandise.

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Fukuda Denshi Square, which has artificial pitch for football, futsal and rugby.

It was raining since the previous night until the next morning of the day we were suppose to have our friendly match. I was complementing, whether or not to join the rest for the game. You know, in winter, with the rain, coldness and everything, you will sometimes just choose to tug yourself under the warm and comfortable futon. I think and think and think, and finally, something just told me that I will missed out something if I skip this game.

We dropped by at Abang Razali's house first to have a simple breakfast. But it was actually not really a simple one. Kak Shadnie made us fried bihun, fried udon, keropok ikan, budu, karipap, and a few more other food. That is not a simple breakfast at all isn't it? That is in fact, a full course breakfast, which certainly pumped us up to give our best in the game haha!

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Abang Razali, trying to get pass Amir during a short warming up session before the game. 

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Pre-game team briefing by Abang Fadhil who is our player-cum-manager.

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A team photo before the game started. Not often to see Liverpool and Manchester United in the same team haha!

So, during our makan makan session, I overheard someone saying there would be a Malaysian player joining us in the friendly game. Initially, I thought I heard that wrongly; but after confirming that, it was indeed true. So, wondering who is that player? I'll firstly give a hint first; he used to play for Perak state team early in his career.

It was one of the rare times where we not only get to met up with a Malaysian football player, but we also get to play in the same team with him. How much cooler can that be, kan? Before the start of the game, we had one player wearing red, whom I shook his hands. He looks familiar, but I didn't really try to find out who he was.

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 Launching another attack towards the opponent's half in the first half.

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Another random shot from the first half.

The game between the two teams - Team Chiba Warriors and Yokohama United started despite the slight rain.

We played quite well; passing and movements went pretty smooth, despite the fact we never trained together at all. First half ended with the home team leading the Yokohama boys by two goals to one. I was the culprit in allowing the opponents to score their one goal. I carelessly lost the ball possession in the midfield, which led to a quick counter attack from them and a goal.

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Calling Sir Alex in UK to get some strategy tips for the second half haha wtf!

Leading by just one goal, we stuck to the same game plan in the second half. As the game wore off, exhaustion was evident in most of the players. It was certainly not easy to play in a cold weather where the temperature doesn't get beyond ten degree Celsius. At one point in the middle of the second half, only I remember that we had a Malaysian national player playing with us as well.

So, as the game was played, I looked around the players on the pitch, and finally managed to spot him.

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I was the centre-half for the game and here, trying to clear a ball from an advancing opponent.

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Free kick, which went wide. But like Z said, what's important is got style. Whether the ball hits the net or not is a different story haha!

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Both trying to control the ball while closing the eyes lol!

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And here you are, the national player I mentioned earlier. Even his walking alone looks professional.

It was Liew Kit Kong, who started his professional career with Perak state team and represented Malaysia from 1999 to 2005, in which he scored a couple of goals in the semifinals of 2004 Tiger Cup against Indonesia. He has won almost all competitions in Malaysian football - Malaysia Cup (Perak, 2000), FA Cup (Perak, 2004), Premier League (Naza FC, 2008), Super League (Selangor, 2010) and also individual award as favourite striker award of FAM football awards in 2008. He was also the top goal scorer in the Premier League in that season, with 16 goals.

It was really cool to be able to meet with him in person, because I still remember seeing him playing in the yellow Perak jersey every Saturday on TV when he was representing Perak. I was only thirteen or fourteen back then. Who'd expected that ten years later, I am playing in the same team with the very same player.

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This is how an engineer take a photo. Nice posture, Abang Razali haha!

The game ended 3-1 to the home team. Winning or losing was not the main thing, because we were all already super hungry to return to the International House as a makan session was waiting for us in the afternoon haha!

We had some chats with Kit Kong during the makan session and we managed to ask him dressing-room kinda questions; those questions and stories which normally aren't reported in the news. He also shared some interesting stories, his experience with the state teams and national team. Now I know why he left Perak for Kedah for one season, before returning to Perak eventually. Apparently, he couldn't get along well with the then Perak coach, M. Karathu.

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Everyone was dead tired at the end of the game, but we all had great fun.

And now I know why Perak was successful in the late 90's and early 2000, when the German Karl-Heinz Weigang was the coach. A former Malaysian coach from 1979 to 1982, he was a no-nonsense person and all the players, no matter how good the player is, fear him. According to Kit Kong, every time they hear the sound made by Weigang's leather shoes, they knew he was reaching the dressing room very soon and the whole room will turn to total silent. That is how much discipline the German has instilled in the players.

Any players who thinks they are above the team, will be shown the exit door, and one good example was László Répási from Hungary. Although he was signed in the middle of the season, he ended up being the top scorer in 1997. However, he is kinda a selfish player, who loves to over-do his dribbling and ended up losing the ball possessions to the opponent during the game, although the coach has instructed the team to stick to three-touch rule.

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Team Chiba Warriors, all in smile after winning the battle. I do think the breakfast really helped us a lot lol!

So, during a training session one day, Weigang asked him to get pass 22 players since he thinks he can dribbles like Lionel Messi. As expected, he failed to do that, and on the next day, he terminated his contract lol! Also, Weigang apparently has some of anak emas (golden son) in the Perak team; Azrul Amri Burhan and Chan Wing Hoong are among his lovable players. They are the players whom he will just listen to their opinions (team play, strategies, etc.) most of the time.

It was certainly very interesting to hear to these kind of stories and I really look forward to play with Kit Kong again next time.

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The players from the two teams, posing for a group photo at the end of the game, with the Fukuda Denshi Arena at the background.

Thanks a lot everyone who was involved in the game and the makan session that followed. I guess I will miss the people in Chiba a lot!