Friday, November 11, 2016

Life in BookXcess / Big Bad Wolf Books Sdn. Bhd.

As usual, I have neglected my blog after a while. I could easily blame it on the country or the authorities for limiting the events, raves and parties. But those will only be lame excuses. There should be no reason that the blog is left abandoned. There are always parties elsewhere. I just need to go for it.

For the past 11 months, life has been really crazy for me. I have been introduced into a company as Crazy Susan in December 2015. Up to date, I am still Crazy Susan.

For years I have been in the teaching industry. Last year, I decided to break all boundaries and start doing something I have never done before. I called up for an interview at Big Bad Wolf Books for a job opportunity. To be honest, I did not know what to expect. I just went there asking for a job. 

All my life I have been asked to work in their company. People called me up offering me a job. This was my first time applying for a job, what more, something that I have not done or experienced before. The interview ended with me, being hired as BBW social media executive. My first full time job after so many years.

What exactly was the job scope for a social media? I had to sit in front of the computer searching for groups and sources to post our ads or promotions on. It was not as challenging and fun as I thought it would be. As my job was too flexible back then, I helped everyone in the office whenever they needed help. Marketing, business development, operations, etc. I definitely learnt a lot from them.

After 2 months, the General Manager asked me to help him out in some operation related matters at BookXcess retails. Helping him out also meant gaining more knowledge as he brought me into retails every day, giving me pointers on how retails should run. It was an eye opener for me as I never knew retails meant so much work and so much focus. There were so much that needed attention as you run a retail that it never did hit me.

In June, I got promoted to Retail Operations Executive. I step higher to learning more than sitting around the office clicking "post". That was also when our GM left us and I had to cope with work on my own. I was given the choice to drown in the deep sea or swim to safety. 

July was a hectic month for me as I had to handle contractors, designers and open 3 outlets within 1 month. On the 2nd week of July, our outlet in 1Utama was opened. 4th week, Centro Klang. 1st week of August, Courtyard. All these happened so quickly. I thank God for having a crazy team with me to help me with all the openings. I will never forget the nights we spent til 4 in the morning getting work done. Up to date, I am very blessed to have my boss alongside with me til 4am, helping set up the outlet. Without the team, I think I would not have made it. Seeing the outcome definitely paid off.
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When my bosses came back from work overseas in late September, they called me into their room. I was expecting the worst as I did not know if I was doing right in the retails. I was surprised when they offered me a promotion. It seems that I did swim to safety and earned it. I was promoted as Assistant Manager for 3 Retail outlets with effect in October. What a sweet 29th birthday present for myself.

It was also then that I offered myself to help out in BBW Surabaya. They flew me to Surabaya for Big Bad Wolf Books Sales. I was in Surabaya for a total of 18 days.
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That's how I spent my first birthday working. I have never worked on my birthday, what more, abroad! It was my first work experience overseas and being away from home for so long (not for vacation). I have never studied abroad in my younger years. It was truly very different. I got to understand the pros and cons of working overseas. I actually felt homesick for once. I do not know if it was the birthday greetings on Facebook and whatsapp or my nieces calling me and video calling me, wishing me happy birthday from the screen. I really wanted them with me at that moment. I knew then how parents who work away from their children felt. My colleagues at work were so nice to buy me KFC to celebrate my birthday. Such loves.
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My shifts at Surabaya were 12 hours based, 8pm to 8am. For the first few nights, I couldn't keep my eyes open from 3 to 5am. It was really suffering til the 2nd week. It was a work, eat, sleep, eat, work cycle everyday. Fast food joints were everywhere. We walked from our hotel to work, passing by KFC everyday, which was a stone throw away from Starbucks and Pizza Hut. Giant was the only place we went for "shopping" and it wasn't too far neither. Oh, Pizza Hut there has such a big variety of choices! The pizza there seems more delicious than it is here in Malaysia!
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Starbucks was a place where I visited most this trip. I had to stay awake all night. Even colleagues had me do deliveries for them. The cards I purchased there were pretty. Good for collection. I managed to score free drinks, free birthday cakes as I spent my birthday there. It was a pity that there wasn't any nice tumblers to buy. And as usual, my name would be Suzan than Susan. I was such a regular there that the baristas knew me by heart and greeted me by my name whenever I stepped in.

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There was a fast food place called Richeese. I would recommend those who loves to compete with others on the spicy level of their tolerance. They offer chicken with 5 levels of spicy. For me, I went for 0 as I can't take spicy. Watching my colleagues cry and get all soaked up with sweat makes me laugh a little inside. I'm evil.

 photo 20161101_193042_zpswep62yfr.jpgAs for accommodation and all in Surabaya, I would say it was ok. Breakfast was always repetitive food but it was good enough for us to not go to sleep starving. I had my eggs cooked the way I wanted everyday, just not half boiled eggs as it is not known there (or maybe it was just the language barrier). As for the room, it was perfect for me. I would love a room like that. I have always loved the concept of an open bathroom, or rather a see through bathroom from the bedroom. I could see the sunset from the bathroom and also watch tv while taking a shower. It gives a very clean feeling, til it's time to clean the glass of course. The water pressure of the shower was awesome! I never wanted to leave the shower ever! I had room service for the first time of my life on the last night of the trip. I felt like a queen. Such a lazy brat who just wouldn't get out of the room, watching movies on TV one after another.

 photo 20161017_162740_zpspaisk3nm.jpgLaundry has been very cheap. I paid only about RM5 for a bag of clothes worn for 2 weeks plus. I have never been to a laundry but this is really cheap. Certain things are pretty cheap there. I heard from the PA that even cigarettes are 1/3 of the price in Malaysia! It's a smoker's paradise there. A&W there still serves root beer float in a glass mug! How I missed the good old times.

 photo 20161021_183018_zpsmdlicuqe.jpgIf there's one thing I dreaded most everyday? I would say the traffic. For us to get to work, we had to cross 3 major main roads with crazy traffic and also 1 railway track. People there are so used to the "Power of the hand" that they would hold it up and just cross the road. So far, we have not seen anyone being ran over. On the days when I was on my own, I usually waited for a local to do the magic and I just tag along, trying to act cool.

Overall, the trip was tiring but I learnt a lot from it. We all definitely couldn't wait to get on that flight to go back home. Everyone felt homesick during the trip. Many calls were made home, pictures and videos exchanged, tantrums let out. Most of us even had the cravings of pork. Nevertheless, it is definitely great to be back home.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Happy Malaysia Day!

It's Malaysia Day! It's a day for unity and celebration but many of us are hiding in our hometowns away from the havoc that was rumoured to happen. 

Whatever it is, I was glad that this is the day I got to wake up later than I usually do and spend some time with my friends. 

And not forgetting, today is also the day my Cover Story got published on Ipoh Echo!!! Show some love as you read in this link! Going Ape For Vape!

Got to Hollywood for Brunch at 11am with my colleague Ili from Ipoh Echo and had Joanna join us afterwards. It was a Ipoh Echo youngsters gathering. It was only when Ily told me that I knew most local reporters hang out and eat at Hollywood most of the time too! Yay Hollywood!!!

Had a drink with Ili at Stadium after that. We just had to have Coffee King, a cup of crazy big ass local drink that beats Chatime and all that franchise drinks anytime. RM5 for a cup of that. You have no idea how long it can last you! Coffee King has 2 stalls along the roads of Meru and Cempaka, and shop right next to my mom's stall in stadium now! It seems like people are queueing to get their orders everyday at the Meru and Cempaka branch. What's the reason to it? I'll leave it to you to find out.

I then went driving around for work purposes with my Bestie since she had some time to spare. After all that, we thought of grabbing a drink at Coffee Tag but it was closed. We then ended up at Konda Kondi Cafe which was located right opposite SOS. I have always wanted to give it a try.

The first thing we found out was an ice-cream booth right outside, named after Freddo Street Ice Cream, at the corner of Konda Kondi. We thought of giving it a shot when we saw them frying the ice cream. The pricing was super reasonable and the toppings given was definitely rich compared to some high class places which charges a large sum for toppings...

Freddo Street Ice Cream stall can be found here daily. There is also a truck that goes around Ipoh selling Freddo Ice Cream!!!  

We took a seat at Konda Kondi, ordered some drinks and enjoyed our ice cream. I ordered a Konda coffee, which was the specialty there while bestie ordered a Gudang Garam coffee, which tasted weirdly interesting. We assumed that there was some cinnamon added into the coffee.  My Konda Coffee was made out of coffee and whipped cream with oreo bits on the top. Nothing very extreme but it was good.

We saw the staff bringing out western food with chicken chops and such which looked very delicious. However we were looking forward to our own dinner so we passed on it. We shall have a trip there one day for the food.

Having time to catch up with people you haven't met for years is great. It was a very nice day spent with friends.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Saturday Night Fever at Istana Budaya

I was invited by Milestone Productions earlier for the previews of Saturday Night Fever. After some complications of the dates, I managed to get someone to go with me in a few days notice. Saturday Night Fever on a Friday. That's what I call a preview...

I invited my cousin Nancy to join me, who drove all the way up from Ipoh for the event and we took an Uber to Istana Budaya at 7pm. As usual, Fridays are jammed and we pitied our driver for driving a stick. It was a wonderful choice to use Uber as I only paid RM8 for the ride. 58% was off for the week for journeys to or from Bandar Utama area. It was our first time to Istana Budaya and we didn't know how to get there anyway.

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As we arrived Istana Budaya, it was drizzling. Thank God it wasn't that heavy. We ran in and approached the registration booth for our tickets. We were briefed on which songs we were allowed to take photography or videos and given an agreement to sign. As we left the media booth, we found many people in formal wear. We felt a little underdressed.
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What's an event without a backdrop? That's a must take since we were early and not many people were there to fight for the space. We took our own sweet time in taking pictures.
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A girl was distributing Munchy's at the entrance and we got one of each as a souvenir. I didn't check the photo before leaving, therefore the girl with her blinking eyes got caught on camera. Sorry babe.
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There was also a lucky draw session going on. Here's what I drew out from the box. 2 discount vouchers. 1 of which was a shopping online voucher and the other was a discount voucher for another ticket of Saturday Night Fever.
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Here's the program list for those of you attending in the nights to come.
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The interior and backdrop of Istana Budaya.
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We all had to stand and sing the Negaraku before the event. The show started a bout half an hour late, I suppose because some VIPs were not seated yet. I was seated on the corner in front and wasn't very happy with the seats. Apologies for the not so nice pictures taken due to the angle and me forgetting to bring my camera this trip.
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During the break, I went out to the media booth to ask for a switch is place. Thank God some medias were absent and I could take over their passes instead. Apparently I was given a Cat A ticket when I expected for a VIP seat, which was what I was given in the previous Milestone Production "Thriller" event. I was so surprised and disappointed at the seat that was firstly given. 
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As the dancers ended their act, we waited for the backstage tour. Here's where they had their mini orchestra going.
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And thus, begins our backstage tour.
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This mirror is designed in a way that less reflections of lights would interfere with the show. Such special glass. 
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These props are all sent in via air! Can you imagine the cost for these to be sent in?

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The one thing I love about all these Live shows are how they organize their props. Look at the system of labelling everything!
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There are literally two pieces on steak on the plate for the act! How detailed!
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Behind is where the wardrobe is.
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This is how they go through their acts. Such details and information given on a big piece of paper.
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You haven't been there til you have taken pictures of yourself there now would you?
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Absolutely loving these floor lightings. So disco like. I had the urge to lie down and selfie! But I didn't to avoid embarassment. LOL!
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Here's a group photo of the cast and behind the scene people.
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Last but not least, some selfies with the cast.
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The lead actor Brandon Rubendall as Tony Manero
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Jenna Rubaii as Stephanie Mangano
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It was a great night overall. I still remember singing together with the famous tunes such as "Night Fever", "More Than a Woman", "Tragedy" and "How Deep Is Your Love". It was my first Saturday Night Fever Broadway show and I could say I wasn't lost in the story line at all. It was very well played and acted.