Thursday, August 21, 2008

The home front

In case you haven't figured it out, I'm home at last.

After a few phone calls, dad settled it for me. Unfortunately, while I was hoping for a 21st August flight so that I can have all the time I need to pack stuff, say goodbye, and tie up any loose ends, dad booked me onto a 14th August flight. That's a 2 day notice.

As a result, I filled up the garbage and recycling bin to the brim overnight, failed to clean up my room for whoever might be moving in next, failed to retrieve my portable hard drive which I borrowed to someone (by chance, she didn't show up for work that day), did not manage to close my bank account, and left a fair bit of stuff behind which I wanted to bring along with me. That includes a 2GB high-speed memory card for my camera, which I really loved because it makes my other memory card look like a lame tortoise. On top of that, it has never had its memory corrupted too, very reliable stuff.

And for some reason, all airlines are dropping the baggage restrictions to just 20kg, so I shipped about 22kg of stuff by courier. I originally wanted to ship more, but the quotation given was too high and I had to repack my stuff at the courier's office (read: more stuff for charity). As a result, I missed the train to the airport. Fortunately, a friend of mine was kind enough to drive me to the airport. Cars move faster than trains, so I suddenly find myself with extra time on my hands. I was still annoyed to have missed the train, so I paid for the courier charges with some cash and a large bag of coins to sort through :D

When I got to the airport, I found my plane grounded for 4 hours due to a faulty flap. I was given a $20 meal voucher for the trouble, and on arrival to KLIA at midnight, I was given a hotel room and a voucher for breakfast.

I would have considered it pretty decent damage control, except that after using my meal voucher at Sydney Airport, I was very very bored. As for my breakfast voucher, I did not managed to use it, since I woke up at 6:30am for a 7:35am flight. Fortunately, the hotel is within the airport itself. Unfortunately, I left my wallet behind at the security check point. But after a few phone calls, my wallet arrives at Penang Airport in the evening, and I was able to pick it up on the following day, with all the contents intact (including a tidy sum of cash). Woohoo~!

The next 48 hours was pretty straightforward: eat all the very best Penang (and arguably: the world) has to offer, and take a swim at a swimming pool. Ahh... welcome home.

So what happens next? I am going down to KL this weekend with my family for grandpa's memorial service, but I won't be returning with them. Instead, I will stay on for a new chapter of my life: a journalism course. Hope I won't screw this one up.

Read the rest of the story here:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Update: Complaint against MAS ticketing staff

From: Idris Jala
Sent: Monday, August 11, 2008 7:32 AM
To: ''
Cc: S.Pushpalatha; Abdul Mutalib Ishak

Subject: Re: Complaint against MAS ticketing staff

Dear Mr Koh,

Thank you for your email. I truly regret that our ticketing team has not provided any firm answers to your request for a change of your travel date. We do receive similar requests from customers from time to time and the process is fairly straight forward. I am equally concerned that your request was not attended to promptly.

My colleague Mutalib who head ups the ticketing unit will be connecting with you on the matter.

I do apologise for the inconvenience.

Idris Jala

From: Abdul Mutalib Ishak []
Sent: Thursday, 14 August 2008 6:52 PM
Cc: S.Pushpalatha; Idris Jala; Abdul Razak; Helen Antoinette Reyes

Subject: RE: Complaint against MAS ticketing staff

Dear Mr Koh,

On behalf of Malaysia Airlines, I would like to sincerely apologize for the difficulty that you've experienced with our reservation and ticketing department in Sydney. Upon receiving your complaint, we did our own internal investigation and admit that there was some miscommunication within the departments in Malaysia Airlines which had been duly dealt with. Such problem would not recur and our staff had been advised to provide better response to our customers, in line with our Malaysian Hospitality campaign.

I understood our Call Centre in Adelaide had already contacted you on 11 August 2008 and had amended your booking accordingly, as follows,


3 MH 122 M 14AUG SYDKUL HK1 1420-4 2045-4 Y-M $E
4 MH 1168 Y 14AUG KULPEN HK1 2210-4 2300-4 Y-Y *E
1 SYDMH- HP 0413435567

Once again, please accept our sincere apology on your predicament, and would like to thank you for highlighting this matter to us. We truly value customer's feedback in our effort to constantly improve our 5-star Value Carrier services to our dear customers.

Thank you so much for choosing and flying with Malaysia Airlines.

Best Regards,

Abdul Mutalib Ishak
AGM Distribution
Malaysia Airlines

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Complaint against MAS ticketing staff

This email pretty much sums up where I am now, stupid airline... This is what I wrote to MAS' CEO and Managing Director.


From: Koh Jun Lin [mailto:***************]
Sent: Sunday, 10 August 2008 10:47 PM
To: ''
Subject: Complaint against MAS ticketing staff

Dear Dato’ Sri,

I write to you in great disgust and disappointment in the manner I have been treated by your staff.

Early this year, I have booked a 2-way ticket for a Penang => KL => Sydney flight (Booking Ref: ******. Confirmation Number: *************). The outbound flight was on 19th February 2008 and went without incident. The return flight was booked for 19th November of the same year, but due to a series of unfortunate events I am required to return to my family in Malaysia before the 21st August. In addition, I would like to request a vegetarian meal. On 4th August (Monday), I have called MAS’ Sydney office to make the necessary changes.

By the end of the call, I was told that due to some irregularity, they would have to contact “Headquarters” for further instructions, and I was then asked to call again in two days. From Wednesday until Friday, I have called at least once every day to check, and there is still no reply. The best your staff could offer is to resend their email request to “Headquarters”, which turned out to be a futile exercise. In desperation, I asked my father in Malaysia to call MAS at 1-300-88-3000. Again, the reply was something about a “special” booking (although I’m quite certain that I don’t feel special), and they need to contact “Headquarters” for further instructions. Call again on Monday.

After spending an entire business week trying to change my travel date, quite frankly I am not looking forward to making this call. The last time I needed to change my travel date, the staff at SIA accomplished this Herculean task in an astonishing 2 minutes (estimate) over the telephone. This leaves much to be desired from your airline, and I do not appreciate being left hanging for an entire week. I demand that your airline’s ticketing system to be reviewed especially in regard to this mysterious “Headquarters”. And of course, I want the necessary changes to my ticket to be made as soon as possible.

I expect a positive reply from your airline very soon. Please note that this is an open letter, and the reply, or non-reply, will be made public.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,
Koh Jun Lin

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

So random lah!

For the 2nd time this year, some totally random stranger stopped me on the street and told me what beautiful teeth I have, and asked if I ever wore braces. This time, its a young Australian schoolgirl. Right... maybe I should thank my parents my naturally attractive teeth, and consider a career being a spokesperson for a toothpaste company.

Also happened recently, there was a boy cycling past me holding a lit cigarette and asked me if I want a smoke. He must have been just a primary school kid. I was tempted to strangle him for even bothering to invite me for a smoke, but on second thought, his parents ought to be arrested and tortured. Disgusting.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

(Lack of) Progress Report

Today I picked up two letters, one from the Australian Red Cross, and the other from WUSA. One speaks of great leadership skills which saw the raising of over AUD2k for the Sichuan Earthquake and Myanmar Cyclone victims, plus a memorial service that evening. The other speaks of involvement in volunteer work bringing a number of issues to the student council's and the media's attention.

I was told to expect a similar letter from ICIS during the Friday meeting.

They'll look great on a CV :)

I also checked out the UniShop and was delighted learn that all my textbooks are still the current edition, except physics. Now... how on earth do I sell them before I go, assuming there are still people who haven't got their textbooks by Week 3? I'd guess the first thing I should do is dig them out of my junkyard desk and put a pricetag on them.

One of the concerns highlighted by the editor when I spoke to him, was lack of education in investigative journalism. So I purchased a book from UniShop that teaches just that. Unfortunately, it was written in an Australian context. So, certain parts like how to make an FOI (Freedom of Information) request is next-to-useless to me.

I have made several inquiries about several institutions of interest to me, this time through friends and relatives because 67% of them have apparently have a non-existent marketing department (ie. exists only in name). It proved helpful, but one thing that was highlighted a number of times (each time a different university/college) was that it has a lot of black students, and that was put forward to me as a negative.

Err... so what's wrong with blacks?

Hang on, aren't these the very same people who call UMNO racist? Pfft... hypocrites. I wonder if they realise what they had said.

In any case, the answers I get just reinforces my decision to try applying for UCSI. Having a non-existent marketing department alone was good enough reason to rule out LKW and Taylors. I mean, if they don't care about me, why should I give them a damn?

In other news... Wollongong is having its coldest winter in 2 decades! Coincidentally, I've been trying to cut this year's electricity bill by limiting my heater to 1400W instead of the full-powered 2400W setting I used to turn my bedroom into a sauna. Brr...! Bundle up or die!

5.3 degrees is the lowest temperature I've recorded on my thermometer so far. Combine that with gale-force winds and we have a very nasty package. Last week, I woke up to the sight of broken branches and felled trees all over the place after a night of such winds. Among the casualties was a otherwise tall and healthy Eucalyptus tree, with a trunk diameter of approximately 12 inches. It snapped in half like a matchstick, although I'm curious why it didn't simply get uprooted like everyone else.

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