Ciao, 2020

Another year comes to a close, and this is the 4th year running I’m in Kuala Lumpur — 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020… Wow. Maybe the biggest difference is that I’ve been in Malaysia for 306 days, thanks to the novel coronavirus. I have never spent this much time in Malaysia, in my entire life… I want to say KL, but I’ve managed to zip my way around to Kuantan (a lot), Penang, and Malacca. I can’t believe I flew back on February 29 2020 from Tokyo, and never got on a plane again! What a grounded globalist I’ve become.

My travel stats are of course, pretty dismal. 39 days out of the country. Apparently I did a total of 13 trips, 92 days of travel (I don’t know if all my local trips are counted frankly), 60,766km, 17 cities, and still 7 countries :) I don’t even want to compare to what it was like in 2019.

I ended that by saying, “I welcome 2020 with arms wide open.”. I’m not so sure how I feel about 2020. There is life beyond travel. COVID and our reaction to it, really worries me.

KL has some pretty good food. Kuantan has some pretty good people. While in KL, I visited a spin studio at least once per day. I did a total of 272 spin classes over 366 days! Not to forget there was 56 days of complete lockdown, and studios didn’t open till about maybe mid-June… Sure I did do some spin in London and Paris too, but the bulk of all this happened while I was here in KL.

I became reasonably friendlier, I became vulnerable, and like every time you do that, you’re chances of happiness and getting hurt probably straddle 50:50. Madonna – The Power of Good-bye can be apt.

This is not to say I didn’t enjoy 2020. Glass half full. I really did. Carpe diem. Simplicity is best. If you can follow KISS principles in engineering, why would you pour your entire thought process out and overwhelm the other party?

Anyway, I still look forward to 2021, with wide open arms, and while I really do think the COVID mess isn’t going away and things are going to be worse for many, I will still be focused on the most positive aspects of 2021. And I’ll work on being my old self again ;-)

I also ended the year with a haircut (number 1/0.5 on the sides) on Monday 28 December 2020. Somewhat of an experiment (does CoQ10 help speed up hair growth?) but also somewhat of a reaction to saying goodbye to December 2020.

Links on Rona #2

This was easily a late April 2020 roundup, stuck in BBEdit, which may still be vaguely relevant.

Life with Rona – Day 56

One of the busiest days I’ve had, largely due to unplanned/non-calendared events that I would consider happy events. I was scheduled to start work for a West Coast client at 6am, but for some reason I was up by 4am… All this done, I took a short nap (it maybe lasted 30 minutes) before the power went out and rudely awakened me. I was pleasantly surprised to see cake, a platter of cheese/cold cuts and more (olives, beetroot, hummus, and more) that Radiance, Lauren and Sal sent over. Shortly thereafter, more cheese that Sara sent over (promptly to the fridge). So lunch was unplanned but much fun, taking me back to days in Spain (or really, any tapas bar I could be at).

Back to the grind, and I did a short workout with Zuleeka at Fly. It was of the boxing variant, and I’m finding it really tough to grasp boxing, in general. It just doesn’t seem like the workout for me. Anyway, showered, back to the grind, and was surprised at dinner to note that my mother and 2 aunts had cooked up a storm of my favourite dishes (Crabs, petai, tempeh, fried chicken, mutton, and salad), plus there was also a cake waiting later (butter cake with lovely icing). Socialised, extremely grateful, extremely appreciative, considering we are in a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) and all this was done. And then I went on to doing another call…

Feel very lucky overall. It has been a while since I’ve celebrated my birthday in KL. Let alone in my home. Where I’ve been self-isolating for 56 days. I never thought it would be this fun! Uptime of some 20 hours… Thanks for all the wishes.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Tuesday: 6,742 (+16) total cases, 5,223 (+110) recoveries, 109 dead. 16 in ICU beds, 3 on ventilators.

Restaurants can restart in Selangor for dine-ins (yes!). We’ve also been told that just your name and telephone number needs to be left behind for contact tracing (so no identity card number — good). I see in Singapore, Terminal 4 in Changi (AirAsia, Cathay Pacific) is closing temporarily later this week… joining Terminal 2; makes me sad to note this is happening. When will travel recover?

I am stepping out tomorrow to take a look at what is going on. I have some errands to run. I will be in a mask. I will likely be in gym clothings (I don’t have enough jeans or shorts to cycle on a daily basis anyway; I have way more Lululemons though). I wish I had more time to read today, but hey, something’s gotta give!

Life with Rona – Days 51, 52, 53, 54, and 55

Long batch between writing. The daily bit failed. Oops. But the work has accelerated. From a workout perspective, Ping finally started charging for some workouts and I did one on Sunday (it was great). Mother’s Day lunch was good too, and we got a little additional gift from the Prime Minister — CMCO till June 9th. Frankly, my interest in staying home fully (self-imposed exile) is wearing thin. I think I’ll be out by May 13.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Thursday: 6,467 (+39) total cases, 4,776 (+74) recoveries, 107 dead. 19 in ICU beds, 9 on ventilators.

Malaysia’a Covid-19 situation on Friday: 6,535 (+68) total cases, 4,864 (+88) recoveries, 107 dead.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Saturday: 6,589 (+54) total cases, 4,929 (+65) recoveries, 108 (+1) dead.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Sunday: 6,656 (+67) total cases, 5,025 (+96) recoveries, 108 dead.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Monday: 6,726 (+70) total cases, 5,113 (+88) recoveries, 109 (+1) dead. 20 in ICU beds, 7 on ventilators.

We never did manage to bring the numbers down to single digits, did we? As long as the healthcare system can cope, right? Which then brings the question of how we have been tearing up the economy. MCO ups unemployment to 34-year high, says stats dept is truly scary. And it will get worse after the Hari Raya holidays. Things like Jonker Walk in Malacca are in trouble. Truly sad, considering this is part of visiting Malacca.

While I do agree that no place should refuse custom without a mask, the tone was rather ridiculous; encourage people to wear masks. Always. Malaysia is also finding more foreign worker clusters, and my gut feeling is that it will be worse than Singapore, long term (we don’t have foreign worker dormitories, they fend for themselves; and we also have a lot of illegal immigration). It is no surprise, crowded living quarters are to blame. Lots of flip flopping around the serving of liquor, and it seems the general idea is yes, as long as you’re a restaurant (not a pub).

Travel resumption seems to be a little nuts: China, South Korea Move to Revive Business Travel Between Them, Coronavirus: Australia and New Zealand consider opening borders to create ‘Trans-Tasman bubble’, Taiwan keeps its borders shut despite virus success. Why the UK’s New 14-Day Quarantine Rule Is Particularly Troubling to Business Travel Managers. All this seems to be long-term unsustainable.

Now for a little gag, Royal Selangor Club bars closed after MCO violations. The Club reopened last week, and on Friday a circular went out to members saying we could even bring one guest per member. It didn’t last long. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Life with Rona – Days 49 and 50

It has been a busy few days at work (lots of output and other kinds of writing clearly), so this ends up taking a back seat! I quite enjoyed salad wraps, puttu, bangers & mash and more in the last two days. From a workout standpoint I did Aiman on Tuesday, and on Wednesday took it easier with some yoga by Charmaine.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Tuesday: 6,386 (+30) total cases, 4,567 (+83) recoveries, 106 (+1) dead. All transmissions were local in these 30 cases.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Wednesday: 6,428 (+45) total cases, 4,702 (+135) recoveries, 107 (+1) dead. 22 in ICU beds, 9 on ventilators.

We’re seeing some great flip flops around eateries, now with them saying, Pubs, eateries selling liquor not allowed to open under CMCO. I was watching the stock market towards the end of closing, and saw bank stocks drop quite a bit, only to realise they dropped the compounded interest on hire purchase loans… so banks are eating the cost. It is clear that Malaysia is suffering due to jostling for power. Politics plays such a huge role in our lives.

Life with Rona – Days 46, 47, and 48

It is clear that weekends away from a computer are good weekends. It is funny because this is not normally something I do normally, but I think I am working a lot harder during these fun times (timezones really are what gets to me).

Saturday was eating up yesterday’s chicken rice. Did a workout with Psycle London instead (when I burn my SoulCycle London credits, I may actually be a convert to Psycle, since it is nearer to where I stay, and their community output is amazing during this lockdown). Sunday was puttu for brunch, and yong tau foo for dinner. Ping did an amazing workout, and it was from her new studio, and they had a limited edition mat for sale, which I naturally purchased (maybe 6 minutes after launch). Needless to say, it sold out. Today, I did a workout with Lye at FlyProject, which was a killer. Breakfast was roti telur, and dinner was a burger.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Saturday: 6,176 (+105) total cases, 4,326 (+116) recoveries, 103 dead. To note, 94 are local transmissions, which continues to indicate community spread.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Sunday: 6,298 (+122) total cases, 4,413 (+87) recoveries, 105 (+2) dead. Local transmission at 70, the rest being imported. 27 in ICU bends, 13 on ventilators.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Monday: 6,353 (+55) total cases, 4,484 (+71) recoveries, 105 dead. 48 cases today were local transmissions! 28 in ICU beds, 13 on ventilators.

Gyms can’t reopen, but long before, there was already a good open letter in Sarawak. We need to see this happen in the Klang Valley (and elsewhere, I guess, but clearly, I am being selfish).

They said the reopening is not rushed, and a little more on border controls. The fact that we are using less than 30% of our capacity is good news (I should think the MCO time was to also build out capacity). We’re only using 1% of our ventilators (OK, capacity clearly built out there). Today’s CMCO should have seen more people move about, but TomTom traffic data suggests not really. After all, 9 states disagreed with the federal ruling, so I presume a lot stayed at home today. Interesting to see that the threat is lawsuits if the shutdowns aren’t lifted, and the laws have been gazetted so we should travel without fear.

I’m still staying home until the MCO is lifted (so it will end on May 12).

I know nothing about pawnbrokers and today was somewhat of a busy day so I did retweet pictures of queues outside pawnbrokers. We see this from Malay Mail: As MCO continues, Malaysians seen lining up at pawn shops for much-needed cash and we see this from The Malaysian Insight: CMCO first day sees big rush for the pawnbrokers. One suggests problems with people’s finances, the other suggests it is just people paying interest, kind of like on a bank loan. Then there are Google Trends, which shows a steady interest over time in the term “pajak gadai” (look at the subregions, Perlis, Terengganu, Kedah, Kelantan, and Negeri Sembilan tend to prefer this term), whereas “pawn” seems to be in most use in Sarawak, Sabah, Penang, Selangor, then Perak, and “kedai pajak” has use in Malacca, Johor and so on. Again, if you look at the numbers in the last 30 days, things don’t seem to be all that different (similar in 90 days). But the graph for the past 7 days suggests bad things are happening with a major spike… but it doesn’t really reflect reality! So trends matter, and you want to be aware of short term spikes. And pay for your news…