Monday, June 26, 2017
Back to Brunei: Battle of the Bosses
Brunei o Brunei. I have such fond memories of it. Never thought I would return there after my last trip in 2011. Anyway, the pot of shit over there had been brewing for years and years, and the shit finally hit the fan in 2017. The client complained about everything and did it directly to my chairman. He finally got sick of it and mobilized a team to take a look at the pot of shit. As luck would have it, my boss was appointed to spearhead the whole exercise, and I was roped into the team. Ack.
Long story short, we charged into the pot of shit, shook things up, rocked the boat, and came out of it with a lot of shitty details, that had to be documented. From then on, had to work my ass off completing the the damning report that shows how 'shitty' that pot of shit is. Had to engage all the internal teams for details but they weren't always forthcoming with information because they were either hiding something, or weren't part of the original implementation team in the first place. Gah.
Since it was the Holy Week, I went to Maundy Thursday mass at Church of Our Lady of Assumption. Missed the Liturgy of the Word because I got the mass time wrong. Had to sit outside because there were loads of parishioners. At the end, spent some time at the Altar of Repose, then quietly left. Dinner options in Bandar during the late hours was quite limited, so I had a sushi dinner at Excapade Sushi. Took them twenty minutes to serve me although mine was the only order outstanding.
On Good Friday, I flew home to Kuala Lumpur, letting the pot of shit simmer. Once the details have been ironed out by the senior management, I would most probably be flying in again... Bah.
Looks like I wrote this post twice. I prefer this version. :P
Been a while since my last business trip really. All it took was one e-mail. The COO of my client in Brunei complained to my chairman and voila, a crack team was set up by my MD. That boss of mine loved to play the superhero, charging in and taking control. He called it taking ownership of the problem, and spinning it to his advantage. But of all places, it had to be Bandar Sri Begawan. The place was as sleepy as I remembered it. But the airport had seen a major face lift and even my client's building in the heart of town was given a new lease on life. But other than that, the roads were still as smooth and the town as lifeless. Perpetually stuck in 'KL during Hari Raya' mode.
For five days, the team relentlessly dug out all the shit we could find, interrogating friend and foe alike. Although we were given the mandate, it still wasn't an easy task. Especially on the first day when we had to establish our presence there and get the tone right. On top of that we all were awake since three in the morning to catch the 0635 flight to BWN. Zombified.
For meals, I revisited some familiar places, and also had the chance to eat at some new places. Didn't have to pay for many of my meals as my boss usually took care of the bill. On the first night, we had Indonesian food at Pondok Sari Wangi, Gadong. Pretty expensive considering the portions weren't big. The only thing I liked was the grilled fish. On another evening, we had a late dinner at Lim Siaw Lan, a Chinese restaurant located inside a residential area. The walls were adorned with multi-coloured pieces of paper, an extension of their menu. According to our host, it's actually just beside the one and only wet market that sells pork in Bandar Seri Begawan. So of course pork was on the menu, and when it came, it was piled high. Lol. Value for money in my opinion. They served a weird sugarcane drink that was boiled with red dates and carrots!
On Thursday afternoon, my MD left and the bulk of the investigation had been completed. Naturally, we breathed better. In the evening, I could leave earlier to attend Holy Thursday mass at the Church of Our Lady of Assumption. It was just a fifteen minute walk from my hotel. Unfortunately, I missed the first half of mass as I received the wrong information about the mass time. The highlight of the night's liturgy was the washing of the feet by Bishop Cornelius Sim. And after the liturgy of the eucharist, the Bishop brought the host to the altar of repose, signifying the night of the last supper where "the Shepherd is struck and the flock is dispersed". All crucifixes and statues around the church had been veiled and the altar stripped. Quietly, I left the church and went looking for food.
Actually the nearest food option for me was Tamu Selera, but I had eaten there the night before. Just a whole lot of stalls serving the same Indonesian food like ayam penyet and gurami goreng. Unfortunately, my choices back in town were very limited. Ended up having sushi at Excapade Sushi. Only three occupied tables in the whole place and they still took twenty minutes to come out with eight pieces of nigiri sushi. Yikes.
Our flight back to KL was on Good Friday and I was surprised to find out that Brunei had implemented a rule where all food and beverage outlets are not allowed to operate from noon till 2PM on Fridays. Wonder if they had tightened other rules surrounding the fasting month. Sounds like something I will see in Malaysia in the future. In the end, we ate at the airport after checking in. Will probably be back in Brunei once the report is completed-- time for my MD to present his Oscar-winning performance.