Challenging the Asian Life Formula

“Is that like your dream job?” my inquisitive co-worker asked.

“Well, it’s not really a dream job”.

My dream job consists of me having no job yet the ability to spin money out of pure Malaysian humidity which will make me very rich indeed.

Many have questioned my sudden decision. Most who probably feel I’m having “delusions of grandeur”. Who knows, maybe I am. Some people, probably out of  sheer politeness or maybe  just out of plain shock said nothing. Some people asked too much. Some people were feeding me lines I don’t want to hear. Yep, the rules to the Asian Life Formula.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the guide to living a somewhat “successful”  Asian life, there are a few stages to which you go through in life.

First, you study hard. And make sure you get into University because that’s what most people do.

Then you get a “good” job once you graduate. I thought I knew what a good job was. I believe good in that context meant something stable and most likely in an office setting. I guess the worse  you could do is not have a job rather than have a bad job, haha.

You then get a spouse, get married, buy property (doesn’t really matter if you can afford them or not or whether it makes sense, property is stability!). After that, have kids and slog away raising them and paying your mountain of debt. Your kids will grow up and hopefully be decent people  of society.

Don’t get me wrong and don’t start flying into a rage.

I know some people who did well and are happy with their lives. It’s really nice to come home to a cosy house  and family and go to work knowing everything is going well. But this isn’t me.

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell”. I quote Belle from Beauty and the Beast, lol. Darn those Disney movies. And the Little Mermaid? “When’s it my turn? Wouldn’t I love? Love to explore the shore up above?” Again I digress.

I had my fair share of the whole Asian formula thing. I went to school, didn’t study much but hey I did get pretty decent grades. I went to university. Had boyfriends. Worked with some amazing companies.

“Still no boyfriend?”

“Still not married?”

“People your age should focus on a stable career.”

“Are your parents okay with this?”

You know, I might really wake up one day and regret everything I said today. I might even laugh at myself for being so stupid. Like har har, should have just stayed with that job and all this shit wouldn’t have happened , har har.

But I want to be foolish.

I want to go all out and be out there, instead of wishing I have done it. I couldn’t give two toots to the kind of life that wants me to settle – married with 10 babies and all.

Most likely I wouldn’t end up rich, famous or driving a BMW. But I’m cool with that.

 

 

#Shiplife Series: Getting a US C1/D Visa in Malaysia Part 2

Continuation from my previous post #Shiplife Series: Getting a US C1/D Visa in Malaysia – Part 1

On the day of my appointment with the US embassy in Malaysia, I made sure I brought all the required documents with me. It’s pretty straightforward really and if you check your confirmation letter, it has all the information you need. I brought my confirmation of appointment, my DS-160 application confirmation, my employment letter, proof of Visa payment as well as a photograph. There  might be some other documents required for different visas so do check. Got there 15 minutes before my scheduled appointment which was what’s required. They won’t let you in even though you’re uber early so there’s really no point unless you’re okay with waiting outside by the gates. Do not drive if you can help it as there’s no parking spot at the embassy. I took the train to the nearest station which is Ampang Park LRT and took an uber. No fuss, no worries, no sweat.

There wasn’t really a line when I was there so I just queued for a bit and waited for the guard to call us out. He’ll ask you for your appointment time and to get your passport and identity card ready for verification. The group with the same appointment time will then proceed to the guard house where they will hold your identity card and stick your passport with a label containing your name, details and appointment time. You will then be ushered into another room where you’ll have to go through a security scan, very much like at the airport. You’ll then be shown to another security point where you hand over your belongings (car keys, phone etc.). Do be reminded that there are no lockers so do not bring any large bags or any electronic devices other than your car key fob and cell phone. They allow small clutches or bags so try not to bring too much as you really just want to get  it over  and done with as smooth as you can.

Once you hand over your electronics for safekeeping the next step is to enter the embassy, woot! You will have to go through a scanner again and have your bag searched. There will be someone who will pass you a number and you queue for document submission. The first  part  will involve you showing them your passport and then  scanning your fingerprints. The people at the counter didn’t ask for any documents so all I did was to scan all 10 of my fingers and yep, basically that’s the first part. There are some people who took longer so do make sure you bring everything  you need just in case. Oh yes, important point. If you’re not family and not married but you’re applying for a visa with your partner, please make sure you go as individuals. That means two separate numbers and one person at  a  time, even if you both did apply together. This was made very clear to a couple that was there but they either did not understand or took it too lightly but they received a huge telling off, I kid you not. Do not try your luck if you want to make sure your application is a success, haha.

So once I finished I went to wait my turn to be interviewed. You’ll be asked to go to the waiting room and the security personnel will coordinate the numbers.  He’ll basically call out for your number so make sure you’re ready. You’ll go back to the counters but queue for  the interview. Nerve-wrecking, there were some  people who wasn’t very honest during their interview and got questioned for being wishy-washy. Important part is to be honest with your intentions to visit the US and to know where you’re going, who you’re staying with, etc. The people at the embassy have seen and met many people and I’m pretty sure they can smell something if it’s not right.

I was interviewed by  a stern-looking woman  who asked me what my intentions to visit USA are, what I’m working as, the basics. She was pretty surprised  when I told  her  I’ll be joining a ship and asked for my employment letter. I was then asked about my contract and what happens after the contract ends. Last question was whether I have any relatives living in the US which I answered according to what was declared during my application. I’m pretty sure she has everything on her computer but was trying to test my consistency. She then said, “Your visa is approved”. I scurried away and about 2 days later, my passport was couriered to me with my C1/D visa. You can  opt to do self-collection at Menara MCA too if you wish but since I wasn’t rushing for time I chose for it to be couriered to me.

Well that’s it! Pretty scary process but as long as you’re genuine in your application and follow all instructions it should go pretty smoothly. I hope it’ll help some of you should you wish to apply for a US Visa in Malaysia. ‘Til then, shiplife countdown continues!

#Shiplife Series: Getting a US C1/D Visa in Malaysia – Part 1

Hello guys, happy 2017!

It’s almost February and I’ve been super busy – I thought I was going to die. No kidding.

Thought I’ll do a little summary of the whole US Visa application process and my experience so that those of you who are keen on applying can get some idea. Do take note that it might differ from one person to another and this post is mainly based on my own experience.

So to backtrack a little, I was offered a position on a cruise ship and one of the requirements is to have a valid US C1/D visa. The application is entirely on my own expense and the whole process to be conducted by myself. As the C1/D is a crew transit visa, I will first need to prove that I am indeed a crew member of a ship. I was provided with a letter of employment from my company that affirmed my role and the need for me to have a US visa.

First step was to complete the online visa application by filling up the Form DS-160. It’s basically all your personal details and a few questions regarding your purpose of visit. Do make sure to check out all the different visa types on the website before selecting your choice – the usual tourist visa is B1/B2 but there’s also different ones for work, study, etc. Be really sure on the visa type you’re applying for as I believe you are not allowed to change once it has been confirmed for processing.

You’re also required to upload a photo – be sure to check the requirements! I was pretty worried that mine would be rejected so I went and paid for a studio shot, MYR 16 with a digital copy. Expensive I know but it’s the city and at least I get a peace of mind, haha. Once that’s done, submit the application and pay the visa application fees via bank counter (Ambank), bank transfer or via Jompay. I did mine via electronic transfer and kept the proof of payment for reference. Total damage was USD 160 ~ MYR 672 at the point of my application. Do take note that your application comes with a code that you’re supposed to reference during payment.

Once that’s done and your payment has been received, you can schedule your appointment for the visa interview. My payment was received on 2 November 2016 and the earliest available date was around 1 month later so please allow ample time when planning for your travels!

I’ll be sharing my experience on the interview in the next post!

 

#Shiplife Series – Prologue: Documentations.

In my previous post I mentioned that I had yet to undergo my medical check. Finally it was done and I have all the required documents ready! To sum things up what I needed to submit was:

  1. An ENG1 medical certificate (for seafarers)
  2. A US C1/D crew visa
  3. A certificate of good conduct issued by the Malaysian government

After about a month I finally managed to complete everything, would have been sooner if I could manage to get myself an earlier interview slot at the U.S. embassy but nope.

Pretty psyched now and can’t wait to receive a ship assignment! Will definitely split the whole application process into different blog and vlog entries so watch this space! Your girl is going to the sea!

#Shiplife Series – Prologue

This is it. The big one. I’m just bursting trying to hold the news in and it won’t be known to everyone, well for at least a few  weeks. I’m pretty sure the people I know don’t read my blog, especially when I’m not sharing the link on social media.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, I mentioned that I was getting a certificate of good conduct from the Malaysian government and that I will be sharing the purpose of why I was getting it for in the near future when everything is confirmed.

Well, guess what? I’m heading to the seas y’all!

I have just gotten the certificate of good conduct and my U.S. visa approved! Yet to schedule an appointment for my medical checkup but will do it soon! Hopefully all goes well and there is nothing wrong with my health, else I wouldn’t be able to head to the ships.

I’m trying not to get too overexcited simply because I haven’t had 100% confirmation but things are looking pretty good so far to me (with the visa application being the most challenging, I think). Fingers crossed, I shall be able to share better news in a week or two. Til then, happy December!

Anxiety…or being cautious?

I don’t know if it is just me or everyone in general but I tend to get little thoughts in my head whenever I am doing something. It doesn’t happen all the time but there are certain actions that seem to trigger alarm bells in my mind.

 

When I’m driving, my mind goes:

“Wow, that’s a pretty sharp turn there”.

“You should really slow down.”

“One day you’re gonna get hit by a car”.

 

When I’m going down the stairs:

“What happens if you slip and took a tumble?”

 

When I eat too much:

“You’re gonna get diabetes. And high blood pressure. Maybe cancer.”

 

When I get to the station a little later than usual:

“Some dodgy looking guy is definitely standing there waiting to get you.”

 

Coming out from the toilet at home:

“One day you’re going to open the door and see a zombie coming up the stairs” (over-imagination much?)

 

So I don’t know, I guess it’s pretty normal to have these thoughts right?

 

Living a Solo Life – Being Sick

I had this conversation with a friend earlier over lunch.

I told her, “I’m actually at a pretty happy place right now.” I enjoy my freedom. I enjoy the peace. I am pretty happy with the solitude.

It’s quite nice being independent and single, living in the city. Being able to eat whatever and whenever I want. Having no curfew, no expectations on what time to call home.

Went home and took a nap, woke up at 7-ish in the evening and felt a nagging pull on my lower abdomen. The twinge is almost too familiar. It’s gas, wind, flatulence and I’ve had too much of it, as usual. Probably due to bad nutrition, I’ve had a pretty rumbly stomach for the past week now.

The instant I felt the cramping pain I recalled how bad the full fledged attack was on me. I was in my teens and had to call my dad on my cell from the next room to come get me up from the bed because I was too much in pain. The thought of that happening to me here got my heart pounding. One because I am all by myself. Two because I know that nobody really cares enough to come over. Three because I’m really bad at depending on someone. It’s either the upbringing or the pride but I don’t like to trouble anyone if I can help it. Which is why I’ll probably be found as a dried up corpse by the time someone gets to me.

So in fear of having to crawl down approximately 20 steps and driving myself to the hospital, I quickly opened my box of medicine, all taken from my past visits to the doctors. Some of the labels read Pain, Stomach Pain, Gas, Nausea etc. No idea which is for this kind of pain so I Googled the names of the medicine (what will we ever do without Google) and swallowed a pill. Literally.

I feel better now after burping out gas (and farting some) so let’s just pray it goes away soon and I’ll have no trouble giving myself a full body stretch before bed, lol.

Do I still love my life? Yes.

Do I still enjoy solitude? Yes.

Do I want to be alone? Maybe, with someone I can depend on who is within a 3km radius that I can call for help.

 

Thoughts on being single

Are we all afraid to be alone?

Lately there has been many friends on Facebook who have gotten married, which I am happy for. It is definitely not an easy journey, from finding someone you like to be with 24/7 and deciding to accept them for who they are. The lifelong commitment stuff. Right now my body and mind seems to shudder at the very thought of marriage. I’ve been through a number of boyfriends and maybe it’s just me but forever just seems a little too long.

“You don’t know love”, they might say. “You just haven’t found the right person”, others might add. Both might be true but I’ll just say that I’m pretty much happy where I am right now. Single, alone and…free.

There have also been friends who have fallen out of relationships. Friends breaking up with their partners. Married couples getting divorced. This scares me as well. The fragility of a relationship and how thin the line that separates being together and being not, is.

I just really want to make a point that if you’re in a loving relationship, great. If you’re not, it’s not the end world either. Don’t worry about not being able to find someone, you will. There is just no expiration date to meeting people and falling in love so why get so worked up about being alone when you have so much you can do? Read the books you always wanted. Watch all the movies you want. Start on the hobbies you’ve always said you wish you tried.

There is really no harm in being alone. Instead of constantly looking for someone to love you, go love yourself first. Enjoy your moments of solitude. Live. Don’t just exist.

Waiting & Wanting

For those of you who follow me on social media (Instagram: reenkhaw), you might have heard that I was in the process of getting my letter of good conduct from the consular. Just checked the status today and it’s ready for collection! How eerily efficient is that? So yes, one document down.

I haven’t shared it publicly the reason why I needed it for because I didn’t want to count my chickens before they are hatched if you know what I mean. I’ve told my family and close friends about it which like 90% reacted in surprised horror.

The current pending issue I need to complete is to get my U.S. visa and medical done. I’ve paid for the visa earlier today and to my utmost terror the next available interview appointment slot is on 29 November 2016.

Another full month of waiting.

God & Religion

Do you believe in God?

I have a pretty laid-back opinion when it comes to religion. People often ask what religion I belong to and at most times, I’ll say that I pray to what my parents pray to.
Of which is the truth.
My parents are Taoist-Buddhist and sometimes offer prayers to the Hindu Gods as well. Growing up, religion for me is a “to-do” because the adults asked us to. As I grow older and especially after moving away from home, religion doesn’t seem to matter to me as long as I always do good.

I wouldn’t say that I don’t believe in God, I do. There is definitely a higher power bigger than all of us and at times I find myself believing the phrase, “The rest is up to God.” Well God could also mean the Universe and the energies that come with it but yeah, you get the idea.

So yes, I do believe in God but I don’t believe in certain ideologies of religion. Right now I always mark the Buddhist column when it comes to filling forms – out of convenience’s sake. Should I start marking some other boxes now?