Lifestyle

7 Types of Landlords in Malaysia

Jenny and I have had our fair share of renting accommodation. Through our experience, we discovered that landlords’ methods of “work” might vary greatly. In fact, they vary so greatly that it is usually impossible for us to properly set up our expectations in advance. Additionally, as we’ve had “international experience” with renting, we could conclude that these stereotypical landlord types could easily be found in many places around the world. So here goes:

1. The MIA Landlord

You will never see or hear from this guy (or girl) once you move in and pay your deposit. In some situations, you might actually not see them ever at all, because they might have designated all their functions (up to the point of handing out of the keys) to a real estate agent, who handles the whole process. Needless to say, if something unexpected happens, if you might have any complaints, or if you just want to mention that you will be off for a week (just so they are aware), you will be met with silence. An interesting bi-feature of this type of landlord is that he/she tends to appear quickly if you happen to delay your rental payment, or if the next year’s contract needs to be negotiated.

2. The Not-Caring-At-All Landlord

You arrange to check a place. You go in, and you see that there is a 2cm-strong layer of dust, and all the brand-new furniture hasn’t even been unpacked. At your blank stare the agent responds with “the house hasn’t been occupied since it was bought a year ago, and the landlord hasn’t visited since then, either.” Needless to say, this type of landlord is usually a cousin (if not a sibling) of the MIA landlord.

3. The Over-Caring Landlord

Don’t get me wrong, caring for one’s rented property and for one’s tenants is an extremely important detail of good landlord-tenant relationships. However, visiting every couple of weeks to check if everything is OK, and calling every other day to get an update report on anything happening around the area where you are staying might be a bit overboard. You will soon come to realize that this type of landlord rarely cares as much about your welfare, as for if their place is in tact and if you won’t run away with all their furniture. Based on all the horrific stories I’ve heard about tenants stealing everything from light bulbs to auto gates, such type of behaviour might make sense in the Malaysian context.

4. The “Tiny Details” Landlord

You know that deposit you pay when you move in. Well, with this type of landlord you can be sure you will never, ever, get that deposit back. An almost invisible scratch on the table, a stain on the wall (not even caused by the tenant), an unevenness to the flooring (again, not tenant’s fault). No matter how small any of these problems might actually be, and no matter whose fault, this type of landlord will find a way to withhold your deposit to rectify the issue. At later time when you try to follow up and see the receipts for any rectifications that might have been done, this landlord quickly turns into the MIA landlord.

5. The “Wear and Tear” Landlord

You happily move in to your new place. Everything looks relatively fine, although you’ve already noticed (and mentioned to the landlord) that the air conditioner appears to make some noise from time to time. However, the landlord has assured you that it is in perfect condition. A month later, the air con starts leaking. You call the landlord to tell them and you are met with the passive-aggressive “wear and tear” response. According to the Malaysian landlord’s vocabulary “wear and tear” means that you’ve been using the item, and therefore it is your fault and you need to rectify the problem. You call the contractor, and when he comes (together with a solid bill), he tells you that the air conditioner hasn’t been cleaned for at least 3 years and that is the main cause of the leakage.

6. The “I Will Fix It for You” Landlord

This is arguably the best type of landlord of all the mentioned types, because they are pretty much the only ones that do help (at least somewhat). The reason for them to want to fix something on their own is obviously to cut their costs – in which there is nothing wrong, especially if they do know how to fix that something (think boiler, laundry machine). However, the problem is that as it is either them, or their friend/relative, who will be fixing the problem, it might take extremely long time for them to come by and do it. Additionally, they tend to use not necessarily the most suitable materials for the repair work and thus the item tends to get spoilt again after some time.

7. The Perfect Landlord

The perfect landlord signs a contract with you (did I mention that many landlords appear to like to skip this step?) in which there are clearly stated rights and liabilities of both parties. Once something beyond the tenant’s control goes awry, they help get it back on the right track in a timely manner. They come by once every 2-3 months just to check if everything is in order, and if the tenant has any withstanding complaints (with the building management, for instance), so that they could attend to them. We are sure there are such landlords, it is just that we have never had the fortune to encounter them up to now!

Have you had the chance to encounter any other interesting and unique types of landlords?

Best Air Purifier in Malaysia (and Singapore) – What I Chose and Why

*This is a guest blog post by Nyagoslav Zhekov, the loving husband of Jenny Zhekova.

Note! This blog post is solely for sharing purposes. We are not selling or endorsing any air purifiers! 🙂

If you have been following this blog, you most probably know by now that my wife has been fighting with severe sinusitis for many years. As things she tried worked with moderate, short term success, I decided to try something new.

Air Pollution in Malaysia and Singapore

Air pollution in Malaysia and Singapore is a serious problem. If you have ever lived in any of these two countries, chances are that you have experienced the May-July severe haze – a direct result of forest burning in Indonesia. But Indonesia is not the main problem. Overpopulation in certain areas, industrial activity, excessive usage of personal transportation means instead of public transport, are all add-up factors. States of emergency are not uncommon due to pollution levels rising above the Emergency level of 500 API/AQI/PSI.

Air Pollution Index

There have been times when surgical disposable masks were not available in pharmacies. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Malaysia shares an interactive map of the hourly changes in air pollution levels in the country per area. Similar map is maintained by the National Environment Agency of Singapore. In fact, you could even download and install this app that provides the same information via phone updates. Of course, this wouldn’t really help resolve the issue. It could only make you more aware of the threats you are facing in your everyday life. And as different respiratory illnesses have been directly linked to air pollution, I suggest you act fast on getting a healthier life, without having to move up to some secluded mountain.

Buying Local vs. Buying from Amazon

Before starting to discuss the factors that you should take into account when purchasing an air purifier, I should mention that your biggest problem might very well be the undersupply of high-quality air cleaning systems in Malaysia and Singapore. If you try to do your own research, you will probably encounter a number of articles mentioning products that you will later on discover are not available in the local market. These articles are most frequently written by Americans, and as almost all of the best brands are American, there is certain logic into this fact. Unfortunately, if you are reading this article you most probably live in Malaysia/Singapore. What are your choices then?

1) Buy from Amazon.

2) Scrounge the local market and buy from a local supplier.

If you decide to go with option 1, you will discover that the variety is bigger, and the net price is much cheaper. However, you should take into consideration the following factors:

– Warranty is almost always limited to the country where the machine comes from (most frequently the US). If you get a defective product, you would either not be able to exchange it, or even if you are able to exchange it, you would need to bear the international shipment costs.

– Chances are your product will be tailored to the 110 Volt electricity in the US, so  you would need to buy a voltage converter. These usually cannot be used long hours, and are in general not recommended for usage whenever they could be avoided. Sometimes they could be stated as a cause for warranty forfeiture.

– You will be getting your air purifier transported from overseas. Besides the obvious threat of it getting spoilt along the way, the transportation costs are also not to be neglected. A regular home purifier might weigh between 5 and 15 kg, which means that shipment might be in the range of US$150 (~MYR550 by today’s exchange rate) per unit.

– You will not be able to test your air purifier personally. Things such as noise level and design are much more difficult to be comprehended “on paper” than in front of one’s eyes.

Having taken into consideration the above factors, I personally decided to buy an air purifier from a local supplier. As mentioned above, the options are more limited, but many of the negatives a purchase of an Amazon purifier would come with are avoided.

What Are the Options?

There are just a handful of companies that sell air purifiers in Malaysia, and not all of them offer the highest quality products. For instance, Harvey Norman, which is one of the few suppliers that are physically present outside Kuala Lumpur/Selangor, feature a range of Sharp, Panasonic, and Hitachi air purifiers. When I went in person to the Citta Mall branch, I also found a DeLonghi air purifier there. Of these, only some of the Hitachi ones rely mostly on HEPA filter technology for air purification (more about why this is of crucial importance below). Another option for the ones not living in the Kuala Lumpur area would be Lazada, but while it features a wider range of products than Harvey Norman’s stores, the quality level is approximately the same.

If you live in the Johor Bahru area, you might consider purchasing an air purifier from Singapore.

If you, however, do live in or around KL, you would have the following options for high quality air purifiers:

Alen Air – 3 types

Coway – 5 types (not available in Singapore)

BlueAir – 3 types (6 types in Singapore)

Honeywell – 3 types (4 types in Singapore)

Therefore, everything could be boiled down to a choice between these 14 models of home air cleaners.

What Factors You Should Consider

The number one factor, which I will not even write in detail about, but will just share some additional resources on, is the presence of a “True” HEPA filter and the reliance on this filter for air purification. You could read more specialized information about it here and here. All of the products mentioned above do feature such filters.

The second factor I looked into was the size of the filter and the airflow intake. While you might find different statements about what area certain air purifiers can cleanse, this is the one “empirical” factor that could be very telling. You could take a look at the motor of the air purifier. If it is bigger in size, the chances are the air inflow is larger, too.

The third directly-related-to-air-cleanliness factor I took into consideration was the tightness of the casing. If you actually take a look at some of the lower quality products I mentioned above, you would notice that there are holes in the casing, probably left for design purposes. If there are holes, it means at least some part of the collected dust and other air pollutants go back to the room air.

An obvious factor to consider is the cost of the device you would be purchasing. A top quality air purifier (the ones I strongly recommend you look for) would be in the range of MYR2,000, but the price could very well go up to MYR5,000+. It is important to remember that with air purifiers, the higher the net price of the product, the lower its long-term cost. Additionally, the more simplistic the technology, the lower the chances of technical glitches over a period of time. The cost of the filters, and their average lifespan is an added figure of the total long-term price of an air purifier.

There are a few less important factor for me personally, which I am sure might be of primary importance to others. For instance, the design of the air purifier. However, frequently certain design decision are made in expense of technological embetterment. The noise an air purifier produces could also be considered, especially if it is to be used in a bedroom. The electricity consumption is another factor, which could add up to the long-term usage cost.

Which One I Bought and Why

I bought a Honeywell HAP 18200 from House of Air Cleaners. It has the thickest filter of all, one of the largest (if not THE largest) airflow intakes, and a relatively long lifespan of the filters (1 to 5 years for the HEPA filter, depending on usage).

Honeywell HAP 18200 Front

Honeywell HAP 18200 Side

I understand it doesn’t cut it when it comes to design, as it might seem a little bulky to some, but I am far from the idea that an air purifier’s main purpose is to improve the design of a room. Additionally, because of its very powerful motor, it scores lower at noise levels and power consumption, as compared to other similar range purifiers, but as I mentioned above, these are less important factors for me personally. The Honeywell air purifiers have a lot of endorsements from hospitals and independent physicians, and the brand is among the highest regarded in the field of air purification.

At the same time, it is competitive price-wise. I was considering purchasing it from Singapore, where it is sold for SG$599 or SG$609 (~MYR1,600+), depending on the dealer, but I decided to go to House of Air Cleaners, where its “official” price was MYR1,959. My decision was based mostly on the fact that the retail store is less than 15 minutes driving away from my home, and because I got a discounted rate of MYR1,850, as well as a carbon pre-filter as a free gift (worth MYR85 at the same store, but worth MYR120+ in Singapore). You could also purchase substitute filters from the same store – activated carbon pre-filter, and HEPA filter.

House of Air Cleaners’s retail showroom’s address is: 11, Jalan SS2/55, 47300 Petaling Jaya. The street is very heavily congested with parked vehicles on both sides, especially during business hours. Additionally, there is pasar malam (local night market) on Monday, so it is generally recommended that you visit the store during their weekend working hours – Saturday from 10 am to 7pm, and Sunday from 11am to 3pm.

Other Products I Considered

There were a few other air purifiers I considered, or I would have considered in other circumstances.

The first one in this list was AlenAir Paralda. However, the price point is a bit high (MYR 3,188 after discount, MYR3,588 standard price, at the time of writing this article), so value-for-money-wise I consider it worse than my Honeywell device. The price of the same product in Singapore is SG$1,280 (~MYR3,450).

The second one was BlueAir 203 SmokeStop (MYR1,559). Having in mind that neither me, nor my wife smoke, one of its main features was useless to us. It is cheaper than Honeywell, but it covers smaller area and its general inflow capacity is much lower. You could find the same product in Singapore with SmokeStop filter, as well as without that filter. The price is SG$625 (MYR1,680) and SG$588 (~MYR1,570) respectively. You might consider going with the 450E SmokeStop model (MYR2,459 in Malaysia), although I do believe Honeywell 18200 is better.

A smaller, but powerful air purifier, which came close second in my choice list, was Coway Aires (MYR2,100). The fact that Coway directly sell it in Malaysia (and not via a distributor or a third-party retailer) is an added advantage. I would have probably gone with it have I had smaller rooms to purify. It might be a good choice if you live in a suite apartment, for instance. Coway don’t have physical offices/stores in Singapore, though.

Final Words

Choosing an air purifier is a long-term investment that could have significant implications on your own and your family’s health. Do not take my word for granted as what suits one might not suit another, and do your own research. The good choices, specifically in Malaysia and Singapore, are limited, so it shouldn’t take you too long to sift through the available options.

Five essentials for the summer

I’ve visited Bulgaria many times, but never had the chance to really enjoy the summer here. My first two visits were during the winter and my 3rd visit was during the autumn. Last year, I came here for the 4th time during the summer but I spent all my 3 weeks preparing for my wedding. This is my 5th visit. For the past 2 months, I’ve experienced the summer more than I have ever wanted. In this post, I’m going to share with you how I feel about summer and 5 essentials you should have with you if you want to visit a country with 4 seasons during summer.

Note: The author is neither a geography expert nor a climate expert. This post is solely based on the author’s experience in Varna (Bulgaria), Rome (Italy) and Milan (Italy) in July 2014. This does not apply to all Bulgaria, all Italy or all countries with 4 seasons. This post is solely for sharing and/or entertainment purposes only. 

I am from Malaysia, a country with equatorial climate. It has either sunny or rainy days. When I told my friends that I’m visiting Bulgaria during summer, they quickly assumed that the weather conditions of “a hot day in Bulgaria” and “a hot day in Malaysia” are the same. If you’ve experienced similar conditions, you’ll definitely know that they’re not the same.

Note: The following information is solely based the author’s experience on a sunny day (without rain) in JB, Malaysia and a sunny day (without rain/snow) in Varna, Bulgaria. 

A sunny day in JB is usually hot and humid. The difference in temperature between day and night is usually small. Except when I’m in an air-conditioned room, I get sweaty very easily even I’m in a sheltered or shaded area (e.g. at home or in open-air cafes). On a daily basis, I use BB cream with SPF50 on my face, but I don’t use any sunblock on my body (unless I go to the beach, but that’s another story). Without sun block, I think walking under the sun is bearable. I try not to be exposed for too long because I’ll get tanned (or “burnt”) and freckles will start appearing. I would say that walking under the hot sun is bearable (but not advisable) without wearing a hat or sunglasses. The glare of the sun is also bearable if you don’t look at the sky directly, but of course you are most likely to be walking with your eyes half-closed (trying to protect them from the sun). Well, this is based on my personal opinion but I may be biased since I’ve lived in Malaysia most of my life! 😀

A sunny day in Varna is usually hot and dry. In the middle of the summer, the difference in temperature between day and night is small too. The temperature at this time is around 30°C (or hotter). However, during the start and the end of summer, the temperature differs quite significantly. The temperature during the day is usually around 27°C but during the night, it can go as low as 16°C. I personally feel weird because I’ve never slept in 16°C back in Malaysia at night. Even if I were to switch the air-conditioner to the lowest, it was 18° but then I would never do that. I usually kept it at 26°C. Here in Varna, I don’t get sweaty easily. Unless I exposed myself to the sun for hours, I usually don’t get sweaty after a 15-20 minutes walk under the sun. It is very weird for me that my skin burns when I’m directly exposed to the sun but once I step under some shades (e.g. trees), it actually becomes cooling. Weird! In JB, the only difference when you are under the sun or under a tree is that you don’t get burnt. Otherwise, the hot “feeling” remains quite the same. I cannot tell you why but you just need to experience the magic of tree shades during summer. Although I don’t get sweaty, that doesn’t mean I don’t get burnt! I get burnt way too fast as compared as I was in JB. Therefore, I usually apply 2 layers of BB Cream with SPF50 on my face, and a layer of sunblock with SPF50 on my body when I walk to the mall. Everyone wants to get tanned here and I’m taking measures to prevent myself from being “burnt”. Without hat or sunglasses, my eyes are almost (not half) closed. The glare from the sun can be so harsh that I can’t see properly.

If you love being tanned, then summer is your best friend. Well, if you don’t like being tanned but still love the summer, I recommend these 5 essential things you must have with you (especially if you plan to visit a country that has summer days like Bulgaria)! But  “hotness” isn’t just what I’m talking about here. Taking care of the “dryness” during summer is equally important!

Note: I like to use the word “burnt” instead of “tanned” but what I really mean is that “the skin becomes darker”.

1. Sunblock & sunscreen

  • This is a serious must! Even if you love tanning yourself, there’s no harm applying a layer or two if you know you will be exposed to the sun for a significant amount of time. I think my explanations are pretty much in the previous paragraphs! 😀

2. All your moisturizing agents!

  • Face moisturizers: If you have oily combination skin like me, please don’t think that being in a dry climate place is going to make you a beautiful princess. Your pimples will still pop up if you don’t use proper skincare. The good news are that you can put lesser layers of moisturizers on your face and that your face will not get oily so easily/fast. The bad news is that “the very moisturizing” formula you used back home is probably not suitable in this climate. I’m not sure about other skin types, you may want search for more information on the Internet.
  • Body lotion: Also a must, preferably after shower. WHY? I can’t imagine myself applying lotion on my body when I already have layers of sunblock. Over time, your skin gets drier without you noticing it. I’m not even staying/sleeping in an air-conditioned room here in Varna and I can sometimes feel my skin is dry and tight, what’s more if you are travelling and are sleeping in a hotel with air-conditioner? Body lotion is a must!
  • Hand cream: The skin around nails sometimes becomes dry and eventually it cracks. Use hand cream whenever you can. It’s not necessary but it’s good to keep one near you.
  • Moisturizing facial masks: If you have invested in good moisturising skincare products, facial masks are not really necessary. But there’s no harm wanting to look beautiful, so you can use some sheet masks. I personally gel mask.

3. Hat

  • This is pretty obvious. You don’t want to have a burnt forehead, right? It’s a good way to keep your eyes “opened” (without the sunglasses) under a sunny day. Seriously, without a hat is not so bad. You’ll just have to live with a “burnt” forehead for a few months. But without sunglasses…

4. Sunglasses

  • Well, it’s a good way to keep your eyes “opened” more (with or without the hat). It helps to shield the glaring sun.  But please don’t look at the sun directly, thinking that you are 100% protected. You’ll most probably be blinded. I’m personally not a “sunglasses-kind-of person”. I prefer to see things in their natural form/colour. But yeah, … without sunglasses, it’s so difficult to see anything because of the glaring sun. Everything seems to be reflective of the sun light. At this point I’m wondering, why does the sun glares more in Varna than in JB? Does it? Or does it not? Maybe I’m just biased. Hahaha…never mind.

5. Insect / Mosquito repellent

  • Seriously, I myself am surprised from this. I came from a place where mosquitoes are breeding like crazy. Yeah, I’m talking about living near to a dengue-infested lake near my previous apartment. But put aside these Aedes mosquitoes, I would say that “normal” mosquitoes are not something new back in JB. Honestly, I’ve very rarely used a mosquito repellent back home. The only time I remember using it was when I went with my parents-in-law to the Tropical Spice Garden in Pulau Pinang. I’m not sure if it is considered a mosquito repellent, it was some lemongrass spray. I didn’t feed myself that much to the mosquitoes there. Perhaps one or two bites which were inevitable. Well, I would say that in Varna, if you avoid “grassy” areas like the parks or the gardens, you are surely safe! But if you enjoy garden dining like I do, you definitely have to prepare insect/mosquito repellent! Initially, I was thinking that I was just unlucky when I garden-dined in Varna. But, I encountered the same when I garden-dined in Milan!!!!! After 2 visits to 2 different restaurants in 2 different countries, my legs are full with mosquito bite marks that I sometimes feel like crying. T_T

So, nothing about what clothes you should wear blablabla. You wear what you wanna wear during the summer. Woohoo!! You don’t need anyone to tell you that. In case you are interested, I usually wear my favourite 3S – shirt, shorts and slippers when I’m going out. Sometimes, with short dresses too. However, if I know I’ll be exposed to the sun for more than 30 minutes, I usually wear long dresses or thin long sleeve shirts with long pants (plus my hat – still not liking the sunglasses). So it really depends whether you wanna get “burnt” or not. If you’ve decided to get “burnt” all over, the best solution is to go to the beach in your tiniest strings! I promise! 😀

Finally, do I like summer? Hmmm….95% yes! Where does the remaining 5% go?! Well, I had “some problems” with summer when I had to pack for my Milan/Rome trip. After all, they are the major fashion cities and I did not want to be “underdress”. I had difficulty choosing “the perfect colour combination” so I ended up with the “safest combination” of black and white. -_-” During that packing session, I was secretly wishing that it was winter so I could just wrap myself in winter coat! Enough said! Hmmm…

Have you experienced summer in another country? Are there any differences between a sunny day in a foreign country and a sunny day in your home country? Share your thoughts with me. You can leave your comments below. Don’t worry, your email address will be invisible to others. 🙂

Alternatively, if you have a story about your experience about summer which you would like to share, find out how by clicking here.

What I like about living in Bulgaria

In my previous post, I mentioned that there are several questions I was frequently asked in Bulgaria.

1. “What do you miss the most about/in Malaysia?”
2. “What do you like about Bulgaria?”
3. “What do you think about Bulgaria?”
4. “What are the differences between Bulgaria and Malaysia?”

In this post, I’ll answer the second and the third questions.

Note:
The things I’ll share in this post may be similar to what other people have experienced in other European countries or countries that have similar characteristics. This post is mainly about my experience living in Bulgaria.
 I am making a comparison based the cities where I lived and am currently living: Johor Bahru (JB), Malaysia and Varna, Bulgaria. This doesn’t apply to all Malaysia or all Bulgaria.

1. Safety

  • In JB, the crime rate is rather high. Many of my friends and family have been the targets of snatch thefts and robberies. Last year, on the night before my wedding in Malaysia, I had a small family gathering at home. There were about 20 of us, mainly adults with 2 kids. My elder sister was robbed right at the front porch of the house, just 2 steps away from the house entrance. In separate incidents, my bro-in-law was robbed at knife point while on his way to work in broad daylight, my dad was chased by 2 motorcycles with masked robbers after withdrawing money from an ATM, and my mum’s bag was almost snatched when she went to the market in the morning. It doesn’t matter when or where. You just have to be extra cautious especially when you are alone. You can be the target of crime no matter if you are a woman or a man.
  • I’m not saying it’s crime-free in Bulgaria. I’m sure crime happens everywhere in the world. However in Varna, I feel relatively safe. I can walk on the street without having the constant fear that someone might come on a motorcycle to snatch my bag. I still practice caution whenever I go out. But I definitely feel much safer here than I was in Malaysia.

2. Everything is fresh and organic here!

  • In JB, organic fruits and vegetables cost a lot of money! I wouldn’t say Mr. Hubby is picky with his food, but he is very particular with the quality of his food. I think organic fruits and vegetables generally taste better than the “non-organic” ones. I usually spent about RM100 (approximately 50leva), buying just vegetables and fruits. Seriously, I can go bankrupt by just eating fruits and veggies back home.
  • In Varna, everything is fresh and organic. It’s cheap too! Well, during winter is another story. After buying the fruits and veggies from the market, you can simply rinse it with water and eat it. Unlike in JB, I had to wash and soak and use special drops to remove the “toxic” on the fruits and veggies. It can be a very tedious process. 😦

3. The tap water is drinkable

  • In JB, the tap water is not drinkable. You can choose to drink it and end up having diarrhea later. Most households invest in water filters. Only with water filters, the water from the tap is safe to drink. However, I know some people are still boiling the water even when it is filtered, just to make sure it is 100% drinkable.
  • In Varna, the tap water is drinkable. When I first came here, I thought it was a joke when Mr. Hubby told me that I could drink from the tap. I was like, seriously!?! I still prefer not to drink from the tap although everyone else at home does that. I sometimes buy bottled water from the grocery store. But if my bottle is empty, I don’t mind to just crawl to the kitchen, turn on the tap, and drink the water from there. 😀

4. Minimal air and noise pollution

  • In JB, air pollution is a serious problem. Every year, when one of our neighbouring countries decides to burn its forest, the whole Malaysia would suffer horrible air pollution. Even without that, the exhaust fumes from the vehicles are enough to suffocate you. And, I have black boogers all the time!!! As for noise pollution, with on-going construction works everywhere, it’s difficult not to have any noise. That’s understandable. But the worst “noise pollution” is when your neighbours fight. They scream and shout and throw things at each other in the middle of the night, especially near your front door. That’s the worst kind. (Note: I lived in an apartment in JB.)
  • In Varna, the air pollution is minimal. Vehicles here rarely “fart” black fumes. Smokers are everywhere but there are designated smoking areas. As long as you don’t go near those areas, I guarantee your hair will still smell nice after 2 days and you will not have black boogers!! As for noise pollution, there are almost no constructions nearby the place I’m staying. My neighbours are friendly and civilised, as least I haven’t seen them shouting or throwing things at each others. I would say the “biggest noise polluters” are the kids playing in the playground in front of our apartment! 😀 But, how can I blame the kids? They’re just too cute! 😀

5. No ants loitering around

  • In JB, if you don’t keep your snacks properly, ants attack in 5 minutes. If you don’t pack and throw your garbage daily, ants form an army around your garbage bin. If you don’t wipe your spilled drink in 2 minutes,  ants swim in it. There are always ants attack, any time of the day. If they don’t attack the food, they attack you!
  • In Varna, I hardly see any ants. I can leave my food unpacked for hours, no ants will attack. I can leave my glass with fruit juice stains until the next morning, ants don’t bother to pay a visit. If I see any ants here, I most probably will attack them by throwing food at them!

Of course there are many other things I like about living here. But I’m just gonna share these 5 points today. So, what do I think about Bulgaria? I think it’s generally a nice country. What do I think about my stay in Bulgaria? So far, I’ve been treated like a princess here. So, I would say that my stay has been great! Hahahahaha…

So which place do I prefer? JB or Varna? NONE of them. Every place has its nice and not-so-nice features. There are things I prefer in JB and there are also things I prefer in Varna. There’s no perfect place in this world but you can always adapt and embrace the local cultures to make your stay perfect in different places. Do you agree? Share your thoughts with me! 🙂

 

Things I miss doing the most back in Malaysia

In Bulgaria, I have been asked these questions rather frequently.

1. “What do you miss the most about/in Malaysia?”
2. “What do you like about Bulgaria?”
3. “What do you think about Bulgaria?”
4. “What are the differences between Bulgaria and Malaysia?”

In this post, I’ll answer the first question. Instead of sharing what specific things (i.e food, weather etc) I miss the most about/in Malaysia, I’ll share with you what are the things I miss doing the most back in Malaysia.

I generally adapt to different environment pretty fast. After all, I am the one who decides where I want to go and where I want to stay. I wouldn’t call it homesick, but I do miss doing certain things back home in Malaysia. Honestly, I survive well even without doing these things here but that doesn’t prevent me from missing them. In fact, I can do these things here too. However, my stay in Bulgaria is not permanent so it’s really unnecessary and it’ll be a hassle to “achieve” them.

Note: I am making a comparison based on the cities where I lived and am currently living: Johor Bahru (JB), Malaysia and Varna, Bulgaria. This doesn’t apply to all Malaysia or all Bulgaria.

1. Wearing whatever I want

  • In JB, I wear what I want based on my mood. Except when I’m going to work or when I’m attending to some official matters, I usually stick with my 3S – Shirt, shorts and slippers.
  • In Varna, I still wear what I want but it depends heavily on the weather. Now it’s summer, so I still get to choose. During the day, it can be really hot (like 35°C) that I feel my skin burns when I step out of home. I can wear my favourite 3S but I’ll get burned like crazy. Alternatively I can wear longer pants/skirts/dress and/or long-sleeved shirts but I’ll most probably get sweaty fast. Tough choice huh? In the evening, it can get quite chilly (like 20°C or below) despite it’s summer.  Even if I just want to get a short walk in the park after dinner, I cannot wear my 3S because I’ll probably get sick after that.
  • Solution? There’s nothing I can do about it because I cannot change the weather. I’ll just have to choose from what I can wear instead of what I want to wear, that’s it! Well, it is a good excuse to buy more clothes, eh? 😀 But then again, my drawers are already full. 😦

2. Eating hot and spicy food

  • I wouldn’t call it my favourite kind of food, but I like the hot and spicy sensation that really tickles my taste bud. In JB, I can have the typical Malaysian food like asam laksa, curry mee or nasi lemak with a lot of sambal. Alternatively, I can opt for kimchi (Korean food), tom yam (Thai food) or sushi with a lot of wasabi (Japanese food).
  • In Varna, most restaurants serve the typical Bulgarian cuisine. I believe there are many different cuisines served out there but I’m just going to share about “hot and spicy” Asian cuisines. There are Chinese and Thai restaurants, but only very few of them. The menu usually states very typical/authentic Chinese or Thai cuisine but the taste is very much Bulgarianized. I mean, who eats beansprouts with olives and pickles? At least, I don’t.
  • Solution? I can live without spicy food. The Bulgarian cuisine is really nice. And seriously, my mum-in-law cooks like the best dishes in the world. What more can I ask for? I’ll eat the olives and pickles, minus the beansprouts. 😀

3. Driving

  • In JB, I drive almost everywhere. Public transports are accessible between main roads and old neighbourhoods but not between the new neighbourhoods. The distance between the nearest shops and home is relatively near (about 5 minutes drive), but not near to the extent that I would want to walk.
  • In Varna, I walk almost everywhere. Shops and malls are relatively near, also approximately 5 minutes drive. But unless people are going downtown or are carrying lots of things, they usually prefer to walk. So yes, I walk about 15-30 minutes (depending on my walking speed and weather) to the nearest shopping mall.
  • Solution? You would agree with me that buying a car just to satisfy my desire to drive is totally not worth it. I’m sure my father-in-law would allow me to drive his car, but I don’t want to drive a manual car.
  • A side note: People here don’t believe I have more than 10 years of driving experience. They think I’m 22 years old. So I must have started driving when I was 11. 😛

4. Drinking bubble tea

  • In JB, I drink a lot of bubble tea. I really enjoy chewing those pearls (black, chewy tapioca balls). It just makes me feel happy! It doesn’t have to be tea, I can have chocolate milkshake with pearls too. Whatever beverage I want, with pearls.
  • In Varna, there’s no bubble tea shop (at least I haven’t seen one). Because I’m writing this post, I actually found out that there’s a shop selling bubble tea in Sofia (which is about 6-7 hours drive from Varna).
  • Solution? I can “import” those pearls but I think they come in big packs. I definitely can’t eat them all by myself, nobody’s gonna help me because it’s not “their kind of thing” here, and storing them will be a problem. Alternatively, I can travel all the way to Sofia to get it. 6-7 hours drive just to get my bubble tea? Nah, I don’t think so.

5. Going for facial and massage

  • In JB, I enjoy going for facial, at least once a month. I have this beauty therapist whom I trust a lot when it comes to doing facial for me because I have sensitive skin. I also enjoy going for foot and body massage whenever I want.
  • In Varna, there are facial salons. But I’m not sure I can trust that person enough to touch my face. I have tried searching for massage and reflexology centers but all I found was “erotic massage”. Hmmm…I don’t think I need an erotic massage.
  • Solution? I’ll try to survive without doing facial and massage, at least for now. I hope I can find suitable ones when I’m in Canada.

6. Doing offline and online shopping

  • Honestly, I don’t have many choices in JB either. Kuala Lumpur is definitely a better place when it comes to shopping. But in JB, I did a lot of online shopping. There were times I got like really bad quality products but for the price that I was paying, I would say it was acceptable. Sometimes I got really good deals online.
  • In Varna, the choices are very limited. The largest shopping mall in Varna is smaller than an average shopping mall in JB. The prices here are more expensive for the quality of clothes that they are selling. I cannot do online shopping because most sites are in Bulgarian.
  • Solution? I’ll stick with international franchise brands like Zara, H&M, Bershka etc or I’ll shop online from shopping sites that ship internationally.

7. Going to work

  • In JB, I had 2 jobs. I was teaching in a college on a full time basis. I was also managing Mr. Hubby’s company (NGS Internet Marketing) – doing recruitment, accounting and dealing with the official matters. Haha, you’ll never believe how much I miss working! For me, it’s not just about doing my job but it’s also about developing myself professionally and socialising with others.
  • In Varna, I don’t work. I eat, sleep, clean the room (not the house), travel (sometimes) and write blog posts! I call it the “long and deserved holiday”.
  • Solution? Finding a job here is definitely a hassle because 1. I don’t speak Bulgarian, and 2. I am not staying here for long time. I’ll appoint myself as a blogger at the moment.

So, if you have been wondering what I miss the most, I hope I’ve answered your questions here. What do you think? Have you been abroad and missed doing/having something badly back home?

Sometimes it is better to say “yes” or “no” than to nod or shake your head

I must say that this is one of the weirdest things I’ve encountered in my whole life. Back in Malaysia, when someone asks me a question, I usually include some gestures in addition to my reply. I don’t know why I do that. I guess I just want to be a little more expressive in my reply.

Q: Do you want an ice-cream?
Me: Yes, please! (Nodding vigorously)

Q: Do you wanna go out after work?
Me: (Shaking head slowly). No, I feel a little tired today.

Q: Can I have this document by tomorrow?
Me: (Nod once). Of course, I’ll pass it to you tomorrow morning.

Is there anything wrong with my gestures? Absolutely no!

BUT… if you ever want to visit Bulgaria in future, I highly recommend that you strictly stick to saying just “yes” or “no” instead of nodding or shaking your head. Why is this so? It is because nodding and shaking your head mean exactly the opposite! Huh? Yes, you are right. Back in Malaysia, nodding usually means yes while shaking your head means no. However in Bulgaria, nodding means no and shaking your head means yes.

I am not joking!!

I remember very clearly on my first visit to Bulgaria, my mum-in-law (back then, she was “boyfriend’s mum”) prepared a feast for my arrival. I was very happy that someone whom I met for the very first time actually put in so much effort and prepared so much food to celebrate my arrival. Everyone was very nice to me eventhough I didn’t speak the same language. Mr. Hubby (then, “Mr. Boyfriend”) acted as the translator between me and his family members. The food wasn’t just delicious but they were also nicely decorated too.

Here comes the scandalous part. Everybody was happily eating and chatting. Eventhough we didn’t understand each other, we were all smiles. As we were eating, my mum-in-law popped the questions, “Is the food okay for you? Do you like it?” Mr. Hubby translated. Well, I didn’t speak Bulgarian but I was thinking that even if I reply “yes” (in English), they should be able to understand me. So, I replied like I usually do, in addition with the head gesture.

Mum-in-law: Is the food okay for you? Do you like it?
Me: (Nodding vigorously), YES! YES!

Do you get the picture of what just went wrong? Yes, I just nodded vigorously. Nodding in Bulgaria means NO. So I supposed nodding vigorously means NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!! When I was nodding, I actually didn’t look at them face to face. I was too shy, after all it was my first time meeting my boyfriend’s parents and I just wanted to be as proper as possible (ahem!). Then I realised something was wrong. How come everyone became quiet after I replied? So I looked up and I saw that everyone stared at me in shock.

Well, Mr. Hubby then explained to me that nodding means no and shaking head means yes. Seriously, at that time I just wanted to dig a hole somewhere and hide inside forever. Looks like my plan to be proper failed miserably. So, I was in shocked and I explained that what I really meant was “Yes, I love it” and NOT “No, I don’t like it”. Mr. Hubby translated. We had a good laugh. It was so nice that they were so understanding and didn’t blame me for that.

Honestly, until today I still can’t get used to the Bulgarian styles of nodding and shaking heads. I mean, for 20+ years, I’ve been nodding for agreement and shaking my head for disagreement. It’s very difficult for me to change it, no matter how I force myself to. Now, I avoid using any head gestures. I stick to just saying “Yes” or “No”.

Have you ever encountered any situation like this? Share your stories with me!

The art of rolling clothes

Has anyone ever told you that packing rolled clothes in your luggage is the best space-saving way when you are travelling? The first time I heard about it was from a friend with whom I was travelling from Macau to Malaysia back in 2010. Well, don’t blame me for being a katak di bawah tempurung (literal translation: frog underneath a coconut shell which simply means ignorant). I hadn’t travelled much back then and hadn’t had much experience in packing. Honestly, I am not a fan of rolling my clothes and I think the best space-saving way is actually to vacuum seal your clothes. But then again, who brings a vacuum cleaner with them when travelling?

Since I am in Bulgaria, I’ve been chucking my clothes in my luggage. The room I’m currently staying was previously occupied by Mr. Hubby and Mr. Bro-in-law. I would say that these two brothers don’t really have so many clothes but winter jackets actually take up a lot of space in the drawers and wardrobes because these jackets are big and thick and fluffy. As I can’t accept the fact that my luggage (filled with my clothes) is still lying on the floor after a month here, I’ve decided to get a chest of drawers for myself.

Last week, I finally bought a chest of 3 drawers with dimensions 70cm x 38cm x 73cm, after considering  that the chest should neither be too high to block the window nor too wide to block the balcony door. Here comes the challenge. How can I stuff all the clothes from 2 big suitcases into a chest which probably is a little bigger than a big suitcase? What did I do? Yes, you are right. I started rolling my clothes.

**Topic shifting for a while: Did you know that luggages  is not the plural form of luggage?  Luggage is a collective noun that refers to all your suitcases you are carrying.**

Back to the story. Well, because Mr. Hubby’s collection of shirts expanded during the time he was in Malaysia, I agreed to share the chest with him. After all, he was the one who assembled the chest. So, I agreed to spare him one drawer. I started with rolling Mr. Hubby’s shirts because his shirts are mostly of similar thickness and sizes. I excluded his pants in this chest because his pants were difficult to be rolled and I realised that the rolled ones actually take as much space as the folded one. So where did his pants go? To the existing wardrobe which he shared with Mr. Bro-in-law after some major rearranging.

Then, I started rolling my tops. I was happy because my tops were mostly thin and small. So, they looked really cute after being folded. And, it was really space-saving. After that, I started rolling my pants. Similarly to the problems I had with Mr. Hubby’s pants, both my long and short pants were not exactly “roll-able”. As they were not as thick as Mr. Hubby’s pants, I managed to fold the pants to the smallest size possible. And luckily, I didn’t really have so many pairs of pants with me. I must be really stupid to start with the easiest task. After organising my tops and pants, I had to roll the dresses. And guess what? Rolling didn’t work so well with the dresses because all my dresses were in different shapes and thickness – some with inner lining, some with laces, some with thick and fluffy sleeves, some with thick zippers, some were padded etc. Seriously?! But, I didn’t give up and continued to roll them. I managed to roll some of them into the smallest possible manner, but the ones with linings and zippers were almost impossible to be rolled. But, I managed to roll and stuff them all in the second drawer anyway. I just hope that I don’t have to open that particular drawer so often.

So, what’s my verdict on clothes-rolling?

Pros:
1. It works well with t-shirts, thin tops, really thin pants, scarves, and pyjamas.
2. It really saves space if the rolled clothes are any of these: t-shirts, thin tops, really thin pants, scarves, and pyjamas.
3. It works well if you are using a hanging clothes organiser.

Cons:
1. It doesn’t work well with thicker clothes like cardigans or sweater, pants, and dresses that comes in different thickness and designs.
2. It doesn’t save that much space if your clothes are thick.
3. It is very time taking.
4. If you don’t roll them properly, there’s a high chance that they will unroll by themselves.
5. It doesn’t work well with wardrobes or drawers because you will have a hard time taking out the clothes that were placed at the bottom.

My conclusion for rolling clothes?
I think rolling clothes works well when you are packing for a trip, unless you are taking some extremely exaggerated clothes. It definitely doesn’t work well if you are organising your clothes in a drawer or wardrobe. It works better if you organise your clothes in a hanging clothes organiser. If your clothes are thick, it is not going to save you much space. But if you yearn for that extra tiny little space (like what I’m desperate for right now), you can definitely try this method.

The art of rolling clothes

References:
1. My chest of 3 drawers.
2. Each drawer can stack up to 3 layers of clothes.
3. Small, thin tops can be rolled into such small size.
4. Rolled dresses with inner linings or laces don’t help much in space-saving.

Have you tried rolling your clothes, whether packing them for a trip or organising them in your wardrobe? Share your thoughts with me! 😀

Love,
Jenny Zhekova

Happy Spring Cleaning – Part Two

Today I continued my spring cleaning like I have been doing for the past 2 weeks. The “storeroom” is almost cleared so I proceeded to the living room today. Again, I found a lot of treasures today. I focused on 3 sections (or collections, if you want to call it that way) – magazines, CDs/DVDs and bags.

I started with the easiest one, which was the magazines collection. From the picture below, you may think that they were not a lot but in fact, these magazines occupied almost 2 big containers. How was that even possible?! :O Since I needed to use the containers to transport my things, I decided to put these magazines on the shelf. Seriously, how can these magazines be so HEAVY? Were they made of steel or what?! Anyway, arranging them was as easy as ABC (minus their weight) so I spent only about 15 minutes on this task.

Then, I continued with the second section, which was my bags collection. I thought that it would be real easy since I had already given many bags to my elder sister. But then I realised I actually still had many left. I took much longer time to wipe and dust and keep and arrange them than I expected it to be. It was still a relatively easy task because the bags were light. Since most of them were in their dust bags anyway, so cleaning them was generally an easy job.

The last part was my CDs/DVDs collection. Well, not mine entirely. 50% belonged to Mr. Hubby. I removed the CD trays and kept the CDs/DVDs nicely in the container. Anyway, I was quite amazed how much money I spent buying all these original CDs during my early teens. In my late teens, I think the trend shifted from “buying” original ones to “burning” original ones. Hahaha. However, I did not keep these “burnt” ones and decided to throw them away. Yes, they are now in a blue rubbish bag.

I relocated most of my treasures to my mum’s place. Some of them are now in my sister’s place. Why am I relocating them? I’ll tell you in my next (or maybe next next) post. I spent the rest of my afternoon in my mum’s place, arranging things which I had earlier brought there. I found lots of “love letters” and greeting cards from my friends. They were all handwritten. Most letters and cards had almost no space due to so much love (a.k.a “words”) written on them. I also found my autograph books from secondary school. And TAA DAA, some of my soft toys collection, stuffed in a big container. I didn’t want to stuff them there BUT there was no enough space to display them. AND I’m definitely NOT going to give them away because I’m a selfish pink monster who needs a lot of soft toys! (Note: I actually had given a few to my nephew so I’m not really that selfish.) 😀

So, what’s the fun arranging things today? I re-read all the letters and cards from my friends. And, I found the content of these letters extremely hilarious. Some of them were really mushy. I mean, if all these mushy words were from only guys, I was most probably going to be flattered. BUT honestly, 50% of them were from girls. Seriously?! What were we (me and my girl-friends) thinking? I think puberty must have hit us really hard at that time!!! What’s more we were in all-girl school. Hahaha!! I’m not going to talk about all the content because it will take me forever. You will understand what “forever” means when you see the pictures below.

Have fun looking through the pictures! 😀

My magazines, CDs/DVDs and bags that were cleared today! Sometimes I feel really fortunate that I’m not an “expensive bags” collector. At least I can easily give away the bags to others when there’s a need. Please pardon the horribly arranged backpacks and baggages at the bottom right picture.

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More treasures found in the containers I moved to my mum’s place earlier. Diaries, autograph books, soft toys and wait, what?! So many boxes of name cards? I didn’t know I was such a “big” businessperson. Oh wait, not all were mine. Haha. Who is Nyagoslav Zhekov? 😛

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Love letters from my “lovers” (a.k.a friends and pen pals). There are also letters and cards from my aunt. Yes, I am a nice niece! 😀 If you are looking again at what you were looking at the second picture on the left, YES, that was exactly what you were thinking!!! Take a guess who was the sender? (Hint: A friend from my secondary school!) Look at the epic Meteor Garden (F4) letter pad!! Hahahaha… And now you know the meaning of “forever”. I almost pengsan (faint) reading all of them! But from these letters, I could see who are my good friends. I mean, only good friends would take time to write you so much stuff, right? Shit friends usually wouldn’t be bothered.

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A random sleeping cat that I saw outside the window when I opened the window for fresh air. I was wondering if it was sleeping or dead? My mum told me that the cat regularly sleeps there. Hmmmm…

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Hope you enjoyed my post!

Love from the pink monster ❤

 

Happy Spring Cleaning

Aaaah….It has been almost 2 weeks since my last post. Nope, I haven’t been lazy. In fact, I’ve been diligently spring cleaning my house! I always think that I don’t really have much stuff but sadly, that’s not the case. In reality, I do have a lot of things which I don’t even know where they came from. During this spring cleaning, I found many things from my childhood. One major reason why this spring cleaning takes forever is that I continuously discover “treasures”. A generous person I am, I have decided to share these “treasures” with my family members and friends by continuously spamming them on Whatsapp with pictures of these treasures during the time of cleaning. So yes, I have to admit that this spring cleaning is not over…yet.

My hubby always says I’m an “inactive” (basically he means “lazy”) person. BUT, I finally found evidence to prove otherwise. Unlike my hubby who did only dangerous stunts like Tarzan when he was young, I had very “calm” hobbies like collecting “normal” things (stickers, bookmarks, letter pads, stamps, cartoon name cards), collecting “weird” things (my friends’ baby pictures?!?! and old house keys?!?!) and writing letter & cards to pen pals. I noticed I also had 6 phonebooks to write down phone numbers of my friends. I guess that was the trend back then. Later when I became a little older, I still had “calm” hobbies like making arts & crafts and designing brochures/leaflets for my church caregroup. I also found many handwritten diaries, full with details for university and church activities.

It is true that I can’t bear to part with all of them, but I have to throw some of these things as they have developed heavy foxing (brown spots/stains on papers) on them. Although I’m known among my friends as a neatness-cum-hygiene freak, I must say I really hate cleaning and dusting. However, this spring cleaning has brought back so much fond memories (and a few bad ones too, unfortunately). I had a great time reminiscing the good old days during this spring cleaning session.

Sorry to keep this post short. I have to “get back to clean” or else I’ll have to “shower in dust”. Hahaha 😛 I’ll try my best to keep you entertained with more “treasure” stories! 😀 Meanwhile, let me entertain you with my spring cleaning process!

This is the pink monster’s storeroom. It’s actually a study room which I shared with my hubby one year ago. When my parents-in-law came from Bulgaria last June, we moved our desks out to the living room in order to fit a king size bed here. When they left last July, my hubby decided not to move his desk back to this study room. Therefore, I claimed the whole room by myself. We put the bed against the wall so I had a very empty floor that I could roll back and forth. Due to so much emptiness, I unconsciously stacked and piled and stacked and piled more things until it became a junk pile, ooops I mean treasure pile like this. I had about 10 big containers (like the one in red and blue) with many little treasures inside. Hohoho… Anyway, if you think this is not really so much. What I can say is that this is only about 15% of the stuff I have in this house. (Note: By “stuff” I mean little little things, I do not mean things like household furniture and other electrical appliances.) Damn it!

Countless little treasures in big containers 🙂

These are a tiny part of my little treasures. 😀  Those with heavy foxing were thrown but yes, I’m keeping these (except for the keys)! And, I have safely relocated them. Bahahahahaha…

A tiny part of treasures

So, have you recently done any spring cleaning? Did you manage to find treasures like I did? Hahaha!!

Love from the pink monster ❤

The story of Chrysanthemums

My husband and I like to joke with each other. I mean, really crude jokes. There was a joke, which I have been telling people since I don’t remember when. He didn’t tell me not to tell it to others. He didn’t tell me that this joke has somehow affected him a little bit negatively. It really didn’t hit me that I have become so insensitive. Until yesterday, I found out that this joke was not funny after all.

The joke (or story) went like this. It happened last year, sometime around March, April or May (I really can’t remember). One day, I was feeling really down. It was either about my work or my dissertation (again, I don’t remember). On this particular day, my hubby sent me to work. On the way to work, I guess I was in really foul mood and must have said a lot of shits. So, my hubby decided to cheer me up by giving me a little surprise. He came to pick me when I knocked off from work. As usual, I waited for him at the foyer of my workplace. I saw his car coming, he stopped at drop-off area and I opened the car door. I was stunned for 5 seconds, didn’t know how to react. Guess what?! There was a bouquet of Chrysanthemum on the passenger seat. I was obviously not in good mood that day, but I wasn’t angry. I took that bouquet of flowers and got into the car. I was silent for another 5 seconds and then I turned to my hubby and said, “Honey, do you remember that when we were in Bulgaria, I once told you that you shouldn’t buy Chrysanthemums as gifts for others when we are back in Malaysia?” He turned to me and asked why. I continued, “That’s because Chrysanthemums are usually used for prayers or for the deceased.” He was in total shock. Then we went to my mum’s place for dinner. And I told my mum the story and asked my mum to guess what flowers he bought. My mum said, “Please don’t tell me it’s Chrysanthemum.” And I replied, “Yes, you are right.” Then I turned to my hubby and said “Please do not buy clock for my family members and friends.” We had a laugh and continued our dinner as usual.

My family members and I are not superstitious people. However, we are after all Chinese and we try our best to keep some of the Chinese traditions or “pantang larang” (taboos) that had been passed down from our ancestors. Fortunately, my family members also understand that my hubby shares a very different culture from them. So, there is a mutual understanding between my hubby and my family members, not to sweat over small things like this.

To me, I love flowers. I love all kinds of flowers. Although Chrysanthemum is not my favorite (my favorites are calla lilies and hydrangeas), I still think Chrysanthemums are very pretty flowers. Back in Bulgaria, I had also received Chrysanthemums from my hubby. So what made this time so different and shocking? I’m no flower expert but I think there are different types (or species) of Chrysanthemums. Some of them look like Daisy (for me) and some of them look like Sunflower (for me again). So, if you want to know the kind of Chrysanthemum I received when I was in Bulgaria, look at the picture below. They look very nice and sweet right? (see below).

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So why was this time so shocking? Because this time, the Chrysanthemum I received neither looked like Daisy or Sunflower, but it looked like this. (see below). So let me ask you, how would you feel if you see this flower bouquet on the passenger seat when you are not exactly in good mood?

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When we went back home, my hubby explained to me what happened. He said that he went to the florist’s and he saw that the roses looked small and miserable. So, he didn’t want the roses. Then, the florist came and asked him who was he buying for and what was the occasion. Read carefully from here. My hubby told the florist that he was buying flowers for his wife and it was just for a casual occasion. After browsing, my hubby said that the only fresh and nicest looking flowers were the Chrysanthemums. So he pointed at those and taa-daa…the florist without saying anything, sold that to my hubby. In fact, after I heard this story, I got quite angry at the florist. Then, I told my hubby, “These flowers have to be fresh because people are frequently using them for prayers”. What’s worse was that it was approximately the “Qing Ming Festival” (Tomb Sweeping Festival) for the Chinese. Seriously?! I personally think that the florist was very unethical to sell that bouquet to my hubby.

Later on, when I met my friends, sometimes I would mention this story as a joke. For more than a year, I’ve been telling this as a joke to many people. Until yesterday, one of my best friends mentioned this on Facebook. So without thinking much, I again joked about it with my hubby. Later when we going to sleep, we chit-chatted and I started bugging him about not giving me anymore surprise gifts. After non-stop bugging for about an hour (I think I’m a pest), he finally told me that the reason WHY he now prefers to bring me to choose my own gifts rather than buying them on his own. The reason is that he is constantly WORRIED he will make another mistake like the “Chrysanthemum incident”. Then, it struck me that this incident has affected him in such a negative manner until he is afraid to give me anymore surprise gifts. There was a silence for 5 minutes. I realised that I have been such a horrible wife for making him feel horrible all these while.

Honestly, I blame that stupid florist. Her action has affected us (especially my hubby) quite negatively. She may have done it unintentionally but I believe she should have at least informed (if not warned) my husband when he pointed at the Chrysanthemums. She shouldn’t have assumed that the wife of my hubby is also an “ang moh” (Caucasian). Unfortunately for her and everyone else, that wife (me) is a Chinese.

So here, I want to apologize to my hubby for insensitively joked about this for more than a year. I’m so sorry. Please don’t be angry and continue to buy me surprise gifts. If anything of such happens again, don’t worry, I’ll burn the shop of the seller. Okay, maybe not burn but I’ll go back to the shop and slap the seller. 😀

Every time I pass by this florist’s, I feel so disgusted. Such an unethical florist. To the florist: May your boyfriend or husband buy you only Chrysanthemums (NOT the nice colourful ones) for the rest of your life!