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Big Bad Wolf 2020 – Malaysia’s Largest Book Sale Goes Online

Since 2009, Malaysian bibliophiles and book hoarders have made their annual pilgrimage to the Big Bad Wolf Sale, which is held every year around Feb/Mac or Nov/Dec and is touted as the largest book sale in the region. The last time I went in 2018, they had over 3 million titles!

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Buang balik #2018

Due to the pandemic, many events have had to be cancelled – so the BBW won’t be held physically this year. They are, however, having an online sale, so you can still shop for books from the comforts of your own home. The sale went live at midnight on Nov 4, and will run until Nov 11 (which is shorter than the usual BBW which usually runs for 2 weeks).

Now, although BBW and BookXCess (BBW’s parent company) has been around for some time, they’ve always been more of a brick-and-mortar business – as evidenced by their bookstores, which are all beautifully designed as ‘lifestyle hubs’ where you can sip on a coffee, work, study, etc. There is of course nothing wrong with this; I personally prefer physical bookstores and the joy of finding an awesome book hidden in a corner shelf , getting to inhale the smell of paper, touch the sleek edges of the page. Hmm.

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The BookXCess store at Tamarind Square, Cyberjaya is the largest bookstore in Malaysia, and it operated 24 hours a day (pre-pandemic)

But we are living in uncertain times, and many businesses have had to accelerate their digital processes and shift to a more online-centric model to cater to shifting consumer needs/demands. BBW’s first online sale will be a test as to how well it’ll be able to cope. So far, there seem to be a lot of teething problems.

Since going live at midnight, many users have complained that the website is inaccessible – probably due to the sheer amount of web traffic which is overloading their servers. When they do get in, some have problems creating an account, while others can’t browse because titles are not showing up on the pages. Still others have said their cart turns up empty after they’ve selected the items they want to purchase, and some users haven’t been able to checkout at all.

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I’m part of a local book group on FB, and these are just some of the frustrated comments:

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Curious, I went to the website myself at around 11AM today. It loaded fine at first…

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But upon trying to register for an account:

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Tried again at 12.40PM and managed to get a form to fill up, but after filling it up and pressing ‘create account’, it cleared my data and requested for me to fill up my details again.

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BBW has at least acknowledged they’re having problems on their page.

Now I’m not trying to be mean here or say that they’re doing a shit job – I’m sure their IT department is working round-the-clock to resolve these issues, and despite how some people have commented that “Oh you should have been prepared knowing that there will be many people surfing your website”, I know Murphy’s Law applies – you can prepare for every possibility in the world, but things that will go wrong will go wrong.

But I also understand the frustration on the consumer’s side – one comment said it took them an hour to register an account, an hour to browse and select their books, and another hour to checkout because they had to keep refreshing the page – a total of four hours. In a digital-savvy world of instant gratification and convenient online shopping, four hours just doesn’t cut it.

That being said, there are also customers like these – which is when you know you’ve done something right with your brand:

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If you do manage to get in, BBW 2020 does have great discounts, up to 90% off on 40,000 titles and with over two million books on sale. They also provide free shipping on orders above RM180. If you’re buying above RM300, you’re entitled to a further 10% discount with the code BBW10% off.

Anyway, I hope they manage to sort things out soon because I do think that they are doing a good thing – which is bringing books to customers. There are also many pros to going online, namely avoiding the crowd of shoppers and the massive traffic jams that are a signature of BBW sales every year.

PS: I initially wanted to browse some of the titles, but perhaps this is for the best seeing as I have a TBR pile from AS FAR BACK AS 2013 LMFAO I HATE MYSELF WHY AM I LIKE THIS LOL.

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These were from 2018. I have only managed to finish the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time wtf. Kill me.

Have you ordered books from the Big Bad Wolf Sale 2020? How was your experience?

My Mini Library

Hey guys!

It’s Day 6 of the Restricted Movement Order in Malaysia. Officially, there are 8 more days to go –  but looking at the upward trend of cases, an extension might be imminent. 😦 I know I am luckier than most in that I have enough savings to tide me over should the RMO be prolonged, but there are many out there such as the homeless and the destitute who are in danger of falling through the cracks as governments scramble to control the spread of the virus. Aside from doing our part as good citizens, we should also help donate what we can to help frontliners such as charity workers and NGOs.

As for what I’ve been doing at home: I’ve been working on my articles, both for my main job as well as my side hustles. It’s a good thing I did them way ahead of time, because looking at how things are, it’ll be a while before I can go out to conduct any sort of interview.

It can be difficult to keep yourself disciplined when you’re ‘working’ from home (my workspace is literally two steps away from my bed) but so far I’ve been adhering to my routine – wakeup at around 8.30 am to 9, breakfast, and then start working by 10. I take a short break for lunch, and then I work until 5pm and wrap up for the day. In the evenings I either help my mom out in the kitchen, or I work out for half an hour. After dinner, I surf the net, read or write for the blog.

The good thing about not having to spend time in traffic is that I have more time to do the things I want. I recently sorted out some photos in my laptop and realised I never blogged about my book cabinet. I had it installed at the end of last year because my mom, a neat freak, was losing it over how many books I had (and kept buying). I had books all over the place; on a bookshelf in my room, in the cabinet downstairs, in giant containers and boxes. She gave me an ultimatum – either I got a bigger space to keep everything, or she’d throw them away. So, cabinet it was.

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It took a couple of days to set up (problem with parts and stuff) but the result was great. It’s harder to get to the books at the top though, so we put stuff we don’t normally take out often like the photo albums and some old magazines.

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N was still here last year (he’s now in the Phils due to job commitments) so he had no choice but to help me sort out my mountain of books lol. You gotta work for your board and lodging, bruh

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It took us several hours but we finally got everything nicely in place! Even had them sorted out according to category, so there’s like a section for all the comics, Asian literature, fantasy, historical fiction and horror. How do you sort your books? I know some people like to sort their books according to colour, or alphabetical order, or genre.

 

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My favourite shelf.

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If you see books that look like they’re in a less-than-stellar condition, they’re either a) second-hand books, or b) my favourites, because I like to reread books and they somehow end up in tatters lol.

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Asian literature.

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Another shelf in my room. The books ended up in the upper cabinets.

People have asked me if I’ve actually read ALL of the books I have. And no, I haven’t. My reading habits have gone down the drain ever since I started working, but I’ve been trying to get back into it these last couple of months, and I can proudly say I’ve finished at least one book a month in the last 3 months. Now, only several dozen to go…

 

 

 

30-Day Writing Challenge : Day 15 – One Thing You Never Learned

15. One Thing You Never Learned 

I’ve never learned how to swim properly.

I can ‘move’ from one end of the pool to another (or more like half the pool), but I never learned how to float. So if I was in a place where my feet don’t touch the ground, I’d probably drown. When I was a little girl, my dad attempted to teach me how to swim, but he was terrible at instructions and our visits to the pool were so sporadic his ‘lessons’ never bore fruit.

Sometimes I wonder if they had just thrown me into a pool, would I have been able to learn how to swim? Perhaps it was because I knew my dad was there to hold me that I didn’t try as hard. My dad did not have formal lessons on swimming. He basically learned how to swim at the river (public swimming pools were not a big thing back in the day – or only the rich could afford entry to the ones at posh clubs) – it was literally a case of sink or swim.

Kind of like life, innit? While I still don’t know how to swim (and have made peace that I probably never will), the takeaway from this is that we can rage against the world and its injustices and how it doesn’t fit around us, but ultimately, only the strong and the adaptable survive.

 

 

30-Day Writing Challenge: Day 14 – The Weirdest Thing About Your Family

14. The Weirdest Thing About Your Family 

Hey guys! Sorry for missing out on entry 14 – got home late last night and was just too tired to write. Also been busy the last couple of days, so I haven’t been able to prep in advance either.

So, right. Weirdest thing about my fam. I think every family is dysfunctional / has its own quirks, so something that might seem weird to others might not be weird to me. As a family unit, I don’t see us having anything particularly unusual, but I guess I can share some individual quirks.

My mother is a stickler for organising things and can’t have anything out of place; not even a stray piece of paper. This has been a point of contention between us because being an INTP (a thinker), I’m not always organised in the real world because I’m busy sorting out my thoughts. I tend to leave things lying around and within convenient reach so that I can quickly access it (case in point, my books which I like to have on the desk, on my bed, under my bed, etc.). There were times where I couldn’t find items or documents I needed because she had put them away. She calls it lazy, I just call it being convenient.

My father is a detached person. He does his duty well as a dad in that he provides, doesn’t smoke, drink or gamble, fetches us to school, etc. but if you’re looking for any emotional support, then he’s the last person you’d go to. He doesn’t like to go out with us either and if we have to go on a family trip, prefers wandering off on his own or staying a little apart from the rest of us. He also does not have any friends. I’ve always felt that my dad was more suited to bachelorhood, but he somehow ended up with a family and is just seeing it through lol. It’s not to say he doesn’t love or care for us, though.

My brother is, to put it politely, reserved. Like my dad, he doesn’t have many friends, and spends his time working, gaming, drawing (he’s good at it) and being a hermit.

As for me, I think there isn’t enough time nor space to write about my quirks. Like the fact that I like to read about serial killers in my spare time, my interest in the macabre, my social awkwardness, my aversion to touch,  the fact that I like buying books but give excuses on reading them my obsession with cats; the list goes on.

My family isn’t perfect, but which fam is? I don’t believe in the ‘blood makes the bond’ thing – family is whom you choose them to be – but all things considered, I love my fam for who they are, quirks and all.

 

 

 

30-Day Writing Challenge Day 13 : A Memorable Stranger

13. A Memorable Stranger

stranger
/ˈstreɪn(d)ʒə/
noun
  1. a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar.

It was many years ago when I first watched Wong Fu Production’s Youtube short, Strangers Again which chronicles the stages of a relationship. From being strangers gradually trying to get to know each other, getting into a relationship, going through a honeymoon phase where everything is sweet and lovey-dovey, misunderstandings, fights and the inability to compromise or reconcile differences, and finally breaking up – becoming strangers, again.

I spent the better part of five years with someone from high school. We had been friends since we were 16, and got together when we were 17.  We even went to the same college for awhile, and I recall fondly times where we’d ride the train to college, sometimes waiting for hours at the mall for the other to finish their classes, just so we could ride home together. Things were sweet for awhile, but as it goes, things played out just like in Strangers, Again. It wasn’t any one person’s fault – it was just that we were young, naive and had idealistic notions about love.

Perhaps the idea is best encapsulated by this nugget of wisdom from Zendaya (young but very talented and mature, unlike many of her contemporaries in Hollywood):

“I’m so anti being in a committed relationship when you’re young and people are learning and growing, because when people are young, they make bad decisions sometimes because they don’t know any better. It doesn’t mean they don’t know the difference between right and wrong—it just means that they’re still in the experimental phase in their life where they haven’t made the right decisions yet…it’s very hard to be in a relationship when the both of you are still figuring out life. You cannot change anybody. You cannot make someone grow up faster than they’re supposed to.”

 

We were both at a phase where we were just discovering the world and the best people and environments to surround ourselves with  – and our ideals and visions for the future were just too different at the time. While we broke up on relatively good terms, it felt awkward. How do you become friends again with someone whom you have been so intimate with and who knows almost every facet of your life, for five years? Friends who knew us were pretty appalled, saying it was a shame and that I wasted five years of my life and youth. That’s just the thing though – did I want to waste another five? I’ve always been of the belief that if things don’t work out even when you’ve already exhausted all avenues, perhaps it’s time to move on.

These days, we’re still ‘friends’ on social media, although I haven’t seen him for the good part of six years, nor have we spoken much other than sporadically. Of course, having spent so much time together in our developmental years, it’s hard not to recall things from the past. All things considered, we had a good run, and our experiences together helped shaped me into the person I am today. Strangers? Yes. Memorable? Definitely.

 

 

30-Day Writing Challenge: Day 12 – Friendships

12. Friendships 

Friendships come easy to some people. It’s fascinating how some people just have the gift of the gab for approaching complete strangers and somehow leaving with numbers, smiles and promises to catch up over drinks someday.

I, on the other hand, have struggled with this since high school. Being bullied, ostracised and made to feel like I never belonged, I am now somewhat guarded and reserved in person, and it takes time for me to warm up to people. In an extrovert’s world where everything is about whom you know and how well you know ’em, this can be a disadvantage (especially in a field like lifestyle journalism!).

As we get older and our time is occupied by things like family and commitments, it is natural for some friends to simply … drift apart. I’ve never been a social butterfly with a big group of friends, but the few I have kept, I treasure. I have also learnt that time is not always a determinant for good friendships, and that relationships can be fluid. I met one of my closest friends at my last workplace, where we were colleagues. Another close friend I have known since I was 13, but only became really close after high school, and one I was close to in high school but has since drifted apart. There’s also my ‘bro’ who migrated to the States (have not seen him for a decade), but still calls to wish me Happy Birthday every year. We don’t talk much, but when we do, we pick up right where we left off – it’s as if nothing has changed.

There was a time where I expected my friends to be perfect friends, which they are, of course, not. Nobody is. Even lovers fight and disagree, what more friends? One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to let go of the hurt and betrayal I’ve carried and not project it onto my friendships. If all else fails, live, let go and wish them all the best.

Life’s too short for regrets.

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30-Day Writing Challenge – Day 11: An Adventure In The Kitchen

11. An Adventure In The Kitchen

First things first: I am not much of a cook.

When I was younger, my mother ruled the kitchen with an iron-fist, and would often shoo me out because I wasn’t cutting something right or wasn’t quick enough to take the pan off the heat, etc. Over the years, my interest waned, and while she did eventually try to get me to cook, I was completely disinterested by then. There’s also a complicated food dynamic in my household; they don’t eat what I eat, and I can’t feel bothered to cook something that I don’t like (because why the effort, then?). Living alone in the UK, I had more freedom to experiment, but my cooking was still basic – edible (occasionally tasty) but not exactly 5-star fare.

A couple of years ago when my ex came to visit me from the States, he thought of impressing my folks with what I couldn’t do – cook a nice meal. My ex is not a bad cook, and I was touched that he was expending such effort. On the menu was pork adobo, spaghetti and fruit salad. I was to assist.

Shopping for ingredients was an adventure in itself, because many of the items he was used to were not available in Malaysia, or were called by a different name so it was difficult to look for them. We couldn’t find bayleaf, so we had to leave that out of the adobo (although he insisted that it wasn’t true adobo if there wasn’t bayleaf), and for the spaghetti he requested ‘tomato sauce’.

Now this was the funniest part. To Malaysians (myself included), tomato sauce = ketchup and not the canned tomato sauce type Westerners use for pasta. Mistaking this (and me not realising), we ended up putting ketchup in our spaghetti! Of course it was super sweet and almost inedible, but all else considering, having 2/3 dishes right was not too bad.

While we might not have broken up on good terms, this kitchen adventure has stuck with me because they were some of the good moments in our relationship. Every relationship has its ups and downs, and if you aren’t able to look past the bitterness after a breakup, I think you’d carry a lot of resentment and hate in your heart. Which is why despite going our separate ways, I look back on this fondly.

30-Day Writing Challenge : Day 10 – Traffic

10. Traffic 

Like many major cities in Southeast Asia, traffic in Kuala Lumpur is pretty bad. The distance between my home and the office is about 20 kilometres, and I spend about an hour getting to work, and 1.5 hours to get home. This will stretch to two hours when it rains, or if it’s a Friday evening.

Traffic congestion has been a long standing problem in Malaysia, especially in the Klang Valley. We are a nation of drivers – almost every household in urban areas has at least one car. Malaysians reportedly have one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world. It’s not because we like cars (who wants to be tied down with loans and whatnot, especially since our cars aren’t that cheap either) – but it’s a necessity. Getting from place to place is simply too inconvenient if you don’t have one.

The way I see it, the major issue is connectivity.  For example, the area I live in has no buses servicing the route, and the nearest train station is 25 minutes (on foot), with no pavements to walk on (you’ll have to walk on the road where you’re at risk of being run over by a truck or some shit). This is true for many housing estates, so the only way one is able to travel conveniently is to get a car (or a motorbike). Even when using public transportation, it is often unreliable. I used to travel from my home to my college (about 40 kilometres away), which would involve me getting up at 5.30AM (my dad would drop me off at the train station on his way to work), catching the train at 6.30AM, and arriving at school at 8AM. When I had to go home, I’d take the train and switch to a bus (the journey would take up to 3 hours) and I still couldn’t get right to my doorstep because it would be a 30 minute walk on unpaved roads again – I had to wait for my dad to come pick me up.

These days, there is Grab – but the government has been regulating the system and as a result, many people have quit being Grab drivers, and the supply is limited. Longer waiting times aside, there has also been a surge in price. There have been calls from certain parties to promote carpooling by banning single drivers (which is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard), but until the day they can have better urban planning (don’t build housing estates THEN think about transportation; sane people do it the other way around) and better connectivity, I doubt there will be a solution to our transportation woes.

Then again, I just need to take a trip to Manila to remind myself that we have it much better than they do. Visiting N there has been a nightmare the last couple of times; like the time we got stuck in a flood which took us 5 hours to get from the Museum of Natural History back to our hotel near the airport: a distance of 12 kilometres. Also, breathing in diesel fumes from jeepneys, being squished like a sardine in the vehicle, sweating from pores I didn’t even know existed, and such. Yep. Gimme KL traffic any day.