Taiping, Monday 23rd January 2006


My life did have a bit of backlog, left right and centre, upon departure from Holland.

Sharp vision

Just before departure I managed to purchase new glasses. It was about time, as my current ones were over ten years of age. As it happens, I do not like shopping much. Buying cloths is an activity worth limiting to the absolute minimum. I dislike to focus of external looks, prefer to live inside my head rather than the world.
A face
is like a painting,
deserves a pretty frame.

Brown Eyes

Glasses with character, contact lenses

Kleiwegstraat 28
2801GM Gouda

+31 182 580783

Buying new spectacles means sheer disaster to me. Staring at my own face strikes me as an odd action. Yet the plastic parts of my old glasses falls apart after 10 years. Super glue does help a bit, but does not provide a permanent solution.

I need sharp vision for a multi month project. New contact lenses are a major improvement, but are not a solution for long days behind a computer screen. O dear, I have to face a optician. One of my neighbours, the biggest womaniser of the neighbourhood, recommends Gouda's Brown Eyes as the shop to go to. And yes, I do like the atmosphere of the shop. It is like stepping from plain old Gouda into a fantasy world, where creativity is not frowned upon but is the measure of things.

The lady that runs the shop just hears my long list of wishes. Yes, well, this gentleman wants light weight glasses, sturdy, with fall proof plastic glasses, scratch free, no coloured glass, suitable for his big head, and comfortable even after a long day. Well, it sounds possible. She dives into her many drawers and comes up with a set of mind boggling designs, each one totally unique. My image of glasses has obviously outdated over the last 10 years.

Even this grumpy bear now starts enjoying this show of models. A few days before departure my new set is ready, super light weight and very sturdy, ready to meet my chaotic life. Hip hip hurray, off I go with sharp vision.

System development

The new glasses were not in time for the system development. Being a master of procrastination, I delayed to purchase for far too long. So I wrote the software with old vision. And that was not too bad, as my eye strength is the same as 10 years ago, so the old glasses did not too bad after all.

Irrespective of old sight, the developed system is running at customer site, deadline met, but the functionality limited to the bare core. Users are able to do their job with it, but it is too limited to my taste, not yet up to SUMit's normal level of quality and usability.

So the new year offers an opportunity to dress up the bare system core. Spot a Dutchman with a laptop at Taiping's lake garden and know: the next release of SCA's Personnel Planning System is buatan ke Malaysia.


As the old year drew to an end I quickly applied for a new passport. Ready on Friday, 30th December, well in time for a departure on New Years Day. But Friday afternoon I am disappointed to find the town hall closed. These civil servants, hired to serve the public, close there doors every Friday afternoon. Grr, I hate it. To make things worse, they open late on Mondays at 10 o'clock. Now this looks like a long weekend to them, every week that is. So I had to wait to Monday to purchase a ticket and get a visa for Australia. At last, the new year started and I can escape dark Dutch winter.


My mind and body were exhausted. For months in a row I've worked 7 long days a week, developing software. It is not a healthy thing to do, reminded me of the drum from the dot com era. And on top of it all normal SUMit activities just continued, such as shift roster design training. I don't know how I managed, but the system got delivered before departure, all users trained, with hand over to system control and let the system run.

Aboard the airplane I fail to sleep properly. It is fully booked, I'm squeezed between other passengers.

Mosquito gear

Meeting Mr Tan Boon Chin, an old colleague in Kuala Lumpur, goes at half speed. I struggle to keep my eyes open till evening. Together we challenge the bottle of tax free whiskey and say good-bye early. As soon as my head hits the pillow, I am sound asleep.

Next day starts with a nice ride to Taiping. Damn, I should have bought mosquito coils and ask for an extra bed sheet. The first night in Taiping is a ball for the mosquitoes.

Big backpack

Upon checkout in Kuala Lumpur I hear a crack under my shoe, it is the buckle of my big backpack. This buckle is made of plastic, about 15 years old and too fragile to resist my weight. So buy a new buckle? No idea where about in Taiping I could find one.

Velcro is a fine alternative, but where to find it? The quest ends in the bazaar Tsen Loong a wonderful collection of tailor shops.

Small backpack

This bazaar is bigger than I thought. What looks like a staff entry turns out to lead to the main street, with lots of other hidden shops. Somewhere in the centre resides the queen of zippers, the fairy that solves all difficult cases. She examines the broken zipper of my small backpack and does not sound too enthusiastic. Even for her it is a tough, time consuming job.

Yes, my dear, I know it is a tough job. I would do it myself if it had been easy, wouldn't I? And no. Buying a new backpack is out of the question. This small old backpack is and essential piece of SUMit's mobile infrastructure. It is the perfect hideout for the laptop, truly essential to keep SUMit ambulant. And there is no way I would risk transporting my laptop in a broken backpack.

It takes the zipper fairy a full day to replace the zipper, but the result is very satisfactory. Hip hip hurray, SUMit Malaysia is mobile again, can work outside the hotel room.

About a kilometre into the jungle I find the perfect location for opening a SUMit side office, a small island in the middle of a river. The water cools my feet, nobody around me, just some roti canai as company for lunch and what joy, at last some time to solve the more difficult pieces of software for the Staff Planning System.


The maintenance backlog keeps hunting me. I realise that I lacked time for just about everything for months. My shoelaces are worn out, snap. New ones appear to short, my head is still to fuzzy to select the right size of laces. A second purchase does have the right length.


My new slippers of yesteryear are worn out. Winter is the wrong time in Holland to buy slippers. And here it is tough to find my size, but I manage. Here in the tropics my feet do not have to sweat anymore in hot shoes.

Safe's string

My passport, credit card and ticket are safe, stored in a leather envelope hanging with a string around my neck. The string must be 10 years old by now, older than SUMit, dates back from the times in the Sumatra highlands, when Sumatera Informasi Technologi was yet to be founded. The string is thin and about to break. A short sized lace gets promoted, now is my safe's string.


Some of my shirts have holes from previous walks in rough territory. The normal thing to do is to buy some new shirts before departure, but I lacked the time. Here in Malaysia I do not even try to find clothes in my size. The final bit of backlog procrastinates till down under.


I am quite well rested, have sharp vision, can wear cool slippers, am armed against mosquitos, with my passport hanging safely around my neck. It is about time for a bit of holiday, somewhere in a nice, quiet hideout around Perth, Adelaide or Katherine.

Till next nut,