I’m going on a break, hoping for many things. One of them is to finish a couple of books on my Kindle and seek the meaning behind it.

I’ll be traveling to Surabaya, Indonesia. A country I’ve visited before (Jakarta), but not a place I’ve been to before.

Many uncertainties.

Many questions.

But one thing for sure is hoping to read more. And avoid buying books at the airport. AVOID!!!

The “T” Word

T is for Traveling

Traveling. I We went traveling. We chose a neighboring state, which was an hour and a half away.

Back to books – my favorite thing!

Sadness, at Kota Kinabalu International Airport

I don’t know how old our “new” airport is, probably somewhere between 15 to 20 years. What I do remember, is that sometime in 2010, this bookstore sold banned books, particularly books about the Communist Party of China (CPC), in Chinese and English.

The books, I recall, were neatly arranged according to leaders rulers from different eras, e.g. Mao Tse-tung, Deng Xiaoping, … Xi Jinping. They were displayed at a prime spot – at the center, facing the walkway; like expensive, limited edition chocolates. Most of the banned books were about the decadence and excess of the CPC, but the ones that tend to get the most pick-ups were exposés of obscene, often offshore – wealth, and immediate family members (nepotism, illegitimate children, etc.). It felt somewhat scandalous, because I had by then lived in Beijing for a decade, so I know what’s it like to stumble upon forbidden knowledge. The icing? We had, and still do, have a lot of tourists flying in directly from Mainland China.

But as the years went by, 2011, 2013… I noticed an uneasy shift. I still saw some banned books around town, but the product placement and topics seemed to have faded and toned down, respectively. 

It wasn’t until 2016 when I flew back and it finally hit me that those banned books had simply vanished. It was disheartening and disgusting. This is how I imagined it:

Someone, likely a foreigner (you can easily guess which nationality), complained to someone important; and someone else, likely Malaysian, likely high up, somehow buckled his knees and kowtowed to the communists someone important’s boss.

T is for Threats

You know, it’s really not that hard for them to force us to remove twist our arms and politely ask us to cease all sales and remove unsold copies from our shelves, likely countrywide. All they have to do is use the magic “T” word – Threats. Cancel direct flights to our tiny city? Impose draconian rules for inbound and outbound travels between two countries? You go figure.

So I took the above photo not because I happen to blog about books. I took this photo because it is sad that yet another brick and mortar has lost its soul. Bookstores should be airport fixtures, but I guess in today’s age, airports are better-off inviting (or begging) Apple to set-up shop at airports, no? That way, they can charge higher rent, and make more money off Generation Gadget.

Enough of the above. Maybe you are now inspired to read The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor? Ha-ha. go ahead. Read about it here. It’s still on my tbr. Just don’t forget to write me some afterthoughts once you’re done.

Moving on.

Here’s my backpack and my Paperwhite. My backpack is too big for my tiny asian frame (5’2), but this is what happens when you buy things online. 

In case you’re wondering, No, I do not have a purple belt in BJJ. I bought a brown one for my sensei, Han, as a farewell and good luck charm (that’ll he’ll be promoted to brown soon) before I left Beijing in the spring of 2016. He was purple with 4 stripes. This keychain is not a good luck charm for myself. It is just a reminder that my first BJJ sensei was a purple belt. That’s all.

Traveling with kids is fun, but the best part is always when they fall asleep after a day’s sightseeing etc. which was obviously planned and executed with precision to wear them out so that they can learn about new cultures and stuff. I decided to take a photo during a moment of bliss – no chores before bedtime, just reading, and wake up to, again, no chores. 

Ooh-la-la! Book nerds, this is bliss. Pretending to be eating healthy, while reading something when the room is dead quiet, no dogs barking outside, no electronic gates closing and opening (my neighbors they all lead such exciting lifestyles, sometimes I really wish I had the energy to go out with friends at night), and the best of it all – no chores. Just me, my Kindle, an apple and I.


T is for Turbulence

Reading when flying?

The answer, will always be NO. It is a terrible idea. Always, a bad, idea. Here’s why:

  1. Dryness
    • The cabin is dry. Glasses or contact lenses, the best thing you should be doing to your eyes while 30,000 feet above ground level, is to close them. Both. Tight. 
  2. “T” for Turbulence
    • I don’t know how lucky you are with flights, but the more I attempt to read, the more the plane pilot aeronautics decide to mess with me. Also, please read the following bullet point…
    • It is not advisable to read in a moving vehicle, specifically cars, as it wears your eyes out because it needs to constantly adjust itself so that it could identify the line of words in sight (you’re concentrating on). With cars, they swerve, bump and grind… very bad for your eyes. Period.
    • Of course, you can read perfectly fine in a bullet train, or on a huge ship that’s sailing on calm waters.
    • But try reading on a yacht and tell me how it goes, will ya?
  3. Sitting position. How far and long can you go if you don’t live the high life?
  4. Poor traveler behind you with long legs who can’t help but bump into your seat whenever they need to stretch a little. 
  5. Travelers who need to pee and get in and out. I mean, can you blame them? You’re likely one of them. 
  6. Attempts to ignore points 1 to 5 will only result in you reading the same paragraph over and over and over for 11 f*cking minutes until you give up and just stick to 1.

I guess that is all. I managed to read 30% of In Extremis this trip, a pretty decent feat I must say!

Happy holidays and safe travels to all. May you finish your current book before you buy a new one!