It was another breeze driving into UMMC this morning despite the downpour. I wished that the school holiday is every week at this rate. Cut down my driving time from close to an hour to half of that, despite leaving home later. I'm certainly not complaining. This story about holidays brought back memories about my own previous breaks, not the freebies the pharmaceutical companies give for 'meetings', but the one I fork out money for with the family on tow.
There is a trend forming. I used to hate going for holidays in Malaysia as a Malay. The experiences certainly has not been kind. June 2006, during a quick break to Port Dickson, we stopped over for lunch at one of the five-star hotels. Drove the car into the driveway at the main entrance, stopped over to drop my two boys, my wife Anita and my mother-in-law. The two doormen just stood there while my mother-in-law clamber off, and my wife dragging down my boys. They did not even bat an eyelid. Another car pulled over behind us with a Mat Salleh couple in slippers. Usian Bolt would have cringed at the speed the two stooges raced to open their door. To add insult to injury, they even picked up the luggage and opened the door for them. My mother-in-law being a Mak Datin did not take it lightly. She was livid. We didn't bother staying, we promptly left for another joint.
There was another incident in a hotel in Penang, sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. I went to check in with the rest of the party, mainly Chinese doctors (my family was not with me). I noticed that they were eager to serve me first but probably changed their mind when I opened my mouth. They must have thought that I was a Middle Eastern type, until I started speaking in proper Penang accent!
By last year, it has gone a lot better. Maybe because the flock of foreigners with cash were thinning out. I have to mention two places that looked after us very well despite being Malaysians. I actually wrote on Kementerian website to give kudos to the two venues. They were Bukit Merah Resort and Eastern Pavillion in Cherating. The Gurney in Penang was also excellent. We were not asking for much, just to be treated fairly. Try this. Stand in front of the counter in a hotel lobby, next to a Mat Salleh. Who will person behind the counter serve first? I can bet RM50 that it's not going to be you, unless you happen to be a Leng Chai or something! If the Ministry want to make the Cuti-cuti Malaysia a success, they have to address these issues. It may appear small, but these are the things that can spoil a good holiday!
For those going cuti-cuti Malaysia, props to all of you. I might be heading to Putrajaya one of these weekends. The Pullman Hotel certainly look nice on the website.