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Location: Penang, Malaysia

February 28, 2005

Another disaster but I didn't turn up

The company got a big lump sum of money recently due to some achievement. Some kind of significant business indicator which could not be disclosed here, of course. I have some kind of feeling that the management tends to spend money on intangible stuffs rather than giving it back to employees.

This was another employee appreciation event which took place at the most prestigious in Penang, the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, a return to elegance, a jewel from the past. Hey, this is really a big deal, and it is one of the most expensive hotel in Penang. The date chosen was coinciding with the 15th day of Chinese New Year. Cantonese call it Yuin Siu Jit, while the Hokkiens call it Chap Goh Meh. I decided not to go due to 3 reasons that I speculated at first. It turned out to be nothing but the truth.

First of all, traffic jam. Although this is part of life in packed cities like Penang, the 15th day of Chinese New Year is a big event. People rushed to Penang to see the "mandarin oranges throwing" event, fireworks, etc. The management realized this and allowed employees to leave early. Some of those who went told us that many reached there late. I am definitely not in favour of a dinner that will leave me stranded on the road and on the Penang bridge for a few hours.

Food is everywhere in Penang. Last year, I hosted a Vietnamese friend who has never been to any other countries before. She jokingly commented that, "In Penang, beside selling food, what else do Penangites sell?" There are many places where you can find delicious food but definitely not at those 5-star hotels.

What am I trying to say here? Hmm... the food that night was so lousy that the cheapest (most economical) hawker food is better. They ordered a 8-course Chinese dinner. The first dish is the most important dish, which has all kind of combinations. Traditionally, the first dish consists of 7 or 9 small dishes put side by side in a circle, with one dish in the center. The one served by E&O hotel that night had only 4 dishes with deep fried imitation crab meet (surimi) as one of the dishes. Shit! I can do better at home. People usually finish this first combi-dish but on that night, there were lots of leftover. Once you see the first dish, you don't have to mention the rest. However, there was one dish worth mentioning. It was the tandoori chicken with naan bread. The bread was so "hard" that teeth will come out if you try to pull it. At the end of the dinner, people went for Nasi Kandar.

In most of the dinners organized by companies for employees, the only way to "attract" people to attend is to organize lucky draw. The first prize was an OEM-branded 29-inch TV, and I think you don't want to know the rest anymore.

Well, as I said, from my observation, the management likes to spend money on intangible things. With the amount of money paid to E&O hotel, you can have all kind of delicious food around Penang for 3 consecutive nights. Ask Taiwanese company people where they treat their Japanese customers. Cheap but delicious! They can't eat E&O hotel, anyway. Who cares?

Since the amount to be paid to E&O hotel is huge, money left for lucky draw is tremendously reduced. Hence, you have OEM-branded TV instead of Sony, Panasonic or Samsung. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention about the lion dance in the beginning of the dinner. It was meant to please the few angmo who were the guests of honour. Hey, this costs money too, and again intangible stuff.

People might be very surprise why 5-star hotel food is so lousy. The answer lies within the fact that they are 5-star hotel. In order to qualify for the 5-star hotel status, one criteria must be met. The food must be halal. The rest is self-explanatory. Please don't get me wrong that delicious food must have pork in it. This is not true. It is the chefs. If you still don't understand, go and ask your friend.

There is no regret. E&O hotel, sorry, but it is a fact unless you prove it otherwise.


Blogger Finn said...

That's the Malayan E & O style I supposed. Not the western E & O...Hihi

2:19 PM  

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