Friday, April 24, 2015

A Jetsetter's Fashionable Guide to Living the High Life. 7 Essential Tips for being a true Citizen of the World.

A paparazzi's hounding shot of me.

It's a very nice feeling when someone wrote me an email to compliment how insightful it was to read my blog article, specifically on the Myanmar art exhibition.

It becomes even more fulfilling when that someone is a successful musician signed to an international record label! To me, he's a rockstar. But he was just being his cool self when we corresponded via emails. I''ve heard one or two of the band's hit songs but it never occurred to me the musician himself would send me an email to express his admiration on my critique. Since that post, he has been following my blog whenever he has the time and would inform me which post was his favourite.

He told me I could be a serious art critique earning a living in New York. I told him in Malaysia, my official "profession" is an Actor, and writing to me is only a hobby.  I also quickly added that I'm not some rich or famous actor in my country because getting acting jobs here is not as lucrative as say in Hollywood. The collective backward mentality here thinks since a few Chinese are rich - therefore, all Chinese are rich. I told him I'm not one of them. In fact, I was very honest to him and told him how poor many Malaysian people are, even more so a person like me. The reason I was honest to him was because he was planning a trip down to KL to meet me. I don't want him to have any high expectations of me in person, even though I look great in my pictures. His personal assistant would contact me when he's coming down.

In my mind I thought wouldn't there be a riot of fans clamoring for his attention when he arrived? He's very famous, you know, therefore have to keep his identity hidden here. Thankfully, not that many Malaysians know about him and his music. There was no commotion whatsoever when he arrived and the officers at the check-in gate just treated him like any other passengers! He told me he wanted me to join him in his upcoming tour around Europe. I was surprised beyond words! I couldn't say no for I do love to travel and this would be a chance of a lifetime! All expenses paid for and time with a famous rock star? Who couldn't say no to that? Immediately there are tons of things to prepare!

1) Passport and Visa
You'll have to get your passport ready or renewed if you're planning to go overseas. There's an Immigration Department near my house. Do remember to look good or clean-shaven at least on the day you're renewing or getting a passport because a picture of you shall be taken by the officer. The process is simple if you can listen and follow instructions. When I first arrived, I simply queue to get a number. When my turn arrived, I simply walked to the counter to state orally all the neccessary details like my height and current address to the officer. After that, a picture was taken. It's interesting to note the picture is not in color but black and white. My expired passport would then be taken by the officer in exhange with a slip of paper. After that, I am instructed to wait for my turn to pay at the cashier counter. My name is called and payment is made in cash only. The cashier would instruct me to come back in an hour's time to collect at the collection counter. I took the hour to have lunch. Do keep in mind that all Immigration Offices are now closed during lunch hours, so it's best to visit in the morning or after lunch. Since I didn't have any, I took the hour to have one. Getting your visas done is important too. Some countries, I get to have my visas done on arrivals. Other countries, it might takes you 3-4 days.

2) Bare Living Home
If you're constantly travelling, I feel you don't need to have much furniture at home. Just the bare essentials will do - like a mattress or a small TV. This way, you don't spend much on your furniture and able to channel all that money for travelling expenses. If you're living in hot tropical climate, the more electronic home equipments you have like refrigerator, flat-screen TV or washing machine would actually make your home hotter in room temperature! That's because these home appliances emit heat and really makes your living space stuffy. So eliminate all these home appliances and keep your space bare if you're always travelling abroad. A simple cup of americano and croissant in Paris could cost up to RM50 in local Malaysian currency! I love spending, so to balance things out I opt not to have any valuable furniture whatsoever at home. What for when you'll be globe-trotting all the time right? Your home furniture literally sits at home and collect dust. Are you planning to get a car? (who can buy anything now after GST?) Well don't! Use that money and splurge it on your next international destination. Besides, having a car in the garage unused for long periods of time is wasteful to the environment. Now I'm a citizen of the world, my home is wherever I take it with me. It also keeps my mind at peace from any home break-ins because there's nothing valuable in my home anyway!

3) Trench Coat
A coat can work anywhere in the world. A good trench coat is even better to weather all the cold weather European countries - not to mention in rainy day London, New York or New Delhi. You don't have to buy any other clothing - just a good trench coat will do. In my experience, Malaysian-based retail outlets still have the value for money for any clothing, especially coats. The stores here only sells coats before the season, like in October and November. A good trench coat would have just enough pockets (not too many) for you to place your passport and airline boarding passes. Be careful not to have too many pockets in your trench coat for you might get confused as to which pocket you place your important papers. You want to have only one pocket for one important paper. Keeping it simple is key when burrowing through your trench coat.

4) Sunglasses
A great pair of sunglasses will do wonders to your face. If you have a round face, choose a more rectangular-shaped frame. If you have a more sharper and vertical face, get a more rounded-shaped frame. The degree of dark coating should also be considered when choosing a perfect pair of sunglasses. If you choose a much lighter shade, then in really hot and sunny weather, your sunglasses won't do much to protect your eyes. If you choose a darker shade, then you might go blind a little when in the subway tunnel - searching for your wallet. So try to get a balance of the right shades that suits you best. For me, I found one that's just right - not too dark and not too light but enables me to see in almost all lighting situation. You only need to bring one pair of good sunglasses and they really come in handy when you're passing in the street, not wanting to meet the eyes of strangers. A good pair of sunglasses can save your eye effort and enable you to roam around the scene without looking too eager or too excited. A good pair of sunglasses provides the right amount of mystery and sophistication to the wearer too, especially at any fashion weeks in Paris, New York or London.

5) Luggage
I used to be away for one week at the longest. The shortest period is 3 days. I prefer not to check-in my luggage and instead bring it along with me into the plane. Do enquire at the airline carrier's office to get the details like the size and weight of luggage allowed to be in the plane. I bought one luggage that was just the right size to be rolled on the floor when I'm walking or to be strapped at my shoulders like a backpack. I try to bring only the barest essentials like T-shirts and pants and a few underwears. The rest like toiletries can be used at the hotels where I'll stay or I can even shop later for any necessary clothings. This way, my luggage is light and easy. I would usually roll my few clothes in a scroll-like shape, so as to save space in case I decide to bring more stuff. As for the luggage itself, try to get one that you can carry with you comfortably all the time. I bought one that also have shoulder straps and a compartment space for my laptop. The handle is only one which makes it easy to slip it inside and pulled up at the same time.

6) Hotel Lifestyle
Don't get too comfortable staying in hotel rooms. I know at least I tried to do that because when I reached home, it all feels so different! In hotel rooms, you get air-conditioning, bar, room service  and all the luxurious pamperings deserving for a VIP guest! Not to mention the swimming pool which I love because it's my ultimate exercise regime and what a savior to have swimming pools in hotels (at least the 5-stars ones). The constant travelling from one country to another - juxtaposed with different hotel rooms and suites finally renders all hotel rooms the same to me. The only constant is the pure white bed - which is a symbol of luxury in all these hotels. I'm talking about 5-star quality rooms and they try to be different from each other in superficial terms, but the level of luxury is really on par with each other (thanks to my rockstar friend's high profile) The best hotels always have white beds. We got the best rooms anywhere and the presence of his band really brings a kind of prestige to any particular 5-star hotel brand. Most of the time he's not around, and I always go for the spa treatment exclusively for VIP guests. The massages, facial treatments, herbal steam room and bubbling jacuzzi are enough to rejuvenate any jetlag! We live our lives, basically enclosed within the luxurious confines of the hotel. I accidentally mentioned about my birthday and my rockstar friend bought a cake to celebrate with me! Our social lives are now more in the backgrounds of luxury hotel rooms.

7) Currency
Depending which country you're going and whether you're on work or holiday. As an artiste, I don't usually carry any money with me because most of my trips are paid by the production companies who hired me. (not like I have any money at all!) Unlike some air stewards who boasted about their hi-flying lifestyle, the difference from them to international artistes are we don't serve on the plane like they do! Sometimes I get paid an allowance by the production company. But after your trip and you're going back to your home country, questions would often pop up whether you should exchange your money at the country of visit or back home. For example, I was in New Delhi recently, and I was reimbursed back a large sum of money for my visa application by the production company. Holding onto this money, thankfully, I have the hindsight to exchange it at the airport right away. That's because in Malaysia, the Rupees currency is not favored for exchange! There's also a limit to how much you can exchange to Ringgit. So if your Rupees are exchanged into the Dollars currency is still good. Upon arrival at airport in KLIA, I quickly exchanged the remaining Dollars into Ringgit.

Like a migrating bird, I have no choice but to fly to where the money is. I loved watching the BBC documentaries (especially the Human Planet and Planet Earth series) and am often amazed at how similar the wild life animal is with an artiste's. It's a sad reality that even in my very home, I could not find a living. Truth be told, wild life is actually more civilised and fair than humans are.

But real talent would eventually find work even outside from his own country. And that's a jetsetter's lifestyle worth living.

For more articles about FASHION/ART, click below:
H&M Fashion Review (Coats Special)
The Ultimate 7 Point Guide to Winning Project Runway
Messenger Bags Special
Tips for Buying Shoes (Sneakers)
Stuff Magazine 9th Anniversary Party
Myanmar Art Review
Student Art Fair

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