Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Travel Addict

I don’t like to be addicted to anything. Every time I feel like very interested to one thing or one activity for quite some time and difficult to let it go, I always decide to just stop and get away from it. I used to play computer games heavily, everyday from dusk till dawn, then one day I decided to stop. Just stop and do something else. I decided to become only as a social smoker to avoid getting addicted to it. Addicted to TV? No way. First of all, TV is evil. Second, yes I do watch TV series such as Heroes and Scrubs. And I like to watch such series continuously. But I always stopped in the middle, then watched them again some other time. It doesn’t mean once I stop doing something I can’t do it in different time. The key here is, don’t stick with something for too long. The moment I feel like I’m so attached to one thing I will stop for a while then later on I can go back to it.

Well, my friend told me once that I was addicted to CCIE lab. For several months I think nothing but geeking out in my lab, caught only couple of hours a day to sleep, did my practice lab as there is no other thing to do in life. But then I passed, right? So it means yes I was so attached to it, then I stopped because I passed. Later on I did go back to it for a different track. So my philosophy-of-life here is still valid.

There is one thing though, that’s still difficult for me to let go.

Since I joined Cisco Advanced Services about a year ago, my life has been changed completely. My journey in work has always been dynamic and this time it turns upside down. I mean, in the beginning in my career I was working in one NOC for a worldwide Oil & Gas company where I had to maintain the network operation for Asia and Australia territory. I used to work in shift and travel onsite occasionally if there is a problem that can not be fixed remotely. Then I moved to IBM to take a job as pre-sales consultant. It’s a white collar job and even I joined the Global Services team but my coverage was only in country. So no travel was required. Then I moved to Dubai to join the biggest Cisco local gold partner there. I used to handle projects with different scopes: from pre-sales to technical project manager, from senior engineer who plugged the boxes to consultant who must present the solution. I even changed my profile many times: once I worked dedicatedly in one customer as onsite consultant, while some other time I must handled many projects concurrently, and I even worked as independent contractor for some time. But still, the coverage was still in country and no extensive travel was required.

So all my previous jobs before Cisco never required me to travel extensively. Then I joined Cisco as Network Consulting Engineer. And guest what, I started learning how to pack my stuff within short time and run to catch the flight since only 3 weeks after I joined. Even now I’m based in Singapore but I spend only about 15% of my time in the country. I don’t have customers in Singapore (I mean, Cisco AS customers in Singapore are handled by some other guys) so I have to travel to do my projects. The longest period I ever stay in Singapore is about 8 days in a month. There was a time when I paid my apartment rent to the landlord, went outside the country the next day, and came back to my room just to see my landlord again and pay for the next rent. In average, I spend about 5-6 days a month in Singapore. The rest? My second home, Shangri-la. Shangri-la hotel in several different countries.

After few months living mobile, I start getting proficient with the way of life that I have never had any chance to do in the past. For example, now I can pack my stuff and ready to go to different country only in 15 minutes. The secret? Put priority of the things that I want to carry with me. And I like traveling light.

I have 3 levels of priority and each 3 is located in 3 different places:

Priority 1, the most important: wallet (because it has my ID, money and credit card), passport, mobile phone. Most of the time they are all stay inside my pockets.

Priority 2, important: company’s laptop, camera (what’s the point to travel if I can’t take the picture of the new places?), Cisco badge (to get access to Cisco building anywhere in the world), all the chargers for laptop and mobile phone, and iPod along with earphone. I have sold my Zen to buy iPod to get bigger drive capacity. Hey if you have to travel heavily believe me you really need this one, especially if you have to spend lots of time in transit airport or inside the taxi. And don’t forget to buy the adapter for the earphone so you can use it inside the airplane and enjoy the flight entertainment using your own earphone. Those stuff are inside my Crumpler backpack. I decided to use a single bag, a backpack, to carry both the laptop and my camera since I got a lesson from my previous trip through London Heathrow airport: I was allowed to carry one bag to the cabin. At that time I used two bags to split the laptop and camera, and I was almost forced to check-in my laptop backpack (are you crazy? I will never check in my camera bag. So if I have to decide, I would let go the laptop since it’s company’s anyway. But my camera is my own so it deserves highest priority :))

Priority 3, nice to have and hopefully they don’t get lost since I always put them in my check-in luggage: all my clothes, perfume (to avoid the security check for liquid in the airport I prefer not to carry it in my backpack), socks and underwear, an extra pair of shoes, medicine, and one or two DVD in case I get bored.

How about the flight ticket? Normally I fly Singapore Airline that has already used the e-ticket system. So once my flight is booked and confirmed, I just need to go to the airport to show my passport and get my boarding pass.

How if I lose my wallet? I can use my mobile phone to call Cisco emergency number to get help. How if I lose my mobile phone? I can use my money or credit card to buy a new one. How if I lose both my wallet and my mobile phone? I will use my Cisco badge to enter the closest Cisco office and ask for help. See, there’s always a contingency plan.

How about all the stuff for shower or shaving? Not required. Hotel normally provides all the towel, tooth brush, shampoo, soap, and sometime even bathrobe. And I shave on the flight since Singapore airline provides it (for one-time use of course).

How if I lose my check-in luggage completely? Too easy. This means it’s time for me to do shopping for new clothes. Life is not hard, isn’t it?

So having this 3 types of priority in mind makes me really fast in packing up. Once I finish with Priority 1 and Priority 2 stuff, I’m ready to move.

What do I like from traveling? New places. New people. New atmospheres. Having a chance to watch local culture and taste local food. Never static. Different point of views. And the best part is, all my expense for food and transport during my travel is covered by Cisco. I don’t get extra money for working outside my home base, but I can go to new places and try different food. I like to watch local culture and try local food everywhere I go so this new life style is still suite me. And obviously living in hotel room for free, with all the facilities, is much better than living in my small apartment where I have to pay for everything.

So even I started traveling because it’s part of my job, lately I realize that I got attached to it deeper and deeper. The moment I arrive in Changi airport as the end of one trip, I start thinking about the next one. If I don’t travel I get confuse. The hardest time in my life is when I have to surrender my passport to the embassy everytime I’m applying for a business visa. No passport means no traveling at all. I must travel to go to new places. I must travel to see different things. I must travel to enjoy living in the hotel. I must travel to taste all the local food from different countries.

Looks like finally I got addicted to something.
Thanks to Cisco.

PS: In less than 48 hours I will be flying to San Jose. And from there 3 weeks later I will fly to Sydney. I will stop by Singapore for couple of hours and take the flight to Sydney using the new Airbus A380. Yes boys, it’s the largest commercial plane on earth. It will be very interesting. This back-to-back journey will make me stay on the road for one and half months. O I really love traveling.


Anonymous said...

Hello Himawan,
Traveling can be interesting and pleasant, especially if all expenses are paid.
However, I found such jobs hard on my family. It is fine to see the landlord once a month, but the family requires more attention.
Do you think you can do this work for a long time?

bah said...

Hey Himawan,

If you will be coming to Sydney call me on 0434405215. We met only briefly in Dubai, when you used to come over for the EMAAR migration.It will be great to touch base again.

Ali Hasan

Himawan Nugroho said...

Hi Cristian, yup you're right. I won't do this for long time, but this is the best option I have in hands, at least for now. Expect to see some changes even it may not be too soon.

Hi Ali, great to hear from you again, man. I will give you a call once I reach Sydney. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to read..

kapan2 boleh ditiru nih Pak saran2 buat travellingnya..