Like a lucky Dream
by
Jochen Kern

Malaysia / Penang 1994

BIG CHANGE CHAPTER

My General Manager, Eric Lim, moved to the Rasa Sayang Resort, a sister property of Shangri-La Hotel, Penang, on the same island. I felt a little sold out like all the others in our team but we had to somehow understand that his new assignment meant a promotion of Eric. I began to wonder why I had extended my contract. We waited to see who would be the next General Manager. A Singaporean from Thailand became our new GM. He worked in a different way, the personal touch with guests and management staff was gone, but only the sales department was highly appreciated by this new GM. The morning meetings started with the usual good mornings, the performance praise for the sales department and the complaints for all other departments. This one-sided management style was indeed weird. Our chairman moved up and his position was replaced by a highly professional westerner, the General Manager from Singapore, a westerner took over the Shangri-La company in the highest position.


wild birds at Shangri-La autumn promotionn

He changed the whole system and company with many professional heads on the block replaced by new comers. Luckily he was not particularly interested in chefs, otherwise I would be changed to. The good times in Penang were over. Our staff, management and guests were not happy as before and no one were able to adapt to this new way, especially in Penang where establishing contact with guests was regarded as highly important for the business, without which there would be no financial returns.


the right sound of a claypot sign the best quality for claypot cooking

The holiday for 5 weeks was planned, booked and arranged long ago. I was satisfied with my intention to work overseas, like Malaysia, far from home. It gave me the chance to explore the country and feel excited over the differences in comparison to other places and our home. to add on to my knowledge about the different surrounding and lifestyle through observation, living together and feeling for one another.
We crossed the whole of Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak. It was great. Malaysia is a fantastic country with excellent tourist potential, nature and society. The custom checks at the airport stunned me. The borders between East and West Malaysia reminded me of East and West Germany, my homeland, at an early stage. Compared to the crass difference in the jungle of Sarawak, where the Dayak people, in their longhouses, care nought for the proximity of their borders. There in the jungle nothing is of any dire consequence. No one cares if there are signboards segregating the land. The rivers are their roads and to me, it is borderless. For my world is built by God. Nature made it.... and nature is freedom.
This is the same feeling I had when we moved with the long boat up the rivers and my map showed that we left Malaysia, and there was no custom or police but a peaceful and fresh blend of the silent waters and deep jungle artistically drawn together in harmony. poverty is cast away from this lush surrounding, it transforms to be rich like an owner of the most affordable haven with feelings of freedom like parachuting, nakedness, flying, diving or riding a high speed motor-cycle. It’s an inexplicable phenomena. Something natural and so beautiful.

 

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