Monday, 30 October 2017

Macau, December 2016

This is something from the Japan/Hong Kong trip that I'm posting only now, almost a year later.

On December 21, 2016 I went to Macau for a longer period of time than I have in the past (two days instead of one). This is what I wrote:

Reminds me of Nicaragua - the flora, the climate, the type of building and the same sort of wear of tiles. Which isn't to say anything.

Stair names in Portuguese and Chinese!

View atop a hill in a park we went to...I forget the name of the park.
I feel like - in my lazy one-day analysis of here - Hong Kong and Macau are cousins - both colonized, have the same language and handed back to China around the same time, but with different economic consequences and realities. It's like that iconic movie Isabella. Going to Macau actually feels like living that movie. I feel people here are bitter. The restaurant worker remarked that our party of 11 ordered so few things (rightly so). The taxi driver from the story below. Well, when the main source of income is casinos, big huge ones...yes I'd be bitter too. But so far I see less old women begging on the street (maybe they're invisiblized), parks with more amenities, and people actually stopping to converse on the streets, unlike in Hong Kong.

Here's the conversation the taxi driver had with my aunt as he drove us from the harbour to a restaurant:
Taxi driver: You're coming from Hong Kong:
Aunt: Work must be busy for you, unlike us. You were given lots of money to develop by China.
TD: Hong Kong has a booming economy and culture. You can't complain.
A: But no one can buy an apartment.
TD: Same in Macau.
A (to me): Look, there's The Venetian.
TD: Wow, and you speak English.
A: Just like everybody else. It was imposed on us.
TD: What about that ambassador Leung Chun-ying and those councillors. So embarrassing. You send your children to get proper schooling and they turn out like this. Their mom and dad can no longer save face. Hong Kong tourists are propping up our economy, if it wasn't for you, we would be out of jobs. Hong Kong had a lot of mainland tourism but they said you don't welcome them so it's lessened now.
A: That's just some people.

Moral of the story is, I should take taxis and talk to their drivers more often.


Casino Town - Las Vegas redux/Las Vegassed

After having visited The Parisian casino and many Eiffel Tower replicas, Google reminded me that 8 years ago today I had visited and taken photos atop the one in Paris :)

Las Vegas, or the replica of Las Vegas? Or a city in its own right?

Sunday, 29 October 2017


Finally, I am posting about Japan almost a year after my trip!

 My sister always thinks that we're Japanese. Even after I got a DNA test and showed her the results, she still says that the DNA test could err and that we could be Japanese. Then again, a friend of mine from Japan says that my parents look Japanese. But this doesn't mean anything, really. Except it does put into question colonialism and wars and identity.

Moving on...

Notes from my travels

December 11, 2016
  • Industrious - trucks
  • Older - older people doing jobs I usually see young people occupying
  • Surprising number of signs are in English
  • Older people in tourst shops of Megome town - hope they don't rely on tourists for their livelihood (where are all the young people?)

I wanted to eat as many matcha-laden snacks as possible on this trip. On the first night, I got matcha mini Oreos.

Breakfast with natto in the background.

Downtown Tokyo. It's much quieter than I expected.

Vending meals

When we were going to Senso-ji temple, a TV station went up to O and asked him what he thought of Ronaldo the footballer. Unfortunately for the TV crew, he doesn't watch much football.

I'm in a bus of tourists from an array of Chinese diaspora. On such tours, usually I'm the only one who is foreign born. This is the first time I've experienced a diaspora with varying levels of languages ability, and from USA, Australia, and so on. Wouldn't it be cool if it were from an even wider array of people from the diaspora? It's interesting to observe parent and children language uses, and the uses between Mandarin and Cantonese.

In Tokyo the first day, traffic people were lining us up to wait our turn to get in the tour bus, and some horrifying deja vu-like lining up to go to an internment camp or to be shot ran through me. Blind sheep.

It's a surprisingly carcentric place. I fall asleep after seeing a Yamada shopping outlet, an Aeon mall and a 24-hour karaoke entertainment center in Nagoya. I wake up hours later to a Yamada, Aeon Mall and 24-hour karaoke center. The world just got a bit smaller.
  • Narita - the Soviet Union
  • Tokyo - Portland on steroids
  • Hakone - Salzburg
  • Nagoya - Montreal
Kindergartners are wearing orange caps on a day trip, being pushed in a cart.

Store greeters, when they have a spare moment, step out to pick up garbage and wrappers in front of their store.

Nighttime in Hakone

I think this is a bridge passing into Kyoto. Technology will be able to geolocate this.

Yet another matcha find.

Nara Deer Park

Todai-ji Temple - it's huge!


Nighttime in Osaka, the city train can be seen outside our hotel window.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Accents and Sieves

When I stayed in Peterborough for the first time in 2015, I noticed that Peterborough had some accents and some certain words that they said that I hadn't even heard before.

I forget what the accent sounded like but the regional words were like 'yous' for saying 'you people'. I was taken aback - I had never heard that before and had to look it up! Wow, I did know that language can change within a one and a half hour drive away, but I never really experienced it before.


Speaking of Peterborough, maybe it was because I was around school culture, but after my first year in Peterborough, many people I got to know left. I decided that Peterborough is like a sieve: people kept on leaving and I felt a pang of panic everytime people were leaving. And people were leaving!

Later on, and I would experience it myself, I learned that Peterborough is like a vortex. It brings you up and down, and you keep on coming back into its deep depths. Can't escape! But for good reasons.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Film Culture

I don't mean to post this as I love video stores, and I love Bay Street Video and Queen Video all the same. However, the culture of these two stores are very different.

I knew and have been to Bay Street Video from years back. I love the huge selection of videos they have available, both the ones to rent and to buy. It's housed in the back of a first floor of an office building, with a Tim Horton's and some sort of clinic in front of it. I hadn't been there since I was in my early 20's. This time when I walked in, it was really quiet. Besides myself, all the patrons and service staff were older white men. I felt that the culture was very unwelcoming to me. I felt that I wanted to ask about recommendations, to share my knowledge about film buffery, but that I couldn't because I wouldn't be taken seriously. Because of this, I felt like I was in my late teen's and early 20's again, wanting to be taken seriously. I looked at the amazing selection but then left without getting anything or talking to anyone.

Contrast this to Queen Video. They used to have a place on Queen Street, but now they're on Bloor Street. They have a street-facing storefront (I know, more expensive rent but hopefully worth it for them). Lots of selection (put in a not-as-browser-friendly way as Bay Street Video). Their staff are at the back but it's actually the patrons that make the difference - they are of varying genders, races and ages, and the staff too. I feel like I could approach someone and wouldn't be rebuffed as a film buff. In fact, the first time I went in there I did ask staff a question and got something.

I know the culture of film is one that at times can be very snotty, and the more knowledgeable yet snottier you are the better, but for a video store, in a world where video stores are quickly going out of business, is snottiness really the value you want to be promoting?


I moved to Toronto (downtown Toronto) about four months ago because my partner got a job here last year and commuting from Peterborough ultimately didn't work out for both of us. It was an easy transition but a difficult move. Last winter, I spent more and more time here and there was almost no need for a transition because during this summer, I spent more and more time in Peterborough than I thought I would because of my job.

I grew up in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and when I moved to Ottawa for school, I was so happy. I really didn't want to be stuck in the magnet that was the GTA. I did imagine myself moving to downtown Toronto in my late teen's/early 20's, almost wanting to buy a condo in the then-hot Distillery District. In fact, I had saved up some money and I was deciding between using the money to study for a year abroad in Iceland or to make a down payment for a condo.

I am ambivalent about moving to downtown Toronto because, as my sister reminded me, I did talk about it a lot. But that was almost a decade ago. Coming here to live feels like settling. I'm deciding to stay because I've realized that you can find worlds and worlds within this city, but I was thinking whether or not I should even post this on my travel blog because I come from here. I guess I can post here to talk about how the city has changed in my eyes because the last time I spent some time here, I was a kid.

When I was commuting between Peterborough and Toronto during the summer, I felt like I had the best of two worlds: Coming from the hustle and quick pace of Toronto, my bus would drop me off at a very quiet place where on a 30-minute walk you're likely to encounter few(er) people.

One thing I did notice is: there are these micro subcultures within the neighbourhoods and blocks but also within the blocks so that within an a 30-minute walk in downtown Toronto, I feel like I've passed 20 different cities. It's incredible.