Thursday, 24 May 2012

How do you call this?

My parents and I were going for dim sum with some of my relatives on a Sunday morning. The restaurant is located on the fifth level of a large mall. On Sunday mornings, because there's no other malls around, and because it is the transit transfer destination of the light rail, the buses, and other modes of transport, there's already lots of lots of people there (to use the Chinese expression mountains and seas of people). The design of the mall makes it so that you have to walk the mall, sort of like the Rideau Centre in Ottawa: the elevators are hidden, the escalators are not adjacent to each other but are on the opposite ends.

I get to the fourth floor to go up to the restaurant and I smell McDonald's breakfast before I see it. Not only am I hungry, I realize, I want a McMuffin. But even though I speak Cantonese, when I don't know how to read Chinese and when I don't know the names of the food in Chinese, all I can do to order something is to describe it.
Me: I want an Egg and Cheese McMuffin.
Cashier: What?
Me: An Egg and Cheese McMuffin. (upon seeing a picture of a sausage mcmuffin on the board) That! Number 10 except without the sausage!
Cashier: So you want a Sausage McMuffin without the Sausage?
Me: Yes, I guess, an Egg McMuffin.
Cashier: A Sausage McMuffin withou the Sausage it is.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

I'm Still in Hong Kong

I haven't written much about Hong Kong I've noticed, but what is there to say other than it is more humid and densely populated than anywhere else I've ever been? Did you know that Hong Kong's income gap is greater than that of the Cote d'Ivoire's? Did you know that There was one time that I was taking a yoga class at night around the time that it started to rain heavily and also around the time that it started getting dark and all the lights started turning on. I was looking out the window and saw a flash, then another flash in the sky. I thought it must be raining pretty hard outside and that it was lightning I saw, but no, they are the flash of big-light billboards from across the street. Hong Kong is so heavily light-polluted that I once looked up to see orange and orange clouds all across the sky.


After a few months, I'm still in Hong Kong, but only after I spent a week in Yunnan province visiting Kunming, Dali and Lijiang cities in western China and going to Malaysia for five days.

In both China and Malaysia, a popular form of toilet is the squatting toilet. There is a certain etiquette to this toilet type. You can't squat too far back or else when you're doing business #2 or else your business won't end up in the bowl. But you can't squat too far in front when you're doing business #1 or you'll spray everywhere (yes I've had all this happen to me). Cultural differences: in most facilities in China you have to provide your own paper, and in Malaysia there is an extra bum-cleaning nozzle spray you can use.
My aunt and I (or her family already has this system) came up with a public toilet rating system with 1 being the worst, dingy dirt-infested communal squats and 5 being the cleanest, most private and most facility-loaded toilets.

What attracts me to Malaysia is its multiculturalism. Whereas Canada's multiculturalism is a current of soft assimilation to Canadian values along with similar people tending to stick to their own groups, with the odd people mixing here and there, there's much more mixing of cultures in Malaysia. It's evident in the food, the people on the streets, the multilingualism etc.