Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas@ Darwin, Northern Territory 2010:)

I spent Christmas in tropical Darwin this year, spending a total of 3 days over there.:-) It was the monsoon season and raining every single day with large outpours on every day which we were there for. The weather was hot and humid and similar to the weather in Malaysia and I found my trip a unique experience, exploring a different kind of Australia.

Things which I learnt on the trip were:

1) Darwin people are extremely friendly. The bus drivers in particular left a big positive impression on me. They were ALL exceptionally friendly, with each and every driver being friendly and cheerful to us.:-) Many would also greet the passengers and ask them how their day was and also wishing them a nice day when they got off the bus. We had bus drivers stopping by the side of the road at night when we waved at them and when there was no bus stop there. We had 2 different bus drivers on 2 different occasions not asking for the bus fare when we wanted to pay, once on an admittedly short distance but the second time on a very substantial 15-20 min journey with multiple stops! In Sydney, this would NEVER happen, you'd always have to pay no matter how short the journey and bus drivers do not talk or wish passengers a good day,etc..the Darwin residents were also very friendly to us saying hello on the road even when we didn't even smile at them or solicit any response from them, or being very friendly, such as allowing me to walk past first and taking the initiative to show us directions in detail when we hadn't even asked for assistance yet, etc..

2) Darwin has fauna and plants just like SEA. I found many plants, such as the bunga raya (hibiscus flower) and other fauna and plants of which i see and am familiar with in Malaysia, in Darwin. I was pleasantly surprised to see all these plants of which I am very familiar with, from my growing-up years in Malaysia.:-) ps: You cannot find many of the plants and fauna which you can find in Darwin and Malaysia in colder cities such as Sydney, Perth, Hobart, Adelaide, and Melbourne.

3) Darwin has many homeless Aboriginal people. My housemate told me of tv reports, when i returned from my trip, on the numerous homeless aboriginal people in Darwin and how they're affected with the current monsoon rains. I saw countless very poorly dressed Aboriginal people within my span of three days in Darwin. They would be everywhere, in the Darwin suburbs as well as CBD..and many looked homeless, simply wandering around without shoes or lying on the pavements...Darwin apparently has the highest aboriginal population of any other major city in Australia, more than sydney, melbourne, perth, adelaide,etc. It was quite a shock to see so many homeless aboriginals around the city.

4) That there are Chinese people everywhere. Even in Darwin and the Outback area of rural Northern Territory. I was abit surprised to see a Chinese-looking cook working in one of the rest stop restaurants/hotel along the highway out of Darwin enroute to Kakadu National Park (We took a daytrip to Kakadu National Park, Australia's largest national park and also a UN World Heritage Site!). The restaurant at the reststop which is like in the middle of nowhere also had a large banner written in traditional chinese characters welcoming supposedly chinese tourists. Amazing. There must be busloads of chinese tourists stopping over for the restaurant to especially get a chinese language banner made, out of all the possible languages.

5) Locals in Darwin don't have a habit of bringing umbrellas. Even during the monsoon season with rain pouring down in bucketfuls on a daily basis. I was dumbfounded to see local Darwin residents simply walking relaxedly under the rain and people walking around going about their usual business with the rain pouring whilst me and my friend were the obvious tourists with our black umbrellas and white raincoats everywhere we went in our backpacks just in case...you could see the locals staring at us when we wore raincoats..hahaha..with the strong monsoon rains and winds, I was surprised to see the locals without any rain protections whatsoever!

At the outdoor nightmarket style seats at Darwin Wharf, it started raining again 30 mins into our meal, and I almost thought that the Darwin people would just stay there and continue eating with the rain pouring down onto them and their food, given what i'd seen in the past few days, with people walking through pouring rain and getting off buses and walking home in the rain! haha...(for ur information, the people did start leaving the outdoor area for the covered areas at the first sign of drizzingly..hahaha..)

6) Darwin has outdoor markets similar to South East Asia as well as nightmarket style outdoor seating ordering from food stalls (food counters). Although the markets were all closed during our time there, we did come across a nightmarket style outdoor hawker centre at Stokes Hill Wharf, reminding me of Penang and Malaysia where we have outdoor hawker centres and seats.:-) It was my first time eating at a 'hawker centre' in my almost 10 years in Aus, with there just being milk bars and cafes in Sydney, Melbourne and even small towns which i've visited located in Southern Australia. Was very nostalgic for me, eating at the hawker centre and looking out towards Darwin Wharf.:-)

7) I saw full-sized large flat pomfrets ( like those you see in the markets) for the first time in my 27 years lifetime. And I saw it at Stokes Hill Wharf in Darwin Harbour. I was so shocked and amazed to see several large pomfrets swimming in the sea when diners threw their leftovers into the Darwin waterfront sea..the pomfrets were large and flat..omg..i've seen small and even large narrow shaped fishes in the sea before but nothing like these large flat moon-shaped pomfrets swimming in the ocean before! It was so surreal seeing fishes which you usually only see in the wetmarkets n supermarkets (or at most already in fishermen's nets) swimming naturally in the sea.

8) Darwin can look like a horror movie during the monsoon season. The torrential rains and strong winds were enough to make the roads and isolated surroundings look like a scene straight out of a Thai horror flick. More so, bcos Darwin's surroundings are often large isolated green spaces and tropical trees with no houses,etc and the sea during the night monsoons also looked like a horror scene out of a horror movie.

All in...it was a great n interesting holiday!

ps; I also starred in my first 1 min movie in front of Darwin's Government House whilst in Darwin, for my first time...hahahaha..i pretended to be a high-class Chinese with my cheongsam top which i wore looking at Japanese WW2 planes bombing Darwin from afar..hahaha..maybe i should put it on youtube?

pps: There were many cute good-looking tropical boys and men in Darwin!:-) I was amazed given the small population of just over 120,000 for the Greater Darwin region..omg..haha..Chinese Chic, noticing men even on holiday!

Monday, November 29, 2010

What Would You Do?...

You see someone at the local boardwalk being taunted and bullied, what would you do?

This is usually how it starts, these real-life scenarios which ABC (an American channel)produces to see what everyday folks would do..it tests human kindness (or apathy and lack of compassion/motivation) and also seeks to gauge the American society's tolerance for prejudice and discrimination.

I love this series and have been addicted to it for about a year now:-) You can really see the human capacity for kindness to help a stranger or indifference towards our fellow human beings. As I expected, and which even the show has pointed out time and again, it is the women whom seem to step up and help others in need and whom are much more passionate and courageous in speaking out against what they perceive to be discrimination and unfairness whilst the men tend to let it go...

Anyways, I catch broadcasted episodes of the innovative show here in Australia, online at the ABC official website here:http://abcnews.go.com/WhatWouldYouDo/

If you can watch it in your country too, do give it a go! It's an amazing and insightful show into human nature and societal prejudices as well as discrimination:-)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Chinese Chic:-)

This is my 27th Birthday!!:-) Happy Birthday to Me:-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Filipino Fever Redux-Kimerald Team & Sarah Geronimo

I have relapsed into my 'Filipino Fever' once again, after having subsided from my addiction to Filipino dramas, movies, and music for over a year...it started with some Filipino songs which I listened to on youtube which i liked before and grew to a full-blown 'fever' again when I discovered the latest Sarah Geronimo movies and Kim-Gerald loveteam movies for 2010...In the Philippines, there're alot of 'loveteams' whereby they pair up actors and actresses as onscreen loveteams in multiple movies/tv dramas and even continue with the 'image/fantasy' of them being a 'real couple' even in real life...its so cute, u don't find that in Hollywood or in other Asian entertainment scenes...

here's some links, its just too good...I find Kim Chiu prettier and prettier by the day and Gerald Anderson is kinda cute I must admit now (i used to find him so-so only)...Kim Chiu is so beautiful as she matures...she's Filipino-Chinese of pure Chinese descent, having had parents whom immigrated from Fujian Province, China sometime in the 1980s apparently. I am surprised and amazed at how romantic and 'real' Filipino cinema can be, I'm just surprised that Filipino movies and TV series have not travelled further ashore and gained popularity in other nations too, given how good they are..I'm sure other nationalities would like them too..I love'em! Especially, how they deal with topics like 'rebound relationships' and 'success/career taking over a relationship for guys'..very real issues or show the guy shouting at the girl, very real...you wouldn't see that in Korean cinema...i guess the difference b/w Korean romance and Filipino romance is that Korean romantic dramas are more idealist and fairy-tale like whilst Filipino romantic movies are romantic but with a touch of realism and realistic representations...without forsaking the perfect romantic fairytale aspect as well, which is why I love them:-)

Anyways, without further ado, here's some of the movies and songs which I have become infatuated with recently:

Hating Kapatid (2010):

Till My Heartache Ends (2010):

Paano na Kaya (2010):
http://www.youtube.com/user/hcpen?feature=mhum#p/f/5/_kBbcT2NJbo ( I just the cliche story of the bestfriend theme of falling in love with your bestfriend...isn't it just so romantic? I love how they show Gerald Anderson topless so much in this mv trailer..hahaha...my perfect relationship would be to fall for a bestfriend/friend..i'd rather fall in love with a friend without even realising it later down the line than start a relationship feeling the sexual attraction from the very beginning.)
http://www.youtube.com/user/hcpen?feature=mhum#p/f/1/3G2TuoP5DYo (interview of Kimerald for their movie.)

And these are some older songs which i still like:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9ycF5vqGR0 (Ikaw Lamang)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdyxjLgGX00 (Tayong Dalawa)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVCRvPYlbMo (Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now)


Monday, November 15, 2010

Bondi Beach and Surrounds...

I went to Bondi Beach for the annual Sculptures by the Sea twice this yr...it was nice..and also enjoyed a picnic (and swim for my friends) whilst there...i visited 4 beaches along the Bondi-Coogee Beach Coastal Walk which we did, meaning we actually passed by 4 beaches n took either a beach nap or swim or dipping my toes into the seawater along the way...was nice:)

I was surprised by the number of good looking ppl with perfect bodies at the beach! Especially at Tamarama and Bondi Beach (and to an extent Coogee Beach too!)..it was like walking into a model shoot or scene from some American movie..haha..all the good looking guys there with sculpted bodies and not to mention topless women..i was shocked! Many cute gay guys in Tamarama Beach too! hehe...great beach for great eye-candy!:-)

Anyways, it was a nice way to spend a late Spring/early Sydney Summer at the Beach-Not to mention I was severely sun-tanned as usual!:-);-)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Parramasala at Parramatta Night:-)

I went with one of my housemates and his friend to the inaugural Parramasala Festival at Parramatta..it is a South Asian Festival celebrating South Asian cultures and food (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc)...it was nice, the lighting above the streets reminded me of the festival lighting bck home in Malaysia...there was free entertainment and ticketed events as well with henna stalls and a sari bazaar...nice overall...had dinner at a pizza n pasta place afterwards on the main street in Parramatta...my first time having dinner at Parramatta i think:-)

Anyways, the Parramasala Festival coincided with the important annual festival of lights, Deepavali (or Diwali)...so to all my readers whom celebrate the festival...

Happy Deepavali!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

American Television..

I have recently been watching American TV quite frequently...I am watching Glee and Modern Family..(and of cos the new season of The Amazing Race). Don't get me wrong, I seldom watch TV whilst in Australia but when I go back to Penang, I watch alot of Astro Cable TV and recently on my July trip back, I watched a few episodes of Glee and Modern Family and really liked them..but then i just forgot about it until earlier this week when The United States of Tara was showing on TV and I caught a couple of episodes n really liked the storyline of the son whom's gay...and then on the same night i caught an interesting doco on dharavi, the slum of Mumbai on ABC 1 channel and also came across a 1996 Australian drama called 'Sweat' with Heath Ledger in it! I was going to switch channels until i was stumpped when one character was telling Heath' No I didn't tell about the GUY you are dating'..and i was like WHAT?! I knew this was a pretty old drama and so I was surprised there was actually a gay plotline for one of the main characters...turns out Heath was playing a gay athelete in this drama (way before his Brokeback Mountain days) which is a drama revolving around a group of students in a Sports Academy..i am going to follow the drama now...i am just surprised that Aussie dramas were so progressive back then, it was a positive portrayal and Heath did not play a stereotypical effeminate gay role but was a normal Aussie bloke into sports...he also has a bestfriend n straight roommate...

I also like Modern Family for its quirky lines and unique mockumentary format...its really good ..well recommended...love the Columbian wife plot as well as the gay couple plot, which once again depict non-stereotypical gay characters, one being overweight, the other being non-good looking with a beard...as opposed to the stereotypical image of gay men being fit and in shape and good-looking...

I also came across The Amazing Race, new season, on TV, the day after I 'rediscovered' all these wonderful dramas and as usual got hooked...i watched through several seasons earlier this year on youtube when i found out they were available online as i'd missed several seasons before...great to be able to catch the new season on tv...once again, there's another Taiwanese-American team:-) The father-son team..as i've written about before, i kinda knew they were Taiwanese-American (and not Chinese-American) by their looks and the fact that upwardly mobile and famous Americans of Chinese Heritage tend to be Taiwanese-American..I do hope that they go far. By the way, the son is an internet youtube sensation even before he joined the show, he has millions of youtube subscribers apparently, this is one of his videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gdCjQw6Lb8&feature=related

Anyways, I'm going to be enjoying myself for the next few weeks, esp since we can watch catch-up tv and episodes online for episodes we missed on the tv network's website here:-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Places in China...中华大地...中国の名所.....

There are a couple of places which I have either visited and fell in love with or which I would like to visit. The following, with a short explanation of why I like these places, are places which I'd like to visit (again) in China:

1) Hong Kong
Of course, what's not to like about HK? It's China's most well-recognised and international city with a unique and interesting history as well as have been the representative Chinese city since 1949. I fell in love with Chinese culture, especially contemporary Chinese culture, from my growing up years in the 90s watching Hong Kong TV series and movies. Hong Kong taught me what being modern as well as Chinese means and it'll always have a special place in my heart. (Not to mention Hong Kong retro 1950/60s cheongsams,Hey you didn't think I could just forget to mention the cheongsam rite? )

2) Beijing
Beijing also somehow has a special place in my heart and imagination and I don't know why..it just draws me and is especially attractive to me despite not having visited since 1996 and not remembering that much about that trip given my young age then. I just know I will like this city if I were to return now, given its historical place in Chinese history, the countless important Chinese cultural venues/destinations there such as the Great Wall and Forbidden City, Summer Palace,etc as well as it being known as the cultural capital of China with contemporary Chinese modern art as well as ancient Chinese antiques at the antique markets of Beijing all congregated there...and lets not forget to mention the wonderful hutongs and delicious Peking Duck...

3) Shanghai
Shanghai with its modern history and retro chic of the 30/40s would surely attract anyone..I can walk down the lanes of Huaihai Lu just imagining that I was back in the heydays of the 1940s..hahaha..i loved the old French Concession area when i was last there in 2004 for a Winter Chinese Law School...

4) Ningbo
This small city south of Shanghai captures my imagination given how close it is to Shanghai so giving it a smaller city-feel as well as how HK Star Stephen Chow Sing-Chee has Ningbo roots and made his 'CJ7' movie in Ningbo precisely for this very reason. I also love tangyuan, and Ningbo tangyuan is arguably the most famous in China.:-)

5) Hangzhou
Hangzhou is probably THE most beautiful Chinese city I have been to with its splendid gorgeous West Lake area which simply captures your breath away.. And i'm not kiddin either:) I didn't expect much when visiting Hangzhou during my Winter Law School excursion trip to Hangzhou bck in 2004 but it was simply amazingly breathtaking..it was just like the China you saw in the movies set in the 30s/40s..the Chinese-style sampan boats as well as newer restaurant floating boats flowing along the West Lake and you can hop on and off the numerous 'islands' floating in Westlake and visit the chinese gardens,etc. The Hangzhou people also seemed more sophisticated and the entire atmosphere of Hangzhou was just less gritty and industrial than other Chinese cities of comparable size..the streets are well-paved and quite clean,etc..I'd DEFINITELY RECOMMEND Hangzhou...

6) Suzhou
Suzhou which is very famous and popular with tourist for being the epitome of classic Chinese scenery and water painting, being known as the Venice of China, with its meandering waterlanes and bridges all around the city, has alot of older Chinese architecture intact. It would prob be well-suited for making movies set in the past, as unlike numerous Chinese cities under redevelopment, Suzhou has retained (at least back in 2004) alot of its 30s chinese houses,etc...i was expecting to like Suzhou more than Hangzhou but I found that Hangzhou captured my breath away whilst Suzhou was kinda alright, maybe i had too high expectations for Suzhou..but it definitely has a small 1930s chinese feel to it for a large city of its size...

7) Northeast China/Dongbei (Former Manchuria)
I've been wanting to visit the Northeast in recent yrs as being a modern Chinese history buff, especially of the 1930s and 1940s in China as well as during the Japanese Occupation period in China, the Northeast has always represented that era for me. I've always been filled in my imagination of the cold Siberian winds blowing across the faces of Chinese women in cheongsams with large scarfs wrapped around their hair travelling on the Chinese trains across the Manchurian plains, and this has always been my image of China during my younger days when China seemed a distant land away...this is as the Northeast people are 'Northerners' unlike people I came into contact with bck in Malaysia whom were all Southerners like from Hokkien province, Guangdong province, HK, Taiwan, Macau,etc...people from the north seemed like mainland Chinese people, so different from us..I hope to be able to visit soon...during winter and indulge in my fantasy looking out of the (now super fast chinese trains) windows imagining what it would have been like in the 40s in Dongbei...

8) Yunnan Province
If I want to visit the very northend of China, I also want to visit the very southend of China, or the place poetically named by the Chinese as 'South of the Clouds'; Yunnan Province. This province has the most minorities in the whole of China and is also the most popular tourist destination in China apparently for its unique interesting minority culture as well as warm weather all year thru. (Hainan Island is also another extremely popular tourist destination in China in recent yrs) My family has visited Yunnan already, going to Lijiang, Dali, and Kunming. I'd like to visit Lijiang and Shangri-La...

9) Fujian Province
This is the province which most influences my upbringing and my contact with Chinese culture given that Penang, where I grew up, is a Hokkien immigrant area with the Malaysian-Chinese living there mostly coming from Fujian province ancestrally. Taiwan, my other country, is also Hokkien-dominated in its people and culture. Thus, this is my 'real' ancestral province and I'd like to see what the people and culture there are like..I've been fascinated are they similar to Penang and Taiwanese people given that the roots are the same?? Or do they look different and speak Hokkien differently from us? I've heard from two people I know whom have visited Fujian on vacation recently, and both have highly recommended it. (Sidenote: As a sign of how much China and its tourism has developed in recent yrs, I was taken abck that two ppl i know had visited Fujian Province recently as i always thought it wasn't a popular tourist destination for foreigners at all so i was surprised.)

10) Hunan Province
If Fujian province is my 'real' ancestral province, then Hunan province is my 'official' ancestral province. This is as Chinese people follow their father's ancestry in determining their 'ancestral province' and so given that my paternal grandfather (whom is still alive and living in Taipei) came from Hunan, and my dad thus is of Hunan ancestry, then ,I'm also officially of Hunan ancestry.

However, in reality, I know nothing about Hunan, besides that Chairman Mao comes from Hunan, and also eating the Hunan Cured Smoked Meat which my grandfather's (now my uncle's) business makes and which are occasionally brought back to Malaysia for us..in reality, Malaysia and Taiwan, both of which are arguably Hokkien societies, have shaped me completely...but then, I'd still like to visit my 'official ancestral' province...

11) Chongqing
I would like to visit Chongqing due to Chongqing being the wartime capital of China during WW2. Haha..me and my 'Japanese-Invasion-during-WW2' obsession...

12) Nanjing
I would also like to visit Nanjing because of historical reasons, it being the site of the infamous 1937 'Rape of Nanking' massacre whereby the invading Japanese troops raped,pillaged and massacred 300,000 Chinese people in the span of roughly 6 weeks.

13) Xinjiang Province
I'd like to visit Xinjiang as its the most different province of China I think, with almost half of the population being central Asians...it'd be very interesting...its also like the wild west of China and i'd like to have a look at it...

14) Qingdao
I've heard that Qingdao and the coastal areas along Shandong province are amongst the most beautiful and I'd like to see that for myself..I saw a movie by Karrina Lam before many yrs ago and the scenery shot in Qingdao of the wide blue sea was magnificent..its also the home of many former German mansions as well as China's famous Qingdao beer..so that's another reason to visit it.:-)

Dear Readers, Where'd You Like to Visit, in China or elsewhere in Asia, if given the opportunity?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Overseas Chinese Part V..海外华裔华侨...世界の中国系、華僑たち..

This is the last and final post of the 'Overseas Chinese' post series, which form part of the 'Year of China' theme for this yr.

This final post deals with the Chinese in Japan, Korea, and India.

The Chinese in India number roughly only 20,000. This number does not include Mainland Chinese students, visitors, businessmen,etc but refers to those Indian-Chinese with Indian nationality. They mainly concentrate in Kolkata (Calcutta) and currently own tanneries, restaurants, sauce-making factories, and dentistry. At the height of Chinese migration, during WW2 (to escape the Japanese invasion of China at that time) there were around 50,000 Chinese living in Kolkata. But then numbers dwindled after the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Many Indian-Chinese migrated to countries such as Canada, UK, and Australia. I have met someone whose mother had migrated from India to Canada before, when i was volunteering at the Sydney Intl' Film Festival...

The Chinese in South Korea number only around 20,000 most of whom hold Taiwanese passport due to the fact that South Korea only established ties with China in 1993. However, the actual total number of Chinese people, including the new immigrants from China since 1993 totals over 600,000! This comprises, workers, students, businessmen, and other long-term residents. Most of these are however not ethnic Chinese but Korean-Chinese from China. Apparently 71% of the over 600,000 Chinese passport holders in South Korea currently are of ethnic Korean descent (China has the world's second largest overseas Korean population, numbering roughly 1.5 million, after the United States, which has the largest overseas Korean population, but in front of Japan, which has the third largest overseas Korean population.)
There is only one Chinatown in South Korea, being at Incheon, where there once was a large Chinese community until the oppressive and discriminatory policies brought in during the 1960s/70s which limited foreign ownership of property, targetting the Chinese minority then, which led to an exodus of Chinese to the US and Taiwan.

There are about 10,000 Chinese passport holders living in North Korea. They are allowed greater freedoms than the average North Korean citizen, being allowed foreign travel, ownership of an unrestricted radio, and being allowed to be involved in the profitable import-export China trade.

The Chinese in Japan number roughly 650,000 including newer immigrants from China and old residents from the former Japanese colony of Taiwan. Like in South Korea, the older Chinese residents tend to have links with Taiwan, whilst the newer and more numerous Chinese residents tend to have links with mainland China. There are Chinatowns in several Japanese cities such as Osaka, Nagasaki, Kobe, and the most famous one, Yokohama Chinatown. There are also Chinese schools whereby the medium of instruction is Chinese. There have been quite a few influential Japanese figures of Chinese descent, such as the famous Momofuku Ando, whom was the president of Nissin Foods. He was apparently the inventor of instant cup noodles (ramen) in the 1960s. I was very surprised! This means that the world-famous Asian cup noodles currently sold everywhere was not invented by an ethnic Japanese but actually by an ethnic Chinese...Ando was from Taiwan originally. Then , there's also Sadaharu Oh, the famous baseball player as well as Renho, a current Cabinet Minister and the first Japanese Cabinet Minister to have foreign ethnicity. Her father was from Taiwan and she held Taiwanese nationality until 18.

Hope this post series has been informative,interesting, and helpful in going towards some understanding of the overseas Chinese around the world, of which I'm one too:-)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Overseas Chinese-Part IV...海外华裔华侨...世界の中国系、華僑たち..

This is part of the continuing posts on the 'Year of China 2010' theme...

This time, we shall be discussing briefly on Chinese in Africa. Apparently, recent research has shown that there are at least 500,000 (which is half a million!) Chinese people residing on the African continent currently. A surprise isn't it? Given that we hardly hear of Chinese in Africa, or for that matter, any other nationalities living in Africa actually..haha..

These Chinese are overwhelmingly mainland Chinese labourers as well as contractors and engineers whom go over to Africa with Chinese companies to build roads, schools, hospitals, buildings,etc as part of Chinese government policy and plans or on a private commercial basis.

There are also Chinese whom have lived in South Africa for decades and speak the language there as well as are politicians,etc. This was really cool to find out as i found out that most of the 'old chinese south africans' are of Taiwanese origin given that Taiwan had diplomatic ties with South Africa all the way up to the end of apartheid.

My current apartment mate is Congolese (I live with 3 other people currently in Pyrmont.) She has some Belgian blood in her as apparently her granddad has some Belgian relations. She is the first person from Congo that i've met and she surprised me when she told me that there are thousands of Chinese in Congo, owning all the big stores and supermarkets and being able to speak the local language as well as some French/English! I was like...WHAT, there are Chinese, and I mean LARGE numbers of Chinese living and owning businesses in Congo.... of all places?!! Wow..the Chinese literally are upwardly mobile and everywhere:-)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

All About Love:-)....得闲炒饭:-) (2010)...

Above: Posters and Pics from the movie 'All About Love'. The words 'Happy Together' refers to homosexuality indirectly in the Chinese context given that its often used in contemporary popular chinese culture since the late 90s (at least in taiwan and hk, maybe not so much mainland china) to refer to a positive connotation of gay relationships.

The movie which I was looking forward to by my childhood and adolescent growing up yrs fav comedic star Sandra Ng and recent fav Vivian Chow has screened recently:-) It's called 'All About Love'. I have mentioned this film before and it is Vivian's 13 year absence comeback film.;-) Can't wait to catch it. Another lesbian film of interest, which I found out about recently is the UK/South African film 'World Unseen'; trailer here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlD3EprZp5M It is set in 1950s apartheid era South Africa about the lovestory between two Indian women (there is a substantial Indian minority in SA), one liberal and open and the other conservative and traditional. Looks interesting judging from the trailer alone:-)
Below is an article about the movie 'All about Love' which i found on the Wall Street Journal online version:
Hong Kong: A Love Story
With her latest film, "All About Love," director Ann Hui On-wah writes another heartfelt letter to her home, Hong Kong. Like her other works, this story, a romantic comedy about a pair of bisexual women who are pregnant, highlights aspects of the island's current social issues and is set in Hong Kong's upwardly mobile Mid-Levels neighborhood.

"I make films because I really want to find out what Hong Kong is like at the moment," says the 63-year-old Ms. Hui.

When two former lovers—30-something Macy, a lawyer, and Anita, a banker—meet at a counseling session for expectant mothers, they fall in love again in a tale that plays out against familiar Hong Kong backdrops: offices, bars and restaurants near trendy Hollywood Road; gyms and yoga studios. The overhang of personal financial insecurity and the local penchant for political and social demonstrations make their way into the film, too. Along the way, the couple's story touches on sexual politics, ostracism and the idea of a Hong Kong identity.
"It is a serious film but it is also very commercial," says Ms. Hui, a graduate of the London International Film School. "Sometimes it is better to make serious issues more acceptable to audiences, by making it a comedy and having big stars so that people will come watch the movie." In the movie, Hong Kong's top comedian Sandra Ng Kwan-yue plays Macy; Anita is played by the pretty 1990s pop singer Vivian Chow Wai-man.

"This is a movie about relationships," adds Ms. Hui. The topic was an obstacle for some.
"It was not easy to make this film happen," says Yeeshan Yang, an anthropoligist-turned-screenwriter who wrote the film. "Ann has [a good] reputation, so she has a lot of independence with what she does."
Ms. Yang credits the director with making the male-female relationships in the story much more accessible: In the film, Macy's old boyfriend—and father of her baby—is a former client who beat his wife; Anita's baby was fathered by a much younger man she met online.

Ms. Hui, who was born in Anshan (northeast China) but grew up in Hong Kong, made her name with socially conscious dramas such as 1982's "Boat People," about the aftermath of the Vietnam War, starring pop god Andy Lau Tak-wah, and "Ordinary Heroes," a 1999 drama about Hong Kong political activists with Anthony Wong Chau-sang. With the critically acclaimed "The Way We Are" (2008) and "Night and Fog" (2009), she looked unflinchingly at life in Tin Shui Wai, the Hong Kong housing estate that is home to hundreds of disadvantaged families.

Many producers might have shied away from "All About Love" because of its lesbian theme. Homosexual films are banned in China, so it eliminates any chance of distribution there. Indeed, even Ms. Hui says she was surprised when film financier Wong Jing agreed to back her movie.

"All About Love" marks their third film together, but it's an unlikely partnership. Mr. Wong is the king of Chinese B-movies and a savvy entertainment-industry investor, known for churning out soft porn and schlocky action flicks. Ms. Hui's work doesn't fit that mold, and she certainly doesn't churn out films, having been known to take five years on a single project.

For years, Ms. Hui and Mr. Wong even publicly traded barbs. After watching her semi-autobiographical "Song of the Exile," which was released in 1990, Mr. Wong wondered—in a statement that went viral in Hong Kong media—why anyone would pay to see a film about an unattractive middle-aged woman. Aware of the public perception of their history, Ms. Hui chuckles. She says: "Actually, we work very well together. He doesn't bother me, and he has made my work rhythm better, faster."

Some may wonder why Ms. Hui has not made a film in China, but she says she would if it was the right project, one with a Hong Kong point of view that's fitting with her own.
"All About Love" opened last weekend in cinemas around Hong Kong.
Hope to see it in Australia at some cinema or film festival soon!;-)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Overseas Chinese-Part III...海外华裔华侨...世界の中国系、華僑たち..

This is a continuing post of the 'Year of China' theme for this year. This post shall focus on the Chinese in Latin America.

Apparently, you can find Chinese-Latin Americans as well! There are large numbers in Brazil, Argentina and Peru. Apparently, Peru has over 1.5 million Chinese-Peruvians (many of mixed descent) living there...there is even such things called Peruvian-Chinese cuisine which is also known as 'chifa' which is not some unique exotic food but widely known amongst Peruvians and very popular too:-) This popularity in Latin-American style Chinese food from Peru has spread to other latin American countries too such as Argentina.

I also saw in the news earlier this yr that many recent Chinese immigrants have immigrated to the border between Mexico and America on the Mexican side as a means to eventually cross over and live in America. They apparently go into Mexico on tourist visas or other temporary visas and overstay illegally. Thus, like the trend in so many other regions of the world, the Chinese population is continually expanding since China opened up to the outside world meaning that the current overseas Chinese population in Latin America (and other parts of the world for that matter ) will only continue to increase with the tide of mainland Chinese immigrating by various means in the three decades since China opened up and reformed. This will add to the already existing Chinese populations which immigrated pre-1980.

Cool hey? This means one can go to Peru, if you're of Chinese descent, and the people there probably wouldn't even think too much given that they have seen Peruvian-Chinese people as well..haha..:-)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Overseas Chinese-Part II..海外华裔华侨...世界の中国系、華僑たち..

This post which is part of the 'Year of China' 2010 themed series of posts, will be continuing with the Overseas Chinese series, this time focusing on the Chinese in the West. This includes Chinese of North America, Europe, and Australasia.

The Chinese make up roughly 4% of Canada's and America's population as well as roughly 3% of Australia's and NZ's population. These include Chinese whom may have come from Southeast Asian countries and not China/HK/Taiwan as well as Chinese whom re-immigrated from another country to these countries.

The Chinese once again typically do well economically and socially in these Western societies as a whole, owning businesses and entering prestigious and elite schools disproportionate to their population. For instance, i heard that the ivy league universities in America now have an unwritten policy of raising the bar higher for Asians to enter as there are simply too many qualified Chinese/Asians and they already make up alot of the student intake at these ivy league institutions. In Australia, the Chinese also are disproportionately represented in the top selective high schools as well as elite university courses and in professions such as Taxation, and Accounting/Business, the Chinese tend to get into the big firms in large numbers.

Once again, like in the case of South east Asia, the Chinese in the West not only are better off economically and academically, they also have made some significant inroads into the areas of politics and entertainment in recent yrs in the West, making more progress relative to other Asian groups such as Koreans and Japanese. For instance, in America, there's Lucy Liu, Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, Lisa Ling, Jackie Chan, etc and currently 2 Chinese-American cabinet ministers in Obama's Cabinet ( i think!) whilst in Australia, there's Alice Pung, Masterchef Poh as well as current winner Liaw whom is also Chinese-Australian..

I heard in France, the Chinese also dominate the newstand business in Paris as well as have a firm foothold of small firms in France...

There are of cos also Chinatowns in big cities across the Western world and even Chinese restaurants or Chinese-owned stores can be found in the smallest towns across the Western globe..

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Overseas Chinese -Part I...海外华裔华侨...世界の中国系、華僑たち..

This post is another 'Year of China' 2010 themed series post. This time, I shall be introducing readers to the array of Chinese communities residing overseas.

In the first part, we shall be dealing with Southeast Asian Chinese, the biggest overseas Chinese community by historical length as well as overall numbers.

First off, this is an old table from Wikipedia on the rough statistical numbers of Chinese people residing around the world. (Please note the numbers are outdated given that I know for a fact that Taiwan now has 23 million people already and Malaysian Chinese number roughly over 7 million currently.)

Rough Estimate of Total Global Chinese Population:
1,310,158,851 19.73% of global human population(estimate)

Regions with significant populations:

Majority populations:
People's Republic of China
Hong Kong
Republic of China (Taiwan)
Minority populations
United States
United Kingdom
New Zealand
South Korea

As you can see, in Southeast Asia, in terms of percentage-wise, Singapore has a Chinese-majority population, making it the only country in the world to have so, besides China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan which are in the 'Chinese sphere'.

The country with the second largest Chinese percentage population is Malaysia (where I am from), 24-25% of the total population. Then comes Thailand which has around 11% Chinese population and then Vietnam and the Philippines which each have roughly 1.5% Chinese population. Of cos, in terms of absolute numbers, Indonesia has the largest overseas Chinese population, being over 7.5 million strong. But in terms of percentage-wise (which is the most important factor to measure), they only make up less than 2% of Indonesia's total population.

However, due to very low rates of intermarriage between Chinese-Indonesians and Malay-Indonesians, the Indonesian-Chinese have retained more of their Chinese customs and culture as well as sense of identity as compared to Thai-Chinese, whom despite making up 11% of the population, and possibly even higher if Thai-Chinese mixed bloods were counted in (some say that up to half of all Thais can trace back their lineage to some Chinese blood!) have become so assimilated through the highest rate of intermarriage in South East Asia between Chinese and Thais as well general cultural assimilation that Thai-Chinese have in general less Chinese identity and culture as compared to Indonesian-Chinese or even Filipino-Chinese.

The Chinese in Southeast Asia are on the whole economically more empowered as compared to the indigenous population, and this is true be it in Thailand to Malaysia, Singapore to Indonesia.
For some reason, the Southeast Asian Chinese are overall much wealthier and form the bulk of the economic elite as well as hold a disproportionate percentage of the country's economy all across Southeast Asia. Therefore, if you looked at the richest list of Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, etc for example, the Chinese tend to make up at the very least half of that list despite only proportionately being only 2%-24% of the population.

Furthermore, even societies where the Chinese have assimilated in better, the Chinese also make up a disproportionate percetange of the political ruling class as well as the entertaiment industry as idols to be emulated. For instance, in Thailand and the Philippines, the political elite are disproportionately represented by those with Chinese blood. I only knew about this after doing some research. In Thailand, it was reported that during the time of Thaksin (the former Thai PM whom also had Chinese blood in him, apparently being of half Hakka descent) seven out of the ten cabinet ministers had some Chinese blood in them. Even currently, the current Thai PM Abhisit has Chinese blood in him as well, coming from a wealthy Thai-Chinese family. The opposition leaders also apparently all have at least some Chinese ancestry as well! Furthermore, out of the top 10 Thai banks, i heard 7 are owned by Thai-Chinese with many being Hakka (despite Thailand having a Teochew majority).

In the Philippines, the National Father Jose Rizal also had Chinese ancestry in him and many famous Filipino actors and actresses have Chinese blood in them. In fact, when i first fell in love with Filipino entertainment, I was really taken aback at the number of Chinese-looking faces (most are mixed Filipino-Chinese)...examples are too many to count, Kris Aquino, Angel Locsin, Christian Bautista, Dennis Trillio, Toni Gonzaga, Kim Chiu,etc. In fact, many I don't even have to check up on their background as they simply look too Chinese and especially when I see sometimes their family members being interviewed on TV, some of whom look even more Chinese, its obvious they have some Chinese blood in them, even if a couple of generations back.

This was the case with Thai stars as well, with Tik Jesadaporn and Ken coming to mind as well as Ice Saranyu...they look so Chinese..Tik's brother looks like a Singaporean-Chinese and Ken looks like he could have easily come from HK!

Besides holding economic power as well as political and entertainment power in some countries, the Chinese in Southeast Asia have also influenced the food of many Southeast Asian cuisines deeply which I found deeply interesting. For example, did you know that Southeast Asia didn't have noodles in the past?! I didn't know that until this past year or so, when I discovered through some initial research that noodles was introduced to Southeast Asia by the Chinese immigrants meaning that countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines did not have noodles in their cuisines before the arrival of the Chinese. So, dishes like pad thai, mee goreng, pansit, were directly brought in by the Chinese. Furthermore, other quintissential dishes like nasi goreng indonesia and teh tarik were also introduced by the Chinese but transformed and adapted to local conditions over time. How cool is that?!

Even famous dishes such as adobo in Philippines must have been influenced by the Chinese given that a key ingredient in that is soy sauce, which is a Chinese invention and used widely throughout all Southeast Asian, and indeed East Asian countries. Other food such as tofu which is used in Southeast Asian cuisine would also have been introduced by the Chinese given that tofu was also invented by the Chinese. The fact that you can find some common dishes in some SEA countries also indicates they may well have been brought in by the Chinese, dishes such as Bee Koh Mui (Black sticky rice in Coconut) which is found in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines as well as Tikoy which is again found in all the above countries and all have similar sounding names, being the Hokkien name, given that the majority of Chinese in Southeast Asia are Hokkien people, and NOT Cantonese people, contrary to popular belief.

Interesting facts hey?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Penang Hometown Trip 2010:-)...

The following are some photos taken when I was back in Penang, Malaysia, my hometown in July:
Above: Malaysian-style curry and spices...

Above: Nyonya Kuih (Nyonya Snacks/Dessert Delicacies)

Above: Mantou (Chinese plain buns) with curry crabs...yummm..loved the mantou..
Above: I loved this dish, it was some kind of soup with yam in it..i was craving for yam so much before returning to Penang, so i got my fix of yam on that night!..hehe...
Above: Malaysian famous Curry Fish Head...yes this dish only has a large fish head with vegetables, nothing else..
Above: Another hawker style feast with pipis, bee hoon, mud crab ( i had alot of crab on this trip back, would've cost me an arm and leg if i were to have it here outside)..
Above: A simple meal of malaysian-style dry wantan mee and my fav hawker drink when bck in penang, the hearty and healthy barley 'pheng' which is iced barley drink...had this in balik pulau, went there for durian season and also to visit this 'little village' on Penang Island..i've never visited before i think..

Above: Dried Fish...Balik Pulau...
Above: Haagen-Daz Ice-Cream...
Above: My favourite and most visited korean restaurant in Penang..been here for more than 10 years, since my highschool days...:-)
Above: Taiwanese food at Queensbay Mall...this was surprisingly good...full of goodness and rich in the 'hearty and home-cooked' department, if you know what i mean...
Above: Self-Explanatory. Ha..

Above: Japanese Food at Miraku, G-Hotel Gurney Drive..
Above: Malaysian drinks hawker stall...
Above: Teochew Food in Penang..another favourite restaurant of mine whenever I'm back in Penang...we go to this place for Teochew cuisine whilst we go to another place near Chinatown for Hainan Food..
Above: Durian...yummy..thank god it was durian season when i went back to Penang!
Above: Malaysian style Wantan Mee with the top bowl being Fookchow Malaysian Fishball Soup with Tanghoon...
Above: Malaysian nyonya kuih (desserts)...
Above: Bee Koh Muai...Black Sticky Rice in Coconut Syrup...
Above: Another favourite Penang meal, Lor Mee (Braised Noodles)...
Above: My Favourite Ramen place in Penang...Ramen Yataimura in Pulau Tikus..
Above: My MOST missed food in Penang and something I salivate over whenever I'm thinking of food in Sydney whilst dreaming about Penang food (amongst other countless Penang delicacies!)...Nasi Kandar! I ALWAYS have ladies finger vegetables with tauhu (rough beancurd), curry sauce, with curry sotong..yuMMYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!! PS: Also, in case you're wondering what is that large bowl that i'm drinking off, it's teh tarik, malaysia's national drink..very sweet n nice, u can get it in sydney as well for $3.50 at mamak, chinatown...very expensive as you can tell..

Above: My obligatory Chicken Rice meal at Singapore Airport whenever I transit Singapore..the chicken rice in Singapore is simply heaven...even at the airport:)

As readers can see, its turned out to be essentially a food photo-essay journey, hasn't it? Hope this has enticed readers (whom aren't from Penang, Malaysia) to visit it soon for its world-renowned food!!:-) Hehe...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

8 Major Chinese Regional Cuisines...中华美食8大菜系...中華料理の8大系...

As part of my continuing 'Year of China 2010' theme for this year, this post shall introduce readers to the 8 major culinary traditions of China. The most commonly known 'type' of Chinese food served in the West is Cantonese cuisine. However, Chinese food is made up of many different regions given the vast size of China as well as different ethnic groups and within Han Chinese, different regional Han food.

Below is a summary of the 8 major divisions/provincial food of China which collectively make up the representative array of Chinese food (of cos, these 8 are broad categories and there are various other food such as Mongolian-Chinese, Korean-Chinese food, Henan food, Xinjiang food,etc which also form part of Chinese cuisine, but which are not included in the 8 major categories of Chinese culinary tradition):
1) Hunan

Most ppl, including Chinese ppl, say Cantonese food is the most delicious and most refined, but however, I personally think its because of the number of Cantonese ppl residing in the West historically and the prominence of Hong Kong (a Cantonese food haven) on the world stage.

I personally prefer Hokkien food the most and then Teochew food (which is very similar to Hokkien food) as its the food I grew up with and comfort food for me (Hokkien food being the root of much of Malaysian Chinese and Taiwanese cooking and cuisine).

Chinese food is also broadly divided into two divisions as well being Northerner's food and Southerner's food. Northerners' (Chinese people refer to people whom live north of the Yangtze River as 'Northerner's and those whom reside south of the Yangtze River as 'Southerners'.) are stereotyped to traditionally eat a wheat-based noodle and dough/starch based diet whilst Southerner's are traditionally said to eat a rice based diet. Of cos, most Chinese people you come into contact with as well as Chinese immigrants whom immigrated overseas to SE Asia and the West are mostly Southerners, from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Fujian, Guangzhou, Hunan, Guangxi,etc whilst Northerners would refer to people from Beijing, Tianjin, Harbin, Shenyang, Changchun,etc.

Nowadays, different regional dishes are usually served in combination in restaurants although some restaurants do specialise in serving only one kind of regional cuisine such as only Shanghai cuisine or only Hunan cuisine. There are also generic Chinese dishes which are eaten in all provinces and do not really originate from any one particular province such as 'fried rice', 'chicken and mushroom soup' or 'stir-fried vegetables with garlic'. Examples of dishes which form part of a regional cuisine include Mabo Tofu which is a Szechuan cuisine or Dongpo Pork Cuts which is a Shanghainese dish or Mui Choi Kau Yuk (Braised Pork Belly in Preserved Salty Vegetables) which is a typical Hakka dish.

So tell me dear readers, what kind of Chinese food do you like most??

Friday, July 23, 2010

Penang Durian Season July Trip 2010

I am currently back in Penang, my hometown, after 2 years and 4 months..been ages, and guess what?? It's durian season!! hehe...I haven't been back during durian season for at least 4 years and thus i haven't had durian for that length of time:-) I've had HEAPS of DELICIOUS DURIAN during this time and eaten alot of good ole' penang hawker food during this vacation as well as had Japanese food, Thai food, as well as Korean bbq and also my beloved nyonya cuisine and nasi kandar as well as malay rice with so many other goodies such as teochew food..yummy..visited balik pulau, chinatown, pulau tikus market, and a couple of other places too:-)

I also managed to squeeze in a visit to my old primary school and went into the classrooms and sat in the tiny chairs (during school holidays so the place was empty)...been at least 15 yrs since i had entered those classrooms!! (I've visited before years back but even then i didn't get a chance to enter the classrooms as they were locked and this time, they happened to be cleaning the classrooms)...took photos with my brother and his friends whom also attended the same primary school as I...it was a trip down memory lane for us all despite our age gaps..also went to pulau tikus market as well as visited my former mandarin language tuition teacher at her home..she taught me and my bro mandarin on weekends throughout our primary and secondary days..
i also got to visit the 'Japanese Bon Odori Festival' this time which is held annually in Penang but which I haven't been before, my brother's friends had told him about it and he had friends visiting from Taiwan and Kuala Lumpur and so we went together with out parents...it was nice..

Everything is so delicious and affordable here, and oh...the delicious nyonya food and nasi kandar as well as freshly grounded 'sambal'!!! You simply can't get this type of freshly grounded sambal (malaysian chilli paste) back in Australia...and things are so cheap back here...movie tickets cost only RM7 or RM 10 and only a dirt cheap RM5 on Wednesdays...that's like AUD $2 for the cheapest tickets to the latest movies! Will be returning to Sydney, Oz on Sunday:(

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Markets of Sydney Review & Recommendations:-)..雪梨的跳蚤市场评估与精选....シドニーの週末マケット

Above: Bondi Markets...

I just realised I have been to many of the outdoor weekend markets in Sydney and have decided to do a short review and recommendation of each market, according to my personal preferences of course, so this review is not meant to be objective (obviously!):

Paddington Markets: I personally didn't find this market particularly interesting in terms of stuff sold which i liked, but then again, that was back in 2007 so I haven't been back, it may have changed...i nvr went bck since because I didn't find anything of interest to me there on my couple of visits bck then..so i wouldn't personally recommend this place although it does sell what is usually sold in other markets as well, such as vintage clothes, designer t shirts, interesting photos, home decors, art,etc..open every Sat from 10am-4ish..

Bondi Markets: I really like Bondi Market! It's like one of my favourite markets in Sydney and sells really neat photo art, designer shirts and clothing, as well as other cute designer decorations, old books,etc..i've bought designer shirts here before cos one of the plus points of markets in Sydney and why i visit them is that you often find very unique clothing,etc which are only found at these markets and at cheap prices! For instance, the clothing brand i've bought at the bondi markets is called 'monster threads' and they have a boutique which sells exactly the same stuff for $10-$20 more! So you save alot...in fact, i think in Sydney, the only place where you can buy good quality relatively cheap clothing is at these markets (of cos if you want non-designer type cheaper priced clothing, you can still get them at coles or something)..open every Sun from 10am-4ish..oh, and there's this really cute Asian guy who owns a stall there too, he sells graphic paintings for interior design and looks Vietnamese-Australian to me..so another bonus for my visits, man-candy while i pass by his store..hehe...

Balmain Markets: Very small market, really nothing much to see, not really recommended...open every Sat 9am-4ish...

Kirribilli Markets: Usual stuff sold, has some nice designer lamps, bags, clothing, food sold as well, nothing which caught my particular fancy but for some other people, may find something they like there, paintings and artwork sold there too...you can see the Opera House and Harbour Bridge from the markets so its a good view...open 2nd Sat of the month 9am-3ish...

EQ Fox Studios Markets: Its open on Wednesdays as well, has mainly food sold there, recommended as alot of gourmet personalised food such as takeaway frozen pastas, as well as an array of cakes, pattisterie and juices as well as other food such as russian pancakes or dutch hotcakes,etc...i've tried the chorizo roll there, not bad...open every Sat 10am-3ism...

Bondi Junction Markets: This is an extremely small market with food sold mainly, i loooooveee the Peruvian Chorizo Roll sold there by a Peruvian guy, its absolutely DELI...also sells some nice breads...every Fri and Sat 11am-3ish (i think!)....

Surry Hills Markets: This is a nice market selling alot of fashionable items and old books, decorations, art and craft,etc...given that it's held in the middle of hip central Surry Hills (Sydney's premier artist and funky suburb), there's alot of hip looking people wandering around there and the artist types...i found a stall i liked selling handmade unique personalised scarf with left-over materials..really cool,...highly recommended too...open every 1st Sat of the month 10am-4ish...
The Rocks Markets: I like the night market held here which focuses on gourmet food and clothing, arts and crafts, souvenirs,etc. The food stalls are pretty good as they are usually stalls set up by the restaurants situated within the rocks and so you can try $10 paellas and wagyu burgers for less than they would cost in the restaurants themselves! I particularly tried the seafood spanish paella several times there as well as believe the wagyu beef burger at one of the restaurant stalls is one of the best ever in Sydney for under $10. Highly recommended as the atmosphere is great and within walking distance of the Opera House where you can sit on the public seats provided and enjoy the free view:-) Open Fri nights as well as on weekends...

Do check out these markets if you are ever in Sydney during those times or live in Sydney and have a spare weekend someday...particularly the Bondi Markets, Surry Hills Markets, as well as Bondi Junction Markets are well worth a go..!:-)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Cycling Canberra Autumn Trip '10...砍培拉首都单车秋行‘10...カンベラ自転車の秋旅..

I went to Canberra towards the end of May during Autumn time..this is my 3rd time to Canberra, and frankly, Canberra is my favourite city/town in Australia for a holiday destination.
Basically, there are places where I feel something special or a special emotional connection to as well as places which i like as a vacation destination. For instance, Melbourne, Tokyo, Taipei, and Penang are cities which I have a special emotional connection to, whilst places like Macau, Bangkok, and Canberra are vacation destinations which I enjoy.

I've been to Canberra once in Autumn, on my first trip actually, when I was there on a day trip to renew my then expiring passport at the Embassy as I was told it would take only a mere day to have it renewed whilst if I waited in Sydney, it'd take between 3 to 4 weeks before I'd get it back from the Sydney Consulate. I'd already notice the auburn red maple trees planted within the Australian Parliament House grounds then but it didn't really hit me until this trip, how gaspingly wonderful the autumn colours and maple trees of Canberra really are!:-) ( My previous visit, my 2nd time to Canberra, was during Spring in Oct'08 for the famous Canberra Floriade Tulip Festival of which I attended the Night Floriade as well as the Nara Festival which so happened then and which i was lucky enough to pass by.)

I would definitely recommend visiting Canberra during Autumn time just because of the wonderful and awe-inspiring Autumn foliage and colours around! It's really jaw-dropping, for lack of a better word, especially the areas around Lake Burley Griffith and the International Flag Display promenade lakeside...omg, the colours are something i've not seen in a loooong time, and difficult to find in a densely populated city such as Sydney. During spring, winter, and summer, you cannot find these awesome colours, as the trees either all turn green in colour or wilt away during winter.
The best way to travel around Canberra, taking in the sights is definitely via bike, which can be from Mr.Spokes Bike Hire near the Lake (google for details) and its currently $35 for a whole day with chain and lock as well as helmet. All the key attractions are reachable via bike and the views are simply amazing lakeside (especially with the autumn auburn colours in full display during autumn time). I took so many photos as I was so surprised that I could see and experience this beauty of Autumn in Canberra!! I hadn't expected the fantastic and beautiful scenery which I usually associate with tv dramas shot in autumn time Japan or South Korea. It seriously looks like one of those scenes from S. Korean romantic tv dramas with the maple trees in full bloom and the willows and autumn trees in full, swaying amongst the autumn breeze. The weather was fantastic too for cycling, cold, but not too cold, like winter.

Major attractions I visited are as follows: 1) Embassy District (where all the different national embassies residing in Australia mostly are situated) with the Chinese Embassy being the most prominent amongst tourists and residents alike for its unique archi and huge compounds, it has archway pavillions and even a tennis court inside. 2) International Flag Display promenade 3) Sculpture Garden, National Gallery, 4) National Portrait Gallery 5) High Court, passed by 6) National Archives of Australia 7) Old Parliament House Gardens 8) Parliament House 9) Canberra Glassworks 10) Old Bus Depot Market which was having a free concert performance as part of the Canberra International Music Festival 11) Doing the 'Bridge to Bridge' cycle across Lake Burley Griffith.
I didn't visit the famous War Memorial and National Gallery this time round given that I'd already visited the War Memorial twice and the National Gallery once on previous trips already.

Anyways, I also managed to squeeze in a quick walking tour of the Canberra City Centre and visited Canberra Centre again and had dinner at a Japanese Ramen place in the Canberra downtown area which was delicious after cycling for the entire day since the morning!

Great Canberra Autumn Cycling Trip it was, definitely highly recommended for residents and tourists alike in Australia, go during Autumn time!!:-)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My 5th Year Blog Anniversary...

Above: This is the Cheongsam-Style clothing I made recently. It's my first one made in Australia. I bought the exquisite cloth at a boutique named Bird Textiles Emporium located on Surry Hills, it's really expensive, even with the 50% discount, costing me AUD$80 for 2 metres. I found, with plenty of luck, a tailor whom had experience making cheongsams and aodais, cos she just immigrated to Australia from Vietnam recently! How cool was that...(the Vietnamese costume is called the Aodai and is virtually indistinguishable from the Chinese Cheongsam.) The tailor shop is even in the CBD! The tailoring costs matched my cloth costs. (I just love the light-weight transparent feel of the cloth and swallows pattern on it!!) The material is hand-printed in Australia, not machine printed...that's why its so expensive!

This month May 2010, marks the 5th Year Anniversary of my blog...I started this blog whilst on exchange in Tokyo, Japan back in 2005 as I felt living on student exchange in a foreign and exciting city like Tokyo would provide a cool experience for me to record down my time there as well as be part of the cool emerging trend of owning a blog as the blogging thing was only becoming more popular back in 2004 and 2005.

I first started out recording trivial stuff about my life in Tokyo and interesting things I encountered in daily life and later on included my takes on topics and social issues of interest to me such as women's rights and gay issues. I never spoke about personal issues on the blog but started doing so a year after my blog in 2006 and have continued to be as open as I feel comfortable in posting about my personal life. I also included a childhood picture once in one of my post as well as started annual posts e.g. WW2 Anniversary Posts as well as themed posts such as ones on HK Cinema and Women's rights or Gay Media.

I have also opened up opportunities to meet and have email contact with some readers of mine throughout the years. I would also like to take this opportunity, as I have done in past years, on my blog anniversary posts, to invite readers interested to please leave me their email address with a short comment on this post and I'll get in touch with you:)

As I have always revealed, e.g a photo of me during childhood, certain things about myself as the years have gone by, I thought it was time to reveal something else which I think many readers, old and new (of course, if you have contacted me before or have come from certain types of weblogs over to my blog via links or am just attune to 'those kind of stuff' through time, would have already realised) have sometimes misunderstood my identity....I am a male blogger.

Yes, I am a guy.

I understand with my frequent posts on women's issues and feminist rights which I am genuinely passionate about, many have come to have that kind of misunderstanding (what, with my passion for the cheongsam! haha...). I felt it was now the time to reveal that about myself, given it being my 5 year blog anniversary, and the general impression my blog has given about my gender. I however, have never expressly or purposely attempted to pretend to be female although certainly at times it had hindered how i expressed myself in terms of romantic descriptions. I think some readers should know what I am referring to given what I have written about in the past....

I hope I will have many years to come in my blogging life, as I realise many blogs I used to surf have shut down and many bloggers throughout my blogging life have stopped blogging altogether due to their own personal reasons. I may also stop one day but I hope that day won't be soon. Please continue to support me and my blog and do continue to leave your comments.


PS: I just found out in Chatswood, 'New Shanghai' serves delicious Chinese Rice Wine Glutinous Rice Ball Dessert called 酒酿圆子汤. I've always liked this dessert which was introduced to me in Taiwan. I've passed it several times but never tried and decided to give it a go this time.
You can have it with small tangyuen or sesame-paste tangyuen.

So Sydneysiders, do give it a try next time you're in Chatswood!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sydney Biennale 2010...2010雪梨艺术双年展......2010シドニー美術バイアヌアル....

I went to the Sydney Biennale 2010 a few weeks ago, it occurs once every two years and is the premier Arts Festival in Australia. This year, it was held in various locations incl. Cockatoo Island again, an abandoned industrial island within Sydney Harbour. I saw an arts installation on the island and guess whom i saw...Maggie Cheung! I thought it was only clips from her previous movies but then slowly realised that it was from recently...and I went bck home to check as I was surprised she would be involved in an art installation given that she's seldom in any new productions nowadays, but was surprised she actually was in this installation movie and not only that, this art installation movie, running for over an hour, had its world premiere in Sydney for the Sydney Biennale! (It's going to be shown in UK and Shanghai too later). And I had gone to the Biennale on the first day, so I had in effect attended the premiere on an industrial island in Sydney Harbour! Wow!!:-)

Photos here:

Friday, May 21, 2010

China and Reevaluating the Yuan...中国与人民币 中国と人民元

This is another post from my 'Year of China' theme which is my blog theme for 2010, as mentioned earlier in the year, when i did the Nostalgic Chinese Cinema post series.

There has been much talk of late about China and the artificial rate that the RMB (China's official currency, called the Renminbi in full) has been controlled by the Chinese govt. The US govt especially has criticised China and accused it of currency manipulation.

I think its laughable really, for the US to point its finger at China and demand that it raise the RMB. I mean the Chinese govt is ultimately responsible to the Chinese people and if it were not for the current artificially low rate at which the RMB is, China and its export-driven economy would not have been able to grow at such a rapid rate and millions of Chinese would not have been able to pull themselves out of poverty. I mean, US and foreign companies are also responsible for the low rate of the RMB. The thousands of US and foreign investor companies in China go there precisely because of the low RMB value so that they can earn massive profits when exporting back to their own countries and the consumers in these rich countries ultimately benefit with being able to save and buy cheap consumer products. Furthermore, if the yuan were to be revalued upwards too swiftly, it'd lead to thousands of factories in China shutting down which would lead to massive unemployment and societal unrest as Chinese factories are already operating on extremely minor profit margins due to the pressure of US and foreign buyers/companies who refuse to raise buying costs by much and thus the Chinese govt cannot be expected to please and help the US and Western economies by raising the rmb value whilst at the same time jeopardising the Chinese economy by doing so. This is an unreasonable demand.

However, the most unreasonable and ridiculous statement coming out of some US politician's mouth is that the current World Economic Crisis is somehow China's fault due to it's low rmb. RUBBISH. Typical behaviour of some countries unwilling to take responsibility for the deformed financial and banking sectors of the US and Europe and trying to scapegoat China for their economic problems. What nonsense really.

And all the talk of 'imbalance in the world economy' as the cause of the current world economic crisis is similar bullshit. What imbalance? When the US and European economies and their people were spending more than they could afford and their banks were fudging the figures, who else could they blame? Their consumers wanted the cheap products and their businesses went overseas to get them. Blaming China and other Asian economies for not spending enough thus causing the 'so-called' imbalance of trade is like a person whom borrows irresponsibly from another person and then buys and buys from that exact same person and when he or she becomes bankrupt then goes on to chastise the other person for producing such cheap and useful products and not spending enough money themselves. Huh?

Typical of some to want to feel better about themselves in the mess that they've made themselves by blaming others, namely China. I never heard Asian economies complaining about the imbalance of trade and Western countries' faults back during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
The US and Western world will just have to learn to accept their responsibility for creating the current financial crisis which they're just coming to recover from, quit complaining and pushing the blame to other countries and their currencies, and start reforming and restructuring their messed-up financial and banking sector as well as dodgy companies, such as Goldman Sachs, for one, just like Asian economies had to do back in 1997.

As a final note, it's ironic how some Western commentators and talking heads were talking about the impending 'collapse' of China's economy and their criticism of Chinese economic practices and corporate practices back before the 2008 Financial Collapse in the Western world when it was them whom fell with their face down..and fast. China has hardly been affected, and speeding ahead straight pass them and Western Companies such as Freddie Mae and Goldman Sachs have been found to have shoddy and unethical corporate practices.

There is the realisation now that it is the Western banking and financial sector which needed the reforms which the West was previously criticising China as needing all along.

Look who's Laughing now.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Greece and South Korea:A Comparison...双国故事:希腊与韩国....ギリシャと韓国:二つ国の物語

With the World Financial Crisis continuing to affect the US and Europe ever more pressingly even in 2010, its timely to compare Greece and South Korea, and in an even larger way, the Oriental way and the Western way.

In 1997, more than a decade before the 2008 World Financial Crisis speahearded by the collapse of the Lehman Bros in the US, Asia-Pacific was rocked by the Asian Financial Crisis. Back then, I still remember vividly reading in the newspaper of how Thailand's stock market had spiralled out of control, and how shortly, HK's stock market crashed subsequently as well. Thus, started a domino effect, with Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Japan all becoming embroiled in the crisis. Of cos, the country affected the most by far, was South Korea. Til then, the economies of the Asia-Pacific had been going strong and growing by admirable figures. Then it all came crashing down with the expose of the failings and weaknesses of the Asian banking and financial sector. There was painful reforms which almost all the Asian economies had to go thru and this is why with the 2008 Financial Crisis, Asian economies were not affected as badly (although still very badly during the worst period in late 08-mid 09 with countries like Singapore and Malaysia slipping into recession) and now rebounding back at an amazingly rapid pace and growing with impressive figures-Singapore, for example, is forecast to grow by over 5% GDP this yr in 2010. Other Asian economies are forecast to have comparable GDP growth rates too.

South Korea back then crashed, and the government had to borrow from the IMF a bailout package as large chaebols (South Korean corporations) crashed and many South Korean companies shut down and became insolvent with the unemployment rate hitting the hundreds of thousands. As part of the IMF bailout terms, the government of South Korea had to bring in extremely painful austerity reforms/measures calculated to bring the South Korean economy back into shape and also restructured its banking and financial sector properly. What touched me then was how media and news reports reported that many South Koreans started donating gold to the government to help the country stand back on its feet. I rem vaguely seeing housewives and citizens donating out of their own free will personal gold jewellery and personal gifts on the tele and was amazed at their patriotism and sense of sacrifice.

Contrast this with the situation of Greece currently. The country has mounting debts in the billions of euros and the IMF has come up with a huge bailout plan. This has had to be paid for by its larger European neighbours such as Germany which have demanded strict austerity measures to be brought in to reign in the spiralling debt problem engulfing the Greek government and economy at large. However, instead of following South Korea's commendable example back in 1997, and one could term the 'Oriental way'by sacrificing, the Greeks have turned to large demonstrations and rallies, destroying and defacing public and commercial buildings and holding strikes protesting the much needed austerity measures needed to bring Greece back on its feet. This is what could be called the 'Western way', discussion of individual interests and rights and the unwillingness to sacrifice for the nation's and ultimately, everyone's long-term well-being. The Greeks have shown that they are unwilling to face the responsibility of their own doing by living the life and enjoying the benefits which were never sustainable in the first place. I saw on the news that the Greeks had been fudging the figures and reports to the EU annually and taking advantage of being in the Euro zone without responsibility. They employed 1 million unproductive civil servants out of a population of 11 million. Pensions and work benefits were numerous and unjustifiable. Now, with the country in a wreck, instead of facing up to all this and cutting back, they are acting like spoilt kids, used to enjoying unsustainable luxury, and steadfastly, unwilling to face the consequences of their spending. Instead of sacrifice which brought South Korea's economy back from ruins in 1997 and accelerating such that it now has the biggest GDP growth rate in the OECD developed nation's club for 2009/10 and has thriving big brand corporations such as Samsung and LG and Hyundai, when merely a decade or so ago, big corporations were closing down, the Greeks have chosen to make their national economy worse, with strikes and protests with would inevitably bring down the economy even more.

Maybe, these lessons show that Europeans, and Westerners have a thing or two to learn from Asia as well, in that, the Western way, or the emphasis on individualism or personal interests is not the only nor best approach all the time and that the Oriental way, with emphasis on collective responsibility (which the Greek people refuse to take for their economic mess currently) and collective sacrifice (which the Koreans did back in 1997) may be the better way ahead.

PS: I also heard that some Greeks were shocked and felt betrayed that the EU didn't act fast enough to approve the enormous bailout package to assist them. Well, since the bailout is being financed by other European economies which have barely pulled out and are still on the road to economic recovery, why should they have to help the Greeks so fast? And I think they're especially kind to help the Greeks especially with all the Greek protests/rallies/strikes going on showing their unwillingness to change their ways...(i know they have to help the Greeks given the need to sustain the Euro. Actually, this entire Greek crisis has shown the weaknesses of a common currency, the Euro.)