Finally a considerable amount of data network to do some blogging!
I’ve spent about a week here in Ipoh, Malaysia. Mom’s birthplace. I’ve not seen my grandma and grandpa, uncles and aunts, as well as the new cousins for 10 years now. They speak so much Cantonese that sometimes, watching them talk feels like watching a Hong Kong drama series. I understand alittle bit but I can’t speak the dialect in full sentences. I’m the only one who can’t speak the local dialect there and at times, it makes me feel guilty to have others to translate it just for me. And dining table conversations… Awkward.
But I’m glad that I’m starting to familiarize myself with the new cousins. There is a huge age gap though, about 5 years and more. They’re very curious about Singapore and so am I, about Malaysia. About how’s school like, the lifestyle, culture, currencies, the wild animals we have there (which are mostly caged up in the Zoo), local food, Singapore being the world’s fastest walkers, etc. Many times, I feel like a caveman whenever they asked me whether I’ve seen this or tried that. I told them that our lands are very close together geographically, so there isn’t much of a difference, in terms of the way we do things. But they do really make great hosts and tour guides when their dad (my uncle) brings us to the different places of interest in Malaysia.
Although Ipoh is a suburb, it’s still difficult to get used to living in the outskirts of the city. It’s impossible to get to places without a car or any form of transportation. Public buses, or even taxis, aren’t available in the place I’m staying in. I thought it would be a breeze to forsake the use of data network / WiFi throughout my stay here but it certainly takes time to get used to limit one’s use of social network. Since I stayed at home most of the time, luckily I brought a book with me, Kitchen Chinese, to kill time and it did serve its purpose! “A Novel About Food, Family, and Finding Yourself”… Ah yes, its relevance is just what I need!
Being in such close contact with Mother Nature offers you alot of things. The sky-high mountains that you see everywhere you go, that seems to stalk you like the moon in the night-sky does. Terrains after terrains of greenery and palm trees on the slopes by the side of the roads. Different timings of the day, you’ll see herds of buffaloes taking a stroll and grazing on the fields infront of the house. Where the hell do they come from when the place is still considered as a residential area with a playground area built on the field, I’m still wondering. But my uncle claimed that they are owned by the nearby mosque. I’m still trying to convince myself that people here don’t think that it’s a weird phenomena and that I’m just merely over-reacting. But all of these seeing the raw side of nature comes with the price of unbearable humidity and mosquito bites at sensitive areas of the body like the palms, knee caps and the tummy.
And one more thing! I rode a motorbike… with Grandpa. It wasn’t as badass and on-the-edge as I thought it’d be, like having wind in your hair and hands on the back of your head. A part of me (and Mom) still fear that I will fall off the bike anytime. Mom was reluctant at first. She always fear the worst and because of me as well. But it turns out to be a slow and safe ride. Really “kid-friendly”.
Mom says I’d learn to be more independent when I’m here. I guess so. One morning, I tried to whip up breakfast for Mom and Grandma. It was an ultimate wrong idea to use a wok to do so, coupled with my inexperience in using that and clumsy behavior. Just when you think you know everything… Smog filled the whole kitchen and the sink was a real mess. Breakfast served: Tough, impenetrable chicken ham, charred eggs and sausages. My cousin told me that aunt is very conscious about the cleanliness of the kitchen. I tried my very best to clean it up, leaving no specks of leftover meat and oil lying on the stove but ended up, still getting questioned about it.
I thought it’d be just an ordinary family visit, maybe alittle sightseeing and eating (which I was looking forward to!) – since days before I set off, Dad excitedly reminded me not to miss out the delicacies that are famous here in Ipoh!
They’ve got mega-sized meat buns that are the size of a full, small birthday cake and really… palatable kopi peng (white coffee with ice) which you can practically get it anywhere here, with the same kind of taste. Slightly more foamy than the ones in Singapore and it doesn’t leave much of the bitter taste of coffee at the back of your tongue. I also learnt that coffee-drinking runs in the family’s blood, especially from Grandma’s.
I’ve also had Lok Lok in the Pasar Malam (night market) here in a different manner I had it in Singapore, just only in school. Lok Lok are fresh food like meat, seafood, vegetables, quail eggs stuck through skewers and patrons will dip these skewers into a pot of boiling spicy soup base to cook them. The stall is set up in a way that encourages communal dining among customers – even though that time when I had it, I observed that there weren’t much social interactions going on among the patrons.
There’re more to be shared but it’s already 2AM, my eyes are shutting and that means bedtime xx