June 23, 2008

from Zhuhai to Kuching Borneo

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:04 pm by changisme

After Yunnan, I had a day of rest in Zhuhai, where Yoni and Jinging’s
school for work (UIC) is. It’s a beautiful campus with numerous ponds
swallowing the shadows of the thick tropical vegetations nearby and the
unique dome shaped hills farther away. It’s a more delicate beauty
compared to UBC which is also one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve
been in. UBC has way more buildings in the middle, so to enjoy the
scenery, I had to go away from the center, and the trees and waters and
mountains are generally bigger with a bigger breath. The difference is
almost parallel to the small bonedchinese beauty vs. a brave sprawling
greek goddess. Actually, I don’t know why my impression of a greek
goddess as being big and her hair flying everywhere so long as the sky
can contain… the paintings maybe?

Anyway, Zhuhai is a very nice place to live, small maybe, relatively,
but clean and near the ocean. I think it has an air of the little
satellite district my grandparents are in, a little more compete I bet.
It also has numerous university branches on the out skirt, and the bus
ride in has more tullips than traffic. I really think it’s much better
than Beijing or Guangzhou. Did I mention that Guangzhou is probably the
dirtiest place… well together with Beijing maybe. I think also that
all the chinese dietary stereotypes all came from Guangdong province.
They eat absolutely everythere… all kinds of animals and fungi, no
wonder I was bewildered that people thought Chinese people eat dogs in
Vancouver and I had absolutely no clue. In fact, all the other
provinces I’ve visited, Yunnan being one, the diets were more boring
than the western one. Anyway, eating so many different things made
Guangzhou incredibly dirty I think, very easy to contract something,
and the streets were also flown with mucky water that god knows just
washed what kind of insect. The weather is also so hot and humid that
these sewage networking the street quickly fests. urhhh.

Another thing I don’t understand about China, is that, the bathrooms
are also so incredibly dirty!!! I remember never going to public
washrooms unless I’m on the road, this trip just reminded me. They
smell so bad. I don’t understand why they can’t make it cleaner. The
put all the white decor, but the smell is just nasty. They also have
cleaning ladies, but somehow it’s not the outside that needs cleaning.
However though, when you go to individual homes, it doesn’t smell
(unless you are in the rural area I guess) As soon as we cross over
from the China side to Macau, the bathrooms have become clean. It’s
such a dramatic change… weird.

We didn’t linger in Macau, just long enough to see the streets and the
Portuguese signages. I wonder how many people actually learn portuguese
these days here. We arrived at the airport over a bridge onto the
reclaimed land. It must have been a big project to ship that much earth
over to build hotels and runway. Oh yeah, it only has one runway and
it’s an international airport. LOL I think the navigation office
probably has a pretty serious job.

The flight to Kuching, Sarawak was smooth and it took us 3 hours. I
loved Kuching as soon as I got off. The airport was a little overly
AC’ed, Maybe because most of the people who work there are muslims and
the women especially have to be fully dressed and wear the hijad. We
had a Chinese cab driver and Yoni said most of the cab drivers were
Chinese, and later on I found most of the restaurant owners too, though
the cooks and servers were usually malays.

Borneo, the part of Malaysia I’m in, has a very low percentage of
Muslims and high percentage of Chinese. They are also very segregated.
Malays in the friendly and laid back ways walk about the own business
and smile at you. The Chinese talk among themselves in Chinese even
though they know Malay perfectly well. Most of the businesses seem to
the owned by Chinese who hire the Malays. I was surprised that the
Chinese (almost all that I’ve met so far) could speak all three
languages, Mandarin, English and Malay, while Malays mostly just speak
Malay, so it was hard to do business with foreigners directly. Someone
told me that the Chinese schools were taught in Mandarin, so I wonder
how they do standard examinations.

Kuching is also a very colourful city. Buildings are in very bring
coloured blocks. Bright green, bright pink, bright red etc. The state
mosque is in pink and gold, like a fairytale! My hostel is yellow and
the mall nearby has one colour for each floor. I just refer to it as
the colourful building.

On the street, the malay people pleasantly say hi, but they only seem
to address the men, never the women. If I walk alone, people don’t say
hi, but if I walk with a guy, they would say, hello boy, so I guess not
to me. Maybe women are expected to be humble and not expose ourselves,
so even though I wear boyshorts, they just pretend I’m not exposed? I
generally feel pleasant though, because I haven’t been pushed to buy
anything or any service so far. I just need to ask for myself and they
would pleasantly respond, if they know english or chinese that is.

We went to a few museum, much cheaper than the Chinese ones even though
the standard of living is higher here. There were local children and so
forth. I’m quite angree at how Chinese entrance fees are so
unreasonable that I don’t think anyone local would bother going even
though the places were worth going (not for the money). I saw the Islam
museum and the Sarawak museum where there were animal displays and
indigenous culture displays. Aparently the indigenous people here were
very much into body art, and had lots of piercings, including the
genitals. That must have been painful.

We also visited Sikh temple and a mosque and saw a buddhist temple and
there was an indian temple as well. It was strange to come to a country
full of religion in the open from China where no religion is really in
the open. I’m still here for too short a time to actually feel the
difference in people’s everyday life. I wish I could be more relaxed
and not having to move around, maybe when I come back from Indonesia I
can, or in Indonesia for that matter.

The food here is also interesting. It’s not as spicy as Yunnan, though
always have a little hint of spiciness. The rice is grate, the grains
are always separated, not sticky like Japanese or Chinese cooking
methods. They also eat lots of sauces and seafood. In general though,
it’s a little blender than Cantonese or Yunnan food. Yoni also tried to
middle eastern food here and said it’s incredibly blend.

We went hiking in bako national park yesterday. We took a boat over.
There were mountains fading into the landscape and trees growing in the
high tide. Watre was emerald green competing with the rich forest
colour sitting above it. We met a British man of about 55 years of age,
after we disembarked and registered, we went on hiking together. The
man’s name is Mike and is from Liverpool. He’s very friendly but I was
a little annoyed that the amount of talking he did probably made us
less likely to see fast moving animals along the way. Nevertheless, we
saw lizards, big butterflies, and later on Monkeys with and without
babies hanging off of their bellies and lots of crabs in shells, as
well as three … what do you call it? The ones that are round and
flat, but with a long and thin tails. They are called sting…
something. Anyway, they were small though less than a foot in diameter.

The vegetation is also very interesting. I would have imagined in such
a humid place, all the trees would have incredibly big leaves, but
that’s not the case, some even of needles! They are not the same hard
needles as on the rockies, but softer ones. Most of the leaves are also
wax coated. I gather they get lots of sunlight here. The canopy is also
not very thick. Lots of smaller plants get to grow on the jungle floor.
We also saw some pitcher plants. There were a couple types, one grow on
tope of the trees, and they have a little lid on them, and another grow
on the foot of the trees and have no lid. Basically, they are little
pitchers that contain juices that attract insects who fall in and
drown. Literally, I guess.. you could also say that they die of thirst?

Today we are going to see the Orang utans… we might also have some
problem climbing Mt. Kinabalu, because the accommodations on top of the
mountains is said to be full. We might try to somehow find a spot
today. I wouldn’t mind going diving instead though.

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1 Comment »

  1. Jane said,

    omg, Orangutans, monkeys, pitcher plants… I envy you so much! Weren\’t they saying that there might not be orangutans ten years from now because of their habitat shrinking, you\’re lucky! Anyways, I travelled to Montreal as well as Quebec city but spent most of the time stuck in traffic. It does make me want to travel more when I have chance, plus all your travels sound so exciting….put up pictures when you have a chance!


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