Archive | July, 2012

The Chinese say

27 Jul

I’ve learned a few new Chinese sayings on this trip.

“Do gooders attract trouble.” Sums up the mentality of not rocking the boat. Keep your eyes down and just go on your way. I’m not sure if it’s an accurate generalization, but there are quite a few people in my own family do tend toward the attitude that “things just won’t change” or worse, that “causing a big ruckus can bring unwanted attention and trouble”.

电灯泡 = Electric light bulb. Last night, my mom and I went to sit on some beach chairs by the pool to look up at the stars. Beside us was a canopy with the curtains drawn down. My mom thought there might be someone inside and asked if we should find some other chairs because she didn’t want to be a “ding dang dam” or an electric light bulb. This is basically Chinese for a cockblock. The idea is that two lovers (or as my mom put it, “two people who are not just dating but courting”)would want to kiss in the dark. To be an electric light bulb would be to spoil their romantic fun (or sexy shenanigans, as people like to say!)

beautiful bali

27 Jul

My mom and I are on the last leg of our Asia extravaganza trip: Bali.

It’s not like us (i.e. I feel slightly embarrassed admitting this), but we booked 4 nights in an all-inclusive spa resort. It was a 3 hour drive from the airport through steep mountain roads that were just a van-tumble away from rice terraces, and just a mis-step from village doorsteps. The driving was crazy and very much reminded me of Grenada. Really though, even the 3 hours drive was beautiful. I loved seeing the villages, temples, and wacky motorcyclists driving with babies on their laps. I was pinching my arm every time I felt we were getting a little too close to killing or being killed, but my mom seemed to enjoy the ride, chatting with our driver and sucking on ginger candy.

This resort is amazing, of course. I have been a lump being massaged, napping, rolling myself into the pool, and going for a dip in the ocean to check out the fish. They provided simple tan coloured clothes for us to wear if we like, which my mom has been enjoying even though they were Large (and today, gave us XXL). She looks so happy striding around the little compound, being so grateful to everyone, speaking so slowly and with a big smile. Precious mamabird! People just lie about by the pool, get up to eat at the restaurant, then head back to the pool for a nap. When my mom and I were exploring the compound, seeing my mom check out every nook and cranny, I thought that this was like pre-school for adults. It helps that my mom is just a bit taller than child-sized.

Anyway, there are no TVs in the rooms and only 1 place with wireless. There are no clocks and there’s lots of chatting with staff. I appreciate that they try to make this resort more like a community or village. Be cynical if you want, of course everyone’s happy while on vacation, but it’s good to see my mom smiling so genuinely and really enjoying herself.

Thanks Bali!

asbestos and what’s fair

24 Jul

Asbestos is a known killer. Exposure to it increases the risk of lung cancer in both smokers and non-smokers. If you’re a smoker, your chances of getting lung cancer go up 1000x. It also increases risk of mesothelioma, which pretty much only happens to people exposed to asbestos.

The problem with asbestos is that it’s made of tiny fibers, which lodge in the lungs. The body isn’t good at dealing with foreign substances – can’t kill it like it would kill a bacteria, can’t break it down because of it’s synthetic make up – so it just engulfs it then stores it away. It builds up, and the reaction surrounding cells have to it can cause major (i.e. fatal) problems down the road.

Asbestos doesn’t just affect people exposed to it directly at work. It also increases cancer risks in the families of people who have been exposed to asbestos, even if the family members themselves weren’t directly exposed. It’s because asbestos fibers stay on the clothes of the exposed people, and they in turn go home and expose their families to it, along with anyone else who has a lot of contact with them.

Asbestos used to be used in developed countries, like Canada, as an insulator. Once the detrimental health effects became obvious, asbestos was banned from being used anymore. Many institutions have tried to replace asbestos in buildings, but in many cases it’s just left alone because disturbing it would put the people removing it at risk.

Asbestos is a major export from Canada, particularly from the city in Quebec called … Asbestos. Exports go to developing countries that have not banned it’s use, like India and China. While people who work with Asbestos in Canada are wearing full body suits, workers in India and China are equipped with just bandanas. Unfair? Or their fault?

It’s been tough times for everyone, especially small towns without diverse industries to rely on. Asbestos is a small town in Quebec which took a big hit when its asbestos mine was shut down earlier this year. But now that it’s reopening, thanks to this government grant.

Check out this quick-read article  written by a Canadian senator on what the dealio is on the thing called asbestos, a town called Asbestos, developing countries, and what’s good for Canada versus what’s right.

the link:

malaysia food

24 Jul

no more mangosteens or rambutan left in malaysia. they are all in my belly.

i didn’t look up much about malaysia before i came here, to visit my mom’s cousin. but it’s a Muslim country. the last time i was in a muslim country was last year when a few friends and I went to Morocco after exams. I really enjoyed being in not just a culture but a whole country that was centered around a different religion. It’s one of those experiences that makes you realize the things you take as a given in your life – like living in countries that are primarily Christian. It’s refreshing to be somewhere with a strong religious culture that’s different. I’ve also wondered what it’d be like to be in a Muslim country during Ramadan. Well it’s Ramadan but things seem to be about the same as usual, according to my family here. Maybe some shops a little quieter during the day. Tonight we’re going to a Ramadan buffet. I’m thinking it’ll be the same as what i’m used to but different. People are just people I bet, and like their buffets big and nice.

My first night in KL, my family took me on a drive around the city. In a matter of 10-15 minutes, we had visited 2 buddhist temples, 1 hindu temple, passed by a few mosques and a church. My aunt said that there haven’t been any wars fought over religion here. I thought how it’d be cool to grow up here, perhaps then you’d have a wider world-view. But through conversations with a few of my family members, I can see how it can also have the opposite effect, when people stereotype more and stay even more within their own ethnic communities.

Ads Seen: Hong Kong

21 Jul

Hong Kong has tons of plastic surgery ads everywhere.

Some slogans include “iLike 4S (shape, success, smile, slim)” with each S written under a picture of a different body part (a bum, a thigh, a smile, a tummy). I’m waiting for the iLike 5S to come out so I can get the iLike 4S for cheap off craigslist.

There’s also “Become Perfect” which I mistook for a wedding boutique ad at first (that would also be a little messed up) because it has a picture of a woman in a lavish white gown gazing into a gilded gold mirror, with a man in a suit peeping over her shoulder. He’s also looking into the mirror, and holding a pen up to the woman’s cheek. To draw the surgical cut lines, I presume.

Reminds me of the huge ads in the Air Canada Center advertising sportswear for women – a t-shirt that says “Future Trophy Wife”. Awesome!

Quote: Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

20 Jul

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is the … creator? inventor? discover-er? suggester? of the 5 stages of grief. You know: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.

I often picture people who create these models or who are the eponym of anything clinical as being really dry and without personality. But most of the time they have pretty interesting stories! And in this case, a nice quote.

Watching TV for the first time in 2 years

20 Jul

I haven’t owned a TV for about 2 years. I haven’t been watching shows online. But I’m on holiday in Hong Kong right now, and turned on the TV for the first time.

This is what was on:

Followed by:

And I unno. I’d imagine this is how an alien would feel when they peer down on Earth and use their funky spaceship satellite to tune in to what we’re watching on TV.

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