April 22, 2007

The Long Road Home......

The journey to my mother's birth village, Tianmen-150 miles south of Wuhan, was somewhat agonizing for all of us. We have had 24-48 hour episodes of continuous "barfing and purging". Being 81, the journey was physically very hard for my mother..... she was eventually admitted into the Tianmen Government Hospital No.1. After 8 long gruesome hours, she was treated with antibiotics, glucose I.V for dehydration and discharged. The very next day, I ended up in the same hospital for the same treatment... except that I opted out of the Glucose I.V. Why?.... the hospital sanitary conditions were far less than award-winning!!

Despite the ailments we were affected with, we visited my mother's cousins and my grandfather's house (see pic above) in the rice fields. When we were at my grandfather's house, an old man who lives next door, approached and told us that he was my mother's playmate when they were toddlers. The old man never left.... he has lived in the same house for 80 over years!


Poultry Barn

Rice and Canola Fields

Images of Wuhan

The Pristine East Lake of Wuhan

Yellow Crane Temple

Wuhan Bridge crossing the mighty Yangtze

April 17, 2007

Greetings from Shanghai....

The weather in Shanghai got pretty nasty today... it rained all day and the temp. dipped into the low 10C's/high 40F's... I learned that the weather in Wuhan is not any better... even colder!

I cannot believe the phenomenal metamorphosis that has taken place in this great metropolitan city of 20 million when I was here last... only 10 months ago!! Three major hotels have opened in the city center and the the world's largest electronic billboard is in operation now in Pudong on an entire building (next to JinMao... currently, world's tallest building) overlooking the Bund.

The Peace Hotel on the Bund.... both wings are currently closed for some major renovation. It was a major disappointment for my mother because she couldn't see the grandiose hotel she saw when she was ten years old...not that it had changed much after all this time. However, she was very happy she got to walk on the Bund.

70 years ago, she and her family sailed on a junk for many days on the Yangtze and landed in Shanghai. Back then, she told us it was a grassy muddy harbor with fishermen, traders, merchants, beggars and very wealthy white people living across the bund and driving "carts with two eyes" (Ford model T?).

I didn't feel the kind of affiliation I felt for Shanghai when I was here last year. This trip with my mother is a lot different... I think it was the nostalgia of my mother and her parents disembarking from their boat on the Bund seventy years ago and... the fact that I realized that I have more connection to this city than a cousin and a niece merely living here. This morning, I find myself telling my cousin.... that I would consider moving to Shanghai some time....

Exotic Cuisines of Shanghai....

Skyline of Kuala Lumpur

The faux pas Burj Al-Arab

Mosque near my old house

Islamic Haj Building

Night-time Sykline of Kuala Lumpur...

Though the Petronas Twin Towers are somewhat passe when it comes to "tallest building in the world", they still possess that special grandeur when they lit up the sky in the night.

My camera sucks.... it couldn't capture the spectacular lightings on the buldings.

April 09, 2007

Kuala Lumpur....

The temperature was already in the upper 90's F, pre-dawn 7:00 am, when we went for a hike this morning in the Lake Gardens, the only green patch left in this city conurbation of 4.5 million.

The weather is 200% humidity and 300% sauna everyday... how do these people take it here? It gets so unbearable towards the afternoon. An old high school girlfriend has loaned me her "air-condition malfunctioning" Malaysian-made Proton Saga sedan to drive. The car drives very economically, generating more than 40 mpg, but the inside temperature (after being parked under the hot-burning Malaysian sun for 2 hours) is 120F! Every time, I get in to drive, my body H2O and sodium content automatically decrease by 500gm! I wonder if near-death-experiences by dehydration are rampant here?.... maybe, only for people stupid enough to drive "air-condition malfunctioning" vehicles!

After our hike in the not-so-pristine Lake Gardens park (see pic), we ended up in Brickfields, an old Indian commercial enclave of shops, restaurants and hawker foodstalls, for breakfast. We stumbled upon Brickfields famous' oyster congee (made by the same woman who sold the same stuff 40 years ago), had "nasi lemak" and red bean soup. Gobble, Gobble, Gobble......

On the way back, we passed by the Kuala Lumpur Central Railway Station..... an incredible British colonial creation of Moorish architecture at its finest!

Next to come... 1) Food and the gastronomical obsession of local Malaysians. 2) Architecture of the ever-changing skyline of Kuala Lumpur city... What Petronas Twin Towers?? That is sooooo passe!