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16 April 2009

Bring me home

By Wai Hoong

I don’t know what took me so long to share this but i guess the stars are aligned today and its a good day to share your say :D

Back in 2008, I was stationed at Harbin (north of China) for 3 months as my company just setup a new office there. It was a chance of a lifetime as I haven’t in my life experienced the feeling of working in another country altogether. So I was really looking forward to this trip.

My experience with China and Chinese People so far (though I am a chinese myself) is mostly bad. I think the last time I was at China for a trip dates back to the 80s when I am still like 12 years old. Ok now, once you got down from the plane, you are like a celebrity or superstar. Everybody is looking at you in amazement. You are the center of attraction wherever you go. Be it toilet, parks, restaurant and shopping malls. Now how cool can that be? NOT!!

They all gazed at me non stop because I am fat. LOL!! You know how sometimes back here in KL, when someone gazed at you at when you notice it you gave them a stern look and they will look away pretending looking at something else, well that doesn’t work in China. Whether you sternly look at them or give out a hiss of threatening sound, they will still look at you no matter what. Sigh, what a memory to bring back from China.

Traveling to time, date march 2008, when I step foot out into the cold fresh Harbin night, I took one deep breath and marched out, here I come. o.O this is exactly my reaction. Nobody is looking at me. I was thinking OMG, did I loose weight or something? Common this can’t be true. Well, as I was still trying to digest the fact that nobody stares at me, we made our way to the immigration counter and still nobody looks at me. LOL! I am loving Harbin already.

Well, it was late at night though and maybe those ‘Glarers’ have already went to bed. So I kept my fingers crossed and anxiously waits for tomorrow to come. Now, we need to get to the hostel, so we grab a cab and we were on a ride of our lifetime. You know how we used to flash light the car in front of us so that they get out of the fast lane for us to overtake? Well somehow, flashing your lights is not the weapon of choice here. They used the most efficient of all, the HORN!!.. it will be like.. HORN HORN!! HORNNNN.. HOORRRRNNNNNnnnnnn…… (slowly fades as the car move farther) They just somehow enjoy doing it. It’s like they teach them in driving school that this is a must do thing when you learn to drive. LOL! and one more thing is, as long as there is any space, and I mean any space that allows the car to go through, they will use it. This includes curbs, grass, walk way and even the opposite lane. They will horn their way through… this is just pure madness…

Forwarding to the next day. We walk to our office in a cold monday morning. I just love it. You know how you are fat and you can wear an overcoat to try and cover up the mass of your body, well this is every overweighters’ dream come true. LOL! and you guess it, nobody is looking at me but in return I am looking back at them this time round. ZOMG!! You know I actually when on a shopping spree to buy some cool clothes so that I can show off in China on the latest trends in fashion, well all I can do is GASPPPP!!!! they are more trendy then us, they are more advance then us, they are more polite then us, they are more hardworking then us and they are more lively than us. 10 years is just all it takes for China to evolve from a ‘OMG Look!! Fat boy’ o.O — to –> ‘OMG! Look, such senseless dressing’. This really blows my mind away.

Well, the rest is history. I like the food. I was there for 3 months and I gained 10kg. Seriously. 10 BIG Gs. Sigh. I like the people. Especially those lower level class people usually working as waitresses, attendees, hawkers and sales person. They are the polite-tess person on earth. If you are paying to be served (it doesn’t matter what, be it food, buying something or getting a service) you have the license to yell at them and they will come with head bowed down happily attending to your needs. This is just pure awesomeness to the max. Lets see, what else.. oh yes, the foot massage, it’s really something out of this world. A maybe merely 35kg girl can lift up my 20kg leg and use it to play tai chi. LOL! I guess Kung Fu really does have it’s hidden wonders.

Overall this time round, my experience in China is mostly towards positive except for 1 retard taxi driver that tried to ripped us off. Sigh, I guess even though some lizards didn’t make it to becoming a mammal in the evolution process. Well, this is how it is. The balance between the Ying and Yang have to co-exists in order for world peace.

Alright, now as I am nearing my end of days in Harbin, I am looking forward to my short trip before going back to Malaysia and yes though I am homesick now, but I am still looking forward to my trip. First stop, Guangzhou. Now, before I reach GZ, I heard a lot of rumors and stories of horrific experiences with thieves, snatchers, con man and lots more. These only build up my already anxiousness level once again to the max. So in order to enjoy the trip I tricked myself into believing that China has changed and I will enjoy this trip no matter what. Now, as we were to get down from the cab to our hotel, I saw a snatch thief at work right in front of me. o.O FECK!!! For the next 2 days, I spent most of my time in my hotel room except to go out for food. It’s a jungle out there.

After GZ, we took a bus down to YongPing (forgotten the name, but its something like this). This place is just like a row of hotels and pubs and bars and restaurant and more hotels and pubs. It’s like Jalan Telawi at Bangsar. It’s funny though but my anxious level went down a lot cause I can feel the peacefulness in the air. It’s more civilized here and I feel like I’m home. I only spent 1 night there as tomorrow I am heading down to HongKong via train (ZOMG!!). I am happy and anxious at the same time. Happy because I will be meeting with some of my friends in Hong Kong and I can go on a shopping spree but anxious because of the horrific stories I heard about train rides from YP to HK. Even the train station is showing videos on how to prevent thefts and snatch thieves while riding train. SIGH!!!

As I got onto the train, it was to my amazement that it is firstly not crowded (lesser chance of a pick pocket) and there are a lot of westerners traveling in the same train. So I tried to take it easy and enjoy the journey.

Finally, the final destination. HONG KONG. I was at peace for the first time for this past 4 days. It was so peaceful. You can just walk out naked into the war zone without needing a bullet proof vest or kevlar helmet. This is HOMEEEE!!!! I enjoy HK every little bit of it. Met my friends from Kuwait, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Enjoyable moments worth mentioning every now and then.

At last, D Day. After 3 loooonnnnggggg months abroad away from my bed, nasi lemak, teh tarik, my beloved mom, my car, my friends and everything else in Malaysia; I am ready to go back home. A word of advice, never ever take taxi in Hong Kong unless necessary. Their bill meters are bound to their wheels and every time the wheel completes 1 full 360 degree in a forward or backward motion, you will be charged 70 cents (HKD). The trip from Tsim Sha Tsui to Airport costs me HKD 400. Damn you! Well, that quickly got off my mind as I am now already longing for home sweet home.

I took the advance boarding or something package which is cool as I got to get onto the plane first and choose the best seat. Now, as we are waiting for our departure call, I was approached by a young guy holding some papers in his hand. He introduced himself as a part timer doing a research on tourist’s experience visiting hong kong. I quickly remembered those days when I got myself one of this job ging around asking people for survey and then getting paid by the total of completed surveys with name and signature of the surveyee, actually have this word ? hmmm.. well nvm that, coming back to this encounter as I was about to say sure, why not, they page for me to get ready as the plane has arrived. I can sense the ‘SHIT!!!’ feeling that guy is feeling when he sees me getting ready for departure. So, to repay my nice and joyful experience in HK, I said; “Ok look, I don’t have time for the whole interview. Why not we do it like this. I will give you my name and fill in all needed information to verify that you did this survey on a real person and I will sign the papers for you. As for the questionaires, you fill it in for me. All positive answers, OK?” :D this is his reaction. :) this is my reaction, my gift to you and in return, I got myself a small badge (visit hongkong 2008) as a token of appreciation. Both of us are happy :)

As I walk out the door to the waiting shuttle, I was greeted by a smiling early 30s guy with a red cap on. Welcome to Air Asia, we are proud to have you with us. Shake hands. How are you? I am great thanks, can’t wait to go home. Good, we will bring you home safe and sound… thank you… ah…. such relieving and soothing words, such friendliness, such hommie feel and such wonderful customer service. I got on the plane, the plane took off, they served me nasi lemak and teh tarik as ordered and the next thing I know, I was back in Malaysian soil. The plane landed, I was greeted by the hot 3pm afternoon sun of Malaysia. Somehow, I did not have that essentric and electrifying feeling of coming back home. It somehow feels like I did not actually miss home that much. Maybe I am just tired or something but something is just not right.

As I walk out from the plane, the air stewardess waved me goodbye and wish me good luck and said “Goodbye, glad to have you flying with us, hope to see you soon” and right then, I know the reason behind all these mixed feelings.

Actually, I am already home.

The moment I step foot onto Air Asia at Hong Kong airport, I feel the spirit of Malaysia all around the cabins reflecting in the affirming smiles from the air stewardess and the aroma from the nasi lemak and teh tarik. I felt home before even reaching home. And all I can say is;

AirAsia, you have done a GREAT JOB!! Thank you AirAsia. :)

  • Siu Ming

    this is a really good post..i like it especially in the last phrase where you mentioned that you are already home the moment you are on the plane..=D..

    thumbs up! great job AirAisia..=D

  • Low

    I didn’t eat breakfast and I saw tons of food pictures here… I’m hungry =.=|||

  • Steven

    What a surprise to read this very lively style and entertaining blog, when I did a google search for “harbin”. Hope you share more stories.