The Headache Inducing City of Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, why are you so difficult to navigate?  Why do you hurt me so?

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Oh KL, why are you so difficult!?

When I finalized my ticket to Kuala Lumpur following my trip to Thailand, I wasn’t exactly pumped to revisit the city.  Earlier in the year I had a 10 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur thanks to Air Asia, and at that time I managed to see most of the city.  I saw the Menara Observation Tower, visited a zoo–hell, I even had some authentic Malaysian Lahksa (curry) there.  It’s awful to say, but I really thought 10 hours in Kuala Lumpur was enough and I didn’t think a second trip in my lifetime would be necessary. Much like my unlikely and frequent visits to Korea (I’ve been there 4 times wha?), I found myself again revisiting a city I didn’t much care for the first time around.

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The Modern Ex-Pat Returning Home

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I check my e-mail to see the response I have been waiting for sitting there in my inbox, calling my name.  I told my friends this is “my dream job,” even though I knew the chances of me actually snagging the position were to slim to none.  Still, this organization called me in for an interview (to my surprise) and they seemed impressed at my credentials and skills.  Since the position was in Washington DC, I knew the likelihood of me being selected as a candidate from halfway across the country was extremely unlikely, but I still had hope.

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Being Half Asian in China and Japan

Most people are stunned to find out that I’m half Asian half white.  They’re even more stunned to find out I’m not half Japanese or even Chinese:  I’m half Vietnamese (I know, I don’t look Vietnamese at all).

And I’m not only white–my father is 100% Irish.  So I’m a complete 50/50 split of two very different cultures.

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Being a Halfie in the USA

In my hometown (a very small town in Utah) my mom was the only Asian person in town, making my brother and I the only Asians in the school.  Despite how un-Asian I look, I was constantly teased for being a “gook” or a “chink” and never a moment went by where I wasn’t racially profiled.  Me liking Japan didn’t really help improve the situation,  so memories of people yelling “hey ching chong wong” and other such uncultured insults are still a very fresh memory today.

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Dating a Chinese Man (and the unwanted presents that come with it)

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“How are things with you and your Shanghai man?” I ask J on the phone as I slurp some coffee and munch on toast.”I hear you have dinner with his family every weekend?  Seems like things are getting serious.”

“Mary, I’m going to have a breakdown,” J sighs heavily on the phone. “His mom did something that REALLY bothered me these last few weekends.”

“Oh no,” I set my coffee on the table and leaned in, almost as if J were really sitting across from me.  “Did she say something about you being a foreigner?  Or maybe about your family?”

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A Shanghai Summer’s Eve

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I want to recount one of the “livelier” Shanghai evenings I’ve had this previous summer.  This post is really more for my own personal pleasure and to recount one of my better memories here (no real deep personal insight).  In Shanghai you always have strange, random evenings–and summer 2013 was no exception.

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I was on the couch sporting the most unflattering sweatpants and baggy sweater I own, my hair unkempt and my body slouched on the sofa like a slug.  My one hand was holding a cup of tea, the other hand stuffed into a giant plastic bag of dried fruits from China’s northwest province.  I was having the first lazy Sunday I’ve had in weeks–and it felt so good.  I was watching Hanzawa Naoki, cheering on my beloved protagonist with the world’s “hell yea!” and stuffing more Xinjiang raisins in my mouth, when my roommate emerged from her room, wondered what on god’s green Earth I was watching, then looked at me and said:

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Asian Guys Like “Stupid” Girls

*WARNING: I do not think Asian men or women are stupid.  This is a satirical post mixed in with personal opinion, read it with a grain of salt*

I Like Stupid Girls (Chinese Version)

IMG_4171I like to believe that the majority of western men don’t date women for looks alone, and intelligence plays a small role in the selection of a partner.  Personality–most importantly, intelligence–plays a huge role in who we want to date or spend the rest of our lives with.

Not for Asia.

It was about two years ago when my friend got a new girlfriend.  He had been single for quite some time and, despite being 25, had never truly had a girlfriend.  When his friend set him up with a fellow girl from Hunan, he was elated to meet her.  On the first date they hit it off, and by the second date things were starting to get serious.  As his best friends, he wanted us to meet his new girl and give him some very important feedback.

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It’s true–women like a-holes

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J: “I’m never dating a banker.”

Me: “I mean, they seem like scumbags but I’m sure there are some perks to dating them.”

J: “They’re gross.  They have massive orgies.”

Me: (pause to process aforementioned sentence)

“What? They have orgies?  Is this a banking thing I’m oblivious to?”

J: “Remember that Chinese douche, Bill, I was kind of seeing?  He worked in a big famous bank, but he was only junior associate.  He told me once ‘whenever we put through a big transaction, all the big-wigs celebrate with orgies.  I’m so jealous.’

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A flashback to interpretation in hell

I was psyched, nervous, excited–it was my first, real “professional” interpretation job.  I was to take a train to Suzhou and meet all the bigwig corporate CEOs for a Japanese and American company and help them talk to each other.  I got the “go” signal from the office in Japan and it was the day before my duty.  I was reviewing difficult business Japanese and doing practice exercises through simultaneous interpretation of Nikkei business video clips when I felt it.

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Back in Japan

Well I came back to Japan, and who else here to welcome me other than…

Giant Gundam

It’s been a year since going to Odaiba, and since then they have created a new mall called ‘Diver City’ full of luxury good stores that I will never be able to shop in, along with the return of the giant gundam.  Everyone was outside looking for a photo snap shot, including yours truly.

Unlike last time, being in Japan feels absolutely great.  Yeah, everyone still looks like a zombie and they are overworked to death, but the atmosphere of the society itself is just lovely.  And more than the overall picture, I miss the little things the most.  I love how the trains work, even how they look; I love the pre-packed bentos for sale, along with the nicely wrapped onigiri.  I like the recycling system, as well as the clean streets and punctual public transportation.  When people bump into me, it feels great to have someone say ‘sumimasen,’ as opposed to Shanghai where I get a grunt and a shove.

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