I heard about this movie from a friend back in 2007/08 but never had a chance to watch it...until now. Someone uploaded it on Youtube with Chinese and English Subtitles.
It's one of the best South East Asian Films I've ever seen (and I watch many!!!!) and definitely can squeeze into the top best 15 South East Asian film list of mine. It uses alot of Singaporean English (Singlish), Hokkien Dialect, Mandarin Dialect in the conversations and is really very very authentic with its characters, their conversations and the setting. Coming from Malaysia myself, the entire film felt very homely given that Singapore and Malaysia share a common history, culture, language, and people despite being two different countries since 1965.
The opening song is a famous Taiwanese Hokkien Song from 1933 called 'Ban Chun Hong' and its used as a background theme throughout the film which I really really like. The idea of using the song came from one of the director/writer's mother as the Director had called her mother and asked her which songs were popular during her times, and the mother's first suggestion was this song.
The Taiwanese and many Southeast Asian Chinese share a common dialect background of Minnan/Hokkien Chinese dialect and thus many Taiwanese Hokkien songs and popular culture were very popular with the older generation of Southeast Asian Chinese, especially in Malaysia and Singapore. I still remember my own now deceased Grandfather on my mother's side renting vhs tapes to watch Taiwanese Hokkien Chinese Operas at home.
The film has many themes and issues covering a wide range of topics such as the traditional egoistical man of the house, the docile housewife belittled by the husband from the generation now in their 50s and above, class aspirations, sexism in the family in favouring the son over the daugther, materialism,etc. It also has many well written and clevely emotional moments. My personal favourites include the scene where the elder father gives the wife pearl earrings but she isn't that happy and you find out why which was very clever writing and true too.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C4%81ng_Chhun-hong)
I would like to introduce something close to my heart, which is the state of society and social issues and human stories in Asia. I watch entire Hong Kong TV current affairs programs on Youtube on a biweekly basis and so am pretty up to date with Hong Kong's current societal issues and challenges facing the society there. Many years ago, I stumbled across this reality program which put individuals from wealthy and privileged backgrounds for 1 week or so in the position of a poor person and see how they live. This allows both the individuals and the audience to engage in and gauge the magnitude of the problem of wealth inequality and societal imbalances in Hong Kong as we follow these characters in various roles and positions over the course of an episode. This reality series started in 2009 and came back again in 2011. I watched the first two series (as I had discovered it when they had finished broadcasting) and was totally absorbed with it. I waited for the third series to come as I knew there was a gap of over 1 year between the first two series but by mid-2013, I lost hope and thought the series was not going to have a third edition as maybe funds ran out or they lost the ability to find new wealthy individuals interested in participating. However, low and behold, I found out on Youtube (as I subscribe to RTHK's Youtube Channel) one night that the Series' Third Edition was coming back!!
Previous editions had about 4-6 episodes for each series and this time, there were 5 episodes for the 2013 series. This time, similar to previous editions, wealthy individuals would live in squalid and cramped housing conditions and work low-end low paid jobs in difficult and harsh conditions like many lower rung Hong Kong people. However, this time, they have to come up with a plan to help the lower income residents and each episode is themed with a focus such as housing issues or education access,etc.
Please have a watch if you understand Cantonese or can read Chinese subtitles. It's really well-worth it. Each episode of each series has managed to touch me profoundly and is extremely insightful. You come to realise we're all the same as human beings and there is nothing different between us..all pain is the same, and all love is the same, or similar. Like I like to say, the human spirit and determination knows no end, and nothing is impossible to the human capacity for endurance and perseverance.:)
Charlie Yeung Choi-Nei (whom like me has half-Taiwanese heritage-her mother is Taiwanese) just got married to her Singaporean boyfriend of almost 20 years in Singapore at the W-Hotel Sentosa this past weekend!!:) I've loved her since she became famous in the early 1990s and me being a self-admitting 90s child, am both very surprised and happy for her:)
I came across this documentary about growing up gay in modern Hong Kong by chance last night and watched it on Youtube...given what day it is today (IDAHO-google if you don't know what that means!!) I thought I'd share it...I couldn't believe this kind of bullying and discrimination was still so rife in modern-day Hong Kong! It's heartbreaking and at first I wasn't even really into the documentary but then they started talking about the boy called Issac and I was just SOOOO super heartbroken at his experiences:( I almost felt like tearing up at one point hearing his super sad story...
Another reason why I don't like Christianity and organised religion and their viewpoints on social issues such as abortion and homosexuality...Issac went to a Christian highschool in Hong Kong and was forced to quit in his final year in highschool due to the unaccepting attitudes of his classmates (not to mention their horrible bullying!) as well as his respected teacher and even the school social worker (my god, don't they have ethical standard requirements in HK to become a social worker?!) whom all told him he could change his sexuality....I'm glad he seems to be leading an open and happier life now:)
The documentary is unfortunately only in Cantonese with Chinese subtitles so please go ahead and have a look if you understand Chinese..it really is very insightful and informative:)
Do be compassionate, accepting, and respectful to everyone, for everyone, regardless of race, gender, age, religious, social status, sexual identity, or sexual orientation, are all human beings with feelings, hurt, want, as well as hope, who deserve to be treated equally and with dignity and compassion.:)
I haven't been blogging much recently as lack of motivation...will try to do more soon..a long postponed blog post first...I went back to Malaysia in Dec 2012 (last year) after 2.5 years away and met up with many highschool friends and relatives and was very very happy.:D It was nice to catchup with people and friends in general again, especially those I haven't seen in ages.:D
I also visited Taiwan after almost 4 years to see my grandpa and Taiwanese relatives from my Dad's side and it was really really good and great to catchup with people after 4 years! I (re) visited many places in Taiwan again, doing a little round island tour again, being Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung this time. I also attended my cousin's main wedding in Kaohsiung (and the one in Taipei too!) which was quite an experience as I have never attended a Taiwanese wedding in my entire life, and on this first occasion, I got a closeup of the 'real deal' with my own cousin getting married and I was given the opportunity to have a close-up look at the intricacies and customs of a Taiwanese wedding.
Taichung Again!: D ps: I finally got to visit and try out the delicious Taiwanese pastry and Ice-Cream Store 'Miyahara's' near Taichung Station-Sooo unique and worth it!!:D
They are quite traditional with us all having to get up really early in the morning (like 6am) to welcome the groom and his entourage to the house (pity them, it meant the groom's entourage had to get up even earlier to come to the bride's place!) and played some typical Chinese wedding games and rush the bride (my lovely cousin!) off to the groom's place as they had this 'lucky timing' thing going on...
As the main wedding was situated in the south in Kaohsiung, I got to experience the typical 'Southern Style' Taiwanese wedding banquet with a makeshift stage and performers dressed scantily belting out local Taiwanese and Mandarin songs as one dish after another dish came out...it was surely an insightful experience and the Taipei lunch banquet was held in a special ceremony/weddings hall with modern style decorations,etc...was lovely!!
I took time out to visit Hong Kong again for New Year's Eve and got to see the fireworks (albeit very blocked!!) at East Tsim Tsa Tsui Area with the crowds...was an experience and had supper had Tsui Wah Chachaanteng on Hong Kond Island afterwards at like 1am or something...there was crowd control and it was quite an experience to witness and experience New Year Eve's in Hong Kong with all the masses and throngs of people in the MRT and on the streets of HK's Central and especially the crowd control which forced everyone to walk in long-winded routes around Central in Hong Kong, as I attempted to make my way back to the hotel passing Lan Kwai Fong with all the party-goers!:D
Central, near Lan Kwai Fong/NYE 2013.:D
I visited other places in Hong Kong this time which I had missed out on previous trips, such as Stanley Markets area, and Tai-O fishing village. I skipped the Lantau Big Buddha and other places which I had visited last time...overall, was a fantastic and memorable trip, not least cos I got to see my 'Hong Kong Aunt' whom I hadn't seen in over two decades I think (she is the only foreigner on my mum's family's side whom married my uncle, they divorced in the early 90s) and had a nice catchup lunch with her during her lunch break at the classy and nice Lounge restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel near the IFC in Hong Kong..it was certainly an exquisite and memorable meal to remember for years to come...:-D
Going back to Malaysia and Taiwan, I had a wonderful time pigging out and enjoying myself, spent Christmas at my aunt's potluck in Penang and had wonderful homemade 'Chai Buey; and 'Tempura Prawns'...yummy!! I got to meet my cousin-in-law for the first time as well there...was great!
Christmas Potluck in Penang 2012:D
'China House', one of several cool and hip places that have sprouted up in Penang since these past 2.5 years.:D
I managed to meet one of my uncles and his family after several years too, in Taipei, as they moved to Chile as diplomats several years ago and I never met them on my previous trip back to Taipei...and it was like time stood still, they hadn't changed much although their children are all grown up now!:D
I slept over at one of my Aunt's place for one night again this time, like all my previous trips (she's also my Taiwanese 'Godmother' besides being my blood aunt) and her husband took me around touring ala Taiwanese 'style' on his trusty Taiwanese motorbike, and we managed to take in the sights at several places, in a quick and effective manner..my greatest thanks to him..:)
Taipei-Aunt Precious's Place-Homecooked Macaroni with tons of cheese!!:D
Anyways, too many good food, places, and people to talk about in this very concise blog post, but that sums up my vacay back home I guess after several years...already planning to go back again within 1 year, during end of this year's Christmas break actually...till my next blog post then:D
I arrived in Hong Kong via MRT metro and got off at Wanchai MRT stop and found my way to my hotel in Wanchai. I had to lug my luggage everywhere on the streets of Wanchai whilst attempting to find my hotel and it was pretty tiring given the heat (despite being mid-nov!) and crowds on the streets of Wanchai. I did cross some interesting things though such as a filipino sari-sari store and a group of students with their teacher on an outdoor study excursion in the markets. I checked in and rested for 1 hr or so before heading out and making the most of my 24 hr in Hong Kong.
I had Teochew/Chiuchow Fishball soup, Hong Kong style Milk Tea, visited and ate traditional chinese rice cakes at my favourite chinese rice cakes store in Hong Kong located in Sham Shui Po as well as toured the area and visited a Hong Kong wetmarket.
I took the MRT to Yuen Long and then the lightrail, both the first time for me i think. I toured Yuen Long downtown area and it was very lively and i ate at a Michelin star place called Hou Dou Dai shop, and had their Wonton noodle soup which was really only average i felt. Then i took a lightrail to Tin Shui Wai new town, which i had wanted to visit as it was famous for being a lower socioeconomic area with frequent cases of domestic abuse and social problems..it looked quite normal actually..i also went into a Hong Kong sports/running track for the first time, as i passed by one called the Tin Shui Wai Sports Ground whilst there.
I took the light rail and Metro back to Kowloon and visited the Mongkok area and then made my way to the Star Ferry terminal in TST and took the iconic ferry ride to Central (just for the experience once again and photo ops!) and then took a tram (again for the experience more than anything else even tho i have taken both during the last time in HK!) and went back to the hotel.
The next morning, i woke up early and checked out and then checked in at the downtown checkin station with my luggage. Then i took the metro as well as lightrail to the Pingshan Heritage Trail which is the only heritage trail in Hong Kong. It was a unique and different experience away from the usual shopping and city experience of Hong Kong.
I took the metro back to Central and toured the streets quickly before having a quick Wonton Noodle at the famous Mak Kei's on Wellington Street (just opposite another famous wonton shop called Tsim Chai Kei's). I took the famous Mid-Levels Travelator and then rushed to buy the well known Joy-Hing roasted duck and chicken takeaway from Wanchai, gobbling it down at the MRT station and leaving the rest to what looked like a homeless man then took the airport express to the airport and taking my flight to Sydney enroute stopping over at Pudong International Airport, given it was on China Eastern Airline.
This thus finished my 3 weeks Cross China Trip 2011 and my blog post series on it, finally, after almost a year since i left! Hahaha..;)
I arrived by plane from Chongqing to Lijiang, the UNESCO world heritage ancient ethnic minority town situated in the mountains of Yunnan province. I met my dad there and we spent 2 days together. It was a very touristy place and although the view of the Snow Jade Dragon Mountain was beautiful..overall the ancient town was very touristy and commercialised for my liking with nightclubs and bargirls pumping out loud music deep into the night serving alcohols and half-naked dancers inside the clubs as well as girls asking you to go into the clubs..there were alot of artistic shops and nice cosy looking cafes and restaurants too, but they tended to be further away from the central ancient town centre.
I visited another village in Lijiang which was less well known and liked it way better...some of the architecture there was reminiscient of some 1930s set movie..haha..
I ate with my dad some of the hotpot and bbq food there and it was nice...also got a chance to see the ancient town from atop a small hill area...overall, i personally wouldn't go back to Lijiang again as it was just too touristy for my liking..;)
Shenzhen 10th-11th Nov 2011:
I flew into Shenzhen from Lijiang, after a delay of the flight, and took the airport bus shuttle into the area where my hotel was located then took a taxi.
I had a good rest and think i was upgraded once again (throughout my China trip 2011, i was upgraded into a way better room on many occasions, for reasons i do not know, but i'm not complaining!!) and had one of the largest hotel room experiences of my life with the powder room being so large, and a nice bathroom with stand-alone bathtub, separate shower area, and even a separate toilet area with floor to ceiling windows out on the city views!!
The next morning i woke up later than expected and behind my schedule but hurriedly took a quick soak in the bathtub again with the city views outside and rushed out to Dongmen main pedestrian shopping street of Shenzhen. I took a quick tour and headed by metro MRT again to visit the Shenzhen Library/Concert Hall area. This area looked very new and clean. The Shenzhen Library was designed by a famous Japanese architect apparently and was one of the nicest and most modern public libraries i've been to. China is changing, and it was very impressive. There were many study areas and desks and even sections with South East Asian newspapers as well as overseas study abroad reference books!
I rushed back by MRT to the JW Marriot Shenzhen (where i was staying) and checked out and took a taxi to the Futian Port Immigration checkpoint, being the closest to my hotel, and crossed over to Hong Kong.
This officially ended my Cross-China Trip 2011.;) I felt surreal and nourished with the memories, experiences, as well as photos i got from this trip:-)
I arrived in Xian on an early flight from Beijing, flying from the current capital of China, Beijing, to the ancient capital of China, Xian. When i arrived at the airport, i was already left with an indelible impression that the city's residents were overall quite wealthy as the first ad i saw at the airport was for Porsche. Indeed, the city is quite wealthy as i saw huge shops selling luxury watches along the main shopping fare and other luxury food places such as Haagen Daz Ice-cream parlours..which i ate in,hahaha;-)
I visited the Bell Tower of Xian (or was that the Clock Tower of Xian?!) and the view atop from the Tower was amazing, walked along the ancient city walls and also visited the Muslim Quarters of Xian, trying out the fantastic and cheap food there. However, commercialisation was to be seen everywhere, with the Muslim Quarter's shops selling very touristy and over marked prices. The food streets of the Quarters were great though!
I spent only a day in Xian and took the overnighter train to Chongqing (formerly known as Chungking) in the interiors of China. One little quirky, interesting, and at-the-time horrifying experience i had was that as i was abit late for the train and so had to hurry to find my carriage. As i had bought the overnight tickets very last minute (and even had the horrific experience in the morning thinking i had lost it meaning i would have to stay overnight in Xian and lose one day in Chongqing due to the delay which would be catastrophic given my very tight holiday schedule) and wasn't familiar that soft bed carriages could be added, my carriage was Jia-Yi Meaning the 'Plus One Carriage' and NOT the 'One Carriage', which was like the cheapest and most crowded carriage. I went onboard and knew something had to be wrong as there were no beds, only seats for the whole night and it was overcrowded with people standing along the aisles. I had boarded an overnighter during the Dongbei/Manchurian leg of my holiday and knew this couldn't be it but then briefly thought maybe the interior Chinese trains were much more backwards..i asked the conductor(whom thankfully was on the carriage!) and he said my carriage was right at the other end of the train! I hurriedly got off and ran with all my might to the other end and got on in time as the train was leaving! And thankfully, this was heaven, being the soft-sleeper trains with comfy beds!! But it was a forever memorable experience as i got to see what the 'hard seat' carriages are like in China's trains (which i would never have known had i not been mistaken!)
Chongqing Nov 7th-8th 2011:
I arrived in the North Chongqing Station, if i remember correctly, and took the MRT to the city centre. The MRT station line had just been opened recently i think and everything looked swanky new. In fact, the design and overall atmosphere of the MRT metro in Chongqing was probably one of the best i had in China and surpassing even Hong Kong's MRT metro i think!
I have always wanted to visit Chongqing, it having been the WW2 wartime capital city of China from 1938-1945. It is one of the 4 directly-controlled central govt municipalities and the only one in the interior away from the coast of China. It is highly modern and i loved the city. It was actually one of my favourite cities in China during this trip, together with Changchun, for their lovely and unique 'feel' and city atmosphere. The landscape here is mountainous with alot of slopes up and down the hills and the rivers criss crossing the city.
I visited the main commercial Jiefangbei shopping and eating district and tried out the lovely Sichuanese spicy noodles and other delicacies. It was both cheap and delicious!! I also visited the People's Great Hall in Chongqing with its unique Chinese architectural style having been built in a traditional manner in the 1950s as well as the Three Gorges Museum of Chongqing which had a dedicated whole section on Chongqing during WW2, which was pretty informative and very interesting for a history buff like me!:)
I also passed by many interesting things and experiences such as local parents waiting outside a primary school to pick their children up and also could sense Chongqing, like much of the rest of China, was booming, with the economy simply skyrocketing. The development and tall highrise buildings were everywhere and all the branded luxury shops could be found in Chongqing. There was also a newly opened luxury upscale mall which i visited in the Jiefangbei area when i was there. There were also luxury high-end bakery stores in Chongqing which i took photos of indicating the wealth that can be found in this interior city of China.
I also went to the suburbs of Chongqing by MRT metro as i wanted to see what the suburban areas, and not just the city centre, was like, and it was very modern-looking too. I also visited the Chongqing Zoo and got to see real life panda for the very first time of my life!! So exciting! Haha!! And it was a nice time visiting the zoo since i hadn't visited a zoo in over 15 years i think!..
I also went to Shibati, a pre-war district in the downtown area which is earmarked for demolition and it felt like i had wandered into a different era..it was like somewhere in the 1930s/40s..people eating just outside their homes on simple tables and stools, and i loved the stairs and slopes and geography of it all..indeed, this was one of the rare times when i saw an older poorer China on this trip as everywhere i went in China, from the north to south, east to west, development and wealth was pretty much everywhere on display.
I took a Yangze River tour on my last night in Chongqing and the nightlights were beautiful. They apparently want to compete with New York and Hong Kong for the night scenery and they've done well i must say! It was glittering everywhere. I bought heaps of delicious take-away food and drinks and went back to my spacious hotel room in central Chongqing and had a wonderful last Chinese supper in Chongqing whilst watching TV. (by the way, did i mention that my hotel room had a fantastic view of the Jiefangbei Monument and shopping area?!! Waking up at dawn, it was a surreal image of emptiness and tall buildings!)..
I took an overnight train to Changchun (former WW2 capital of the Japanese-occupied wartime puppet regime of Manchukuo/Manchuria) from Beijing and this was my 1st time sitting on a Chinese overnight train. It was quite alright actually as for my entire overnight train journeys on my 3 week China trip, i always bought the soft-sleeper class tickets which meant only 4 people in one compartment and the conditions were much much much better (i can't emphasize this enough) than the hard-sleeper and even hard-seat compartments ( yes, they actually sell all-seat compartments for overnight trains meaning people just sit throughout the entire night and you can even see people standing in overcrowded train compartments on Chinese trains going overnight! In fact, on my Xian to Chongqing overnighter, i had mistakenly gone into the last carriage which was the worst and got the shock of my life, given that it was totally overcrowded with no sleeping space n i knew something MUST be wrong as i had bought the soft-sleeper ticket, which i only got very last min as it was sold out earlier on i think n i'd be stuck in Xian for the night but thankfully i got the ticket. Furthermore, i had already slept on a soft-sleeper class to Changchun and back before n knew what it shld be like altho i did momentarily doubt whether it was due to it being an inland train away from coastal China) .
Anyways, I have always wanted to go to the northeast of China/Manchuria, and have always had this image of 1930s/1940s China with the slow train chugging along the Manchurian wintery countryside with pine willow trees since young watching old Chinese movies, and Changchun fit that picture image perfectly. It was so nice and had a rustic feel to it, just like in the movies set in 1940s China. Of cos, development had caught up even here with brand names such as Hermes having a large store in central Changchun but places like Nanhu Park was absolutely one of the unexpected highlights of my entire China trip and simply an amazing experience and beautiful sight which will forever be etched into my memory. I also had my first proper Dongbei cuisine..of what else but good old dumplings in Changchun and they tasted lovely as i would have expected. There were also still some Japanese puppet government- era historical buildings surrounding the central public square in downtown Changchun which i visited, all of which have been reused for other purposes now such as as a university faculty building and a hospital which i even went in to visit! ha! visiting a hospital as a touristy site whilst on holiday!
I also had some Korean-Chinese food here which was abit different from usual Korean food as they have been modified to suit Chinese local tastes (Changchun is the current provincial capital of Jilin Province, one of the three provinces which make up northeast China, and Jilin province also has the bulk of the Korean ethnic minority group numbering almost 2 million, most traditionally based in Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture which is located within Jilin province, hence explaining the numerous Korean food and Hangul writing found in the city)
I spent the night in Changchun and had dinner at Guilin Road district, a very popular funk downtown district as well as managed to sit on the only preserved 1940s tram line whilst in Changchun! Highly recommended city to visit, for its authentic 1940s charm and feel..
Harbin 3rd Nov 2011:
I sat the morning train to Harbin from Changchun which took around 2 hrs i think. Once i arrived, I basically went to visit the famous Zhongyang Dajie which is the preserved historical street and main shopping strip in Harbin. I also visited the Matyrs Monument, Anti-Flooding Monument, Harbin's shopping district and of cos the St Sophia Cathedral for an obligatory photo op.
I also visited Walmart in Harbin! Hahaha..had a good look at the products on offer...quite worth the money actually...Before i left that night on the overnighter train back to Beijing, I went to the bankside of the Songhua river, and dipped my fingers into the waters as well as took photos and had a walk along the Stalin park promenade overlooking Songhua River, which i have always known since young as the Songhua River is one of the main rivers of China.
Thus, I was very happy and fulfilled to be able to finally visit and experience former Manchuria/China's northeast, a place which has always captured my imagination since young!