Maureen

Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

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Guangzhou China The First 48 Hours

China 003

We arrived in Guangzhou, China on Thursday afternoon after 2 hours delayed in Jakarta. The views from above were amazing with rows after rows of apartments buildings and more high rises buildings.

I was pretty tired after we got back to the apartment not merely from the flight but from all the running around and lack of sleep since a few days before our trip here. JR asked us to go to a mall nearby where there’s also a supermarket to get some stuff early in the evening.

Don’t worry the mall close late here,” he assured me.

So off we walked down to the mall and although it is not too far its also not that close either. He then explained to me that he had learn to walk slow here. Walk slow? Yeah,  one could literately sweat so much with a paced walk from the high humidity. He also pointed out to the others who really does walks a bit slower and looks as if they’re just strolling for some fresh air.

At the supermarket, I was surprised to see how we must hand our purse (even diaper bag!) to this lady at a small counter before you enter the place. The girl will put your purse inside what looks like a large red shopping bag which they will be sealed by the zipper. It looks like those security tags you see hanging from clothes on a large department store that will buzz an alarm if you try to take it out of the store.

To prevent thieves” JR explained. So I just took one sippy cup out and had the lady bagged my bag.

The supermarket is crowded and big, similar to ones in Jakarta. But, with my dark skin, a white husband, and a toddler, we really do stand out like a sore thumb.

People stare at us. It is nothing new for me because people in Indonesia does this too, the only difference here is people obviously will stare at you. At least Indonesians will ‘pretend’ that they’re not staring. These people will drive by and still stare at you (well, on this case pushing their shopping carts) and stare at you until they’re too far to look.

One thing that I learn from the supermarket expedition is the Chinese people will bumped you or even hit you with their carts without a care, just like one lady did to me while I was walking while carrying Lil’ A. Her shopping cart successfully hit the back of my feet pretty hard and as I turned around to see her, she acts as if nothing’s wrong without one trace of ‘I’m sorry’ on her face.

It took JR to explain to his one pissed off ex-wife that the Chinese don’t flag out their apology like the western does because they are afraid to ‘lose face’.  Another shocker was people will obviously stare and scan the contents of your shopping cart. I personally think that is kinda rude but then again, this is China!

Another TCM (This is China Moment) happened when I keep spotting guys (both young and elderly Chinese) walking around inside the mall and supermarket with their bellies hanging – shirts up high to their chest. I know it was really hot (plus the aircon inside the mall is not very accommodating). Let’s just say that I need to get used to this un-pretty sights from now on.

Haven’t seen anyone spitting like I’ve been ‘warned’.

In general, the people are so friendly and smile at you a lot. Although, I feel like a total alien here only equipped with two Chinese words of “Ni hao” and “Xie xie” while the people down to the security guards at our apartments seems to love to chat and will chatter in Cantonese (that’s the language most people in Guangzhou mostly uses) in a lightning speed. I had tried to find a Cantonese dictionary in Jakarta to no avail and only got a picture dictionary of Mandarin. Luckily, JR already picked a few words after being here for two months now.

The apartment complex is actually a nice one. Plenty of trees, nice landscapes, clean, equipped with lots of security guards and it’s a gated community. But there’s just one thing that I have to get used to…seeing my neighbors’ laundry hanging at their balconies. A dryer is often times beyond reach to these people who are like Indonesians are more accustomed to sun dry their laundry. Thanks God, I had successfully persuaded JR to get us a dryer.

China Apartment

Its been a rainy season here and one cannot predict the weather as it might rain suddenly, thus the high humidity level. After a brief worrisome period about pollution in Guangzhou, I’m relieved to know that we’re not living in the downtown area where pollution is at its highest. We live in Huadu district, approximately 20-30 minutes away from the city. Here, although still very hot, I can still see some blue skies especially after it rains. Maybe the rain does well by clearing up the air from any unseen existing pollution.

The food here is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!

On my first night here after a trip to the supermarket, JR offered to buy dinner while I rest. An offer I’d be glad to take since I was too tired to even think of fixin’ dinner. He then came back with this yummylicious noodles (forgot what they’re called in Chinese but Indonesians will spot them as ‘kwetiaw‘ and some dumplings. That was the best ‘kwetiaw’ I ever had (and I normally doesn’t really like them) and the dumplings were so out of this world!

For our second night here JR took us to a restaurant across the street.

The place looks nice and clean with pictures on their menu with some English translations. Didn’t know what to order, I let JR picked one for me as he’s been there quite regularly. He ordered fried rice for himself and some chicken for me also fried noodles for Lil’ A.

The portions of meals served here are HUGE!

My meal came and it looks delicious and my stomach roar from the mere smell of it. It was rice with chicken on a hot ceramic bowl served a sunny side up egg on top, stir-fried baby bok choy on the side and another veggy I’m not familiar with. It was really good!

A Chinese Meal

But you have to be careful with the chicken bones! What I thought to be boneless chicken turned out still have bones and marrows on them. Ouchy! You suppose to nibble them in your mouth then spit the bones or any leftover marrows back to the bowl but it’s not an easy practice, I should say. I do know how to use chopsticks before but my skills need to be improved.

Ok, that’s my long story of our first 48 hours in China.

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Maureen

Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook

Not-So-Asian Figure

I am not your typical Asian…

My first ‘homecoming’ was in October 2007 after living in America for over 2 years. It was a really wonderful trip as I got to introduce our baby Lil’ A to my whole family.

But it’s not all fun and here’s why…

Stupidly I followed one of my friend’s advice to pack light as in pack little clothes for me since I was flying alone with a baby. Her idea is actually brilliant but it just didn’t work me. Why? Easy, because of my size!

If you only knew how giddy I was when Mr. X and I first went shopping after I got there – you would think I’m nuts but in reality, fitting into something with size “S” on it felt like a victory.

Pregnancy made my size went up and after Lil’ A was born my weight lingered between Medium (8-10).

Since I didn’t pack enough clothes for me, I dragged my mother to go shopping with me. That one shopping trip turned to be a nightmare all over again.

Why?

Because it brought back those unpleasant memories when I was still living there. How I either had to shell out more money to buy something with numerical sizes instead of the typical Indonesian S, M, L or I had to settle for an XL which was hanging on me in a weird way.

You see, I inherited this not-typical-Asian-size body parts from my mother’s side of the family. They are real!

While my arms have never been huge, with a wide shoulder and big bust, it’s always a pain in you know where to find the right fit for me. When I was still working, I usually bought the large size button up shirts and secured the areas between the buttons with lots of safety pins because XL fit on the chest but too big on other parts.

Okay, back to shopping with my mother, I winced when the “L” size doesn’t even fit me, I ballooned up to an “extra-large” and it makes me feels less beautiful and less Indonesian and even humiliated as the shop attendant said in her overly cheery voice that they have XXL size if the XL doesn’t fit me. Good gracious! I just wanted to storm out of that store…

I know I still have some post-baby weight to shed (probably 10-20 more pounds!) and I did gain weight too before I got pregnant but standing there weighing 150 lbs and 5’5” I felt like a giant.

This proportions may be considered average for American women. But by Indonesian fashion standards, I’m definitely not a “medium.”

At first, I don’t really understand why the whole thing bothered me so much. Besides, I don’t live in Indonesia anymore and I could always find something that fit me perfectly back in the States, where there is always room for a plus-sized woman in American fashion no matter what size you are.

Mr. X showed me an article after I ‘complaint’ about what happened.

This Asian-American girl wrote a similar situation and she wrote: “Then it strikes me… “Small” means you are cute and adorable. Small means you are beautiful. Small means you are Asian.

Her words resonated so deeply, I was trying to squeeze my self into that ‘Asian standard’ figure, I was blind!

My own body image had been somewhat distorted especially growing up in Indonesia. Hanging around my friends with their model-like proportions where everyone is so thin and small…it’s easy to feel like a giant.

I’m not one who fit into the stereotype of ‘slim and slender Asians’, I’ve never been small, although now looking back at those old pictures I realized I’m not as big as my mind told me.

I was once fat – I have to admit that –  in High School, I weigh close to a whopping 200 pounds. No, I’m not going to post pictures from high school and scared the hell out of you!

After High School, crash diets and all crazy stuff I slimmed down to 110 pounds but in my head, I’m still huge. Well, perhaps when you live amongst your slim, slender and mostly tiny Asian fellows, you’d feel like I did…a giant in the land of the small. Who knows the psychology behind it!

Here’s what I looked like last month:

Now that I realized I may never be as thin as they are, and seeing the obesity rates in this town where I live, I can say that I will never let those size tags dictate how am I suppose to feel any more or define who I am. So, I’ll try to look at my self and be proud of what I have instead of counting every single curve and flab that I wanted to change…besides like one of my friends said; “Most Asian women want to have those rack of yours!

Does your body image change after having a child?

Follow:
Maureen

Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook