Food shopping like a local in Kowloon

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When in Rome…

is quite the same with when in Hong Kong…

I always believe that one of the surest things that will draw you closer to the culture of a new place is FOOD. Since we were in Hong Kong, mein Mann and I decided we better shop for food as the locals do. I mean, as the ordinary Hong Kong citizen do. When we talk about Hong Kong we might as well think of luxury brands, right? Of course, it is undeniably one of the places where there is a huge Louis Vuitton shop at almost every corner. But, this was not what we’re for – we wanted to go local.

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Hong Kong is full of fascinating markets that are colorful and lively making them one of the must-see places when you happen to visit. These local markets give one the glimpse of shopping, Hong Kong style. This is perhaps the reason they are frequented by photographers and bloggers in awe of how chaotically pleasing the places can be.

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Our quest to go local is one of the main reasons we chose to stay in Kowloon, specifically, along Nathan Road. It gives you access to almost everything that’s quite a far cry from what one can see around Central or the Hong Kong Island.

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For the entire ten days that we stayed there, we basically have three dining choices: munch the food he brought in from Europe, eat at our favorite German restaurant, and get a bite at any local food stall in the area.

Because we were walking distance away from the Temple Street Night Market, it became part of our nightly stroll. One day, we came too early. Since the stalls were not yet set along the street, we decided to follow where the crowd was going. We arrived in a place where there seems to be a wholesale feeding frenzy.

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What we loved more about it was the fact that we were one of the very few tourists there! This is not a tourist attraction but a daily market for local and international fruits. It was an excellent venue to watch local vendors and customers in their natural,  local element.

20170417_175631.jpgReclamation Street houses many stores selling fruits and some veggies which are cheaper than those found in supermarkets.We enjoyed walking around entire block, (actually, it extends two or three blocks) and see the whole range of fruits, meat and fish they sell. Most fruits are seasonal and labels told us they were from Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Australia.

 It was also great to see fruits and veggies that are fresh yet sold at a decent price. It must indeed be a great place to get good quality fruits at reasonable prices.

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If you are on for the local Hong Kong color and would like to experience the retail relief at the fruit shops, take a leisurely stroll around here.

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This is not a touristy place, but if you expect to see the authentic markets for seafood, fruit & veggies and exotic Chinese food, then this place is a must-see. Be prepared for the foul smell of the fish market. But, now I know why they call this a seafood hunter’s paradise.

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This market was first started in 1913 and thus has historical relevance and tie to Hong Kong’s past. However, its not the most visitor-friendly area to visit in the territory.

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Some of the buildings in the market area are of historical architecture and style. The market survives today as a wholesale center for fruit and is not particularly looking like a typical visitor-friendly Hong Kong scene. Looking up, this is what you can see:

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If you are on for the discovery of everyday people’s life around here, the market is a great avenue to see it.

We went back to our hotel with a medium-sized plastic bag full of grapes. I was stunned how cheap it can be here. Back home, you can get a kilo of grapes for the same price we’ve paid.

Do you also like to go local when traveling?

How do you discover a new place’s culture?

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German-Pinay Talks: Differing Communication Styles

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How are you? 

I’m okay. 

I mean, how are you? What’s up with you? 

I am okay. Nothing’s new with me.

Have you ever felt frustrated trying to get your meaning across? I bet we all have this going-nuts experience.

Not even two people belonging to the same culture are guaranteed to respond in exactly the same way. Let’s make it more complicated by involving a person from another culture.  I bet for now, we get the mental picture, yeah?

Communicating across cultures is CHALLENGING as each has set rules, coupled with its own cultural biases introduced to us from a very early age. While some of our culture’s knowledge, rules, beliefs and values are explicitly taught, most of the information is absorbed subconsciously, which makes it even more difficult to diffuse. Enough with this lines. I think I could really get serious talking about this. 😀 and yes, I can talk about this for hours.

I have a degree in communication and language teaching but I am not spared. 😀

Let’s see how it goes with us:

My high-context Asian style vs Mein Mann’s low-context European style. It is not even about the issue of industrialization or something to that effect, but instead, of the use of contexts.

To beat around the bushes or not? Be gentle or upfront?

As a Pinays, (and perhaps Asians in general), we were taught early in life that confrontation is a “no go”. That if you confront someone, you might as well be seen as a trouble maker, or an attention seeker. And, that “people should be wise enough to read between the lines”. Let’s add to this the countless nonverbal cues and gestures available at our disposal. Take tsk tsk tsk as a way to express disbelief or disagreement. That’s just really one of it.

The result? A clueless German husband trying to figure out what is wrong and why are we arguing in the first place; dealing with the furious wife on the verge of losing sanity thinking her words and reactions didn’t mean a thing!

Then goes the explicit, direct and specific language of mein Mann (and of those English or Germanic speaking dudes). Not leaving any gaps for interpretation, saying the exact words that tells the message upfront regardless of how blunt it can be for me.

Result? The Pinay wife feeling underestimated or scolded who would then retort in a quite “arrogant” way. More of recalling the previous arguments that involved the same subject or asking of the specific events that will prove his statement. Kinda like, he said, “you are not listening”, and so she would retort with a smirk, “ah, you did the same last time, remember?”

The start of a long discussion commences.

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Sequential European  vs. Synchronic Asian

One after another or all at once? Yeah, we will see.

Mein Mann, as his culture dictates, would think of time sequentially. I mean, as far as I have noticed, time is something as a linear commodity one can either “spend,” “save,” or “waste.” Simply stated, we need to talk about one topic at a time, doesn’t matter if it overlaps with another thing. Let’s talk about this thing first. First things first.

The synchronic Asian wife, however, would love to see time as something that flows constantly, and thus, it is okay to be experienced in the moment. You know, time is a force that cannot be contained or controlled. Let’s live by the moment and see  time as it flows around a circle with the past, present, and future all interrelated. So, ah yes, love, this is also related to that thing we talked about last time, right?

The result?  Chaos in making or discussing the “long-term” plans. Chaotic in the sense that all elements are scrutinized with both views present. Take for example the discussion on living in the Philippines and with me pursuing my professorship. The husband would ask, “but, with a family, are you sure you can balance everything?” which I would often retort with “yes, it is possible”. This would later drive him nuts, as “possible” means “yes, I can really do it” for him, yet I mean, “yes, I can with the help of other people”. Since we both agree that one of us should at least be present at home with the kids every day regardless of where we work, of course, “it is possible” only fans the flame of “yeah, maybe, but I won’t be home at for at least 8 hours in a day even when you are in Europe for some months”.

Boom! It is really possible? Yes, those endless possibilities defined the Asian way.

If there is ONE THING though that we both strongly agree on, that would be with the thought that the individual is the one responsible for himself as he influence the future by personal effort. But, given the multitude of variables that might derail the way to the projected future, a short-term view can be a good thing. Talking about reality and not ideals. And oh, that it is also important to think it is not really a good idea to do business with friends or family members.

Affective Asian vs. Neutral European

As with any type of relationship, reason and emotion both play a role. But, who readily shows emotions like laughing, smiling, smirking, and sometimes crying, shouting, or walking out of the room? You got it right! The affective Asian wife does. And what about the Neutral husband, you ask? Hell yeah, he rarely telegraphs his feelings and keep them carefully controlled and subdued no matter what the situation is.

The result? The husband has to deal with being told cold or unfeeling, and the wife being poked fun at for getting out of control and doing the unthinkable in the West- “tampo”. The problem, however, is the fact that many non-Filipinos define “tampo” in a way which encompasses all the expression of emotions and not with the specific “cold treatment until I get what I want” style. So, when we walk out or keep quiet for a while, it means with don’t want confrontations and that we are taming the beast within so it won’t break free to eat you alive. 😀 Affective and low-context, yeah??

With planning things, the Asian wife, eaten by excitement or worry, would drive the neutral husband, who are more inclined with whether the idea works or not, nuts.    He could say, “I agree with your thoughts on this” rather than “I feel the same way.” Seems like the wife can’t get the confirmation of feelings. You know, this rationality can be totally irrelevant for her. This is personal, me and myself think so. 😀 And the husband feeling that it is just right to say so, as it is rational doesn’t matter how emotional this affective wife can get.

Reason and emotion, when will you get married?

Is this enough to buy everything you need?

Ah, that’s cool, I can get by with this.

Is this enough?

Maybe.

Is it enough? Yes or no.

No, not really.

Ah…. I hate this.

The next discussion begins.

Of course, there is no single best approach to communicating perfectly with one another. I believe the key to cross-cultural success is to develop an understanding of, and a deep respect for, the differences.

Are you married to a person outside of your culture? What are the struggles (or fun) you have in communicating? Share your thoughts! 🙂

 

 

My German’s Weekend in the Farm

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The Philippines had always been just a “very hot country” to Chris before he flew in to meet me. Have I told you about his old neighbor’s Pinay wife who justified her whole wardrobe of micro minis and plunging necklines as a result of this tropical curse? (Ah, no, she was then living with her German husband in the Netherlands, to give you a hint. 😉 ) Going back, it is mostly about the weather, the people’s height and the delicious mangoes that he had in mind.

Then he came, and after some days realized that maybe this is one of the noisiest countries he had ever been to. Just hanging out on our little terrace, he would hear people pump up the volume of their karaoke machines. If not, he could hear the public disco from the distance (especially during December when many would show nFarm1o mercy for eardrums.)

Then we decided to go out of town to get a little “solace”. We drove to the nearby town  where one of my brothers has a house. After an hour bus ride which somehow earned him much stares than we did when we are strolling in the mall or down
town, we have arrived in a town where we had to ride a tricycle he would describe as something that requires squats. 🙂 (And he is not even the tallest 😀 ). So, off we go in the middle of the sugarcane plantation. A quiet place, perhaps? 😀

We were treated with a good meal and some fruits. Because I wanted him to try something new, I requested for some specific stuff. So, he had to taste fresh coconut juice and meat, rambutan (related to lychee but covered with spines) and banaba (sour sop). My Deutsch don’t really have the thing for the sour ones, though. He said he loves lanzones and bananas, and that coconut meat tastes good for him. 🙂

It was quite a hoFarm7t day, so we decided to have a quick trip in the town center and bought ice cold coke and ice cream, and of course beer. 🙂 I bet you know how Germans are with beer, right? We took a nap (something which he said he had learned from me! Hahaha) and woke up just as the sun is setting. We strolled around the sugarcane plantation and found ourselves near the rice mill when we heard some birds chirping in the midst of the canes, perhaps looking for a place to spend the night.

I saw my sister-in-law look towards that direction, perhaps wanting to say something. 😀 I broke the silence by telling him about how many people would say this is actually the sound of the “aswang” (the most feared mythical creature here). My sis-in-law nodded and this triggered his endless laugh (he would always tease her about this thing).

Over supper, he had been asking endless questions about aswangs

Over supper, he had been asking endless questions about aswangs and  would scare me and my sister-in-law. Then we heard a gecko. Of course, he was curious and was quite excited to see how this looks up close.  My brother’s house here was surrounded Farm11by fruit trees and some bananas, so it is most likely to have been dwelling here.  His excitement was cut short when we realized it seemed like the gecko was now inside the house and maybe in the room where we would sleep for the night. It was my turn to laugh (though I was scared too). We still laugh at the thought of him securing the edges of our mosquito net as not to give the gecko the chance to get closer just in case it falls from the ceiling. 😀 Yep, he said it feels weird to use mosquito net but it is better than getting kissed by the gecko. 😀

I felt him toss and turn many times all throughout the night. When I asked if it is about the gecko, he said, not really… this time it is because of the crickets. Haha. He said it is like  midnight karaoke.  We were awaken by the rooster’s crow at 5 in the morning, and again, my sleepy Deutsch was in the mood for kidding. He said he will hunt the chickens down for waking him up, and for being an aswang’s representative.

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It was 7 AM when we woke up and despite his painful body, we went to the backyard to see some plants. He couldn’t help but inspect the papayas closely as he said it gave him an idea how old long have they stayed in the container vans before reaching the EU supermarkets.  I showed him the calamansi (he loves to drink its juice, especially if it is lukewarm). Of course the guava, which I jokingly reiterated to be the cause of long toilet stays. Haha.

It was a day for strolling around the village. Our first target is to find the bamboos. Chris is fascinated by the bamboo crafts and was determined to see it for himself. In Europe, he has seen some people selling small bamboo stuff through ebay. We headed to the small spring where we could see the bamboos. And so…. tadaaaaaaaa! We decided to post for some photos , but anyway, mein Deutsch is quite camera shy, so okay.. you know what that means, right? 😉

Along the way, we pFarm5assed by a small wooden house that’s mainly made of bamboo. He suggested we stop for a while to take some snaps. He finds this house to be very cute! His eyes were full of wonder while he tells me about how he finds the Filipino ingenuity amazing. It is impressive how people put things like this together! There seems to be nobody, so we didn’t find anyone  he can chat with about this house. 🙂

As we went on, a thought pop-up. So, he asked me where can people here possibly defecate. (We all know how the local “tabo toilets” had gain notoriety among our foreign better-halfs. He had asked me about this many times and though we kiFarm4nd of laughed about it, he was quite scared. Haha.) I looked around and saw a small hut just across the wooden house. I grinned while I was pointing to him this small “box-like” wooden structure. He asked what was this white container for, which of course, I retorted with, “that’s the dipper!” “Ah, the improvised tabo,” he said while grinning.  😉

And so we kept moving, until we’ve reached the spring. There was not too much water since it was hot. With that, of course, his face was really red and both of us didn’t want to get out of the shade. He took the opportunity to feel the water flowing on his hand and wash his face. The water is cold, so it somehow relieved the blushing. 😀

We head back under the scourging heat of the sun. Again,we passed by some interesting sights, like this one:

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A perfect depiction of village life, isn’t it? We both love the contrast of nature’s colors. When we arrived, we took some snaps of my brother’s wooden store by their gate’s entrance, and the chicken house in the backyard. This was one of the few times Chris asked to be photographed! haha. So, here it goes~~
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We head back to the city later that day to catch a dinner appointment (something which I will be writing about the next time… 😀 ) When I asked him how was it like living in the farm. He said, the roosters and the crickets are the karaoke versions of the village. 😀

Thanks for dropping by! ❤

Deutsch in the City (of Love)

deutsch in the city Whoa! I can’t believe this! 

I remember clearly how he uttered this line countless times as his eyes widened in either disbelief, surprise, or amusement. This would then be followed by a squeeze on my hand and a smile (something which I miss so much).

More than just the culture shock, C and I had a great time experiencing the many firsts for him in the Philippines. More often though, it is not the major things that make us burst in laughter. Rather, it was the random small, overlooked things in this part of the world that spark our conversations.

Jeepneys

A major means of transportation in the Philippines, we take pride in having the best designed jeepneys in the country. Chris couldn’t help but smile how a locally assembled car could have the hood and the engine compartment looking like that of foreign cars. Yep, including the logo. 🙂 We ended up touring the city by communing on these colorful, lowered jeepneys. For him, it was fun to see how the parts of this car, particularly by the driver’s seat. Added to this is the fact that most of them are small and one should try to shrink one’s self when it is full of passengers.

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The hanging electric wires that tangle

The tangled electric wires are an everyday sight, right? Well, perhaps in this part of the world, yes. C was so amused to see how these wires would hang by the old wooden posts along any streets we walked on. He took a photo of this while we were commuting for the purpose of shocking a good friend who happens to be an electrician. It was even funnier for him how people would just ignore the risk as the wires swing as the wind blows. When I told him about the exploding transformers at times, he was left silent for a while before bursting in laughter while saying, “More fun in the Philippines!”

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Old, unrestored structures

From afar these structures are perfect backdrops, but as one gets closer, the misfortunes they face are apparent. This hit C personally. Being an experienced restorator in Amsterdam, he couldn’t help but feel sad about how these places are left unnoticed, much less, neglected. While church-hopping as part of our sightseeing, he would examine closely how much work is needed to keep the centuries old buildings like this belfry of Jaro Cathedral, and the church and old convent of San Jose Parish, intact for the next generations to see. As we left every place, he would shake his head in disbelief. Guess someone’s interested in doing volunteer jobs for the churches at the end of the day, too.

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The church ceremony

There was a baptismal rite when we arrived in Jaro Cathedral, and of course, C was quite curious how this are done here. There was not much comment on his part except for some observations like, the number of people who are present in such an occasion. He said that in Europe, for as much as his experience, there will only be a few in attendance for this event and that only family members and close friends will be the persons expected to be invited. Anyhow, we both agreed to raise our kids as Catholics until they are old enough to choose whichever they like. That Sunday, we attended the mass and he was pleased to see how many people were there. The rites were quite different than that in Europe, though, he said.

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The spoon-fork partnership

On the first dinner we had straight from the airport, C couldn’t believe almost everything is eaten with only the spoon and the fork handy (unless of course you ask for a knife).This is very common in most restaurants, much more in the homes. He was smiling from ear to ear while telling me I am an expert in using this combination.This is because I was able to eat shrimp from a sinigang with this combination alone! On my part, I can’t stop laughing how he would prefer to eat rice with a fork! 🙂

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Soup in the morning

Another thing that amused him other than the spoon and fork is our fondness for soup in the morning. I know he loves bam-i (in fact, he can cook it too!) and I was thinking he would love the popular noodle soup called Lapaz Batchoy. He just kept looking at how quickly I devoured the contents of the bowl when we was not even halfway with his. Then came the question about the ingredients.  Upon mentioning “liver”, his deep-seated eyes widened as he simultaneously say, that’s why it tasted strange… I don’t eat liver. 🙂 So, no more batchoy encounter for him again.

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Cold beer and a glass of ice

Who wouldn’t associate beer with the Gemans? 🙂 Yeah… Octoberfest in mind, right? Being a Deutsch he is, of course, beer can’t be forgotten. When we ordered his first beer, he was quite excited as he had already heard about San Miguel Beer. He was eager to taste it himself. When the waiter returned with a beer, we was more curious why he was also given a glass full of ice. He whispered to me what is the glass for and couldn’t contain the laughter when I said that is where he is supposed to pour the beer for drinking. 🙂 It took some convincing  for him to try it. So, for the first beer in the Philippines, I had to grab the beer and wipe the mouth of the bottle with a paper napkin. Yep, he was giving me a strange look for this too, until I showed him the particles on the paper napkin. 😉 Now, he could drink beer the Filipino way! 😉

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Balut

“Your stay in the Philippines won’t be complete without trying balut.” Sounds familiar, right? Personally, I am not a fan of balut, so C and I had discussed about the not eating it countless times, which of course, as you have predicted, wasn’t materialized. Haha. C was left at home with the family as I had to attend a school reunion for the night. Everything else was good for him, until I arrived with a balut in hand. There was a vendor on the road as we drove home,  so I thought, why not? He was scared to see how the steamed embryo looked like as he stared with disgust. Haha. Of course, men don’t exactly run away from challenges, right? He told me to try it too, so I took one and sip the liquid content and ate a portion of the yolk. The next thing I know, he was done too! Kudos! He said, it was not as bad as it looked like! Now, he scares his friends with this. 😀

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Cooking in the dirty kitchen

Most of the time, C and I would eat in a restaurant or take out some food to eat with the family. However, he said, the serving sizes in the Philippines are too small, in fact, he finds it too “cute” for such a big guy as he is. Other than missing his typical breakfast, he also wanted to try cooking in a wok on a charcoal stove. He was surprised how unpredictable the amount of heat could be for his kind of cooking, but he proceeded anyway, cooking a big omelet with cheese. The result? It was not what he expected it to  be but we ate everything, anyway.:) And yeah, a man in the kitchen is sexy. 🙂

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There are some other things that shocked him, too. These include the lizard that walk freely on the walls, the big house spider that hangs by the corner, and of course, the toilet with the tabo (dipper).  All these three had solicited outright expression of shock from his friends back home, too. 🙂 Nevertheless, it has been an exciting set of discoveries and experiences not only for mein Deutsch but also for us as a couple. 🙂

Have you let your guy immerse in the local Pinoy way of living? If so, how was the experience?