‘Foreigners enjoy food’ and other bizarreness

Expats eating out in Singapore end up deranged because there’s no salt and pepper, waiters will not cater to your every whim if your hyper-delicate – not to say freakish – metabolism can’t handle tomato, and one restaurant has the audacity to include papadums alongside BLT sandwiches. Just as there seems a remote possibility that these poor innocents’ heads might not explode, along comes that great outrage against human decency, a squat toilet.

This probably says as much about Singapore as it does about precious Westerners who shouldn’t be allowed out of Iowa or wherever (which reminds me of Louis Black’s comment that the Americans who most insist that the US is the greatest country in the world are the ones who have never been overseas). Singapore has an image, carefully cultivated with the help of censorship and brainwashing, as ‘squeaky clean’ and ‘efficient’. In international surveys, people say Changi/SQ are the best airport/airline because that’s what they think they’re supposed to say. The Lion City will attract the most mollycoddled global citizens, who in Laksa3turn are likely to be the most gullible, and the least able to behold a bowl of laksa without feeling the need to sprinkle salt over it. The reality that, among the sterility and tedium, Singapore does have dirt and quite frequent outbursts of Asian-ness comes as a shock. And that’s before they try to grapple with the idea that foreigners eat out to enjoy food.

The sensitive and guileless expats of the Wall Street Journal blog (filed under ‘alienation’, by the way) would be far better off in Hong Kong. This is, after all, a place where they don’t cane rioters (though I’m amazed silent majority loon Robert Chow hasn’t suggested it). And anyone homesick for mawkish and ethnocentric Anglo-Saxon meanderings need look no further than yesterday’s government press release, quoting at great length (for a Communist-ruled territory) lavish praise for the Magna Carta and the rights of Englishmen. They could probably handle a few hours’ of authentic cultural experience in Discovery Bay, land of endless white people with babies and dogs and Heinz baked beans. And there’s the safety of dining in Soho, where the food is reassuringly irrelevant and all that matters is the manager who rearranges the salt and pepper shakers on your table every five minutes – or ‘service’, as they call it.

If Singapore is too exotic, WSJ’s less-worldly writers should avoid the Land of Smiles, where the real Southeast Asia begins. Thailand’s heir to the throne is ‘regarded with loathing by many … for his PrinceVajiassociations with Chinese gangsters [and] his womanizing’. He has had to disown his previous wife, a waitress (and indeed the one before that, an aspiring actress). The Asia Sentinel says the last ex-consort was videoed topless at a party held for her; my understanding is that it was a birthday bash for the Prince’s poodle Fu-Fu – but maybe, being frightfully common, she did it more than once. (Or was it the time they celebrated Fu-Fu’s appointment as an army captain? So easy to muddle these things up.) The article adds coyly that the Prince’s far more popular sister ‘has no interest in men’ (and probably, we might add, vice-versa) and so cannot take his place. I declare the weekend open with the thought that obviously they can’t have an unmarried monarch because, you know – that would be weird.

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27 Responses to ‘Foreigners enjoy food’ and other bizarreness

  1. Scotty Dotty says:

    Robert Chow, bless. Not hard to guess what nineteenth century punishments he might have in mind for the unpatriotic masses. Technically, the Loon did come “close” to saying Occupy students should, cough, do down with the ship, if you catch my drift

    http://www.ejinsight.com/20141031-robert-chow-slammed-over-inappropriate-korea-tragedy-reference/

    “Chow, who has been vocal in his denunciation of the pro-democracy street protests in the city, has compared the Occupy movement’s co-founder Benny Tai to the captain of the South Korean ship “Sewol” which capsized in April this year killing nearly 300 people, mostly students.”

    Bizareness with a bib B

  2. Cassowary says:

    There’s plenty of that variety of expat here. The food has MSG in it! You have to wash your own utensils? The waiters grimace when I ask to exchange the fried egg for dumplings! I asked for skim milk in my latte and they didn’t know what I meant! They always clear the table too quickly, how rude! Can’t I sit here and enjoy my coffee for 20 minutes? It’s so hard to buy decent organic quinoa! I hate rice! All of the clothes are shoddily made! Why is there such a long line in the Apple Shop? Do these old women just collect cardboard on the street because they’re bored? Nobody ever smiles! The locals at work are so unfriendly! None of these people can think for themselves! They’re all emotionally stunted robots! Oh my god, did that old man just SPIT?!

  3. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    I’ve long been surprised that the Thai Crown Prince hasn’t yet experienced the traditional “helicopter accident” experience of succession politics for unpopular heirs apparent.

  4. Monkey Reborn says:

    @S.D.

    Classic… no words can express… the slimy gremlin-like nature of the old-school HKG “practical” mindset unconsciously revealed yet again…

  5. Cassowary says:

    I’ve figured that every single paranoid hysterical prediction issued by the United Front Sock Puppets was in fact a threat.

    “The economy will suffer!” = We will cancel Mainland tour groups to spite you.
    “The protests will turn violent!” = We will send triads to rough you up.
    “The movement will be hijacked by radicals!” = We will plant lunatic poop-stirrers among you to discredit you.
    “Young people’s future careers might be affected!” = We will make sure every major employer in this city blacklists you.

    I’m willing to bet that within five years, the conglomerates will be clamouring for the government to issue more visas to skilled Mainland workers because Hong Kong graduates are “unemployable”. Because of their, erm, poor Putonghua skills. Yeah, that’s it.

  6. reductio says:

    @Cassowary

    Excellent again, but you missed “And there are Chinese everywhere!”

  7. Knownot says:

    I was with some satirical Thai friends in a hall where portraits of various royal personages, past and present, were hung. They told me about a few of them, each with his honorific. For example, one of them was the Father of Thai Astronomy, who had predicted an eclipse.

    “If our ancestors were so great,” they said, “why are we like this?”

  8. Monkey Reborn says:

    @Cassowary

    Spot on mate. One more (slightly off-topic) obfuscation for you:

    “The rebirth, development and destiny of the great Chinese nation is inextricably linked and intertwined with the total political control and economic dominance exercised by the CCP in mainland China. Any major structural shift or alteration to this system on the mainland will result in the catastrophic collapse of China as a modern nation state. Therefore, any ethnically Chinese person who refuses to acknowledge the primacy of the CCP, or assent to its dominance, *over all Chinese nationals* (i.e. all ethnically Chinese people around the world), is a traitor and betrayer to their own country and race. As Chinese culture is self-evidently superior, the existing of such traitorous, unpatriotic Chinese can only be the result of corrupting foreign influences. Therefore all dissent in Taiwan, Hong Kong, within China, in Chinese communities around the world, can only be the result of foreign “meddling”. Therefore the Chinese state has no moral obligation to recognize, acknowledge or resolve the actual issues (political rights, corruption, constitutionalism etc) as all such issues are by their very nature self-contradictory and invalid”.

    The great lie of modern China.

    p.s. great article here http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/opinion-the-threat-to-hong-kong-basic-values/

  9. stanley gibbons says:

    “If our ancestors were so great,” they said, “why are we like this?”

    Because as a society they are greedy and violent with a large dash of ignorance and superstition and jingoism, with no moral compass and capable of great monstrosities, and will prostitute themselves readily. No concern for fellow citizens (often even immediate family) or respect for authority (except the King himself). Like the Chinese basically, but more volatile, violent and with heaps more kiasu. The land of fake smiles, all in a dash for cash.

  10. Cassowary says:

    I’m trying to figure out what to boycott besides Wellcome, Park N Shop, Watsons, Mannings and Fortress. You can’t buy bread or dairy products at the wet market.

    IKEA is attached to Jardine Matheson. Pity. I liked the salmon in a tube and the pickled herring.

    Vanguard is attached to CRC which is attached to the PLA so he’ll no.

    Yata is Sun Hung Kai.

    759 is independent.

    Kai Bo is independent.

    Not sure about Aeon/Jusco. They look legitimately Japanese but I haven’t been able to figure out whether they have attached themselves to a local property developer.

    Any others?

  11. Cassowary says:

    Oh yes, City Super is independent but overpriced.
    Prizemart seems independent and privately held.
    My grocery shopping just got a lot more complicated.

  12. Joe Blow says:

    I am lucky to live in CWB (sort of). I cannot really avoid the duopoly of PnS and Wellcome but I try:

    3 Japanese supermarkets: Citisuper (actually some good deals here and there), Aeon Supervalue and Sogo supermarket. Prizemart is a favorite. Wanchai wet market. Small shops are opening up, selling parallel-imports. I buy my toiletries from local shops who are actually much cheaper: Listerine mouthwash 1L in local shop = $ 39- In supermarket = $ 54-.

    If you are a whino like me: otder your wine online from various wine importers, Better product, better price.

    In Central there is a supermarket called Gateway, selling American imports. Elsewhere there is Uny and Piago (Japanese).

    If you are a clubber, avoid Dragon-I: it’s owned by Emperor’s Albert Yeung, friend of triads and all round scumbag.

    Don’t watch Jacky Chan movies.

    “Sir” David Tang: Shanghai Tang, China Club, Tang Tang etc.

    And, of course: BOYCOTT LAN KWAI FONG

    I mention LKF here frequently because there is a lot of gwailo traffic on this site,.

  13. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    @Monkey Reborn – I like the quote. Can you provide or link the source? Google is not helping me.

  14. Cassowary says:

    Gateway isn’t there anymore. Replaced by another Park N shop. Not sure whether it moved or shut down.

  15. Reader says:

    @Cassowary
    @Joe Blow

    It’s easy to work out what to boycott. This handy guide from Time Out
    http://timeout.com.hk/extra/one-degree-of-separation/
    came from a long feature that lifted the lid on the old men that own us – the matrix that we knew of but could never quite pin down.
    http://www.timeout.com.hk/feature-stories/features/48820/the-men-who-rule-hong-kong.html

    No, the hard part is trying to work out what isn’t owned by them.

    One place to start is the maps of local independent stores at the democracy protest sites, snappily set up in response to the frothing ones’ accusation that ‘mom-n-pop stores’ were suffering because rich folk with cars and cross-border whordes were no longer dropping by. I hope someone posted an image of the Mongkok one – though the original will surely appear in a museum of Umbrella Art soon enough.

    Actually, that tycoons piece has a familiarly insightful ring to it …

  16. stevie O says:

    @ Cassowary

    If you asked for Skimmed Milk, you may have a chance of them understanding you. If you can pronounce it correctly, you can’t blame the poor locals

  17. reductio says:

    @Joe Blow

    alleged friend of triads and alleged scumbag, please.

  18. Joe Blow says:

    @reductio: alleged scumbag ? I don’t think so. The guy is certified. He once threatened to cut off the leg of an ex-employee. Albert spent time behind bars for violent behaviour. Certified Chiu Chow scumbag.

    @Cass: Gateway has moved to a building on Des Voeux Road, a short walk from the Central Market bridge, walking towards Sheung Wan (1/F I think). Google it.

  19. Laguna Lurker says:

    How dare you describe Thaksin Shinawatra as a “Chinese gangster”!

  20. Joe Blow says:

    Who is going to start up Saturday afternoon shopping expeditions in Queen’s Road Central, let’s say 4 PM ? Starting at Theater Lane. Yellow Umbrellas optional.

    I would do it myself, but with my schedule it’s impossible.

    Guys, just show up, walk around, and puh-leazzze, don’t drop those coins in the middle of the road when you are crossing. So inconvenient !

    Let’s see if the pigs are willing to pepper spray the gwais (wud be marvelous TV footage to flash around the globe).

  21. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Reader (3:04): “Whordes”. Good one!

  22. Joe Blow says:

    A brand-new and worthy boycott target:

    The Pulse shopping mall in Repulse Bay. Owned by Emperor Group / gangster chum Albert Yeung.

  23. Joe Blow says:

    News spreads fast: This just in from reddit.com

    Kris Cheng @krislc
    Follow

    Some protester on stage saying should start shopping in Central on Saturdays #OccupyHK
    8:37 PM – 7 Dec 2014

    Stay calm
    and go shopping

  24. Monkey Reborn says:

    @Tiu Fu Fong

    Just made it up… apologies if it appeared otherwise, wasn’t intending to misrepresent.

    p.s. forgot to add, the other possibility that dissent can indicate (according to the narrative), other than treason: mental defectiveness, or mental illness.

  25. Cassowary says:

    What’s with James Tien trying to broker a meeting between Joshua Wong and CY Leung? I’m going to assume that he hasn’t suddenly sprouted a conscience.

    So is it, in order of ascending significance:
    a) Fit of pique after being thrown out of the Good Boys’ Club
    b) Desperate attempt to stay relevant by positioning Liberal Party as moderates holding the “balance of power”
    c) Part of some kind of Tycoons Against CY manoeuvring
    d) Sign of a factional split in CPC?

  26. Monkey Reborn says:

    p.p.s.

    Zhou Yongkang (extreme insane psycho-nasty) sent down at last … even though it is on trumped up charges of corruption (because to admit what he actually did would badly damage or destroy any legitimacy of the party-state) … perhaps there is yet hope for the latent humanity of our CCP cadre brethren.

  27. Foooootooooos says:

    Ah well, America. Ever checked the Department of State’s travel advice. It is partly the same for every country, but I selected Singapore. On http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/singapore.html, you find:

    “While you are traveling in Singapore, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. If you break local laws in Singapore, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.”

    Note also how the writer of the article is described: “She was born in Ireland and lived in the U.S. before moving abroad.”

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