Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Blogging on my feet, far from home

It's still not a good time to go back to blogging but I've got a 3 hour stoppover and none of the duty-free looks appealing.

It's such a waste to look Chinese but not be able to speak it. People expect me to burst into Mandarin but I only know how to say hello and Hong Kong. I've never appreciated my non-Asian colleagues as much as I do now. They exhude such a strong Aura of Foreigner it infects everyone within conversation radius, piercing my own Asianness as the locals try to accommodate for the Caucasian.

There are several stages I go through whenever I have to go overseas for extended periods:

1. Toilet Shock - Everyone's got their overseas toilet story. I could go on for hours! The building I'm working in has ONE FEMALE non-squat toilet in the whole building, the depravity. :( On my first day I discovered the 2nd one was out of order; as the flush water level rose (in slow motion) my life flashed before my eyes. I considered hightailing it out of there then remembered the dangerous 'step' on the raise and wet floor. I'm sure many a foreigner has met a damp toilet end with a deathmask of grossed-out horror. I never venture more than walking distance from my hotel or workplace. Yes I'm that much of a citygirl I can't pee in awkward positions.

2. Faking good habits - Getting up early, using cutlery properly, punctuality. You know, all habits I wish I had in my normal life but couldn't be bothered. Somehow when I go overseas it all comes naturally, at first.

3. Bright Side - Eating out here costs 1/5th what it does in Sydney. Every night I return to a tidied room and cleaned ensuite. There are no water restrictions - baths everynight! Then there's the public transport. I'm in LOVE with this country's high speed train network. They must be making a loss, I paid the same price for my intercity ticket as I did for the stupid tourist bag with the train logo on it! Look, I had to immortalise that life-changing train ride somehow and I didn't have a camera with me.

At this stage I start to think I could get used to living here if I could shake that anonymous drifter feeling.

Does anyone else go through similar stages?


phylly3 said...

Yay Ragtag! Welcome back to the Blogworld!! I haven't travelled outside my own country extensively yet, only a bit to the U.S. and Caribbean and once to Mexico -- so that's just North American where thank goodness there are always proper toilets. However in Mexico, when we ventured off the resort I did encounter a seatless toilet, which was rather a challenge and in St. Lucia they were having a drought, but our resort never bothered to inform us so no one was rationing water there. I felt very guilty when I discovered the rest of the islanders couldn't use their water every day!!
I do love to travel, but mostly it serves to remind me how much I should appreciate my own home!

Nat at RA FanBlog said...

Wow, it sounds like you're having quite the adventure! Good to hear from you amidst your busy schedule. :) I didn't know you had water restrictions in Sydney... something I take for granted here, I guess. Have fun, be safe and keep looking at the bright side! (Although those toilets sound scary. ha.)

Traxy said...

Nice to hear from you again! :)

You get so used to toilets back home that you get so thrown by them not being the same in other countries! I thought the toilets in Germany were a bit weird, and they were still "normal" WCs. I really don't envy you there because where you are they sound horrendous! Men have it easier, because they can just stand up if they need to pee - for us, it's just awkward. Ick!

What's the food like over there?

Good luck on the rest of your travels! I was going to say "are you stuck because of the volcanic ash?" but you're a bit too far away from that, hopefully!

Ragtag said...

Thanks for welcome guys.

The food is really oily. It's the first time I've eaten a pizza crust first because the centre is a grease sponge. But it's interesting to see how to prepare the same food in different ways. I had hot chips deep fried in sweet batter, and it tasted better than it sounds.

Hope you're all doing ok, I won't have the chance to update very often for a few weeks yet.

mulubinba said...

I'm very fussy about loos when I travel, I have to say! (There are actual blogs about toilets around the world. I needed to know what they were like in Spain - squat or water in the bowl ... and discovered a very informative site []). Traxy's right about the loos in Germany ... the porcelain bowl with no water!!

Good luck! Hope to hear more from you when you get home.

mulubinba said...

MTA: "Bathroom" is more informative than last link! :) ... and more tasteful!!

Safe trip home!

bZirk said...

I've missed you, Ragtag!! Hope you're doing well.

Avalon said...

Glad you are back. Never heard of a water-restriction on baths? Good gosh, I hope we never have that problem here because they would have to arrest me. I have to have a morning shower and a nightly bath or I would go insane. Anyways, glad you are safe and well. I have missed you!

Ragtag said...

Hi everyone, thanks for the warm wishes. I missed you too!

As for the water restrictions, yes there are, but mostly to do with refilling pools, washing your car and watering the lawn. All new houses built must include rainwater tanks.

It's 'recommended' to have shorter showers, not baths, installing water-saver showerheads and half-flush toilets etc. No more running through the sprinkler on hot summer days! Boo hoo.

iz4spunk said...

Hey Ragtag, you're missing so much fun. I linked on a comment towards your RA audiobook reviews, hope that was OK.
Finally ordered my copy of lords of the north after a delay of getting a wrong listed one on Amazon. I did get refunded though.
wishing you safe travels!
PS.:Like the new colorscheme

tagskie said...

hi.. just dropping by here... have a nice day!