Perhaps like most people who had spent time away from home, I have a love and hate relationship about the places I had lived or spent a lot of time in – London and China. We bitch about these places, complain non-stop about them and sometimes even dread the thought of returning to these places. I am sure foreigners resident in Singapore complain about us as well. The reality is, people often complain a lot also because they like a place, and they just need to get the negatives out of the system by talking about them.
Having kind of settled into the routine in good old Singapore, I am beginning to be nostalgic of London and China again. I wouldn't talk about London here – you are probably familiar with it. For China, I won't talk about what I dislike about this country, for many of you, frequent-China-runners, have heard too much or complain non-stop about it yourself after your latest business trip there. Now that I am no longer there on a regular basis, the negatives are becoming blurrish, while the positives have in some ways become rosier. Here are some of them (not in any order):
- The bookshops of China – especially Beijing's Wanfujing and Xidan Shuju (I had been to these places countless times for retail therapy).
- The greasy, high collasteral Northern Chinese fare (that I could persuade few of my waistline- or white-meat-conscious Singapore friends to indulge with me) such as 涮羊肉 (lamb hotpot) ，蚂蚁上树 (vermicelli with spicy minced pork)，鱼香肉丝 (shredded pork with fish sauce)，孜然羊肉 (fried lamb with cumin)
- The charming teahouses of Houhai, Beijing, where I used to clear my mind after those long sessions with auditors.
- That cozy expat bar in a siheyuan lost among the hutong somewhere north of Forbidden City; a cool Tibetan club and pub so out of this world near the Embassy district; that Russian/former Soviet restaurant cum night club in Beijing's Russian Quarter; the bizarre Ugyur restaurant in Beijing where foreigners are teased and have fun; that wonderful disco near the Stadium (except for the annoying hookers hanging around).
- The tasty "coffin roll" in a nice restaurant near Meishuguan Dajie, plus a tiny family-run Sichuan outlet nearby.
- The spicy catfish soup of Anyang, Henan
- The bustling Raffles City of Shanghai
- The many DVD shops that spurts from nowhere and closes with every crackdown.
- The antique shops of Liulichang, Beijing and perhaps Zhabei of Shanghai
- The peasant painters of Shenzhen
There are many others but these are what I can think of right now.