Beijing, China 2013 – Day 4 – Hutong, Temple of Heaven & Acrobatic Show

On our fourth day in Beijing, we visited the hutongs. I was expecting some really commercialized place but I was wrong. It was an authentic hutong. There were no actors or actresses pretending to be villagers. It was a real hutong with villagers squeezed in small houses and roads. Some of the roads are so narrow – just enough for a car to go through.

That probably explains why there are so many types of small cars in Beijing.

The gaps between the houses are also narrow. In some houses, there are a few sections where many families live.

We took a stroll along the hutongs and explored some of the houses. We also took pictures of the local residents.

I am told that houses in hutongs are generally very small but if you see a large one in a hutong, that means that the house was formerly owned by some Chinese royalty.

Pizza anyone?

If you walk through this door, you will see the following:-

A narrow passage to family homes. Each home would have their own door

Place milk here

I saw a person delivery coal to houses. Looks like these houses still uses coal.

Extremely photogenic traditional smelly taufu seller. We got to experience the well known melodious “jiao mai” (hawking cries) by the taufu seller. The seller was singing out his wares while walking around the hutong.

Our next trip, Temple of Heaven. It was quite boring as there were not many things to see. However, the attraction was the fellow Beijingers hanging outside the Temple.

Many elderly Beijingers were playing chess and card games. Some also were playing jiànzi (毽子) – a game which players aim to keep a heavily weighted shuttlecock in the air by using their bodies except their hands.

I had a go at it. It wasn’t easy!

Elderly Beijingers singing outside the temple. Strange to see some folks gathering at a random place just to sing.

At night we watched the acrobatic show. I don’t remember the name of the place but the hall was extremely cold. We had to wear our jackets in the hall.

I was quite impressed with the 1 hour performance. The ladies’ bodies could contort into all sorts of styles whereas the guys were extremely powerful. It’s an enjoyable performance but I wish they could have worked on their music a bit.

Election 2013: Lain Kalilah! – Part II

Election Day was rather uneventful for me. My wife and I rushed back from Kota Kinabalu. We went separate ways after we touched down as she had to travel to another place to vote.

Found this in the plane!

I quickly picked up KF from his home. We voted at my old primary school located at the constituency of Seputeh. Seputeh is a Parliamentary seat held by incumbent Teresa Kok of the Federal opposition party, Democratic Action Party (DAP), for a few terms. As expected, Teresa Kok won and this time round with a record breaking majority of 50, 000.

The turnout at the voting polls was crazy and some people had to line up for hours. However, KF and I took less than five minutes as there was no queue. However, it rained heavily.

This year marks the first election in our history to use indelible ink. Although indelible, some friends told me that their ink came off within a few hours! I am told that real indelible ink can last for a week. The Election Commission later admitted that food colouring, not chemicals, was in the indelible ink!

Although I took great care from staining anything with my “indelible ink”, I accidentally stained my ballot paper with “indelible ink”. Fortunately, the poll workers said it’s okay cause I only stained the back of my ballot paper. Phew.

My wife and I watched the election results at Melvin and Tania’s house. The local television channels were showing lopsided results. They kept announcing the seats that Barisan Nasional had won whereas the Pakatan Rakyat’s seats were not announced much later. We had to follow alternative medias’ websites such as Malaysiakini for the latest updates.

Najib with a Chinese “fu” (talisman) on this forehead. Made me LOL big time! In Chinese folklore, a Chinese “fu” is usually used to stop vampires.

To my disappointment, the results favoured the ruling party. I was hoping for a change but it looks like we have to wait another five years. I was also very disappointed with the Prime Minister for saying that there was a “Chinese Tsunami”. He blamed the Chinese for their losses (they lost more Parliamentary seats than the last round but they gained the state of Kedah). As a leader, he shouldn’t have blamed any race for their loss even of it was true. One leader (now former) also branded the Chinese ungrateful.

Utusan Melayu’s infamous headline – Apa Lagi Cina Mau (What else does the Chinese want?. This inspired a parody side –

Notwithstanding the aforesaid, I think Barisan had lost the Chinese votes. They lost them all when they tolerated Malay extreme rights group, Perkasa and even putting a candidate from Perkasa in the Shah Alam seat. No Malaysian wants to be called a “pendatang” or to have people calling religious texts to be burned. Barisan dug their own graves.

This also caused the downfall of the Malaysia Chinese Association (MCA). They probably spent a fortune on newspaper advertisement demonizing the Islamic party, PAS, to discourage them to vote for Pakatan Rakyat (coalition of opposition parties). However, I do not think it worked. Many Chinese are no longer afraid of PAS and this could be seen at pre-election ceramahs where Chinese were seen waving PAS flags.

After reading the late P.G Lim’s memoir Kaleidoscope (highly recommended read btw!), I can’t help but to notice the similarities between the 1969 General Election (the election right before May 13 racial riot tragedy) and GE13. In both elections, Barisan (then called the Alliance) failed to secure 2/3 majority, the Chinese voted for the opposition, MCA threatened and subsequently refused to take part in the Government if they lose. Of course, there was no riot in this election!

Many election analysts said that Barisan had not only lost the Chinese voters but also the urban voters. It was reported that Pakatan Rakyat won the popular votes with 50.87% of the total votes. I think this had a lot to do with failure of the Federal Government to tackling national issues such as corruption, positive discrimination, street crime (and their stand that crime rate is merely a perception), brutality of the authorities (e.g beating of Bersih participants and custodial deaths) and small issues like unsolicited SMSs from Barisan Nasional containing our personal data.

This went around Facebook. Made me LOL big time.

One benefit of this general election result is that the country is heading to a two party system. A two party system will maintain a check and balance as the ruling party will be on their toes all the time.

As mentioned above, PAS lost the state of Kedah. I am actually glad that they lost. The PAS-led Kedah government maintained its housing policy which requires 50% ownership by Bumiputeras in all housing projects in the state. This makes no economic sense. Further, any Government that comes out with such raced based policy deserves no support.

I am against all forms of racial politics in Malaysia. We can see the effects of racial politics with our own eyes in Malaysia.

We have all seen so-called leaders demonizing and/or disparaging other races to win votes.

To me, such racial tones create distrust some gullible Malaysians.

A united Malaysia is a better Malaysia. Together, with our best minds, we build this country to compete with other first world countries. We build this country for our children to live without fear.