Things I’ve missed about home

what i miss home

I’ve been home in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah for about a whole month now. That’s the longest I’ve been home since I started working in Singapore in 2009.

Before coming home for this long stretch, I was confused about where home was for me. In Singapore, I had a rented place, a job and friends but in Sabah, I have my family, my old bed and friends too. You see why it’s a bit confusing for me to pinpoint which exactly was home.

But after 4 months on the road and coming home, I’m glad to say where home is. It’s temporarily Sabah, and specifically my parent’s place. Eventually, I will still need to get out of here and find a job.

Until I do move out of the country, here’s a list of things I’ve missed about being home (in Sabah):

Clothes dried in the sun

I've got a pocket full of sunshine.

There’s a branded softener that even has a scent with the word “sunshine” in it. That’s how popular the indescribable scent of sun-dried clothes is.

At home, we have a backyard where we hung our clothes. When there is a lot of sunlight in the day and you collect the clothes at the right time, the clothes feels soft and has a strange chemical-like smell. (Or maybe that’s just our soap…)

Back when I was in Singapore, I didn’t have a lot of space to hang my laundry. In the tall rise HDB (Housing Development Board) flats, I either hung them inside or outside where most of the times the clothes are shaded. Wind-dried clothes just aren’t as good as sun-dried ones.

While travelling, my only option for laundry was to handwash them in the hostel bathroom sink and hang them from the laundry rope I tied to the under-bad planks of the upper bunk. The clothes dried reluctantly in dorms but I still wore them because they were my only 5 (or is it 6?) garments I have with me.

Only twice in the entire trip did I “splurge” in laundry when I sent them to the cleaner’s in Arequipa. I even had to shop for the cheapest laundress. When I spilled my laundered clothes onto my bed, I was delighted at how clean they were and I might have waltzed with my jeans for a bit.

Good Chinese food

Roughly translated as "Raw meat noodles".

I always thought that I was very open about food and wasn’t a food snob when it comes to how “authentic” a dish is. But right before I was flying to Hong Kong, I started vividly imagining all the Chinese food I would get to eat. I would space out on the bus or even at a restaurant and see plates of rice with crispy pork, noodle soups (Peru doesn’t do good noodle soup).

While the food choices back home aren’t as much as in Hong Kong, I enjoy eating all the food that are familiar to me and visit new places.

Driving and having a car

Times I don't have a car

In Singapore, I didn’t need a car to travel. The public transport is so perfect that I didn’t even have to take taxis much. I love that part.

However, not every place I went to during the trip had good public transport so I walked a lot. A lot. I didn’t rent any cars on the road because I cannot afford to splurge when taking buses are a lot cheaper and safer.

Here back home, we need a car to get anywhere. I’ve forgotten how nice it is that you don’t need to walk a whole kilometer because you don’t have door-to-door transportation. I could get used to this.

My parents

I didn’t get to see a lot of my parents when I was working. A phone call here and there doesn’t really match seeing them face-to-face.

Recently, I think I’ve been seeing them a little bit too much because we are starting to get on each other’s nerves.

Oops.

Do you live away from home? What do you miss about home? Share them in the comments below!

Read other posts on YQtravelling:

museums backpacker homestay
Museums reflect how I travel My first backpacker moment Homestays are not for me

Final day in Hong Kong=Eat all the food! [YQrtw Day 130 Aug 18]

polo bun from hong kong

Location: Hong Kong

[I am now blogging at Hong Kong International Airport. I’ve managed to misplace my camera (as well as break my glasses). I dislike posts with no photos so I’ll be recycling some of my Twitter photos of the day. That also means there’s only photo of food. Boo.]

Like yesterday, I woke up at an ungodly hour. However, I’ve made improvements with my jetlag and today wake-up time was 4am instead of 2am.

After posting my posts and a bit of Facebook games, I packed my suitcase for the final time. Since I only bought 20kg with AirAsia this time, I had to strategize my packing.

I packed most of the liquids into my suitcase and other lighter things such as clothes into my backpack. If I discover that the suitcase is overweight, Ill transfer some of the things to my backpack. If the suitcase is underweight, I’ll toss my backpack into my check in quota.

After everything was ready, I head out for breakfast. There wasn’t much choice around before 8am so I went back to the porridge place and got their signature dish as well as a “spring roll”. That meal was actually for 1.5 persons but I didn’t have dinner last night so let’s all forgive me for being a glutton.

Ocean Empire signature porridge and spring roll

After breakfast, I walked around the area, thinking up places to visit. Sadly, the shops weren’t open so I did the next best thing: Eat more food.

Next on my list was the egg tart from the cafe in Excelsior hotel. I had them on the first day and the memories of the flaky pastry is still in my mind. Plus, they have a coffee and egg tarts set. I’ve not had coffee for three days.

Egg tart and coffee set

After coffee and desserts, I needed to pass time before check out time. As usual, I opt for the most comfortable way of sightseeing–public transportation! I took the tram from Causeway Bay to one of the terminals and back to the same place.

While I was on the tram, my sister helped research things I could eat nearby. One of her finds were a “bolo bun” place which I noted on Foursquare.

I got back to the hostel and checked out. Since the reception area was in another building, I had to drag all my things there. The landlady allowed me to leave my things before my bus to the airport.

Now that checkout is done, it’s time for more food. My stomach couldn’t handle a full meal so I head to the “bolo bun” place with the aid of Foursquare.

Despite the name “bolo”, meaning pineapple in Cantonese, the bun does not contain any pineapple. It’s supposedly in the shape of a pineapple, thus the name.

Bolo bun in Hong Kong

After the meal, I still have about 2.5 hours to waste. I decided to take the tram to Happy Valley where the horse race tracks are. Coincidentally, this is where a few foot massage shops are (according to Foursquare, again).

I found the recommended foot massage place and sat for 50 minute of good-painful massage. The masseuse kneaded my foot like it was dough. While slapping my lower leg, he even commented that it was very stiff. Four months of travelling does bring stiff legs.

After the massage, it was about time for me to head back to the hostel and to the airport. Before I went to get my luggage, I checked out a few skincare shops (Watson and Sasa) to find something my sister requested.

There wasn’t any of what she wanted but I managed to buy something I want. I was thinking that I was losing interest in skincare since I’ve been doing the very basic while travelling. Thankfully I still have the urge to buy things. Long live consumerism!

To the airport

Near the hostel, there’s a bus stop where the direct bus to the airport stops. After bidding the landlady farewell, I dragged all my things and waited.

The bus arrived and there weren’t a lot of people. However, more people boarded at subsequent stops and the luggage storage place was crammed full of luggage.

The bus passed the sides of central Hong Kong, went into the underground tunnel and then the bridge to Lantau Island where the airport is. From the bus, I saw shops, mountains, cable cars and the road sign to Disney Land.

Pretty soon, we reached the airport. I dragged my stuff with me to Terminal 1 for a bit of shopping. I did get one bag which will replace my current slingbag for my future travels (in September!). It was a lot pricier than I expected but I really need one as the current is breaking at the seams.

Next was to Terminal 2 where my check in counter was. There was a free-to-use weigh so I checked to see if my bags were under 20kg. The total weight wasn’t so I had to do a bit more shifting before I got the weight undercontrol.

I checked in and went to the bathroom. I managed to break my glasses. I also discovered that I couldn’t find my camera after I got into the boarding area. Thank goodness all these happened on the last day!

A break for now

After today’s post, I’m taking a 2-week break from blogging to recharge and to find a stable internet connection (my parents cancelled the home phone line so no broadband for us).

If you miss my posts (aww shucks), please do go back and read the old posts.

What I do when I am back home in Sabah

I just came back from an 11-day trip home (which is about 9 days long if you take away the travelling days). It was a good recharging of my batteries.

Since some people–okay, maybe only my uncle–are curious about why I go home so often. (I only went back home 3 times in 2012.) I’ll share what I do when I am home.

See the parents

The main reason I head back to Sabah is to see my parents. Or maybe for my parents to see me. I’m not sure which way it goes.

I also bicker (good humoredly, I hope) with the parents.

Eat seafood

Seafood in Sabah, butter crabs

A good reason to head home is for the cheap yummy seafood. A meal for two which includes a kilogram of cooked crabs, steamed fish, a stirfried vegetable and rice costs only RM63 (US$21).

Steal Wi-Fi at restaurants

My parents cancelled the fixed broadband line because it doesn’t work 95 percent of the time. In the end, I had to surf on my mobile phone.

For long blog posts, I had to bring my laptop to restaurants and use their Wi-Fi while I wait for the food to arrive.

Meet friends

I usually multitask by stealing Wi-Fi and meeting my long-time-no-see friends.

Help a little at the shop and house chores

My parents own a grocery store in the neighborhood where I grew up. I didn’t really like tending to the shop because it’s mindnumbingly dull to sit at the cashier, key in prices and bag groceries.

But then, this was the place which provided my university tuition.

Play mahjong

mahjong tiles

I played plenty of mahjong with my mom and her friends when they lacked another player.

I’m not very good at it but I did win some (a minority) rounds.

Travel

Sabah roadtrip

When my holidays are too short, I don’t move around much. This time, I had 11-days so my mom drove us to Kudat for a one-night trip. We saw the “tip of Borneo” and ate some seafood.

Visit the temple

Taoist temple in Sabah

I’m still rather confused about which religion I am partial to. I grew up believing I was Buddhist when I was praying to Taoist gods). I do like Greek gods now but I don’t think that’s considered a religion now.

Despite my confusion, I still visit temples. There’s a Taiwanese saying “有拜有保佑” which means “you will be protected if you pray”. The saying means that it doesn’t hurt to pray to as many gods so you won’t be left out on Judgement Day.

Welcome the new year

new year fireworks
My mom and her friends have a tradition of going to the beach around 11pm on new year eve. Before the clock strikes 12, we head into the sea to wash away the bad from the current year and welcome the good luck from the coming year.

Where is home?

Last time, I wrote a post about how I am homeless because I cannot tell which is home. When I was back in Sabah this time, I realized that it’s possible to have many places you call home.

It all depends on how much you feel that you belong in a place.

Do you live away from home? What do you do when you are back?

Shopping for vintage clothing in Kota Kinabalu

If you are planning a trip to Kota Kinabalu (or KK–pronounced “keh keh” locally instead of “kay kay” the non-local way–for short), you probably would have sun, sea, mountain in mind instead of vintage clothing.

OK OK, I’m stretching it a lot when I say vintage, it should be second hand clothing.

Continue reading “Shopping for vintage clothing in Kota Kinabalu”