The modern day skyscrapers were nowhere in sight. Instead, the streets are lined with old shophouses – some lay abandoned as they decay with the annals of time, whilst others have been preserved and readapted for modern use. The Baba and Nonya Heritage Museum is one of these places. As I walked through the old house that is now a museum, I was reminded of my childhood. I grew up in a shophouse. There is something of an older version of me that I see nestled in the history pages of modern Malacca.
Many people travel for personal and professional reasons. But to actually leave home, uproot yourself and plant yourself in a new country is a whole different ballgame. Over the years, I’ve met many expat kids who get hauled from country to country because of their parents’ jobs. I’ve watched many of them enter adulthood wondering where ‘home’ is. I can’t say I fully understand the sentiment.
I’ve been a traveller on the road for the past 12 years so it’s strange to suddenly find myself back home and playing tour guide to visitors from abroad. I used to do it a lot growing up. I come from a family of merchants – and hosting our international suppliers was part of my job description. But 12 years can change a lot – especially in fast-paced Singapore.
The table was set up to symbolically recreate the ten plagues and the circumstances that led to the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Big transitions in life are never smooth. The haggadah (telling in Hebrew) that was laid out on the table explained the Exodus story and the included rituals like: the blessings over the four cups of wine, the custom of washing one’s hands, and an explanation for the various traditional items; in particular the bitter herbs and other symbolic foods.
I am not afraid. I make decisions that no one else would ever dare make and I stand by them. Some think me foolish, others think me brave. Truth is – I don’t care what others think. I will not live my life by someone else’s rules. I will not live my life playing someone else’s game.
Despite the Sound of Music’s immense popularity worldwide, the film is relatively unknown and unpopular in Austria. A journalist I met told me that it’s because it portrays Austria and Austrians in a stereotypical and unrealistic light. But then again, what more can you expect from a Hollywood production?
“You’re missing it,” he said to me.
“Missing what?” I asked.
“The journey,” he said. “You’re missing it.”
Xi’an was once the ancient capital of China – and you can certainly feel it. No one stares at me – or even bothers with a double take. You can see layers and layers of history everywhere you turn. The city’s many historical monuments, ancient ruins and tombs give you the sense that many important events occurred here. After all, Xi’an was an ancient imperial capital and eastern departure point of the Silk Road.
Whenever I visit a place like the Terracotta Army Museum, I realise that humans are absolutely crazy. All this fuss over death – or perhaps not wanting to die? And it doesn’t just begin and end with China. My visits to the Pyramids of Giza and the Taj Mahal were equally astounding. When we have to go, we have to go – right? But I guess there’s no harm in bringing an entire army down with you.
Islam was introduced to China by Arab traders during the Tang Dynasty: which is considered by many to be a golden age in China’s history. The Muslims who settled in China married the local Han Chinese in the area. The Great Mosque was built to honour the founding fathers of Islam in China.