When I started my journey I knew I’ll learn a lot about history, cultures and religions. One thing I didn’t expect was how much I’ll learn to connect to my own roots. I’ve learned to embrace it and make efforts to learn more, practice more conversational Chinese, get more excited to be part of the Chinese community. I love how much knowledge I’m unconsciously harbored from my mother and past about my Chinese heritage.
Traveling around Southeast Asia has been such a pleasure and adventure. I absolutely love how all the culture and history blend together. All paths from all over the world collide and blend into a unique fusion. It’s exciting to rediscover and taste certain fruits, vegetables and dishes that I grew up eating in a completely different space. Food that I’ve grown up eating that my mom cooked, my auntie’s maid cooked during my stay in Hong Kong, the traditional dishes shared during each family vacation to China or gathering in the states. It all built my foundation of love and appreciation for Chinese food and the story behind it.
I’m escatic to see morning glory or Chinese spinach (depending which country you’re in) on the menu. I love eating the golden bittersweet flavors of bittermelon in Malay, Vietnamese, Indian and Chinese dishes. My workaway host in Kuala Lumpur coata them in turmeric and curry powder before frying them up, it was such a different mind blowing way (to me) to eat them. It was like an ethnic blended French fry, of sorts. Crazy, I know!
But beside the delicious tropical fruits – mangosteen, lychees, dragon fruit, dragon eye, mangos; the vegetables – all types of cabbages, spinaches, melons; the sauces – soya, fish sauce, oyster sauce; and the millions of herbs and spices, there’s something more I connect with. The traditions and history entwined in them connect us all together.
I spent lunar new year in Malaysia. Back home in New Year City, I would go around with my mom to visit family and friends to wish good luck, fortune, happiness and success. We would bring oranges, cookies, red envelope and loads of enthusiasm. It’s a festive time of celebration. It was strange celebrating it for the first time away from family. I wasn’t reminded of all the traditions I needed to follow which my mom consistently would tell me.
Do not cut your hair or nails after lunar new year.
Clean out your closet and room before new year.
Remember to wear red on lunar new year.
You have to eat noodles for longevity.
Remember to wish everyone a happy new year and wish them prosperity, happiness, health and success!
It’s crazy how I missed the nagging of her reminders. I know it sounds terrible but that’s truthfully how I felt when she would repetitively remind me all day.
Remembering these little traditions and practicing them overseas with other people was amazing. Seeing the lion dances in Malaysia and Singapore were beautiful. Witnessing the connectivity of the holiday and culture brought a blanket of pride and warmth for me.
I categorize myself as an Asian American and definitely more American than Asian. I didn’t make effort to connect too much to my Asian heritage but travelling overseas definitely awaken that need. I would love and want my children and future generation to continue these traditions. It is a part of where we came from, where our parents came from and their ancestors.
Live, Learn, Love soulfully!
Angela in wonderland // Follow me on IG @jelloooh #jellooohexploration