When in York

I remember when I was in York for New Year, I and my friends met an old Chinese (ethnicity) man. He thought we were from Malaysia. I immediately noticed that his accent was very Malayan peninsular with probably 10% Hong Kong/Cantonese part. He initially didn’t want to say where he was originally from, but later on he admitted that he is Cantonese who was born in Penang and grew up in Singapore, before moving to UK around the independence of Singapore (I don’t know if it was the independence from UK or the separation from Malaysia).

I don’t know how it feels like to become an overseas Chinese. My impression is that Chinese people are everywhere, you are all travellers who once reach your destinations you settle down there. Everywhere you go, it is quite likely to meet somebody who speaks a similar language, culture, and that same vision*. But that old man seemed to express that, loneliness, and remorse. Singapore was a new and underdeveloped country back then, so he decided to go to the UK. But he seemed to regret that as the rest of his family is still in Singapore. BTW he also quite fancied Lee Hsien Loong, repeatedly saying “The Singapore PM studied in Cambridge.” Something that I feel many Singaporeans friends don’t share perhaps haha.

*(A little side note: My people, the Javanese people, are rather at the other end of the spectrum to me: if I meet a random Javanese person on the street here, and that is already quite unlikely, I would guess 99% of the time that s/he is a student; and s/he will probably go back home after finishing her/his study. That, or a diplomat. But they will be in bigger cities probably. A tourist? Nah, who would think to go to Cardiff.)

Anyway he said that there is only a small Chinese community in York, so every year he travels to Manchester, about 1-2 hours away, to celebrate Chinese New Year. Manchester has probably one of the biggest Chinese communities in the UK and the celebration is much merrier there. He even compared to the Gregorian calendar new year celebration, which I agree with him is very humble: no fireworks, only people gathering in front of the York minster and the church bell ringing a few times. That’s it. Anyway he recommended us to go to Manchester on CNY as it would be much much bigger.

Well I don’t know how I should close this post. But I felt a little bit strange as my story is a little like him. Three weeks and a few hours before that I was still in Singapore, where I had stayed for more than 8 years.

(originally a Facebook post)

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You can write comments in any language that you want, but please bear in mind that I only understand 4 languages: English, Indonesian, Javanese and Malay.

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