On the long flights that I took recently, I was able to re-read Wuthering Heights. I found the saga from more than 200 years ago surprisingly readable — a bit like watching a TV series, except no one has to actually film it. It’s no wonder that was how they passed idle time and lived vicarious lives in the olden times.
After spending a few days in Shanghai with my parents, I arrived in our final location: Iskandar, Malaysia. The whole area was a tropical jungle only a few short years ago. We finished filming Marco Polo 1st season here last summer, and there has been many new buildings erected since I left. There are large floor-to-ceiling windows in the newly erected concrete structures that rely on around-the-clock air-conditioning. Compared to the traditional houses that rely more on low thermal building material and natural ventilation, these are definitely not sustainable. I am staying at a brand new building where I have four air-con units blasting all the time. My apartment is not designed with the northeast or southwest wind in mind.
It seems to me that architects often design the kind of buildings that sell the best at the moment. I suppose most of them are not ambitious visionaries who give posterity any consideration. I’m afraid that the commodification of everything inspires myopia in our creative vision — be it architecture or movie making. After my Communist era, there was a period in my life when I worshipped the market. I have now grown weary of it and fear it’s ever growing reach. We are limited by the perceived commercial viability in everything we do. Perhaps that’s why this blog is important to me. I cultivate this tiny piece of land to grow and share what I love, and not what will sell in the market.
When I began typing, I was planing to write about the verdant tropical greens, the alternating blazing equatorial sun and passing showers, the nicely appointed apartment and the beautiful infinity pool, but instead my mind veered into a less optimistic place that resulted in this ranting.
Let me end on my favorite subject. Since I have not yet had time to stock up my kitchen, I had blanched lady’s fingers and instant noodles for dinner. After blanching the okra for about 1 and half minutes to 2 minutes, I added a little premium oyster sauce and pure black sesame oil. Sometimes that’s all it takes, especial if the vegetable is garden fresh. Have you ever seen any lady’s fingers as fresh and as long as those?
This is a region famous for piquant and pungent foods from a confluence of Chinese and Malay cultures. I look forward to share my discoveries with you soon.