#29 My daily commutes in 3 very different cities


KL, Tokyo, and Grenoble.
The three cities I call home ❤

This post starts off sentimentally but it’s actually going to be a factual and technical one lol. This is how I express my love for these three places: I’m going to compare the sizes of these three cities and the experiences of my commute! YEASSSSS HOW EXCITING!!

When people ask me exactly how big Grenoble is and is it a town or a city or just a French rural countryside, I always have difficulty explaining it because although I know exactly how small big Grenoble is, I never really tried to grasp exactly how big Tokyo or KL are, and how they compare. In fact, to be honest, I’ve never looked closely at a Klang Valley map until a couple of years ago.

Note: The pic of Tokyo and the featured pics of KLCC and Grenoble are mine. Maps and Google Earth are from Google of course
Source: Wikipedia and personal experience

First, let’s take a look at the total surface area of each city. They are all zoomed in on Google maps at the 1 : 10km scale.

Kuala Lumpur (City): 243 km
Klang Valley (or Greater KL): 2,243.27 km2


See the yellow squiggly lines? Those are highways. This shows that most of Greater KL is quite accessible by car and I’m grateful for that but apparently there are plans to build MORE highways to accommodate the increasing number of cars… That sucks, isn’t it high time we all realised that building more highways will not solve the congestion problem and is in the long term a very unsustainable and UGLY solution??? I’ll get back to that later. Next,

Tokyo: 2,187.66 km2
Greater Tokyo: 13,572 km2

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 1.10.56 PM

HOLY SHOOTS lol what is considered Tokyo’s city area is the same size as Greater KL.

But then again, towards the West side of what is labelled as Tokyo (within the red boundary on the left) are mostly forests, mountains, and villages, even though they are still considered part of Tokyo prefecture.

And the vast area of Greater Tokyo (>13,000km2) is quite believable. Greater Tokyo is considered to include parts of its neighbouring prefectures like Yokohama and Kawasaki in Kanagawa prefecture as well as some parts of Chiba and Saitama prefecture. It is the largest and most populous metropolitan area in the world after all. Although it is so big, it’s easy to get around thanks to its comprehensive transportation network and helpful transportation apps providing real-time information.Tokyo, like most European cities and Singapore are one of the cities that did it right in the 1960s: instead of deploying a car-centric development plan they focused on investing in safe, extensive, and reliable mass transit.

And how does that compare to my current city?

Grenoble City: 18.13 km2
Grenoble-Alpes-Metropole: 541.17 km2

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 1.10.42 PM

Teehee, that’s TINY!! So, the whole of Grenoble-Alpes-Metropole is the same size as my tiny town of Selayang back home (surface area of 549km2, north of Kuala Lumpur)↓ Now I know.


Source of this pic

In terms of transportation in Grenoble, the best part about it is that it is multi-modal, i.e. users have a wide variety of choices on how they want to get around. There’s a great tram and bus network, as well as a city-run bike rental service that I love called the Metrovelo. The city is planning to expand the total length of the bike lanes and I’m constantly seeing posters or plans pasted around the city notifying its citizens of plans to redesign the city to be more pedestrian friendly or measures like removing some parking lots for more efficient use of public space. I think I chose the right place to study urban planning ! ❤

Next, to compare my school commuting experiences:

KL Commute Distance: Around 17km
Commute Time: 30-40 minutes back in mid 2000s, but probably 50minutes – 1 hour in present day.
Mode: Private Car

KL, as with any developing countries and as you can see in the map above, is full of highways. I used this highway called Jalan Kuching from my house in suburban Selayang to get to my primary school / secondary school in KL. For ELEVEN YEARS. I was driven to and from school every day. And whoever drove me would have to come back to Selayang after dropping me, and then the other way round when picking me up.


So, the total distance driven in a month
= 17km x 2 x 2 x 5 days x 4 weeks = 1360km.

An efficient car can cover 100km with 8 litres of petrol so
13.6 x 8 = 108.8 litres of gasoline / week.

Using this calculator, I calculated that the car emits roughly 184g of CO2 / km, so
184g/km x 1360km = 250.62kg

Multiply by roughly 10 school months
250.62kg x 10 = 2506.2 kg

In conclusion, just the action of me going to school emits 2506.2 kg of CO2 annually. And according to Wikipedia, Malaysia’s CO2 emission per capita is 7500 kg, which means that I am definitely pulling my weight in contributing to the per capita CO2 emission with 1/3 of it caused by transportation only.

I’m not entirely bashing transport by private car, there are definitely perks to driving. For example, one can go anywhere at anytime they wish, being able to sing karaoke in the car and not be judged, road trips, transporting bulky things, transporting less active people like older people and the disabled, etc. Driving makes sense in some contexts.

And you don’t really need to be ON in your car, sometimes I only put on my shoes or comb my hair after I have reached my destination. In fact, I have a theory that people who commute by driving are more “emotionally ready” when they emerge from their “safe haven car” once they have reached their destination, because they didn’t need to interact with the other annoying passengers or depressed-looking passengers with their glassy stares in the train or bus before reaching work.

But driving also has its downsides outside of its adverse effects to the environment. Take a look at the pictures of the highways below, which I often take when I lived / now go back for holidays in KL (Beware, the highways are usually not this empty DUH, at peak hours they are jam-packed with cars and it’s horrible):

Federal Highway. Six lanes (per direction?) working at more than full capacity during rush hours. An ostrich was spotted running on this highway once.


This is also part of the Federal Highway, and you can see Mid Valley Megamall, one of the most popular malls in KL, on the left.


This is the LDP, going towards One Utama, another ultra-big mall in KL. It’s apparently the biggest mall in Malaysia and the sixth largest mall in the world.


What do you notice about these pictures? Besides the fact that they look unusually empty as opposed to how they look on a normal day, i.e. full of cars?

The answer is: There isn’t a single visible human face on these highways. Not unless you were stuck at a jam and you looked over to your sides to see someone else, who is also alone but ironically driving a four-seater car just to get to work.

Unlike walking, cycling, taking the bus or any kind of other transit system, when we drive, we are each enclosed in our little, movable personal space with none or minimal human interactions with the people around us. Yeah, interactions may occur sometimes, but they are usually in the form of occasional glares, giving the finger, road-raging back at someone who road-raged at you first, etc.

I’m exaggerating a little but the bottom line is, nobody gives a damn about the other cars on the road because of one psychological cause -the fact that they don’t look like humans. One interesting theory I’ve read is that people tend to get angry more easily when they’re driving because what you’re seeing is not people per say, but rather bulky metal boxes trying to cut into your lane or tailgating you rudely or just being there in the middle of the road, causing the traffic jam that ironically, YOU yourself are contributing to as well.

Another thing that I noticed since becoming an adult is that, all of my life of being chauffeured around (no, we didn’t have a real chauffeur, I was mostly driven around by family), all I knew of KL are the areas around my home, areas around the school, and areas where I’d hang out with friends, usually malls. Also, watching “Radiant City” the documentary mocking suburbia in the US which I highly recommend really struck a chord with me. One of the commentaries goes, “Kids need connection to civil, commercial, and social amenities, and they don’t get them in car-dependent societies.” In my specific upbringing, I didn’t get to experience anything that was beyond my world because I was in the car, probably sleeping, most of the time, whereas a teenager commuting to school using public transit on his own has to plan his own trip and manage his schedule, gets to see other people in the community who are different from him either from a different class or background or wtv, perhaps even connect his observations with the socio-economic policies of the community and be more practical or critical in his way of thinking. I guess this is what people call street smart, as opposed to book smart people like me who just knew how to get good results in school and make my parents proud. Book smart people are cool but the world needs more street smart people, and making our STREETS nice is definitely the right starting point.

Oh gosh, maybe I am car bashing after all. Please excuse moi, this is part of the identity crisis problem I was experiencing in summer in KL because while I hated driving, it was the only way I could get around. I was just there driving my Perodua Myvi like a stupid little hypocrite.

Anyway, let’s move on to Tokyo.

Tokyo Commute Distance: Around 17km
Commute Time: 50 minutes
Mode: Walking + Train

I had about the same amount of commuting distance from my home in the suburbs of Tokyo to Waseda University in Shinjuku, the centre of Tokyo. Although my commute time is longer than in KL, my CO2 footprint is a fraction of that in KL, AND I got to stay active because I walked 20 minutes one way, so 40 minutes in total every day.

CO2 produced on my commute in Tokyo, using a handy calculation sheet downloaded from this Tokyo Metropolitan City website (Japanese) =

16 km of rail travel produces 0.304 kg of CO2. So,

0.304g x 2 x 5 days a week x 4 weeks = 12.16kg / month
Ten months = 12.16kg x 10 = 121.16kg

This is 5% of what I produce if I were to drive in KL. Here is a pic of one of the roads I used to walk (12 minutes) from my dorm to the closest train station, Tanashi.


After alighting at Takadanobaba (20 minutes on the express train from Tanashi), I head out of the station to a nice, bustling, student town station square in front of Big Box the shopping mall which houses Vie De France where I used to buy melon-pans to binge eat on every spring. Vie De France means Life of France, and now that I am literally living a life in France I don’t see myself eating any melon-pans. How strange.


The last leg of my 10-minute walk from the Takadanobaba station to my uni (Nishi Waseda campus) consists of a stroll through Toyama Park, which looks like this ↓ in the summer but full of blooming cheery blossoms in the spring. As you can see in these three pics, the whole urban environment is designed to give priority to the pedestrian / cyclist.


I guess I can praise the walkability of Tokyo and criticise KL all day long, but one important thing is that we also need to remember is that not everything that works in Tokyo will work in KL. E.g., although Japan has blistering summers, weather for most parts of the year is temperate and conducive for walking. Plus the low crime rate and relatively small income gap in Japan are also HUGE factors contributing to a safe and pleasant walking environment.

One bad thing about this commute though, was that let’s say if I left something at home, I would have to spend 2 frigging hours just to go home and come back to school again. While Tokyo city is as dense as it gets, land prices are just too high in the city centre for mediocre people like me so like most capital cities with a strong centre, people have to live far away from their workplaces and suffer the long commutes. This is why it’s completely acceptable to sleep on the trains in Japan, and the person nodding off next to you had most probably woken up at 4:30am in the morning just to travel 2 hours to school / work.

Next up, La France.

Grenoble Commute Distance: About 4~5km
Commute Time: 20 minutes
Mode: Walking + Biking

So I spent a semester from Jan-May earlier this year learning French at CUEF, Stendhal University in Grenoble. Like I said above, Grenoble is just bursting with transportation options because of its modest size and governance by a pro-environment political party, Les Verts, or The Greens.

Here is 5 minutes in to my commute to school by bike. SO GREEN. And full of insects in the summer. Exclusive bike / pedestrian paths on the right of the pic.


Then I cycle uphill for 20 seconds onto a flyover. Exclusive bike / pedestrian lane still continues here, albeit a little narrower.


Then I arrive on campus after 15-20 minutes of pedalling. This is the tram stop closest to my school. MOUNTAINS! Beautiful mountains. And beautiful SUPER PLANNED, efficient looking urban environment. It looks a bit bare here in the pic but it’s usually nicer with local and international students getting their baguette sandwiches and frolicking on the benches / patches of grass on their 2-hour lunch breaks.


Oh, and you know what? The CO2 emission calculation is easy for Grenoble, its ZERO. Nothing. I’m not releasing anything into the wild except my own calories, which partly explains my slimmer figure since I came to France. And another thing about cycling and walking is that I control my own speed. When I’m running late I just run or pedal faster and STILL get there in time, with just slightly redder cheeks. And probably more calories burnt in the process.

To sum it up!:

City Size (km2) Commute Distance Commute Time Commute Mode CO2 output
KL 243 (2243) 17km 30-40 minutes Private Car 2500 kg / year
Tokyo 2187 (13572) 17km 50 minutes Walk + Train 121.6kg / year
Grenoble 18 (541) 4.5km 20 minutes Walk + Bike 0

In conclusion, (TL;DR):

I’m just one of those people who grew up in an urban sprawl environment who went overseas and discovered that there are people who have very different and better lifestyles that are less dependent on cars.

So much of lives and our productivity are affected by the decisions of our politicians or policy makers from one or two generations ago. Now that they’re developing the MRT system in KL I’m quite optimistic that maybe we’re heading in the right direction, hopefully!!

Speaking of urban planning, my course starts tomorrow!! Très nerveuse!


#28 Summer Breaks in KL & Laziness as an Adult

Tomorrow I leave for La France again. And the chart below sums up most of my summer vacations in KL:

Relationship Between the No. of Outings with Friends and the No. of Days Back in KL, 2015 and before

imageExcept this time, it was more like this:

Relationship Between the No. of Outings with Friends and the No. of Days Back in KL, Summer 2o16


I’d attribute it to factors like:

  1. Being a grown up / Having friends who are grown ups
  2. Rationing more time for family
  3. Aversion to driving + No valid license
  4. Overseas trips to Penang (literally over the Straits of Malacca yah) and Singapore
  5. Food poisoning
  6. Laziness ??? Yeah most probably

Anyway, time to pack and plan my outfits properly so I don’t accidentally leave the country with my fav essential / underwear in the wash.

#26 老夫子 Classic Comic Book Series from H.K.

I wonder how many of you who grew up in Chinese-speaking families in Malaysia know about 老夫子?


老夫子 (Lao Fu Zhi) or aka Old Master Q is an old comic book series originating from Hong Kong. The comic strips portray the simple and often hilarious daily life of Lao Fu Zhi and his friends or sidekicks in Hong Kong during the 1960s – 1980s. Of course I didn’t know that when I was young but I just remember reading this comic book as I had them lying around my house. They were probably my siblings’ and most of the strips don’t have too many Chinese kanjis so it was easy for me to understand it by just looking at the pictures. It was good for my Chinese practice, too when I did try to decipher the kanjis one by one and guessed the meanings of the harder looking ones.

And I recently came across an old comic book (they are still publishing new ones, apparently! I wonder if they modernised the background and setting?) in the house and laughed out loud at some of them so I thought I’d like to share them with you here.

You can’t tell from the scanned pictures below but they are actually printed in those really thin brown paper that crinkles when they get wet so it has an even more retro feel to it irl.

Title: Argument


Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 1.42.11 PM

I especially like this because the dogs he draws look like my pet dog at home.

Title: Selfie

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 1.44.29 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-15 at 1.44.35 PM

As I understood from this interview with the artist on his official website, Lao Fu Zhi is actually man of traditional values caught in the era of modernisation in HK, hence the old-fashioned looking Chinese clothes (shortened for more hilarity) and hat whereas the rest of the people in the strip are usually in more modern and “trendy” clothes like bellbottoms hehe. When reading his comics, he always struck me as a righteous but rather foolish old man – old because he has almost no hair left on his head although there are some comic strips in which he courts young women with flowers.

So when my friends were reading Archie comics or Marvel (? I’m not sure lol) as a child I was actually more exposed to comics from Asia like this Lao Fu Zhi, Japanese manga, Doraemon, Crayon Shin Chan, etc. I can’t really name any Malay comics off the top of my head, but I do remember reading “It’s a Durian Life” on the newspaper. These were always so funny because they were true.





Don’t they just make you chuckle? I wonder if they still exist.

#7 My Best Friend’s Cafe

Subtitle: Jaslyn Cakes. Yup, I am namedropping!

Have you been to Jaslyn Cakes, a one year old bakery located in Bangsar Telawi serving decadent cakes with a homemade feel? If not, I think you should. It’s run by my best friend since primary school, and I remember our first baking experience together: we baked some oatmeal cookies to sell at a booth at our school’s swimming gala. But today, while the only baking I’ve done in the past couple of years were microwave baking with 2 or 3 ingredients, Jas has gone on to way more sophisticated and delicious things ↓


At an even more sophisticated place ↓


Photos stolen from her official Facebook page

So, some of the write ups or foodie articles online have described Jas as talented and ‘soft-spoken’. Talented, of course! But the latter? Jas may be soft-spoken to people she just met, but today I will share with you guys the things that only people like me who have best friend privileges can find out.

Please note that I have paraphrased and written out the ‘interview’ below in proper written English. It’ll be funny if we talked like this irl at an afternoon chat over coffee lol.

Q: What do you enjoy most about going into work everyday?
A: I like seeing the regular customers coming in to the shop. We have the Chocolate Chip Cookie Guy who later became the Blondie Guy who I later found out his name was Izmir. We also have the Cheesecake & Latte uncle, Financier Lady, etc. They all have their own favourite food from our shop. Some of them hardly try new things so that’s kinda cute. We also have people from the shops nearby visit us quite regularly, like our friends from Sanifix, Lash Lab, Cziplee and others. Although I do love Jaslyn Cakes, it’s still a full time job and can get quite tiring so it’s hard to be super cheerful 24/7. Mornings are especially hard but seeing my diligent coworkers makes things better!

Q: Sounds like you know your regulars quite well. Do you like chit chatting with the customers?
A: We like to have a friendly environment in the cafe but I think we only start ‘chit chatting’ with a customer after we notice him or her coming in a few times. That’s one of the ways I get to know them better.

Q: Sometimes I like the music at your shop…but sometimes you play songs like Hello from Adele which is overplayed on the radio to the extreme that I can’t stand it anymore. Whose playlist is it?
A: I like to play my slow ‘low-tension’* music but sometimes one of my bakers, Faizal likes to change it to his annoying upbeat and mainstream music.

*Low-tension is an English word made in Japan i.e.’wasei-eigo’ or 和製英語 that has been introduced and since, incorporated into our vocabulary. It refers to a low-energy, slow, or relaxed ambience or a quality of a person. Its antonym is ‘high-tension’, a relatively more commonly used word which means the opposite — a high-energy, hyper atmosphere or mood. For example, Sam Smith’s songs would be low tension and Nicki Minaj’s would be high tension.

Q: Faizal? you mean this guy? I heard he likes reading manga online too.


Kekekeke. Yup, he’s so tall  we had to make an extra long apron for him.

Q: Do your bakers / staff get to eat free cake sometimes?
A: Sometimes to make the cakes look more perfect we need to trim them, so the trimmings are free for all. Also when we get some down time, we try new recipes and we need to taste test them before releasing them into the world so yes, occasionally my staff and I like to munch on our own sweets, too.

Q: Yup, the last time I visited, I got to try some yummy salted caramel macarons fresh out of the oven. They were dee-licious! Are there many Japanese customers at the shop? I ask this because this interview will probably be translated into Japanese and if there are any Japanese people out there reading, I’m sure they would be interested in this.
For now, not a lot but you never know, maybe they’re just good at blending in with the Malaysians. Although, there was one girl who came into the shop and tried to speak Japanese to us but none of us could understand her! She also left us a brochure completely written in Japanese. Until today, I still wonder what she wanted. I do hope more Japanese customers will come, though. The cakes in Japan I saw were soo kawaii. In fact, the Japanese pastry chefs are also a big fan of French baking, which is what Jaslyn Cakes is inspired by. One of my favourite pastry chefs is Sadaharu Aoki, who trained in France. 

Q: Do you see any interesting trends about the things happening in the shop, e.g., some cakes are more popular at certain seasons, etc.?
Not that I can remember but an easy one I observed is that people tend to order cold lattes on a hot day and vice versa.

Q: Let me play the annoying person’s advocate here and ask a stupid question. What do recommend people order when they’re on a diet?
Ermm, orange juice?

Q: A professional question now: do you have any advice for young people starting out a cafe or F&B business?
Don’t think so much, just do it. There are so many things to worry about but if all you do is worry you won’t be able to get anything started. Try, then overcome the hurdles one by one along the way. Also be realistic. Be prepared to give up most of the time, especially the first few months up to a year because running a business hands-on is almost like having a baby. There’s no quitting so it’s crucial that you persevere. Even after the business gets stable, it’s still running and you still have to continue taking care of it. Lastly, do something that people might want. Everyone can have a good idea, but if nobody buys that idea except you, it’s not going to work.

Jas working to feed everyone with yumminess. Featuring my sister, oranges, and a tired Vana lol ❤

Q: Did you have a solid support system like family and friends when you first started?
Yes, I think if it weren’t for my boyfriend, Kenneth, Jaslyn Cakes wouldn’t be what it is today. In fact, I don’t even know if it would exist! I’m also very grateful to my family and friends who helped me out and supported me greatly from the start. Thanks, everyone!!

Q: Want to share any other lessons you took away from this experience so far?
Hmm, I would say this was a very humbling experience overall. I get lots of constructive criticism from customers and I am grateful for them. And I learned to not react at not-so-good reviews. By taking a step back, I actually realised that these feedback are extremely valuable for how I can improve on my baking and Jaslyn Cakes in general. I have learned to take things with an open heart and own these criticism to move forward more positively.

Q: Lastly, as this is a blog about language / culture, do you have any funny anecdotes related to this subject matter?
Sometimes some aunties ask for the wifi password and when I tell them ‘Sugar and Spice’, they say, ‘What? Chicken and Spice?!’. Maybe I will consider changing my password to that next time.


Another best friend privilege, free cookie samples! Best lab-rat job ever! February 2014.



The early days: Accompanying Jas for her ‘homework’ — bakery hopping in Paris. Trying some brioche from Laduree @ Champs Elysees! Summer 2012.


Flashback: Humble beginnings @ Bangsar Telawi Lot 7A. October 2014.

#4.2 My shopping haul from the pasar (market)

First post Version #4.0 uploaded on 1/1/2016.

Edit: Updated to Version #4.1 on 1/8/2016 (Friday). Version updates include French names and vegetables photographed with a green flowery background.

Edit No.2: Updated to Version #4.2 on 1/13/2016 (Wednesday). Version updates include some vegetable prices and items photographed with a light blue polka dot background with creases.


I went to the pasar pagi (morning market) at Selayang Jaya this morning with my sister to buy a week’s worth of groceries for the family. The shopping was quite fun but one thing bothered me slightly. It’s embarrassing to say this but I don’t know the names of many of the fresh produce and often have problems matching the cooked version and the fresh version, like if you tell me kailan, all I can imagine would be the cooked version e.g., stir fried kailan in belacan. Another problem is when we want to refer to the vegetables in conversations. How do we explain something like kailan to a non Malaysian/Singaporean?

So, in order for me to understand better what I’m putting into my mouth and help me look less bimbotic during my pasar shopping in the future, I’ve written down the names of these food items I bought today in various languages for future reference.

I don’t know the Malay names for some things e.g., choysum, fu chuk, etc. so that makes me wonder, do they even exist? These ingredients are mostly used for Chinese cooking so I can naturally imagine they were brought over from China by our ancestors and the original names just stuck. One thing I also noticed is that foods that aren’t native to Japan have names borrowed from their English names, e.g., pineapple in Japanese = pain appuru (English pronounced like Japanese)

It’s a shame that I didn’t take down the prices of each produce, but I’ll ask the sellers next time and update this post as needed.

Note: Mandarin and Cantonese terms are local Malaysian Chinese terms, they probably differ in other Chinese speaking countries.

Level 1 Vegetables


English: Tomato! Local tomatoes are kinda orange.
Malay: Tomato
Mandarin: 番茄 (fan qie)
Cantonese: 番茄 (fan keh)
Japanese: トマト (to-ma-to in a kawaii tune)
French: Tomate (feminine)


English: Ginger. It’s a root vegetable. There’s some growing at the front of my house.
Malay: Halia
Mandarin: 姜 (jiang)
Cantonese: 姜 (geong)
Japanese: 生姜 (shouga)
French: gingembre (masculine)



English: Chinese cabbage
Malay: Kubis Cina
Mandarin: 白菜 (bai cai)
Cantonese: My mum calls it ‘long ah bak’
Japanese: 白菜 (hakusai)
French: Pe-tsaï / Chou chinois (masculine)



English: (clockwise from the potato) Potato, Garlic, Shallots
Malay: Ubi kentang, Bawang Putih, Bawang Merah
Mandarin: 馬鈴薯 (ma ling shu), 大蒜 (da suan), 蔥頭 (cong tou)
Cantonese: 荷蘭薯 (ho lan xu), 蒜米 (xun mai), 蔥頭 (chong tao)
Japanese: じゃがいも (jagaimo)、にんにく (ninniku)、シャロット(shalotto)
French: Pomme de terre (feminine; lit. apple of the earth), Ail (masculine), Échalote (feminine)



English: Green onion / Spring onion / Scallion
Malay: Daun bawang
Mandarin: 蔥 (cong)
Cantonese: 蔥 (cong ← but pronounced with more force)
Japanese: わけぎ (wakegi)
French: Oignon cébette (masculine)


English: Pumpkin
Malay: Labu
Mandarin: 南瓜 (nangua)
Cantonese: 南瓜 (namgua)
Japanese: かぼちゃ / 南瓜 (kabocha)
French: Citrouille (feminine)

Price: RM2.60



English: Broccoli, my favourite vegetable!
Malay: Brokoli
Mandarin: 西蘭花 (xi lan hua)
Cantonese: 西蘭花 (sai lan fa)
Japanese: ブロッコリ (burokkori)
French: Brocoli (masculine)


English: Cucumbers x 4 + Brinjal x 1
Malay: Timun + Terung
Mandarin: 黃瓜 (huang gua) + 茄子 (qie zi)
Cantonese: 黃瓜 (wong gua) + 茄子 (ke zi)
Japanese: きゅうり (kyuuri) + なす (nasu)
French: Concombre (masculine) + Aubergine (feminine)


English: Bell Peppers
Malay: Lada Benggala
Mandarin: 菜椒 (cai jiao)
Cantonese: 甜椒 (tim jiu)
Japanese: ピーマン (pee-man) lol
French: Poivron (masculine) And apparently Francophones in Quebec call them ‘piment’ so that’s probably where Japanese’s ‘pee-man’ originated from.


English: Carrots
Malay: Lobak Merah
Mandarin: 紅蘿蔔 (hong luo bo)
Cantonese: 紅蘿蔔 (hong lo bak)
Japanese: にんじん (ninjin)
French: Carotte (feminine)


English: Coriander / Cilantro / Chinese parsley ♥︎
Malay: Ketumbar (nope, never used this word)
Mandarin: 香菜 (xiang cai)
Cantonese: 芫茜 (yin sai)
Japanese: パクチー
French: Coriandre (feminine)


English: Celery
Malay: Daun saderi
Mandarin: 芹菜 (qin cai)
Cantonese: 芹菜 (kan choy) / 西芹 (sai kan)
Japanese: セロリー (seloliiii)
French: Céleri (masculine)


English: Asparagus
Malay: Asparagus
Mandarin: 芦笋 (lu sun)
Cantonese: 露筍 (lou sun)
Japanese: アスパラガス (asuparagasu)
French: Asperge (feminine)

Price: RM33/kg

Level 2 Vegetables


English: Jew’s ear / Jelly ear (I remember laughing at an advertisement in Japan translated as ‘all you can eat Jew’s ears’ :/ )
Malay: ???
Mandarin: 木耳 (mu er)
Cantonese: 木耳 (muk yi)
Japanese: キクラゲ (kikurage)
French: Oreille de Judas (feminine; lit. Ear of Judas)


English: Spinach
Malay: Sayur bayam
Mandarin: 菠菜 (bo cai)
Cantonese: 菠菜 (bo choy)
Japanese: ほうれん草
French: Épinard (masculine)


English: Lotus Root
Malay: Akar Teratai
Mandarin: 蓮藕 (lian ou)
Cantonese:  蓮藕 (lin ngau)
Japanese: れんこん
French: Rhizome de lotus (masculine)


English: Bitter gourd
Mandarin: Peria
Mandarin: 苦瓜 (ku gua)
Cantonese: 苦瓜 (fu gua)
Japanese: ゴーヤ
French: Margose (feminine) according to Wikipedia, but apparently nobody in France likes to eat this vile thing.


English: Dragon fruit (only the coolest name for a fruit ever)
Malay: Buah naga (lit. dragon fruit. omg, still cool)
Mandarin: 火龍果 (huo long guo; lit. fire dragon fruit!)
Cantonese: 火龍果 (fo long go)
Japanese: ドラゴンフルーツ (doragon hurutsu)
French: Fruit du dragon (masculine)

Note: I was quite curious so I googled what a dragon fruit plant looks like. It is the fruit of a cactus↓ how cool is that? It is produced mainly in hot countries so yes, there are plenty of dragon fruit plantations in Malaysia too!



The Pink Fruit
English: This fruit is native to Southeast Asian regions so there isn’t an original English name but the most common one would be ‘Rose Apple’
Malay: Jambu
Mandarin: 洋蒲桃 (yang pu tao) First time hearing this word
Cantonese: ??
Japanese: フトモモ
French: ??
Note: Based on personal experience, this is one of the most difficult fruit to describe to non-Southeast Asians or people who don’t understand what ‘jambu’ is. 

The Green Fruit
English: Guava
Malay: Jambu Batu
Mandarin: 番石榴 (fan chi liu)
Cantonese: 雞屎果 (kai xi go; literally chicken shit fruit)
Japanese: グアバ (guaba)
French: Goyave (feminine)


English: Bok Choy
Malay: Sawi Hijau
Mandarin: 小白菜 (xiao bai cai)
Cantonese:  小白菜 (siu bak choy)
Japanese: チンゲンサイ (chin gen sai)
French: Chou de chine / Bok Choy (masculine)

Note: This Bok Choy (Brassica rapa subp. chinensis) is very closely related to the Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis). But, they don’t look alike at all!?

Level 3 Vegetables


English: Chinese flowering cabbage (lol, I don’t think anybody calls it that here)
Malay: ???
Mandarin: 菜心 (cai xin)
Cantonese: 菜心 (choy sum)
Japanese: サイシン (菜心)but this vege isn’t very common in Japan
French: ???


I honestly don’t know what this is.


English: Purple Stemmed Malabar Spinach
Malay: ???
Mandarin: 落葵 (luo kui)
Cantonese: My mum calls it ‘guai fei choy’
Japanese: ツルムラサキ (tsurumurasaki) extremely rare in Japan
French: Épinard de Malabar (feminine)

Price: 2 bunches for RM3.00


English: A type of baby Romaine lettuce
Malay: ???
Mandarin: ???
Cantonese: 油麥 (yau mak)
Japanese: ロメインレタス (romein retasu)
French: Laitue romaine (feminine)


English: Beetroot
Malay: Buah bit
Mandarin: 甜菜 (tian cai) / 紅菜頭 (hong cai tou)
Cantonese: 紅菜頭 (hong choy tao)
Japanese: ビートルーツ (bi-to ru-tsu)
French: Betterave potagere (feminine)

Price: RM12/kg


English: ???
Malay: ???
Mandarin: 帝王苗 (di wang miao)
Cantonese: 帝王苗 (dai wong miu)
Japanese: ???
French: ???

Note: I’m sorry! The seller told me the Chinese name but I didn’t get any nice hits on Google for the other languages.



English: Fried Bean Curd / Tofu Puffs
Malay: Tau Fu Pok
Mandarin: ???
Cantonese: 豆腐朴 (tau fu pok)
Japanese: いなりと似たようなものだけど、中華料理では塩辛い料理に使われる (it’s similar to what is used for the sweet inari sushi but it’s commonly found in savoury dishes in Chinese cuisine.
French: ???


English: Bean Curd Skin
Malay: ???
Mandarin: 腐竹 (fu zhu)
Cantonese: 腐竹 (fu cuk)
Japanese: ゆば (yuba)
French: Peau de tofu / Feuille de tofu (feminine; lit. Skin or sheet of tofu)

Price: RM2.60 / 100g (around 3 pieces)


English: Steamed Chinese buns or another suggestive alternative, ‘steamy buns’
Malay: Roti Mantau
Mandarin: 饅頭 (man tou)
Cantonese: 饅頭 (man tau)
Japanese: まんとう (mantoh)
French: Mantou (masculine)

Price: These two bags for RM8.


English: Pineapple
Malay: Nanas
Mandarin: 菠蘿 (bo luo) or 鳳梨 (feng li)
Cantonese: 黃梨 (wong lai)
Japanese: パインアップル (pain appuru)
French: Ananas (masculine)

Price: RM3.30


English: Dried shrimps
Malay: Udang kering
Mandarin: 蝦米 (xia mi)
Cantonese: 蝦米 (ha mai)
Japanese: 干し海老
French: Crevettes séchées (feminine)

Price: Rm6/100g

Will be updated after the next pasar trip!