You might have heard so much Tagalog, Malay, Indonesian because today is Sunday. Sunday is the usual day off for domestic help. Were they all women in a certain age range? Were they gathered in parks? Or near parcel forwarding companies?
Very astute observation! They were in fact all women of about 25-40 years old, not gathered in parks but on a street with a clothing market. Not quite so many today, but I still heard quite a bit of Indonesian around. My informal Malay listening is still quite poor so if I hear something Austronesian that I can't understand, I just guess Malay. I can only recognize Tagalog by its distinctive 'k' sound and have no clue about other regional languages of Malaysia or the Philippines.
Weather: Hot. Check my log for a few personal notes on some of these situations.
At a congee restaurant, I ordered in Cantonese that was so poor as to be mistaken for Mandarin, and the rest of the order continued in Mandarin. I asked about the wifi password in Cantonese and was answered in gestures. The cashier wrote the total down and showed it to me wordlessly.
At the visa office, I handled everything in perfect Teochew. (Just kidding.)
After the visa office, I found an Indonesian fast food place/imported grocery store and chatted with the staff in Indonesian.
People in "new" shops and big chains all used only English with me, some with less ability but all with confidence. This includes a mobile phone store and a few different convenience store brands.
At a fried chicken stand, I ordered in Mandarin and the cashier clarified my order in native-sounding Mandarin. After leaving I discovered that I had been given the wrong food, and it was very bad. Would this have happened if I'd ordered in Cantonese? That'll keep me up at night.
At a medium-size grocery store, I saw a woman deftly using two phones to slowly translate Indonesian to English. I thought about offering help but decided against it as I didn't want her to know I was looking over her shoulder. At the checkout the cashier told me the total in Cantonese after I looked at her in expectant silence.
At a Vietnamese restaurant, I listened for Vietnamese in the kitchen and from the waiters but heard only Cantonese. I ordered in Cantonese and even asked a question about the menu, but was answered in English each time.
At an art gallery, I was approached in English by an art enthusiast and we later chatted with his friends in Mandarin. I was also approached by a German tourist who thought I was German.
At the central library, I asked in Mandarin if there were any materials on minority languages of China. The staff member responded in Mandarin (there weren't). As there was a modest collection of Chinese dialect resources, I took some of them into the listening lab. For this I had to get a ticket, and that transaction happened in English twice with two other staff members.
On a side street, someone was advertising their restaurant in Cantonese but stopped once they realized I wasn't a local. I asked in Cantonese to take a look at the menu, but found it not to my taste and politely declined. This was the high point of my Cantonese so far.