I can’t quite remember what I did for Chinese New Year of the Boar (last year), but the Year of Rat was ushered in with a busy schedule of laid back events.
On Chinese New Year Eve on Wednesday I had dinner with the Journo and her parents. Her mom put on an exceptional spread featuring loads of delicacies they brought back from their recent trip to China.
There was one particular cured meat, which had a distinct taste of Bai Guo to it, and it being Chinese New Year and all, reminded me of when I ushered in the Year of the Dog whilst in Shiyan in China. There Bai Guo featured very prominently on the dinner and social circuit, and the taste of it immediately conjured up a flood of memories.
This eve, however, was spent in good company, and featured lots of talking and, of course, lots of eating. Lots, and lots of eating.
Chinese New Year Day
The day of Chinese New Year itself, my neighbourhood was eerily quiet. I suppose everyone had gone off to visit friends or family, or attend an open-house of which there were many. Malaysia’s elections are just around the corner, so if there are usually lots of open houses, this year I’m sure there are more, and they’re bigger as political parties try to outdo each other.
The Journo and I set out to her boss’s house, which is located about an hour or so drive away. We visited last during the 4M Challenge, that time spending the day around a braai. Today was much of the same, and as usual, her gregarious boss spared no expense.
I’m told gambling is the tradition on Chinese New Year, and it was duly observed. I remember dabbling in a bit of Majong during my time in China, but that actually requires some skill, so it’s not so easy to gamble whilst playing that, especially when you’re green.
The for-fun gambling on offer at the Journo’s boss’ house however, was pure chance. (Please note, it wasn’t real gambling, in case you’re the xyf’s lawyer, or the xyf herself (hi!), and you happen to read this). It was quite fun and lasted a while. There were also a few card games going on.
On the second day of Chinese New Year a bunch of us went to the best kept secret in Kota Kinabalu. A nice beach with sweeping white sand. Now, don’t tell the tour groups, but it’s called Hornbill Bay, and it’s on one of the islands, which I’d rather not mention.
There’s no regular ferry schedule there, but we were lucky enough to be ferried there by friend of ours. It took a good hour, at a leisurely pace, to get there from the Sutera Harbour Marina, but it was well worth it.
We whiled away the day in the sun doing nothing much of anything, playing frisbee, soaking in the water, eating in the shade and having ice cold beer.
Thankfully I had some factor 60 sunscreen left. People laugh when everyone else uses factor 20 and 30, but I went home after a full day in the sun with my bald head, shoulders and back untouched, whilst there were quite a few lobsters accompanying me.
Note to self, get more factor 60 sunscreen
And then yesterday, or Chinese New Year day 3, if you would, was the Sabah Wedding Reception for the two friends who’s actual wedding we attended KL, and this time around they hosted all their Sabahan friends, and relatives who missed out.
The guests were mostly Chinese, and followed the traditions of a Chinese wedding reception. In Sabah, most people leave almost immediately after the main course is served. The groom was gob smacked, as this was in heavy contrast to their KL event where his Indian family and friends partied on until they literally fell over.
There was a backup party crew though. About two tables worth of us celebrated their union until the wee hours of the morning in Blue Note. Quality DJs and a laser-lights show turned Blue Note into a virtual club, and it was packed with people, creating a brilliant party atmosphere.
Last day of Chinese New Year
The last day of Chinese New Year today was as laid-back as the rest of them. I got up a little after 11 and met up with Julia at The Coffee Bean. We had a lazy breakfast (nice of them to keep serving breakfast until 2pm on Sundays) before Julia went back to work and myself went home a few hours before frisbee.
Frisbee, because of Chinese New Year, and perhaps because it looked like it was going to rain, wasn’t so well attended. However, we had enough for two teams and the game, as usual, was action packed.
Last week I laid out few times, and on the hard grass paid with several layers of skin on my knees. The wounds have healed nicely. There was only one opportunity for a lay out today, and I took it (it was in the end-zone and meant a point, well worth the effort) – when I recovered from the dive-and-roll I noticed I lost a scab from one of the nearly-recovered wounds – there was blood. Thankfully one of the players had a band-aid. Bare minimum First Aid kit for the win.
And that’s how the year of the Rat was ushered in in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. What will this year bring…