Chinese New Year ( for the year of the horse) has always been well celebrated in Penang. Long before the central government started moving Malaysians and muslims to the island to “balance” the population it seemed to go on and on and whatever “balancing” has done the holiday has now extended to 15 days in length, so two more days left.
We can expect plenty of firework displays tonight and tomorrow and the big event today is when unmarried guys go to the Esplanade to throw an orange into the water that apparently will mean this year they will meet and marry a girl.
Co-incidentally this festival happens on St. Valentine’s Day which is also celebrated here though certainly not in the way it has gone in the West where restaurants are booked months in advance and prices jump .
It amazed me when living in India how so many holidays were “adopted” and taken even though the Christian element in India in percentage terms is so small. An Indian civil servant ( they take all the holidays) works just 136 days a year. It seems Malaysia is the same
More and more Malaysian women are now wearing the burka rather than just the traditional headscarf. Indeed the government is keen that restaurants and hotels provide separate eating areas for women so they can take the face mask off and eat normally out of view of men. No such niceties as yet here at the old Copthorne. At breakfast the veil has to be discretely lifted and a morsel popped in before any male can get a look .
Not a wildly romantic dinner then for St. Valentine celebrations . Mind you if this separate area comes into being then it will be even less romantic won’t it. “You pop over there darling and enjoy your meal , I’m off to watch TV with the boys over there see you back at the car. Enjoy your Valentine’s Day ”
What seems very unfair at the hotel is the Malaysian guy in swim shorts and loose t shirt in the heat while his girlfriend or wife is fully dressed and then covered with a black heat absorbing burka and then asked to walk down the beach with him with the sun beating down
All these black burkas always remind me of the old joke about the guy who runs into the pub and asks the landlord how tall are penguins. About this high says the landlord. Oh christ I must have knocked down a nun.
We are in separate part of the hotel to most of the guests, kept in the main for long stay types like us.
six floors with seven rooms on each floor and overlooking the small beach
The annexe also boasts a small garden with a few bed chairs and umbrellas and over the weekend we take refuge there. The old Copthorne discounts like crazy at weekends to encourage occupancy from the local populus in Kuala Lumpur. They also turn a blind eye to numbers in the room so it is not unusual for eight people to be bedded down . Most are kids and the noise from the children’s pool is unbelievable. The garden area is an haven from the din. What makes Malay children so badly behaved I wonder. Unbelievably parents will often bring their three or four kids down to kiddies pool and leave them there while they go back to the room to watch telly. Maybe that is why they are badly behaved now I think about it, no parental guidance at all.
Very kindly once a week the garden gets sprayed to stop mossies and bugs . They were doing it last night and have a look at the machine they use
I tell you what it reminds me of
I don’t think I shall bother with the orange throwing this year. By chance I saw it 3 years ago and it really is a bit of a mob scene to be honest.
I was at the Esplanade the other day when trotting around the colonial piles. Just away from the sea is the large grass area where in Colonial days the British played cricket
As I walked over it, the area where the old pavilion was is still visible and I’m sure I could here in the wind cries of “hows that” and ” jolly good shot old boy” .
Tonight rather than cricket balls the locals will be bowling oranges.