Dora Bitsi

Dora Bitsi

Mar 23 2016

The AsiaQuest Diaries- The Hokkien New Year in Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia

In the morning of our departure from Penang we felt lucky, so we decided to hitchhike for the first time in Asian Ground to Kuala Lumpur. Indeed luck was on our side and not more than 5 minutes later, somebody stopped to take us! Sebastian, a Canadian expat was on his way to KL for work and we mutually benefited from the company. The road was straight and the scenery green and lush. The 4 hours passed really fast as we were passing through fields of kautchuk trees and palms.

Soon, Kuala Lumpur apperared through the jungle with its tall imposing buildings!

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KL City Centre Park- One of the many parks in the heart of the city! At night people are jogging around and it is a good spot for the fountain show in front of the KLCC every night at 8!

Kuala Lumpur is a fast paced city with ordered skyscrapers, six-lane highways. It is surprising but it manages to combine the modern with the traditional with its colonial district, remains of the British rule and with lots of greenery .

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Kuala Lumpur is mostly famous for housing the tallest Twin towers in the world, to the Petronas Twin Towers (451 m). Centrally located you can walk around its city centre very easily or you can use the train!

KL is a shopping paradise with some of Southeast Asia’s largest shopping malls, specialized in almost everything, clothes, electronics etc. You can easily spend days lost inside the endless mall labyrinths!

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Sure, there is a lot of traffic, but turn a corner and the city bursts to exotic life with mosques and temples side-by-side with street markets and towering high rises.

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Plus, if you need more reason to love KL there is the food – with thousands of restaurants serving every imaginable type of food to suit every budget.

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The spiked Durian fruit! A delicacy that apparently drives crazy most Asians! We were told its delicious, but its smell was not so appetizing!

We were again lucky to be hosted by hosted by Greeks! Miltos with his wife and  grandson made our stay unforgettable as we felt at home even for a little.

It was through Mr Miltos that we were invited to a Chinese home to celebrate the Chinese New Year  in the Hokkien Style!

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The Hokkien New Year, which falls on the ninth day of the Chinese New Year, are in full swing at the temples.

The birthday of the Jade Emperor is an important date for the Hokkien community.

According to Chinese legend, the Hokkiens were once attacked by bandits during the Ming Dynasty. To escape, they hid in a sugar cane plantation.On the ninth day which coincided with the Jade Emperor’s birthday, they emerged to find their enemies gone. They had been saved by the protective cover of the sugar cane stalks.Ever since, the Hokkiens have regarded this date as symbolic to their survival.

The family of our host, Siau Wei, were so hospitable, and really we haven’t seen so much food in our lives!

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In front of the main entrance a table served as an altar was set with offerings for a prosperous new year! There were fruits and sweets a whole roasted pig, ducks and crabs and many more!

After all friends and family had gathered we witnessed the amazing performance of the Lion Dance from a group of professionals.

The dancers follow a ritual that is bringing good luck to the family. There are usually two dancers. One acts as the head and the other the body. They dance to a drum, cymbals and a gong. On the head of the lion is mirror so that evil spirits will be frightened away by their own reflections. As the lion moves from place to place he looks for some green vegetables such as lettuce which are hung above the doors of houses or businesses. Hidden in the leaves is a red packet of money. The lion eats the lettuce and red packet. He then scatters lettuce leaves to symbolize a fresh start for the new year and the spreading of good luck. Watching their performance was unique!

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If this was not enough, according to traditions there was a huge amount of firecrackers and fireworks not only from the family that hosted us but from the whole neighbourhood! The place looked like it was on fire for at least an hour!

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Kuala Lumpur was one of these cities that proved a pleasant surprise for us! Keeping all these good memories from the people we met, we were on our way to explore the south of Malaysia!

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