Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Raintown; CNY in Taiping

I know it’s long overdue, but here’s my Chinese New Year in Taiping. smile

Taiping isn’t known for entertainment & definitely isn’t known for being remotely exciting. What it is known for however, is for its food & the fact that it rains almost daily.

When I was in Aulong, Taiping for CNY, the food was as good as ever, but the constant rain that normally plague this Perak town was nowhere to be seen. Instead, heat & sunniness aplenty greeted us this year.

This was my Chinese New Year.

1) First off, and most importantly, ang pao

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The reason we promised ourselves we wouldn’t get married. The only time of the year where the phrase “Gong Xi Fa Cai” is much like sticking a knife at a person’s stomach, demanding for money.

Okay, no, it isn’t much like that.

But you still get money, so it’s essentially the same.

2) Accomodation

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As usual when we’re in Taiping, we stay at my grandparents’ place in Aulong. The house my grandparents currently stay in is on the same plot of land that my mother grew up in. They have never moved.

I suppose they never found a need to. When their initial wooden house proved too difficult to maintain, they just demolished it and rebuilt a concrete one on that very land.

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The thing about Taiping is that it’s like it’s stuck with one foot in the 70s and the other one stretched all the way to the 21st century.

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The kampung houses have satelite dishes sticking out of them, with a concrete house on the right, and an even more dilapidated shack on their left.

Undeniably, Aulong is a grandparent’s place. The streets are pretty much deserted, save for during Chinese New Year, when it gets so cramped up, but I’ll explain more on that later.

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On the outside, my grandparents’ house looks pretty modern. There’s even an Astro satellite dish sticking out of the roof!

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But, some things never change.

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As a child, I went on all sorts of adventures on that swing, travelling to places, being the captain of my own ship, having to brave rough seas and battle enemies in the form of my grandparents’ dog.

In my more devilish adventures, I managed to knock down my uncle’s motorcycle and effectively breaking off his side mirror.

Whoops. blushblush[2]

Although I like some things remaining the same (like the swing), in some cases, I wish that my grandparents thought to keep up with the times.

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The toilet system in my grandparents’ place is highly interesting. When all of us relatives are gathered there, lines form outside the two rooms they call the bathroom. Showering still requires the use of the ‘kolam’ or if we’re lucky, the warm water from the showers flow and we use that.

Anyways, my grandparents always seem to have pets living with them. For a while, they kept taking in stray dogs to keep, but when I went back in February, they had a cat!

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Who’s always sleeping, by the way.

And speaking of sleeping, as I mentioned, during Chinese New Year, my grandparent’s place is filled! And I mean really filled. Everyone crams up with one another, forced to make room on the ground.

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And I didn’t even get to take pictures of the other places around the house.

There’s no space, really, it’s depressing, but it’s truck loads of fun! satisfied

3) Then, there are the activities. What exactly could we possibly do besides dinners?

  • There’s gambling, for starters.

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In Taiping, it doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, shirtless or clothed, banana or not. If you have money you’re willing to give up, then you’re in.

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  • Night time playground

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Initially intending to go karaoke with the relatives, we couldn’t find our way to RedBox & eventually decided to go to the playground.

At night.

Surprisingly, there were a lot of people around. The little children were fearless, running around, screaming in Hokkien, completely oblivious to the dark.

But I’m a wimp, so my opinion doesn’t count here.

  • Some helping out too.

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Every year, my relatives go to Old Folks’ Homes & orphanages to spread a lil’ Chinese New Year cheer, giving out angpaos, oranges, buckets, towels, clothes, rice, whatever they think the elderly & the children need.

This year, we decided to tag along.

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In many ways, it was a really eye-opening experience for me. Here we are enjoying ourselves during the festive season when there are people out there who upon receiving toothpaste, were immensely pleased.

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And then, disappointingly, I saw the dark side of people too. We gave out angpaos, towels, and buckets to the elderly by asking them to line up. Once they had collected whatever we were giving, they were told to sit down or go back to their rooms if they wish.

But, there were a few who lined up twice, just to receive extra angpao, although we told them they couldn’t. Sigh, but is it really their faults, when their children abandoned them to an Old Folks’ Home in the first place?

When I saw that, I swore that I wouldn’t allow my parents to become like that. I’d take care of them just as they have taken care of me. And you can hold that to me.

  • On a lighter note, we played with mini-fireworks as well.

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Well, my brother did. I was much too wimpy to actually light up anything. I think the influence from my primary school days of writing essays where ‘Ahmad’s’ arm blew off because he ignored his mother’s advice about playing with fireworks got to me.

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4) Food

In Taiping, every day is like a food fiesta.

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With food so cheap & delicious, (RM3 for a plate of curry laksa, which is cheaper than our school food) we ate like kings. Whoever said that Perak had amazing food wasn’t lying.

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*salivates*

Sighh, but all good things must come to an end and I’m back in Kuala Lumpur. Back to expensive school food.

And most depressingly of all, back to horrible Class Test 1 results. sad

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