Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chinese New Year

[NOTE: I split up that massive last blog post, so now it's in two consecutive posts.  This is the second one.]

We've had Tuesday through Saturday off for Chinese New Year, which is a big deal around here.  I came down to Kuala Terengganu for the break and am staying with the ETAs here in their apartments.  Several other ETAs had similar ideas, and these apartments have practically had revolving doors all break.  Some people went off to visit Malays they knew, a big group or two went to witness the celebration in Penang, a more Chinese-populated province, and about six of us decided to stay here.

Some of my fellow teachers came down to KT too, to go bowling, and they invited me along!  It was very awesome; I got to know the teachers better, and I actually hit the pins a few times.  The others were ridiculously good, and some had even brought their own balls.

During break, we mostly hung out with Megan's school and her teachers and mentor.  We got to tag along on a school trip to the beautiful Chemerong waterfalls, where we hiked halfway up a mountain with a couple dozen Malay students, then had lunch again at the bottom. 

Also, it seems that the creatures love my blood… I've got what looks like two leech bites on my ankle, and a picture of the culprit to prove it!

We've been to three separate Chinese families' open houses, and had the opportunity to sample an amazing array of rices, curries, oranges, and adorable little traditional snacks.  We are now familiar with the symbolism of fishes, oranges, eights, nines, and astrological rabbits, and we had a short lesson in Chinese calligraphy!

 We also went into Chinatown on new year's eve and got a chance to see the lion dance in the street.  There was a band of secondary school boys playing drums and cymbals, while two pantomime lions and a "lion teaser" in a mask romped around interacting with each other and the crowd.  Behind them walked a bunch of people from some hotel, and one was all dressed up like Confucious!

By the way, while watching the lions dance is cool and exciting, having one of them come straight at you is enough to make you wet your pants.

Well, in the last couple days of break, we've mostly been relaxing and digesting all the good food we've had recently.  You know your stomach has finally settled in when you start craving local foods for breakfast.  Remember that nasi lemak stuff I described in my first blog post in Malaysia?  That spicy anchovies-and-rice mixture is all I want in the morning these days - that or roti chanai, which is a type of Indian flatbread with curry sauce.

This morning, in fact, after a nice plate of roti chanai, we walked to a nearby fruit stall and learned all about the fruits they were selling.  They cut open basically about everything in the stall for us to try - asian pears, mandarin oranges, parsimmons, even a jar of honey straight from the jungles!  It was watered down and liquidy, but it tasted like sugary orange flowers.  They also warned us that eating honey with watermelon was possibly lethal, and we should wait at least four hours to eat watermelon now, unless we wanted to regurgitate our guts in the most painful manner.

I've got some doubts about this.  It may be something I have to consult Wikipedia on.

Anyway, I've been hearing a lot about this Snowpocalypse all across North America; how are people holding up?  Is Rochester now finally eaten up by the tundra?  I heard people had to abandon their cars in Chicago; how bad is it in Milwaukee?

I miss you all!  Pretend I'm hugging you right now.

Here are some more cool pictures:

Me and the guy dressed up like Confucius in KT Chinatown.

Walking across a rope bridge during the waterfall hike!

Holding a millipede on the waterfall hike.

Learning Chinese calligraphy at one of the open houses for New Years.

The adorable hedgehog pet of one of the Chinese families we visited.

I bought a drink at the school canteen... and they gave it to me in a plastic bag!  With a straw!

1 comment:

  1. Snowpacalypse is a a joke. This is a normal Rochester winter. It's all the noobs down south who are freaking out. You do realize that you're living in a travel channel special right? Make sure to post when you eat a durian!