I wanted more than one!
The freaks were out!
Even the Euro’s celebrate
I’d been led to believe that Chinese celebrated their New Year’s as we in
the West celebrate ours. I’ve seen the Hong Kong movies, and I’d heard
from friends, who live in San Francisco’s Chinatown, that there would be
massive street parties on New Year’s.
That Chinese would flood into the
streets to watch colorful dragons whirl and twirl, and they would light
massive strings of firecrackers to scare away the evil spirits, as they’ve
been doing for the past thousand years or so. With this street celebration
in mind, I found myself in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown on February 4, ready
for the party to begin.
Okay, there was a mini-party at the hostel, but nothing worth writing
about on this website. I did manage to grab one of the hostlers and wander
out into the streets to look for the excitement. On a side street, we saw
a single dragon dancing, at the beginning of what looked like a
dragon-dancing contest. It wasn’t much of a contest, since only one dragon
danced before we (and most of the crowd) left in boredom.
Walking down another street, I saw an odd sight, a closed bar. Can you
imagine a Western bar or restaurant closed on New Year’s Eve? Maybe one or
two, but not all! There wasn’t a single nightspot open, only the 7-11
(yes, they have them here) was dispensing the ice cream I needed about
then. (That 7-11 became my second home since everything, and I mean everything, remained shut for the next three days!)
Finally, on the edge of Chinatown, we found two outdoor cafes still
open, and with one exception, the tables only supported foreigners. The
locals, it seems, do not stay awake long enough to celebrate New Year’s
much. We did here a random string of firecrackers now and then, but it was
after midnight before we noticed the time.
A few beers later, even these cafes closed, and we walked back to the
hostel along sleeping streets. After all the hype, it was a major let
down. Hopefully, tonight the kids will be sick of spending quality time
with the folks and will join me in experiencing a KL Saturday Night.
9, 2000 Update —
After I wrote
this, TWC, a Singaporean and
fellow world-travel website author explained why my night was so quiet:
Do U know where’s everybody
on New Year’s Eve ? All at home !
According to traditions, 1)
Chinese MUST spend their NY countdown with their parents so that
they can ‘lengthen’ their parents’ lives.
According to traditions, it has the effect of enhancing the
parents’ karma. So everybody
will be with their parents at that crucial moment.
2) Chinese MUST be at home
also to welcome the God of Fortune at 12 midnight. Therefore, the
moment the clock strikes 12, everybody will open their doors to
symbolically welcome the God of Fortune. Hence, even if they are
partying on NY Eve, they always try to get home before 12