Welcome to the blog of the sailing yacht Sea Bunny.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More Chinese New Year - Penang

Saturday 12 February was another New Year Celebration, stretching over much of the World Heritage centre of Penang, with multiple stages offering varying types of entertainmant and amplifying the Chinese values of good fortune, emolument and career, longevity, happiness and morality. During the day the Gods and rabbits were mixing with the crowds. The God of Prosperity on the right handing out sweeties.
 Earplugs were de rigeur anywhere near the main stage, where excellent juggling, mask changing dance and martial arts displays were performed.  There were also lion dances on stilts, chingay (flag juggling) and dragon dances.  Unfortunately rain put a slight dampener on proceedings in the evening, we had a grandstand view from the top of a tressle table.

The "Chemical Man" - Penang

On Friday we paid for our new outboard engine, the old one having succumbed to a severe case of corrosion in its nether regions.  We also visited the "Chemical Man" who runs a shop where one can obtain all sorts of chemicals, otherwise difficult to obtain.  The gentleman in question is either very very old or grossly affected by his products! As the shop is in the centre of town it is a wonder that it has been allowed to continue to operate.  Having seen it we realise that this could be due to a realisation of the involved difficulties on the part of anyone considering shutting it down. It would take months to carry out a risk assessment and more months for an environmental impact assessment.  However, we acquired methyl ethyl ketone (epoxy solvent), isoprpyl alcohol (for cleaning before applying sealant) and cloroform (for killing weevils in flour and cereals) - the lesser of two weevils.

Chinese New Year - no smoke without fire - Penang

The Chinese New Year Celebration last over 15 days.  The Hokkien Chinese community celebrated their escape from extermination in ancient China and subservience to the Jade Emperor, by seeking refuge in a sugar plantation and emerged unharmed at midnight on the 8th day of the New Year.  The celebration centred on the jetty where the Chew clan live and worked from (traditionally as stevedores).  This is the most active (commercialised) of the 5 clan jetties - others appear wealthier though.  Vast amounts of food are stacked on tables by the roadside, not for public consumption, but as offerings to the gods.  The food is later taken back to homes and coins are tossed to ensure that the gods have had their fill, before the family feast.  At each communal shrine bonfires are made with mock money folded into elaborate patterns, paper clothes and other household items, which are later burnt at 0200 hours according to Susan and Elizabeth.  The culmination of the evening was an enormous firework and fire cracker display and eventually the burning of a 12-foot high paper replica of the Jade Emperor's palace (costing the same as our new 9.8hp outboard motor!). It is believed that this occured sometime after 0330hours by which time we were all in bed.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chinese New Year continues - Penang

We continue to enjoy the extended celebrations surrounding Chinese New Year in Penang. Sunday evening was Ă–pen House" organised by the Penang State Govenment.  This event circulates to a different location within the state of Penang each year.  This year it was the turn of Balik Pulau, near the centre of the island.  Getting there from the marina in Georgetown involved a bus trip about 1 1/2 hours.  We went with a group of other yachties including Elizabeth and Patrick from Labarque.

There were lots of different entertainments ranging from music to Lion Dances - quite spectacular when the lion (two men - like a pantomime horse) leaps between 1 foot square platforms arranged up to 10 feet from the ground, sometimes on two legs - i.e. the back half carrying the front half while jumping. 

Jugglers with 20-foot poles with flags throwing them up,catching them on the forehead, bottom jaw or fingertip and then balancing them - also spectacular.

Susan got to learn to play a game of congkak - we have been trying to find the rules for some time.

Free buffet food was available - but queues were also impressive so we opted to buy from the stalls.

The Kek Lok Si Buddhist temple is lit up for the New Year period - reputed to be 200,000 or more lights and over 10,000 lanterns.  A one-hour bus trip in very heavy traffic got us there yesterday evening.  The Chinese certainly do know how to see in the New Year!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Year of the Rabbit - Pinang, Malaysia


So what do you do to celebrate Chinese New Year of the Rabbit? Obviously with a name like Sea Bunny this means another mascot and this blog site. Yesterday, New Years Eve. we rashly went in search of a new 9.8 outboard motor, most of the Chinese shop houses were closed draped in red  - fabric, fresh chinese lanterns and refurbished ancestor altars. China was like a ghost town with empty, clean streets and hundreds of lanterns are flying everywhere.
Some places had open house and the one above in an outboard repair place, there were lots of goodies to pop into the stock pot. Last night the sky was littered with fireworks and the sound of fire crackers.