Chinese New Year In Penang, Malaysia
Sometimes things don’t go as planned. And I don’t mean “better” than expected.
Both of us got sick. Not one at a time, so well could help the ill, but overlapping sick for Chinese New Year.
Two of us sick, each with two ailments.
We alternated between intestinal discomfort, then coughing and aching. I am weak and tired, thinking, “I am dying,” and my dear traveling partner starts in with the same routine.
Being sick sucks. But getting sick while traveling really double sucks. It’s a double whammy.
When I wasn’t sleeping, I took a look at the pile of tourist brochures in our Airbnb. Penang is set-up and ready to collect every available tourist dollar brought to the island. I found the number of tourist attractions staggering.
Here are some of the places I didn’t visit while I was sick: The Asia Camera Museum, the Ghost Museum, the Ibox Glass Museum, the Made In Penang Interactive Museum, the Penang 3D Trick Art Museum, the 3-D Floressent Art Museum, the Upside Down Museum, the PG Gold Museum, The Phantamania Illusion Castle, the Sun Yat-sen Museum, the Live Magic Show, the Penang Time Tunnel History Museum, the Owl Museum, the Zombie Museum, the Toy Museum and The Lost World of Tambun Theme Park Hotel and Spa.
And that doesn’t include any of the shopping and dining locations I missed!
On one day between my feeling ‘better’ and Keith getting miserably sick, we did get to visit The Habitat.
We stood in line for one hour before we got on the funicular to the top of Penang Hill.
At the top, it is like a County Fair. Food vendors, balloon vendors, a place to take a photo of you and your sweetie under a plastic flower heart, clowns with balloons, and that guy that draws funny cartoon characters that are supposed to look like you. Not my type of place.
But after we leave the circus, there is the rich second growth jungle, the giant black squirrels, the monkeys, well paved meandering trails, and walks that take you above the forest canopy.
The experience is both big and small. Trees tower overhead, and lizards scurry away. Views stretch to the ocean, and running water trickles under nearby foliage.
Just when I thought I was getting better, Keith got miserably sick. While my sick as a dog traveling partner slept, I had a chance to visit the Heritage Precinct of Georgetown’s New Year Celebration.
Four large city blocks were closed to traffic, and most of the historic family temples were open to the public.
There was the Heaven Region, the Earth Region, The Human Region, and the Harmony Region. Each with cultural exhibitions by Clan Houses. Stage names included the Stage of Cantonese, the Stage of Hainan, the Stage of Wushu, the Stage of Hokken Opera, and the Stage of Loyalty and Ambiguity just to name a few of the interesting titles.
Seventeen stages of activities, each one with three or more performances every hour from 4:00 till midnight. Despite the numerous opportunities, I was disappointed that I missed all Lion Dance performances.
The streets were packed with families eagerly supporting their performers. I saw grannies dancing, traditional musical instrument performances, and I was amazed when six young children dressed in their Sunday best tried to remember their dance moves to Pit Bull’s “Fireball.” They were so cute! They had no idea what that song is about.
I saw a Diabolo performance by young men on the Stage of Thanksgiving, and on another stage, I watched what had to be a High School Musical Theatrical song and dance complete with teenage boy meets girl angst. There were traditional musicians, a harmonica player or two, several youthful singers, and some things I just didn’t understand at all.
My favorites were the groups of ‘mature’ women all dressed in matching outfits doing dances as best as they could remember. Their supporters cheered them on from the crowd below.
One of the most prominent activities, by far, was having your photo taken, or taking a selfie. First, there is the selfie alone, then with friends, next serious, and lastly a silly selfie.
The next day, another call to prayer echoes across the city and another shop keeper sets off fireworks to clear away any evil spirits. I fell asleep after lunch, and slowly I wake to again watch the pigeons on the rooftop below.
I was at the Chinese New Year Celebration for only a few hours, but I felt like I was partying all night long.
Seven nights in Penang, and I leave wishing I visited more than two activities. It was a comfortable place to be sick, but given a choice, I would opt out of getting sick.
My New Year’s resolution for the Year of the Pig is: Don’t get sick while traveling.
Anyway, that’s my plan.