Sunday, 29 January 2012

Gong Xi Fa Cai, Happy Chinese New Year

Taking offerings from shops
Dragons in front of X-mas tree
Golden Dragon
Dragon in action

As promised, here is the post about Chinese New Year Celebrations from Langkawi. (All Photos here) and if you want to see all photos with Chinese music, click here, just to get you into the mood! The Chinese New Year started on the 23rd of January and it lasts 15 days. In this time the Island is full with tourists and all the shop prices go up whether it is for butter, beer, cooking oil or chocolate Nevertheless, we found out there was to be a performance of Chinese Dragon Dogs in the Fair Mall, one of three shopping centres on Langkawi and as we had never seen anything like it live, we went along to take a look. The Dragons (4 of them, one gold, one white,one yellow and one orange) arrived outside the Mall and acted fearfully of the firecrackers hanging from the ceiling which were set off to stop their entrance. All this was accompanied to loud drum beats. The noise and smoke was unbelievable. Once these had stopped they stormed in to take some offerings which were laid out for them on the floor, consisting of Tangerines, Lettuce and beer. They picked it up and shared it with the people around watching and covering their ears.
 Fiona was one of the lucky few to have a Tangerine offered by the Golden Dragon (must be for good luck) which was quite funny, as he came up with the Fruit in his mouth looking at Fiona, but as she did not know what to do, the guy in the Dragon costume shouted:"Take it" so Fiona did. I mean, you do not just take something out of the Dragons mouth, in a culture where you do not know whether this is right or wrong. Shame it wasn`t a can of beer though :) The Dragons all proceeded into the Mall and took offerings from shops, hung up over their entrances or laid out  on chairs and tables. Again it was fruit, Lettuce, beer and now envelopes containing money. Bit of bribery for good luck might help I suppose. This took about an hour and was really good. (see 1st Video below) Then there was a break before the music (loud drum rhythm) started again and two guys in a Dragon costume started a fantastic performance, dancing on wooden poles, set up in the Fair Mall main hall (see 2nd video below) The whole experience really gave you an Asian feel and we are glad to have had the chance to see it.
                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                   
                                                 

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Dragon performing on poles
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Friday, 27 January 2012

Agrotechnology Park Langkawi

Click to enlarge

Sea Cucumber Bisquits, click to enlarge
Two days ago we went on our moped to the Agrotechnology Park. This had been recommended to us by Zachdy, the manager of the first hotel we stayed in on Langkawi and as there are few places on the Island which you can go and visit we decided to have a look. It was a twenty minute drive and once we got there were surprised it was only 15RM p.P. to get in (on Penang they charge 35RM p.P.) Once paid you get taken around the place in an open mini bus where a guide explains everything about the exotic fruits which grow here, he takes some funny pictures of you and builds you little presents out of palm leaves. There are two stops on the tour, one at a small but nice fruit buffet where you can taste all the fruits for free currently in season and the second is at a herb garden. Once the tour is finished the park is open to discover some of the plants for yourself, go up some steps to a lookout tower with good views to the sea and check out   the deer which are kept here as well as a funny looking turkey. The park is well worth seeing for anybody visiting the Island and we might do it again when there are different fruits available i.e.in season. (All pictures here)




Saturday, 7 January 2012

Penang


Ali n Pete in Batu Feringgi Beach

Chinese Lanterns in George Town
Not long ago we had an email from friends of ours who we knew from Berlin, saying they now work in Asia and will be going for a holiday to the Island of Penang, (Photos here) which is 2hrs 45min by ferry, from Langkawi. Fiona and myself had planned to go there anyway, but with the chance to meet Pete and Ali again we thought it was a good idea to bring our plans forward.
The Ferry from Kuah left at 2:30 pm and the price was 115 RM p.P. return and the crossing was very smooth. We are normally quite well prepared for travelling, but this time we forgot to bring our micro-fleece (30°C + and warm clothes?) well, wherever you travel in Asia with A/C it can get cold...and it did. We covered ourselves with a towel as best as possible, but still arrived in George Town, Penang freezing. Once we got there though, it was a really nice surprise to see Pete and Ali waiting for us at the Ferry harbour and after big hellos and laughs we went on to find our accommodation "The Old Penang Guesthouse" in the centre of George Town. The place had a lot of old Colonial Character, high ceilings, wooden floorboards and shutters.
Snake Temple
But the room came as a bit of a disappointment as there was no window, just a double bed and....nothing :) the shared bathroom was clean, but on our floor there must have been about 20 people and only 2 showers and 2 toilets. It is ok to stay there for a short period but I would not recommend it for longer (at least not in our room) Breakfast consists of toast, jam and fresh fruit, tea/coffee, also hot/cold water so  adequate for 65RM a night....