Welcome, Monkey!

February 08, 2016

Gong Xi Fa Cai, Wan Shi Ru Yi! Wishing you all prosperity in the year of the Fire Monkey!

Chinese New Year!!! Reunion dinner! Nian gao! The ‘balik kampung’ exodus! Relatives jabbing at your burgeoning tummy fat: “Wah, HUAT ah!!! (so PROSPEROUS!!!)”. Being interrogated by your elders in turn: “Wei sha hai mei jie hun ne? (Why aren’t you married yet?)” or “Shen me shi hou gei ge sun zi? (When are you going to give me a grandchild?)” But it’s OK, because HONG BAO!!! Unless of course you’re married and tradition dictates you hand over red envelopes of cash to your single friends...*nudge nudge wink wink* Michiekins...

I’m in high spirits, can you tell? Well, I am literally high - I’m blogging this from 10,000 feet above the South China Sea, en route to North Borneo (really just a fancy name for Sabah) to visit my maternal side for Chinese New Year. Aerodynamics aside I am ALWAYS, like, SO STOKED for CNY because it’s the Chinese person’s Christmas don’t cha know?! Relatives reunited (always at my house! The family home is always the den of decadence) to share exchanges of affection/gentle derision. The ever-present suckling pig and chilli giant prawns at our reunion dinner (drool!). An excuse to buy a new red dress (do you want to attract the favour of the Gods of prosperity or not?!). The hong bao, all the hong bao! As Henry - himself a recent ‘convert’ to my way of life - articulated in astonishment: “Wait, you get well wishes, fortune from the Gods, gifts from the magic dragon, AND money thrust upon you?! Chinese New Year is way cooler than Western New Year! 
It’s  also the one time of year I really go full-out Chinese*: when I suddenly rediscover my ‘fluency’ in Mandarin, (sometimes forgetting how to speak English) and also my love for traditional snacks ie. pineapple tarts, bah kwa, dragon’s beard candy (mmmm), and when I embrace my culture’s traditions and superstitions; shouting “CHOY! DA JI LI ZE!” (touch wood!) like, ten times an hour. Excuse me, your Chinese is showing!  
*I blame it on the infectious and affectionately ingratiating festive cheer in the air aka the ‘dong dong dong chiang’ Chinese New Year music blaring from EVERY sound system in the country.

Sooooo in the spirit of Chinese New Year - and compulsive shopaholicism - here’s my outfit for the first day of The Year Of The Fire Monkey. Some might favour shorter dresses to beat the tropical heat but I insist upon maxi dresses because: more red fabric = better chance of the Gods of Fortune and Prosperity spotting me and bestowing me with lashings of blessings. Hahaha see, told you I am Chinese! 
(Please excuse the food baby, it is Chinese New Year after all, and I may have accidentally fallen face down onto a plate of nian gao. With my mouth open. On several occasions.) 

Xie xie ni, wo de shin gan bao bei (thank you my dearest darling) Henry Ridley-Cook for dropping to your knees in the middle of KL International Airport to take these photos of me for my blog.


 Malaysians, please be careful: if you’re driving, be slow and steady on the drive back home (and also keep an eye on the calories, especially those pineapple tarts!)

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