Sunday, February 13, 2005

2nd day of CNY

Plans to leave early were replaced when my aunt and uncle dropped by for a visit in the morning. Due to the Chinese New Year (CNY) celebrations and Maal Hijrah, most eateries and shops were closed and we had to settle for Indian food, roti canai. By the time we left Kuantan it was already 11.30 a.m. The back seat was packed full with items for the relations, four of which are moving to new residences after CNY. Travel was a breeze through the ECE and by 2 p.m. we arrived at Kl, timed saved from the usual crawl and turns of the older road. No more overtaking balak (timber) lorries, no waiting behind the express buses along a winding one lane road, no intersections and traffic lights to bar the way, just smooth driving, turning the auto accelerator on and just steer all the way. It’s always nice to drive with dad, he’ll be in the passenger seat and we would go through talking about the current happenings, family matters and what to expect from the future. The near 3 hour drive is always rich with conversations and discussion, a long needed head to head with dad. Kl was partly deserted, no jams and fewer cars than usual. Whereas normal jams along Jalan Kuching and the town center were not apparent at all and making our way from Batu Caves towards Bandar Utama was a breeze. At least there were no major changes in the road system for us to get lost in.

Most of my relations were present at my uncle’s house by the time we arrived, judging by the number of cars parked outside. The cacophony inside bewildering; uncles and aunts were noisily in conversations, the cousins were all pumped up with adrenaline and some were already breaking out the mahjong set. A flurry of activity at the front door as everyone came to greet us. I missed this noisy, packed and restless atmosphere. Here was the essence of CNY, family. We didn’t have lunch, but the amount of goodies present was enough to sate any other longing from food, especially the brandy drenched fruit cake. Dad went to catch up on the latest happenings, laughter always a norm as he retold some dirty joke (he always said it was ok as long as everyone had a nice laugh). Four of us went to open the mahjong table and played a few round. Around 5 p.m. Kin Voon, his brother and I decided to head off to 1 Utama, us cousins previously decided that we’d take the opportunity to catch a movie together for Constantine. 1 Utama wasn’t packed, gongs and firecrackers were even heard as we parked on the rooftop, a lion dance performance being played out in the concourse. Getting tickets in Kl is always a headache especially with a heavily anticipated movie and the holidays, the only seats left were for 9 p.m. and only for the first two rows of seating. A few minutes later we were holding 8 tickets. At least MPH was open and I had a chance to get some books which were not available in Kk.

Had to grab a few items from Hinode shop for sis before heading back. Kai San my cousin called to rush us saying that they were ready to head off for dinner. 14 of us headed off in a two car convoy to a nearby restaurant for the CNY dinner. It was a tight fit at the table but we managed. Four families were present and the table was laden with conversation and food. The dishes came in fast and furious, we didn’t even have time to finish off a course before the entire table was swamped. ‘Yee Sang’ (a dish with various crackers, seaweed, pickled vegetables and raw salmon) was the first course and everyone vigorously went in with their chopsticks and began to ‘lo sang’ (mix) denoting a mixing of prosperity. Soon this was followed with four seasons, fried taufu skin with vegetables, steamed fish, sweet sour pineapple pork, stir fried sambal kangkung, herbal chicken and a seafood platter. We left with stomachs filled to the brim.


Everyone went in staight to stir the platter after the words 'low sang' was uttered.


The other dishes soon followed. After this point didn't take any more photos as I rushed in before everything else was gone in the tummies of voracious relations.


Choy Wun, Kai Lee, Kai San and dad having a go at the various delicacies.

Reaching home we all straight away started to break open a new pack of cards. This was especially true with the arrival of my uncle, who never fails to make an appearance during the New Year to act as the house for the game, often walking away with a larger portion of the ang pow (red packets) money. The game was Black Jack and we all sat in a circle with him expertly dealing the cards. Lowest bet was RM1 with the highest at RM3. Soon we were thick in the action and my first few hands were stunning, my first hand won a double payment with a 5 card break and later a Black Jack on the second another double payment. The course of the game was with ups and downs but in the end I decided to pull out after a winning of RM11 for an initial investment of RM5. Things got a little heated up as uncle got alcohol in his system and made a series of stunning wins, playing 21 for the next few rounds as well as a series of 21s collecting the pot. A true drunken master there as he always does every New Year. My third uncle arrived a while later with my other cousins who promptly joined in. The adults were busy talking in the other hall and before long and pows were handed out. The collections are always good on my father’s side, close uncles would usually pay RM 100 to RM50, married cousins would cough up RM20 while farther relations would account for RM10 though one aunt in particular would usually be a scrooge and give RM2. The night lasted quite late and the last relative to leave was round midnight. Went to bed straight since tomorrow promises another long day of visitations and happenings.


Uncle Raymond always act as the house during CNY and always sweeps back home a hefty pot of cash for his efforts. He's even deadlier when the drink hits.


My first hand resulting in a double payment back to me for a five card draw. A very good start followed by a hand of blackjack. All in all won in the end.


Choy Wun, Wai Ken, Kin Voon and Jun Ho on their last leg.

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