FirecrackersAfter arriving in Muar, we ate a massive dinner of leftovers from the large CNY Eve Lunch we had missed out on, and after that spent a few hours blasting firecrackers and lighting sparklers, and watching as people all around us let off loads of illegal fireworks, smuggled in from China. One of my favourites was a fire cracker that sounded like an automatic machine-gun, it just gave such a gangland atmosphere to the area. We were force-fed lots of special CNY treats and chrysanthemum tea, and were told that the later we stayed up, the longer and more prosperous life our parents would have (so Mum and Dad are going to live to about 150 years old and be billionaires – the things I do for you people).

Treats

Another tradition is for married people and couples to give ‘Ang Pow’ to unmarried people (usually children since people tend to get married early here). Ang Pow are small red envelopes with money inside them, the amount depending on the wealth of the giver. Even though I was this large, random Australian girl Ying had dragged home with her, I was given loads of Ang Pow. I asked Ying what I should give to the family as a gift, but her sister refused to accept anything. It’s traditional to bring mandarins, but honestly how many boxes of mandarins does one family need?

ang pow

To pass the time and try and stay awake, we watched the first episode in a series about a recent recruit in the Singaporean Army (they have mandatory military service for men), which was a very interesting look at Singaporean culture (plus it was absolutely hilarious – it was mostly in English, and I recommend you watch it if you ever come across it. I think it’s called ‘New Soldier’).

When bed time did finally roll around, I had a slight moment of panic when we were told there was only one double bed for the three of us to sleep on, but then we found a spare mattress that I ended up using. I have an irrational phobia of sharing my sleeping space with anyone. I can manage 2 people on a kingsize, but three in a double I can’t do.

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