The next morning (why!!!), after a delicious breakfast of a fresh bun stuffed with lotus seed paste (yes, we used Google translate for that one), it was time to drive around visiting family, which meant visiting the small village about 20 minutes out of town that Ying’s family originally came from. Ying explained that the poorer people lived in this area, and that a lot of foreign workers, hailing from poor countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma) lived there.

The God of WealthAs it was a public holiday, we saw loads of people out and about, from Bangladeshis playing a game of cricket, to Indonesian men strolling around holding hands (in Islamic countries same-sex handholding and hugging is a sign of platonic affection. Any public displays of romantic affection are strictly forbidden, and of course homosexuality is illegal, with a stint in jail if you’re lucky, the death penalty if you’re not).

As we did the rounds from one uncle’s house to the next, we were force-fed more treats and tea, got a visit from the ‘Prosperity Man’ – kinda like Santa, except he gives you fake ancient coins (that are shaped like an emperors hat) that are supposed to bring you prosperity in the new year.

I Want Durian

Another ‘treat’ were the fresh durians at one of the homes. Ying’s uncle was ‘blessed’ with having several durian trees on his property. The reason I’m speaking in a sarcastic tone is that I intensely dislike durian. I like jackfruit, a similar, less pungent version, but durian – ehhh. Yes, I have tried it twice and no, I still don’t like it. Sama and Jaime on the other hand were sucking the fruit off the seeds like it was the last durian in Malaysia. However, I’m not sure I trust Sama’s tastebuds as she adores seaweed and anything with fish, even for breakfast! We also blasted a few more firecrackers, and everyone nearly had a heart attack when Ying’s little nephew (about 3 years old) tried to eat one.

Fish Paste in Banana LeafWhen I got back I literally passed out until the next morning, possibly due to the fact that I’d only had a few hours sleep, or that I’d eaten enough for half an army battalion and this was my body’s only sure way of making sure I didn’t ingest any more. Good thing I was feeling normal the next day, because Ying and Sama had decided it would be an awesome idea to do some karaoke. At 3pm. For 3 hours. Sober. Actually it was a lot of fun, with Ying singing Chinese songs, Sama singing Japanese songs (Ying and I joining in when the English pronunciations of the Japanese characters was included – no idea what we were singing about – literally ‘MA BA KANASHI I’) and all of us singing along to popular English songs, such as ‘Mamma Mia’, and ‘I’m Sexy and I Know It’.