Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chinese New Year 2012 - Back in Ipoh

The first day of Chinese New Year was spent with Richard's parents and his second sister, Mary. We had Japanese food for lunch and a quiet dinner. After dinner, Richard played mahjong with his parents and then we took them out for a quick supper before going home.

Here's a Youtube video (2:13 minutes long) taken on the second day of Chinese New Year, of Ryan and Richard dancing around. We had just opened his birthday present from Mary. Ryan asked to wear the gift wrap as a cape, and so we put it on him. He proceeded to dance and jump around in it, chuckling and giggling. Simple pleasures.

For lunch, we drove to Ampang to pay Richard's uncle a visit, together with Richard's parents and Mary. We do this every Chinese New Year. There is always a massive lunch waiting for us, all homecooked. The wine is home brewed, the chicken is home reared and the fruits for dessert are grown in their garden. Last year, they even prepared homemade yee sang (this year we didn't have any yee sang).

After lunch, we went home, packed up and set off on a two hour drive north to Ipoh. We go back to Ipoh every year because most of my relatives are there.

Ipoh is in a valley formed by limestone hills and the drive up is very scenic.

Ipoh has a very comfortable feeling to it. Mixed with the modern shopping malls, you can still find a lot of old businesses and trades there. These are the street lamps that are found all over the city. Aren't they charming?

We arrived in good time to check in at the hotel and go for an early dinner, which was the famous "nga choy kai" or "beansprouts and chicken" at Lou Wong. Extremely satisfying. The rest of the evening was spent at my second uncle's house.

The next day (Wednesday), it was off to my third uncle's place which is nestled at the foot of the hills in Tambun. Very picturesque.

After lunch, most people settled down for some blackjack. Here you can see three generations of people crowded around the table.

The expert gamblers' game of choice was mahjong. That's my third uncle, my second uncle's wife and Richard playing three-kaki mahjong.

Ryan had a minor upset when we first got there. He doesn't like people coming up to him and looking at him as if he is under a microscope, especially if they are also talking to him in loud voices, which unfortunately was what happened. Everyone was excited to see him and was fawning over him and talking to him excitedly. He just hated it and got upset. I took him into one of the bedrooms and gave him his Noddy Funbook so that he had something to focus on and so that he could tune out everything else. He was relaxed after a while and when I brought him back into the living/dining area, he was happy to see everyone and warmed up quickly, proceeding to play happily with my cousins. My uncle has a miniature schnauzer, like our dog Max, and Ryan was also happy to play with her.

The evening was set aside for my family's yearly reunion dinner. Despite starting the dinner in a slightly grouchy mood (because I roused him prematurely from his nap), Ryan regained his good spirits quickly.

This photo was taken by my cousin, Amanda. I "lifted" it from her Facebook.

The dinner was very long, we finished at nearly 11 pm because we were karaoke-ing at the same time! We actually told the restaurant to serve the courses slowly because everyone was having so much fun! Young and old, everyone had a go, and it was a rowdy, fun night. After dinner, my uncles and aunts adjourned to a nightclub to continue their fun, but we decided to go back to the hotel and rest.

My ex-schoolmates had their reunion in Ipoh the same night. I regretfully had to give that a miss. I arranged to meet up with some of them in KL over the weekend instead.

The next day (Thursday) was filled with more eating and more relaxing. We had lunch at my second uncle's house and spent the rest of the day there. Richard played mahjong, while I just hung out with Ryan and my cousins. Dinner was at a restaurant nearby, famous for its freshwater fish and other seafood.

In the morning (Friday), we woke up early to drive to Menglembu together with some of my relatives for the famous noodles. I realised I didn't take any photos of myself this Chinese New Year so I quickly snapped one in the hotel room mirror - hello!

I don't know the name of the famous noodle restaurant, but it was packed with people even though it had just opened for the day. The food was amazingly good, as is most food in Ipoh and well worth the drive. Snapped this shot as we were leaving - you'll never see cows lounging by the road in Singapore!

We left Ipoh after that, to go back to KL. Here's a parting shot - you can see Colonel Sanders on the side of a limestone hill.

Bye-bye Ipoh! We'll be back next year!


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