Image

Japanese Festival – Nihon Matsuri 2022 @ Stadium Bukit Jalil, KL

The past two years have been tough for businesses, especially those involving events. But with restrictions now lifted and most sectors essentially back to ‘normal’, events are back in full swing. In fact, like the ‘revenge shopping’ phenomena (where people splurge to make up for not being able to spend during the pandemic), I think we’re having ‘revenge attending’, where crowds are flocking back to events after months of repressing their need for social activities.

I’m still cautious about going to crowded places (not just because of COVID, but also because I don’t like people in general. LOL). But there was a “Nihon Matsuri” (Japanese festival) happening in town that the Hubs expressed interest in attending after seeing banners of it along the highway. It didn’t look like a very big scale event (unlike Bon Odori three weeks ago, which saw a 50,000-strong turnout), and it was going to be held in an open-air space ie the carpark at Stadium Bukit Jalil, so we thought we’d check it out over the weekend.

The event, organized by local events and comms company Trumpet International, was held over five days from July 27 to July 31. We went on the second last day, which was a Saturday night. In retrospect, I think this was a bad choice, because although it was an open-air venue and it was not ‘packed’ in that sense, there was still a massive weekend crowd. There was also a RM10 entry fee. For the price, I think it would have been nice if they had given us a complimentary bottle of mineral water or a cheap fan or something, at least.

So what was there to see at the festival?

20220730_201649

The first thing we saw at the entrance was a series of torii, or traditional archways found at Shinto temples, complete with ‘blooming’ cherry blossoms, as well as Japanese-style lanterns. It looked great for photography, but since there were so many people queueing up to go in, it was difficult to get a good shot without people in the frame.

20220730_201807
An Instagram-bf hard at work capturing his partner’s photo
20220730_201748

The organisers had spaced everything far apart so there was lots of room for people to mill about, which helped with crowd control in some areas. When I wasn’t comfortable with an area because there were too many people clustered there, I at least had the option to move to another space, which would have been difficult in a closed setting.

20220730_201838

Standing alone in a corner was a makeshift sushi bar, serving omakase for RM349+ per pax.

20220730_202242

The plebs, on the other hand, had the choice of regular tarpaulin booths selling street snacks such as Sushi, tempura, takoyaki, bento, and grilled meat on skewers. The queues were extremely long, and I think most of them ran out of food by 9PM even though new visitors were still coming in.

20220730_202430
20220730_204422

The festival’s central area featured cherry blossom ‘trees’ decorated with fairy lights, and raised wooden platforms for dining, giving the place a hanami (cherry blossom viewing) feel.

20220730_201932

Photo wall featuring a mix of traditional Japanese artwork and modern pop art.

20220730_202201

Another popular photo fixture featured rows of white lanterns. Japanese lanterns tend to be capsule-shaped compared to Chinese lanterns, which are usually spherical.

20220730_202809

There was a booth offering yukata rental services, and I saw many ladies walking around in beautiful, colourful dresses. There was also the occasional cosplayer.

20220730_202838
Ema (wooden plaque) board where visitors could hang up their wishes!
20220730_203041

We came at a good time and managed to catch two performances. The first was a Kendo performance with swords. It was meant to be a meditative performance, so there was no music. I think the idea was to showcase the beauty and grace in each movement, as the practitioners sliced through the air with their swords, sometimes swift, at times steady.

The second performance we watched was a Taiko performance. They even inserted some modern theatrical elements into it, playing out a storyline between the students and the master on the large drum.

20220730_204057_mr1659249594960
20220730_204239
20220730_212945

One more Instagrammable spot before leaving was the exit tunnel, which had hundreds of colourful paper wishes hanging from the ceiling.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad experience, but I definitely feel that they could have had more booths to justify the RM10 entry fee. There were about 20 food booths at most, and each had an almost hour-long queue; and there were only 2-3 game booths (which were all obviously crowded). Still, it was a nice activity to wile away time over the weekend, and we got to experience a slice of Japanese culture as well.

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.

Image

Think Thailand 2022 — Malaysia’s Largest Thai Festival @ Tropicana Gardens Mall, PJ

The Hubs and I recently paid a visit to Think Thailand — Malaysia’s Largest Thai Festival — which was held from 26 May to 6 June 2022 at Tropicana Gardens Mall in Petaling Jaya. Organized by the Thai embassy in collaboration with several major Thai companies as well as SMEs, the festival featured over 50 booths showcasing the best Thailand has to offer, from food and drinks, to products and services. There were also scheduled performances and cooking demonstrations throughout the 12-day event.

Here’s what went down during our visit!

20220605_122938
20220605_123304
Live cooking demo in session
20220605_122948
20220605_123009

Thailand is known for its abundance of snacks. We saw a few that looked familiar, but also many new ones.

20220605_123155

Sweet basil seed drinks are popular in Thailand, with purported benefits such as helping to cool the body. They come in a variety of flavours, including pomegranate, honey, grape, orange, and more. We got a few bottles to try. Maybe it’s because our taste buds are spoiled by sugary drinks, but these tasted very mild. They were refreshing though!

20220605_123448
Traditional Thai clothing on display. Visitors were welcome to try them on and take photos as a souvenir, for a price.
Fun fact: traditional Thai clothing is called ‘chut thai’ — literally ‘Thai outfit’.
20220605_123814

There was an outdoor area as well with an open-air dining area, with booths selling street food such as som tam (salad), grilled meats, and beer. The stalls were divided into halal and non-halal sections. Food was a bit pricey, but I liked the atmosphere as it reminded me of the street food vibe you get in Thailand — the smells of food from the grill, smoke from the cooking, animated conversations wafting across the warm tropical air.

20220605_123936
My must-get while exploring Thai night markets — iced tea! Thai milk tea has a distinctively orange colour as they use orange blossom water, which is water distilled from the essence of flowers from orange trees. Some vendors substitute it with food colouring. There was also green tea, which is different from Japanese green tea, as it is mixed with milk and sugar.
20220605_123952
Staff preparing somtam, or Thai papaya salad.
20220605_124039
Stalls selling Thai beer like Singha and Chang.
20220605_145340
Chicken skewers fresh from the grill
20220605_145400
Thailand’s iconic Tomyum Mama noodles
20220605_145455
Deep fried baby crabs
20220605_184741

We had a great time checking out the stalls, and returned with a few packets of snacks in tow: a crispy baked rice cracker snack with salted egg and chilli squid flavour, as well as a crispy enoki mushroom snack that featured very fine, deep fried strands of mushroom that served as an excellent condiment with rice.

I’m happy to see that events are being held again after two years. Hopefully this is a sign of a better economy to come!

Image

We Watched a Star Wars Wayang Kulit Show @ Jaya One, PJ

It was a celebration of all things Star Wars at Jaya One recently, as “This is the May – Nar Shaddaa Day” – organized by the Star Wars Malaysia Fan Club (SWMFC) – held its first fan event after a two-year hiatus.

May, of course, is Star Wars month (May the 4th be with you!); and the event saw dozens of cosplayers, dressed to the nines in their best Star Wars outfits. There were also booths selling exclusive Star Wars merchandise, art exhibitions, games, puppet making workshops, and performances.

20220529_134233

I’m not a big Star Wars fan (I keep mixing up my Wookies and Ewoks), but I’ve seen the films, and I think the original Star Wars story was brilliant for its time, and yet to be paralleled in the world of science fiction and futuristic fantasy.

My main reason for coming here was actually to watch the Star Wars Wayang Kulit performance (more on that later!), but since we had some time before the performance, the Hubs and I explored the main concourse, where most of the booths were set up. There were some pretty nifty things on display, including limited edition toys, props, and collectors items from overseas.

20220529_134347
20220529_152858
20220529_152914
20220529_153132
Among the cosplayers were troopers, Mandalorians, a Queen Amidala, a Princess Leia, and Chewbacca, some of them armed with lightsabers. Speaking of lightsabers, there was a booth from a toy company selling custom lightsabers with interchangeable colours!
20220529_153530
20220529_153733
Loved these Star Wars themed earrings!
20220529_153809
20220529_141043

The highlight of the event for me was the Fusion Wayang Kulit show, a unique performance featuring traditional Malaysian puppetry (wayang kulit) fused with modern pop culture elements; in this case, Star Wars. It was held at the PJ Live Arts centre next to Jaya One’s main building. The puppets are made from leather, propped on sticks, and moved by the puppet master behind a screen.

Fusion Wayang Kulit was founded by Tintoy Chua and Take Huat in 2012, aimed at revitalizing the dying art by incorporating modern elements into it. The pair approached Kelantanese wayang kulit master (Tok Dhalang) Pak Dain for their project, taking meticulous care to ensure the roots of the plays are respected while giving it a breath of fresh air. The rest, as they say, is history. Fusion Wayang Kulit has since performed not just locally, but overseas. It was even acknowledged by LucasFilm and featured in the official Star Wars magazine!

Pak Dain himself performed the show. There were two parts: the traditional story which is an adaptation of the Hindu epic Ramayana, and the modern part which had characters and a story inspired by Star Wars.

To be honest, while I found the traditional puppets beautiful, the story was difficult for me to follow as it was presented in Kelantanese Malay (a dialect that is very different from standard Malay).

20220529_144549

There was a break in between the two sessions, where we were introduced to the concept behind Fusion Wayang Kulit, and how they designed the characters for the ‘new’ story. They’re all based on traditional characters, so “Sang Kala Veda” (Darth Vader) is based on the villain, while Puteri Leia is based on Rama’s wife, basically the heroine of the story.

The character designs are mind blowing. There’s so much attention to detail and respect for the source material, both new and old. Take Darth Vader’s face – which has been designed with fangs (similar to the villain), yet retains that triangular motif. We were also told that Malaysian wayang kulit is distinctly different from its Indonesian counterpart in terms of looks and design. Malaysian wayang kulit characters usually ride on ‘dragons’ or a platform of sorts (the Javanese version does not have this). So to suit the Star Wars theme, they made Darth Vader’s platform a smaller version of the Executor. Brilliant!

20220529_150643

Pak Dain performed the Star Wars story in standard Malay, which made it much easier to understand. Here Puteri Leia gives R2D2 the Death Star plans. Did I mention how beautiful the puppets are? They look modern yet traditional at the same time. Perfectly embodies the ‘fusion’ theme!

When the show ended, the audience gave a standing ovation. I truly hope that with this modernization of an ancient art form, they can continue to keep it alive and relevant to a new audience.

Sadly, there are not many puppet masters left in Kelantan, where Malaysian wayang kulit originates from. Once popular at family gatherings and other communal events, puppet shows were banned in Kelantan after the Islamic political party PAS came into power in 1990 (they banned it in 1998), as they deemed it “un-Islamic” (they also banned the Mak Yong, a traditional dance, but lifted this ban in 2019, subject to conditions). Now, wayang kulit shows can ONLY be performed at the cultural centre in Kota Bharu. Can’t help but feel like it’s a ‘token’ that they use to attract tourists, rather than a genuine art form celebrated for its historic value and artistry.

But I digress.

Even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, I highly recommend catching the Fusion Wayang Kulit show! Support the local arts, because I don’t think it’s promoted enough by the relevant bodies. To see ordinary Malaysians of different races and beliefs banding together to keep this old art form alive – not backed by any special funding, only driven by a love for the country and its arts – is, to me, the true spirit of Malaysia.

You can learn more about Fusion Wayang Kulit here. They also have a gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

Image

Big Bad Wolf 2020 – Malaysia’s Largest Book Sale Goes Online

Since 2009, Malaysian bibliophiles and book hoarders have made their annual pilgrimage to the Big Bad Wolf Sale, which is held every year around Feb/Mac or Nov/Dec and is touted as the largest book sale in the region. The last time I went in 2018, they had over 3 million titles!

20181209_151226
Buang balik #2018

Due to the pandemic, many events have had to be cancelled – so the BBW won’t be held physically this year. They are, however, having an online sale, so you can still shop for books from the comforts of your own home. The sale went live at midnight on Nov 4, and will run until Nov 11 (which is shorter than the usual BBW which usually runs for 2 weeks).

Now, although BBW and BookXCess (BBW’s parent company) has been around for some time, they’ve always been more of a brick-and-mortar business – as evidenced by their bookstores, which are all beautifully designed as ‘lifestyle hubs’ where you can sip on a coffee, work, study, etc. There is of course nothing wrong with this; I personally prefer physical bookstores and the joy of finding an awesome book hidden in a corner shelf , getting to inhale the smell of paper, touch the sleek edges of the page. Hmm.

20190810_164615
The BookXCess store at Tamarind Square, Cyberjaya is the largest bookstore in Malaysia, and it operated 24 hours a day (pre-pandemic)

But we are living in uncertain times, and many businesses have had to accelerate their digital processes and shift to a more online-centric model to cater to shifting consumer needs/demands. BBW’s first online sale will be a test as to how well it’ll be able to cope. So far, there seem to be a lot of teething problems.

Since going live at midnight, many users have complained that the website is inaccessible – probably due to the sheer amount of web traffic which is overloading their servers. When they do get in, some have problems creating an account, while others can’t browse because titles are not showing up on the pages. Still others have said their cart turns up empty after they’ve selected the items they want to purchase, and some users haven’t been able to checkout at all.

2020-11-04 (1)

I’m part of a local book group on FB, and these are just some of the frustrated comments:

2020-11-04 (2)
2020-11-04 (7)

Curious, I went to the website myself at around 11AM today. It loaded fine at first…

2020-11-04

But upon trying to register for an account:

2020-11-04 (6)

Tried again at 12.40PM and managed to get a form to fill up, but after filling it up and pressing ‘create account’, it cleared my data and requested for me to fill up my details again.

2020-11-04 (3)
BBW has at least acknowledged they’re having problems on their page.

Now I’m not trying to be mean here or say that they’re doing a shit job – I’m sure their IT department is working round-the-clock to resolve these issues, and despite how some people have commented that “Oh you should have been prepared knowing that there will be many people surfing your website”, I know Murphy’s Law applies – you can prepare for every possibility in the world, but things that will go wrong will go wrong.

But I also understand the frustration on the consumer’s side – one comment said it took them an hour to register an account, an hour to browse and select their books, and another hour to checkout because they had to keep refreshing the page – a total of four hours. In a digital-savvy world of instant gratification and convenient online shopping, four hours just doesn’t cut it.

That being said, there are also customers like these – which is when you know you’ve done something right with your brand:

2020-11-04 (4)
2020-11-04 (5)

If you do manage to get in, BBW 2020 does have great discounts, up to 90% off on 40,000 titles and with over two million books on sale. They also provide free shipping on orders above RM180. If you’re buying above RM300, you’re entitled to a further 10% discount with the code BBW10% off.

Anyway, I hope they manage to sort things out soon because I do think that they are doing a good thing – which is bringing books to customers. There are also many pros to going online, namely avoiding the crowd of shoppers and the massive traffic jams that are a signature of BBW sales every year.

PS: I initially wanted to browse some of the titles, but perhaps this is for the best seeing as I have a TBR pile from AS FAR BACK AS 2013 LMFAO I HATE MYSELF WHY AM I LIKE THIS LOL.

20181209_203857
These were from 2018. I have only managed to finish the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time wtf. Kill me.

Have you ordered books from the Big Bad Wolf Sale 2020? How was your experience?

Things To Do Over the Merdeka Weekend – August 2020

Monday (31 Aug) marks the 63rd Hari Kebangsaan or National Day, which commemorates the Federation of Malaya’s independence from British colonial rule. This year’s theme, aptly dubbed  ‘Malaysia Prihatin‘ (Malaysia Cares), is a tribute to our front liners who have worked tirelessly during this difficult time, and is also timely to foster a sense of community which is now even more important than ever. While celebrations will be much more subdued this year, there are still plenty of things that you can do to get into the patriotic spirit:

WATCH A PARADE… KINDA 

Sabah Malaysia Hari-Merdeka-2013-Parade-081
Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas via Wikimedia Commons

In light of the pandemic, the usual National Day parades and processions have been cancelled. BUT. You can still watch a pre-recorded version on TV. The contingents will march separately, and the footage will be stitched together to create the programme, with the aid of augmented reality and CGI. Now that’s a historic first! Pro: You won’t have to wake up super early to try and get a good spot at Dataran Putrajaya.

PARTICIPATE IN PATRIOTIC-THEMED ACTIVITIES / COMPETITIONS

No parade? No problem! The gov is organising a bunch of programmes with a national theme, including photography and public speaking contests, as well as colouring and drawing contests for kids. Submit your applications here.

VISIT HISTORIC LANDMARKS

Tugu Negara - National Monument

Photo via Flickr / Naz Amir

Since it’s a long weekend, this is the perfect time for some Cuti-Cuti Malaysia (whilst adhering to social distancing norms!) If you’re in KL, you can go on a historic trail and visit some of the city’s prominent landmarks, such as Tugu Negara (dedicated to the sacrifice of our armed forces), the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (formerly the offices of the British colonial administration) and Dataran Merdeka, where Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaimed our independence. There’s also the Petronas Twin Towers – which stand tall as a proud reminder of our country’s achievements.

JOIN A VIRTUAL RUN

pexels-tirachard-kumtanom-601177

There are a couple of virtual runs you can participate in, complete with medal and T-shirt. The only difference is that you’ll be running on your own, and measuring the distance based on the number of steps on your pacer. Heck, you can even ‘run’ 10 kilometres indoors! Another upside is that you’ll be able to pick your own route. Wear a Malaysian flag bandana for good measure.

GO ON A FOODIE TRIP

Image via needpix

Malaysians and food are inseparable  – and what better way to pay tribute to the national past time (eating) than by tucking into scrumptious local fare? Start off with some Nasi Lemak and Teh Tarik at Village Park, then perhaps Curry Noodles or Kuih Bakul at the Pudu ICC FoodCourt. For tea time, go cafe hopping around KL (I recommend Merchant’s Lane), and finish off your gastronomic adventure with dinner at the popular Jalan Alor. Some restaurants and cafes are offering special Merdeka-themed menus, such as MyBurgerLab with their Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang Burger, or Knowhere Bangsar’s Cita Rasa Gemilang, featuring 13 specially crafted dishes to represent the different states in Malaysia (Pizza Tempeh teratai, anyone?)

SUPPORT THE LOCAL ARTS SCENE 

Mass gatherings aren’t allowed, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut out entertainment completely. Show your support for local artists and performers by attending small-scale events. The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) in Sentul has reopened its doors, and they’re kicking things off with a series of cabaret shows over the Merdeka weekend. Love shopping? Get cool goods from local entrepreneurs and small businesses at The Linc KL’s pop-up market, which is happening from August 29 to 31.

 

So. Have you made plans ? 🙂

Registration of Marriage @ Thean Hou Temple, Kuala Lumpur

For non-Muslim Malaysian couples who wish to get married, there are a few places where you can get your marriage solemnized and registered; namely the National Registration Department, or a church, temple or association where they have an assistant registrar of marriages. In KL, Thean Hou Temple is a popular place for Chinese couples, as it is a beautiful venue that offers plenty of photo opportunities.

DSC_0706

My good friend Helen and her husband Hong initially planned to have their ROM here on May 20 (5/20 sounds like ‘wo ai ni’ / I love you – so it’s a very popular date! ) but due to the pandemic, it had to be postponed to July. Although the temple has reopened to the public, there are new SOPs in place – so be mindful of these when visiting for leisure, or if you’re attending someone’s ROM.

Note: This is a post on my experience attending an ROM as a guest, so I will not be including info on what documents you need / the procedure. Some useful links here and here. 

20200705_134928

Considered one of the most beautiful Chinese temples in KL, Thean Hou is eponymously named after its principal deity, the Heavenly Mother, aka Lady Mazu. Like many Chinese temples in Malaysia, the temple offers a blend of Buddhism, Taoism and cultural elements. Located atop a hill surrounded by lush greenery, the temple also has awesome views of the city and its surroundings, making it a popular tourist attraction.

To ensure health and safety, a canopy has been set up leading into the main building, with a clearly demarcated route – so you enter from one side and exit on another.

20200705_135140

The marriage registration office is located at the basement, where the temple’s food court and souvenir shops are. Before entering the premises, visitors will have to scan their details via QR code, and have their temperatures checked. Visitors are also required to wear face masks.

20200705_141414

The marriage registration office is divided into two sections. The front is a reception area of sorts – the couple gets a number, waits for it to be called, and then goes in to verify their details. Once that’s done, they can then proceed to rooms at the back where the actual solemnisation and signing takes place.

20200705_141401

Since ROMs are formal events, avoid wearing casual clothing like jeans, shorts or T-shirts and slippers.

20200705_141807

In light of the pandemic, only seven people are allowed into the room at any given time (including the couple). Helen had her sis/bro-in-law as witnesses, while Hong brought his parents and I was the +1 guest. So honoured to be part of their special day 🙂

In comparison to my own ROM at JPN (I got a rather chatty Assistant Registrar), Helen and Hong’s ceremony was quick and fuss-free. After signing some documents and exchanging rings, they were formally declared husband and wife in the eyes of the law, and given their marriage certificates. A life of wedded bliss awaits!

DSC_0615

 

20200705_145155

We made our way up to the shrine and the temple’s magnificent courtyard for some photos. It was a Saturday but the temple was quite empty, so observing social distancing was not a problem.

DSC_0635

 

20200705_150315

After the photo taking, the new couple left and I hung around abit more to explore/pray/snap more photos.

20200705_150629

 

20200705_151318

There are new SOPs to observe when entering the prayer hall. Temple volunteers are at hand to control visitor traffic, and there are clear indicators on the ground as to where you’re supposed to go – as much as possible, they want visitors to follow these marks when offering up prayers.

20200705_151347

Vivid painting of a ‘door guard’ – images of fierce general-gods that are meant to protect the temple and keep evil spirits away.

DSC_0700

The principal deity at Thean Hou Temple –  the Mother Goddess. She is flanked by two other goddesses, Goddess of Mercy (Gwanyin) and Waterfront Goddess (Swei Mei). There are deity statues seated at the bottom of the large golden ones, surrounded by tall prayer light towers. Walls are lined with pictures of Bodhisattvas, donated by devotees to accumulate merits (or karma). You can get joss sticks outside by making a small donation.

20200705_151759

One of my favourite architectural fixtures at Thean Hou is the ceiling dome, which is intricately carved with a stunning pattern. The effect is mesmerising.

20200705_151531

Gone are the days of the traditional ‘kau chim‘ (fortune telling) where you shake a bunch of sticks until one falls out and you get a reading from the resident monk or fortune teller. These days, you grab the sticks from a holder, bunch them up and toss them. You get the number from whichever stick is poking out above the rest, then look for the corresponding number from the drawer and get your fortune. Hand sanisiters are placed next to them so you can sanitise before and after.

20200705_151955

You don’t say. 2020 has been a shitty year for a lot of people. ha 

 

Note: Parking can be difficult to find in the area. If you are driving, the temple has a parking lot but a RM5 fee (channeled to the temple as a donation) applies.

 

 

Watch this Free Online Show To Support the Malaysian Performing Arts Scene: indicinelive! Quaranstream Edition

The coronavirus pandemic has affected many businesses and sectors – and with cancelled shows (going to theatres might be the last thing on people’s minds rn), the local performing arts scene has taken quite a hit.

Image courtesy of klpac

In support of those in the industry, indicinelive! (in-dee-SEE-nee-live) returns this year with a social-distancing compliant performance. Founded by Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac) former director-in-residence Kelvin Wong, the show first premiered in 2010 and satirises the insane society we live in through a high-octane line-up of everyday characters, familiar situations and parodies of songs we’ve hard and are all too familiar with. It has played to packed houses in KL, Penang, Melaka, Kuching and Singapore since its inception.

indicinelive! Quaranstream Edition brings the show to audiences at home, and will be the very first show created for an online premiere by The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat (TAS STR) and The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac). This first ever ‘digital show’ packs in 75 minutes of fun and laughter with brand-new sketches, character satires and song parodies inspired by the pandemic, the recent political shift, and how we see the ‘new normal’ world.

It features a freshly sanitised cast comprising alumni – Anrie Too, Dinesh Kumar, Jad Hidhir, Kamini Senthilathiban, Siti Farrah Abdullah, and Tiara Anchant – along with the new kids on the block – Jon Chew, Nabilah Hamid, and Oxford Tong. They will be performing fun-sized sketches by Adriana Nordin Manan, Terence Toh, Tung Jit Yang and head writer, Uihua Cheah.

Rounding up the team are multimedia designers Coebar Abel and Sebastian Ng, sound designer Clarence Chua and Production / Stage Manager Benedict Chin. Audiences can also expect a few surprise guest performers during the livestream.

The show will be livestreamed on klpac’s Facebook page on the 12th of June (Friday) 9pm, and admission is free – although you can support the ongoing fundraising campaign for klpac and The Actors Studio via an interactive approach. With its theatres closed, klpac and The Actors Studio’s losses have already exceed RM1.1 million. While its recent #SaveYourSeat campaign has raised crucial funds for the next two months, klpac requires RM132,000 per month and The Actors Studio RM25,000 per month to stay afloat.

As part of its fundraising efforts, klpac is also running an e-greeting service called Send-A-Song (link) which packages your message with a song sung by a local artiste into a video and delivers it to your loved one’s phone for a fee of RM50 only. Whether it is a heartfelt message to our loved ones, to thank our front liners or just to cheer a friend up, this is a meaningful gift that will help to keep the arts alive, one song at a time. We can help to keep the arts alive and the theatres running!

Both indicinelive! Quaranstream Edition and Send-A-Song is run on a profit sharing basis with the artistes where they will receive a portion of the proceeds. For indicinelive! donations will be split between artistes, klpac and TAS.

The performance will span approximately 75 minutes including pre and post show engagements, and is strictly for mature audiences only. Direct links to the livestream and donation mechanism will be distributed via klpac and indicinelive!’s social media channels.

facebook.com/theklpac/

A Malaysian Chinese Wedding – Part 2: Customs, Traditions and Culture

Hey guys!  Welcome to part 2 of A Malaysian Chinese Wedding! I previously blogged about the planning and preparation stage: items to get, where to rent dresses, engaging a photographer and chaperone, etc. which you can read here. 

This time around, I’ll be running through some of the customs and traditions involved, some of which I also experienced for the first time during the ceremony itself. So if you’ve always been curious about how a Malaysian-Chinese wedding is like, read on! 😉

Malaysian Chinese weddings are usually divided into two ‘sessions’ – a morning tea ceremony and a Chinese banquet dinner in the evening. These days, weddings are much more modern and Westernised, with some opting for garden-style luncheons instead. There’s no right or wrong: a wedding is meant to be a special day celebrating the union of two people and their families – so don’t feel pressured to organise one in a ‘specific’ way, especially if it’s beyond your means.

5.30 AM. 

Try to get a good night’s rest, because you definitely won’t be getting any on your wedding day. I slept for about two hours (thanks, anxiety!).

The tea ceremony typically begins in the early morning, around 8AM or 9AM, depending on the lucky hour that you’ve picked out based on your bazi (birthdate according to the Chinese almanac). Because Malaysian weather tends to be extremely hot, most chaperones (if you’ve engaged one) will advise you to start early and finish early, so that your guests wouldn’t be melting in the afternoon heat.

In our case, N was scheduled to arrive at my house around 8.45AM. My makeup artist needed about three hours to set my face and hair, so she was there by 5.30AM. Our photographer, James, arrived at around 6AM to get some photos and mood shots, then proceeded to N’s hotel (about 10 minutes away) to snap pictures of the groom’s preparations.

If the bride and groom’s places are too far away, you might need to allocate more time for your photographer, or engage 2 of them if you want photos and videos taken on both sides.

Neil & Eris-15

7.30 AM 

Neil & Eris-41

Our chaperone Ms Foong arrived at N’s hotel at 7.30AM. Usually, if the groom has a house, he will make his preparations there – but because N isn’t staying here permanently (yet), we rented a hotel room for him, my mom-in-law and sis-in-law at Four Points by Sheraton Puchong. For convenience, some couples can consider doing this if the distance between the groom’s and bride’s places is too far away.

The chaperone conducted a simple tea ceremony for N and his family. This is meant to show the groom’s appreciation to his parents for raising him, and also to ask for blessings. The groom’s ride (my cousins helped out as designated drivers) came to pick him up and they departed the hotel at 8.30AM.

8.30AM 

Relatives and friends started arriving. After sitting still for nearly three hours, I breathed a sigh of relief (hard to do with a corset on) – my makeup and hair was finally done!

Those who know me know that I’m quite a ‘cincai’ (chill?) person so I don’t wear any makeup other than eyeliner. Having falsies and contacts on was extremely uncomfortable; not to mention the corset, the tight dress and the heels – I just had to endure it for a day lol.

Neil & Eris-26

Taking photos while waiting for the groom to arrive.

You’ll actually be super busy during the entire ceremony, so this might be the only time you’ll be able to catch up with your jimui-s (bridesmaids) and relatives. You’re also not encouraged to leave the bridal chamber.

8.45AM 

Neil & Eris-61

The chaperone arrived ahead of the groom’s car to conduct a quick ceremony for my parents and me, similar to what was done with the groom but minus the tea drinking.

I basically had to perform a series of bows to my parents, to show my gratitude to them for raising me. Then they placed a red veil over my head, a sign of modesty. Traditionally, the veil can only be removed by the husband at night when the couple is in the bridal chamber – but in modern times, this is no longer practised.

9 A.M

Neil & Eris-60jpg

The groom arrives! We set off a row of firecrackers as welcome.

Neil & Eris-71

Moo and Pops receiving gifts from the groom. Chaperone livens up the mood with auspicious sayings.

Neil & Eris-72

A male relative from the bride’s family, in this case my brother, opens the door for the groom. The groom is not allowed to open the door on his own. The groom needs to prepare a bunch of red packets to give out – and he’ll be giving out a lot of them! The bro gets one for opening the door.

Neil & Eris-106

Not so fast! The groom and his groomsmen will have to face my gatekeepers ie bridesmaids.

Wedding door games are now part and parcel of many Chinese weddings in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and of course China. The groom and his groomsmen are subject to a series of fun challenges, which can be anything from popping balloons to dancing, singing or doing something embarrassing. The girls will also demand a ‘fee’ for letting the boys in – which is why the groom has to stand by with lots of red packets. It’s all in good fun, though!

Neil & Eris-97

My guy friends and my brother acted as groomsmen for N. (Thanks for being so sporting!) They were made to fish out mahjong tiles from a bucket of ice water, dance and sing.

After the games, the groom is finally allowed into the house, and receives blessings from the bride’s parents.

Neil & Eris-122

His “Am I really going through with this I’m going to regret it omg” face.

Neil & Eris-136

Exchange of rings. Guided by our chaperone, we then bow to each other several times – one for the groom, one for the bride, and one as a couple.

10 AM

Neil & Eris-146

Offering prayers to the gods. We didn’t pray to the ancestors because I don’t have an ancestral tablet at home.

We first offered joss sticks to the main deity in my house, Guanyin (the Buddhist goddess of Mercy), then Tudigong (God of the Soil, a Chinese folk deity) and finally Tiangong (Jade Emperor, the Taoist Heavenly Emperor).

If you’re of different faiths, like N and I (N is Christian), it’s best to check if they’re comfortable with the ceremony.

10.15AM 

Traditionally, after the tea ceremony at the bride’s place, the couple departs for the groom’s place, where they will be staying for good. The bride will only be allowed to return to visit her own family three days later (because patriarchy). Many modern families have done away with this.

We still had a symbolic ‘leaving the house’ ceremony, where we hopped into the car and drove a few rounds around the neighbourhood. While walking to the car, my dad shielded me with a red umbrella while my mom threw rice over it – to protect the couple from evil spirits that may be watching the house.

10.30AM 

Neil & Eris-164

The tea ceremony is an integral part of weddings in Chinese culture; one that has survived through the centuries. The ceremony is usually held at the bride’s place, then the groom’s, and is basically a way to show respect and gratitude to the elders in a family. Tea is served according to ‘rank’ ie parents, grandparents, then uncles and aunties, older married cousins, etc. Jewellery such as gold, as well as money in red packets, are given to the couple as gifts after the elder has been served.

Once the elders have been served, the younger/ unmarried cousins convey congratulatory wishes to the couple, and receive red packets in return.

11.15AM 

Neil & Eris-237

While the guests enjoyed the buffet spread under the outdoor canopy, my friends and I had a little Western-style bouquet tossing on the road.

11.45 AM 

Neil & Eris-251

I was starving at this point – thankfully, the next part of our ceremony involved my favourite activity: eating. Our chaperone had advised us to get 2 packets of chicken rice, which would be our first meal as a couple. I can’t remember exactly why a whole chicken thigh is needed, but knowing Chinese culture, it probably has something to do with prosperity lol. After feeding each other some chicken and rice we weren’t allowed to finish it 😦 we had to feed each other sweet dumplings in syrup, to symbolise sweet beginnings. The round shape of the dumplings signifies that our family will always be unified and complete.

Finally, the chaperone instructed me to take off my husband’s coat and hang it up – just as my mom-in-law had helped him put it on, it is now my duty as a wife to take care of my husband’s needs.

By this time, most of our guests had already left and I was finally able to finish up that chicken rice. I swear to god I had never tasted chicken rice so good. Best plate of chicken rice ever, lol.

1PM 

It took me forever to get my hairpins out, and by the time I was able to change out of my dress and into a T-shirt, it was already 1PM. An hour later (it felt like 2 minutes), my makeup artist arrived to get my makeup ready for the evening dinner. Sigh. Another three hours of sitting followed.

6.30 PM 

Neil & Eris-Dinner-7

Dinner that night was at Moon Palace Puchong. We arrived a little ahead of time to set up the reception table for guests as well as coordinate the photo slides with the banquet manager. Our dinner was a modest 10 tables – two for my friends, the rest for family / family friends.

For those unfamiliar with Chinese wedding banquet customs, guests are expected to give a small token of appreciation in the form of money in a red packet. This will help the couple to cover costs. While there is no set amount as to how much you can give, the unspoken minimum (for banquets organised in KL) is about RM100+. The amount collected during the banquet will be counted immediately and the balance of the banquet payment settled with the resto after the dinner is over.

Neil & Eris-Dinner-23

Our chaperone, who also acted as our emcee for the dinner.

Neil & Eris-Dinner-32

Cutting our fake wedding cake, which was provided by the restaurant.

Neil & Eris-Dinner-39

An extra service by our emcee, which involved combining two differently coloured sand into a bottle to symbolise the union of two individuals into one unit.

After our march-in and everyone was settled, the dishes were served.

20200222_202136

A selection of appetisers: fried items, cold cuts, bite-sized goodies.

20200222_203228

Herbal soup with abalone.

20200222_204728

Iberico pork ribs. These were excellent!

20200222_211129

Fried shrimp.

Neil & Eris-Dinner-52

In between the dishes, we had toasting sessions at each table.

You can discuss with your emcee on how you want the flow of your night to be. We actually had a short vow exchange ceremony, where each of us read a speech to the other on stage.

Neil & Eris-Dinner-92

Champagne pouring. The ‘champagne’ was really just apple juice.

Neil & Eris-Dinner-102

And finally, a family toast with my parents, N’s family and a few other close relatives. We’re supposed to give three cheers – one for the bride, one for the groom and one for the couple – and yell ‘yam seng’ (cheers in Cantonese) for as long as you can.

The dinner wrapped up by 10PM. We saw off guests, took some photos and settled payment with the resto. My left eye was looking pretty red and angry at this point, due to the contact lenses. It took several days to clear. Never wearing contacts if I can after this, lol.

Got home close to midnight, and N spent another hour getting my hair pins out, taking a shower before we could finally hit the bed.

Planning a wedding isn’t as glamourous as you think – there’s a lot of work involved plus a significant amount of stress. While there were some things that I wouldn’t have done if I had the choice (the dinner, for instance – it was more out of respect for my parents), I still think it was something very memorable which I will cherish looking back on in the years to come.