We're back in Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur. The Chinese New Year begins on 16 February, and it will be the Year of the Dog.
But the last time we were in KL, late November / early December 2014, I helped mother a lost little tiny kitten. The short version is that he somehow got into a hollow pillar in the dining room of the hotel where we were staying. He was rescued (through a removed electric outlet), and raised by the hostess for the dining room. For about a week or two, I gave him his post-breakfast bottle, then snuggled him as he napped, or played with him when he felt feisty.
And then we left for Vietnam. After very heartfelt good-byes to Comel the cat (pronounced cha-MELL) as well as all the kitchen and dining room staff, who all became friends with me as I helped feed the baby cat.
For anyone who wants to read his whole story, here are the links:
The kitty is lost: http://rollingluggagers.blogspot.my/2014/11/a-week-in-life-and-more-kitty-drama.html
The kitty is found: http://rollingluggagers.blogspot.my/2014/11/we-have-kitten.html
Breakfast with the kitty: http://rollingluggagers.blogspot.my/2014/11/breakfast-with-kitty.html
Continuing kitty: http://rollingluggagers.blogspot.my/2014/12/the-baby-cat-elephants-and-cat-child.html
Saying good-bye to the kitty and kitchen crew: http://rollingluggagers.blogspot.my/2014/12/and-its-one-two-three-what-are-we.html
What can I say, I'm a cat person. (In case you couldn't tell.)
Anyway, that particular hotel was booked for our arrival dates, so we're staying at the slightly more posh sister hotel on the other side of the intersection. I figured I'd go over to our original hotel to find out what is going on with my kitty buddy Comel and his mother Anna.
We arrived exhausted, since our flight left Sri Lanka at 7:30 AM (meaning arrive at the airport no later than 5:30 AM), so we went to the restaurant down in the lobby of our hotel for a bite of dinner.
And the new dining room hostess? Yes, Anna the kitty mother!
She looked up and recognized me instantly, just as I had recognized her. Before I had a chance to say more than "good evening," she had whipped out her phone and said, "You must see pictures of Comel, he is all grown now!" He has turned into a gorgeous big grey cat, and apparently is quite pampered and maybe even spoiled - he was posing regally for several photos, and looked very happy with his life. "My husband!" said Anna, proudly, and she and I laughed.
So my little baby cat buddy Comel is doing well and is well taken care of, and his adopted mother continues to adore him. Don't you love a happy ending to the story? I always do!
And back in Malaysia! It almost feels like a second home, although of course there have been changes in the past three years and a couple of months. The bus station next door no longer has as many vendors - that was always a good spot for a quick meal, but the many shops and stands are no longer there. The city has grown and there are more tall buildings on the skyline, though the KL Tower and the Petronas Towers still dominate.
And many places are the same. Our favorite local/Indian restaurant still serves wonderful biryani, though in Malaysia it's call briyani. The market is still down the road, and I'll get there to do some batiks. (Plus the dramatic thunderstorms are the same!)
Every place is gearing up for the Chinese New Year, hotels and shops are decorated with Year of the Dog signs. Most are cutesy, as in dogs in Chinese clothing. Or cartoony, in a very juvenile kind of way.
But one shop had a really great sign with a very Chinese style dog complete with chrysanthemums and all. I asked if it would be okay to take a photo of the sign, because this was the best dog I had seen. The young man said yes, no problem. After I had finished with my photos, he then handed me a package with five envelopes that had the same dog, in reverse. I thanked him very much, it was a lovely gift - and I think these are the kind of envelopes you put money in for gifts to people for the New Year. (The sign said you get this packet if you buy something in the store for 200 ringgit or more. I guess being a friendly traveller was close enough.)
Our hotel has red pussywillow for the New Year - and yes, the stems are rather red, so these are normal grey pussywillow steeped in red water to dye the fuzzy buds red. (I'd have thought they'd just go with red flowers, but I guess pussywillow is seen as a late winter/early spring flower? Though you'd think seasonal flowers wouldn't change much here, we're 3 degrees north of the equator.)
The supermarkets and grocery stores have lion dancer Happy New Year signs. Even Coca Cola has a special Happy New Year (or maybe good fortune for the New Year) cans!
Not everyone who is Chinese is celebrating the Chinese New Year. Malaysia is an interesting mix of people - there are the Malay and Bumiputera people, the original inhabitants along with some other smaller ethnic groups; the Chinese and Indians who came and stayed during various kingdoms; and Europeans arriving during the great age of exploration, colonizing and then centuries later leaving. Malaysians are rather mixed ethnically, although most of these groups have retained their distinct cultures adding to the broader Malaysian culture. Just as Deepavali (Diwali) is celebrated by more than the Hindu Malaysians, and Christmas is celebrated by more than the Christian Malaysians, so too is the Chinese New Year celebrated by more than Chinese Malaysians.
We're hoping for fireworks. We've been told that there aren't big organized fireworks displays. That families celebrate the New Year within the home.
We're hoping that those families have some fireworks stashed away to fire off into the night on 16 February! So that we too can help celebrate the Year of the Dog! (Rather ironic, though, considering how many poor dogs are terrified by fireworks.)
Richard is working on his dentist visits (and the dentist recognized us), and finding a good neurologist to get a second opinion on his back. Plus finding a physical therapy facility. We'll be in KL for a while, it seems.
Good thing there's so much to do, and that we like this city so much!