Thursday, February 13, 2020

Party time in Malaysia

Tossing the Prosperity Salad for
Chinese New Year on Marina Island.
Sort of a sedate food fight

Perry needed a few tweaks to get going after being out of the water for so long, but it wasn't too bad.

Mark petting the lion
We finished up the essentials and started out towards Langkawi, where we would pick up our new outboard engine, AIS wiring and antennas, and tachometers (all casualties of old age and/or months of disuse).

The boys with beautiful birthday-girl
Booker and Brenda (so many b's)
Before we left, we joined one last marina barbecue and a dock party to celebrate our good friend Booker's birthday (Dave and Booker on Tortuguita have a Privilege too). It was bittersweet to say goodbye ('for now') to all our cruiser friends, old and new.

The dock is substantial but still
wiggled a bit with all the visitors
We made sure to stop in Penang on our way to Langkawi. Our friends Patrick and Elizabeth of Labarque have been telling us about the Hindu festival Thaipusam for some time. We really wanted to go last year and couldn't make it. So this year, we did our best to get there.

The original silver chariot.
Unfortunately the lights weren't working.
We got up at 5 a.m. so that we could be there for the start of the chariots at 6 a.m. Bleary-eyed, we got there in time and then waited around with the devotees and other spectators for the chariots to start their processions to the Arulmigu Balathanda-yuthapani Temple

The gold chariot was bigger
and better this year (and its
lights were working)
The silver chariot is the "original" one but the upstart gold chariot is bigger and there is a brand new model this year. In past years there has been a bit of a rivalry between the two (like one chariot accusing the other of blocking its route) but they seem to have worked out their differences. The silver chariot seemed to have more followers. At least in the places we observed, there were many more devotees and offerings for the silver chariot.

Smashing coconuts
Even though the chariots only travel around 8 km (less than 5 miles) to the temple, the journey takes more than 12 hours because of the frequent stops for coconut throwing and offerings. On the day before Thaipusam, the chariots travel up to the temple and on the day after, they travel back down (another 12+ hours).

Pre-smashing coconut piles abound

Coconut cleaners at the ready
Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple
Devotees show their devotion through rituals involving piercings and by carrying offerings.

All these milk containers are held
directly onto the skin with hooks and pins

Not pictured are the people pulling
back on the lines connected to the hooks

Part of the festival involves feeding (for free) all the attendees.

Yep, each of those rods is pierced into his skin.

Another ritual is the shaving of your head. Twenty or
so barbers were working overtime...

In addition to Thaipusam, the weekend featured the final day of Chinese New Year (Chap Goh Meh) and-- best of all--Mark and Michael from Field Trip made a special trip to see us in Penang. It was a surprise for all three boys and they were ecstatic. It was a good thing we met in the park because of all the screaming, hugging, and jumping around. Mark and Conrad had not known when they might see their best friend again, so they truly treasured the visit.

Boat besties
We're now in Langkawi and have our duty-free booze, new outboard and AIS wiring and antenna. Once our package arrives, we will be able to head up to Thailand.

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