New Year’s Eve was extremely low key for us this year. I have been down with a cold and sinus infection for several days and 31 December was really my low point. I spent the day in bed and just felt miserable. I didn’t even have the energy to read! When Micah got home from work, he tried to order take out for dinner. But, predictably, the restaurant was swamped and we couldn’t get our order in. So he braved the mall to go to the grocery store to get something for dinner. Keep in mind, the mall also has the main subway stop for the entertainment district of KL, so I’m sure it was a madhouse at 7:30pm on New Year’s Eve.
We had heard that the celebrations were either cancelled or “low key” because of the various tragedies Malaysia has sustained this last year. In addition to the Malaysian Airlines flights lost and shot down earlier this year, Air Asia (which just lost a flight) is a Malaysian company and one region of the country is currently experiencing devastating flooding. So we were under the impression that there wouldn’t be any public celebrations, and I felt better about being a wet blanket and staying in bed.
While he was grocery shopping, Micah noticed that there were a lot of food vendors and people selling light up things setting up around the mall. He asked around and looked online, and as it turns out KLCC doesn’t do “low key.” It was the only celebration in the area that was still going on as planned. I’ve seen pictures of the fireworks at the Petronas Towers before and decided I would regret not going. So I did my best to rally. I must say, high humidity does not make breathing through extreme sinus congestion very easy! I’m glad I went, and very glad we live so close. (We left right after the fireworks ended and I was home and back in bed well before 1am.)
We left the hotel around 10:45 for the festivities starting at 11 and found a place in the huge crowd of people. They had a stage set up at the edge of the park across from the mall, with video projected on the side of the mall. They had popular musicians and singers performing as well as a show with amazing costumes. It reminded me of a drag show, the costumes, hair, and make up were so over the top, but given Malaysia’s generally conservative vibe I would be surprised if that’s what was actually happening. As the show wound down, the emcee assured us there would be a 10 second countdown projected on the screens. The clock hit 11:59, we waited patiently for the countdown to start, and all of a sudden the fireworks started! I guess whoever was in charge of starting the countdown clock missed their cue. The fireworks were nice, and set to music, and the fountains added extra fun. In order to get a picture of the fireworks with the Twin Towers in the background though, you’d have to be on the opposite side of the park.
Micah’s boss told us at the Christmas party that Chinese people regard “their” zodiac year as a bad luck year. (For example, I was born in the Year of the Monkey, so every time the Year of the Monkey comes around, it will be an unlucky year for me.) This is the Year of the Horse. The Chinese pronunciation of horse sounds like the first syllable in Malaysia, so he felt it was an unlucky year for Malaysia. Lots of Malaysians are looking forward to moving on to a better year in 2015, it was a very common theme from the emcee and performers on stage. I sure hope so. I don’t think anyone “deserves” to have a bad year or a good year, but after so much tragedy- statistically speaking- things have to start looking up soon for Malaysia. Seeing people reveling in the plaza was really fun, and hopefully a good sign of things to come for many Malaysians.
We are looking forward to big things in 2015. First up is a trip to Australia in two weeks! We hope that 2015 is a year full of blessings for you.
Coming soon: Navigating health care in Malaysia.