Jan 2019 - Chinese New Year in Chinatown
Chinese New Year in Chinatown, a walking tour with Billy Woo

Fourteen of us, all fitted out for the occasion with comfortable shoes, hats and umbrella, met up with our guide Billy Woo at the entrance of Central Market.


Billy immediately shared some interesting customs and traditions about the Chinese New Year celebration, and we all received an ‘angpow’, the red envelope containing money, which is given to all unmarried persons during the Chinese New Year Festival. We were lucky to receive this as most of us were indeed married!


We learnt about the food that must be served, why red is the colour of the celebration, why there are fireworks, the meaning of the different days of the celebration up to the final, 15th day, when young girls throw mandarin oranges into the river or sea in order to find a good husband.


This coming year will be the year of the Pig. It will apparently be a relaxing year, where people will take things easy. We all thought that this was good news for a start!


We then made our way to the oldest part of Kuala Lumpur, where it was founded 160 years ago at the confluence of the Gombak and Klang rivers, giving it its name ‘muddy confluence’. Kuala Lumpur was then a tin mining town. We could still see some of the old gold smith shops from which the workers in the tin mines used to send their hard earned money to their families in China. These gold smith shops were the trusted bankers at the time. Conveniently close by was the ‘red light’ district where the miners could spend their remaining money.


This historic centre of the City behind the Central Market was started by Capitan Yap Ah Loy, an important figure at the time who played a crucial role in developing the city as a commercial tin mining centre.


The 'Sin Sze Si Ya' temple nearby was next on our walk. This temple was founded by Yap Ah Loy and is the oldest temple in Kuala Lumpur.


It was interesting to see the preparations in the temple for the Chinese New Year. The first day of the New Year is the day when people will visit the temples.


As we continued to walk through Chinatown we passed shops and stalls selling flowers and food typical for the festival.There was lucky bamboo, pussy willows, cookies and sweets, and also a kind of sweet, sticky cake, which is offered to the kitchen god. The kitchen god has to report to the main gods what went on in the household during the year. With this sweet cake his lips will stick together and he won’t be able to report anything bad!


Next stop was the ‘Shi Quan Tea Shop’ where we had an interesting tea tasting. We learned a lot about the different preparations for different teas and the various properties of those teas.


Billy then led us through some back lanes, past the best Pork Noodle Shop,and  some shops selling ‘Cheongsams’, ready -made or tailored to your specifications. On the way we again encountered various Chinese New Year delicacies.


Our final destination was the 'Chan Ancestral Hall', which is a clan association house for people with the same surname, Chan, Chang, Chin or Chen. The building is quite impressive and the interior is beautiful. The building was declared a protected heritage building of national importance in 2006.  We even had a member of this big clan amongst our little group of MCG members, Enak! Convenor Rosemary Chin!


After taking some group photos we ended the tour and went off to buy all those wonderful delicacies and flowers that we admired on our tour!


Many thanks to our very knowledgeable and entertaining guide Billy Woo.



Marianne Khor