Penang Chingay, Lion & Dragon Dance Parade

Date: 14 December 2014
Time: 7.30pm – 11.00pm
Venue: Padang Brown to Esplanade


The Chingay Lion and Dragon Dance Parade will be strolling through the streets of Georgetown this weekend.  Colorful dancers will be doing the traditional lion and dragon dances.  Meanwhile, other dancers will be balancing long poles on fingers, foreheads, and whatnot.  There will be 30 dance troupes represented this year, as well as a float.

The Chingay Parade will start at Padang Brown, and wind its way down Datuk Keramat Road, Carnavron Road, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling and Light Street.  The grand finale will be on the Esplanade.

Visit DaveRayPhoto.com for a write up from a past Chingay event and  an impressive gallery of Chingay flagpole catching.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - December 8, 2014 at 10:37 AM

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What’s the difference between Independence Day and Malaysia Day

Every year, there are two public holidays in Malaysia that confuse me every year.  I look it up every year because, every year, I forget what I learned the year before.  In fact just two days ago, I told a friend the wrong information!  That’s how confused I get  There’s National Day, or Independence Day, in August.  Two weeks later there’s Malaysia Day in September. Both are public holidays, so what’s the difference?


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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - August 28, 2014 at 7:38 AM

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Hungry Ghost Festival Penang

Well the gates of hell are about to break open and hordes of demons will need to be appeased with song dance and food for the 7th month of the Chinese Lunar calendar.  Yes it is the Hungry Ghost Festival, widely observed (celebrated) here in Penang, Malaysia.  This year (2014) the festival starts on the 27th of July and will run for a whole lunar month, til the next full moon on the 24th of August.

This year the start of the festival will coincide with the end of the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan.  The big holiday, Hari Raya, marking the end of fasting, is going to be the second day of the Hungry Ghost festival.  It should be interesting to see how the two cultures work together, or work around each other during these days.

Traditional observance of the Hungry Ghost Festival

The story is that the gates of hell open up for the souls of Chinese ancestors to come to earth to wander, to bother, and to eat.  The living honor the dead, and appease them, by burning joss-paper, and paper maché material goods, like houses and clothes.

Chinese opera stages are set up and loud performances run through the night for the hungry ghosts.  For many a foreigner trying to sleep near these monstrosities, this highlights the hell-on-earth aspect of the festival.

Special Hungry Ghost Festival foods

The Hungry Ghost Festival is an opportunity to find some Chinese delicacies that only become available during this month.  Look around for a colorful sweet dessert called si koh th’ng.  You can find grilled cuttle fish and Jellyfish satay. 

Where to go in Penang

The Tourism Board has a facebook event page.  Follow the Living in Penang facebook page for event announcements as well.

4 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - July 23, 2014 at 1:36 PM

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George Town Heritage Celebrations

Georgetown World Heritage Site

In 2008, UNESCO declared the city of George Town, Penang to be a World Heritage Site giving it status as an important cultural nexus.  Every year, 7 July is a Public Holiday in Penang State to celebrate the anniversary of the declaraion.  There is an organization called the George Town World Heritage Inc that organizes events throughout the year promoting and preserving  the culture and the history of George Town.  The pinnacle of the year is the Heritage Day celebrations which will be on the 6th and 7th of July.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - June 27, 2014 at 2:32 PM

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Floating Chariot Procession

Living in Penang, you come to realize every day is a holiday.  Not in the sense that you can kick back and relax, in fact everyone I meet is on the move, working hard.  No I mean every day is some kind of celebration or observance for someone living here.  Right on the heels of Chinese New Year, which ends today with Chap Goh Meh, comes this weekend’s Floating Chariot Procession which will take place in Teluk Bahang.

Click to see a beautiful photoset of this event

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - February 14, 2014 at 10:08 AM

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Chap Goh Meh Chinese Valentines Day

Chap Goh Meh (sometimes spelled Chap Goh Mei) marks the last day of the Chinese New Year celebration.  It’s been two weeks of fun food and firecrackers, with Hokkien New Year being the halftime show.  Now it’s time for the unmarried ladies to go down to the Esplanade and throw oranges in the water.  Wait… uh why?
Chap Goh Meh Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - February 10, 2014 at 9:30 AM

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Hokkien New Year

The story is that long ago, during the Ming Dynasty, the ancestors of the Hokkien were hiding from bandits in the sugarcane fields during Chinese New Year. They prayed to the Jade Emperor, a diety also known as the King of Heaven. For eight days the intruders searched for them and could not find them, eventually giving up. On the ninth day, the Hokkien came out of hiding and celebrated, praising the Jade Emperor for protecting them. They celebrated the Chinese New Year 8 days late.

Welcome Lantern For The Snake

Here in Penang, the Chinese New Year celebration isn’t one day.  It lasts 15 days.  And the peak of it is today, the ninth day, Hokkien New Year.  The fireworks displays for this particular night outshadow (and out deafen) the ones from 8 nights ago.

Outside many of the temples, and some Buddhist homes are these massive incense sticks that burn for hours.  These are in honor of the Jade Emperor who protected them in the past.  Some also call this day the birthday of the Jade Emperor.

At the markets you can find some specialty foods and knick knacks  like thni kuih (sweet cakes), ang koo (red tortoise buns), mee koo (red-coloured buns), huat kuih (prosperity cakes) and bright pink miniature pagodas.

Sugarcane is everywhere for sale.  I’m told that in the past Perak Road was lined with sugarcane stalks.




photo by: Black_Claw

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - February 8, 2014 at 3:03 PM

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2014 Malaysia Public Holidays

Below is a list of the National and State Public Holidays for 2014. National and Penang Holidays are highlighted. Knowing the public holidays in advance can help you plan your time here or time away.

Date Public Holiday Applies to
01 January New Year’s Day National except Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis, Terenganu
14 January Mohammed’s birthday National
15 January Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan’s Birthday Negeri Sembilan
17 January Thaipusam Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Penang, Selangor
19 January Sultan of Kedah’s birthday Kedah
31 January Chinese New Year National
01 February Chinese New Year 2nd day National
01 February Federal Territory Day KL, Labuan, Putrajaya
04 March Installation Anniversary of Sultan of Terengganu Terengganu
15 April Declaration of Melaka as Historical City Melaka
18 April Good Friday Sabah, Sarawak
19 April Sultan of Perak’s birthday Perak
26 April Sultan of Terengganu’s birthday Terengganu
01 May Worker’s Day National
07 May Hari Hol Pahang Pahang
13 May Wesak Day National
17 May Tuanku Raja of Perlis’ birthday Perlis
30 May Kaamatan Harvest Festival Labuan, Sabah
31 May Kaamatan Harvest Festival Labuan, Sabah
01 June Gawai Dayak Festival Sarawak
02 June Gawai Dayak Festival Sarawak
05 June Israk and Mukraj Kedah, Negeri Sembilan, Perlis
07 June SPB Yang di Pertuan Agong’s birthday National
29 June Ramadan Begins Johor, Kedah, Melaka
07 July Anniversary of declaraion of Penang as World Heritage Site Penang
12 July Yang di-Pertua of Penang’s Birthday Penang
15 July Hari Nuzul Al-Quran Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Penang, Selangor, Terengganu
28 July Hari Raya Puasa National
29 July Hari Raya Puasa 2nd day National
31 August National Day National
06 September Yang di-Pertua of Sarawak’s birthday Sarawak
16 September Malaysia Day National
11 October Yang di-Pertua of Melaka’s birthday Melaka
05 October Hari Raya Qurban National
06 October Hari Raya Qurban 2nd day Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis, Terengganu
23 October Deepavali (replacement holiday) National execpt Labuan, Sarawak
24 October Sultan of Pahang’s birthday Pahang
25 October Awal Muharram 1435 Hijrah (Islamic New Year) National
12 November Sultan of Kelantan’s birthday Kelantan
22 November Sultan of Johor’s birthday Johor
29 November Hari Hol Almarhum Sultan Iskandar Johor
11 December Sultan of Selangor’s birthday Selangor
25 December Christmas day National

Some dates are subject to change. Replacement holidays are for when the actual holiday lands on a Sunday, the next weekday is given as a replacement holiday.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - December 9, 2013 at 4:26 PM

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2014 Malaysia School Holiday

The Ministry of Education released the 2014 Malaysia School Holiday Calendar.  These should be pretty definitive, but please note that these dates can change.  This list plus the public holidays calendar should help you in your travel planning.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - December 6, 2013 at 4:26 PM

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31 days: Thaipusam photo tour announced

31 days of Living in PenangI’ve mentioned the Thaipusam festival on the blog before.  It is a Hindu festival that happens every year in January.  It is a very colorful and exotic thing, and while I do not recommend it for younger children, it is something that you might be interested in experiencing.


Well our good friend Dave Ray will be running a photo tour here in Penang during the next Thaipusam Festival.  You will get to see the tour, embedded with the people, trailing the participants.  There will be opportunities to work with the other tour participants to learn new photography techniques, and story telling with photography.

The details can be found at Dave’s tour page.  The tour price includes the hotel and meals plus all the work Dave’s put into getting you into the heart of the festival.

Spaces are limited, so you need to sign up as quickly as possible.

In general, I think photo tours and photo workshops like these are a great way to get into the local culture.  The tour guide has done a lot of the legwork to get you an insider’s perspective, in this case into the Thaipusam festival.  The advantage of a photo tour over a regular tour is that 1) you can see what you’re going to see because the photographer often shows you the images you should be expecting to capture.  and 2) you take home with you all your images to remember what you’ve experienced.  I highly recommend photo tours and will be pointing out other photo tours in Penang as they come up.

[I have not been paid for promoting this tour, I just believe in the product and the photographer.]



1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - October 14, 2013 at 8:46 PM

Categories: 31 days, Activities, Holidays, Photography   Tags:

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