Celebrating Chinese New Year in Asia

To celebrate my first Chinese New Year in Asia, I left the jungle and headed to Kota Kinabalu (everyone calls it “KK”), the largest city in Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo. I was really interested to see how people celebrate; apparently not enough to do any homework on what Chinese New Year actually is. Oops!

For those of you that are as ignorant as I was, it’s a family holiday, similar to the way Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. So there were no big parties with the irrational excitement of elaborate countdowns signifying the exact moment of the new year. Instead I found myself in a predominantly conservative Muslim country (read: doesn’t drink) in a city with 11 bars, on a night that’s least likely to have any energy at the bars. Hmm… Still it was a good time.

We ate at the night market with the locals (dinner for them, appetizer for us). Look at all of that goodness!

Afterward we ate our actual dinner along the beautiful waterfront where most of the bars are.

All except 1 were empty, with more staff than patrons. There’s two more bars clustered on our part of town (10 minute walk), and another nearby. We finally found one to stop by with a live band, and the singer certainly wasn’t expecting us… (more in the next post)

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