I came down from the Bukit Mertajam hill at Cherok Tokun this afternoon with my mind still undecided whether or not to go out to the city for the Chinese New Year cultural and heritage celebration. At the last minute I said "why not?" and decided to go anyway. At six o'clock, the temperature would have cooled down by several degrees which would make walking along the streets more bearable than having to face the searingly hot afternoon sun.
But I was also anxious to avoid the traffic jam in the inner city. And I could see, as I turned into Beach Street from Weld Quay that it was going to be impossible to find any parking space near the centre of the activities. Accordingly, I made a detour to Penang Road and eventually parked the car at Khoo Sian Ewe Road.
This might seem like having to walk a long way but actually, it was not. If you take a slow walk - no worries because the celebration was still going to last a few more hours - and take in the sights around you, in no time you will have arrived at your destination.
So I arrived at the head of Acheen Street. The road had been closed to vehicular traffic and there was a mass of people already there. I turned right into Armenian Street, hoping to take a shorter route to Pitt Street and immediately, I walked smack straight into a Lion Dance that was just about ready to start. The first strikes at the drums pushed the waiting crowd even nearer the performers.
See how thick the crowd was. Everyone was milling around and movement was practically at a standstill. Even if I had wanted to continue with my walk down Armenian Street, it would not have been possible. What else was I to do but to stand around and enjoy the show as well. The failing light, however, made photography with my little Panasonic camera almost impossible. This reasonably sharp picture of the lion was only possible because the performers had paused dramatically in the middle of a choreographed movement.
All in, I think I spent about two hours at the celebration. My walk took me to the far end of Armenian Street where the Cheah Kongsi was, then a quick cross over to Ah Quee Street and Chulia Street before I finally walked back to my parked car. Of course, in the midst of all the celebration, there would be something like this which caught everyone's eyes. Not the street performers but rather, beggars taking full advantage of people coming down to the inner city. Strange that the Municipal Council of Penang Island had not chosen to clear the area of them.
Even at ten o'clock at night, traffic around the eateries and hawker centres was still horrendous. Maybe, this was a little tribute to people's main hobby of eating.