This pair of Pacific Swallows returned to my family house in Segamat, Johor and we welcomed Chinese New Year 2018 together with them literally under our roof:) Preparations to welcome the Year of Earth Dog had me whizzing my mum around town, as traffic more than tripled with Malaysian Chinese working outside of the District returning home once a year to be with their families. Malaysians from other States, travelers (and Singaporeans too:) fully utilized the long weekend for their holidays since Chinese New Year is one of the major public holidays in Malaysia. My sister had returned earlier from Singapore and with her help, errands and chores were completed twice as fast. Subway sandwich shop had opened up in Segamat, and my father had also eagerly informed us that there was a spanking new Riverside open-air cafe cum food centre just next to the Segamat river - hope this cafe doesn't go underwater when monsoon season arrives. We visited the temples early in the morning on the first day of Chinese New Year. The purple water hyacinth was in full bloom at the back of the Jalan Muar temple. Potted flowers and tangerines (inedible due to the amount of pesticide sprayed to keep insects away) added colour to the temple grounds. We had just missed the lion dance which according to my mother did perform at the Goddess of Mercy (Guan Yin Ma) temple in Kampung Abdullah on the first day (morning session). The lion dancers performed at this village temple in 2017 but during the afternoon of first day of CNY (much to the delight of my niece and nephew from Australia who was home in Malaysia that year). We had vegetarian meals on the first day of CNY which included steamed fluffy vegetarian buns. IP Man 3 was the CNY Day 1 movie in 2018 and Donnie Yen portrayed the teacher of Bruce Lee brilliantly. IP Man was the Chinese name of this Wing Chun kungfu practitioner and his loyalty to and love for his country, friends, family and his integrity and honesty in the face of overwhelming odds (at a time when corruption and racism against the Chinese were common in China and Hong Kong), were exemplary indeed. I think every Chinese in the world can relate to the universal values that IP Man embody. You can watch the trailer of IP Man 3 here.
A little bit of birdwatching in my hometown on 14th February revealed, among others a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills which appeared to be nesting in a tree next to a very busy inner road. I birdwatched at a safe distance since this road curves upwards and downwards on a hill. Was very glad to see the hornbills choose this tree since motorists would be busy concentrating on the road, and not on them:) The list of birds have been entered in eBird Malaysia portal. I'd like to end this blog by sharing some pictures of the Pacific Swallow pair that have become a part of my family home. Chinese New Year wouldn't be complete without seeing this pair and their presence truly heralded the coming of Spring in a hot tropical country like Malaysia!