In August we got to attend celebrations for Indonesia's Independence Day anniversary celebrations in Surabaya. 

On 17 August 2015 employees at the iconic Hotel Majapahit in Surabaya, Indonesia, paused to remember an historic occasion at the site where world history pivoted in a new direction.

In Java you can find a number of epic locations to experience and photograph. If you're reasonably fit and are up to climbing a slightly hazardous mountain path (due to slippery stones on a fairly steep trail), then Ijen Crater should definitely get on your short list.

After a strenuous walk up a wide path in the dark, you descend down a narrow zig-zagged trail to the bottom of the crater. As you enter the crater you'll enveloped from time to time by whiffs of rotten egg sulfur smells.

We expect to see frequent news items about World War I centennial commemorations. Nearly all of them will be held in France or nearby. But this week there was a World War I battle commemoration held near the spot where scores of Russian & French sailors died in a little known but deadly battle in Malaya (now Malaysia). 

There's a fishing village on Penang's border.  Here you find a long-kept & unique tradition. The fishing village is called Kuala Muda. They run a fish market, &  hold an auction to sell their catch. But what’s really unique is that for some wildly bizarre reason they hold a whispering auction.

During the Chinese Spirits of the 7th Month (known by the misnomer “the Hungry Ghost) Festival, many Chinese communities in Malaysia & Singapore hold traditional Chinese opera using human actors, but only a few places still put on Chinese puppet shows. 


Aidul Adha or Hari Raya Haji (Pilgrim’s Holy Day) or Hari Raya Korban (Holy Day of the Sacrifice) is Islam’s holy day when Muslims annually remember the prophet Abraham’s sacrifice of his son to Allah, interrupted by Allah as Allah provided a substitute animal to die in the place of Abraham’s descendants.

Not everything is strictly traditional about how the Chinese in Penang, Malaysia celebrate the Spirits of the 7th Month “Hungry Ghost” Festival.  Chinese opera—in either Hokkien & Teowchew styles predominate, & there’s the rare traditional Chinese puppet show to entertain the sudden population explosion of spirits walking around.  But the modern world has invaded tradition as well, and most locales celebrating the festival also include some modern-styled Chinese entertainment.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part for many Malaysian Chinese during the Spirits of the 7th Month (aka "Hungry Ghost") Festival is the big communal meal that every active site holds. 

An active site means—among other things—a place where there’s a temple or shrine of some sort (they’re nearly everywhere in Penang), a medium to lead sacerdotal duties, a stage & a Chinese opera troupe. 

Apart from Taiwan, there may be no other place in the world today where so many Chinese continue to preserve their ancient religious traditions. Mao Zedong seemingly obliterated most traditional Chinese religionist practices in Mainland China.

Among the Chinese of Malaysia—particularly in the Chinese populations of Penang—these traditions don’t merely survive; they thrive.