Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween Expat Style

The Green LEGO Ninjago, Shy Guy from Super Mario Brothers and Space Girl

Whew! I've just wrapped up our Halloween festivities, and it's been a lot of fun. No, not all the kids are asleep, yet. They're still hyped up from all the excitement.

Malaysia doesn't celebrate Halloween very much. No one goes door-to-door through a neighborhood collecting candy from strangers. A few restaurants had Halloween brunches, there's a Halloween kids disco this upcoming Friday at The G Spot, and one mall was swarmed by trick-or-treaters this past weekend. 

It takes a lot of planning and creativity to pull off an American-style celebration. Last year, our first Halloween abroad, we trick-or-treated en masse to a few condos in our complex who had agreed ahead of time to hand out candy. Let me tell you, cramming 25-30 people into two elevators was more excitement than we really wanted. This year, we were inspired by Facebook posts from people mentioning trunk-or-treats and decided to try something along that line. (In Malaysia, you would call it a "boot-or-treat," but that doesn't have the same ring to it.) We rented out the recreation room in our complex and asked others to help out by hosting activity tables -- no car trunks for us -- or bringing food and candy. A few locals asked to be included since they are, to quote them, "very interested in experiencing this American holiday."

The preparations started a few weeks ahead of time with trips to the store. Cold Storage had a few very expensive bags of Halloween candy imported from the USA. Does US$11 for 10 ounces of Candy Corn M&M's sound pricey to you? Another store called Young Ones had a few decorations. Most of our decor was cut up black plastic bags and poster board or cutesy items I shipped over from Texas.

All in all, it's like how I picture the  American Halloween retail experience back in the 60's. We had our pick of angel, devil, fairy, ghoul, witch or pirate costumes. Nothing identifiable from any movies or TV shows was on the racks. And all the masks are the hard, molded plastic type with holes for the eyes and an elastic around the back to hold it on your head. My girl went with a hand-me-down outfit from her costume box, and my boys made their own. That green Ninjago hood you see -- it's a T-shirt pulled over his mouth with the back flipped over his head. He cut out pieces of green felt and safety pinned it to his shirt for extra snazziness.

A room with glass walls, tropical climate and no air-conditioning = A very sweaty Halloween

I think it's interesting that Singapore, just to the south of Malaysia, has a much bigger Halloween celebration. My Texas friend there expected over a thousand people to come by her home. She lives in an area with lots of Americans, so Singaporeans head to those neighborhoods on October 31. We were there last Saturday and were mesmerized by the number of people roaming Clarke Quay in costume. Many of these were dressed as zombies. I saw a couple zombie tours with one regular looking guide waving a glow stick and leading a pack of the undead down the sidewalk. Our restaurant was staffed entirely by zombies! Yet, we managed to ward off all attacks and made it back to Penang with our brains intact.

Where are those Bennet sisters when you need them?

Happy Halloween! Have fun trick-or-treating and have a piece of candy for me.

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