Chap Goh Meh is the Penang equivalent of Valentine’s Day. An old story (about a beautiful maiden and her love-stricken suitor, what else?) transforms the fifteenth and final day of Chinese New Year into the pinnacle of romance on the island. Courting dances, concerts in the parks, and long strings of firecrackers are hard to miss throughout the day and night.
The celebration culminates with the annual Mandarin Orange Toss — a traditional way for young maidens to meet eligible bachelors. Girls take an orange, write their name and some contact info on it, and throw the fruit into the ocean; bachelors then swim or row out to grab an orange — both parties allowing fate to decide their potential relationship.
It’s a cute story that sounds both charming and personal, but these days all the girls get in on the fun — from little sister to grandma. Targets are set up in the water for girls with strong arms, and oranges are now sold in bulk for multiple chances at love. A fun tradition with an adorable backstory, it’s something I hadn’t heard of before coming here — even Wikipedia doesn’t describe this small-town tradition. A nice surprise to end a couple weeks of new years festivals. Now back to work!
Speaking of work, I’ve written a bit more of my story — up to the actual murder! I still need to add more branches for player choice, ensure the plot has no obvious holes to plug, and tie stronger themes throughout. But, after this part, players can actually start solving the case! I forget if I’ve mentioned it here, but my goal is to have the entire first murder written by the end of my time in Penang — not necessarily perfectly written, and not with all the permutations required, but something that a player could experience start to finish, without all of the graphics I’ll need to make it pretty. Let’s hope I stay on track, but if I don’t hit that deadline, I’ll let you know why and what I plan to do about it. As always, thanks for joining me on this journey!
Photos by Amanda Gansfield