Ang Pau Long

(Translation:  Red Packet Casings)

We all know that Chinese New Year is just around the corner with all the blaring CNY music and the usual red-red decorations, and shops and banks giving out free red packet casings, more affectionately known as ang pau long.

I was at Popular Bookstore with mom this afternoon – as I was lining up to pay for some stationaries, in front of me stood a mother and daughter who appears to be a secondary school student (can’t miss the new, striking light blue uniform) I can’t help but overhear their conversation.

The mother was asking the cashier, in Hokkien, for those who don’t understand, please read the words in blue for translation.  I’m writing the conversation in red because… I don’t think I need to explain that.


The Mother:  Wa eh tahn ‘free’ eh ang pau long bo? (Can I get free red packet casings?)

Cashier:  Oh soli, lu toh boey beh koay goh-chap-khor ka eh tahn. (Oh sorry, you need to make a purchase of over RM50 to get them.)

The Mother turns to The Daughter.

The Mother: Knuah lah, wa to ka lu kong liau, ai beh mng knia mai beh tam po tam po.. beh cho chi eh ma… (See, I told you before, if you wanna buy your things, buy them all in one shot, not bit by bit)

Me: (Thinking) Ang pau long nia… (They’re only red packet casings…)

The Daughter: (At the same time) Ang pau long nia… (They’re only red packet casings…)

I was containing my laughter.

The Mother: Boh siang eh… Lu to boey eh hiau ‘differentiate’… etc. (It’s different, you need to know how to differentiate…etc.)


The Mother then went on and on with her philosophy on why she should obtain the free ang pau long’s to a point where I felt sorry for The Daughter.  When she finished and they were about to leave, seemed like The Mother wasn’t satisfied. She asked the Cashier if she could look at the casings, and then said something like “bo sui eh” (not nice wan) before taking her leave with pride.

I really didn’t know what to make of it – and when I told what happened to mom, she laughed too.  It’s so funny how people are so gungho to get free stuff, even red packet casings.  As if supermarkets and banks and stores don’t provide enough.  As far as I know, mom gets so many of them that we always have loads left to bring forward to next year.  And she doesn’t even have to even ask for them!

Anyone in the mood for CNY?  To me, I’m not a huge fan of all-things-red-and-loud and because I get very few days of holiday I prefer to spend them at home than to go out visiting.  Plus, family politics isn’t my cup of tea.  Sorry, I’m a brat like that.

Anyway, to all of you who are gearing up to collect as many angpaus as you can, let me give you the typical Chinese greeting, “GONG XI FA CAI and have a prosperous New Year!!!”

Here’s the not-so typical one:

“Reduce those box/can drinks and drink more water.  Too much sugar and coloring in those stuff.”