Reflections of a Fire Monkey


Yesterday, to mark Chinese New Year, I went for a stroll at Bukit Gasing, one of my favourite hiking spots close to Kuala Lumpur. There seemed to be more monkeys about than usual – could they know it is the Year of the Monkey?

Fire Monkey Year

To be more exact it is the Year of the Fire Monkey. Each of the 12 zodiac signs under the Chinese calendar has 5 elements: wood, metal, fire, water and earth which rotate in turn so that each combination only comes round every 60 years.

Major Events 1956
Major events in the last Fire Monkey year, 1956: wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, birth of Thrifty Traveller, Red Army invades Hungary, first Eurovision Song Contest, Suez Crisis.

The last Fire Monkey year was in 1956 which is when I was born. How does it feel to be turning 60 this year? Well I guess I can’t call myself young anymore. I’ll finally have to admit to being middle aged.

60 is the new 40

Now that people are generally living longer and healthier lives it is time to recalibrate our definitions for ages. Here is my suggestion:

0 – 60 Young

60 – 80 Middle Aged

Over 80 Senior/Old Aged

Governments would be delighted to accept this proposal as it would give them an excuse to delay paying state pensions until the age of 80. Britain first introduced a limited state pension scheme in 1909 with payout for men over the age of 70. Since the average male life expectancy at the time was less than 50 it meant that few actually collected a pension. With male life expectancy in UK now nudging 80 it is not surprising that pensions are a heavy burden on the state’s finances.

Time to Slow Down?

Now that I am approaching middle age does this mean I will cutting back on my travels and hikes? On the contrary, I feel the need to do more. There are so many more places to visit and the clock is ticking, and time seems to accelerate as we get older. The plan is to press on, health permitting. I’ll update you on my 120th birthday.

6 thoughts on “Reflections of a Fire Monkey”

  1. Dont slow down 🙂
    I enjoy reading your blog, with lots of connection with the brits, the old war story, hill hiking, museum, city walk, old town history and all…. 🙂

  2. Hi,
    I am a wood monkey and I can tell you, at my age the years start to count. True, I am traveling a lot and my interest is undiminished. But in my hiking trips I am getting more and more cautious. Carpe diem, my friend!

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