Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chinatown & Chinese New Year, Singapore

Like many countries in the world that has a 'Chinatown', Singapore's Chinatown is a location and an attraction in itself. However, foreign visitors who are visiting Singapore now, will be in for an additional treat when you drop by the area.

Year of the Horse!

One of my earliest memories as a kid during the Chinese New Year, would be our annual pilgrimage to Chinatown. My mother would bring me to shop for new clothes, taste/buy Chinese New Year goodies, and enjoy the festivities. 2 weeks leading to the Year, part of the roads and lanes within Chinatown would be lined with makeshift stalls selling all manner of Chinese New Year merchandise (notably Temple St, Pagoda St areas). While times have changed, and products have evolved (I saw stalls selling fibre broadband this year!), the festive air remained unchanged.

The stalls and festive atmosphere comes to life towards evening and when the night falls, that's when the traffic and crowds thicken. Most of the decor and designs would be related to the zodiac animal of the New Year. This year, you'll see lots of horse related decor and merchandise. During weekends (perhaps weekdays too), there will be performances such as lion dances and/or dragon dances. Red and gold colors dominate the visuals, and sounds of voices hawking their wares fill the air. For tourists, I would imagine this to be a great travel experience, and complete with a sampling of our Chinese New Year snacks! And for those who's keen to purchase something, and stays nearby, here's a tip - on Chinese New Year's eve, just few hours before the clock strikes 12, almost all the products would be sold at bargain prices!

'Red packets' - an essential item during our Chinese New Year! ;)

I have noticed too that in recent years, there's increasingly more hostels in Chinatown. For those who like to be in the thick of the action may consider staying within the area. Of course, be prepared for the noise! In any case, whoever's in Singapore now, check it out!

The crowds in Chinatown at night!

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