The Endless Gifts of Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is an excellent holiday for many reasons, not the least of which is that we get two days off from school in its honor.  So on Monday, Prescott and I took a walk through our neighborhood to have lunch at Al-Ameen, a restaurant that serves a confusing combination of Malay, Indian, and “Thai Muslim” food.  But we loved the cooking, especially the kadai paneer.

We then wound our way up through the small houses that line the hill just south of our apartment.  When we reached the top, we could see our building in the distance:img_9728

As you can see, it’s been gray and sometimes rainy in Singapore of late.  This actually hasn’t been so bad, because it’s become unusually cool (note that “cool” here means highs of about 88 and lows around 75 at night).

We also found this elaborate fence on what we think is defense department property.  It looked a little ominous.


This sign offered good entertainment on the way back down.  No horning!


In the evening, I went downtown to see River Hongbao, a two-week-long celebration of all things Chinese New Year.  There are food stalls and kids’ rides and carnival games, all crowded with far more people than I’d expected.  There’s a stage that hosts a wide variety of performers — tumblers, dancers (K-Pop style, ballet, Chinese guys with fans), and singers sharing painfully bad music.  And of course there are roosters:


The Guardian of Wealth, riding a rooster boat, has a center seat:


By the way, that rooster figurehead shoots out “gold” (slips of shiny paper) every few hours,  and people wait with upturned umbrellas and newspaper cones to try to catch it.


There are glowing lanterns everywhere.  There’s one for every sign of the Chinese zodiac (why mine is a dalmatian, I can’t say):


An entire section of lanterns is dedicated to Sungei Buloh, one of our favorite Singapore nature reserves.



I love that they even have mudskipper lanterns!


Another display has beautiful flying fish:


But that same display also has a robot sitting next to a boy, which I found confusing.


There are robots all over, actually, which puzzled me.  How are robots (and their little robot dog) related to Chinese New Year?


The advertised highlight of the night is a fireworks show, which would be more accurately described as “a small fireworks show with lasers and some fire, plus “We Will Rock You” and sounds of a rooster crowing.”

The evening was delightful, if a bit surreal.  I was thrilled to find poffertjes — tiny Dutch pancakes — for the second time in Singapore.  The company selling them calls them “delicious, puffy little cuteness” and “deliciously addictive little baddies,” and I have to agree with both descriptions!


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