I know it’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything but, believe it or not, we’re still firmly in the week of back-to-back sightseeing and, unfortunately for you, dear reader, we’re only at Wednesday. Luckily for everyone I don’t think this will take too long. Wednesday day was a quiet affair, punctuated only with a little bit of shopping courtesy of the one-time-transvestite-favourite Bugis Street, because the evening was dedicated to Chinese New Years Eve. You always sort of hear about Chinese New Year at home but it’s not until you arrive in a country with a largely Chinese population that you realise what a big deal it is. Imagine if you rolled Christmas and New Years into one and added a little bit of Easter on the end, just for good measure. That’s Chinese New Year in Singapore. Leading up to the event people had me believing that Chinatown would be a ghost town because everyone would be at home, seeing in the New Year with their families. Obviously these people have never bothered to head down to Chinatown on New Years Eve because, if they had, they would have realised that it is absolutely packed with locals, revellers and tourists (of course). It had been a while since I had last been down to Chinatown, so I’d missed the assembling of the decorations, and although we couldn’t really see them very well, thanks to the heaving crowds, it was obvious that they were pretty impressive. 2015 is the year of the goat, or the sheep, or the ram (apparently the word for all three is interchangeable in Mandarin) which has lead to some brilliant goat-themed decorations and souvenirs all over Singapore.
As can only be imagined food street was pretty busy, but through some impressive manoeuvring we managed to settle ourselves in and sample some Chinese delights to mark the occasion… hokkien mee, spring rolls, chicken rice… all very Chinese! The place was packed with people so, although we wanted to wander around and look at the stalls and shops, which were selling everything from Chinese culinary delights, to handmade jewellery, to clothes, to cheap souvenirs, to Chinese crockery, it proved to be quite a challenge. We did manage to buy about 2000 sparklers in anticipation of midnight, but other than that we simply enjoyed the manic atmosphere and the sheer magic of it all. I had thought that Chinatown was mad the last time I visited, but it was a genteel street compared to this time around. As well as shops and food stalls there were hawkers shouting their wares, people doing magic tricks and putting on various other performances, Chinese comedians who might have been hilarious if we had understood what they were saying, and some excellent (and sometimes wonderfully tacky) Chinese New Year decorations for sale. It was a completely overwhelming experience but one I’m unlikely to ever have again.
Our initial plan was to stay in Chinatown to see in the New Year, but it was so rammed with people that we quickly realised this was never going to happen. Luckily for us Cheyenne has one of the best views of the city and was holding a mini-Chinese New Year get-together, so after we had tired of the crowds we decamped back to hers and counted down the hours to 12 in the only way possible, with alcohol. There were apparently fireworks in Chinatown, but because it’s a better view and because we thought they’d be more impressive we decided to watch the ones at Marina Bay. Now, I’m sure that all my avid readers will remember that last time I tried to see fireworks at Marina Bay I failed spectacularly. Well, not this time friends! I may have lucked out on regular New Year, but on Chinese New Year I had the best view in the city, and thanks to the momentous occasion that CNY is we got to experience a 15 minute firework extravaganza, against the auspicious backdrop of Marina Bay Sands. Because we were quite far away I cannot comment on whether the Singaporeans do fireworks like us Brits and accompany them with a backing track made up only of The War of the Worlds, the Rocky theme and Chariots of Fire, but that’s what was playing in my head.
After we had been thoroughly awed by the show we made a meal out of lighting the sparklers, suffered minor burns thanks to them, marvelled at the view of the city, and finally headed back home. Of course, being a major public holiday, public transport broke down, but we made it in one piece (just) and fell asleep marvelling at the crazy night we had just had.
Leah Out X
Sparkler photos courtesy of Christie 😀