How is your preparation for the Chinese New Year coming along?
Luckily for us, we started Spring Cleaning early this year. We spread the chores
over the span of several weekends so it wasn’t really a chore to us.
There is no point pushing everything off till the last minute because we still have to do it in the end and not to mention that it’s hard work having to finish off everything at one shot.Recently, my Dad was diagnosed with diabetes but thank God his was just a minor one. No medication needed but he has to watch his diet to keep his condition under control
As a result, we didn’t buy a lot of festive goodies this year due to health reasons.
That means, no Pineapple Tarts, no Bah Kwa and no tainted Melon Seeds from China…
Except for our salary, everything else is going up which includes our glucose levels, cholesterol and blood pressure…
Therefore, go easy on those Bah Kwa and soft drinks, will you?
Afterall, health is wealth, right?
Happy Chinese New Year!
Pearl’s Center, the tallest landmark in Chinatown
You can find waxed-anything here…
From Lup Cheong (Waxed Sausages)…
…to Waxed Duck and Fish
Okay, maybe NOT everything…
What do you call 佛手瓜 in English?
Accessories for you to hang on the Pussy Willow
Customized car plates!
I loved these little tigers!
What are these?
Festive red everywhere!
Trishaw outside the Chinatown Heritage Centre
People queuing up for Bah Kwa outside Lim Chee Guan
Even foreign workers are queuing!
I think they were under orders from their boss to queue for the BBQ pork.
Here’s wishing everyone a Healthy and Happy New Year!
Are you ready for…
Sin Ming and Balestier, that is…
These places reminded me of death, especially Sin Ming.
Just look at the number of funeral palours and the columbarium at Tze Dor Am Temple. It’s a place of grief, where the living and the dead are separated. It is also where the dead are cremated into ashes.
It’s always with a heavy heart that I dragged myself there.
We were there today, at Tze Dor Am Temple, to pray to my Grandparents and small uncle who died in a traffic accident when his motorbike flipped over. He was young, only in his early twenties when he died. I remembered I was only in primary two at that time.
The gate to Tze Dor Am
The ceramic lion standing guard outside the main hall.
After paying our respects to the various Buddhas at the main hall, we proceeded to the other side where we prayed to our ancestors. The place was thronging with people and the smoke from the incense stung my eyes till they teared.
The sun was scorching hot and the tables that were in the shade were all taken. We had no other options except to made do with one that was out in the open under the sun. We set up the offerings we’ve prepared, and invited my Grandparents and small uncle to come out to eat alfresco-styled.
In contrast to the vegetarian dishes which we’ve prepared, our neighbors had a spread of chicken rice, spare ribs and whatever delicacies you can think of. It’s interesting to see what other people are burning to their loved ones. Other than the normal clothes, cars, beach-side bungalows, money, dim-sum, gold bar and what-nots, I realized that the latest Spring/Summer collection down there now is LV. I’ve seen LV wallets, LV handbags and even LV luggage bags.
After a while, we went to the basement where the urns were closely placed on shelves that reached high into the ceiling. The lights are dim and the air just smells so bad I couldn’t stay down there for long!
I don’t like Balestier either.
Like a routine each year, after paying our respects at Tze Dor Am Temple, we would proceed to 大悲院 at Balestier to pray to my 契爷 who is actually my dad’s other brother who died during childbirth. Many years after he died, my Grandma ‘saw’ him at the living room with a girl he’d met down there and they wanted to tie the knot. My Grandma went to the medium and they managed to track down the girl’s family thus, a Yin marriage was arranged.
The medium told my Grandma something about them without having a heir and just at that time, my mum was pregnant with me, thus, I became “the chosen one” to be their 契仔so that there will be someone to offer them joss-sticks .
I don’t know whether to believe in this as it happened way before I was even born. I only knew that from the day I could talk and walk, I had to come to this temple to pray to my 契爷and 契妈 during every Tomb-Sweeping Festival.
This antique bookshelf from 大悲院watched me grew up literally.
They had a new Four-Faced Buddha erected there in the courtyard. It wasn’t here the previous year when I came.
Thank goodness, we’ve already dug everyone out of Lim Chu Kang Cemetery in time and placed them in Columbariums. If not, we would be caught without out ICs in the search for Mas Selamat.
How about you?
Is there somewhere which you dread to go?
I was at Chinatown yesterday to immerse myself in the festive spirits.
When I got there, the streets was filled with thousands and thousands of people out for a good bargain at the LNY bazaar. It was literally people mountain people sea and it was almost impossible to walk. The ground that I was treading on was filled with potholes of dirty water due to the rain earlier and I had to take small little steps to manoeuvre myself round them. I’m effing mad with those irritating idiots who stood in my way, refusing to budge and blocking everyone’s way. I had to shovel and elbow my way just to move forward.
I was so busy watching out for potholes that I didn’t have a good look at the different wares each stall had for sale but most of the stalls I managed to see are hawking the same muah chee candy from Taiwan. Piang…
Very soon, I ventured into the Chinatown Food Street where there are significantly lesser people. Seriously, I find the food here way overpriced. A small pathetic bowl of wanton mee here costs $4! That is daylight robbery!
I’m afraid the poor carrot head who was conned into parting with that $4 was yours truly. I shudder to think of the other poor unsuspecting ang mohs who fall prey to such evils! As I finished the very last strand of mee in my bowl, I sat up straight and immediately, what came before my eyes was the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
I was dumbstruck by the sheer sight of the temple because the exterior of the architecture was really a magnificent sight to behold!
Was that a sign? A sign of what? Is Buddha trying to tell me something? Have I gained enlightenment already?
Thus, I make my way towards it and paid my virgin visit the temple. The interior was 金碧辉煌and really 庄严。This has got to be the most 金光闪闪 temple I had ever gone to!
I realised that there was a 浴佛 service so like everyone else, I queue up and waited for my turn to pray for my parents’ good health and harmony in the family.
By that time, the temple was closing soon hence I made my way to the pasar malam over at Neil Street. I walked one round and realised there was nothing much to see so I went to take a bus home. Too bad I had forgotten to bring along my camera so I was unable to take pictures of Mickey Mouse lion-dancing and Pooh Bear dragon-dancing.
Accompanied my parents to SA Tours to book their tickets to China. They’ll be leaving next week for a seven day tour which means, I’ll be jaga-ling the house all by myself for seven days. After confirming their seats on the plane, we went walking around Chinatown checking out the exchange rates with all the money changers we could find.
After that, we went to the food centre beside OG to have our dinner. My dad ordered Roast Duck and Claypot Fish Head but both dishes are not to my liking. The duck is a tad too salty while the fish had a very ‘muddy’ taste, which I believed is farm raised instead of wild-caught.
After dinner, we went inside OG to look around for CNY clothes but nothing caught my eye. We then crossed the overhead bridge to the video store on the other side at Smith Street. Actually, this video store is the only motivation which makes me want to come to Chinatown.
DVDs are going for less than $10 and some titles are even as low as $5! Of course, these are parellel imports but the quality is good enough for me albeit it may not have some of the special features found in the originals.
For me, I don’t need ‘special features’ as long as I could select languages and subtitles.
(Left – Right) Laputa, Spiderman 3 (top), Pirates of the Carribean (bottom), Die Hard 4.0