Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rounding up some Chinese luck

The first few weeks of 2008 had me pinching myself to make sure that things really were going that wrong for me and my travels. Well, luckily February brought with it an opportunity to start all over again: Chinese New Year.

I was fortunate enough to celebrate the Year of the Rat with my family in Singapore. It only took a few iced teas and lucky chocolate coins for my woes to dissipate. Ok, so my aunt’s loving face and the festive atmosphere in Chinatown also helped.

Chinese lanterns and animated faces lit up the streets, where Chinese and tourists alike elbowed each other to get to the stalls with the best sales. Everything was discounted, from New Year’s decorations to bed linen.

We tried some Chinese sweets from a vendor, who opened his eyes as wide as possible and wildly gestured for us to stuff a plastic bag full of it, ‘only five dollar’. Later on we discovered that these sweets come in more flavours than just pineapple and peanut – try pumpkin and pepper, ugh!

The closer it got to midnight, the more people streamed into the streets until it became a human river and we couldn’t walk anymore but rather had to lean in the direction where we wanted to go.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the parade and the fireworks but I did see a few dragon masks and dancers practicing in the streets. Anyway, I’m not much of a crowd person.

What matters is that I came away with a kitch red Chinese patterned fabric rat with big golden ears (I will call him Rattie) to hang on my bedroom door for all the good luck I clearly need.

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