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Day 1 Highlights

Snorkelling at Bunaken Island + TIPS? 

Christ Blessing Statue 

Dinner at Wisata Bahari Seafood Restaurant 

Manado, capital city of North Sulawesi province of Indonesia. With majority of the locals being Christians, it is not uncommon to see so many churches just within walking distance from each other. Sitting in the van, passing through a village or city centre, the number of churches that zoomed us by was just endless, initially befuddling I have to add. A peaceful place to visit for a nice relaxing getaway with the entire family.

Blessed with weather that was perfect enough despite being close to wet/rainy season (November – April), was something I cannot complaint about. Surely it was not blazing shaft of sunlight piercing through the cloudless sky, such that the waters in the surrounding seas are crystal clear with no washed up debris. But at least, it was not raining or melancholic that water activities would have to be unfortunately cancelled.

It was a short family vacation of just a few days, and 2 of those days were imperatively well spent with Safari Tours & Travel Co. in Manado. So let’s jump right into Day 1 of it!

 

Day 1 Highlights: Snorkelling at Bunaken Island + TIPS

To me, snorkelling was the highlight activity during this entire Manado trip. I was very much excited for it. This was my first time snorkelling with my family as sidekicks. The most recent snorkelling was in the Philippines- whale shark watching (which I hardly feel it was snorkelling at all, considering the fact that I was trying to brave through my fear, haha!)

Click here if you are interested in my whale shark watching experience!

For those ardent scuba divers, Bunaken Island which is just a quick boat ride away from Manado, would definitely be a top diving spot. I am not a diver, but even just mere surface snorkelling and glass bottom boat viewing was quite enough to entice me. Could only imagine a whole new world if I would be able to dive into the sea at least 1000 metres down under to appreciate the walls of the magnificent coral gardens and the amazing biodiversity!

IMG_7554

The Safari Tours & Travel Co.’s van came to pick us from our resort at around 9.30 am to the jetty, and by 11 am (ish), we were engaged in the first mini activity of the day: glass bottom boat viewing of the corals and marine wildlife!

The boat ride to the viewing vicinity of corals was about a half hour or so. It was definitely a nice start to the morning with the sea breeze just howling and pressing against your skin as the boat advanced towards Bunaken Island!

The glass bottom boat viewing was pretty nice; we get to see some vivid colours of coral colonies, fishes, turtles, and even blue starfishes! It was pretty cool. And for members of the family not into snorkelling, at least they wouldn’t miss out on this aspect.

After glass bottom boat viewing, we disembarked on Bunaken Island for just a short while to get our entrance ticket/tag to the Bunaken National Marine Park. It was IDR $150k per person, and the validity of it is an entire calendar year. You will get a waterproof laminated entrance tag that you will need to bring along with you as proof when there would be any random checks by the park rangers on land or at sea. The laminated tag was also a nice souvenir to bring home! 😀

Then the main highlight of the day: snorkelling! YAY! 😀

We got geared up with life vests provided and into the ocean we went! While everyone was all busy fitting into their life vests, first into the waters was my elder brother- all so very eager to try out his new snorkelling gear in the ocean.

It was an enjoyable and definitely memorable snorkelling experience, for the fact that my father got drifted quite away from the main coral colony; and the boat man had to throw in a safety float to pull him in towards the boat.

It was close to wet season, thus the water current was a little strong. We all had an arduous swim just to remain in the same position and not being carried away by the current. I, myself, was inching away slowly despite swimming hard and looking at the corals. #multitasking

It was how calm my father was at that moment when he realised he physically wasn’t able to fight against nature’s current that he very much so casually called out for help. And because he did it so casually, my brother’s girlfriend, who was up on the front deck, thought that he was joking, and didn’t thought it was a crisis.

As a result, she did not really panic to get help from the boat man. My mother, who wasn’t out at the front deck, even thought that it was my younger brother who wanted the float instead. Basically, I could only imagine the whole scene on the boat to being very calm, while my father was out in the open sea drifting away, and away… …

It was hilarious, just thinking of it now- how dramatic!

It was only until much later when we all went up to take a breather for all the arduous swimming that we realised what had happened. It was hilarious because of how calm my father was; and not alarming the masses when he needed saving! Hah… …!

After all the swimming and fighting against the current, oh boy were we jaded and mad hungry. On Safari Tours & Travel Co., lunch was provided back on Bunaken Island. A nice simple meal of rice, fish and vegetables to share. It was a nice satisfying lunch, excluding the fact that stray dogs and cats were lurking around us for scraps of our food. 😀

TIPS?!

(a) Combat motion sickness?

The boat ride can be a little bumpy; so for those who are seasick prone; do get ready some small puke trash bags, and prior to the boat ride you could pop in a seasick pill if you need.

I am quite prone to motion sickness; and I recall the most recent encounter was en route to Phi Phi Island, back in Krabi, Thailand. I wasn’t prepared then; and neither was the guide on board. Haha! Luckily she managed to find a giant trash bag for me or I might had puked all over myself on board.

So this time, yes, even though I didn’t pop in any seasick pills, I decided to try a method I like to call: Getting on with the flow… … Though it wouldn’t work for all situations; so maybe popping seasick pills and trash bags are your next best friends.

So how this works is; when I feel like sitting on the boat was making me soon-to-be queasy, I stand right at the front deck of the boat. You know like in the movie: Titanic, when Jack opened Rose’s arms, and she thinks she was flying scene? Yeah, but not asking you to re-enact the scene with your lover, ‘cause that could be very dangerous considering the fact that you would by now be feeling dizzy and all. Haha!

Just stand near the front deck with no peripheral obstructions, grabbing on to any handgrips, and just look towards the sea horizon right in front of you. Look far and wide. Get on with the flow of boat; moving up and down, according to the waves as it crashes against the boat. And at the same time, just enjoy the unimpeded view! Going with the flow of the boat, and seeing the motion of the boat helps your body and mind adapt to it, and hence, voilà, no feeling of puking! What’s not to love about this method right? 😀

Of course this method works only if you are on a private tour; where all the passengers on board are basically people you know; and of course if you are not on a fast chase speed boat. I reckon this method would totally be disengaged when I was on the group tour on the way to Phi Phi Island in Krabi, Thailand. The guide would imperatively tell me to sit my arse down like everyone else, as we were on a speed boat and all.

(b) Do not panic, just call out for help

When it comes to you against nature; what I have learnt from this trip and seeing how many father handled it amazingly is to be calm. Panicking will make everyone panic along with you and getting those who can save you (probably) have a mental block; which doesn’t work in your favour. Of course, it is definitely easier said than done. And I wonder if I was the one in my father’s shoes how will I react.

Hhhmmm… … Maybe I will just scream for help; and drown my lungs with salt water; and yup… … the rest is history.

 

Day 1 Highlights: Christ Blessing Statue

We returned back to shore on Manado towards the late afternoon. Seeing that we still had some time before dinner, my father told our tour guide, Freddy, to drive us to the Christ Blessing statue located at the peak of the CitraLand residential estate.

This Christ Blessing statue stands at 98.4 ft which is fairly much comparable to the world most iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. Built by a protestant property developer, this statue has now become a new icon of Manado city as of the recent years!

A very calming sight to see on top of a hill; where the local residential houses were sprawled all below your peripheral vision; and with what it seems like Bunaken Island as the backdrop? Though I am not too sure if it is really Bunaken Island or some other.

 

Day 1 Highlights: Dinner at Wisata Bahari Seafood Restaurant

Address

Bahu Mall Complex, Jl. Wolter Monginsidi 1, Kota Manado, Sulawesi Utara, Indonesia

Personal Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Total damage (per pax)

~ IDR $227241.66

Oh seafood oh seafood; glorious fresh seafood! Dining at Wisata Bahari Seafood Restaurant was basically having dinner with a view and amazing sea breeze! It was so cooling that evening after a slight rain earlier, that everything was just perfect.

There was a variety of fresh seafood, from crab, to mantis shrimp, to lobsters for your choosing. We ordered 2 crabs cooked in different sauces, 2 grilled mantis shrimps cooked in butter garlic, grilled fish, a mixed vegetable dish and 1 hotplate bean curd. It was the a satisfying seafood dinner after a long day at sea. Really delicious!

With the amount of seafood we had ordered at such a reasonable pricing, and with a view so beautiful, there really isn’t much complaints at all. Just all in a perfect cosmos.

The epically dramatic snorkelling trip with the family, the nice mini city sightseeing to Christ Blessing statue, and amazing seafood dinner at Wisata Bahari Seafood Restaurant; all these just sums up our first day trip with Safari Tours & Travel Co. in Manado!

Oh boy, wait till we experienced what was installed for us the next day! That would be interesting!

Picture does speak a thousand words, but you need to be there to really believe it. Even for the not so avid divers, Manado is a nice place to chill, have relaxing snorkelling (on dry season; when the sea current is not strong) and have yummilicious seafood everday! Manado is imperatively a nice getaway for the whole family!

So let’s believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world and Travel Whenever!

Dee

1. Spring Clean, Decorations & Lion Dance

2. Get a NEW(ish) Outfit

3. Get a Haircut

4. The Reunion Dinner

5. Eating New Year Snacks

6. It WAS All About The Ang Paos a.k.a Red Packets

Traditional New Year TIPS/ Superstitions

Travel TIPS: Sights & Sounds

Today is the fourth day of Chinese (Lunar) New Year. And for those who are wondering and are curious about how Singaporeans (or at least, my family and I) prepare for, and what we do during Chinese New Year, well this is the right article for you.

This is the year of the Goat, hence those born in 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979 etc. have their Chinese Zodiac sign to be Goat. The Chinese Zodiac is a recurring cycle of 12 years.

If you are interested in how the Chinese Zodiac come about and how the order of the animals are arranged, visit: http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/story.asp for an intriguing read.

There are a few variations to the story, and this is not what I was told by my Mum; who heard it as a kid from her uncle, but the idea and story plot is roughly the same.

Depending on how much you believe in the Zodiac sign, those born in the year of the Goat are generally polite, kind, and compassionate- basically attributes of a goat, when it is not terrorise that is. 😀

If you are interested in what are the lucky numbers, colours, etc. for those born in the year of the goat, visit: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/social_customs/zodiac/sheep.htm.

Hey, maybe this is the year you win the lottery? 😛

Here is a list of things and Traditional TIPS I find essential to my family and I during Chinese New Year, or whilst growing up. Whether this list is a good representation of the majority of Singaporeans or anyone around the world who celebrates Chinese New Year… Well… I leave the judgement to you.

So here goes.

 

1. Spring Clean, Decorations & Lion Dance

To many Chinese household in Singapore, spring cleaning and hanging of Chinese New Year decorations marks the start of  the preparation towards the New Year. According to my Mum, this is usually done about a month(ish) prior.

My family is rather, how should I put it… The Procrastinators? We are pretty last- minute in things like these. Haha…!

My Mum would clean the house and call out to us kids to help out. And usually to no avail; especially the boys- they will never budge.

I don’t remember about last year, and I cannot vouch for the subsequent years in the future, but this year, I did helped out a teeny tiny bit, after my Mum’s perpetual earnest  implore for help in the cleaning and decorations.

The reason why the general households here are serious about spring cleaning is due to the believe that when cleaning, we are ‘cleaning’ away any bad luck residue in the house, and welcoming good luck into the family for the year ahead.

My mum always say, “Even if it’s not a special occasion like New Year or Christmas, we should also keep the house clean and tidy, no?”

In response to her, I have no comments there. 😛

On a more serious note, there should not be any form of sweeping on the day of Chinese New Year.

Why?

Well… Scroll to the second last section of this article on ‘Traditional New Year TIPS/ Superstitions’; all will be explained there

New Year decorations are usually in the colour red, pink, yellow, and gold. Mainly red.

Decorations like the display firecrackers, lanterns, and the ginormous display pineapples,  are in red. The Chinese New Year flowers however, the Plum Blossoms and Peach Blossoms, are in pastel pink. Super cute flowers in a nice vase as a table centre piece.

Basically, it’s the time of the year where red (or shades of red) is the new norm. #happycolours

Red symbolises good luck, while yellow and gold are traditionally used in regal services. As such the latter colours are emblems of wealth and happiness.

Red is also a salient colour, hence it is believed to be able to drive the bad luck and ill fortune away.

According to a Chinese myth, the Nian (which is a beast- like creature) attacked villagers during the period of Chinese New Year. Since the Nian’s weaknesses were loud noises and the colour red, villagers would don on this prominent colour and made loads of noise using drums, firecrackers, empty plates and bowls to ward off the evilness.

In modern day context, it has now become a tradition to have lion dance troupes invited to houses, companies and even schools or local community centres to perform. During such performances, heavy drumming can be heard blocks away as a symbol to chase off the Nian, and bring in prosperity.

As a kid, I was extremely afraid of the lion dance performances and their loud drumming. I recall weeping and hiding behind my grandmother one night while strolling pass a community centre with my brother.

Those dances scared the daylights out of me. I actually thought the ‘dragon’- like- thing was going to eat me or something. Yup, a little wimpy as a child, it’s hilarious. No wonder my brother was in fits of laughter as he watched me cried myself silly in my grandmother’s warmth embrace. Haha…!

 

2. Get a NEW(ish) Outfit

To many, this is the best excuse to go on a shopping spree; taking it to the streets or online.

As for me, I do not have the habit of wearing something brand new on New Year’s day. As long as it is NEW(ish), I’m cool. My definition of ‘NEW(ish)’ would be outfits that I have worn probably a couple of times? As long as it looks presentable, it’s all alright. Oh, also, outfits (not worn) that were bought ancient months ago counts too, DUH… 😀

My outfit for Chinese New Year this year, fits the bill perfectly in the latter part of the definition. This cotton pasley dress from Valleygirl was bought last year. Seeing it hung on the rack required a few seconds to contemplate even trying it on.

It was the pasley and the patches of pink peach blossoms that caught my eye, as I instantly link the prints to Chinese New Year. After slipping it on in the dresser, I knew right away I had to get it. Pronto.

I love cotton material clothes, so soft and comfy, it doesn’t feel too sticky even after a long day’s wear under Singapore’s humid climate.

However, there is just ONE teeny tiny criteria one must follow when picking out an outfit. No black please.

Why?

Well… Scroll to the second last section of this article on ‘Traditional New Year TIPS/ Superstitions’; all will be explained there.

Though this criteria is not that all adamant in some families, but in mine, my mother will unleash if I ever wear dark and dull colours, yet alone black- don’t even think about it.

So this dress from Valleygirl was definitely a thumbs up from my Mum. #mumapproveddress

I remember one year, years back, I wore some shade of grey, with a tinge of prints in yellow and pink, she unleashed. Oh man… We do not wanna’ go there.

On the flip side, my Mum is all cool for having accessories in black. Shoes and bags, she’s fine.

 

3. Get a Haircut

Hair salons are the busiest during this festive season. Ladies, especially, booked to get their hair done weeks prior; all having the aim to look fresh and well groomed for the big day during Chinese New Year.

So mentioning that my family are The Procrastinators right?

Well… My Mum and I got our hair done on the night before the eve of Chinese New Year. Yup, that’s how last-minute we were.

And, acting on impulse once more, I chopped off whatever inch of hair I had to be able tie it up. So right now, my hair is so short, I kinda, sort of, maybe, think I may have acted too rashly. Haha…

Also note that all hair cuts should be done BEFORE Chinese New Year.

Why?

Well… Scroll to the second last section of this article on ‘Traditional New Year TIPS/ Superstitions’; all will be explained there.

 

4. The Reunion Dinner

Reunion dinner to me as a kid growing up, is a time when we would head down to my grandmother’s place and have a delectable feast of steamboat.

A steamboat dinner is basically having raw meat, seafood, vegetables, fish balls, crab flavoured sticks, alongside canned mushrooms, abalone, clams etc. on the table, with a big metal pot (containing soup of your choice) on top of a portable electrical stove/cooker as the centre piece.

And what you do is to basically just toss in all the raw food into the hot soup (at intervals), and cook it! Pretty simple and fun, especially for curious kids; since they love to play cooking and all.

You could have soup and all the cooked food with rice, noodles or bee hoon (rice vermicelli). Of course the sambal belacan chilli is definitely a must. It goes so well with the rice or bee hoon. It’s an amazing explosion in the mouth. Yum Yum!

In my family, instead of using the modern electrical cooker, we use the portable gas stove, where in order to work the machine, my Dad had to insert in a bottle of butane gas. Really old school.

I remember my grandmother would fry bee hoon for us, so we would have the luxury of choice. Rice or bee hoon, you pick! Definitely bee hoon for me. Her fried bee hoon is pretty awesome I must say. Love it!

So why is it a tradition for us to have steamboat? Why not eat something else?

Steamboat requires cooking to be done on the spot. There is no way one can fill up his plate with food and head to the sofa to watch The Big Bang Theory, or head to his laptop and play games while eating. You need to be around the table.

Hence, this sort of creates an environment for all to really sit down on this 1 special night on Chinese New Year’s Eve to have a decent meal together; hence the word ‘Reunion’. It’s something really exceptional to me.

This year however, was different. We did not head down to my grandmother’s place for a steamboat feast. Instead we booked a restaurant in town to have our gathering. We had it at Red House (Address: 68 Prinsep Street, Singapore 188661). It was an eight course Chinese dinner with steamed Goby fish, tiger prawns, braised duck etc.

Honestly, steamboat at grandma’s beats tiger prawns any time.

 

5. Eating New Year Snacks

Chinese New Year, is a Fatstival.

It is a time of feasting on good meals with family and friends, and also a time when you can get to visit relatives at their homes and eat New Year snacks while you’re at it!

It’s not every day you get to sink your teeth into the moist, soft buttery pineapple tarts, or the sweet, tender almond peanut sugar cookies or the hard- to-miss white sugary Kuey Bankit, or the king of all New Year snacks- Bak Kwa; a savoury sweet barbecued pork jerky so mouth-watering that once you had one, you have to finish the entire box. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya…

So I cannot resist the urge to stop eating those delish little treats- so small, but totally deadly. Not only are they deadly for weight- conscious people (e.g. 1 teeny tiny pineapple tart = 82 calories), they are deadly to the throat as well. #noselfcontrol

About a month prior to Chinese New Year, my Dad bought back one of my favourite New Year treats- sambal shrimp rolls. Luckily he didn’t buy pineapple tarts, or that will be gone before Chinese New Year as well.

Don’t judge, pineapple tarts and sambal shrimp rolls are my 2 weaknesses. Love them, and hate them after.

I don’t know about other households, but we do not have the rule that says we cannot eat New Year treats before New Year.

So the bottle of Sambal Shrimp Rolls was opened and my little brother and I probably finished the entire bottle, in a week or so. And we both got real sick. Yup. So small and delish, but totally deadly.

I was on medical leave for the next week. Fever could go down, my throat was in bad shape, and I was coughing like mad, probably vomited a couple. We both definitely got lashed by Mummy Dearest for not drinking enough and being a glutton. Haha…!

Even up to now, my health isn’t completely 100%. My throat still hurts a little, but having no self-control, I still nibble on the snacks as I go from one house visit to the next.

Hey, when people offer you delish snacks, it’s impolite to reject their good intentions right? But this year, I am selective in my nibbling. I do not want to be on medical leave for another week again.

 

6. It WAS All About The Ang Paos a.k.a Red Packets

Chinese New Year is a time to visit relatives and friends near and far. It’s definitely a great time to catch up with friends whom you seldom see. And during those visitations, common traditional exchanges will be seen.

(a) Exchange of luck

Upon entering the home of the hosts, the guests will usually wish the hosts good luck, fortune, health, etc. and in the process, give 2 mandarin oranges to them. The act of giving the oranges is a gesture of giving luck and wealth to the hosts. Hence, in exchange, the hosts will give 2 mandarin oranges back to the guest.

(b) Giving/ Receiving Ang Paos

Ang Paos usually come in the colour red. However, pink, yellow and gold are sometimes seen as well.

If you are married, this is a tradition you cannot run away from. Giving red packets (with money inside, usually in EVEN amounts) to kids, teenagers, and basically anyone not yet married. In this process, the receiver would wish the giver good luck, fortune, health, etc.

I remember my Mum would teach us as kids on what to say to the elders, and we would recite simple mandarin phrases to them when the elders gave us the Ang Paos.

Up till today, we are still struggling with the simple phrases (we don’t use such phrases on a daily basis, so pardon us :P), and the boys would just invent funny rhyming Chinese phrases along the way; some totally makes no sense. -.-‘

I recall as kids, my brother and I would be so excited about the Ang Paos we collected. And upon arriving home, we would immediately count all the money we had received for that day of home visitations. And, at the end of it all, we would see who received more. Most of the time my brother will have more than I, as he’s the eldest. What a bummer.

There was one year, ancient years ago, when we both gotten the same amount, but my little brother had a few dollars more than us. Apparently, his cute toddler face got him an extra Ang Pao. He was very proud of himself that night. Haha…

In recent years, collection of Ang Paos wasn’t as exciting as when we were younger. I mean, we were happy to receive the Ang Paos, just not as hysterical as before.

Guess, it WAS all about the Ang Paos as a kid, but not now.

Now… it’s probably all about the New Year snacks. Haha!

 

Traditional New Year TIPS/ Superstitions

Traditional TIP #1: Sweeping during Chinese New Year?

Note that there should NOT be any form of spring cleaning done on the actual day of Chinese New Year. That’s a BIG NO-NO! I remember as a kid, my Mum would remind us not use a broom to sweep the floor during the day Chinese New Year as it will sweep away the luck and good fortune. I remember asking her about the use of the vacuum cleaner, and she mentioned, apparently using the vacuum cleaner and mopping is still alright? Haha…! Guess we’re all not that stringent in this traditional custom?

Traditional TIP #2: Donning on black during Chinese New Year?

Black is usually associated with mourning. Hence, on a joyous occasion, one should avoid such a colour tone. Don on bright colours to welcome the festive cheer.

Wearing black also shows that one has no respect for the host during home visitations. It may seem like you are bringing bad luck to the host.

So yeah… No black, ya?

Traditional TIP #3: Cutting hair during Chinese New Year?

People usually get their hair in tiptop condition before the New Year. And if you really need a haircut, you should do it after the New Year.

The saying goes, if you cut your hair during Chinese New Year, it is considered bad luck.  This is due to the pronunciation of the word ‘hair’ in mandarin, which is pronounce as ‘发’ (fa) which is homonymic to the word ‘prosperity’ in mandarin.

In a nutshell, cutting your hair is like ‘cutting your prosperity’. Hence, people deem that as bad luck.

BAM! So now we know…

Traditional TIP #4: Accidental breaking of glass during Chinese New Year?

I’m sure you have heard that if you break a mirror you get 7 years of bad luck. Well, likewise for glass of any sort, try your best not to break them within these 15 days of Chinese New Year.

However, when accidents happen, it’s just unavoidable- Not like we love going around breaking glass for no apparent reason right?

So when this happens, say something good to shroud the unavoidable.

Hey, make the best out of a ‘bad’ situation right? Think positive!

My grandmother told my Mum that when this happens just shout,” 落 地 开 花   富 贵 荣 华” (luò dì kāi huā   fù guì róng huá)!

It will clear away the omen. 😀

There are so many traditions and superstitions (I am sure there are more which I may have never heard of before), you cannot possibly adhere to all of them religiously. Things like no washing of hair during the first day of Chinese New Year (that’s a big No No for me), or being vegetarian during the first day of Chinese New Year (our family doesn’t follow this) etc.

I reckon that we should just follow the traditions our family has already set precedent. This defines us all as Chinese households, yet within each household there could have a tinge of difference in our traditions and customs – SAME but DIFFERENT in subtle ways.

 

Travel TIPS: Sights & Sounds

Wondering what activities to do during the long New Year’s break?

Well… For those who do not celebrate Chinese New Year, or those in Singapore on a short vacation, then you are in great luck!

There are really quite a lot of happening events held in place to spread the festive cheer! And some of these events are held annually.

Those who do celebrate Chinese New Year can also take a stroll to these places with your family and friends. It can be memorable as well. We can all be a tourist in our own country, why not? I am sure there are bound to have a few instagram-worthy shots to take!

(a) Chinatown

Event

Location Date, Time Admission Fee
Chinatown Street Light Up Pagoda Street

New Bridge Road

Eu Tong Sen Street

Nearest Train Station: Chinatown

Feb 21, 19 00 – 02 00

Feb 22 – Feb 26, 19 00 – 00 00

Feb 27 – Feb 28, 19 00 – 02 00

FOC

The timings for the street light up in March are roughly the same as in February.

http://www.eventfinda.sg/2015/chinatown-street-light-up/singapore/chinatown

I don’t know about you, but when I think of Chinese New Year, I think of the hordes of people all doing their intense shopping in preparation for the New Year. In addition, I think of the massive decorations put up along the streets of Chinatown. It’s Red Red Red all over. The hanging of bright red lanterns and the blast of Chinese New Year songs can really light up the mood of anyone.

Since this is the year of the Goat, massive goat structures were put up near Hotel 81, along New Bridge Road. This is a great hot spot for many to take shots with. And it’s especially awe-worthy at night when everywhere is all lighted up with pretty fairy lights and lanterns!

(b) The Float @ Marina Bay- Singapore River Hongbao

The Singapore River Hongbao is an annual event held at the iconic Floating Platform @ Marina Bay. This mega event ushers in the New Year with all things Chinese. A vibrant festival that assures locals and tourists the best Chinese cultural experience here in Singapore. With live entertainment, and local favourite street foods (e.g. Bak Kut Teh (Herbal Pork Bone Soup)), this is definitely the place to be during Chinese New Year!

For a mind-blowing New Year experience, and if you don’t mind the crowd, head on down during its Opening Night (2 days before Chinese New Year), or attend the Chinese New Year Countdown Party! Fireworks display could also be seen during these 2 days!

Event #1

Location Date, Time Admission Fee
Lantern Display and God of Fortune 20 Raffles Avenue

Nearest Train Station:

Promenade

Personal TIP?

If you are not pressed for time, alight at City Hall station and walk through CityLink Mall- Singapore’s first underground mall, with lots of shopping options along the way. This leads you to The Float as well, just follow the signage! 🙂

 

Feb 21 – Feb 28, 14 00 – 23 00

FOC

In my opinion, this event is best visited at night- when all the lanterns are glistening, together with the 18- meter tall God of Fortune. More than 60 ensorcelling lanterns at this event were meticulously hand-crafted by professional craftsmen on- site. Not to mention, the twelve Zodiac animals are on display as well.

It’s imperatively always much livelier at night for such events!

Event #2

Location Date, Time Admission Fee
Tightrope Walking by Guinness World Record Holders 20 Raffles Avenue

Nearest Train Station:

Promenade

Feb 21, 19 15

Feb 21, 21 15

Feb 22, 19 15

Feb 22, 21 15

FOC

The gravity-defying stunt by 2 acrobats from The Acrobatic Troupe of Xin Jiang, China will make you heart skip several beats in fear for their safety. It is definitely worth a head down to witness their incredible skills and bravery!

Event #3

Location Date, Time Admission Fee
Dance Performance by Xin Jiang & Taiwan Troupes 20 Raffles Avenue

Nearest Train Station:

Promenade

Feb 21 – Feb 22, 19 45

FOC

There is seriously way too much going on along Singapore River. And all these events starts just 2 days before the Chinese New Year! So if you missed some events this year, fret not, there’s always Singapore River Hongbao 2016 to usher in the year of the Monkey!

(c) F1 Pit Building (Next to the Singapore Flyer)

Event

Location Date, Time Admission Fee
Chingay 2015 1 Republic Boulevard

Singapore 038975

 

Nearest Train Station:

Promenade

Feb 27 – Feb 28, 20 00

Feb 27

Category 1: SGD $50

Category 2: SGD $40

Category 3: SGD $28.50

Feb 28

Category 1: SGD $60

Category 2: SGD $50

Category 3: SGD $28.50

https://chingay.org.sg/chingay2015/ticketing-details

This is grandest parade in Singapore, as part of the Chinese New Year celebration. Since it’s Singapore’s 50th Birthday (SG 50), the theme for this year’s parade is ‘We Love SG’. It is said to be the biggest most spectacular parade ever organised with 11k performers from different cultures, and many jaw-dropping displays of flowers made out of used plastic bags- definitely environmental conscious! #goinggreen

Hope you now have a better insight on how Chinese New Year is celebrated here in Singapore (or at least celebrated by my family), the DOs (Traditions) and DON’Ts (Superstitions), and the Sights & Sounds during this festive period!

For those who celebrates Chinese New Year, how did you spend your first few days of it? If I did miss out on any essential do let me know; love to hear it! 😀

Wishing you a Happy and Blessed Goat’s Year 2015.

Remember to cherish your family and friends.

Dee

 

Address

191 Jalan Besar Singapore 208882

Operating Hours

 

Monday – Sunday (6pm – 6am)

Closed on Tuesdays

Personal Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Prelude

Dim Sim Order

 

Prelude

This dim sum place probably isn’t as inordinately talked about as compared to you know who. But, based on my two cents worth, I would say it is definitely comparable or maybe better for a few reasons.

So here goes… …

The wait time is definitely shorter, and the variety of dishes available on the menu is wider. It is imperative that you would be spoilt for choices, to a point that you wish you could have a disposable stomach in exchange for your current one so you could add in more delectable delights. In addition, the staff are very accommodating and efficient to make your entire dinner experience a pleasant one.

I went there twice, but had only tasted the food once. Yup, silly us went there when the restaurant was closed on its off day. To think that in this modern age with Google all so accessible, we actually made such an embarrassing mistake! So dearest, DO NOT go there on a TUESDAY! Alas, we were compelled to settle for something less satisfying and more pricey. What a downer it was.

We didn’t need to wait at all when we arrived at around 6 in the evening on a Wednesday. There were probably 2 groups of hungry gastronomers who arrived at around the same time as us.

The restaurant location, Jalan Besar, is not in your usual urban city district. Surrounded by the typical Singaporean’s quaint looking shop houses at almost two to three storeys high, this neighbourhood brings you back to the time during History lessons in school where you saw black and white photographs in textbooks of vintage houses in the 1800s or 1900s. With the surrounding plain concrete walls cracking and floors less maintained as compared to the urban part of Singapore, this area is good to somewhat preserve the history of Singapore.

Though it is within the near vicinity of the famous local street shopping district- Bugis Street, they are just worlds apart. Bugis Street is a place awash with youngsters clad in street fashion and accessories, loud music blasting in the atmosphere and bright luminous lights spotlighted on every corner to attract patrons. To get cheap buys and bargains this is the place to be at for tourists. On the other hand, Jalan Besar is a more reserved street and not jam-packed with people, and not as brightly lit.

 

Dim Sum Ordered

Given a fairly huge table for 2 people, we kept the orders coming in slow. We like having the food piping hot, so ordering them in intervals allowed us to have buffer time to appreciate the small dishes.

We started off with a plate of pan-fried dumplings and fried Mee Sue Kueh. Heavily coating the glossy dumplings in vinegar and topping it with a good bunch of thinly shredded ginger, is definitely the way to go for me. The harmony of the succulent juice oozing from the piping dumping as my teeth sink into it; together with the vinegar and ginger is just a cosmos.

The Mee Sue Kueh is just divine. My first time having this dish, and I would say I had a pleasant experience. The Mee Sua (Chinese noodles made from wheat flour) is well seasoned; flavourful, and compact such that the nicely cut cubes of the Mee Sue Kueh will not fall apart went picked up with a pair of chopsticks. Something quite unique I must say.

Of course a dim sum dinner cannot be called as one if a plate of Siew Mai (pork dumplings) is not ordered, now can we?

What I like about a Liu Sha Bao (Golden Custard Bun), is the oozing of the molten salted egg custard from the bun as it melts in your mouth mixed in saliva. Alas, I could say I have tasted better Liu Sha Bao.

I would have to say so too for the fried carrot cake and the Zhu Chang Fen (Rice Noodle Roll). Nevertheless, to each his own I reckon- everyone has different taste buds right?

IMG_6645

The plate of fried tofu (bean curd) topped with pork floss was well fancied by J. On the other hand, I had my qualms. They are a little jarring to my palate.

The last dumpling dish was of course a plate of steamed Har Gow (Prawn Dumpling). You can never leave a dim sum house without trying their Har Gow. One thing I would say is that this house doesn’t scrimp on the prawns. Packed loaded with quite a decent amount of prawns within the cavity of the dumpling skin, this Har Gow is sure a good way to end off a satisfying dinner and move on to “dessert”.

As usual, we always end an exquisite dim sum meal with our kind of desserts- egg tarts and Char Siew Soh (Baked BBQ Pork Pastry). I adore Char Siew Soh more than egg tarts in general. So there’s not fight here- I admit my biasness on this. I love how the crispy crust meets the savoury sweet (mostly sweet) red pork inside- the combination of them both is just luscious.

Overall a delightful trip to this dim sum place with additional baggage of treats (egg tarts, and Char Siew Soh) brought home for the family to sample on! 😀

Travel whenever and remember to get yourself some DIM SUM! 😀

Dee