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Route: Parking Lot –> Swing Bridge –> Series of Mini Waterfalls –> Elevated Track –> Lake Marian –> And Back
Total Distance: 2.4 km (1.5 miles)
Average Walk Time:

~ 4 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots, light snacking & a quick swim)

Seasonal Restrictions: Do not walk around the edge of the lake during the snow/avalanche season (winter and spring)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there? 

Highlights and Views 

TIPS? 

Well, I reckoned New Zealand needs no prelude whatsoever. Everything about it just never stops to inspire me in a frivolous way. And it was probably the first time I jaunted through trails and treks every other day for a month until my feet got sore and blistered. I would imagine this to be otherwise for anyone else. So yes, a weakling I was?

But it was all worth every drop of sweat to climb. It was all worth every minor or major slipups along the way. And it was all definitely worth (at times) sacrificing sleep for the enthralling views that time sleeping will never give. Lake Marian is imperatively impeccable, and I would recommend this trek to anyone, that is without a doubt!

The closest town to Lake Marian would be Te Anau. It is also the closest town to the famous Milford Sound attraction in the South Island of New Zealand. Te Anau is a quiet, humble little town, with quite a selection of restaurants and smaller eateries. A nice place to be away from the buzz of city life, and still be able to enjoy amenities of excellent food, accommodation and at the same time satisfying those basic grocery needs.

 

How to get there?

Though Te Anau township is the closest to Lake Marian, the drive was still quite a far bit long from our accommodation at Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau near the town centre. A straightforward driving route on the main Te Anau-Milford Highway 94 would basically take you there in approximately 1 hr 20 mins.

Just remember to make a turn right soon after Pop’s View lookout, onto Hollyford Track when you see the signage ‘Lower Hollyford’, otherwise, you would be on your merry way to Milford Sound, which is also not a bad option. Haha!

Drive down about 1 km on the unsealed gravelled Hollyford Track a.k.a Hollyford Road and you would reach the Lake Marian carpark!

 

Highlights and Views

1. Swing Bridge

The start of the trek to Lake Marian requires the crossing of the swing bridge which hovered above the Hollyford River (Whakatapu Ka Tuku). The river was in its clear refreshing blue and the sounds of the waters crashing against the rocks as it rushed down with gravity was invigoratingly welcoming! What an excellent way to start a morning! 😀

I recalled I was so tempted to go down to douse my hands in the refreshing and presumably cold waters. But as I made my way down gingerly across large rocks and boulders to the edge of the river and I squatted down, I realised my hands were too short to reach into the waters. Haha! Yup, woes of having short hands.

Looking to both of my sides along the river, it seemed very unlikely I could reach down into the waters unless I sat down on the rocks or something like that. Hence, I decided to give it a miss and head back up, for the waters at Lake Marian would definitely be as refreshing too right? And definitely easier to reach in…

2. Series of Mini Waterfalls

About a short 10 minute stroll on the boardwalk past the swing bridge was the next highlight of the Lake Marian trek: the exhilarating rush of the waterfalls. It was quite thunderously deafening when we walked deeper into the track; closer to the top of the waterfall. With the morning sun beaming all so strongly, the waters that flowed down glistened crystal white. Which really was not a bad sight for a morning!

There were some people who visited this place just for the mini waterfalls. Because it was a relatively easy paved short walk, some would decide to have a nice easy morning stroll and would give the slightly more advance tramping track a miss. That could be an option, but if you are more able-bodied, then continue on the elevated track to Lake Marian ‘cause the reward at the end is just mind-blowing! Period!

3. Elevated Track (through the forest)

After the end of the series of mini waterfalls, where the initial road underfoot was still well-paved and easy to walk on, came the start of the elevated tracks to Lake Marian! Which by then, consists of gravel roads, steep inclined and at times, wet and muddy pathways. From here on, it was approximately 1.5 hours to the beautiful Lake Marian as stated on the signage.

So into the native forest we ascended, starting with steady inclines up on uneven rocky road. It was still relatively manageable at the start, with very obvious reasons. It was enjoyable and exciting to wander through the amazing forest. Even the sweat and the panting from climbing up against gravity were all part of the package of adventure! Totally enrapturing!

But the climb soon became a little relentless as time passed. However, thinking about it now just made me missed manoeuvring through the dense forest like some explorer on a mission; a mission to find the hidden gem of a lake that is! Haha! 😀

After trotting through the rocky, and at times narrow paths, feeling all sweltering, we arrived to an area of openness. There weren’t any shelter from the sun by the trees like before, and if one would just have a quick glance at the entire peripheral view on its own without being meticulous in the details, one would totally missed out the orange beacon (which we all know is there for the very reason to guide trekkers in the right direction)!

And we decided, of all places, to take respite in an unshaded open piece of area surrounded by trees and huge logs. Hhhmmm… And the idea of respite is to dance silly as if the trees were the compelled audiences there to stay. Haha… You can see the embarrassing footage in the video linked below.

Click for Lake Marian video!

Following the orange beacon prudently along, we were on our merry way back into the forest under the cool shelter from the sun. But from this section on, the path was definitely way more exciting to manoeuvre through. Much more narrower pave, and even at times having to balance on thick tree trunks and all. I imperatively enjoyed my climb for this particular trek during my whole stay in the South Island of New Zealand. I found the zeal and passion just moving through the forest. Yes, it was tiring, but I found the joy in it. I felt so alive and just plain satisfied. I really don’t know how else to explain this feeling but it was pure simple happiness! 😀

I recalled we did asked other trekkers who were descending back from the lake, how much more distance we had to cover. And the answers to that were always, “Oh yeah yeah, soon, very soon.” And after a while, we figured, “… soon, very soon.” was but a mere sentence. Totally inaccurate. Well in their defence, probably the distance was short, but maybe we were already quite worn out that “… soon, very soon.” seemed “… far, all so very far.” Haha!

We just had to ramble through and press forward!

So trust me when I say that these huge pieces of logs that you have to cross over, is a pretty good indicator that the end is near. The end to eternal ethereal beauty of Lake Marian was just so close within our reach. Honest!

4. Lake Marian

Lake Marian is an alpine lake in a hanging valley formed by glacial action. This lake lies above the bush line and is surrounded by the amazing Darren Mountains. The Lake Marian region probably provides the most enticing setting of a hidden gem in the Fiordland National Park region. Perfect for photographers!

Albeit jaded, the breeze from the lake just doused the tiredness and rekindled a whole new feeling of enthusiasm and glow! When we first saw the sight of Lake Marian, we were awestricken. Speechless. Dumbfounded.

I needed a moment to soak in the wondrous beauty of it all. The distant partially white snow-capped Darren Mountains as backdrop and the undisturbed clear waters were just in a perfect cosmos. It was really impressive how incredible Mother Nature was. And time and again, she never failed to amaze and blow me away. It was like a wallpaper that I would only imagined and dreamed about, but there it was, sprawled right in front of me in my peripheral vision, unimpeded!

The hours of climb through the forest and all the pushing through was all worth it. Worth it to be in the moment as such, and to have that memory to have at least seen and felt it just once was bliss enough.

We spend quite a long time by the alpine lake. Having our packed lunch of sandwiches, admiring the beauty, and of course taking loads of photos. Haha!

It was so beautiful, we were quite reluctant to leave. But we did have quite a journey back to the parking lot. Alas, we had to leave to make up for the time before it turned dark.

 

TIPS?

(a) Start the trek EARLY

Before embarking on this Lake Marian trek, I already knew we had to start the trek early. But because we were beat out from previous nights, we decided that we would still get up early, but… just not so much earlier.

Hence, we missed out on the magnificent reflections of the Darren Mountains on the lake waters; which could be seen when the weather was calm making the waters in Lake Marian very much still. And that usually happened at dawn when the air would be crisp and the breeze at its minimal. When we were heading towards the lake, we stopped to have a conversation with a couple from Israel. They headed to the lake extremely early in the wee morning, and were already on their way back. We saw some of the shots they took of Lake Marian early in the morning, they were GORGEOUS! Words cannot describe.

So if you want to have amazing reflection shots of the mountains imprinted on the lake waters, a good timing to arrive at Lake Marian would be around 8 – 9 am? That was according to the Israeli couple.

If not, Lake Marian is still a gorgeous sight in the late morning early afternoon; which was what we got to see. Still ain’t half bad you know. 😀

(b) Go for a SWIM

Minor regrets in life comes when you thought you were all packed for a trek, but didn’t occur to you that you could actually bring your swimming gear. I didn’t know swimming was allowed at Lake Marian, well… apparently so it seemed. If I had a do over, I would make sure I pack my swimming essentials that’s for sure. I am positively sure the waters would be so refreshing after a long arduous climb up. Totally energising!

But because we were not prepared for a swim, we only doused our hands in the waters, which was extremely chilly!

(c) Beacon of SAFETY

The start of the tramping track on this Lake Marian trek would be after the series of mini waterfalls. The pathway started to get more uneven underfoot and the route was not at all straightforward. Hence, it would definitely be advisable that one should be of moderate to good level of fitness and also have a certain level of navigation and survival skills.

Getting to Lake Marian was still somewhat manageable. We just had to find orange beacon arrows mounted on tree trunks, or any form of track markers or indicators. Of which, some were very obviously spotted, while others required a wee bit more eye for details. But either way, it was still alright, coming from someone who really do not have much jungle experience.

However, on the way back, we had probably missed a beacon and sort of side tracked a little. The pathway did not seemed at all crossable. Hence, in such situation it would definitely be wise to trust your gut, retract your steps and find the orange beacon or any indicator that you might have missed, sometimes it could be a red ribbon or something like that.

Always remember to be safe. If you don’t feel that it is right, even the slightest bit, to move forward… don’t. Trust yourself.

The Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawbai, a government agency in charge of conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage, placed Lake Marian Track to be in the ‘Advanced: Tramping track’ category.

In New Zealand, tracks that are listed in this government agency website, are placed in one of six categories. And to be placed under ‘Advanced: Tramping track’, indicates that the Lake Marian Track is considered to be the second most demanding track, with ‘Expert: Route’ being the most challenging one.

Click for more information about the six walking track categories.

Hence, it is always wise to stay safe and be mindful of the surroundings!

Trekking is always a good way to avoid huddled groups of people, and a great way to find solace. I always relish the moments spend trekking. The serenity of it all just cannot be bought with money! And I do hope to conquer more treks in the future.

Hope this prods you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to 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

How to get there?

What is the Bay of Fires?

St Helens Township

 

How to get there?

Close to a 3 hours drive by taking the Tasman Highway from Launceston city, led us to St Helens Township on Cecilia Street. Making a turn onto Quail Street, brought us straight on to Binalong Bay Road and The Gardens Road.

With the close- to- empty and fairly narrow costal driveway heading to the end of The Gardens Road, a glimpse of the “fires” of the bay can be spotted on the right, with the sea and cloudless sky as the backdrop.

There is a small area for parking right at the end of the road that faces the Bay.

 

What is the Bay of Fires?

Located at the North-Eastern coast of Tasmania, this bay is sprawl from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point.

When I first heard of Bay of Fires, I thought the name originated from the fact that the rocks have patches of stained orange on them. Hence, from afar, it looks like the Bay is indeed on fire- and the name “Bay of Fires”.

Well… … While I still believe my theory had some logical and literal aspects to it; it is not the case.

The Bay of Fires has its unusual name from a Captain in the 1700s after he noticed fire build-ups along the coast done by the indigenous people.

We were welcomed by the coastal sea breeze just as we opened the vehicle door. Calming and extravagant as can be when the close- to- evening breeze lightly brush against our skin.

With the orange stained rocks up ahead, we had to saunter through the partial grassy and sandy patch right at the front of the parking lot. The climate was impeccable- the wind howling strongly at us and I suddenly felt my spirits lifted. The afternoon sun slowly creeping into slumber, and the air turning cool and crisp, any normal person would feel the serenity of it all.

Enthralled by the stains on the rocks as we examined them up close, and taking a moment or two to soak in the sea beyond the horizon and the breeze that came with it. I can still recall we spend quite a bit of time (with legs stretched out towards the sea) keeping silent as we couldn’t tear our gaze from the beauty of Mother Nature. Just tranquil.

As it was close the evening, the already orange sunset further enhance the salient details of the rocks making it all the more a dramatic landscape. The stained granite of orange produced from lichen is definitely a place to be awed by.

Positively a place pop by when in Launceston.

 

St Helens Township

This very quiet town surprised me in so many different ways at so many levels.

An episode of The Walking Dead?

As a city girl, I have definitely a lack of experience when it comes to rambling through small towns.

I reckons the nature of a humble town reflects peace and calmness; where cars don’t just zoom by in a flash, and people take time to enjoy the nice walks on the streets with their family and pets. And these are the traits we saw when we were by at St Helens after a nice time over at Bay of Fires.

Knowing these traits at the corner of my head, I was still pretty much amazed by the peacefulness and placidity of it all. I have never felt so much calmness amongst neon lights and shop houses before- though most shops have already called it a day when we were there.

Not trying to be melodramatic here, and you may probably be thinking such small towns are so common- so why the big deal?

But, back home, there isn’t such thing as small towns away from the city, and even when darkness falls, cars still zoom by every now and then, people still roam the streets, staccato laughter and loud chattering can be heard from a distance somewhere. The buzz on the streets would die down only closer into the night.

Even before the sky was dark, the town was already in pin-drop silence. Very few people roamed the streets, and most cars were nowhere in sight. So as we walked towards a pizza parlour with a flashing neon sign, it did felt (for a moment) like we were in an episode of The Walking Dead- just saying. 😀

Trimboli’s Pizza

Address 1 Pendrigh Pl, St Helens TAS 7216, Australia
Operating Hours Evenings
Personal Rating 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

This pizza place is definitely to die for. I am not kidding! The staff are so friendly and the food is just superbly beyond words. If not for the small bellies that we have, we would have order more.

The orange sunset still shrouded the town when we entered the parlour. Choosing a seat that is close to the glass window, gave us a view of the empty street with a cross junction. Peaceful.

I definitely cannot remember the exact name of the dishes we ordered, but let me just try to describe them.

The first dish was a rich creamy carbonara base sauce with tortellini, and the next was a super spicy (to my taste buds) pizza with prawns and pepperoni (I think).

To be honest, the taste of the pizza is way too spicy for me. Hence, I could not remember much of it, really. But I reckon it should be good because J had no complaints whatsoever. All I remember was me sipping water as I had a mouth of pizza each time.

The star for the night is without said- the tortellini dish. This is the one to die for. The strong fragrant of melted cheese mixed in with the carbonara sauce is just heavenly. Rich, thick and creamy; Trimboli’s Pizza definitely did not stinge on the ingredients used in the dish. The sauce came with slices of ham all mixed in with it, so every mouthful is in a cosmos altogether.

A savoury and exquisite dinner was undoubtedly the way to end of the day at the Bay of Fires and St Helens town.

Dee