We put the kids to bed by 10pm (children must have consistent bedtimes, it is good for them), on Saturday night. Finally, some peace and quiet, and a chance to check out the "Chinatown" set up at our estate.
This year they really went the whole hog. Lights, Pasar Malam (Night Market), and even fireworks.
They even set up this giant God of Fortune statue. It almost felt like the real Chinatown.
There were many stalls, but a few empty ones (economy not yet fully recovered?). We had a walking strategy that would cover the whole stretch.
All the usual suspects were there. Junk food stalls, dodgy game stalls (try knocking ALL the cans down or fishing something decent from the floating Pokemon pool), kiddie rides and New Year goodies.
Conspicuously absent were the pirated music and game stalls, a staple in Pasar Malams. Either the Residents' Committee was told to keep these non-kosher stalls out (intellectual property laws, FTAs, and all) or the new copyright laws are really scaring these vendors away from such public events.
We picked up some Red Packets, despite getting boatloads of free ones from petrol kiosks, insurance agents and banks. The ones sold at the stalls looked really nice, with gold embossed designs. After we bought them, we realised that we had to use them all up this year, or wait another 12 years for another Rooster year to use them. Yes, the darn things had the Rooster motif on them, and you couldn't use them for Chinese weddings either (unless there was some kind of Rooster theme).
We should have waited till one night before the Rooster year to buy the packets. Sure get discount, because the vendors would be desperate to dump them.
Ginny and I stopped by the Malay burger place (there were several scattered throughout the market) to pick up a Black Pepper chicken burger. I could not see any Ramli burgers this time. I think the authorities (Ministry of Illegal Importation of Unlicensed Meat?) clamped down hard on these tasty burgers which are found across the Causeway. Ramli burgers are Da Bomb. But I guess Ramli patties could not get their passports chopped this year.
They also had Roti Johns (submarine sandwiches fried with egg and meat). The Indian cook was very amused by my photo-taking, and waved at me with a smile after we left with our burger. The queue was long, but we bought a bowl of shredded ice cream (Mango flavour) from the stall next to the burger one to eat while waiting.
Ginny picked up a Made-in-China wooden blocks game for Faith, and we also headed for the sweet stall to pick up sweets for the New Year. It was a sea of colour, all beckoning us to buy them all. And I think my wife heard the Siren's Song, because she got carried away and picked out $18 of sweets.
The stall owner displayed a surprising amount of religious sensitvity, because she grabbed a bunch of sweets from another container, and asked us if we would mind them taking them. They are given free when customers buy a certain amount, she said, but it was her duty to inform us that the sweets had been offered to the God of Fortune to be blessed for good luck and peace. We had no issues with it, and told her so (free, what), but I was quite surprised she took the trouble to ask us first before adding them to our bag.
While my wife looked at the clothes on sale (anyone wants fake Pokemon t-shirts for kids?) , I was entertaining myself laughing at the obviously fake Barney soft toys and very tacky New Year decorations. They were even selling life-like roosters that bobbed their heads forwards, to "give you good fortune", the man said. More like frighten the living daylights out of my kids.
They also set up a kiddie rides area, with puke-inducing rides that went nowhere, just round and round. But the kids seemed to enjoy it. Until they hurl.
We missed the fireworks when they officially launched this event. We were on our way to dinner, and we didn't want to join the crowds gathering for the light-up anyway. But this mini-Chinatown was a fun enough distraction until we make our way down to the Real Thing. That will require a lot more planning and preparation, since the crowds for the real Chinatown will be insane. But what to do, we are suckers to 凑热闹 (or joining in the festivities), even if it means going to Chinatown during its busiest time. Never mind, this year got Chinatown MRT station.