Thursday 3 February 2011

Singapore: Happy New Year

Thian Hock Keng Temple SingaporeThe remnants of night’s New Year celebrations on Clarke Quay were still evident at 7.00am this morning – girls in slinky party frocks trying to get taxis, couples sleeping on benches, hideous toilets, copious amounts of cans and bottles and even the occasional pavement pizza. Workers cleaned the paths with impressive speed to restore the city back to its previous squeaky clean state.

There was little activity along the path to Marina Bay, except for men working on the new Art Science Museum on the southern end of the wonderfully engineered Helix Bridge. There were signs of life among the back streets of Chinatown as people visited temples and makeshift alters adorned with red and gold - red to bring luck and to frighten off the monster Nian (thought to make an appearance on New Year’s Eve) and gold to represent wealth. Piles of mandarin oranges were stacked in front of statues to bring more luck. The gift box of mandarins I received a couple of days ago has already started to decompose, so I’m not sure what that meanChinese puppets - Telok Ayer Streets.

Monks led ceremonies in the Buddha Tooth Temple which was decorated with even more gold and yellow than usual. The occasion warranted a few officials to ask women to wear wraps to hide their aforementioned slinky frocks. Several groups of elderly gentleman played board games behind the temple but otherwise the narrow streets were deserted until the MRT station. A teenager was taking a leak behind a market stall – the severity of the heinous crime in Singapore being no doubt lost in an alcoholic fug.

Perhaps Singapore does have some character after all.


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