Getting into the CNY mood

I usually avoid the Chinatown area during Chinese New Year, since squeezing through the crazy crowds, is not something I’d put myself or the kids through.

However, this year, I thought I’d spend a couple of hours in the afternoon, wandering around, and it was more pleasant than I expected.  Perhaps it was because it was in the day, and perhaps because it’s not the week (or day!) right before CNY, so the crowds were manageable, and the atmosphere was very festive.

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There were lanterns criss-crossing overhead on all the little streets, which were lined on both sides with temporary stalls, selling all sorts of goodies for CNY.

The waxed duck/waxed chicken/preserved chinese sausages (larp cheong)/waxed legs of ham stalls were the most impressive. Long rows of this special produce that is most often seen and eaten during this festive season.

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IMG_7111The waxed legs of ham (our very own versions of the Hamon that is so common in the streets of Madrid), are so solid, that it takes an electric saw, no less (pictured below) to cut through them! This man was sawing at it for quite a while.

IMG_7123I love Chinese calligraphy, and I think this was one of the more interesting scrolls I saw during my walk that day… Beautiful, beautiful script, and a somewhat unique sentiment. I do hope to pick up calligraphy formally sometime…

IMG_7119Then I saw an uncle writing more traditional 春联 (Spring couplet greetings), but with unconventional headgear. Is that a cowboy hat or what?  He had just completed a scroll, and there was a crowd around his stall. I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition of something so ancient (brush and ink calligraphy), against something rather modern (flame orange electric hairdryer)!  Guess there’s no need to be a Luddite and whatever combination that drives efficiency should be used!

IMG_7125I’ve also been seeing quite a few of my friends post photos of their family paper cuttings on Instagram and the like. So thanks to the brilliant directions (Chinatown MRT exit A, walk straight, turn right) from my friend MummyDelphine (who also has a specific post on this on her blog), I made my way down to get a set for my own little family!

IMG_7118It’s not exactly cheap ($10 per character cut out of suede-like red paper, and an extra $10 for the frame), but they do personalise it with the Chinese characters of your name, so I took it as paying for craftsmanship! Plus my Chinese name is crazy hard to write, not to mention cut out. They can also cut out your likeness on the spot, but that goes for a more hefty $25 per portrait, for a slightly larger paper character (top of photo above).

IMG_7126I was very pleased with the final product, but later wished I had asked for a better frame. Ah well, it works so I guess it’s always good not to be too fussy.

I recall doing a Chinese class project on paper cutting in secondary school, and my final folio had at least 10 paper cuttings that I did myself. I suppose I could make the set above if I really wanted, but the names would take a lot of time.

I then saw these really elaborate and huge paper cuttings, and I thought the ones on the left were particularly interesting because they were Goat-themed. I’m not sure about these, but I think most paper cuttings (especially those sold at supermarkets) are all factory/machine cut. Intricate, but not quite the same as handmade.

IMG_7113I rounded up my little afternoon tour near this quaint statue of a Samsui woman with her buckets, towering above Food Street. I think the sugarcane uncle was looking at me somewhat disapprovingly, haha!

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I doubt I’d be back again with the kids, but if you are looking for the best bargains, definitely pop by late at night on Chinese New Year Eve, when stalls will be closing and trying their best to rid themselves of all their stock. I’ve even heard of stalls leaving bunches of pussy willows along the streets, as a free for all, since it’s a means of helping them ‘dispose’ of it. So will you be popping by Chinatown this year? 🙂

新年期间的唐人街洋溢着浓浓的新春气氛。红红的装饰,喧嚣的街头。不妨逛一逛,心中若有什么郁闷,都会被抛到九霄云外!

  10 comments for “Getting into the CNY mood

  1. February 6, 2015 at 8:24 am

    Yes I’m so tempted to get the paper cuttings for the family too!! But I’ll wait until it’s complete hehe
    Ai Sakura recently posted…Bub & Me: Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo & Win KidsFest 2015 Hampers + {Promo}My Profile

    • February 7, 2015 at 7:49 am

      Yup, definitely, that’s what I did heh!

  2. February 6, 2015 at 8:38 am

    I keep wanting to visit Chinatown on my own too, since I doubt I’ll be able to really enjoy myself with Noah in tow. Maybe I’ll try to do it next week, while Noah is in school. Heh. The paper cuttings are really tempting, but like Ai, I think I’ll wait till I’m sure the family is complete, before getting it done. Thanks for sharing!
    Adeline recently posted…Friday Flips #1: Tap to Play!My Profile

    • February 7, 2015 at 7:49 am

      Yes I think it’s great to spend some me-time there! And I do think my family’s done, so that’s why I went to do it this year heh.

  3. Yingling
    February 7, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    So fun n those paper cutting r really nice!

  4. Zee
    February 8, 2015 at 10:27 am

    On my way there now (with two kids in tow). I hope we survive :p I am trying to convince the husband to do the family portrait paper cutting!
    Zee recently posted…Didi at 11 months oldMy Profile

  5. February 10, 2015 at 12:27 am

    The last minute bargains on the eve are unbelievable but so are the massive human jams. I used to go there every CNY eve with my parents just for the fun of it, but I think hubs is not going to entertain my request to go at all.
    Susan recently posted…Valentine’s Gift Idea – IKEA Desktop Mini Flip AlbumMy Profile

    • February 10, 2015 at 9:31 am

      My hubs will definitely veto it, and I’m inclined to agree! Maybe when the kids are much older, and actually want to go…
      Lyn Lee recently posted…Lost My Name – book reviewMy Profile

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