The build up to Chinese New Year is neither quiet nor subtle. One minute it is Christmas and the next the golden doves of peace and glowing baubles have been replaced by red paper pineapples, canned music and assorted prosperity symbols.
Shops are hawking the sweetmeats (my favourite is bak kwa- pictured left) that are a speciality of the season and every hawker centre appears to have a temporary trestle or two with seasonal merchandise and special items such as fruit-bearing mandarin bushes.
Chinese households have live plants in bloom to symbolize rebirth. Flowers are symbols of wealth and elevated career positions. There are a lot of pussy willow and plum blossom brnaches for sale in the markets at the moment. According to some sources plum blossom reliability and perseverance.
Chinese believe that flowers are fundemental to the formation of fruit. Therefore, it is very important to have flowers and floral decorations.
If you want to know more about the Chinese New Year festival I would suggest a visit to Wikipedia
So how are we celebrating the New Year - by escaping from it, that's how!
We have booked a few days up in the Genting Highlands which promises cool airs and the ability to lose money quickly in the local casinos if one feels so inclined.
It is a seven hour coach trip from Singapore to Genting so here's hoping the bus is of the highest quality, especially as we need to board said vehicle at 6:30 in the morning.
I have alluded to the frenzy of buying that accompanies Chinese New Year with the concept of new clothes "inside and out". This includes footwear but as with most things in town, if you know where to look there are bargains to be had.
Ten minutes walk from us is the Queensway Shopping Centre, one of the older malls. Its claim to fame is that it is full of sporting and sportwear shops. You can buy a good pair of branded sandshoes much cheaper than in the main shopping districts and it is the same location where I get my large format prints produced - the upper levels are reserved for print shops.
Today we walked up past Anchorpoint to Queensway and bought two lightweight windbreakers at less than $25 a piece. These are for our forthcoming sorte to the Genting Highlands. The night airs there range from 13 to 17 degrees and we of course have become acclimatised to much higher tempertaures in recent months.