Sunday, February 10, 2008

Happy Chinese New Years! (新年快乐!)

The Chinese New Year holiday has just finished, we had a nice 2 day break from classes, followed by the weekend. It was really nice to be in a Chinese country during CNY, since all I've ever known is the small celebrations that we had as a family back in Ohio. It's really festive here, with banners and lanterns strung all about, and the other races in Singapore (Indians, Malays) also seem to enjoy the holiday.

During the break, we had traditional Lion Dancers come through our complex, including through the hallways of our condo. I was completely shocked! It was fun though, there's this stream of kids following the dancers as they walked throughout the complex, and then during the dance, the kids like to tease or hit the lion in different places.

CNY is also another time when the Istana / Presidential Palace is open to the public, and I went with a group of students to go visit. It's amazingly large, probably one of the most valuable properties in Singapore, because it's near the center of the city, and near the Orchard Rd shopping district. I've actually never noticed it there - the fencing and security is quite thick, and from the road, you would never realize that there was a huge park / governor's mansion set from the road.

Originally built by the British during colonial times, it's funny because - it has a golf course built into the palace greens! How quaint... it seemed so typically British. Maybe they first built the golf course, and thought, "hm, maybe this would make for a nice Governor's house".

Because CNY is such a huge holiday, EVERYTHING shuts down on New Year's day and the day after.. most families go back for their reunion dinners, much like Christmas in the west. My roommates and I decided to stock up on food the night before, and it seemed like everybody in Singapore had the same idea. THe grocery store was almost robbed blind of items like vegetables and meats. So, on Thursday night (CNY day), I finally cooked for the first time since coming to Singapore, mainly because we knew that all the food places would be closed. I seriously cooked up a serious storm. 6 dishes for 6 people. Felt nice to cook, but after everything, I think it's cheaper and more convenient to eat out. No cleaning necessary!

Well - now it's back to the grind for this week.. our schedule is heavier this week due to the 2 missed days for CNY, so "there is no free lunch"....

Two new galleries with CNY photos:

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