Saturday, January 21, 2017

Chinatown Festive Street Bazaar to Welcome the Year of the Rooster 2017 @ Singapore #roosteryear #chinatown #streetbazaar

Be prepared to be overwhelmed by over 150 photographs in this post as i bring to you the annual festive street bazaar to welcome the most celebrated occasion within the Chinese population; lunar new year!

Earlier this month, i shared the nighttime street decorations for the upcoming rooster year and although i covered a bit on the bazaar, it's hardly sufficient to show what's available for sale!

Hence, i purposely took leave just to visit during the day when the lighting condition would be most favourable for my amateurish photography skill.

On 09 January, the queue was still manageable and i even managed to get two boxes for my mom despite waiting for less than 5 minutes. Prices THEN was S$54 a kilogram for the signature sliced pork bak kwa; guess it is now a few dollars more.

Two notices for your information; there could be a limit to the amount you can purchase for the signature sliced pork bakwa and given the rise of inconsiderate queue cutters; raise your objection immediately once you realise someone is cutting your queue!

Smith Street
The street bazaar consists of a number of streets; namely Pagoda, Smith, Sago, Temple and Trengganu. To make it easier for navigation, i am going to break up this post into their respective street headers. First to come; Smith Street!

This would likely be a photo post with minimal words (i will try my best) as many things didn't differ from past years and i can bet with you that i am likely going to repeat myself. If you have the time, you can read the bazaar postings for monkey year (2016), goat year (2015), horse year (2014), snake year (2013), dragon year (2012) and tiger year (2010).

Some of the pictures even look kind of familiar and could have been the old stock from past years. Nevertheless, they add to the festive atmosphere; adding a layer of colour and vibrancy!

Was it only last year that i realised that the red dress peanuts were actually pretty good?! Do you know that i forgot about it and didn't even buy a pack! Thankfully, mum was happy to get her hands on the expensive black king (some stalls called it king kong) peanuts.

Waxed products - they were at the same location last year and as usual, i didn't see many people buying. To be fair, maybe their main source of income comes from last minute shopping in the last week before the lunar new year!

Huge ass decorations to spruce up your house. Unlike my father, i didn't feel the need to hype up the atmosphere at home and to be, festival or not, friend and relatives are welcome to drop by anytime they fancy; so long i am available.

Going the techie way - a revolving display of a money tree!

Prefers living products? Get the bamboo plants! As it is the rooster year next week, i thought i would see more pots to have the image of a rooster / chicken.

Stalks of pussy willows; their blooms are not as colourful with their furry white buds but they signify the start of spring and were popularly put in houses to welcome the season.

Dried persimmons with little mandarin oranges on the side - at this point, we are at the cross junction of smith street, food street, sago lane and trengganu street.

Aside from the main centerpiece at the cross junction of Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road with Upper Cross Street, the blown up toys at this stall should be considered as another icon for the bazaar! Santa Claus was put next to the god of fortune as Christmas was just slightly more than a month before lunar new year.

Sago Street
One of my favourite streets in Chinatown as it is narrow, designated for pedestrians only and with commercial entities on both sides selling touristy stuff yet with a few focusing on traditional trades that have been for ages!

Packets of pistachios; i almost bought a few packets as i needed to improve my pistachios cookies recipe. Didn't in the end as i am too lazy to separate shells from nuts.

Rooster plushies!

Dried, preserved fruits often used as offerings for festive praying although some people could just eat them as snacks! There's one called keat hong that my sister loved to indulge in when she was younger.

Golden pumpkins - have never eaten it before. I remember my mom ever saying people purchased them just for displays as they symbolise wealth and prosperity.

Other fruits, including pomelos!

Couplets with Chinese calligraphy; never quite understand the art for calligraphy and unsurprising since my handwriting for both English and Chinese is illegible most of the times.

The old auntie was still there but she was selling bunches of bananas instead of stalks of vegetables. Was the guy taking a photo of me taking a photo of him?

Traditional offerings again.

Mom will always ask me to buy a few things every year whenever she heard i would be going to Chinatown before Chinese New Year and one of them is a product from Tai Chong Kok; a pastry establishment with over 80 years of operations!

Forking money for the nian gao (new year cake)! After offering them to the ancestors and deities, mum will slice and deep fry them; sometimes with slice sweet potato and yam, making for a delicious, calorie-laden snack!

Random photos - be prepared for many of them in this post. :)

The chicken / rooster soft toys can be so adorable; you have the dumb looking ones on top shelf, the cartoon one in the middle and the chicken little look alike at the bottom.

Tiny red packets that were common during the times when our parents were kids; back then, inflation wasn't as high and many red packets were filled with coins, rather than notes.

Sago Street is a L-shaped street and this is the section bordering the glamorous Buddha Tooth temple.

Now, wasn't this the same toy circulating on the web with claims that they were made using real rabbit fur?! Well, they looked really cute.

Lunar decorations using red packets; i remember a time when many people were crazy with self making their own. Even my mum (or was it my dad) attempted a few times.

Sparklers and party poppers - the safer (albeit boring) alternatives to firecracker and fireworks. :(

I am so craving for durians! Just read on facebook a durian buffet somewhere in Marsiling but i no longer have a car and am too lazy to take the public transport there even though it was just a few train stops away from Yishun.

Singapore themed souvenirs which were priced so cheaply! Isn't Singapore supposed to be an expensive place? Correction, expensive if you take into consideration housing and cars. Food is still relatively affordable although in terms of percentage, the increases over the past decade have been hard to stomach, especially for families with stagnant incomes.

End of my Sago street journey.

Night view of the peach blossom (i think) decorations was disappointing; day time was much better and from far, it did seem like the south bridge road was flanked by trees with blooming flowers.

Temple Street
If you have limited time and simply want to soak in the festive atmosphere without having to go through all the five streets; i would strongly recommend spending time at Temple Street.

You still have vendors selling products with a tradition linked to the festivities even religious) but the longest street (compared to the other four) has a lot more to offer.

Like the Volcano Watermelon which was just watermelon slushie housed in a real watermelon. I encountered a similar one at Bangkok's Suan Lum bazaar and noted the operator using a ton of sugar syrup! Not sure if it would be the same case here.

The stall with the volcano watermelon is one of twelve under the section known as YouthEats! Another one would be this one selling shabu burgers (beef and chicken option). Rings a bell? It was featured in Straits Times Weekend Life yesterday.

Others under YouthEats include Smoke Out! I have been wanting to try it since 泰 Fantastic Thai Market but it continued to elude me as the machine didn't seem to be ready when i was there. :(

6 Flavours of Lemonade-  honestly, the name appears more like a description of the six flavours (mint, pineapple, pomegranate, tangerine, raspberry and lavender) they have for sale rather than the actual name.

Two others supposedly under YouthEats would be Mr Kebab and Momolato Soft Serve - i didn't have the stomach to try any; hence, no review.

Our usual decorative and malt candy stalls; i always wonder how they managed to survive all these years as sales didn't appear too good. For malt candy, there is a higher chance for me to buy a drink.

I was wondering what hides underneath and i believe this would be the stall for Coffee Hock! Fortunately, i have already purchased a few packets for my mom when i was there in the evening. According to the pretty lady manning the stall then, they usually open from 7 pm on weekdays but would open way earlier in the last week leading to the rooster year.

Cheap bedsheets at just S$10 a set - bought once, torn after just one use and swear never to buy another one again!

Tempted to buy the big lion head for Jerald even though the stingy uncle feels that there's a chance that he would just dump it aside. Okay, shall not waste my money then!

Solar powered head bobbing toys!

Trengganu snacks that's not sold along Trengganu street. Never try never know but for someone trying to control his diet, all these shall be a no-no!

Distributor for peru maca and chia seeds - latter is well known and i have never heard of maca. According to a banner placed at the side, peru maca is a "natural herb grown at an altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level" and said to be, well, healthy for the body. p.s. i forgot to take a photo of the health benefits.

Traditional new year cookies - now that i have an oven and quite open to experiment baking, i am actually less keen to buy anyone of them, unless it's instruction from the mom.

Almost couldn't resist buying this humongous golden piggy bank.

Clothes for the new year - limited to ladies and kids only. Guys are always on the losing end when it comes to clothing and fashion; i am not complaining since that means i can prioritise my spending on other stuff.

Sacks of melon seeds and peanuts!

Nail polish at 5 for S$10. It was there in previous years too but the reason why i took special attention this time was because i just found out that a fellow colleague was damn pro in nail art and had like over 40,000 followers on Instagram!

Patterned canvas shoes.

Handmade Noelle Grandma Cookies with uses of the supposedly healthy charcoal powder. This kind of cookies would be condemned in the past as the older generation tends to avoid black, often linking the colour to death and back luck.

Sofa toppers - i would have gotten a few and didn't because none of the colours appealed to me! I would prefer a darker colour like grey and black that would complement my house better.

Real, frozen flowers - as mentioned to a few friends, i needed some colours in my house and these were in consideration for quite some time as maintenance is quite fuss free. The ones here were more economically priced but i did notice a difference; the amount of dried flowers was also very much reduced.

African stall was also back this year! Do keep in mind that 40% of your purchases would go into supporting charitable causes so why not get something pretty that could improve your image and at the same time, contribute to worthy causes.

Household / personal products have the tendency to draw my attention; like the brightly coloured dish cloth, the chokeless sink strainer, the magic product that promises no more cockroaches / lizards / ants / mosquitoes, hooks that can be easily installed, ice sleeves, Korean nano (microfiber and anti slip) memory mat etc.

The magical heat pads brought back a lot of memory. the time when Alex went crazy over this product at Taiwan's Fengjia night market and he bought so many; our luggage was severely overweight.

Plushie again.

Not yet open for business, just like kopi hock! Some of the stall owners could actually hold on to permanent, full time jobs and could only hop by the stall after their work.

Paper face portraits - a twist to the conventional portraits taken at professional studios. This would be nice to put at the front door.

Another stall for melon seeds and peanuts.

Sofa covers - thought presentation can be improved as it didn't seem quite fitting.

Mandarin oranges - the one thing you must bring along when you go around visiting and it's always in pairs. I don't mind bringing them but i prefer to eat them, especially the Lukan type!

King Of Melon Seeds never failed to impress with their presentation and the sheer amount of products they have in comparison to their competitors; sampling is a must to decide if you should buy a pack!

Yet again another mainstay for the festive bazaar - the Korean shitake mushrooms and mushroom seasoning powder! I used to say i would buy when i move house. Now that i have my own house, i procrastinated.

Only halfway through temple street.

Prefers variety? Go for this long stretch of goodies filled from floor to ceiling! Their products are mainly placed in smaller containers and some actually tasted quite good when i purchased a few bottles a few years ago.

Lucky bamboo plants; why lucky i also don't know. However, you can check out the link here for the 13 lucky plants for Chinese New Year.

Sampling available again!

Golden flaxseed that was the rage in previous two years. Slightly more scaled down this year, you should take a sample and judge for yourself.

Taiwan jellies were so popular about five or six years ago; you can hear the stall operators hollering as there were so many stores. Trend comes and goes; i think i only saw at most two stores at the street bazaar this year.

Taiwanese New Year Cake is another victim of the food fad with reduced outlets this year.

With its signature handwritten boards, this was one stall i always purchased my melon seeds and peanuts from as they are often priced the lowest!

This was misleading as i thought it was selling farm pack oven roasted peanuts when in fact, it was the same dried preserved fruits store i patronised in the past years.

Interesting notice - seems like a lot of people would ignore the bowls of samples and just attacked the bigger pieces! Hahaha. But i couldn't blame them as the bowls were transparent and those elderly with bad eye sight wouldn't be able to spot the difference.

Korean beverages - Korean stuff might be the next in thing for the new year bazaars! Let's confirm next year, in the year of the woof woof.

Black soybean drink, also from Korea!

Remember i said it's a must to bring mandarin oranges when you visit your friends and relatives? In relation to the aforementioned, most people would require a paper bag to hold the oranges but S$1 a piece for such a simple design was pricey.

Cushions and table runners!

Bags at S$10 each; frankly, i can see such sights at Chong Pang market. Don't believe me? Just visit on a Sunday and be blown away by the amount of stuff that's for sale.

Australian macadamia nuts - can macadamia veterans help with my question? At S$22 for a 400 grams pack, is the quality worth the price? I don't mind buying a few packs as i want to make macadamia chocolate chip cookies!

Melon seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds; for your choosing!

Clothes for the ladies, again.

Made to order wooden clogs and sandals - this stall has been around every year since i started blogging about the festive bazaar to welcome the new lunar year.

Little nyonya shoes for your kids; so adorable!

I mentioned it before and i am going to say it again; why do we need a wedding photo booth to be stationed here!? It's not even loosely tied to the new year! The same goes for booths for banks and insurance firms.

Seaweed crispies with many flavours!

Old school sweets that were so my time. With parents maintaining an iron fist when it comes to their child's health and nutrition, this is likely on a downward trend unless parents decide to indulge secretly when the kids are not looking.

Samples for dried persimmons; this was the one i purchased when i visited to take photos of the festive decorations. It was so good and reminded me of the authentic ones i had at Guilin!

Taiwanese jellies and mochi.

More seeds - just a thought; if the stall operators are not being attentive, would you think that the birds would fly by to steal a few bites to curb their hunger?

Towels; have dragons, have horses, have tigers but no roosters.

Pomelos from Ipoh; as Singapore has not much farmland, most of our food is imported and that means we can sometimes identify products that hail specifically from a region / city.

Little smiley figurines of the god of fortune!

Pinwheels from the famous Wong Tai Sin temple in Hongkong. Should i revisit the city after a long hiatus of twenty years?! Last visit was in 1997.

Finally got to the end of Temple Street! By the way, temple street is indeed named after a temple although it's not a buddhist / taoist temple! The temple in question here is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore; Sri Mariamman.

Trengganu Street
I only conquered half of this as there's really not that much to see as the bazaar space would usually be rented by the brick and mortar shops behind and they were merely an extension in many cases.

Just a few photos for your viewing pleasure.

Pagoda Street
It makes perfect sense for me to leave Pagoda street for the last as it ends at the escalator leading down to the MRT station where i could take a train home!

These robes had such a silky smooth texture; i almost wanted to get a few pieces to wear at home, in spite of the gaudy patterns.

King of Peanuts maintained a booth too with melons and peanuts for sale; however, i noted there's a new addition. Popcorns with three flavours; caramel, creamy (guess it means butter?) and chocolate.

Korean instant noodles and snacks - things that you could get easily from many of the Korean supermarkets in Singapore. I am unsure if the prices are cheaper as a whole even though for the case of honey butter almonds / cashews, i didn't notice a significant difference in pricing.

Lemongrass products from Taiwan - you just need an article splashed over the mass media extolling the advantages of lemongrass towards the fight for dengue and i can promise you; sales at this stall would be spectacular!

Another booth hailing from the sweet potato country - highland tea and Taiwanese puddings; latter of which i guess were similar to the common jelly types sold in 100 grams format at Chinese new year bazaars.

Cushion covers again! By the way, the price is for cushion cover and doesn't include cushions which i believe can be purchased separately.

Sealed sticks - this has been around in the market for so long! Nevertheless, i feel like buying a few to keep at home; just in case. Damn, now i know how my mother feels whenever she goes markets. A lot of stuff were purchased because of "just in case".

With Sri Mariamman Temple strapped between Temple Street and Pagoda Street, it's not a surprise to find entities selling Hindu / Indian related products, like the sacred symbol of Om!

Taiwanese sea bird's nest - i have never tried this brand before as i am a loyal customer and would always go for the Arkon brand.

Cast iron tea pots made in Taoyuan, Taiwan! This was featured in the newspaper yesterday. Personally, i have always preferred ceramic material for teapots; what are the advantages of using cast iron, aside for the conduct of heat?

Intellectual toys similar to Lego, i think.

Random pictures again.I really enjoy taking photos of the dancing lions. Would i buy them and hang a few at home? No since i hate things that collect dust and unless really necessary, i doubt i will buy.

Chinatown Alley artwork - my plain white walls can do with a few pictures and to be frank, i think the artwork here would be suitable. Issue is; i am worried it would cost too much and didn't even dare to ask.

155 South Bridge - a taste of SG; seems like a local foodstuff and product shop for tourists. Pardon for the ignorant local as i have never heard of the brands covered. Well, they could be good.

T-junction at Pagoda Street and Trengganu Street; i have always wondered if this Chinatown Seafood restaurant is good since customers seated inside are usually foreigners. On tripadvisor, it commands a decent rating of 4.

The hard work from the older generation has contributed to Singapore's growth over the years and an appropriate icon is the samsui women who worked mainly in construction with their signature red-cloth hats! Mind you, we are talking about the era that's pre-independence. 

Funny roosters that didn't seem that funny; the sole emotion from me was of shock as the price was S$18.80 for a moving, plastic toy! 

Head masks of the characters leading the lion and dragon in lion and dragon dance. Even though i have seen them since young, i have no idea who they actually are. 

Traditional attire for kids - i always wanted to wear them when i was a kid but the pricing was out of my parents' reach. Now that i am older, i prefer to stick to my comfortable attire! 

Entire shop was decked out in festive decorations and rightfully so since the decorations were all for sale. Strangely, i still couldn't recollect what this shop is selling past the new year period! 

Lim Chee Guan was selling their bak kwa at S$54 a kilogram and this one along the busier Pagoda Street was only S$20 for half a kilogram! 

Souvenirs for foreigners - even i am tempted to get that keychains that cost only S$10 for 42 pieces! on closer look, the pricing was a bit confusing; right below the S$1 sign mentioned buy 10 get 2 free and if 1 if S$1, 10 would be S$10 with 2 free ones. Hm.. what the hell is 42 then?

Finally, the end as i got to the escalators at the end of Pagoda Street where i could take the northeast (purple) line which would connect me to northsouth (red) line and bring me home! 

Hereby wishing all my readers a happy, healthy and prosperous rooster year ahead! Happiness should always comes before health and wealth. :) 


Chinatown @ Singapore

Duration of Festive Bazaar
Now Until 27 January 2017


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