Saturday, February 3, 2007

Chinatown Visit at Night

"Lu guo jing guo, bu yao chua guo!!" (translation: Walk by pass by, do not miss by, or rather do not don't buy)

"You mai you song, duo mai duo song!" (translation: Got buy got give, buy more give more)

I got the feeling I have been time-transported to Tang Dynasty China where Famous Poets once resides.

Across the other candy stall, another golden haired uncle shouts, "AR LAI LAI LAI!!", "Zuo Guo You Guo, wan wan bu yao chua guo!!" (translation: Pass by left, Pass by right, You definitely do not want to let the opportunity simply pass by)

"Why do you think they tatoo chinese 'ang kong' writings all over their body", my wife reacted spontaneously as she laughed out.

That put a smile on my face. I recalled my 'hokkien peng' days, where some of my army buddies have tatoos of chinese writings, dragons and leopards painted all over their body. Exactly what you would expect from a page of a Chinese historic book found in the National Library, except the content is not printed on paper but on human skin. I used to mock at my army friends that they are poets because the tattoed Chinese text (usually on their thighs) are layout in vertical lines similar to that of Chinese novels.

As we squeezed through mosque street, we see stalls and more stalls, most of them selling Chinese New Year cookies, sweets, decorations and what not, mostly imported from China. Chinatown gets decorated and packed with people from all walks of life every time during this part of the year. As we look forward to the Chinese New Year come February 18, most Singaporeans would be shopping for 'nian huo' and preparing for spring cleaning. And visiting Chinatown is almost an essential part of our local culture.

"Xiao jie. Taiwan 'Mua Chi'. Original zen zong wan. Eat already gou li gou li"

As my misses is being dragged to one of the stalls by one JB ah beng, the opposite stall is swarmed packed with more people because of some prick medicorp artistes turning up, jamming up the already jammed up aisle. I must admit I took one kay poh look together with my misses, contributing to the traffic congestion, and behaving like some sua ku idiots.

Kudos should be given to people like us who contributed to the fat wallets of the Lao Beng Uncles and Lao Lian Hua Aunties manning the stalls. Because we really spent ourselves silly. Can you imagine buying $36 worth of candies in just one single stall? Such is our contribution to the economy in this region of Singapore. Adding on, we also contributed to 'a little bit' of our waist line expansion by stuffing Mcdonalds nuggets, wing zings and french fries into our stomachs, and subsequently curry noodles, fried oyster and tiger beer at maxwell market. Ya, I know, the above expression 'a little bit' is overly understated. My tummy now feels like its drooping out of my pants as I typed. Shit. I will slap myself silly with 5 extra rounds at the running track from now on.

Personally, I like Chinatown because it is a heritage area for most of us immigrants who came from China decades ago. As a matter of fact, I am a sucker for old things. I can play Tony Bennett's "I left My Heart in San Fransisco" in my car for 2 straight weeks until my wife threatens with a divorce paper.

'Gu Chia Jui", hokkien expression of the mandarin term 'Niu Che Shui', known as Singapore's Chinatown is also a mixture of the old and hip culture altogether. Sprawling along the streets of Chinatown, you would expect to see "Ba Kut Teh" eating houses standing together with PartyWorld KTVs side by side. I used to worked in Chinatown up in one of the shop houses some years ago as a designer, this further adds on to my nostalgic liking for the place. Afterall, part of my best working life as a younger designer was once here.

It has been our yearly routine to visit Chinatown, May and I will never get tired of the uncles reciting poems by their stalls. Their creativity only makes coming to Chinatown more enjoyable. Save for the mediacorp artistes who were there to cripple human traffic flow (and turned us mere beings into sua kus), this is a terrific place.

Let us look forward to a properous 'PIG' year. Gong Xi Fa Cai, Hong Bao Na Lai, Ru Guo Bu Lai, Yi Hou Bie Lai!!!!

Happy Lunar New Year!

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