It was Ren Shan Ren Hai 人山人海 (People Mountain People Sea) as many Singaporeans flocked to Chinatown to await the light up. Waiting with patience, the people lined up the entire New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen St from Upper Cross St to Kreta Ayer St.
Save those nearer to the Peoples' Park Complex who could see the ceremony on the screen, the rest had to wait patiently "in the dark". Only invited guests could get to see the main stage where the main event was held. And when the DJ led in the counting from 10, many who were sitting on the kerb (ah, on normal days one would risk being run over by sitting on the kerbside) stood up, cranking their necks to look for action. When it hit zero, the entire streets lit up with Chun 春 floating all above us. Somewhere above the Peoples' Park Complex, the sound of fire crackers came, followed by rain of fine red paper, the remants of the fire crackers. For some reason, a breeze was blowing bringing the snow of red dust onto us. Ah, perhaps, that was indication of good luck to be brought by the Tiger.
While thousands waited patiently for the show, hundreds were enjoying the popular Si Chuan Huo Guo 四川火锅 - fiery steam boat from Szechuan. A new shop selling porridge was seen offering competition to the established one by the corner of Keong Saik Rd and New Bridge Road. Into Smith St, more people walked, attracted by the calls of the stallholders to try out their fair. From the famous Cantonese waxed goods - sausages, waxed ducks, Wong Fa Yi 黄花鱼 (Huang Hua Yu), Yunnan Ham - to melon seeds to golden pumpkins, bottle gourds 葫芦 (hu lu) to Japanese dried mushrooms. There was even a queue at Wurstand for the german sausages served by the Austrian chef, dress in red, but of course.
Outside the Chinatown Complex, oblivious to the din, a few crowds were focussing on the intense game of 'Dum" (draughts). On the other end, a young band was belting out the popular Chinese New Year songs. And further up Spring St, where the huge tentage was set up for the Chinese New Year mart, the crowd was less. The two auctioneers (they sounded like Taiwan or Mainland Chinese) were calling out for bids for the numerous good luck collectibles. Plants are part of Chinese New Year decorations, with many helping to usher in a good year, like the specially arranged Guan Yin Bamboo, aptly called Bu Bu Gao Sheng 步步高生.
At the South Bridge Road end, probably because most of the goldsmith shops used to be here, the decorations has the upsidedown Fu 福 (prosperity) hanging across the road. The Chinese love to think that an upsidedown Fu means that Prosperity has arrived, instead of the other sound. I often wondered if someone had made a mistake and got a saving grace coming up with this story. (^^)
If the crowd tonight continues for the next two weeks, it will spell well for the Chinatown economy and certainly for the economy of Singapore! (^^)