Monday, February 10, 2014

Chinese New Year in Malaysia vs Singapore

I was in Malaysia during Chinese New Year and the festive feeling is much more intense. On the weekends, there are fireworks everywhere and most buildings are decorated.

In Singapore there are various designated places where they have done it up, and some, still look like Christmas lights.

I do feel that in Kuala Lumpur, things are much more bustling and interesting. There is no comparison between having Chinese New Year in Malaysia as

1) More variety of things to do, temples open late.
2) Fire works / fire crackers are allowed.
3) Bukit Bintang and various other mall areas are heavily decorated giving the festive feel.

Singapore on the other hand, action is where the casinos are. and at various designated areas.

1) River Angpao
2) Sentosa RWS
3) Istana Open House
4) Gardens by the Bay
5) Chinatown.

As a result, there is a crush of people everywhere you go and forget about taking a taxi as they are impossible to flag down.

I do feel that even though the F&B take this opportunity to over charge, generally, the cost is 40% less in Malaysia and food tastes better.

I prefer fresh chicken/ pork rather than the frozen ones you get in Singapore, and most food places are still family owned, where as there are lots of franchises in Singapore.

I must agree, that in both countries, unless you go to a very high end restaurant, service is generally bad, but food can be exceptional.

If you have not been in Malaysia (KL) for Chinese New Year, you should give it a try.

-- Robin Low

Monday, February 03, 2014

Chinese New Year in #Singapore

There are always more celebrations of Chinese New Year in Asia, Singapore is no exception.

A few weeks before Chinese New Year, Chinatown Singapore will have night bazzars selling Chinese New Year goodies. Although the price of the products increase every year, possibly due to rents, the crowds do not seem to care.

Weekends and days before Chinese New Year will bring extra large crowds to Chinatown. Every year, the products sold is the same, over priced new year goodies, made in China. Squeezing through the crowd is an experience, so if you have not done it, it is worth a try.

In Singapore, on the eve of Chinese New Year till the second day of Chinese New Year, many shops are closed. However, there are also some Chinese New Year specific events to go to.

1) River AngPao.

This event is held on the Singapore River. Typically beside Esplanade at the F1 Building floating platform. There will be lots of "lanterns" and the 12 zodiac signs on display and of course, this free event draws huge crowds too.

There are also many shows at River AngPao, but these shows are rarely worth the wait. Its usually some Chinese groups dancing and singing folk songs, and besides having nice costumes, the performances are rarely spectacular.

2) Free Museum Visits. (National Museum of Singapore) is usually free on Chinese New Year.

3) Istana Open House. -- Free entry, and open to visits on first day of Chinese New Year.

4) Floral Displays. -- Used to be at RWS (Resorts World Sentosa) but it is now at Gardens by the Bay, and it is not free. Normal Admission applies.

5) Sentosa Events. -- Acrobatics, Lion Dance and Dragon Dance, along with the parade of "God of Fortune" is an annual event at RWS. Admission to the Island is $1 via board walk and the outdoor events are free.

Crowds to these free event will be huge, and toilets are rare and hard to locate. The performances in Sentosa is much better than River AngPao, but you need to find out the schedule and arrive early.

Coming to Singapore for Chinese New Year is a rather interesting experience, but it can be pricey as everything costs more than the usual. (Being the 7th most costly city, things are not cheap to start with)

Definitely lots of interesting things to do and see. (But lots of shopping closed for 3 days)

-- Robin Low