Sunday, February 28, 2010

God of Fortune (財神廟) @ Sembawang (三巴旺), Singapore

Spare the argument, the God of Fortune (aka God of Prosperity, God of Wealth, Cai Shen and 财神) is the "homo-sapien" symbol for Chinese New Year!

Everywhere you go, you can see the pictures of Cai Shen, the statues of Cai Shen, humans dolling as Cai Shen, Cai Shen toys and even songs that ring irritably with the descent of Cai Shen (cai sheng dao, dong, dong dong dong!).

Without doubt, this "specialised" temple in Sembawang (28 Admiralty Street), housing the God of Fortune, attracts a lot of people during the Chinese New Year.

And with the big TOTO draw of S$10 million looming then, my mom had to pray for some hopefully good fortune to tide the year over (she needs her shopping and my paltry pay is not helping).

To my surprise, Cai Shen is not ONE god!

From the mini placards placed in front of each statue, the responsibility for the god of fortune is in fact shared by different gods, each handling a directional (north, east, south, west and central) or type of fortune!

Not being an overly religious guy, i roamed around the temple, which is decorated with so many glittering gold decorations but is relatively small in size since the compound is shared with other temples.

The Shan Cai Tong Zi (善才童子) is a disciple of Guan Yin Goddess. There's a ladle that you can drenched the statue with water. He can help you to manage and attract your monetary assets.

The Dragon King! I don't really see any direct link with the God of Forune except that water is believed to help in the "birth" of fortune and dragons are believed to control the water world.

These four statues used to be located somewhere else to welcome all visitors. With the closure of some pathways, they have been assembled near the main entrance.

Dozens of coiled shaped incenses for the god(s).

Though we didn't win the TOTO S$10 million (sadly), our main hope is to be granted good fortune every single day of the year; financially, physically and mentally.

And i hope the same for everyone of you!

HUAT AH!!!!!

The Gambling Curse (Luck)

Being Chinese, gambling flows in our dragon blood.

However, I am really not a compulsive gambler and my bets are limited to the 3 times a week 4D, the occasional TOTO when the winnings are big and the rare mahjong whenever i feel my mum is on the verge of losing her memory!

Hallo, I don't even go to Genting Highland for its casinos!
It's the theme park fresh and cool weather i crave for!!

Nonetheless, the internal need from birth intensifies during the Chinese New Year season; the unmistakable clark clark sound from the mahjong tiles, the resounding "picture, picture" for the banker in blackjack etc etc. 

And of course, who can miss the vulgarities from the losers!! Being a multi-racial country has its benefits. The swearing in its multiple forms from the languages and dialects do sound pretty colourful and intriguing!


The most memorable gambling session (with no lack of @#!$@) came from Ssaneva's house; she was the banker for blackjack. 

Kon had 5 Cards (aka Gou Ling) - 2 times payout
Alex had Double A (aka Ban Ban) - 3 times payout
I had 3 Cards of 7 - 7 times payout!!!

The first in my life!!

Challenging play was next when we tried "In-Between"! 
The gameplay is as follows:

=>Each player pays a dollar to the pot ($4 for 4 of us).
=>Two cards (open up) will be distributed to each player in order.
=>You will be dealt a closed card (3rd one)

=>The choice is yours; would you want to bet that the rank for this closed card is between the two cards you have (A being the smallest and K, the biggest)?

Yes?
Say your stake (everything in the pot or just S$1)?

No?
Skip and the next player continues.

=> As usual, there's a catch.

Between.
You get the amount of money you stake for

Beyond.
You pay the exact amount of money you stake for, back into the pot

Same.
Please dutifully pay double the amount of money you stake for, into the growing pot!!!

With a pathetic S$4 in the pot, our pot ballooned to S$300+!!
I lost close to S$200 for one game.

No pain, no gain
No risk, no return

True of this statement but i am going to start on a very boring caution message here. 

The curse of gambling is so terrifying it can shape your life from young till death. It can empty whatever you have, including the shirt on your back, the roof over your head and the worst; your loved ones.

Enough about this! You do have the brains to weigh the pros and cons! We shall leave it to the gahmen to propagate the vices of gambling.
 .
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
I spent S$100 on the TOTO S$10 million draw
The numbers were not the winning combination.
*heart pain*


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spring Festival (The Food)

Certain food is a MUST HAVE during certain festive seasons; like mooncake for Mid-Autumn Festival and rice dumplings for the Dragon Boat Festival.

For the Lunar New Year, there are seriously too much food associated with it!!

On bite-size snacks alone, there are a few dozens to choose from. For Singapore, this colourful variety was further expanded as a result of a harmonious multi-racial society.

Privately,
there is one simple meal that i never thought i will miss.

My family had this meal for the reunion dinner every single year. Since the fresh ingredients were purchased in bulk and uncooked, the same meal will be "recycled" for the next few days.

But this year, the mother hen decided to spare herself the trouble of preparing for it.  

|=_=|

Another classic example of
"Humans (aka me) always take things for granted"

The broth that had withstand long hours of cooking

The careful spreading and excitable dumping of any fresh ingredients into the boiling soup. Popular ingredients include salmon, prawns, fish balls, squid, meat balls, crab sticks, vegetables, tofu etc etc.

Want to splurge? 
Add abalone, sea cucumber, scallops and crabs!

The Anticipation?
A bowl of delicious soup that was infused with all the essence of the fresh ingredients!

What's the Meal?
Steamboat lah!!!!
See so many pictures still don't know?!?!?!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spring Festival (Lights of Spring 2010) @ Sentosa

Re-modelled from the original Sentosa Flowers, the Lights of Spring is touted as "an illuminating wonderland celebrating the Lunar New Year spring festivities under the night sky", as quoted from the Sentosa website.

Illuminating; yes
Wonderland; okay lah.

I attended the Sentosa Flowers last year and was then amazed by the wide variety of colors and flowers used, in the day time. With electric lights for the night time, i am afraid that there's only so much it can do and show.

Granted, the team did their best to come out with designs that relate to the Chinese New Year and though pretty, it was not that fascinating for me.

The Rings of Enchantment
Representing Happiness, Health, Abundance, Love, Harmony, Togetherness, Wealth, Longevity, Knowledge and Peace

Trees of Life
This regular fixture represented the circle of rebirth and well wishers were encouraged to write their New Year wishes on a piece of paper that costs a bloody S$2 and hanged it on a fake branch.

So natural hor!

Some wishes seemed so heartwarming while some were plain mercenary. With that kind of language, you need loads of luck to be a millionaire. *pray* *pray hard*.

Bells of Prosperity
Ring the bell and i shall be the sole winner for the TOTO S$10 million draw!!

That's exactly what i was thinking of excitedly before i pulled too hard and the rope snapped!

Good omen, i guess wish hope.

Twelve Zodiac Animals
Again, the twelve lunar zodiac! I am showing the horses because they were so cute! Look like pygmy ponies!!

Okay lah, show another one; the dragon because it was so petite!

Merlion
The highlight and saving grace was the HUGE papa merlion with his stunning 'clothes' changing (below).




========

By the way, the Lights of Spring ended on 21 February 2010.
This post is purely for memory recall next year!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Aspirasi Food Stall (Ayam Penyet) @ Seah Im Food Centre

Hungry was the basic sensation i felt then and Mr Kon and Vannie (knowing that i am pretty broke) recommended this ayam penyet stall located at Seah Im Food Centre, a few hundred steps away from Vivocity, knowing how much i love this Indonesian dish with the crispy, fried chicken skin!  

Looking at the deserted stall, i was doubtful but there's still a glimmer of hope! Picky Ms Vannie and Foodie Kon's recommendation should be good!

When the dish came, the first thing that caught my attention was the color of the chilli; instead of the usual spectrum of red, it had some green stuff too. Compared to most ayam penyet chilli, this was milder and definitely more comforting for my taste buds.

Now the chicken.

Nicely chopped up to make it easier for the diners, the meat was moist without being overly oily and the skin was crispy right! Regrettably, the lack of the strong yet delightful tumeric taste pushed the grading of this otherwise good dish much lower.

It was better than usual fried chicken but in the case of ayam penyet, it did not make the cut.

Not yet.

==========

Location
Please!
Streetdirectory.com and search for Seah Im Food Centre.
The stall is number is 01-45.

Other Information
While we were enjoying our food, a long queue started forming!
Again, first impression doesn't mean everything!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mario Party 8 and Mario Kart - Nintendo DS Lite

How would i ever survive without this incredible gadget in my life??!?!

I know there's always my ipod touch (Tap Tap Revenge 2 etc) and novels/comic books to fall back on.

Worse come to worse, my battled Sony Ericsson K800i (i know it's time to change) has games that will help to decrease my boredom on the sardines-packed train and bus journeys!

Food DOESN'T help when i can be fined for even quietly sucking on a piece of sugar-free sweet!

Coming back, it has always been my dream to get a Nintendo portable console! From young, i can only looked with green envy whenever my cousins got a new Nintendo. I even had to resort to borrowing in order to play Pokemon.

Those were the days....

When i got my DS lite console 2 years back, i trawled the internet for free games, with Super Mario spinoffs as my top priority. Till now, i still prefer Mario-content games; especially Mario Party 8 and Mario Kart~!!

Mario Party 8
is a monopoly-inspired game but the gameplay is steeply enhanced with the touchscreen!! The main purpose of the game is to gain as many stars as you can.

My record is 39 stars for one game.

Dare to challenge me?
*with thunders N evil laughter*

Mario Kart
as the name suggests, is a racing game. Besides having cutesy characters like Mario, Princess Peach, Bowser, Yoshi etc etc, it has different items you can "eat" while you are racing! These items can usually help to win the race or at the very least, you would not lose THAT badly!

8 cups to compete for, 4 circuits for 1 cup, 3 different engine class, with a top 3-stars rank! It is very very entertaining when you are playing with friends! Imagine using the numerous items boxes to make them trip or fall into the volcano lava.

Sickening but really fun.

Dare to challenge me? (mine all 3 stars k!)
*with thunders N lightning N super haughty laughter*

============

Since i am so obscessed with DS Lite, it should be without question that i must get the new DSi LL!!!!

Not DSi hor, which is already passe in this fast-paced technological race!

DSi LL has a screen size of 4.2 inches okay! For comparison purpose, my DS lite has a screen size of 3 inches and the smaller one in the picture above is DSi, whic has a screen size of 3.2 inches.

Come to me my dear jumbo metal casing baby!!

Let's sincerely hope that the S$10 million TOTO winnings is for me to take!! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

River Hongbao 2010 (春到河畔)

Was it 10 years? Or has it been 15 years?

Tsk tsk tsk, with the big three O approaching, i felt that my memory is already on the downward trend, psychologically.

This attention towards the number of years is unimportant since no matter what, River Hongbao is my first experience of facing a massive human jam! I would have loved to ride on my father's back but my weight and my size were not really optimal then.

Wahahaha.
*okay, not funny*

Acccording to it's official website HERE, River Hongbao is already in its 24th year!! Gosh, has it been that long?!?!?!?

In any case, the whole family steered clear of Marina Square area during Chinese New Year period after this scary episode. 

Until yesterday. All thanks to Priscilla!!

And i am pleased to inform all of you that it really was not as crowded as i expected (we went at roughly 8.30 - 9.00pm).

Without further ado, another pictorial concentrated post today; all for your viewing pleasure!

UK Funfair!!
I thought this spinner was the same as the one in Genting, which i took umpteenth times!! Different leh!! My toes were twirled with fright and excitement, all mixed together!!

At S$2.50 per "token", the spinner costs 3 tokens and the top gun (vortex) is worth 6 tokens! o, not cheap at all. But the lucky was shining; Alex paid for us!!

What's a funfair without the game stores!! Mr Kon was taking a shot at the ball ball!

The backdrop of the Singapore's Business skyline!

The tiger display for the tiger year! Nothing special except for the wagging tails and the bobbing heads. Better than a stationary one!

A damn exquisite display of the auspicious dragon and phoenix. Guess what are they made of?

Seashells?

Look closer. Get it?
It's actually procelain spoons and sauce plates!!

Symbolizes a whole house of gold and jade!

The wishing wells! Hold on, not so simple. In order to make your wishes come true, your coin(s) must hit the hanging bells. If you don't hear the compulsory "ting" sound, please try again. n again. n again. 

That's how they "eat" our money.  

The unofficial god of the Chinese New Year.
God of Fortune (财神)

A towering statue is just a statue.
To make it more interesting, make it rain golden paper every now and then. The best deal? Print a single digit (from 0 - 9) on SOME pieces of paper 

All the people surrounding the statue were waiting for the golden showers. Look closer and you can see some inverted open umbrellas; a larger surface to catch the floating papers.

The used to be ONLY official gambling company in Singapore conveniently set up a temporary counter to let punters place their bets (remember the digits on the golden papers)

Crystallized dragon. You think? It's made of sugar lor!!
Give it a lick and tell me if it's delicious!

The traditional puppet shadow show

The traditional paper craft

The traditional clay doll art

The again traditional malt sugar art. $4 a stick!

All the pictures before the one right above this sentence epitome a very good, festive mood. Until i saw the above.

They are trapping the longevity cranes! 

============

UNTIL 20 FEBRUARY 2010!!

If you miss it, please wait another year.

Opening Hours
12:00 noon to 11:30pm

Location
The Float @ Marina Bay

Take public transportation to City Hall MRT and proceed to Esplanade (durians). This River Hongbao is right beside the two spiky durians.


Pricing
Admission is free
*i love the word "free"*

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