Tuesday, September 13, 2011

China field trips: Chinatown

We're lucky to live in a place with a vibrant Chinatown, so we couldn't miss a chance to take a Whirls and Twirls field trip there during our China month.  About 75% of Singaporeans are ethnically Chinese, due to a large migration in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Naturally, there is a considerable amount of Chinese culture, language and food here.  Chinatown is the heart of where migrants originally settled and now has a similar feel to Chinatowns elsewhere in the world.

There are your usual Chinatown trinkets...

...a plethora of Chinese food stalls and restaurants...

...and bright neon signs.

But it has still retained some of its character.  Leaving the main touristy roads leads to old tailors and Chinese medicine shops.  There are stores selling birds nests (a Chinese delicacy) and old teahouses practicing the art of serving green tea. 

It's not uncommon to find men playing board games...

...or people praying at the Buddhist and Chinese temples in the neighborhood.

When we were there, Chinatown was playing host to more Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations.    

The temple was decked out in lotus lanterns...

There were yams and pomelos (a grapefruit-like fruit prominent in Chinese festivals) for sale.  

The streets were decked out in red lanterns.  

And the highlight for The Whirl Girl... a nightly stage with performances.  We saw a group of Chinese young women playing traditional Chinese instruments, while dressed up in tutus!

Is there a Chinatown in your city?  What happens when you wander off the beaten path? 

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