Chinatown is one of the areas that is the most crowded and bustling with life during the Chinese New Year Period, and as retailers set up temporary stalls in Chinatown, a big change undergoes this place, from the usually semi-crowded streets and alleys, Chinatown turns into a bustling street packed with many people especially during the days nearing the actual Chinese New Year Day. Today, one day before Chinese New Year Eve, I went to Chinatown to do some last minute Chinese New Year Shopping, and these are my opinions about doing Chinese New Year shopping in Chinatown(excluding the food centre cum market) during this period.
Good Things About Doing Chinese New Year Shopping In Chinatown
In Chinatown, there are a variety of special Chinese New Year decorations that are hard to find in other places. Chinatown has shops selling quite fine paper/cloth crafts, which are most commonly paper/cloth cuttings of auspicious words or symbols such as the dragon and there are more varieties of designs compared to at supermarkets and temporary event halls.. There are also fine handicrafts such as wooden statuettes of deities or auspicious figures such as oranges, a variety of chinese knots in different designs ranging from the traditional rhombus based knot to balls and pineapples. So, for one who is willing to spend a little more for some unique decorations for the Chinese New Year, do check out the shops in Chinatown.
Bad Things About Doing Chinese New Year Shopping In Chinatown
Higher Prices For Many Items
Contrary to what some think, many of the Chinese New Year goods in Chinatown are not sold at cheaper prices compared to other places, and essentials such as decorations, sweets and dried melon seeds and nuts are sold a higher prices, especially the decorations, which I found to be priced 30% more than those sold at NTUC for most of the shops, for the same type and quality of the decorations. When turning to the dried melon seeds, nuts and other of such foods, while the prices are about the same as those in markets, the selling method is quite rigid in a way that they only sell in larger quantities and one who only wants perhaps 100g of an item might have to buy 500g. The titbits such as jelly, sweets and cookies are priced around the same as at neighbourhood markets and at NTUC, so it may be better to buy them from a stall you trust or from NTUC if you are a member. For those looking to buy Bak Kwa, you may want to try Lim Chee guan, which sells excellent Bak Kwa and is a big crowd drawer.
Large crowds and a decent at best infrastructure of temporary stalls
Firstly, while the arrangement of the temporary stalls is quite good in terms of the shops being in neatly arranged rows and are not all over the place, their size is not very small and the presence of them on both sides of the streets and roads has narrowed the walking space, which is unable to accommodate the crowds enough for a person to shop reasonably comfortably, and the tight crowds increases the chance of crimes such as pick pocketing. Furthermore, with such a huge crowd of people, there is bound to be a lot of pushing, shoving and contact, which makes the shopping experience less than comfortable, and the vast number of people at each stall may also mean slower and less attentive service, and you may also experience problems in looking for or taking something you want.
For drivers, you may want to take note that due to many streets and roads being closed, you will experience traffic congestions in the area, and may have problems finding a parking space especially during peak hours
For people who want to go to Chinatown not for shopping but for other purposes such as having a meal, you may want to avoid doing so as the presence of temporary stalls has blocked out some shops corridor spaces and made the area very noisy with shop owners trying to retail their goods, and also note that you may have to fight with the shopping crowds to get to the shop you want to visit.
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