All I see is red in a good way in the somewhat beautiful chaos of crowd on the first day of the Year of the Horse in Binondo China Town. I think it was two years ago when I last experienced the Binondo Chinese New Year celebration in Manila. I thought it would great and hope would bring good vibes to welcome this year’s Chinese calendar which coincides with mine, who is also born in the Year of the Horse. So off I go to Manila and met some friends who joined me chase dragons, shop for lucky charms and get some authentic Chinese bite or two.
Ongpin was filled to the brim. People were flooding in all corners, drumbeats pounding in different directions, dragons dancing on top of the crowd and fireworks call their attention. I could really feel the festive atmosphere here. It was 2 years ago when I last visited Binondo on a Chinese New Year and it certainly wasn’t like this before. Perhaps because from now on, the first day of the Chinese New Year would be a holiday to the delight of everyone, Chinese or not. We met with some of our fellow photographer friends who attended our previous Backpack Photography Photo Tours to enjoy and capture the revelry in China Town.
Among the sleek and shiny streets of Singapore, Chinatown sparkles at night and during the day have that clean grime along its busy streets which makes it one of my favorite spots in the country. The food there is also worth a bite for those with adventurous taste buds and the few temples nearby makes for an interesting cultural side trip. Yes, Chinatown is one of my favorite places in Singapore. And here’s more reasons why.
I have always relied on Maps when I travel. Whenever I visit a place for the first time, I always try to get a map first. If I have a reliable map on hand and a compass, I’m not afraid to get lost as I’m confident I’ll find my way back. When I heard famed Binondo Food-walker Ivan Man Dy released the Big Binondo Food Wok Map, I got really excited because Manila really have a shortage of good Art Maps like this. So last weekend, a couple of my friends trouped to Chinatown to taste-drive this map.
I have visited a number of temples already. While some are really grand, they have already aged through time. If their rustic conditions still make them look astonishing. What more if you could see a temple in all its golden age glory. In Singapore, whose major population is Chinese, it’s no surprise to see a temple such as the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple rise up at the heart of Chinatown. The temple is considered as a living cultural monument inspired by the golden age of Buddhism in China during the Tang Dynasty.
During the Nuffnang Event in Singapore, we were fortunate to be given a tour around Singapore and one of the sights was the Chinatown Heritage Museum. I haven’t been there so after a full morning slumber, I caught up with the group at their tour of the museum. It was a great choice because the three story building houses the rich history of Singapore. It was a tour of discovery and this photo essay shot in Grainy Film Art Filter narrates the journey.
Sri Miriamman Temple Gopuram
“Do you know how I could get to Roosevelt road?” a middle aged man asked me while I was waiting on a bus stop in Geylang. He was wearing those large fashion sun-glasses and I could see the noticeable streaks of gray in his hair while he pointed on a location on his map. I was smiling and told him “Sorry. No. I’m also new here.”
I’m actually so new in Singapore that I was about to venture into the city that Monday morning. My friend has gone to work that day so I’m left by my lonesome to explore its nooks and crannies. And here I am on my walking shorts, horizontal striped polo shirt with my mini-bag on my back lugging my camera and cheap tripod along with a handy tourist map and a copy of Let’s Go Southeast Asia which a friend back home lent me before I left the country. Fear never got into me as my brief venture along its streets a few days ago gave a familiar feel of a modern city of Manila due to the numbers of Filipinos I encounter along the way.