You cannot go wrong with the yearly festive fair in Chinatown if you want to load up on Chinese New Year goodies, from waxed duck meat to nuts to Chinese couplets inscribed with auspicious greetings.
Amid the standard fare, however, you can also find some unusual offerings at this year’s Chinese New Year Festive Street Bazaar, which is spread out across Pagoda, Smith, Temple and Trengganu streets.
1. AFRICAN ACCESSORIES
Accessorise with new arm candy and help widows and orphans from villages in West Kilimanjaro, Africa.
This stall, which is under the African humanitarian organisation Shalom Orphans, sells bags and purses handwoven by widows using the fibres of the baobab tree. Some items are fashioned from leather discarded by luxury brands.
The stall is manned by a couple – Ms Mariam Idd Makame, 48, from Tanzania, and her Filipino husband, Mr Ruel B. Laranjo, 44 – who work for Shalom Orphans. Prices start at $3 for a leather coin purse to $100 for a handwoven handbag. Forty per cent of the proceeds will go to Shalom Orphans.
Where: 16A Temple Street
Open: 10am to 10pm on weekdays, 10am to midnight on weekends
2. PUZZLE FOR KIDS
Wean the kids off iPads at family gatherings with these innovative toys from Taiwan.
Called Doctor Puzzle IQ Toys, each plaything is made of 15 blocks. The toy can be taken apart and re-assembled into 5,000 variations, including frogs and owls. One set costs $28 and two cost $50. Each set comes with an instructional DVD.
Where: Fifth stall on the left when you enter Pagoda Street from New Bridge Road
Open:Flexible hours, from morning till night
3. TEA BREAK
Try various teas such as pu er, ginseng oolong and rose tea at this booth, set up only during the festive bazaar, outside T30 Kung Fu Tea House. Tea leaves are available for sale too.
Weary shoppers can also take a break inside the cosy Tea House, a permanent shop which seats 40. A pot of tea under the Leisure Tea category costs $12 and includes dried longan red date tea and lavender tea. Although teas such as tie guan yin ($20) and da hong pao ($28) are pricier, you can ask for water refills.
Where: 30 Temple Street
Open: The booth outside is set up from 3 to 10.30pm daily; the store is open from 11am to 11pm daily – it closes at 10pm if there are no customers at 9.30pm.
4. HANDMADE LANTERNS
Brighten up your living room with lanterns made of folded red packets or colourful shiny paper, handmade by Madam Lu Cui Hua, 56, who has been selling lanterns at the bazaar for more than 20 years. She learnt to fold red packets into lanterns from origami books and has supplied her creations to hotels.
A lantern made of colourful shiny paper costs $18, while a goat made of 69 folded red packets, complete with plastic eyes and cute little metal bells around its neck, costs $80. Both are 25 to 30cm tall. The lanterns are selling fast.
Where: Third stall on the left when you enter Temple Street from South Bridge Road
Open:Noon to 10pm from Monday to Thursday, noon to past 11pm from Friday to Sunday
FACE PAPER CUTTING
For a fun memento, stop by this stall to have a cute paper cutting of your face done by Mr Mo Han Kong, 30, who is from Shanghai.
Pre-made cute figures cost $10 each, and a paper cutting of an actual face costs $15.
You can also have your name painted in multi-coloured Chinese motifs such as fish for $20, or buy pre-cut patterns like that of an owl for $10.
Where: Opposite T30 Kung Fu Tea House (30 Temple Street)
Open: From about 9am to 11pm daily
5. WINDMILL ORNAMENTS
Put a different spin on your usual Chinese New Year decor with these shiny windmill ornaments in bright hues imported from Hong Kong.
They are said to bring good luck when the cellophane windmill blades rotate. There are five designs to choose from. Prices start at $3 for a simple windmill on a striped multi- coloured plastic stick to $38 for a wall decoration with windmills arranged to form a circle.
The stall is operated by Mr Simon Tan, 33, a clerical assistant, and his mother, housewife Margaret Ng, 63.
Where: First stall on the right when you enter Temple Street from New Bridge Road
Open: 10am to 10pm daily
Add crispy seaweed, available with 13 types of toppings, to your stash of Chinese New Year snacks.
Made in Taiwan, each pack costs $6 and you get a free pack if you buy five.
Mr Lan Tian Zai, 35, who helps man the stall, says the latest addition is seaweed with crispy milkfish chips, which come in both original and spicy flavours. There are also toppings such as spicy almond and buckwheat purple rice.
Where: 39 Temple Street
Open: 11am to past 11pm daily
7. TERENGGANU SNACKS
Munch on snacks from Terengganu, Malaysia, brought in by Ms Fatimah Abu Samah as you browse the bazaar.
There are four types to choose from at this stall – keropok in fish, squid and prawn flavours, as well as fish sticks.
They cost $3.50 for a 100g pouch of fish sticks, prawn or squid-flavoured keropok, or a 120g bag of fish-flavoured keropok, or $10 for three packs.
Bigger tubs are one for $6 or two for $11. Each bottle of fish, squid or prawn-flavoured keropok weighs 250g, while a tub of fish sticks weighs 230g.
Where: 49 Temple Street (nearer to South Bridge Road)
Open: 11am to 11pm on weekdays, 11am to midnight on weekends
8. DELHI OFFERINGS
The wares at this stall may not be typical Chinese knick-knacks, but their bright hues and intricate details can liven up the home too.
Run by Mr George Tan, 43, and his shop assistant Wendi Fu, the stall offers merchandise from Delhi and Jaipur in India.
There are handmade jewellery boxes for $10 as well as handmade bags – beaded ones cost about $20 while a silk clutch bag costs about $30.
A range of cushion covers made of silk and polyester is also available, priced from $5.
Where: Temple Street near the side door of the Sri Mariamman Temple.
Open: 10am to 9pm daily