I love Christmas. Actually, to be more precise, I love the build up to Christmas.
The closest you can come to Christmas in August has to be the Muslim equivalent, Hari Raya, which took place yesterday but as it fell on a Sunday, is also being celebrated with a public holiday today in Singapore.
Last Thursday, for the first time in four years of living here, I went with my lovely friend CG who really knows her way around (crucial), to the Hari Raya night market in Geylang. Packed not only with people but with vast tents as tall as buildings – lit by the iridescent glow of festive street lights – lined up one after the other, after the other, they ran the length of the main road and were chocked full of everything you can think of, from food to furniture and clothing.
Arriving at the right time, I now know, is key. Thursday was the penultimate day of the market so we were fine; apparently you do not want to be anywhere near it on the final day of sales, Friday, which is probably akin to the jam of cars and human traffic you get on Oxford Street, in London, on Christmas Eve. Eeeugh.
We got here just before sundown (which was at 7:20pm) and were able to wander around a relatively empty market while everyone broke fast and ate at the food stalls which were at the far end of our particular tent.
Actually without my lovely friend, I wouldn’t have known which tent to go in to – there were hundreds – and I’d probably have ended up in the one exclusively selling tissue box covers…as it is, I am happily unable to confirm or deny its existence).
We went to the clothing tent which was on the corner Eunos Road 5, stuffed full of stall after stall selling wonderfully bright dresses, kurtas and tunics, both Indian and Malay, for prices that were better than Tekka market (and that is saying something).
The colours were fabulous and mirrored the vibrancy and energy everyone seemed to have who was here, whether to shop, eat, look or sell.
After wandering around for about 2 hours, came away with some beautiful and quite understated Indian kurtas (at $25 each they were a bargain – you couldn’t not buy them – and will look rocking worn with jeans for my next UK trip…very “I live abroad, actually”) and bundles of exotic otak otak (angmohs who don’t know, this is a kind of savoury cake usually made of fish and spices cooked in banana leaves) made with either prawn, crab or squid (the crab was delicious). The stall selling them seemed to generate the longest line in the food section, which is always a good sign, and is here year after year I am told.
So my next festive fix will just have to wait until Christmas when I will be in Scotland. Until then, if I need to dip my toe in to the shopping fervour that holiday seasons seem to spawn, I suppose I can just make do and pop down Orchard on a weekend…