Thursday, 19 February 2015

Chinese New Year's River Hongbao Carnival 2015

After our visit to Singapore Philatelic Museum, we walked to The Float @ Marina Bay to see the annual RHB's (River Hongbao 春到河畔) lantern display.

Sign board, The Float @ Marina Bay, Singapore
Sign board, entrance to the Float Platform
This annual tradition of 12-day carnival started on the 17 Feb (2 days before CNY Day) this year (and finishes on 28 Feb). We went there on the CNY (Chinese New Year) Day. Expectedly, it was quite chock-a-block as it's being a public holiday.

While we have been in Singapore since 2009, we didn't start this yearly tradition ourselves until the Year of the Snake 2013. This RHB tradition has been around for 28 years, a bit longer than our attendance.

We typically entered the carnival through the gate with the above sign to get to the Float Platform. Can't really call this a carnival without the fair rides. The amusement park rides are usually setup in the area between the Float Platform and Raffles Ave.

Carnival ride, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore
Carnival ride, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore 

The RHB this year is promised to be the biggest, because in addition to the usual CNY celebration, this year also celebrates Singapore's 50th birthday. And so some extra lanterns would be installed for this reason.

Main Entrance Arch, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore
Main Entrance Arch

The main entrance arch this year, expectedly, was grander than previous years. The right half of the on the pillar of the arch says 建国五十 or "50 Years of Nation Building".

After the entrance arch comes the ranks of arches that form the Entrance Walkway that created a nice vanishing point that impressed the visitors .

Entrance Walkway, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore
Entrance Walkway
I don't remember that there were lantern displays being setup behind the bleachers' area. I think this is the 1st time that this was done, and they put the largest display there.

Peacock Couple, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore
Peacock couple lantern display entitles "Let's Celebrate Together!"

Peacock Couple and Goats, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore
The Peacocks and Goats displays installed behind and high above the bleachers area of the Float

Peacock Couple, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore
From this angle, they're kissing. "Pecking" is the perfect word.
Space between their necks: not quite a heart shape, more like a n upside-down vase.

The centre piece, at least the most high profiled, lantern figure has always been the GOF (God of Fortune), who has grown taller over the years in RHB carnival. This year, GOF has grown to a towering 18m tall (something like a 6 or 7-storey building). As I mentioned in this article, GOF is really the face of CNY.

He held a large golden ingot. Large gold coins fell out of his sleeves. In this ancient Chinese costume, pockets are hidden inside sleeves. This explains why they're so large, and flared out.

God of Fortune lantern display, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore God of Fortune lantern display, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore God of Fortune lantern display, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore God of Fortune lantern display, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore

As usual, there's a Mural Wall, and this year the theme is SG50, and the panel showed various Singapore icons.

SG50 Giant Mural Wall, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore

SG50 Giant Mural Wall, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore
Singapore icons from left to right: Stamford Raffles, Elgin Bridge, Singapore Airline, Sentosa, MRT, Singapore Airport, Supreme Court, Pinnacle @ Duxton, Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands Hotel, ArtScience Museum, and last but not least, the Merlion.

Of course, there're always the traditional lanterns that are based on the 12 Chinese animal zodiacs. And as usual, the animal of that year - in this case - the Goat would get bigger lanterns.

Collage, 12 Chinese animal zodiacs, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore
Lanterns of  12 Chinese animal zodiacs

Some of the lanterns that based more on the local heritage to go along the SG50 theme includes the Dragon Slide partial replica that found in the Toa Payo HDB.

Dragon slide, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore

The photo below isn't an animal zodiac as there's no lion in the 12 Chinese zodiac. It isn't Merlion because it has 2 legs. It's Singa the Lion, created for the National Courtesy Campaign in 1982. It's the mascot of the Singapore Kindness Movement. This is all part of Singapore heritage with its various national campaigns that social engineered Singapore to what it's today: clean, green and an efficient machine. One of the national campaign was Keep Singapore Clean campaign. It was so successful that it exported to Australia in 1970s. Sydney today is almost as clean as Singapore.

Singa the Lion, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore
Singa the Lion

There's also a lantern of a Wishing Well where visitors tossed coins, trying to strike the row of 5 bells that hung above the Wishing Well for wishes to come true. I threw some coins into it and wished for a 20% greenhouse gas reduction in the next 5 years, and a 50% gold price increase in the next 3 years. I'm not greedy (and realistic). I didn't ask for world peace.

Wishing Well Lantern, River Hongbao 2015, Singapore
Wishing Well lantern

With that, I wish you maaaa...ny happy returns and a prosperous Year of the Goat!

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Singapore Philatelic Museum

I don't normally go to Philatelic Museum because stamp collecting isn't a hobby of mine. At least, not for a long time. I told Ada that I used to collect stamps when I was a teenager. She said every boy does that. Teenagers collected stamps quite early. As early as 1860s. Not long after the 1st postage stamp called Penny Black was invented in Britain in 1840. The stamp cost 1 penny (don't know how much it cost today after inflation is adjusted. A pretty penny is probably worth no more than a few handsome dollars in today's money), and it's worth an estimated £3–4,000 in mint condition today.

Early postage stamps showing British monarchs, Singapore Philatelic Museum
Early postage stamps showing British monarchs.

In the photo above, the stamp at the top left corner is the Penny Black. So called because It's black  and cost a penny. From Left to right and top to bottom, the names of the 4 monarchs are,
  1. Queen Victoria (with an era named after her).
  2. King Edward VII (Queen Vic's Nº 1 son and smoked 20 cigars a day and died of it).
  3. King George V (he was a retiring kind, and preferred to stay home and collecting stamps, not necessarily stamps with his own portraits or those contain his granny's and daddy's portraits in them. If he had one such album, then it's both a family album as well as a stamp album. It should be called a stamily album).
  4. King George VI (King George V's 2nd kid. He had a stammer and that minor issue (in today's world) is made into a film entitles The King's Speech (2010)).

Can't say I agreed with Ada that all kids collect stamps, but I guess she meant that as kids we're adventurous and tried out different things. It was a passing phase / fad. It lasted about 2 to 3 years, and I moved onto drumming. One of the signs that you're getting old is when you stop trying something new.

During my high-flying postage fling with stamps, I collected 4 stamp albums from various countries (I had never owned a tong or magnifying glass. I didn't know it's needed). It's a great way to make connections with your elder relatives. You would ask them to save envelops they got from overseas. This was how it was done the old-fashioned way. Today, collectors go to stamp shops (or SPM) to buy it. This is clearly cheating.

The reason I went there was because it was an Open House on CNY (Chinese New Year) Day, meaning it's free, and I was also free (not the same thing). I thought "It's now or Never" just like the Elvis song says. Anyway, it's always good to take a walk down memory lane.

Philatelic Museum, Singapore
The little orange museum on a slope is a former Anglo-Chinese school

Singapore Masonic Lodge
SPM is located next to this Masonic Lodge in Palladian architectural style.
Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore, was also a Free Mason.

The museum always has special exhibition on from time to time. At the moment. the special exhibition is based on the life of Elvis. What's Presley got to do with philately? Nothin' except that he had a song entitles "Return to Sender".

Since I don't have the "Fever" for the King, so I wasn't "All Shook Up" by this special exhibition. Except to say that when several of my aunties told me that when I was a teenager I reminded them of Elvis. Don't believe me? I think you have "Suspicious Minds". I know what you're going to say, "Don't be Cruel", ok?

postage Stamps of Elvis Presley from the African countries of  Niger, Burkina Faso, and Republic of Chad
Postage stamps of Elvis Presley from the African countries of
Niger, Burkina Faso, and Republic of Chad

Albums of Elvis Presley
Elvis' album covers

 Elvis Presley's School report card
 Elvis' School report card

stamps with goats, Singapore Philatelic MuseumThe museum has 2 floors. Most of the historical development of stamps in general are shown downstairs. Upstairs, except for one room that has exhibition about postal history, the rest is more of a general Singapore history and heritage. There's also a room that housed a themed exhibition of the Chinese New Year of the Goat.

In any case, I needed to go upstairs to answer an emergence call.

Postage stamps of Homer and Marge, Singapore Philatelic Museum
They had these expressions when they saw me running for the loo

Toilet doors, Singapore Philatelic Museum
Collect some knowledge about stamps while waiting to do a no.2

I think the best area for the stamp collectors is the souvenir shop. Strictly speaking, it shouldn't be called a souvenir as most of their merchandise are stamps. They sell everything from Harry Potter to Hello Kitty related stamps.

Stamps of the British Royal Family and Harry Potter, Singapore Philatelic Museum

With the advent of email, the art of penmanship had all but disappeared, followed by the art of letter writing, and would postage stamps too become a passing phase ?

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