F The Tiger, the Lion & the Dragon - jeepneyjinggoy

The Tiger, the Lion & the Dragon

Flying to the Lion City on the wings of Tiger Airways and navigating Chinatown prepped for the Year of the Dragon

A fierce alliance. One that happens only every twelve years. By experience, it was feral for Singapore's Chinatown.

As soon as Sharon Cheong, Tiger Airways Customer Relations Officer, knew that I haven't had the chance to experience how Singapore gear up for the Chinese New Year, she quickly extended an invitation to visit the Lion City anew.

"There is a large Chinese community here in Singapore, close to 75% of the country's population," she said, and excitedly relayed how Singapore's Chinatown transforms into its festive state weeks before the Lunar New Year arrives.

How can I decline?

Ready to navigate. Chinatown prepped for the Year of the Water Dragon

Out of the three races comprising the population of Singapore, Chinese, Indian and Malay, the Chinese constitutes the largest ethnic group in the country.

Outside of Greater China, It is the only country in the world that accounts for the majority of its population.

In the Chinese calendar, the Lunar New Year is the most important and the longest festivity, lasting for two weeks, for the community. It is customary to splurge on presents, decoration, food and clothing. The houses undergo thorough cleaning, sweeping away any ill-fortune and make way for good incoming luck. The interiors are decorated with auspicious ornaments like red paper cuts and couplets, lanterns; lucky fruits, the mandarin symbolizes gold; and plants that will usher in good fortune, happiness, wealth and long life.

Most importantly, the family. On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with the families. A family reunion dinner where everyone is sporting new clothes in red and aside from the well wishes, the giving of "hongbao", a red envelope with money for good luck, is a common practice done by the elders for the children.

What is new year without the firecrackers and loud beating of drums? This ensures a prominent year ahead and rid the home and business place of unlucky spirits.

In the Singapore Chinatown, Sharon was Kenneth and I's official tour guide. See pointed out every good luck charm and explained what it meant, and identified all the must-eat food along the streets and what it symbolizes. Of course, you know what that entailed- a lot of eating. To be fair, she did warn me.

We finally made it to Yum Cha, after successfully navigating the maze of stalls, where Dave Perring, Tiger Airways' Commercial Director, was patiently waiting for us. We dined on Peking Duck, hot pot, tofu and vegetables that we had to toss up high in the air for soaring good luck.

A "family reunion dinner" of sorts. Tiger Airways' Customer Relations Officer Sharon Cheong, chic in chinoiserie, and Commercial Director Dave Perring, hosts the Davao press,Kenneth Ong of EDGE and who else?

The lucky vegetable & fish salad

The hot pot

and the Peking duck

Just as I thought the evening would be over after a hearty dinner, Sharon took us to a famous dessert place where flavored sherbet of green tea and black sesame seeds seem to be the must-haves. Indeed, popular is an under statement, aside from the long queue for take away, the entire restaurant was jam-packed.

Eternal eating in Chinatown. 

If there is one particular spot you should see in this part of Singapore, it would be the Chinatown Complex. The huge open-air building is comprised of the basement, where the wet market is, the ground floor holds the garments, and the third floor holds numerous food stalls offering specialties 24/7. Amazing!

The Chinatown Complex

Chinatown is a must visit at any time of the year, but most especially during this season when the most auspicious animal of the Chinese Zodiac is arriving.

Hop on in one of Tiger Airways flights to the Lion City, it's a beautiful and exciting place to welcome the Year of the Dragon. Let me remind you, this only happens every twelve years.

Tiger Airways flies between Singapore and Davao three times a week every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. For fabulous deals from Davao to Singapore and connect to their other destinations around the Asia-Pacific region, visit their website athttp://www.tigerairways.com/ph/en/

Triple Star Travel and Tours is Tiger Airway’s General Sales Agent for the Philippines. In Davao, they are at Door 16, 2nd Floor, Paseo de Legaspi, Pelayo Street. Telephone: (82) 222-2186. Visit their website at http://www.triplestartravel.com/

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 19, 2012.