Immediately upon arrival, the scaffolding starting going up right outside our hostel, half on the sidewalk, half on the street. By midday the next day, tarps covered the top of the scaffolding, a temporary temple resided at one end, a stage at the other and in the middle, 6 foot high candles and incense surrounded the entrance to the permanent temple. It was quite a sight.
Still no one could tell us what this was all about. It was not an early Chinese new year celebration we were told, but what it was continued to be a mystery.
The following morning, it was clear. Hundreds of Chinese with offerings of food and other unknowns filled every table. The air under the canopy along both sides of the street was think with the smell of incense. Rain damped down the smell on the street as traffic somehow was allowed to continue through during the ceremony, creating even more chaos. The food was blessed several times and then it was over. We called it "the celebration of a bountiful life".
Now with many things, "over" does not designate completion. By the time we returned to the hostel after a day of touring some impressive sites and eating some amazing food, the celebration was back in full swing. This time it was replete with plates of dinner food and beer (mostly Guiness, maybe it brings better fortune). More blessing of the food and it was over again. But once everyone cleared out, the stage performance commenced. Jill, Tom and two others were in the audience. The empty tables were now interfering with watching the performance.
This morning, the scaffolding started to come down. I'm not sure how successful the event was, but we had a great time observing.
And with that we depart Singapore tomorrow, on our way to Malaysia. We'll remember the food, the 10 mile hike and the great variety of cultures colliding.