Without realizing it, Chinese New Year is almost coming to an end. Being in Sydney, the atmosphere during Chinese New Year is definitely not as grand or festive as in Malaysia. We do see CNY decorations here and there in the malls, but certainly nothing too elaborate and I don’t remember hearing any fireworks at night too. On the plus side though, my family came over on the 3rd day of CNY so we did have a belated little reunion of our own! They had just left yesterday, which explains the time that I now have to update my blog. Before my big group of family (parents, grandparents, uncle, aunty) came over, Saucer and I went to the city on the first day of CNY to check out the Sydney Chinese New Year Markets.
Year of Snake
The Chinese New Year markets were held in Belmore Park near Central Station this year, but since we parked near Chinatown, we took a walk down Dixon Street first. There were a couple of lion dances along the way but we were always too far to capture photos of them. Saucer managed to snap a picture of the dragon dance though, which was moving along Dixon Street during lunch.
Dragon dance in Dixon Street
We had our lunch at Dixon House, a food court hidden in the basement level along Dixon Street that houses a wide variety of Asian and Chinese stalls. We’d passed by the entrance to the food court a couple of times before and always thought it looked dodgy but we were wrong. We decided to go down the stairs that day and boy, were we amazed! It was crowded and had an atmosphere not unlike that of Jalan Alor or Petaling Street, except that it was under cover. There were stalls selling noodles, dumplings, Japanese food, Malay food, Chinese fried dishes, Sichuan food and sugar cane drinks too! And best of all, the prices were relatively cheap compared to the ones you find in shopping mall food courts. There was a stall selling noodles for $7 and tray of dumplings for around the same price. We decided to go for Sichuan food that day, and ordered 2 spicy dishes of fish and prawns.
Sichuan Steamed Fish with chilli (AUD$11.80)
Sichuan Sizzling King Prawns (AUD$12.80)
Each dish came in a huge portion plus a plate of rice. We had a whole steamed fish for less than $12, definitely well worth the price. The prawns were amazingly fresh and succulent too, and didn’t put a hole in our pocket. Overall, it was a nice place for a satisfying lunch without the fancy environment but definitely friendly to the wallet.
Crowd at Belmore Park
After the filling lunch, we took a walk towards Belmore Park located about 5 minutes walk away. From afar, we could already spot the huge crowd heading towards the park as well as a big group inside of it. There was apparently some kind of a performance on stage by the Koreans. The stage was always occupied with shows, choirs or even cooking programs showing Chinese dishes. It was quite interesting to just sit down and enjoy the atmosphere together with all the other Chinese from around the world in Sydney.
Koreans performing on stage
Audience enjoying a cooking program
Huge crowd at the Chinese New Year Markets
As with all markets, there’s bound to be food involved. There were several rows of food stalls with brisk business, as well as booths selling Asian food items such as the Ayam Brand stall. The staff at the Ayam Brand counter was also passing out fortune cookies to passers-by, and mine said that I would be successful in my work. Let’s hope that’s true!
Passing out fortune cookies
My fortune cookie
My little fortune message
One of the stalls getting a lot of attention was the Golden Crown Chinese Restaurant, because there was a chef demonstrating the making of la mian/noodles at the booth.
Chef making la mian/noodles
Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant
Row of food stalls
Gong Xi Fa Cai from witch and Saucer!
Apart from food stalls, there were also activities for kids. There was a trampoline station where kids were bound to poles and allowed to jump high up under the supervision of adults. And there was also a booth to shoot targets with big soft toys as rewards.
Trampoline for the kids
But what caught our attention was the booth with a deity in it. They claimed that it was the God of Fortune (Choy Sun) and asked everyone who passed by to make a wish. We were given a joss stick each and queued up to make a wish like everyone else.
Praying to the God of Fortune (Choy Sun)
On the way out of the park, we were lucky to spot the Nestea booth giving out free drinks. We had already walked for a fair bit then and the cool lemon tea drinks came at the right time. Best of all, the queue wasn’t even that long and everyone moved in an orderly fashion so there was no need to rush.
Nestea giving out free drinks
By the time we finished walking around Belmore Park, it was almost 5pm and the sky was starting to get gloomy with the promise of drizzle coming through. We made the decision to walk back to our car before it started pouring. It was not much for a Chinese New Year celebration but the fact that we had it away from home in a foreign country made us feel at home in a way. For the rest of you who did not celebrate Chinese New Year at home, just remember that your loved ones were thinking of you when they tossed the yee sang or when they had reunion dinner. Gong Xi Fa Cai and Happy Chinese New Year 2013!
Chinese New Year Markets at Belmore Park, Sydney