Chinese New Year is all about the awkward questions.
“That girl I saw you walking side by side with at Orchard on Saturday evening – when are you going to marry her?”
“$3,000? That is what you’re getting paid?”
“That mole on your chin is unlucky, are you going to remove it?”
If you’ve heard all this before, maybe this year’s the time to get away. Here are four great ways to excuse yourself from the festivities and probing questions.
Park Royal on Pickering
Say: “I’m going to be out of town for work”, then check into an amazing hotel room.
It doesn’t matter what your parents say you do for a living. If you’re getting paid to travel, even if it’s to scrub a toilet in Sri Lanka, someone is going to comment about you having “a good life”. That’s what they will say at the reunion table even if you are not physically there. Last-minute holiday planning during the festive period can get expensive, so do a staycation instead. Courtyard Rooms at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore go from $348, and include complimentary breakfast as well as heritage tours, while the Parkroyal on Pickering is offering a $300-a-night weekend package that throws in a buffet breakfast for two at Lime restaurant and a limited edition Prosperity Welcome Pack’. Whichever you choose, we promise no one is going to bug you.
The Fullerton Hotel | Address: 1 Fullerton Square | Tel: 67338388
Parkroyal on Pickering | Address: 3 Upper Pickering Street | Tel: 68099999
Old Changi Hospital
Say: “I’m mourning at Lim Chu Kang”, then spend some time with nature.
It doesn’t matter that you’ve told someone your whereabouts – no one is really going to look for you there because 1. it’s bad luck to talk about death during Chinese New Year and 2. there is only one bus servicing the area and taxi drivers hate to go there. It’s the perfect location to spend a peaceful Chinese New Year. Pity that Bollywood Veggies with its nature walks and organic menu is closed for the holidays, but Hay Dairies, Singapore’s first goat farm, is still open. Milk a goat (it won’t talk back to you, and it's the Year of the Goat) and think happy thoughts. If that’s a bit too boring to you, pay a visit to the Old Changi Hospital. Again, it’s a real pain to get to (some people have been lost driving up to the hilltop) and its reputation as the most haunted place in town means you will get a good balance of quiet and mystery.
Hay Dairies | Address: 3 Lim Chu Kang, Agrotech Park Lane 4 | Tel: 67920931 | Opening hours: Daily 9am-4pm
Old Changi Hospital | 24, 27, 161 Halton Road
Spuds & Aprons
Say: “I’m studying for an exam”, then go and have a quiet read.
You can impress anyone, especially relatives, with that excuse. The only other thing anyone is going to ask is "Which exam?" but even then, you don’t have to answer because you’re not there. Then, arm yourself with all the reading material you’ve been meaning to pore over, some Frank Ocean on your music player, and head up to Mount Faber for uninterrupted “knowledge-seeking”.
Some books that will get you thinking (and not about the number of credit cards you have and how much weight you’ve gained since the last reunion dinner) are 'Life of Pi', 'Cloud Atlas'and George Orwell’s '1984'.
We like Faber Peak's Spuds & Aprons for its bistro-styled fare like Wicked Fries & Gravy (thick-cut fries with gravy and six different types of cheese, $8) and oven-roasted marinated chicken ($19) with house-made gravy and mash.
Spuds & Aprons | Address: #02-00, Faber Peak, 109 Mount Faber Road | Tel: 68846884 | Opening hours: Mon-Thu 11am 11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2am, Sun: 11am-11pm
Spandananda's outdoor yoga class
Say: “I’m really sick”, and recuperate big time.
It couldn’t be farther than the truth for some people. If you’re making excuses not to attend a once-a-year gathering, it probably means you’ve just about hit rock bottom mood-wise and mentally. Get out of your funk with exercise that combines fitness with a bit of soul-searching. Nothing does this better than yoga, and we don’t mean the kind of yoga you do in the bright lights of a gym either.
What you need is to sign up for one of Spandananda's outdoor yoga classes. Teachers Bo and Shirley Shrey organise regular hatha yoga sessions in interesting locations around Singapore, including Fort Canning Park on 21 February at 9am. Sign up here.
If you need something that gets your heart pumping like crazy, hit up the Rail Corridor and run the 10km stretch between Tanjong Pagar and Bukit Timah Rail Stations. It’s a lovely scenic trail, one of the best in Singapore for a quiet workout.