(21 JANUARY 2004)


Fiona Fraser (UK)
21 Jan 2004

I was quite excited to be in a Chinese area for the Spring Festival after leaving China before the big event. Hai and Ping have decided that we are to be their surrogate family for the day as it is traditional for Chinese families to reunite for the event and obviously with a hostel to run they can't. The plan is to have a big dinner tonight and Paul B seems to have been landed with the bulk of the organising, not that he is not thriving on it!

Hai promised to be up for 9am to get to the market early but predictably it is closer to 10.30am before the boys leave for the wet market for enough food for 30 people. Several hours later, after a trip to the supermarket and the menu getting more and more ambitious, John and Paul start the prep. Not that the kitchen has been out of use this morning with Frank busy making the potato salad, the hostel is pretty quiet considering that it is full to the brim. Not required for our duties for a while a few of us disappear to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to see the last remaining bit of rainforest.

We get back to the hostel just before 5pm and things are a little stressed as the preparation team did not show. We all muck in and for the next few hours the kitchen is a whirlwind of action. There are a few technical difficulties to overcome due to additional numbers bringing the total up to 50 people! With some creative thinking and juggling this is overcome. Rather late and with much anticipation we sit down to:

For starters:

Eggs with a mayo and paprika dressing served with a potato salad

Chinese beef Hotpot

For the main course:

Chicken noodle stir fry served with saffron rice and a medley of stir fried vegetables

and for dessert:

Melon served with ice cream and wafers all drizzled with a strawberry sauce

I take my hat off to Paul and John for pulling it all off, compliments to the chefs came from all. They didn't even get to try half of it either after all their hard work - well, Paul worked while John supervised ;)

Lex whipped up a vodka fruit punch that seemed to dissapear in a flash.

The atmosphere was really chilled and it was a really great opportunity for everyone to mingle.

Afterwards the cleaning seemed to be done in an instant as so many people chipped in then we were off to Marina Bay to see the fireworks to bring in the New Year. Hai was like the pied piper leading us all via the MRT. We split into groups when we got to the Marina with some going off to the bar. I went onto the bridge to watch the fireworks which was packed and buzzing. The fireworks were 'bang' on time and great, with people that had seen the Sydney ones even impressed.

We wandered over to Chinatown to see what was happening and it was insane. We attempted to get down a few lanes and gave up after not moving for 10 minutes. We turned around to make our escape but not before sampling some deep fried mango ice cream - mmm!

Knackered we get a taxi back at 2am and head for bed but we are no means the last with some stopping at the local pub to finish the evening.

Frank, the Potato Salad Expert.

Master of the Kitchen, Paul B, with helpers, John and Jacqui.

L-R: Ant, John, Rob, Lex, Paul and Fiona.

Rice for 50!

L-R: Iain, Lis, Dene (with the punch), Fiona, Lex, John, Paul and Laurette.

L-R: Steph, Sally, Helena, Katie and Gemma.

L-R: Jacqui, Al, Verena and Guy.

L-R: Rob, Ellie, Ria, Ant, Liliana, Angie, Ben and Frank.

Bring on the Chow!

Mike, Fredrik, Christopher and Petter arrive just in time for the Reunion Dinner.

Lewy and Claudine return to The InnCrowd for the Big Reunion.

L-R: David, Helena, Linda, David, Hanna and Paul A.

Birthday Boy Al downs the Tequila. One shot for every birthday tune.

Group Outing to the River Hong Bao Carnival.

Fireworks at Marina Bay.
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