Unmarried folks in Singapore had better collect as many ang baos as they can this Chinese New Year, because you’re going to need as much cash as you can get your hands on to offset the hiked up prices of Mandarin oranges and bak kwa.
But those aren’t the only things Singaporeans are spending a ton of cash on this Chinese New Year. Turns out the festival is creating demand for a bunch of goods and services targeted at people who’ve got to go through the drill of visiting relatives.
Here are four things Singaporeans are paying for this Chinese New Year.
Steamboat is, understandably, a very popular culinary choice during the annual reunion dinner. There’s just something about having everybody huddled around the hotpot that screams “togetherness”. And also, there’s nothing more convenient than making your guests cook their own food.
Well, these days, many Singaporeans don’t even have the time or the will to go to the supermarket and pick up raw food for the steamboat machine. That’s why steamboat delivery services like The Steamboat Specialist and Mr Steamboat are in such hot demand over CNY.
These guys will drive to your home and drop off soup stock and ingredients you can then get your guests to stump into the hotpot. If you don’t have your own hotpot, they can provide one too. Be prepared to pay close to $100 if not more to feed a family, though.
Luxury car rental
Chinese New Year is a time of anguish for many young people, as they sweat under the scrutiny of critical aunties who never fail to compare them to Cousin Aloysius, who graduated from Cambridge and is now driving an Audi.
To combat their low self esteem and keep their heads held high, some people have resorted to renting luxury cars over the Chinese New Year so they can drive up to their relatives’ homes in style. Then there are those who believe that making a grand entrance in a Porsche is “auspicious”. Seven days’ rental usually costs over $4,000. At such prices, you’d better hope your relatives are impressed enough to give you a bigger ang bao this year.
Renting boyfriends / girlfriends
Chinese New Year is a particularly dreaded time of year for singles, who must endure their relatives’ questions about when they plan to finally find someone and stop collecting ang baos from them.
In fact, some women are so terrified by the scrutiny of sneering aunties that they’ve resorted to renting boyfriends from businesses like Real Man SG. These guys are basically social escorts who’re also available for, uh, other services, but whom some women choose to rent solely for Chinese New Year visiting.
Of course, there is an abundance of female social escorts available for men who wish to do likewise.
Like it or not, CNY involves a lot of travelling. If you don’t have a car and yet have multiple relatives’ homes to visit, you’d better pray they all live near MRT stations, or else you’re going to spend a lot of time on the road.
It’s therefore a relief that public transport operating hours are going to be extended on the eve of Chinese New Year, when ethnic Chinese head to their relatives’ homes for reunion dinner (and the rest of the country parties at Clarke Quay). That means you’ll still be able to take the bus or MRT home even if you get stuck listening to your aunties and uncles’ stories till late at night.
On the first and second days of CNY, expect congested traffic and crowded public transport (what’s new) as people all over the island fight for road space en route to their relatives’ homes. Taxis will also be in shorter supply, and you can expect surge pricing on Uber, too.
To save time, some Singaporeans rent a car—no, not some fancy car to impress relatives, but just a regular car to get their family from one relative’s home to another. However, expect to pay well over $100 a day for such a short-term rental, and for car rental companies to hike up their prices over the CNY period.
What do you usually spend on over the Chinese New Year? Tell us in the comments!