Chinese New Year’s Eve 2020 | Jan 24, 2020

Celebrating Chinese New Year's Eve 2020 at Hotel Jen.
Hotel Jen Orchard Gateway Chinese New Year 2020 Decorations.

A quieter, but nonetheless enjoyable Chinese New Year’s Eve 2020 evening.

Year of the Rat 2020 is almost upon us, squeak squeak. With that, it means reunion dinner, last-minute shopping at the festive street markets, and, well, putting up a blog post. 🙂

Like last year, and the years before that, my folks and I had our Chinese New Year’s Eve reunion dinner at Makan@Jen i.e. the great buffet restaurant at Hotel Jen Orchard Gateway. Without surprise, the buffet spread that greeted us on entry was a delightful mix of Eastern and Western delicacies, one that’s flanked by a sizable fresh seafood counter and a sushi corner.

Special note too to Makan@Jen’s dessert selection, which was suitably festive in colour and presentation, orange again being the key theme this time. I must say I had quite a bit of fun shuffling about snapping pictures of the attractive platters, before joining other diners in “attacking” the food.

CNY’s Eve Buffet at Makan@Jen

Fresh Seafood at Makan@Jen
Abundant delights from the sea at the fresh seafood counter.
Chinese-style Braised Sea Cucumber Dish.
Chinese-style Braised Sea Cucumber Dish.
Makan@Jen Noodles Corner on Chinese New Year's Eve 2020.
Local noodles corner. You could also request the chef to make Laksa for you.
Pork knuckle cooked in chestnut sauce.
Pork knuckle cooked in a terrifically yummy chestnut sauce.
Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner Buffet at Makan@Jen
Some sort of … steamed fresh fish dish. I didn’t pay much attention to this as I’m not into steamed fish. But this dish was very popular with older dinners.
Makan@Jen Chinese New Year Festive Desserts
Festive orange dessert to celebrate Chinese New Year’s Eve 2020!

Post Reunion Dinner

After dinner, it was down to Waterloo Street for our annual Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho CNY eve “pilgrimage.” My family and I aren’t devoted Buddhists, but we do make it a point to visit and offer incense every Lunar New Year’s Eve.

Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple on Chinese New Year's Eve 2020.
Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple magnificently lit up for the evening. I shot this around 830 pm i.e. before the arrival of the festive crowd.
Around half the shops of the Waterloo Street festive market were still open. Which is not unusual for the earlier part of Chinese New Year’s Eve.
Waterloo Street Cai Shen 2020
Good ol’ Cai Shen i.e. the Chinese God of MONEY, overlooking the festive market, and Chinese New Year’s Eve 2020.

The Ambience Is Noticeably Heavier Than Previous Years

I’ve been avoiding the elephant in the room. The elephant that resulted in me, out of slight paranoia, not heading down to River Hongbao 2020 after Waterloo Street.

Be it at Hotel Jen, in the restaurant, or at Waterloo Street, the festive atmosphere is ever so slightly less vibrant compared to previous years.

At the hotel, hand sanitizers were everywhere. Most staff were donning surgical masks too. During our meal, we were politely asked to fill up a contact form. I did so right away. *

At Waterloo Street, a good number of shoppers were wearing surgical masks as well. Most didn’t look to be sick i.e. they obviously were wearing the masks for preventive purposes.

Unless you’re living on Endor, or somewhere else in another galaxy, I’m sure you know the reason for this heavier mood.


In the late afternoon, right after I left home, I read about two more victims testing positive for the COVID-19 Virus in Singapore. As of that hour, the total number of cases in Singapore increased to three.

The victims look to be recovering well. Or should I say, I hope they will quickly recover. From the many hints given in the local news, though, it seems the number of confirmed cases here would only increase in the coming weeks.

It’s … a terrible thing to have on Chinese New Year’s Eve. For the record, let me state too I feel tremendously sorry for the people of Wuhan – over 10 million people trapped in a city. One can only imagine the raw panic and terror.

And nope, I don’t “blame” the people of Wuhan, although I hope the CCP will finally do something about illegal wildlife trading in China after this outbreak. (It would be a meaningful thing to do for posterity, compared to claiming swathes of seawater that aren’t even near China) At the moment, it looks like they are indeed going all out to contain the outbreak; putting a massive city like Wuhan under quarantine is a very extreme and ambitious move. Whether it would work out though, only time will tell. No one can ever be sure when millions of people are involved.

… …

Is there anything else for me to say other than, let’s hope for the best? Well, I think there are two things:

  1. It’s still a new year for all Chinese. And so, epidemic or not, Happy Chinese New Year 2020! All else aside, a new year means fresh beginnings! Revitalised, energised efforts to do away with the ills of the previous year.
  2. You know, there have been worse epidemics in history. In spite of that, a Year of the Ox always follows a Year of the Rat. Followed by the Tiger, the Bunny, the Wyvern, and so on.

    So mankind will survive this. It will be painful before it’s over but as far as whether the crisis would end, I think there is not a shred of doubt. Actually, in comparison to the 2003 SARS epidemic, I think the world, including China, has reacted much faster. There is definitely still (a lot of) room for improvement as far as some parties are concerned. But in view of everything, I feel that there is a positive light. It’s a faint light, but it is a light that will surely accompany us till another new year comes.

* For the record, let me say I was deeply impressed by the precautionary steps taken by Hotel Jen and Makan@Jen.

Read my other Festive Celebrations in Singapore posts.

Chinese New Year's Eve 2020 | The Scribbling Geek
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Chinese New Year's Eve 2020 | The Scribbling Geek
Celebrating Chinese New Year’s Eve 2020 with a sumptuous buffet dinner, and a leisurely stroll at the Waterloo Street festive market.

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