Thum Shue-wen Claire
Chinatown, a place teeming with fleeting moments of sweet chestnuts crumbling in mouths, of glowing cellophane lanterns bobbing in the dark, of cacophonous Mandarin and Hokkien over the clatter of dishes and a deluge of scents. On the left, an entire street dedicated to hawking mass-produced, brittle plastic goods. You've seen this lurid red keychain of a Chinese opera mask before. Was it one shop down? Two? The specious authenticity Chinatown wears like a gleaming medal upon its breast dissipates just a little bit. Turning away from the display racks, a flash of blonde hair and sweet-smelling skin jolts you. Sweat streaks the foreheads of the freckled couple who speeds past you, their rapid fire conversation quickly blending into the background. Visitors from the cold north, used to experiencing the vicissitudes of the seasons the days becoming colder, the leaves crisper, and the trees baring themselves always spotted with an ice cream in hand, hands and face sticky from the quick melting treat. They're probably heading to the Maxwell Food Court, you think to yourself, making a mental note to drop by later for some of that ice kachang to beat the heat.
Travelling just a few shops down from the tourist infested alleys, the transition from the bustling scenes teeming with life just one street down is staggering, as if you've entered another dimension altogether. It's just one street, but it feels like the place stretches on for miles in the labyrinthine alleys. There's someth...