Want to learn how to climb a tree? 6 ways to spend your hongbao money

You've done the rounds and counted your hongbao money. The question is: what's the best way to spend it?
You've done the rounds and counted your hongbao money. The question is: what's the best way to spend it?PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Chinese New Year has swept in, bringing with it the usual snacks, nosy questions and, of course, hongbao.

Instead of blowing that cash on an ill-fated game of ban luck (Hokkien for blackjack), here are some interesting ways to spend your red packet money this year.

1. Get wet


The People's Association Water Venture programme offers a range of affordable courses for students with different fitness levels and interests. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

If you've had enough of yusheng, you can get up close and personal with yu (Mandarin for fish) of a different kind in our seas and reservoirs.

The People's Association Water Venture programme will get you quickly acquainted with water and adventure sports through a range of affordable courses. Once you've learnt the ropes, you can also rent equipment and set off on your own.


Students attending the kayaking activities under The People's Association Water Venture programme. PHOTO: ST FILE

A kayaking orientation course at a reservoir lasts 2½ hours ($12 for students), but if you're more adventurous and have a little more time, you can opt for a course at sea, which takes up a full day ($20 for students).

If kayaking isn't challenging enough for you, you can try riding the waves while windsurfing, which requires great coordination, balance and technical skill. A three-hour windsurfing orientation programme costs $20 for students.

Visit www.pa.gov.sg/Our_Programmes/Water-Venture for more information.

2. Grow your own garden


A herb garden is a rewarding way to spend your time as it allows you to harvest what you grow. PHOTO: ST FILE

Terrariums are so passe. Why not grow your own herb garden instead?

Herb gardens are low maintenance and will add a dash of greenery to your life. They work both indoors and outdoors, and unlike terrariums, you can actually harvest what you grow.

You can pick up a pot and soil at any gardening shop, and get seeds at a nursery or supermarket. At Far East Flora Garden Centre (www.fareastfloragarden.com), you can get packets of basil, rosemary, peppermint or parsley seeds for just $0.90 each.

If you don't want to start from scratch, an alternative is to get potted plants. You can buy ready-to-grow pots of oregano ($9.99), parsley or peppermint ($12.99 each) from Noah Garden Centre (www.noahgardencentre.com.sg).

Even if you don't cook much, herbs can be useful around the house. Peppermint leaves make a good tea, while lemon balm can be used as a mosquito repellent.

3. Dinner with a twist


At pop-up restaurant Andsoforth, dining becomes a theatrical experience, where organisers will tell you the event venue only on the day itself. PHOTO: ANDSOFORTH

You've probably had enough roundtable dinners and steamboat to last you the year. If you want something outside of standard restaurant fare, you can try out these experiences instead.


With a mystery to solve, costumes, scripts and lighting, Andsoforth is perfect for those looking for an unusual night out. PHOTO: ANDSOFORTH

Andsoforth (www.andsoforth.com.sg) is a pop-up restaurant that turns dining into a theatrical experience, complete with a mystery to solve, costumes, scripts and lighting. You can book a slot online (starting from $98), and the organisers will tell you the event venue only on the day itself. That's when you will unravel clues that lead you to the final location of the feast.

If you're looking for something a little more old-school, you can try dining on the river.


CapitaMalls Asia restored a pair of tongkangs in 2011. Moored at Clarke Quay, they are now reinvented as the TongKang Colonial Bar & Restaurant. PHOTO: CAPITAMALLS ASIA

Tongkangs - light boats for carrying goods - used to ply the Singapore River. You can dine on the last remaining pair of them at Clarke Quay's Tongkang Riverboat Dining (www.tongkang.com.sg). Pastas start from $24 and entrees from $38.

4. Make your computer more comfortable


PC glasses, from retailers like Owndays, can reduce blue light from screens by up to 40 per cent. PHOTO: ST FILE

We spend so much time in front of a screen, but ever thought about staying healthy while doing do? When it comes to ergonomics, a little really goes a long way.

Most of our screens emit blue light, which can interfere with our body’s natural sleep cycle. PC glasses such as those from Owndays ($60 at www.owndays.com) or Foptics ($19.90 at www.foptics.club) and can reduce glare and blue light by up to 40 per cent.

Our posture when looking at screens can also contribute to long-term injuries like carpal tunnel or neck and back strain. Getting something simple like a wrist rest or a laptop stand will help to alleviate symptoms and prevent tension.

5. Go climbing


ClimbMax on Sentosa is an obstacle course built among eucalyptus trees, 5m to 15m off the ground. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

While tossing yusheng (and getting ingredients all over the table), you may have heard your relatives say bu bu gao sheng, or in Mandarin, to "rise higher with every step". Now you can do that, literally, by climbing a tree.

Singapore is more of an concrete jungle than an actual one, but still there are places here where you can pick up the technical and physical skills required to be a climber. Tree Climbing Asia (www.treeclimbingasia.org) runs courses for all levels of climbers, with a Basic course costing $52.90 for students.


A man walks the planks at ClimbMax, one of the stations at the MegaZip Adventure Park on Sentosa. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

If you're a bit more of a daredevil, you can try your hand at ClimbMax on Sentosa (www.megazip.com.sg/attractions/climbmax). It is an obstacle course built among eucalyptus trees, 5m to 15m off the ground. A single run through the course costs $40.

6. Put it in a bank


Saving your money in the bank is probably the most obvious choice for prudent folks. PHOTO: ST FILE

Of course, the most prudent way to handle all that hongbao money is to squirrel it away safely in a bank.

Several banks offer easy ways to save, such as with DBS' eMySavings Account, which automatically transfers a pre-set amount into a separate account every month. OCBC also has a Monthly Savings Account, which works in a similar way.

Many of these accounts also offer a special interest rate, as long as no money is withdrawn from the account within the month.