Chinese New Year 2016

6 Apr

* Disclaimer: I’m a little behind on the blog posts ~ the spring semester has been a busy one and blogging has not been my top priority. For those who wonder if I actually work, the answer is yes! I’ve been devoting my energy to teaching small creatures rather than sorting photos. However, I do believe in better late than never, so with that in mind…

February 8th marked the beginning of the Year of the Monkey. Many Thais have a bit of Chinese ancestry, so Chinese New Year is enthusiastically celebrated. On the Friday beforehand, we had a rowdy assembly at school, complete with drummers and dragon dancers, followed by a long weekend off. Emily and I went down to Chinatown to see the annual parade and festivities.

The entirety of the neighborhood, from the beginning of Yarowat Road, was a sea of red: red shirts, red banners, red lanterns, red food. Thais and tourists alike were dressed in any and every red item they could find, from the classy, to the traditional, to the ridiculous. We saw red wigs, red face paint, red t-shirts, and red shoes. There were dogs dressed in red ensembles, red paper dragons, and red and gold stuffed toy monkeys. Despite my love of dress-up, I failed in the wearing o’ the red, and was sporting a light blue shirt. The upside was that my shirt color made me easy to spot in a crowd, so Emily didn’t lose me.

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We spent several hours wandering around Chinatown, people watching, and enjoying the street performers who played music and danced in various costumes. There is apparently a huge evening parade, but 9 pm is entirely too late for teachers with early bedtimes, and Chinatown is over an hour away from our ‘hood. As we wound our way out of Chinatown, heading towards the nearest MRT (underground) stop, hoards of police personnel appeared. They parted the crowd and ushered everyone back towards the sidewalks. A hush fell. It was amazing and vaguely eerie how quiet that huge crowd managed to become. We waited… and waited… and waited… People snapped selfies.  Eventually, Emily and I ducked out a side street, thinking to find a shortcut. We emerged into an even larger crowd, and were forced to wait some more. And then… the princess appeared! One of the three royal princesses to be exact. She presided over the celebrations and was on her way to the special stage that had been erected. Alas, although she was quite close, photos were forbidden. Still, that was my second princess sighting in less than a month (the other being at the race in Khon Kaen). Maybe next year I’ll stick around for the parade!

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