happy chinese new year! (or, Bangkok Chinatown pictorama)

Today is Chinese New Year. In Bangkok, celebrating the new year involves many things dear to the Chinese heart: family, gold, rampant materialism, eating, being noisy and animal cruelty.

(Please forgive crappy picture quality, these were taken with my mobile. You can click on the small pictures to see bigger pictures)

Bangkok Chinatown is one of the places in Bangkok that really makes me feel like I am in a movie about Asia, or maybe the Asia described by Marguerite Duras in L’Amant, not just somewhere with slightly different shopping malls from home, but somewhere ancient and alien:

Really old shophouse on TwitPic

I went to the Cantonese shrine and burned incense, There were so many people praying in the New Year that I almost choked on all the incense.

Canton temple on TwitPic

Inside the shrine, they had costumes used for the Lion dance. The mask is from the character I think of a “rich Chinese guy” — he wears this mask and a silk bathrobe and a fan and minces around while the Lion dances, he’s kind of awesome and hilarious.

Mask of old rich guy for lion dance on TwitPic

People come up and give the Lion dancers money in red envelopes, I think for good luck.

In case you didn’t know, Chinese people like gold. A lot. Here is a dog asleep on the counter of a gold shop:

Dog in gold shop on TwitPic

Also, they really, really like shark fin’s soup: (see: animal cruelty)

Shark on TwitPic

In the window of one restaurant, in the tray of dead crabs, there was a crab still alive and struggling to get free — it was a sad and poignant moment — what would be for many of the diners a special meal to mark a happy occasion, would a moment of great suffering and pain for this little crab. 😦

Here is a Dragon mask. One man kept repeating “This is a dragon, *not* a lion”:

Big on TwitPic

While Thai depictions of the Buddha make him look young and slim and quite dashingly Siamese (in particular, he has really big ears), the Chinese Buddha is a really fat happy guy made out of gold:

Very happy buddha on TwitPic

I love seeing the neon signs of Chinatown at night. You can see there was *a lot* of people:

Many ppl on TwitPic

And here is a very popular temple. Here I met a very nice policeman who gave me great directions in English:

Big temple on TwitPic

Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures of the *amazing* classical Thai music and dance show happening next to the temple. I was too busy enjoying it. 🙂

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Happiness, good health and prosperity in the Year of the Ox to yo

2 Responses to “happy chinese new year! (or, Bangkok Chinatown pictorama)”


  1. 1 Natta January 27, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Bonjour Julie 🙂

    Happy chinese new year to you too! Chinese new year has always been a big deal to us Thais. It’s very hard for me to find a friend without having any Chinese relation at all.

    And yeah, the incense at China town’s temple is very intense! I went there with my friends once and we had to burn LOTS of incenses. The fire was kinda going out of control and we didn’t know what to do. So an old lady came and helped us. She really is a professional incenser (that’s not even a word lol).

    I’m Chinese, but I’m not accustomed to Chinese tradition that much. I did get red envelopes for Chinese new year though 😉

  2. 2 julielavoie February 7, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Hi Natta,

    thanks for your good wishes and happy new year to you too! Sorry I didn’t see your commment sooner!


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