Gong Xi Fa Cai! (Happy New Year!!)

After a great reunion dinner we luckily got convinced by Carrie’s coworker to continue the celebration with the family and go to temple to pray. As we are not practicing buddhists we did not want to be rude and be tourists at the temple; however we got shuttled into the car and told it would be fine. It is a good thing we went, because the temple visit was a major highlight of the night.

We arrived at the temple to be greeted with a huge inflatable
tiger lantern (the size of a car) for the obvious Year of the Tiger motif as well a large ballon of Cai-Shen the God of Prosperity/Wealth that is a major figure for Chinese New Years. See below for the Cai Shen inflatable figure to get a flavor of what I am talking about.

After making our way through the balloons, we snuck into the back of the temple. Please note that I thought we snuck, but in fact as we were the only white people in that part of town and defintely the only people in that temple so we did no sneaking. We actually set off some emergency broadcast systems. Luckily for us, the emergency systems meant that all the women/mothers in the temple really wanted us to have a great time and herded us to floor cushions to pray and sing instead of being innocent bystanders in the back.

We didn’t really do either, as we know very little Chinese, but we did manage to parade up to the man dressed up as Cai Shen and all the monks to be blessed for the New Year and to receive oranges (reminds people of golden globes for wealth) and bags of rice (to symbolize fullness for the year) along with our fortunes for the new years. We will have a stupendous year now!!

The celebration was extremely joyous and fun, but as it was going to last all night and we had a date with Chinatown at midnight we snuck out around 11pm for a train ride to Chinatown.

We arrived in Chinatown to the most people I have ever seen on the street. It was jam packed with tourists, locals, and police all getting ready for the countdown to the Year of the Tiger and some fireworks.

We got swept away by the crowd and settled into a place between people where we could see the show but couldn’t move another inch. See the crows in the picture below? Yeah it was nice to be a very tall 5’9″ that night so at least I could breathe.

We were excited and cheered along with everyone else as the countdown occurred and the fireworks exploded in the air. It was a sight to see and one I would recommend to anyone.

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