I love Chinese New Year. I was the crazy one at work who would string up the whole office in lanterns and garlands and give everyone red envelopes. I don’t know why I like it so much, but it’s always a fun time. When we realized that our visas were going to take longer to come in though, my first reaction was to hope that we’d be out of Bangkok by Chinese New Year. I was hoping that we could resume our traveling quickly, but mostly I was afraid that it would be a crazy mess here and that accommodations would be full.
Well, we’re still here, and we found a room no problem. I decided to just enjoy myself and take in the festivities, after all, it was lucky that we ended up somewhere with a large Chinese community. We couldn’t find any information online detailing the events taking place, so we opted to show up and figure it out from there. Unfortunately, we had to spend the morning getting our Thai visa extended, and we missed out on some of the fun. By the time we got to Chinatown, I was still in a foul mood. Eating some BBQ duck didn’t help… and when I got home and looked at the pictures that I took I was disappointed. Lesson learned: don’t shoot photos when in a bad mood.
We started our exploration with the Wat Traimitra temple. It was packed with people wanting to visit the imposing Golden Buddha and start the New Year on the right foot. Everyone was struggling to get a great shot of the Buddha, maybe to bring the good luck home. There were bells to ring and coins to throw in a giant bowl – it was so large that it was hard to miss (unlike the one at the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan).
Afterward we found our way to a Chinese temple, but I wasn’t able to find the temple’s name. There were so many people offering incense that the staff would throw it out right away to make room for new ones. It felt like a real waste, but no one seemed to mind. People also purchased offerings of marigold and oil, to feed the large burning candles.
Next we headed towards a large stage area, and garlands strung over the street. We noticed an incredibly stunning Chinese temple, and I headed straight there. The temple was built in such a way to perfectly frame the Buddha in the middle – I had never seen anything like it before. There was quite the crowd, and the temple was fenced in – no exploring for us sadly. Right away though, policemen started to part away the crowd to make room for what we assumed would be cars. Feeling that this could be something worth hanging around for, I grabbed a good spot at the front and waited. And waited. The crowd got larger and larger. More and more cops and crowd control staff showed up. Fences were put in. We were told to take off our sunglasses. It felt as though something big was about to happen, but nothing did. Eventually I asked the crowd control lady standing in front of me at what time the event was occurring, and she said 4 PM. It was 2:30 PM at the time, and we just didn’t have the energy in us to wait that long in the hot, direct sun. We gave up and left.
We walked around a bit more but couldn’t find any activity going on. Either we had arrived too late, or too early. Exhausted from our day and the heat, we decided to hop on a ferry and come home.
We learned at the hotel that events for CNY started at 4 PM, but by that point I was just too tired to go back out in the evening. I was a little sad to be missing the festivities, but I was glad that I wasn’t forcing myself to do something that I didn’t really feel like doing for the sake of pictures.