Lanterns! Lights! On-stage performances! Street food! Ferris wheels?
I’ve never properly celebrated Chinese New Year (and by properly, I mean I’ve never done anything above and beyond remembering that it is celebrated late January/early February) until this year, while living in Thailand. Here in Phuket, recognizing and celebrating Chinese New Year is taken quite seriously…and it’s also done with a twist.
The island of Phuket is home to many Thai people of Chinese descent, due at least in some part to the fact that Phuket was on one of the major trading routes between India and China. Phuket Town was founded as an old tin mining town in which many of the miners were Chinese and/or of Chinese ancestry. Today, the entire island and its inhabitants take part in the 15-day celebration and everyone has their own way of celebrating.
In order to kickstart my Chinese New Year experience, I went to the biggest celebration I knew of at the largest local temple, Wat Chalong (Chalong Temple). I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but this is what I found:
Three days later, the streets around my Phuket Town apartment were flooded with people, food and dragon figures.
Happy Chinese New Year… from Phuket!