Celebrated a pretty decent Chinese New Year here in London. Had my share of gluttony with 2 steamboat meals and overdose of CNY songs through internet. Reckoned there’s even more colours and festivities here in London, as Trafalgar Square, Chinatown and Leicester Square today hosted the annual CNY festival.
It has been a long time since I have been away from home for CNY celebrations. Do miss the mega spring-cleaning and shopping for gifts and clothes, balik kampung to visit family members in Seremban & Ipoh, yee sang and big meals, yummy cookies and cold mandarin oranges and catching up with friends. Probably the only thing I won’t miss too much of are the “innocent concerns” my relatives have for my singlehood.
Anyway back to London – Aud’s aunt was kind enough to welcome me into her home for steamboat dinner on CNY eve with some of her close friends and family here. It was nice to have a sit-down dinner with a crowd, since the last for myself was during Christmas. Steamboat definitely makes more sense over here with the cold weather since it’s too bloody hot in M’sia during CNY.
2nd steamboat meal took place at a friend’s place yesterday for lunch. Again lotsa food again; won’t dare to even think about my cholesterol level after gorging on plenty of big prawns, salmon and crab claws. Couple of us stayed back to finish the rest of the food for dinner. The soup broth was so wonderful that only a tiny bit was left in the pot at the end of the night.
Spent whole of today exploring London city to check out the CNY festivities hosted by the London Chinatown Chinese Asso. Was late in arriving to town and missed out on the parade which started at 11am. However managed to squeeze myself into a nice spot at Trafalgar Square to catch some of the performances on the stage. We were treated to a dragon dance, wushu & cultural dances, musical performances by artists from China and local born. Reckoned the festival this year is more prominent because of the Beijing Olympics in August.
(Lantern decorations at Trafalgar Sq)
(Crowd at Trafalgar Sq with National Gallery in the background)
(Crowd and stage at Trafalgar Sq)
Next went exploring around Chinatown. The place was packed to the brim with people admiring all the lanterns hung across the streets and checking out the small stalls selling food and CNY decorations and toys. There were long queues going into all the chinese restaurants and bakeries – reminded me of the craziness my family go through too for the meals during the first 3 days of CNY.
Last stop was to Leicester Square where firecrackers and fireworks were being set off at the hour from 2pm-6pm. The garden space inside Leicester Square was cordoned off, and many long red firecrackers were placed along the intersecting pathways inside which formed a cross. Enjoyed the display at 3pm, the noise from the burning firecrackers & fireworks were thunderous. Missed these sights and sounds which I totally enjoyed from my childhood days. Somehow the ban on firecrackers back home have really dampened the festivities since it was a great way to usher in the new year at the stroke of midnight.
Definitely a great day-out today. Weather was perfect, warm and sunny for soaking up the culture and festivities. Nice change of being away from home to make me appreciate CNY more and the importance of keeping traditions alive. Here’s wishing all my family and friends a great Rat year ahead!