Friday, January 27, 2017

Chinese New Year: What to Expect in Chinatown?

This year's Chinese New Year falls on January 28, 2017, a Saturday, a perfect time to troop to Ongpin and explore Chinatown. When visiting Chinatown on a Chinese New Year, the first thing that a Chinatown first-timer (just like The Curious Daddy in 2013) looks forward to is the dragon dance. But during my first time in Chinatown in 2013, together with my then fiance who is Fil-Chinese, I discovered a lot of new things. I went through my photo archives and thought of sharing them in this post so you can know what to expect, in case you plan to visit the place this weekend. Though the photos were taken in 2013, I'm pretty sure that the same can be expected year after year.


If someone will be asked what's the first thing that goes into their mind when talking about Chinese New Year, it would probably be tikoy or glutinous rice cake.

I'm used to seeing the white, brown and violet varieties of this delicious snack, but I was surprised to discover that some tikoy varieties come with designs: double fish, fish with gold coin, pineapple, fish with pineapple. I'm curious if these varieties can give more luck than the plain ones.

The Dragon Dance

Probably the next thing that goes into a typical Filipino's mind when asked about Chinese New Year is the dragon dance. You can't really blame them since a lot of Filipinos only see dragon dance performance during the Chinese New Year.

I'm used to seeing dancing dragons on TV, but it was my first time to see them up close. I was amazed with their performance, they must have prepared really well for this event. It was also my first time to see a "doble-kara" dragon (lower left photo).

Are you wondering what the dragon was reaching in the upper left picture? It's this, the Ang Pao, a red envelope with cash gift.

The dragons usually perform in stores with hanging Ang Pao (not sure if they were invited by the store owner beforehand to perform in their place). Towards the end of the performance, the dragon will grab the Ang Pao using its mouth. It's also entertaining because sometimes, the dragon has to do multiple attempts in order to get it.

Lucky Fruit / Food / Plant

I must admit, these are the memorable discoveries from my first Chinatown adventure. It was my first time to see a fruit wreath made of citrus and pineapple. My first time also to see rice and ginger used for luck. I'm not familiar with the lucky plant too. I hope someone comments on how they are called because I can't find them in Google. :P

Lucky Charms / Ornaments

I've seen some of these charms in malls before, but it was nice to see them being sold in the sidewalks. I didn't bother asking how much they cost as I got busy making them the subject of my photos. :P

Visiting Chinatown?

If you plan to visit Chinatown, it's best to go there in the morning. Not only will you be able to watch more activities, you'll have more time to go around and try out different Chinese restaurants.

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