Archive for December, 2012

Chinese New Year/Spring Festival in Beijing 2013

Chinese New Year/ Spring Festival
10 February 2013, Sunday- 24, February 2013, Sunday

Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival is a big public holiday in Beijing as well as in China.  To prepare for this holiday, residents in Beijing clean their houses to get rid of bad luck and bring in good luck for the new year.  Houses will be decorated with lanterns, peonies, kumquat trees, paintings, and much more.  Chinese New Year is a time of family reunions so most people in Beijing will have a family dinner on New Year’s Eve with foods like fish, dumplings, and glutinous rice cakes which represent luck and prosperity to Chinese.  Since Chinese New Year is a time of family reunions, Chinese who came to Beijing to work often return to their hometowns to spend time with their families.  During this time, train, buses, and flights are very busy so be sure to arrange your travel ahead of time.  There are a lot of things to see in Beijing during this time like:  dragon/lion dancing, fireworks, and much more.

Performers at temple fairs

 

Tanghulu (candied fruits) will be sold at temple fairs.

However, one of the activities that Beijing is known for during this holiday is going to temple fairs.  Temple fairs originated during the Liao Dynasty and feature reenactment of Earth and Heaven worship ceremony,  Peking opera, acrobatics, lotus blossom fairy dances, Chinese traditional arts and crafts, and a lot of fun games.  There will be a lot of snacks sold at these fairs.  Some of the fairs to check out are:  Longtan Temple Fair, Ditan Temple Fair, and Dongyue Temple Fair.

Besides temple fairs, there are also a lot of things to do during Chinese New Year in Beijing.  The Bird’s Nest, home of the 2008 Beijing Olympics will have Winter Wonderland featuring skating rinks,  artificial Winter Wonderland that includes snow sculptures, skating rinks and mini snowboard slopes.  You can rent a rickshaw to tour Houhai Lake District which has many bars and ancient buildings and a great place to sit on a rooftop bar and view the fireworks.  There are a lot of things to eat in Beijing but don’t forget to eat Peking duck at Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant and Mongolian hot pot at Donglaishun to warm yourself up after a cold day in Beijing.  During the Spring Festival a lot of stores mark down their prices to attract customers.  Hong Qiao Market and GuWanCheng are great places to shop for bargained Chinese souvenirs to bring home.

Fireworks in Beijing on Chinese New Year’s Eve.

 

 

 

New Year’s Eve in Singapore 2012

New Year’s Eve Day
31 December 2012, Monday

For such a small island, Singapore sure has a lot of amazing activities to do on New Year’s Eve to welcome 2013.  There are clubs, beach parties, fireworks, and much more options to count down to 2013.  Some of the beach parties for New Year’s Eve are Tanjong Beach Club and Siloso Beach.  Both of these parties start early, around 4 p.m. and ends almost near morning, promising a lot of partying for your money.

If you don’t want to be stuck at a beach party for a whole night of partying you can head down to Clarke Quay where you can choose any bar or  clubs or just walk around taking in the live music and people watching.  If you want to spend money eating instead of drinking there are a lot of buffet to enjoy and take in the views of fireworks if you pick restaurants near Marina Bay.  Marina Bay will feature a lot of fireworks to countdown to 2013 and prior to the fireworks there will be live performances for the crowd to enjoy.  Some of the great places to get a good view of the fireworks at Marina Bay for free are:  Marina Bay Sands Board Walk, the Helix Bridge, Gardens by the Bay, and Singapore Flyer.

 

Marina Bay Countdown

 

Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year 2013 in Macau

Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year
10 February 2013, Sunday

Like most other cultures that celebrate Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year in Macau will start out with families cleaning their houses and buying new clothes and etc. to welcome the new year.  Some houses in Macau even paint doors and window-panes red in hope of having wealth and prosperity in the new year.  Houses are also decorated with lanterns and cutouts of Chinese lucky phrases.  Lunar New Year is a time of family reunions so families will visit relatives and have dinner together.

A popular activity that will take place is people will come to temples bringing offerings to pray for good luck in the new year.  There will be fortune tellers and dragon dances at temples.  The temple that will attract the most people is A-Ma Temple.  Since there will be a lot of decorations in the house for Chinese New Year, there will be a lot of flower markets created for this purpose.  The two sites for flower markets are Fisherman’s Wharf and Tap Seac Square where you can get a lot of great snacks while looking at all the beautiful flowers.

There will be a big Chinese New Year Parade which will start from Senado Square and ends at Sai Van Lake Square.  Also, on the same day there will be Chinese New Year Fireworks with the best view is from Macau Tower.  Many casinos in Macau will have a lot of promotions to get customers to try their luck for the new year.  Below is a video of Chinese New Year in Macau in 2011.

Christmas in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City 2012

Christmas
25 December 2012, Tuesday

Ho Chi Minh City or also known by its former name Saigon will be bustling with activities for Christmas in 2012.  Unlike Tet, where the focus is reuniting with families, Christmas in Saigon will be about having fun and going shopping.  Shopping malls and major attractions in Saigon will be fully decorated for Christmas.  Many churches in Saigon will be decorated with nativity crib scene.  One of the major churches in Saigon is Notre Dame Cathedral and is a great place to check out the nativity scene and attend the midnight mass.  Christians in Vietnam will celebrate Christmas by going to Midnight Mass.

Diamond Plaza fully decorated for Christmas

With the country of Vietnam growing economically, there are a lot of shopping malls for Vietnamese to shop at during Christmas.  A lot of stores will offer Christmas sales.  Some of the well known shopping malls in Ho Chi Minh City are Crescent Mall and Diamond Plaza.  People in Saigon will be gathering at major streets in the city like Nguyen Hue or major attraction like in front of Rex Hotel, Notre Dame Cathedral on the 24th of Christmas.  They will come out to these places to take in the sights of Christmas and trying to take pics with Santa Claus or or Ong Gia Noel in Vietnamese.  Most of the main streets where major Christmas attractions are located will be closed to traffic allowing only pedestrians to walk through.  Traffic will be a nightmare getting to these attractions since it seems like everyone in Saigon is out enjoying Christmas Eve.

Christmas decorations on Nguyen Hue Street

Major hotels like Sheraton and Caravelle Hotel will offer Christmas menu.  If you feel like escaping from the crowds below you can enjoy Christmas at some of the famous rooftop bars like Chill Skybar, Shri, and Saigon Saigon Bar.  With the city of Saigon nicely decked for Christmas and so much Christmas spirit in the air, it sure is a great tropical Christmas destination.

 

 

The crowd during Christmas eve in Saigon

 

Vietnamese Lunar New Year/ Tet Nguyen Dan in Saigon, Hanoi 2013

Vietnamese Lunar New Year in Vietnam 2013

9 February 2013, Saturday- 11 February 2013, Monday

Also called Tet Nguyen Dan in Vietnamese is the most important holiday in Vietnam.  Children and workers get about 10 days off for this holiday.  This holiday marks the beginning of spring according to the Chinese calendar.  This is a time for family reunions.  Vietnamese will go back to their hometowns to reunite with families.  Even Vietnamese from abroad will travel back to Vietnam for this holiday.  In order to prepare for this holiday, Vietnamese will go pay off their debts, clean their houses, buy new clothes, and cook traditional new year food.  During this holiday in Vietnam, prices for foods and accommodations usually increase.  Many businesses will also close during the first 3 days of Tet.  Many people often use this holiday to travel to visit families or go on vacations visiting popular beach resorts in Nha Trang, Da Nang, and etc..

Women making banh tet

Some of the food that will be prepared or bought are:  banh chung, banh tet (sweet rice with mung beans and meat fillings wrapped in banana leaves) and mut (dried candied fruits).  At homes, people usually display fruits at the altar soursop, coconut, papaya, and mango.  These four fruits when pronounce will sound similar to “pray for enough to use.”  Houses will be decorated with chrysanthemums, peach flowers, hoa maiOchna integerrima, marigold, and kumquat.

The first day of the new year is reserved for immediate family members to visit each other.  Vietnamese believe that the first person who visit their house will bring luck so don’t go visit without being invited since if they get bad lucks during the year you’ll be the one to be blamed.

Children will receive li xi (red packets) of money from relatives and elders.  Lion dances and firecrackers will be seen throughout Vietnam.  There are a lot of games to be played during the New Year, mostly competing to win money.  Lunar New Year is a great time to visit Vietnam to enjoy all the activities that will take place during this holiday.