Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Happy Chinese New Year!

Last weekend, a few of the other girls in the group and I decided to go to the Chinese New Year parade happening in the China Town section of Paris. I'd never been to a Chinese New Year celebration before and, after doing a bit of research, heard that this parade was a lot of fun.

I was right. It was so exciting and amusing to be immersed in such an important and thrilling holiday for a culture different from my own.  There were numerous people at the parade from all walk of life and varying backgrounds.

Luckily for us, the parade was fairly close to our dorm so we just had to take the tram about four stops away and then walk down a crowded block to arrive at the parade route.  Getting to the parade in itself was an adventure. It's a very popular event in Paris, it seems, because when we tried to get on the tram, it was so crowded that a couple of us had to stay behind and wait for the next one. Once we got on the tram, there were so many people squeezed onto it that there was nowhere for me to hold on, however, I wouldn't have fallen due to how packed the tram was.

We arrived in China Town and had to fight through the crowd to find the rest of the group. Once we did, we walked down the block towards the parade route, taking in the excitement of our surroundings and stopping at a few stands along the way.

We split up once again to watch the parade so that we could each have good views of the main show. The crowd was so large that people began climbing on fences and on top of bus stops to get a better view of the parade.  It was so fun to watch the people walk by in traditional Chinese clothing while performing traditional Chinese dances and routines. My favorite part of the parade was definitely the many dragons because they were so elaborate and, although I know they weren't real, were so animated and brought a huge smile to my face.

While the day began sunny and warm, that is a rare occurrence in Paris during the winter months (I have quickly discovered).  As the parade went on, the sun went away and the cool air arrived. So, once the parade began winding down (or so we thought), we decided to find a restaurant in China Town at which to eat lunch.  I think every parade attendee had the same idea. We had to wait about fifteen minutes but we finally sat down (although we were split into two groups) and ordered our lunch. Maybe it was because I was cold and hungry but that was some of the best lo mein I have ever had. I got it with "viande viarété" so it had both beef and chicken in it. Ah, I'm going to dream about it tonight!

While we were eating we realized that the parade had been far from over because it started passing by the restaurant! Apparently, we were right near the starting AND ending point of the parade. It was fun to watch it all over again from inside the restaurant, where we were nice and warm.  We finished our lunch and made our way back to the tram, walking along the parade route and dancing along to the energetic music.

One of the stands we passed on our walk towards the parade. So many fun trinkets!

I just loved the fish, so bright and fun!

These were my favorite dragons. And notice the people standing/sitting on top of the bus stop!

This was at the very end of the parade, after our lunch, as we walked back towards the tram. Recognize the song?

Can you see why this was my favorite dragon? So fun!

By the time I got back to my room I was exhausted, but it was well worth it.  The parade was such a culturally rich and fun experience.  These are the kinds of events I am excited about attending while abroad, ones that will allow me to be immersed in different cultures.  There are a few more parades and festivals coming up during my time here that I am looking forward to attending and telling you about!

Until Next Time.

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