Following not too far on the heels of the Holidaze, Chinese New Year was early this year. Maybe the dragon just couldn't wait. It was certainly out in full force in Chiang Mai, winding its way down Tha Pae Road and then turning into the soi leading to Warorot Market. Along the way it stopped to be 'fed', as bystanders and merchants put folded baht notes into its mouth, receiving a blessing in return.
Accompanied by a cacaphony of drums, cymbals and the multi-bang red firecrackers it made its way down the small soi and stopped outside the Chinese temple where, after multiple bows, it ducked thru the doorway and into the central courtyard. As it made several circuits it was stopped periodically by onlookers wanting their photo taken with it, everyone vying for a good shot.
Back on the street, its tail engaged in a 'battle' with a celestial orb of sorts and someone further livened the atmosphere with an 'up close and personal' firing off of the red firecrackers. The dragon's journey ended in an area where a stage had been set up and the event's MC began making announcements.
The excitement over, we wandered down the street of food vendors and checked out some of the day's offerings. As one might expect, all manner of soups were available and in copious quantities. We especially liked the presentation in the large, shallow golden woks.
Fish and seafood was also in abundance. One stall displayed huge piles of simply cooked squid, shrimp and crab, and another had nicely arranged varieties of fish.
Dessert was represented by some jello-like, licorice-colored black cubes which I've not been inclined to taste, as well as the beautiful, auspiciously colored, golden egg yolk and sugar creations. These originally came to Siam from the Portuguese and are a specialty dessert beloved by the Thais.
Another delight of this celebration was the decoration of the shops. The color red was in evidence everywhere: lanterns, flags, paper dragons, banners and flowers.
Even little ones participated, with this lad decked out in special New Year garb and practicing his manners on passing adults.
It was a fun and exhuberant way to begin the Year of the Dragon. We hope your new year will bring good health and wellbeing, prosperity and happiness. May the dragon be very, very good to you!