Chinese New Year in London

Decorations are up in London again, this time for Chinese New Year.   Although today is the first day of the lunar New Year, the main festivities are scheduled for the weekend.

CNY sign The next sign is less inviting, with the same “Avoid the Area” message sent out for Christmas events.

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If you are in Chinatown this week, what can you see?  Lots and lots of red lanterns.

Newport Place sign with lanterns

Chinese lanternsIf you want to combine two February festivals, go to the Chinese supermarket selling these bamboo branches with  heart decorations for Valentine’s Day.

bamboo valentine

Lanterns are also hanging at the Chinese Embassy (click here to see an earlier photo) and at the Fo Guang Shan Temple in Fitzrovia.

Fo Guang Shan Temple


Welcome to the Year of the Monkey!



Chinese New Year monkey


28 Photos Later: Day 19 in China

Welcome to Day 19 of “28 Photos Later”.

car number plate T4119

It’s Chinese New Year.  So my “19” is hidden in the Shanghai car number plate above.  You can tell it’s from Shanghai because the 沪 character denotes the region.

And today’s photo is “Gong Xi Fa Cai”.  This balloon adorned my apartment in Shanghai for one Spring Festival.  The characters offer a traditional New Year greeting and wish for prosperity –  “Gong Xi Fa Cai!”

gongxifacai balloon

In my half-hearted attempts to continue studying just a little bit of Chinese, I sometimes read John Pasden’s Sinosplice blog.  This week John gave us a link to “Spring Festival Wishes from Around China”.  There are 15 audio clips of Chinese people wishing each other a Happy New Year.  The Beijing clip has an audible “r”; the Shanghai Chongming Island clip honestly sounds like someone I know in Shanghai; but the best one is the super-enthusiastic man from Luzhou, Sichuan. Click on the link and enjoy, even if you don’t know a word of Chinese.

“Spring Festival Wishes from Around China”

28 Photos Later: Day 18 in China

Welcome to Day 18 of “28 Photos Later”, which is another day of build-up to the Chinese New Year.

eighteen pomelos

One thing I remember from living in China was that I should hang our red “fu” 福 signs upside down to bring good luck, by using a play on words between “good fortune is upside down” and “good fortune has arrived”.  Here is an example from a door in Tongli (the town that I described yesterday).

chinese door



28 Photos Later: Day 17 in China

Welcome to Day 17 of “28 Photos Later”.


The blog is focusing on China this week, to mark the run-up to Chinese New Year.  So today’s photo is “Red Lantern”.

red lantern

I spotted the lantern in Tong Li, one of the old “water towns” popular with tourists near Shanghai.  I spent a fun day there in 2011 with a tiny camera – this Sony CyberShot T900.

KC Selfie Tongli

Wish I could go back now with my Nikon D90 and tripod!

Gifts from China

Last week my husband came home from China, laden with gifts from a reunion with colleagues from his previous expat posting.  One gift was a papercut decoration for the Year of the Horse, now proudly displayed on my front door and as a header for the blog to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Papercut Year of the Horse

The other gifts were so unexpected, and so generous – so I am using the blog to send our friends in Dalian, Shanghai and Guangzhou a big Thank You,  谢 谢, and 恭喜发财。Here are a few of the beautiful gifts, some from our favourite brands – Shanghai Tang and Liu Li Gong Fang.

Gifts from China
We must now plan a sophisticated dinner party to use our new chopstick holders, and resist the temptation to stage mock battles between our horses, tigers, dragons and phoenix

The dragons of China may be timeless, but the skyline of Shanghai keeps changing.  Here is the view from my husband’s office last week. The highest building in the photo is the Shanghai Tower, which was topped out in 2013 at 632 metres, making it the second tallest building in the world.

View from the office in 2014
View from the office in 2014

I remember the “olden days” of 2007 when the Jin Mao Tower seemed enormous, and the Shanghai World Financial Centre (“the bottle opener”) was still under construction. Click here to see a photo on my Flickr account: Progress in 2007

Even better, click here to see a photo of blue, smog-free, sky in Shanghai in 2009: JinMao and SWFC together – and blue sky!

Finally, Happy Chinese New Year to all Distant Drumlin’s readers – I will finish with a photo of the lantern decoration outside the Chinese Embassy here in London.

Chinese Embassy Red Lantern