Gong hey fat choy – Chinese New Year

This year I am lucky to have experienced New Year’s celebrations twice – both of them completely different than anything I’ve experienced before! In Japan I missed the annual fireworks, but today my “loss” was made up in the Hong Kong’s Chinese New Years fireworks spectacle. Yesterday I, along with probably few million others, got to witness the New Year’s parade, and the day before that I was smushed in the crowds in Victoria Park’s market.

Enthusiastic shoppers in Victoria park
Enthusiastic shoppers in Victoria park

The Victoria Park (flower) market resembled the Finnish Vappu (mayday) market quite a lot, except that here you couldn’t really see any of the stalls since there was so many people. The flowers and fruit trees were beautiful, but pretty much everything else on sale was carnival crap. I am glad to have stumbled upon the market on my morning “jog” (which turned to walking and eating in the market area).

The (non-Chinese) carnival spirit
The (non-Chinese) carnival spirit

The Parade in Tsim Sha Tsui was rather popular, to say the least. We were there few hours early, and the streets were already packed. I have to say, that the parade was a slight disappointment, specially after such a long wait. It was interesting, and definitely worth it, but not that “Chinese” since half of the groups were from somewhere else.

Hong Kong Disneyland partying
Hong Kong Disneyland partying

The parade had some interesting costumes and talented performances, so it was nice to see. However, the subway ride afterwards was a “bit” hectic and cramped. It is funny how much I have been in crowds these past few days, although most of the shops and restaurants have been closed and the streets have seemed almost deserted. Almost!

Blasting in the air for 30 mins
Blasting in the air for 30 mins

Today’s fireworks were spectacular, and definitely made up for the ones I missed on our new year. I am not that familiar with the Chinese traditional customs, but I doubt Gagnam style as background music for fireworks has not been that common for celebrations. I wish I knew half as much about the Chinese New Year’s traditions as I know about the Japanese oshougatsu, but this weekend was interesting as it was, everyone was happy and festive and we got an extra day off! Looking forward to the next festival, which seems to be in few weeks!

Tokyo by numbers

Here are some interesting numerals about Nippon’s capital, where I am currently definitely not checking out if they are true or not!

Tokyo by numbers

Tokyo Subway map

13 Subway lines
503 Train stations
3750 000 People in the Shinjuku train station every day, which keeps all the
300 exits busy
35 676 000 Citizens in the greater metropole area
21 People inside a Mini Cooper

I’d rather take one of the 13 subways

21,000 Ramen restaurants
257 bars in Golden Gai, Shinjuku
400 000 vending machines

No need to be hungry or thirsty, let the lights guide you!

300$ for a cantaloupe in Takashimaya department store
5500 000 000$ Annual sales in Tsukiji fish market
35 000 000yen for Kobe beef meal in the world’s most expensive restaurant, Aragawa

It’d better not be rotten inside!

Sources for these interesting facts were Lonely Planet and Time Out Tokyo. Pictures from: here, here and here

Photo bombing

I went “culture touring” around the city the other day. I didn’t buy anything, but got aching feet and filled my iPhone with pictures. Here are some of the highlights of that particular afternoon (since that, there has been few other excursions):

Museum of Natural History. Did not go in.
Time Warner (shopping) Center is the home of two heavenly places: Williams Sonoma and Whole Foods
View from Central Park
The Guggenheim Museum. Visited the gift shop. Fyi: student tickets are $18.
Stairs of The Met. Visited the huge gift shop.
The Apple store. More people and noise than in a…well, very noisy place.
Ceiling of guess what building!

Pictures of following adventures will be appearing here sooner or later. There has been so much interesting things already, I don’t know if my phone will explode when I actually will be in Manhattan every day!