Auckland’s Chinese New Year

On Saturday we took the train from Wellington to Auckland. It was a full day’s journey – 12 hours! The day started with a few moments of panic as Jamie and I realized we were riding our bikes all the way around the gigantic Wellington train station…but we couldn’t seem to find a way to get in to the actual terminal. After a few kilometers we did a desperate U-turn, raced back around the station, and finally found the entrance.

Next we hung around the baggage car with our bicycles waiting to load them onto the train. We were getting nervous because the baggage worker was nowhere to be seen but then at the last minute he came strolling down the terminal, strumming some other passenger’s checked guitar, and looking extremely drunk. It was only 7:20am! Jamie tried to hand him our baggage tickets, but this guy’s brain seemed to be working a bit slowly because he didn’t quite understand what was going on. He held out his hand to shake Jamie’s hand, rather than gather our tickets and load our bikes. Oh brother!

Me in front of the train during a break:

Luckily this train was fairly comfortable and we got a few breaks to stretch our legs, so the day wasn’t too bad. We were also very entertained by the running commentary by the train manager. One notable quote was “This bridge we’re on right now collapsed in 1950 when a train was making its way across the river. On that fateful day more than 100 lives were lost.” How lovely!

We arrived in Auckland at 7:30pm and were impressed with the futuristic train station:

Yesterday was spent wandering around the city. We happened upon a celebration for Korean Day. We stayed for awhile and listened to the great music – it was so happy sounding, we loved it! Here you can see a lady in a traditional costume singing along with the band:

Next we investigated a Lantern Festival to celebrate the Chinese New Year. This was one huge party – it took place in an entire city park and every tree and grassy patch was decorated to the nines. This year is the year of the pig:

Red lanterns strung up in all the trees:

Pagoda and red lanterns in the park:

Lots of illuminated figures on the ground and up in the trees:

There were a few stage areas where we were able to watch interesting performances. First we saw a Tae Kwon Do class demonstrate their amazing leaps and kicks. The highlight was a black belt master’s display of skill. First he was blindfolded. Then, two of his students stood in different places in the grassy field holding an apple impaled on a dagger. Then the students rang a tiny bell and the black belt master was able to locate the students with their daggers and apples purely by the sound of the bell. Then he actually kicked the apple, which was held at head-height, off the dagger. He missed the second apple of the first try, but then went at it again and kicked it so hard its pieces sprayed into the crowd. We were very impressed!

Next we say the Lion dance. Here are the children getting ready for the performance:

They were really good – one kid would jump up and sit on the other’s shoulders to make the Lion walk around on two feet:

There was tons of delicious food at the celebration. We tried lots of new stuff including curried fish balls, taro fritters, laksa, spring rolls. And don’t forget the Mr. Whippy cone for dessert!

Here’s me chowing down on the laksa. A yummy combo of noodles, chicken, herbs, and coconut broth. I guess I’m officially off the raw diet for now:

2 Responses to “Auckland’s Chinese New Year”

  1. John Erck Says:

    Good work. Does your camera take videos?? Email me the answer!

  2. John Erck Says:

    I really like the picture on the top portion of your opening page It’s so perfect…and well balanced with the text blurb below and the flat map a bit further down. Well done.

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