I live in Chinatown

The Chinese New Year parade takes place today in Chinatown, our Melbourne neighbourhood. Chinese Lunar New Year’s Day was yesterday so now it’s the Year of the Rooster.

Year of the Rooster

Let’s check out what’s happening. After all, the Chinese New Year festivities are held outside our apartment building.

Lots of interest among the Melbournians.

Welcome to Chinatown

The building on the left is part of our apartment complex where we live. Close, hey?

People, people and more people

Difficult to photograph the complete dragon and tail due to crowds. Three close up pictures will suffice instead…

The dragon’s head
The dragon’s tongue
Tail holders waiting underneath for procession to start

At 11.45am, the parade commenced. The spectators were excited, pushed and moved around to improve their views. Photos and selfies galore. It’s ON!!

The dragon leaving its compound
Procession up Little Bourke Street towards Exhibition Street

Some characters among the street performers. These 3 guys were popular. Unfortunately, I don’t understand their symbolism.

Three wise Chinese men…?

The guys above looked so brilliant that I include this second photo.

Three wise Chinese men – from the side

No Chinese New Year parade would be complete without plenty of drumming (and firecrackers, of course). The smattering sound was deafening at times, but hey, a new lunar year has arrived. Cause for celebration.

Drummer Boy

“Splinter groups” appeared like these men in black from Chinese Youth League of Australia. The more, the merrier.

Performance by Chinese Youth League of Australia

Here, you could purchase an incense stick, light it up, stick it into a bowl of sand and quietly reflect. If only for a brief moment as there was a queue behind.

Place for reflection

Did I mention firecrackers? The signs were evident in this street corner.

Firecrackers leftovers

Naturally, today had a commercial element with food vendors and real estate agents. And a lucky wheel. I noticed no discrimination against the number 4 (bad luck in Chinese).

Lucky wheel

I finish today’s events here and include some photos from an earlier, quieter time in Chinatown…

That red tall apartment block in the middle background is where Good Mrs and I live. The Chinese Museum to the left. Sorry to say, but I have not yet been inside. The dragon float today commenced from here since the museum stores the dragon outside celebrations.

image
Chinatown alleyway – Chinese Museum left

On that square off Little Bourke Street is a bronze statue of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, considered the founder of modern China. Feels appropriate.

image
Dr Sun Yat Sen, founder of modern China

Not everything in Chinatown is Chinese. Japanese and Korean feature too. Not just food but massages and hair salons and more. This laneway off Little Bourke Street offers several Japanese restaurants.

image
Japantown?

Also on Little Bourke Street is this still operating Chinese Mission Church. And there are more mission churches in the area. A working Chinatown.

image
Chinese Mission Church in Chinatown

Buskers… Another regular Chinatown feature. There is an older Chinese lady who belts out opera tunes and those old-timers who play that one string instrument with a bow. You know, the “cat-stranglers”. And others. Like the busker below who played some unknown instrument. Unknown to me.

image
Chinese busker with “unknown” musical instrument

Mmmm, I quite enjoy the “cat-stranglers”…

What about Good Mrs and my thoughts about living in Chinatown? Well…

  • One main attraction is food. Naturally. Plentiful, cheap, “always open”. Good Mrs and I have our favourites for Yum Cha, for upmarket Chinese cuisine, for “cheap and cheerful”. Most restaurants are within an easy walking distance from home.
  • Colourful characters. A few examples…
    • I became buddy with the Chinese dry cleaner in our building’s shopping area – fun guy
    • The older Chinese couple in our apartment block who exercise daily by walking up and down the stairs to the lobby
    • And Dr. Geoffrey Edelsten used to (or maybe still does) live in our building. You know, the 70 something bloke with a succession of 20 something fiancées (OK, he may not be Chinese but he is definitely colourful)
  • Drawbacks? Well, Chinatown can be crowded and noisy at times. As is living in the city anyway. The younger women, in particular, have a tendency to type onto their mobile phones as they walk. Without noticing where they are going. A few near misses there. Although, all small stuff.

Good Mrs and I feel very comfortable in the Chinese environment. For example, in 2013, we stayed one month in an AirBnB apartment on Henry Street in New York City’s Chinatown. The only white people in that tenement building. Loads of fun.

Let’s finish off by getting on record that I disagree with J.J.Gittes’ associates at the end of the movie “Chinatown”; “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown”.

Don’t forget it, embrace it!! 🙂