Sunday, 10 February 2008

Gung Hey Fat Choi!

Happy New Year!

Chinese, that is....

Thursday marked the beginning of the newest lunar new year, the year of the rat, and I was lucky enough to have two opportunities to celebrate.

First, on Thursday, I took my class down to to Chinatown in Vancouver for a field trip. It is a great trip that is a real eye opener for many of my students.

The city where I live has around 8% visible minorities in the population, much less that Vancouver (where I grew up). The kids just aren't used to anything but "North American"or western culture. When they go to Chinatown, it's like a whole new world is opened up to them. And all of the comments from the kids are really positive.

We took Skytrain from New Westminster to get to Chinatown. Skytrain is an elevated rapid transit system which some of the kids have not taken before. It's quite a slick system and could accommodate all of us very easily.

After arriving in Chinatown, the students had a scavenger hunt to fill out which involved observing and taking to people in the different stores there. When we talked about that part the next day, all of the students had only good things to say about the merchants in Chinatown. Afterwards, we had dim sum in a large restaurant and then headed back to the school.

Today was the parade for Chinese New Year. My family and I headed down and got there just before it started. Because it was year of the rat, there were lots of Chinese Mickey Mouse hangings - and I'm sure that Disney In. received 0% in royalties!

The parade started off with the God of Prosperity - a very archetypical Chinese figure - and guys throwing lots of packs of firecrackers on the ground. My eldest daughter commented on how there were so many sound bites in the parade - firecrackers, music, bands, the crowd, the stores, drums - that really added to the parade.

After came the bands and then the politicians and other VIPs. Now, Vancouver is a very West Coast kind of place so instead of all the famous people sitting in fancy cars (which would cause a lot of pollution) they all were walking (The one exception, of course, was Mayor Sam Sullivan who was zipping along in his wheelchair)! It seemed a very open, green, and responsible thing to do.

After a few more marching groups such as the scouts or different Chinese societies, along came all of our favourite - the dragons! The dragons had at least two people in the costume. They ran and deked and spun around in a sort of dance. They are nothing short of spectacular to watch. One dragon had about ten people controlling it. Very cool!

There was a good mix of Chinese people and gwai loh - non-Chinese - and a very festive atmosphere. I think that it's great that people can be Canadian and live in a country yet still retain their cultural heritage.

As for scootering - two things since my last post. Number one, I didn't win the contest. There were literally hundreds of entries including people who kayaked every day, snow shoed, and a host of other remarkable commutes. Even thought I didn't win, I was glad for the chance to write down how I felt about my commute.

Number two, the weather here, after a fair bit of snow two weeks ago (including two snow days - Hurray!) has become decidedly warmer. The temperature has hovered around 8 or 9 degrees Celsius (close to 50° F.) and has been especially great for zipping around town. I'm looking forward to making some longer trips very soon!

Let me wish everyone gung hey fat choi (which means congratulations and prosperity) and may the new year be a great one!


JimmyLee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JimmyLee said...

doesn't "Gwai Loh" mean "white ghost"? a neat nick name for white people in China/Hong Kong.

I actually lived in Hong Kong for a short period and experienced Chinese New Year, it's pretty neat!


Dave Dixon said...


Yes, Gwai Loh does mean wite ghost and that's what how my Chinese friends in high school referred to my white friends - maybe it's not used anymore but I'm used to the phrase!

I only visited Hong Kong for a week - I can't imagine how fun it would be to be there for Chinese New Year!

Conchscooter said...

Nice post. Key West is far from the Pacific Rim so New year is a white fog.There's another thing I miss about San Francisco-Chinatown!

TVH said...

Wow, I also take my class to Vancouver's Chinatown for our China / Immigration unit. You are right about the excellent merchants: they are very polite and patient, even with hordes of "gwai loh" elementary students. The amazing array of Chinese delicacies in the shops is a cultural lesson in itself. Can't wait to go again in June! Happy scootering!

Dave Dixon said...


Key West undoubtedly has its benefits. We actually left the parade a bit early because my wife was so cold! San Francisco sure is nice, too!

It truly is a great field trip - one that I'm sure to do every year. Whereabouts do you teach?

TVH said...

Dave, I teach across the river from you in Langley. I also happen to drive an LX50. It's been great reading your blog!

Heinz & Frenchie said...

Nice pictures. We used to always like to look up our birthdays in the Chinese calendar. There are websites now where you can do that. Happy Chinese New Year to all.

Heinz & Frenchie said...

OH and sorry you didn't win the contest. But remember you were a winner with all of us.

Stop By - Have Fun said...

Hi Dave,
I've been following your blog for about 8 ~ 9 months now and I must say: It's a definite enjoyable and educational read. I am a scoot enthusiast and obviously thinking about getting an LX50 Vespa. I figure it's all I need from size point of view.
I have a question though and I thought you might be able to help me, if you have the time: Does it have enough steady speed to tackle traffic on the bridges. I live in North Delta and would obviously want to ride it all over the place for example going from North Delta to Richmond or even further.
What are your thoughts and experience on this.
Thanks and keep up the good work
Alternate email:

Dave Dixon said...

Hey, maybe we'll cross paths on some nice sunny day! Gotta keep an eye out when I cross the river now!

Heinz and Frenchie
Ah, don't worry about the contest - it was just for fun, really.
Glad you enjoyed the pictures - they were taken by me youngest daughter, actually....

stop by, have fun
Good for you to think about a scoot of your own, especially with the upcoming carbon tax!

Going over bridges does slow you down a bit until reaching the middle but I'm pretty confident on the Pitt River bridge. I don't think I'd want to do it every day but it certainly is fine for when I go riding. I've also taken the Mission Bridge several times and it's been fine.

Just realize that you can't go on the freeway - roads like the Richmond connector and Highway 99 would also be too scary for me (although I quite regularly take the Mary Hill Bypass if I have to go to New West).

I do find, though, that there is often another quieter way to go to places - I'm sure you can find them as well.