Kung Hei Fat Choi! Chuc Mung Nam Oi!
Or for those of us who speak neither Chinese nor Vietnamese: Happy New Year!
This means party time in all Asian countries that follow the lunar calendar such as China, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines - as well as in Chinatowns all over the world. Each year the Chinese New Year celebrations (known as Tet in Vietnam and Bagong Taon ng mga Tsino in the Philipines) take place around the end of January and the beginning of February, depending on when the second new moon after the Winter Solstice will appear in the night sky, and signify the beginning of spring, ready to be sprung. On Friday 31 January 2014 we bid farewell to the Year of the Snake as we enter the Chinese Year of the Horse. The shindig usually lasts three days, whilst families reunite, eat together, wish each other and their neighbours good health and good fortune and clean their houses. And just as dust is banished with a brush, past problems are forgotten and swept away leaving the future full of hope.
If you want to immerse yourself in a full-on festival it’s a great time to be in an Asian country. Alternatively a visit to your nearest Chinatown will give you a crowded, noisy and colourful flavour of the Orient, complete with Chinese dragons, lion dances, firecrackers and acrobatics, not to mention plenty of delicious spring rolls and noodles to nibble on. In London, celebrations start with a parade through Trafalgar Square on the morning of Sunday 4 February.
Now for the Horoscope bit…
Those born in the Year of the Horse (1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002 and 2014) are an active bunch. They like to be out and about, looking good and practicing their quick wits. They are energetic and independent, yet would give everything up for love, as long as their reins are not held too tightly… Famous Horses include: Barbara Streisand, John Travolta and Genghis Khan of all people!
Now for the travel bit…
On a global level there may well be more change a foot as the impulsiveness of the Horse takes on a new energy. In short, 2014 will be a wild ride. This is a year that brings energy and is an excellent time for travel and for adventure – the more unusual the destination, the better. Here at Explore we have a few suggestions we can help you with, both in Asia and the rest of the world. This is the year to make plans a reality. So if you have been putting off walking the Great Wall of China; or have dreamt of seeing the 2000-year-old rice terraces of the Philippines; or wondered what it would be like to sleep in a safari tent outside one of Angkor’s temples in Cambodia; or wished you had travelled downriver into the heart of Thailand in a rice barge; or wanted to see for yourself the huge Buddhist monument of Borobodur in Indonesia that was lost under a layer of volcanic ash for 900 years; or fancied getting up close and personal with an orang-utan in Malaysia’s Borneo; or fancied nibbling on street food in Hanoi’s Old Quarter in Vietnam; or ever wondered what it would be like to stand on the shores of Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan... this is the year to make it happen.
Happy Year of the Horse to all!