The end of Chinese New Year is party time in Auckland. A truly unbelievable number of people descend on Albert Park to admire the lanterns, eat the food and marvel at the sheer crush of the crowd.
So that we could capture the event properly this year, we invested in a new camera. It's described as a "beginner-friendly" SLR, which means that even though its functions are outrageously complicated, they're not compulsory. It takes a ridiculous number of pixels - the images shown here are scaled down to something reasonable for web viewing, otherwise they'd eat up my storage allowance and bloat your browser into a flubbery widescreen pancake, and nobody wants to see that.
We arrived at Albert Park about six-thirty on Sunday. The smell of deep-fried food was everywhere. Susan's nostrils flared, she vanished into the crowd like one possessed of an insatiable hunger for fish balls; I looked away for a moment, and condemned myself to spend the next 40 minutes combing through the crowd in search of her.
An unusually thin part of the crowd. You can see through it.
Apart from that, we had a great time. There was a Chinese prog-rock group (very 70s - they would have been right at home opening for Hawkwind or Pink Floyd). Unfortunately they only got to play a couple of numbers, before being followed on stage by a marginally rehearsed children's choir. The announcer for this latter act kept telling the audience "This next song is very pretty. You will enjoy it."
China's answer to Rush
Well, Chinese culture does tend towards the authoritarian. Eventually we gave up trying to believe her, and moved off in search of lower culture.
That's why they call it a lantern festival
Hundreds of (lucky) red lanterns hung from the trees, along with various ugly faces and improbably-floating luminous babies. The Tiger, of course, had pride of place among the lanterns; a handful of skittish-looking zebras were in front of him, presumably in case he got peckish. Other set-pieces included animals from previous years (the Ox, the Monkey and others), and the traditional turtle orchestra.
At least they sounded better than the kids
I recommend it, it's a fun evening for all the family. But keep an eye on them.
A bid for freedom