At a traditional temple in Bangkok, a riot of scarlet lanterns hung over the red-clothed crowds offering candles and whispering prayers in observance of Lunar New Year. Countless Thai-Chinese celebrated the event with get-togethers, dinners with family, and outings to numerous shrines located throughout Chinatown.
On Saturday afternoon, thousands of interested tourists and jubilant devotees, including 70-year-old Watcharin Parichatwuttikoon, brought the historic streets in the capital’s downtown to life. It is extremely sacred. Outside one of the biggest temples in the city, Wat Mongkorn, he told AFP, “I have attended since I was young.” “I enjoy making amends and wiping out transgressions. It’s raining today, which is refreshing.
Chinese immigration to Thailand is not new; approximately 10% of the population is Thai-Chinese, and among them are some of the most well-known business families in the kingdom. Before heading back out into the busy streets, visitors to Wat Mongkorn, also known as the “Dragon Temple,” took a moment to pray in silence and make customary offerings.
The thirty-one-year-old Chawanakorn Arunthanachotikul had traveled there with his family and friends. He told AFP that “Today is a good day for Thai-Chinese people.” “I ask for good fortune and a peaceful conclusion to this year.” Although a large number of people in Bangkok’s downtown area were from the kingdom, Thailand’s tourism industry also benefits greatly from the festivities.
Over 730,000 Chinese tourists visited Thailand between January 1 and February 8, according to a Thai government spokesman who spoke with local media on Saturday. It comes after Beijing and Bangkok agreed to waive visa requirements last month. Thai officials are hoping this will help the country’s struggling tourism industry, which is trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tourists were browsing the many colorful merchandise-stacks in Chinatown, where vendors were frequently dressed in red cheongsams. Traveling from Beijing, 22-year-old American-Chinese visitor Cassandra Branson was one of the guests. She told AFP, “I usually celebrate Chinese New Year in New York, but this year I wanted to come to Chinatown because it feels like home.” “I spend it at home with family, and there’s less buzzing and more quiet. This place is very festive,” she remarked. “A lot more energy is there.”- AFP