Chinese New Year puts some pop in Pattaya’s high season

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Chinese New Year brought a lift to Pattaya’s high season and put extra money in the bank accounts of market vendors and tourist attractions.

Shoppers thronged to Wat Chaimongkol, Naklua and other markets on Feb. 6 – the traditional “shopping day” for Chinese New Year celebrations – with people buying raw cooking materials, fruit and meat, along with “nian gao” stuffed dough pyramids and Chinese offering paper and crackers to pay respects to their ancestors.

Vendors said sales were brisk, but shoppers this year bought only what they needed. The sellers that did best were those marketing popular red clothing for the holiday.

Rada Supamungkalachai (center) took first place in the Miss Qipao pageant held at Central Festival Pattaya Beach. Nattawarun Pongboon (left) placed first runner-up. The Miss Beauty Chinese award winner and second-runner up overall was Saranya Siripreecha (right).

The hunt for value was also obviously at gold shops, such as Diamond and Gold 99 where owner Tawatchai Rungrattanaphan said sales of gold bars and gold ornaments were steady, but not noticeably different from recent lean years.

When not shopping, many Chinese tourists spent time visiting local attractions and temples. The Navy Radio Station lookout at the top of Pratamnak Hill was a popular stop, despite chilly weather.

The “Chinese Happy old guy and lady” parade at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden was fun for the whole family.

Petty Officer 1st Class Boonreung Pengjan said there were many Thai tourists and tour groups from China and Russia taking in the view, with Buddhists making a stop at the nearby Kao Prabat shrine to make merit.

The dharma practice at Khao Phra Yai Temple on Big Buddha Hill also was busy, with tourists buying flowers, candles and incense for paying respects and merit-making. Even photographers did well, despite the prevalence of smartphones and selfie-takers.

Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome feeds the lion with a ‘Angpaow’ or red envelope with cash inside.

On Chinese New Year’s Day itself, the official celebrations started at 11 a.m. when Sawangfah Road was closed for the Chinese lion and dragon dance parade. The highlight of the festival was the Chinese Boy and Girl pageant, offering 80,000 baht in scholarships to for youngsters ages 5-8.

Emily Jane was crowned Miss Chinese Pattaya, with Chayanut Thanyahan and Napathchom Sridaeng finishing first and second runners-up respectively.

Patchpumi Aphichart was crowned Mr. Chinese Pattaya, with Sinmahas Ewsoo and Phipathpong Khetwattha earning first and second runners-up respectively.

Some people were even seen dressed as Sai-Eew, the Monkey Kings from the Chinese myths.

Evening festivities unfurled on Walking Street, which was closed starting at 4pm and all vendors prohibited from trading after that point. The street hosted another lion and dragon parade.

Another pageant, for older contestants, played out at Central Festival Pattaya Beach with the annual Miss Qipao contest.

The 30 meter dragon furiously spins round and round.

Rada Supamungkalachai, a student from Srinakharinwirot Prasarnmit University, took first place in the pageant for the woman in the most-beautiful traditional, tight-fitting Chinese dress. Nattawarun Pongboon placed second. The Miss Beauty Chinese award winner and third-place finisher overall was Saranya Siripreecha.

Rada for the next year will serve as a tourism ambassador for Pattaya.

Winners of Miss Chinese Pattaya 2016 Emily Jane (center), Chayanut Thanyahan and Napathchom Sridaeng.

The Year of the Monkey was brought in by elephants at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, which began its Chinese New Year celebrations Feb. 6.

Park Director Kampol Tansajja presented Nong Nooch’s version of a lion dance performed by elephants led by Baitauy, Morakot, and 11-year-old Christmas, with angels, Chinese happy characters, and costumed lions entertaining tourists.

Winners of Mr. Chinese Pattaya 2016 Patchpumi Aphichart (center), Sinmahas Ewsoo and Phipathpong Khetwattha

Mike’s Shopping Mall featured a 30 meter long dragon-lion show that was brought to life by members of Jaow Poh Jiew Thee Eiy troupe from Bangkok.

Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome presided over evening events at Lan Pho Park in Naklua, with the theme ‘old aged dressing’, in which most people were seen wearing traditional Thai clothing.

The celebration at Lan Pho featured magic shows, Kung-Fu acts and traditional stage shows, along with colorful lion-dragon dances. Off Pongsak and Liew Ajariya gave a free concert throughout the night as well.

A performer from Bangkok’s Jaow Poh Jiew Thee Eiy thrills the audience by throwing a dart through glass to pop a balloon.

Thai-Chinese youths perform the umbrella show.

Drummers and cymbals keep the beat for the dancing dragon.