Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Happy Year of the Snake!

Last weekend we celebrated the Chinese New Year (this year is the Year of the Snake - time to declutter and prepare for good business/finances!).

Now one thing that surprises people (particularly us) when first visiting Houston is how culturally diverse this city is!  We have a huge Asian population in Houston, and I was told that the reason is the climate here is similar to the countries from where they originally came.  It makes sense: there are a lot of people here originally from China, Vietnam, India, and Malaysia, and the climate here would be easier for them to grow crops (especially rice) that they're familiar with, as well as available seafood, etc. 

Since we have such a sizeable Chinese population here (we actually have TWO Chinatowns - an older & a newer!) we joined up with some friends to see some celebrations.  But first, we met for food.  And here I must confess: I really had no idea what to expect.  I had gone to the older Chinatown once, and it looked like anywhere else in town, just had a lot of Asian restaurants.  The newer Chinatown traveling in a whole different country.  All the signs had Chinese on them, logically!

Also, I'd like to take a moment to apologize to my sister, who is traveling to China soon - I totally forgot to tell you about this when we were on the phone).

We went to see the Dragon dances, but unfortunately we were too late.  However, we saw this person, who represents a Chinese deity of wealth.  Kids got their photos taken with him.  I liked his hat.

 Since we missed the Dragon dances, we decided to head to dinner.  We ate at a Malaysian restaurant - we had chicken satay and I had chicken curry.  Noel had a shrimp dish.  Yum!  (I love curry, as long as it doesn't burn my face off).

 Afterward, we headed to a grocery store in the same shopping center.  I couldn't resist the photo op.  Here are some cookies and snacks on the shelves:

(Dare I mention that Noel bought the pink panda cookies?  Because he totally did).

I was more intrigued with the butcher shop.  Here we have a selection of various sea cucumbers and yellow eel.  Hmmm...

Exactly how does one prepare sea cucumber? 

And just when you're stuffed full of eel chunks, what's for dessert?  Green Bean Ice Bars. 

So I really wanted to try these, but Noel was so grossed out I decided not to bother.  Maybe next time.  :)  I did end up buying some rice balls with peanuts in the middle (we haven't tried them yet) and Noel got some other cookies that were called Japanese mochi balls - they were chocolate flavored and looked promising.  But they were gummy.  I don't mean they had a jelly filling or anything - they were entirely like a huge chocolate gummy bear.  GROSS.  We threw them out. 
The panda cookies though?  Delicious.  If not slightly emasculating.
So last weekend we also went to the Kemah boardwalk.  It's an old-fashioned oceanside boardwalk with rides and shops and restaurants.  We've driven past it a hundred times when we first came to Texas, but never stopped becaust it was always crazy full of people (summer weekends, so of course it would be).
However, on a brisk winter day, the crowd was manageable.  They had a two-story carousel!
And a lighthouse with requisite palmetto trees.
In typical Thing In Sky form, a wooden rollercoaster (too cold to ride or I would've been on it!)
We stopped at a fun rockabilly shop too, and I got an ADORABLE dress with a green Tiki on it.  Fab.  Now I just need a place to wear it!  (This seems to be a common theme with my clothing purchases of late).

1 comment:

Rachel said...

How very cool! Funny that I'm going to China before ever visiting a Chinatown. Scott and Audrey made a quick stop in D.C. while Leah and I stood in line to get in the capitol. But I don't think that even counts for them.