Happy Lunar New Year everyone!
If you were anywhere near Chinatown this weekend, hopefully you were able to catch some of the festivities. On Saturday I biked to Chinatown with my friend, Ashley, for the 115th Annual Golden Dragon Parade. Luck was on our side as we snagged prime real estate near the end of the parade route right by the dragon arch over Broadway. Just as we set up our perch, the beautiful dragons jumped and wiggled their way past us. Some of the colorful, ornate characters interacted with the children in the crowd. Indeed one of the beautiful treasures that makes this city culturally rich.
Two weeks ago Tuesday, I was on a late night bike ride with my friend, Jared. Chinatown was a part of our ride that night, which it often is. [Sidenote, you should often include Chinatown in your rides too. Great hills, beautiful scenery, plenty of history, and many hidden gems tucked away in small corners.]
We were biking passed a medical center and the thick smell of incense filled the air. As we approached the front of the building, we saw a small group of women standing above these ornate canisters. A fire burned inside each one. The woman were putting what looked like sheets of paper slowly into the fire. Jared found a security officer and asked what was going on. The officer told us the women were performing a ritual to prepare for Lunar New Year. They perform it every night for two weeks leading up to the actual date. On the other end of the building was a table that was filled with beautiful food: a whole roasted pig and piles of fresh fruits and vegetables. Incense burned around the table.
It felt like an honor to stumble upon this private ceremony. We watched from a distance. I felt a bit like a voyeur on someone’s private moment, but the security officer assured us it was okay to watch.
I was reminded once again why I love biking through Los Angeles. There is no way we would have ever seen this ritual if we were driving. In fact, there is no way we would have been in the back hills of Chinatown that night if we were driving. The world is so intimate when you get out of a car and onto a bike.