Happy Year of the Dragon - "The Grand Tour" of Europe from The New Yorker

                                                                                                                    Crédits photo : S. Berkoukeche / Mairie de Paris
Dragons will parade through the streets of Paris this weekend as residents celebrate the most auspicious year of the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Dragon. While most Chinese citizens spend this holiday with their families, many use it as an opportunity to travel to Europe.

"The Grand Tour", an article by Evan Osnos in the April 18, 2011 edition of The New Yorker, provides an intriguing view of Paris and other European cities as seen through the eyes of a group of Chinese tourists who are hustled from one sight to the next while visiting five countries in ten days. To whet your interest, here are a few of the points that I found particularly fascinating:

  • Li [the tour guide] asked us to make sure we hadn't left anything behind [at the hotel], because some of his older travelers used to have a habit of hiding cash in the toilet tank or the ventilation ducts. "The worst case I've had was a guest who sewed money into the hem of the curtains".
  • "We have to get used to the fact that Europeans sometimes move slowly, he [the tour guide] said. When shopping in China, he went on, "we're accustomed to three of us putting our items on the counter at the same time, and then the old lady gives change to three people without making a mistake. Europeans don't do that." He continued, "I'm not saying that they're stupid. If they were, they wouldn't have developed all this technology, which requires very subtle calculations. They just deal with math in a different way."
  • By the fourth day on the road, we no longer thought twice about riding three hours in the morning and another three in the afternoon, separated by cultural excursions. When we stopped for snacks and bathroom visits, we spoke to nobody outside our ranks. We were as mobile and self-contained as a cruise ship.
  • We had been in Europe for a week and had yet to sit down to a lunch or a dinner that was not Chinese. (Nearly half of all Chinese tourists in one market survey reported eating no more than one "European style" meal on a trip to the West.) But Li warned that Western food would take to long to serve...
  • When the travel industry polls the [Chinese] public on its dream destinations, no place ranks higher than Europe.
  • Last year, more than fifty-seven million Chinese people went abroad, ranking China third worldwide in international tourism. The World Tourism Organization predicts that before the end of the decade China will double that.

Please click HERE to read the entire article. Many thanks to my daughter Sara for telling me about it. Interested in China? You can read more articles by Evan Osnos on his blog, Letter from China.

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! It's time for me to get ready to take photos of the parade starting at the Hôtel de Ville.

To see the schedule for all of the Chinese New Year parades in Paris, please click HERE.

Comments

  1. I'd love to see that procession. And that's a very interesting article, thanks.
    Is it cold in Paris? We have a high of minus 2 forecast for this week. brr.

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  2. It was great! There are several parades in different arrondissements during the week. There's another one today in the 13th.

    Fortunately, it isn't that cold in Paris, although it did feel good to have a big bowl of pumpkin soup after the parade to warm up a bit.

    Minus 2 - brrrr! It sounds as if you'll be going for another walk/skate on your lake.

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