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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Still Celebrating Chinese New Year

Lunar or Chinese New Year runs for 15 days in China (and other Asian countries), but Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland has been running it the whole month of February and even extended it an extra week. I has been 20 years or so since I've been and I saw they were doing an event right now and thought it time to return. With Covid, tickets are very limited and timed, meaning we would be able to be spread out within the garden.

Lunar or Chinese New Year runs for 15 days in China, but Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland has been running it the whole month of February.

Beyond limited capacity, everyone must wear masks, they also had strict one-way path rules, hand sanitizing stations throughout, and 5-person limit inside any enclosed spaces. Since we missed out on the nighttime tickets where everything is lit up, I decided to purchase the first entry of the day. This turned out to be really smart on my part, because there were probably only 10 of us there.

You're greeted by a pair of Chinese lions (with babies even!) at the front gate, you check in and are briefed on safety protocols. You have the option of taking a paper guide, which you're encouraged to recycle at the end of your tour, or you can use the QR Codes at the front to get the guide on your phone.

There are lanterns everywhere, and I can only imagine how beautiful this is at night time. The gardens only takes up one full city block downtown in Portland's Chinatown, but they've made the most of the space and blocking out the city. 

Halfway through, there's a teashop, The Tao of Tea. Normally, you can grab a table and order from a long list of awesome teas and snacks. You can't sit inside and they limit occupancy to your group, but you can still order off their pared down menu to get something to-go. You're able to sit outside. I tried the chai tea, while Eric chose 8 treasures tea, and we split this red bean mooncake. Ordering was quick and easy, and our teas were up very quickly.

The teahouse is on the edge of the pond, allowing you to watch as other people stroll around and take photos. Here I am in the Moonlocking Pavilion. 

And here's Eric in front of the teahouse where we were sitting outside enjoying our tea. There's really no bad view in this place and I don't know why it took me so long to return, but we'll make sure this is a yearly tradition for us now.

You cross over several bridges and footpaths throughout the garden, allowing you to get a view of everything from many different perspectives. If you're lucky, you can catch a glimpse, or more, of the koi that call the water home. We were able to see a bunch of sizes, and seeing how much space they had to swim freely in. 

In the middle of the "lake" is a large dragon and a peacock. These are special for Lunar New Year and also lit up at night. They're absolutely gorgeous.

There are two main buildings that you can go into. The rooms are large, but you still can only have 5 people at a time inside. This wasn't a problem at all when we visited. We only had to wait a few minutes each time for them to clear out. Luckily, everything outside is lovely to look at, and the weather was really nice, so we didn't exactly feel like we were being held up at all. Inside the exhibits change. They showcase artist works and other traditional Chinese tableaus.

Right now, you'll find many interesting facts and photos surrounding the tradition of Lunar new Year, including this table with offerings for ancestors. You'll also find photos of those that are no longer with us, short poems called couplets, lanterns, fortunes, and more.

You might also like to take tea out by this very relaxing waterfall feature. There's a poetic inscription engraved in the rocks that says "Ten thousand ravines engulfed in deep clouds."

We took in the lanterns and other lovely celebratory decor like this wishing tree. Everything is very colorful and vibrant and really makes you feel like you have stepped into another place. Because 90% of the Chinese Garden is outside, this is a relatively safe activity right now. As you can see, there are hardly any people in my photos. This wasn't true the last time I visited, but I think visiting early in the day will enable us to get a less crowded experience, as well as the first nighttime ticket time. You can view more pics of my visit to Lan Su on my Instagram.

Now that the weather is getting warmer and more things are opening, you can expect more posts on what to do around Portland (and possibly your own town) during the pandemic that will keep you safe and healthy, but still get you out of the house.

Do you have a favorite outdoor attraction where you live?

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