7 February 2013


The biggest urban Chinese community outside China itself is in Bangkok, Thailand. The country's links with China go back hundreds of years and when you visit this city's bustling Chinatown, it is as if you have somehow been transported far away from Thailand to Shanghai or Guangzhou

It is perhaps no surprise then that the Chinese New Year is widely celebrated in Thailand and today the primary school children all turned out in silky Chinese costumes. There was Chinese drumming and a dragon dance and a woman  dressed in a giant panda costume startled me on the corridor next to my classroom. I think she hoped I mght have a bamboo shoot for her.

At the Chinese caligraphy activity table, I held a special paint brush upright and did my best to copy the Mandarin symbol for "sky" - see above. I would have loved to scan my own attempt but alas I can't find a scanner. It was the first Chinese symbol I have ever written though I have had many Chinese meals - the symbols for which are often cunningly applied to the sunburnt shoulders of numbskull holidaymakers by mischievous tattoo artists.

In the room opposite my classroom, Miss Lynn teaches Mandarin Chinese. Thais are well aware of the increasing importance of Chinese in economic terms but they have a special affnity for Britain and I see many union jacks on clothing, handbags, purses etc.. You see hardly any American icnography. At the recent parents' evening a wealthy mother laughed with disdain when I suggested her son might attend a summer school in Australia, Canada or America. "No. We like England. That where English come from!" And four of the boys who were in my previous form group are now at boarding schools in England.

By the way, Chinese New Year is on Sunday Februuary 10th and we are about to enter the year of the snake. Should be a good year for Tony Blair, Jeremy Kyle and Richard Hammond methinks.


  1. I'm not surprised that there isn't much American "icnography"!

    But as for Tony Blair et al, "The Snake is the intuitive, introspective, refined and collected of the Animal Signs. They are attractive people who take cries with ease and do not become flustered easily. They are graceful people, exciting and dark at the same time." (Chinese Horoscopes)

  2. But which creature are you Mr Parrots?...Oh of course a parrot! (I forgot for a moment) Thanks for dropping by.

  3. " I think she hoped I mght have a bamboo shoot for her."
    And did you?

  4. I like Chinese New Year - when I make a balls-up of the Western New Year I get a second chance with the Chinese one.

  5. One of my new friends at the gym is a tiny Iranian lady who spent her school years in England. Her opinions are no more well-informed than the rest of ours, but she always sounds so brilliant and well-educated with her lovely accent.

  6. JENNY Confidential!
    OWL WOOD If you are going to celebrate the CNY you must dress appropriately - omething ike Widow Twanky from the panto version of "Aladin".
    JAN BLAWAT Though you are now a lady of mature years, once I have finished in Thailand I will be happy to fly out to California to be your elocution tutor. The results will surprise the folk down at the corn stand. Bob can have lessons too. It will be ike "My Fair Lady".


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