Lantern Festival

A couple of weeks ago we got to see the annual Lantern Festival, a celebration of all things Chinese held in the Auckland Domain.

The lanterns themselves are really cool, like whole dioramas depicting something that probably means more if you grew up with Chinese fairytales than Grimm’s. For instance, the brave shrimp above is surely a known character… but not to me.

There are kiddie carnival rides, multiple music performances, a massive array of food stalls, and lots of other stuff. But the real stars are the lanterns… beautiful.

I’m always on the lookout for messages that seek to influence current affairs and people’s attitudes to somebody’s advantage. In the past, this would have been called “propaganda,” now it’s just “fake news.” And advertising, I guess.

I found plenty of that kind of thing at the Lantern Festival (whether intended or not). To oversimplify: China is great, in all kinds of ways, and has been for a long time. So, therefore, you should go to China on your vacation. And if China itself, or Chinese persons, want something you should probably give it to them. And so on. Hmmm. But then again, any US county fair is at least that nationalistic… so maybe the secret messages were all in my head.

Wow! Whau!

The former Whau Lunatic Asylum, as seen on a recent Sunday morning bike ride. Like in the US, there has been a movement here to deinstitutionalise the mentally ill, although the related problem of homelessness is either less or at least less visible.

Today, the facility is mostly occupied by Unitec, which seems to be basically a community college. Probably still a lot of craziness.

Vin de Bourgogne

The Bistro des Gourmets, a brand new French restaurant, has opened up down the road, run by actual French people. We had a magical meal there with the Provs, and so we decided to try out their monthly wine pairing menu.

The place was packed for this dinner, and the three owners were clearly run ragged by the time we started eating about 8 PM. Still a good meal, but everything was a little overdone and too heavy for a summer dinner.

We know how tough it is to open a restaurant and particularly how tough it is to scale from, say, 10 covers on Tuesday to 60 on Wednesday. We hope these guys can smooth out the rough edges and find a good rhythm so it can become a haunt for us instead of just a novelty.