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Evening's entertainment suited foreigners to a tea

By Mike Peters | China Daily | Updated: 2014-02-09 08:38

Evening's entertainment suited foreigners to a tea

Wiboon Khusakul, Thailand's ambassador to China, celebrates the Lunar New Year at Beijing's famous Lao She Teahouse. Provided to China Daily

Evening's entertainment suited foreigners to a tea
Mango Tree branches out
Thailand's ambassador to China, Wiboon Khusakul, will probably look under the table carefully the next few times he sits down to dinner.

Wiboon was enjoying a cultural show celebrating the Lunar New Year at Beijing's famous Lao She Teahouse last week when magician Tian Xueming stepped off the stage and approached Wiboon's table, twirling a rope. Tian tossed one end of the rope under the table's skirt, and suddenly hauled out a live, flopping fish.

It was an afternoon of fun as the Beijing Foreign Cultural Exchanges Center of Beijing municipality and Beijing This Month Publications hosted about 200 foreign residents for a cultural show and temple fair to mark the Year of the Horse.

Guests watched a lion dance, a segment of Peking opera, a martial-arts show, Tian's magic tricks and an example of shadow theater."I have become a fan of these events," says Theofanis Frangis, press attache at the embassy of Greece, who has attended several programs organized by the event sponsors for foreign experts over the past year. "I was one more time impressed and surprised by the perfect organization to the last detail and the interactive way of promoting the Chinese civilization that never lets you feel bored and makes you understand the different aspects of Chinese culture.

"At the end of the event when I visited the stage, I saw for the first time from very close the musical instruments that produce the special sounds of Peking Opera. Moreover, in Greece, we also have a long tradition of shadow theater, so it was a great experience for me to see the backstage side of this art."

After the show, a temple fair set up in the hall gave guests the chance to sample traditional snacks for the Lunar New Year, such as pea-flour cake. There were also hands-on demonstrations of calligraphy and other folk art, some teas to sample, and plush-toy horses that each invitee received as a gift.

The teahouse where the event was held is named for the famous writer Lao She (1899-1966) and one of his most famous novels, Teahouse. The facility has become a popular tourist attraction in the Qianmen area, with cultural shows, tea exhibits, a gift shop and traditional palace snacks to enjoy with tea in the cafe area. About 2 million visitors, Chinese and foreign, have passed through, the teahouse website says. Former US president George H.W. Bush, who stopped by in 1994, is honored with a life-size bronze statue in the lobby.

"I want to thank the organizers of this event for bringing Chinese traditions closer to expats and foreigners in Beijing," Philippines ambassador Erlinda Basilio told the audience in an introductory speech, adding that since her arrival in the capital a few months ago, such events had enhanced her appreciation of Chinese culture.

"It was a pleasure for me to attend the cultural event celebrating the Chinese New Year at the Lao She Teahouse," concurs Thai ambassador Wiboon. "I had a great time experiencing Chinese traditional performances, local snacks as well as Chinese folk arts and games. I particularly enjoyed watching the magician catching a big fish from under my table!"

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