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Chinese puppetry show amuses Sun Festival in Egypt’s Aswan

ASWAN, Egypt (Xinhua) -- The Sun Festival of Abu Simbel temple in southern Egypt this year has brought Chinese festivity to the ancient land of Nubians, as Chinese puppetry show has joined the international celebration event for the first time.

The Sun Festival, which attracted thousands of visitors worldwide to participate in the event on Feb. 22, this year also coincided with the Chinese Spring Festival celebration week.

Built by King Ramses II, the statues of the king and the sun god remain in darkness inside the Abu Simbel temple throughout the year except on Feb. 22 and Oct. 22, when the sunlight showers on the statues to commemorate the king’s coronation and birthday.

This year, the Aswan art festival is joined by folklore performances from Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Algeria, China, India and Thailand besides Egyptian local troupes.

Chen Yinghong, head of the Chinese puppetry troupe, told Xinhua that they had staged eight performances in various places in Aswan with three special shows.

“I was afraid in the beginning that Egyptian audience might not understand the Chinese puppet show due to cultural differences, but after the warm response from the opening ceremony, I was assured,” said Chen.

On the closing ceremony in front of the ancient Abu Simbel temples, the Chinese puppetry troupe performed the stunt of changing puppet clothing in less than a second that marveled local audience and tourists.

Ahmed Aboabudula, a local audience took video and pictures of the puppet show and said, “everybody laughed and clapped, we like the puppet show, it is very nice.”

Chen, who came to Egypt in 2001 when he was often recognized as Japanese tourist, said that this time, he met many Egyptians who greeted him with simple Chinese.

“This reflects the increasing number of Chinese visitors to Egypt and the expanding tourism exchanges between our two countries,” said Chen.

In 2017, China has become the 4th largest tourists’ source for Egypt and the number of Chinese travellers to Egypt is rising fast.

Local tour operator told Xinhua that direct flights from China to Abu Simbel, which started several months ago, bring several hundreds of Chinese tourists every day to southern Egypt. The number of tourists accounts for nearly a quarter thousand visits per day in average.

Shi Yuewen, Cultural Councilor of the Chinese Embassy in Cairo, told Xinhua that with growing economic and cultural ties between China and Egypt, he decided to make a change to the traditional Chinese lunar New Year celebrations in Egypt which used to include performances and food and handcraft stalls in the Azhar Park in Cairo.

Instead, he sent performance groups from China out of Cairo to Aswan and Egypt’s red sea resort town of Sharm el Sheik to add a taste of Chinese festivity to the world-renowned Egyptian attractions and festivals while lighted the Cairo tower in red for the first time on the eve of Chinese Spring Festival.

Dragon boat competition on Nile and Chinese martial art competition will also be held in Cairo besides the Chinese food week in luxury hotels as part of the new Chinese Spring Festival celebration program this year, Shi revealed.

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