I’ll begin with the obligatory apology of everybody who sets up a blog and then doesn’t update it for a while. I’ve been busy with other things, lazy, and in lack of a VPN.
So, last week it was Chinese New Year, and to celebrate this monumental once a year occasion we were granted a week off work. My week was rather busy, as I had to scoot down to Hong Kong for a visa, and then blast up to the icy North Eastern city of Harbin (quite close to Russia, and COLD) to spend the festival with my girlfriend and her family. Despite this being my fourth year in China, this was actually my first time joining in a genuine celebration for the New Year, and it was quite the experience.
Pretty much as soon as I’d arrived I could hear what sounded like a war going on, but turned out to just be the entire population of the city setting off fireworks that would definitely break every health and safety rule England could ever dream of. Seriously though, they were so loud that I was wondering whether I’d accidentally caught a flight to Libya by mistake. And all this was on a year which has seen the number of fireworks set off (and consequently eye-removing hospital visits (yes, seriously)) down by an average of about 45%. I dread to think of how loud and eyeless things were in previous years.
I now realise thinking the most dangerous thing about the trip would be the fireworks was naïve of me. The real danger lurked indoors, in the kitchens and on the tables: the food. Never in my life have I seen so much food in any one place!
And Chinese hospitality is not like hospitality back home, the more you eat, the happier your host will be, even if this results in sweating, pain and a few extra kilos, which it usually does.
If you think I’m exaggerating, take a look at the picture below to see just how much food was on the table. Plus, this was minus the King Crab that we’d already devoured.
This year also happens to be my year; the year of the snake. When I was growing up I was always so disappointed that I wasn’t a tiger or a dragon. Because a snake is basically a shit dragon with no legs, wings or fire breathing abilities. Anyway, moaning aside, an interesting practice followed by people during “their year” is to wear at least one red item of clothing every day for a year. I failed after one week, but red is not even my colour, so I think one week of commitment is already fairly decent, no?
As much as I had a great time, I’m glad to be back in Beijing with healthy green food, blissful silence, and the depressing pastel colours that suit me so well.
And a happy belated New Year of the Snake to everybody! Let’s hope it’s a good one.