Year of the Rooster
When Janterm ended, we went right into 春节 (Spring Festival) which is a two week long celebration that is held at the beginning of the Lunar New year, each year being associated an animal from the Chinese Zodiac ( 我是属鼠-I am year of the rat) and this year the country, along with most of east Asia, celebrated the year of the Rooster. This Chinese New Years (the first that I celebrated) was a really good time, my only ragret is that I didn’t spend it with a Chinese family, which I would recommend to any future study-abroaders to an east Asian country, especially China. It’s hard not to dive too deep into any particular episode, but if any of these catch your interest hit me up and I can talk your ear off about it.
Twas the Night before 春节
Here it was, New Year’s Eve. This is no small deal as the holiday is like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and two or three other small holidays packed in just for giggles. The city of 北京 suddenly lost half its population as the migrant 外地人 (waidiren-literally outside place people) all go back home to spend the two weeks with their families, the only time of the year they get the chance to do so.
Where was I? Watching Zoolander with some friends. Yep. Then we were made very much aware of what this night meant to the country as the movie was ending and the fireworks started outside. Then, in a move that surprised even me, I decided to go to bed. Yeah there were fireworks outside but I was tired from our graduation earlier in the day and being able to use English to my heart’s content. As I lay on my bed I awoke from my lethargy and realized what I was about to let myself miss out.
I jumped out of bed, put on my shirt, pants, and mask while running outside. It hit me that I was running outside with no destination in mind, but Beijing solved that problem by providing a plethora of fireworks in all directions.
There is a bridge that goes over the road I take to go to the gym (yeah, I work out) which gave a perfect view point. I could not believe the crescendo of thunder and lightning in reverse as folks joined together and lit fireworks all around me. Coming from someone who needs both hands to count the number of Disney fireworks shows that I’ve witnessed, I was amazed.
I laughed like a kid as I realized there was a reason no else was using the bridge as a viewpoint, it was more or less beneath where all of the rockets finally reached their glorious end. Nonetheless, I stayed put for maybe 45 minutes, spinning endlessly in order to witness the fireworks as they burst around. Struggling to keep in the Katy Perry song, I went back happy that I actually went out to see what was happening in the world around me.
Well, half of the city moved out to go back home, which meant that it is the perfect time to have fun in the city, by which I mean leave the city too. Well where can some college students go? Apparently on the 北京公共交通 (public transport) system pretty far.
Our destination was 军都山 (Jundushan-army capital mountain?) for some skiing on the artificial — or should I say Made In China — slopes.
It was a great time and the slopes were the best I’ve ever been on. It was also my first time skiing and I fell a lot only to see little Chinese kids stare and me, point and say “look, the foreigner can’t get up”. But you know what? I did get up, it just took me a while.
My friend Dan was a ski instructor back when he was young like me and he took the time to show me the ropes and passed on the great wisdom of pizza, fries and that the poles are hammers and in skiing there aren’t a lot of nails or something like that. He eventually took on the bigger hill while I continued to work myself up to the medium slopes (they don’t have the standard scales like we do in the states so I can technically say that I never had to do the bunny slopes). I brought the gopro a friend let me borrow for the semester, but I accidentally let it die on the way to the slopes because I thought the subway ride out of the city was cool and I forgot to charge it the night before.
What do you do at a temple in modern secular China? Play carnival games and eat sketchy meat on sticks! *Not true for all temples, most are still respected places of worship*
A few days after the start of the new lunar year, Dan, Coop and I decided to go and pay a visit to one of the temple parks, there are like ten in Beijing, and check out the yearly Spring Festival Carnival. We purposely waited a couple of days before going so that we would avoid the crowds. Silly us, you don’t avoid the crowds in China. This is literally what is known as 人山人海, or people mountain people sea in Chinese. I just call it China.
Well not to be perturbed by the masses of people, we went in anyway. As I got ahold of my “lamb” kebab, I remembered about a study that my friend Dan told me about that said about 60% of what is sold as lamb meat on the streets of 北京 actually isn’t… But hey I was hungry so I went for it anyway, hopefully that’s one of the 84.7% of made up statistics used to trick your gullible friends. Coop and I are basically oversized children, so of course, we played carnival games and Coop actually got himself a toy rooster which he gifted to a little girl as we left #whatahero.