Thursday, February 7, 2008

Happy New Year

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year. They started shooting off fireworks last night at dusk. Poor Casey was overwhelmed - panting and pacing with his tail between his legs. The kids fell asleep anyway, and so did we, soon after - I turned my deaf ear up and managed to tune out a lot of the noise.

Until midnight.

At midnight, the whole sky exploded. The noise and flashing lights drove me out of bed, and I watched from the window as fireworks exploded all around me. Really quite impressive: everywhere you turned, there were more fireworks - on our street, in the next complex over, off in the distance.

I watched in wonder for about 10 minutes, then decided the fascination was over. Unfortunately, the rest of Beijing disagreed. I went back to bed, but not even my deaf ear could save me. The explosions continued until at least 2 a.m., when I finally fell asleep. At four a.m., they woke me up again. They've continued on and off today, and I'm told they'll pick up again at dusk tonight - and every night for the next two weeks.

We went to a New Year's Temple Fair today. The Dongyue temple was decorated for New Year's, and stuffed to the gills with revelers. There was a huge firepit where you could throw burning incense, bow three times and pray for good fortune. Further in was the food court - you could buy noodles or chicken sticks or squid legs on a stick or... well, the kids just wanted the popcorn and cotton candy. Go figure. Other than that, they weren't too fascinated by the temple fair.

Last weekend was better, in their opinion. We made the drive in to Houhai Park, which has a large frozen lake in the center. We rented ice chairs - basically chairs on skates - and used ski poles to propel ourselves around the lake. The kids loved it, despite the cold. After that, we hired rickshaws to take us around the nearby hutong.

The boys are begging to go back to Houhai. Next time, they want to rent the ice bikes - bikes on which the wheels have been replaced by blades, so you can pedal around on the ice. It's way too treacherous to work in our litigious country, but it sure is fun to watch people skidding around the ice.

Ice chairs....

In a hutong courtyard...

On the rickshaw...


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