Steve's China Blog

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

After the holiday

Things have been pretty busy for me after returning to work after the Chinese New Year holiday. The weather is also starting to warm up a little, which is nice. My friend Cindy came over to visit on Valentine's Day. We talked about going out to a restaurant, but decided they would be very crowded that evening. We ordered a pizza and watched a few DVDs.

One of the DVDs we watched was a movie called Little Miss Sunshine (rated R). I had not seen this movie before, but had bought the DVD a few months ago after someone recommended it to me. The story is about a dysfunctional family traveling from New Mexico to California, so that their little girl can compete in a pageant. Although I thought some parts were funny and a bit clever, this isn't really the type of comedy that I prefer. I don't really enjoy laughing at the suffering of others.

Thursday was Lantern Festival, which is the last day of Spring Festival. It was also the last day of huge fireworks displays that start at the beginning of Spring Festival. The fireworks on Thursday evening went off until some time around 2:00 or 3:00am. Luckily for me my work shift was changing from an early shift to the regular shift the next day, so I got to sleep in a little later than before.

On Sunday I went to the Shangri-La Hotel with Reese for the buffet at the Cafe Z. They were having a Korean Food themed feast, and it was quite good. Not everything on the buffet was Korean, so we also enjoyed some Chinese food (mostly Sichuan and Cantonese dishes) and some Japanese food too. There are a lot of places that have better buffets than the Shangri-La, but none that I know of that have as many selections. It was good.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

Last week was the beginning of the Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival here. It is now the year of the Rabbit. I had a whole week off starting on Wednesday. I spent most of the holiday being lazy, of course. I actually slept a lot more than normal. I wasn't going to bed any later than normal, but slept in late most days.

It was Chinese New Year's Eve on my first day off, and I was fortunate enough to have my friend Kitty invite to her place for lunch that day. Her parents had traveled to Chengdu from their hometown nearby and fixed lunch for us. The dishes included a spicy fish dish, some chicken in a spicy sauce, some sliced beef, some smoked chicken, some sliced pig's ear, some spicy sausage, and a soup made with pork and turnips. It was very good and I ate too much!

After lunch Kitty's parents went back to their hometown, and Kitty and I went to do some shopping. Kitty wanted to buy herself a phone, and she picked up a new iPhone 4G that looked very nice. After phone shopping we went to a large bookstore downtown, and we bought some books and a couple of DVDs. We spent the rest of the afternoon setting up Kitty's new iPhone.

In the evening we went to the Shamrock Pub (one of the few places open that evening), had some dinner, and watched the variety show they have on CCTV every year. At some point in the evening they had a dumpling making contest for the foreigners, and I was asked to be a judge again. It was pretty fun and we finished up before midnight, just in time to see all the fireworks!

The rest of the week was pretty much just a blur... sleeping in late, playing on the computer, reading, watching DVDs, joining friends for lunch and/or dinner, etc... I did wake up early on Monday though. Kickoff for the Super Bowl was at 7:25am this year and I wanted to get down to the Shamrock Pub early for their Super Bowl party and get a good seat. We ended up with a pretty good sized crowd (about 90 people), and the game was a lot of fun to watch.

Chengdu during Spring Festival is pretty nice. All the migrant workers go home to visit their families, so it seems a lot quieter here without all the construction going on. A lot of other people travel to and from Chengdu during the holiday also, so there is not as much road traffic, and it is easier to find a taxi cab. The big problem is that a lot of restaurants close during the holidays. Luckily I can cook.

Sometimes people outside of China ask me why I don't travel during Spring Festival, and I have to explain Chunyun to them. Chunyun is the name for all the traveling that people do during the Spring Festival holiday period. It is called the largest annual human migration in the world. In 2008 the number of passenger journeys during the Chunyun period was about twice the population of China (about 2.26 billion). For those of you in the USA, imagine the Thanksgiving travel crowd multiplied by a thousand. If you would like to see a few pictures from past Chunyun's you can look here.