Happy New Year China Style

By Matt W., Teach in China Participant

Hello everyone and 新年快乐! (happy new year!) Anyways to my Dad’s request here is a new blog post, and the first from China! I have met the others in China: Lucy from Wales, Weis from Holland, Holly from London, Jarone form Holland and Isaac from Wales. Nice group of people. I had images of Yangshuo being this really tiny place, but its a lot bigger than I thought. And, those hills that you see pictures of in the city? They’re literally in the middle of the city. So on tuesday everyone was saying that we were going to eat dinner with the local government, but nobody really knew what that meant. So after a day of touring around the city we all met back at the school to head to dinner. So we went to the middle of town and saw a small banquet area outside this building on western street (the main pedestrian street). We sat down and shortly one of the coordinators was trying to get us to do all of these activities, like dragon dancing, dancing with children, playing these flutes and playing dumplings. We all were quite reluctant to do any of these things but a few of us eventually gave in. I did the dragon dancing, which actually turned out to us putting the dragon mask on and then all these chinese reporters would take pictures of us. So basically, they just wanted Westerners to do all these things so they could take pictures of us. After all that settled down we ate a large dinner of all the local foods and watched the program they had put on for us. Then towards the end they had everyone go on stage and they started doing a countdown (mind you its like 9:30) and then they shot off confetti everywhere. So apparently this whole program was being filmed to be on chinese TV on the actual new years eve.

Next day, the actual Chinese new year we went to town and walked around to check out everyone’s preparations for the festival later that night. To prepare for new years the chinese put these red lanterns everywhere and light off firecrackers. Now, chinese firecrackers are no black cats that we have at home. They come in massive rolls about the size of a car tire and the firecracker itself is about the size of a AA battery. When these things go off the sound is deafening. People here also have little regard to when and where they light these off. They just go outside of their house and look for a clearing in traffic and just throw them out into the road. Then for dinner we ate a nice dinner with the coordinators and their family. After that we went to town for the evening to watch fireworks and celebrate the new year with all the chinese.

New years day! Yesterday a Holly, Isaac and myself went to town to scope the scene. We thought it would be rather slow because everyone would be at home with their families, but actually the streets were packed and we saw this carnival in the park, full with rides and chinese fair food. I got some pictures of this I will post them soon. After walking about, we met the rest of the crew and walked down west street and saw the dragon dancers going to every business, blessing them for the coming year. On our way home we passed a fireworks stand and we bought some fireworks. I lit some of my bottle rockets off when we got back but saved the rest for the evening. Then last night we went to the schools basketball courts to watch a fireworks display. Which they were lighting off like 50 yards from us. I’ve never been so close to fireworks as they were being set off and it was weird actually hearing the explosion and then the lights not the other way around. After that we set off our fireworks and went to town for a bit.

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