Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chinese New Year

Fifteen days of "anything goes". In Beijing, when I was there, the law was that fireworks were not allowed within the 2nd Ring Road, which means the most populated part of the city (or maybe it was the 3rd?) Either way.... HA! What a laugh!

If you look at my Picasa Photo Albums (top right of the blog) there's a folder called Chinese New Year. The first few pictures were taken at the Drum and Bell Towers, which are pretty much in the dead center of the city (so much for that law), and from where various events were sounded out from the towers way back when. We were able to go up into the Drum Tower (for a fee, it's a mild tourist attraction now) and get a view of the whole city. Fireworks in every direction, popping up here & there, dotted along the horizon as far as the eye could see. I had the awesome feeling that all over China, in every city, the same thing was happening at that moment. Over a billion people all celebrating the same thing at the same time. I wondered what it would look like flying over in a plane. You could see fireworks below for hours, covering this huge land mass, for 2 weeks. Awesome.
The streets are covered in red paper from any ol' people setting off any ol' fireworks they could get their hands on or afford. I regret not taking a picture of the 5yr old boy I passed on the street stuffing firecrackers into an empty soda can, surely with the intent of watching the whole thing explode. I decided I'd rather just keep walking and not hang around to see if he burns his little hands; as much as I'd have loved that picture, I'd rather not be any part of it when he actually lights the fuse.

At that time of year, I was actually among the most knowledgeable in the city as far as getting around on public transportation. Beijingers went to their hometowns for the vacation, and outsiders came into the city for fun. They didn't know where the buses went, but I rode them like an old hand, finding the newbies even slightly annoying in their giddy ignorance of which side of the subway tracks to stand on.
It felt good.

More another time...

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