Big Boom Bang Beijing

 

Tanghulu for sale
  Tanghulu for saleRules for fireworks use
Rules for fireworks use

The ten day (or so…) celebration of the Chinese New Year is winding down. We do still have the Lantern Festival to look forward to on the 14th, and rumor is that its a big night for fireworks. Not that we have been missing out on those. Every night for ten days we’ve had fireworks. No kidding. Above are posted the “fireworks rules”. You are not allowed to set them off in crowds, in trees, in front of museums, military buildings, in front of the Forbidden City, or under bridges. I’m not sure how many of those are really followed…There are stands on the streets selling fireworks and someone is buying them by the case. We are all able to sleep through them now. Last weekend we spent two nights downtown so that we could see some sights easily. We had a big feast with friends one night…four adults and five children means that its a busy table! Hollis discovered that she likes to eat duck skin. Sophie loves eating tanghulu, which is sugared haw fruit on a stick. I’ve also had a type of dried haw fruit. Its all quite good. Ju zi, or mandarin oranges are a big favorite now too.

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A big thrill was our visit to the drum tower and seeing the performance there. We climbed eighty steep steps up to the tower and sadly had views that were marred by smog that day. The performance was invigorating and LOUD! I could just imagine the drummers repeating it multiple times everyday to let people know when the city gates were closing or when to head to work in the morning.

It was a bitter cold day, but we kept on walking to the Houhai Lake area to see the locals skating on a questionably frozen lake.

Many rode on handmade chair sleighs, which were propelled by sticks. Houhai Lake

I really wanted to try this, because I love trying what the locals do, but the lake was not solid at the edges and Brian, who is in charge of safety, nixed it. It was still fun to watch! Later in the week we went to an indoor skating rink and all of us girls are getting a lot better. Brian is a pro already. Sophie is now comfortable skating off the wall, and I encouraged Hollis to go from skating in front of me, to holding hands, to walk/skating by herself really slowly without holding hands!

We also went walking in the Hutongs, which are the original courtyard homes off narrow criss crossing streets. There are some unusual shops and eateries there, as well as a Starbucks….Hutong Starbucks

A doorway in the Hutongs
      A doorway in the Hutongs

 

Lion dance
Lion dance

We also finally saw a lion dance! I had really wanted to do this, and we were lucky enough to have it in our own neighborhood. There are two men under each costume and the entire dance lasted about five minutes. It was incredibly fast paced and entertaining.

Our week ended with snow on Friday and Saturday. This is a really lucky thing to happen over Chinese New Year! It means the harvests will be good this year. Its been so cold that our couple inches of snow may last all week. This makes Sophie incredibly happy, since she has built a snow fort and has a stockpile of “ice balls”. Unfortunately, we have a patch of ice in front of our gate, so the tuk tuk is stuck inside the courtyard. We’ll be on bikes this week to and from school. I am hoping for another snowfall this weekend, but in the back of my mind, I’m looking forward to warm Spring temperatures and flip flops.

 

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