Once again, here is a long overdue post! Time gets crazy when living in China to where I get shocked that I've lived here for seven months and haven't posted since November so... whoops.
One perk of living in China is getting three weeks off of work for their biggest celebration of the year: Chinese New Year (also called Lunar New Year, depending on who you talk to).
One downfall of these three weeks is that cities like Beijing are simultaneously empty and packed at the same time.
My mom came to visit and most of my favorite local restaurants were closed since most people go to their hometowns during this time to spend it with their families.
However, the CNY festival in Ditan Park, just east of the Forbidden City was PACKED with people.
I don't know if I've seen this many paper lanterns in my life.
Partly to get away from the madness of the holiday, my mom (who is amazing and spent two weeks with me!) and I went to Hong Kong, a three hour flight south of Beijing. We went from -5C (23F) to 21C (73F) which was well worth it. I've grown sick of the biting wind chills in Beijing that have been present since the end of October, giving the illusion that it is much colder than it really is.
While Hong Kong is uniquely it's own culture, a hybrid if Chinese and British influence, we could still see the markings that CNY was celebrated here... even in Disneyland Hong Kong where guests are greeted with red envelopes (called hóngbāo, traditionally given during this season with money inside) with gold chocolate coins.
We even got to get a selfie with Mickey and Minnie in (Disney's version) traditional dress and Goofy giving a blessing of luck and fortune. I gotta tell you, hearing Goofy's distinct voice speaking Cantonese (the language spoken in Hong Kong) was very strange to experience.
As of Monday, I'm back to work (which is a bit ironic because back home in the states, everyone didn't work because of President's Day). I returned to my routine of teaching, painting and generally enjoying... an occasionally irritated by.. the challenges of living in China.
I've got a lot of plans simmering this year of the pig that I'm hoping brew into something exciting to share with all of you (yes, this is intentionally vague). I'm going to give another empty promise to post more often about this weird adventure that a ginger from the PNW somehow found herself on!
To hold you over until my next post, here is what my path from work looks like, still decorated for CNY.