Beijing, China: Lunar New Year & The Streets
We had no idea what to expect for the Lunar New Year in Beijing but as another common title for the holiday is the Chinese New Year we expected that the locals would probably go big or go home.
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We started out the evening in our hotel with the other tourists partaking in an all you can make and eat dumplings event. There were prizes and drawings and we sat at tables putting veggie mixes and meat mixes into little dumpling wrappers before taking them to a table with hot pots aboil ready for us to cook them up before dining. With our tummies full we decided to hit the streets to see what the locals were up to and we were met with fireworks whizzing this way and that along the alley that we called home for the short four days we were in the city. Apparently there were no rules here about where you could shoot off fireworks and while we watched in horror, small children and adults alike would light up a cracker and shoot it off without ever seemingly looking ahead to see where they were shooting them. We took some pictures and enjoyed the fun before feeling that a few had flown a little too close for comfort and we dodged into doorways back and forth down the street before finding a small bar to sit safely inside for awhile. We watched out the clear windows as the fireworks continued to light up the streets and they wouldn’t stop.
Two hours later we were still in the bar, midnight had come and gone and still the fireworks were incessant. Unsure how long they would take, but knowing we wanted to wake up the next morning at a reasonable time, we ran back down the streets dodging once again between fireworks until we were safe in our beds. And still the fireworks didn’t stop. By mornings dawning, the fireworks finally ceased and though I can sleep through anything, my roommates could not and were a little grumpy at the lack of sleep due to the noise.
Beijing, China has some amazing places to stay. Check out the Legendale Hotel Wangfujing Beijing, Raffles Beijing Hotel or the Jianguo Garden Hotel for a picturesque stay in the city.
Out into the streets to see what the first day of the moon calendar year would bring, we were met with massive crowds of people and street food carts galore. Our first night in Beijing after leaving the Forbidden City walls, unable to read Mandarin, we were unsure of what were restaurants and were just shops so we couldn’t find anyplace to eat. Before we headed into our hotel that first night we stopped in a mom & pop convenience store to stock up on whatever we could find to eat. Back in our hotel room we began to munch but with each new bite our faces changed from delight at finally getting food to fear that our food might make us sick. While most people know that a bag of chips or cookies or even a cup of noodles has a year or two before an expiration date, in China apparently they just leave things on the shelves until someone is silly enough to buy the goods. As we looked at the packaging closer, we realized all of the food we’d purchased had surpassed the expiration date by more than a year and given that they had two years to begin with, we weren’t so excited to eat anymore. Three year old food wasn’t going to fill us and so we tucked ourselves in still hungry. Fast forward a couple days to the Lunar New Year and seeing food everywhere we looked, we jumped at the chance. Of course not knowing what anything was and not being able to ask but seeing that at least the locals were eating it and it was warm, it couldn’t be worse than our first night’s meal.