Tag china culture

New Year’s aftermath


It continues to be sunshine and warm here. In the last few days I took a few day trips to some places around Yunnan. I’ve been laying low since the New Year Holioday began. The Chinese are enjoying one of the few “official” holidays they are allowed, and so everybody goes someplace else. When you take 1.5 billion people and cram them onto planes, buses, trains and highways, it is best to stay in the city. And besides, now Kunming is empty, relatively speaking. But the fireworks continue. Everyday and night there are wave after wave of explosions. This is the last day of New Year, tomorrow (Sunday) everybody goes back to work. I will say that each night it seems like less fireworks since New Years eve, but it lasts until 1 or 2 am, then starts up again about 7am. I am becoming shell shocked from all the noise.
70% of the busineses have been closed for a week now. Restaurants and food stores are open. Also the big shopping centers are open. But most people are gone visiting family and filling up every hotel and attraction there is. I noticed that prices for everthing is up, 100% in most cases. Now is not the time to play tourist! I will wait until next week before I travel again.
I did discover a new trick for parking in the city. I learned this one by mistake. It costs 5 Yuan (8 to the dollar) to park for 1 hour anyplace you go. At first it looks like parking is free since there are no parking meters anywhere. But every street has it’s human parking meter. Some guy in street clothes that walks up to you when you are getting in the car to leave. I don’t care where you park. If you stop your car, even off the street, someone is there to take your money. This can really add up in a day. So what I do is drive to a hotel’s lot. They are watchig there as well, but since I am not Chinese, they assume I am a hotel guest and never come over to me to pay. Man, I’m sooo bad! But hey, I’m retired and I got to watch the expenses!
My friends told me that for 120 yuan, I can buy a yearly pass for all the parks in Kunming. Right now I pay 20-60 yuan each time I go, plus parking. So next week I will go start the paperwork process and get my pass. You have to be a resident of Kunming to qualify.
Speaking of parks, it is getting warmer each week now. I notice many trees now have buds, so things are starting to bloom around here. There are trees here that do not have a single leaf, yet already have hundreds of flowers that look like roses. Very unusual to see. I’ll have to post some “nature” stuff here later. Kunming is famous for all the plants and flowers here.

Chinese New Year 2006




Happy New Year! I survived MY FIRST Chinese New Year! This is something like you cannot imagine. The Chinese take their fireworks VERY seriously here. Saturday (1/28) I walked around outside my condo. Fireworks stands are everywhere. And by now the streets are completely covered with spent fireworks that have been lit for the past several days. But today is only hours away from New Years, and people are consuming explosives like they are ready for war. P could not resist a few of these little buggers. They cost about 50 cents each. Basically it is a 4” pipe bomb. When I set this baby off, the pressure wave at 50 ft. was VERY noticeable. Need I mention the “report”? Let’s just say it got your attention. I won’t mess with this one again.Walking around and watching the art of fireworks sales was interesting. Cases of explosives stacked 8 ft high over every sidewalk you walked on. Tables strewn with open boxes and the sellers all with cigarettes in their mouths. Occasionally they would pick up a firework from the table, light it with their cigarette and throw it in the street from behind their table. Hundreds of pounds of fireworks only inches away! Apparently safety is not a word in China!

Night fell on Kunming and I ventured outside to see the action. People are everywhere in the street shooting fireworks. You can shoot anything, anywhere you want. Rockets coming out of 10 story condos, thousands of people in the street with huge bags of fireworks. I’m talking everything from 5” artillery shells like the ones used in the big shows in America, to 5,000 strings of M-80’s 15 ft long. All being thrown and hung from buildings. The air is solid fog from all the smoke. I can’t describe the noise! The entire city is out in the streets shooting fireworks. Non stop chaos everywhere, and it is only 8pm! At 12pm, all hell broke loose. It is like standing on the barge at the Ivars show on every street in Kunming. This went on non stop all night. It is now 10am and I sit here STILL watching thousands of fireworks going off. It is a clear sunny day, yet the city is shrouded in a white fog of explosive smoke. All the streets are covered with red paper from the millions of spent fireworks. You have to see this to believe it!

Golden Palace


I spent Sunday at the Golden Palace in Kunming. The largest solid bronze temple in China is located here, about 7 kilometres away from the city proper on Mingfeng Hill. It was built in 1602 during the Ming Dynasty. This mountain overlooks Kunming to the south. After spending the day here, it was back to Kunming where I stopped for a Peking Duck dinner. I had a whole duck and 4 other courses. Way more than I could eat. The dinner set me back 66 RMB ($8.25).

Condo workers


Everyday is a new experience here.  I had some workers come in to hang a couple of Chinese lanterns on my balcony. 3 workers showed up and began to put up the lanterns. The ceiling was about 12 feet high and they had a broken  4 ft ladder.  So they  took my dinning table  and put this ladder on top of it out on my 4th story balcony.  Then  a  worker  stood on the  top  step of this ladder, balanceing on this little table while the other two tried to hold this broken ladder. THe whole thing was shakeing around. If it fell, he would certainly have gone off the balcony, 4 stories to the ground. OSHA would have put these guys in jail!  Anyway, they got it all done in about 2 hours. They charged me $2.20 for the work.
Just a few days before, I had my AV system delivered. It took me several hours to program the DVD to it since the menus are only in CHinese. But I got it all working and now have tunes rumbling throughout the complex. So far only 1 neighbor below me has moved out. I’ll try to keep it down to a dull roar before they take me away. My Chinese “Bu Gu Gauw” speakers sound good!
Apparently 5 years ago my condo had new lights put in the ceiling.  Sometimes they flickered, so I  pulled one down and discovered that  the wired were just twisted together and taped. No connectors! Once I called the company, a man came right out and repaired all 6 lights…. no charge. It was still under some kind of warranty. Cool!
Tomorrow I will go to dinner at Mr. Leian’s house. He wants me to meet his children, I think so I can practice English with them. Anyway I will get my first “house invite” and experience a home cooked meal there.
The weather continues to be clear and sunny everyday. I can go out and be comfortable with wearing a shirt. The wind comes off Dianchi Lake by late afternoon and things cool down to needing a light jacket outside.
I am planning a trip to Dali and Lijiang next week. It will be my first trip in the car. THe highways out of town are all toll roads, but new. This trip will take me through the mountains of Yunnan Province. I expect to have pics to post after I return.

Dinner party


Tonight, I invited my new friends to a nice dinner in Kunming. Several of them speak very good English and they are all very interesting people. They are all very nice people who have welcomed me as their new “American friend” . I hosted this dinner of about 20 courses including wine and “Chinese water” which is a 50% rice alcohol drink, not tasting anything like sake. The food is amazing!
All these people are “very high” in the Kunming community. They include a dentist, doctor, scientist, chief narcotics customs officer, travel agent, government officer, nurse and university professor. We had a great time in our private party room, and I am learning quite a lot about the Chinese culture. I find the people very warm and open. They all are happy to “look after me” and help me to adjust to living here in China. The pic is one of many “Gambei’s” (toasts). I was required to toast each one individually as well as all together. Of course they in turn must each toast me. I might add that a Gambei is not accepted if you do not drink the entire glass at each toast! I must turn my glass upside down each time to be sure nothing drips from the glass. If it does, I must do the toast again!
After several hours of dinner, I settled the bill ($58.75) and slowly found my way back to my apartment. My policeman friend assured me that he would “cover me” if I was stopped on the way home. Actually I decided to stop for some coffee at the City Garden Cafe next door before driving anywhere.