Chinese New Year

January 24 - January 30 was Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year falls on a different day each year, from late January to mid February. This year it happened especially early. Chinese New Year is a big holiday in China and many people get the week off of from work. We didn't see any parades or fireworks but we did go out on several occasions with friends.

Chinese New Year's Eve

On New Year's Eve we visited with Zeng Chi's family and then went out to dinner with them.

Here is their baby and the baby's nanny.

And now with Zeng Chi's wife as well. Talk about a cute baby!

The lot of us. From left to right, back row first: Zeng Chi, Nancy, Bryan, Zeng Chi's wife, his mother, his niece, his baby, and his baby's nanny. Wish we could remember their names!

Peking Opera

Later in the week we were invited to dinner and a Peking Opera by Forest and his mom.

The dinner was at a government-owned restaurant. The main attraction was the very good Peking Duck, but before the meal started we were supposed to go up and pick out the other dishes that we wanted to have prepared for us. Here is Nancy checking out the selection.

Nancy makes a selection as Forest watches on.

People are starting to form a disorderly mob as more people arrive to make their selections.

Scenes like this, with people jostling for their place at the front of the mob, are typical in China. The social ettiquette which discourages pushing and shoving in America simply does not exist here. Bryan was trying to get in close to get a better picture of the food but he was consistently pushed out to the fringes. Oh well!

The waiter pours the hot water into your teacup using this insane teapot, whose spout is about four feet long. He has to carefully aim the stream of hot water to get it into the cup, but is quite adept at this and doesn't ever seem to spill any.

We had very good seats at the opera - front row center. There were two operas. The first was about a woman who feeds chickens, and a man who tries to get her attention by leaving a jade bracelet in the chicken coop. Or something like that.

The guy in blue plays her aunt, who likes the suitor and tries to convince the woman to be open to his advances.

The best part of this play was the woman's highly painted face and her big, animated eyes. She moved her eyes around and danced in a way that was kind of mesmerizing.

Here they are again.

The second opera was about the king of the sea and his court, and another guy who first shows off his fighting skills and then fights the whole court, first one by one, and then in groups, until in the end he finally defeats the king.

This is the challenger on the table. This opera was very acrobatic, with almost no singing. There was alot of choreographed fighting, though.

The guy in the middle plays a turtle. The guy on the left is some kind of shrimp or something.

Our hero throws a baton around.

He also impresses the court by juggling 50 kilogram weights.

Everyone attacks him at once but he defeats them all. Hooray!

Later on we walked past Tiananmen Square at night and I shot this unimpressive photo. It was very, very cold.

The Festival at Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park

Later on in the week we were taken out to a festival by Zeng Chi's friend, Zhao Tian Xin.

Bryan stands in front of the figure representing the animal of the year of his birth, a rat.

Here is Nancy in front of the animal of the year of her birth, a rabbit.

For good luck, people try to throw coins through the small opening in this good luck sign. The coins which fall are collected as a donation to the temple.

We went to an acrobatics show performed by what looked like a travelling family troupe of acrobats. It was very cold in the tent and we really felt for the poor kids who had to perform all of these stunts in thin costumes while we sat in the stands in our warm down coats.

A teenage girl spins a hundred pound cauldron with her feet. This seemed pretty impressive until ...

... they put a few kids in the pot. We were even more impressed, but then ...

... the rest of the family got on top. Wow!

This guy balanced a pole on his head onto which his brother climbed and kept adding chair after chair after chair.

This photo missed the highlight when the boy stood on the very top of everything. Here he is climbing down afterwards.

Our heroine is back again, this time balancing on the front wheel of a bicycle with her sister on her shoulders.

But why stop there? Add another kid into the mix!

Out in the park they did a reenactment of some event from Beijing history. A queen is carried across the bridge, and following her are a bunch of people riding various animals, walking on stilts, casting magic spells, etc.

We had no idea what the significance of the reenactment was but it was fun to watch.

Here are Bryan and Nancy at the festival. Nancy was eating some meat-on-a-stick. We found out a few days later that many people at the festival got food poisoning. Fortunately, all we had was the meat-on-a-stick and it did us no harm.

Afterwards we had a great Imperial style dinner, and after that we took this picture.

Bryan Ischo and Nancy Lau - 02.03.2001

Back to: Downtown Beijing

On to: Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden Palace

Back to Bryan and Nancy's Trip to China Main Page