Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Holy WWIII, Batman!!

Ok, I suppose it is more than likely that WWIII will go off with one big boom, rather than hundreds of thousand of small-arms cracks, but today sounded like what I imagine a world war to sound like.

Though I have been in 中国 for 2.5 years, this is my first 过年. I've always heard that the 中国人 go a little bit crazy for their fireworks... but I could never have believed how much until tonight.

This morning I was picked up by my friend and co-worker Da Ge. He's 6'4"... he plays basketball for the company.

I was taken to his Aunt and Uncle's house where we had a nice lunch of silk worm larvae, pork, green beans, sea cucumber, pig tongue, and chicken.

After a while we migrated by car over to Da Ge's grandfather's house. His Grandfather is a fascinating man of 81 years old. He joined the PLC army in 1945 and fought against the Japanese. The man very much reminds me of my 94 year old Grandfather in England... I think that years and years in the army leaves an indelible impression regardless of which country's army you served in.

We started the meal out with Maotai baijiu, and thankfully only got through one glass. Because I had had dinner with this family once a few months ago, I was not so much of a tourist exhibit, which meant I was not obliged to drink so much as I normally would be at a Chinese dinner.

After moving on to beer, the fireworks and firecrackers started. Now, as I've mentioned at the beginning of this post, I never expected just how many fireworks there would be in the air at any one moment in time. And please remember... the Chinese don't use "firecrackers" like we do in the US. Some of the explosives that were going off could not be described as anything less than "dynamite". There were a few explosions that were strong enough, you could actually feel them try to push you over. I swear to you, there was one that went off near me that I could visibly see the shock-wave spreading outwards. It felt like someone hit you in the chest with a go-kart.

Attached to this post are photos of the dinner. I've also tried to attach some videos of fireworks... listen to them and imagine that sound going straight for... well, its been for about 3 hours straight now. From what people tell me, its going to be like this the entire night long and I should not expect to get any sleep.

P.S. There are some photos of me trying to make jiaozi (dumplings). Apparently I suck at making them.

Oh, and one thing I learned that I didn't know was that Chinese burn paper on Chinese New Year's Eve to remember their dead ancestors. There is a picture of this happening a few photos down!