My trip to China for the new year was pretty relaxed. It wasn’t like my Europe trip, where we were in a different city each day and were sightseeing constantly.
So, I’ll just give you all a bulleted list of some of the highlights of my trip for now rather than an in-depth recap. I’ll also be posting up some other thoughts I had while I was in China before going on to put up the rest of my Europe posts (sigh…) and a couple of travel tips that I’ve picked up along the way (do as I say and not as I do, for those!).
This is going to be kind of… stream of consciousness. Sorry in advance 😛
- I saw a North Korean on-ice acrobatics troupe and it was amazing. It was also a very unique experience, since you can’t see North Korean performers anywhere else in the world except maybe North Korea. But you likely will never be able to go to North Korea, so China is your best bet.
- I set off big a** fireworks!! Fireworks are illegal in Maryland, so it was extra exciting for me. Plus, while I did set off firecrackers, these were giant, blooms of green and red fireworks.
- Chinese New Year in China is a big deal and I got to celebrate accordingly.
- I spent time with my family, who I haven’t seen in 4 years
- I watched the 春节晚会 (annual televised New Year variety show) all the way through and then some, due to the multiple multiple multiple re-broadcasts
- I was able to visit my grandmother’s grave.
- I set a new record of 5 nosebleeds in 2 days while in Harbin, due to the extremely dry and polluted air.
(I only had about 3 nosebleeds during the several days that I was in Beijing. “Only”.)
- Reading Dan Brown’s Inferno before going to the most populous country in the world is not a great idea. (Premise of Inferno: The antagonist decides he will personally address the overpopulation problem.)
- I went to the cinema and watched 2 Chinese movies: The Man from Macau (澳门风云) starring Chow Yun-Fat and The Ex-Files (前任攻略) starring Han Geng (formerly of Super Junior).
- I kind of got into a show called Sing My Song (中国好歌曲) which is a The Voice-esque kind of show that features original songwriters.
- It was really warm in Changde, Hunan, which is my dad’s hometown. 26°C, and I was bundled up because everyone in Beijing told me that it feels extra cold in the south because they don’t usually turn on the heat. Heaters were completely unnecessary, as was my puffy coat.
- It was balls-to-walls cold in Harbin, of course, where the warmest days were about -10°C.
- The Ice & Snow Festival was pretty impressive (although it didn’t distract me from how cold it was)
- However, it was comforting that I never once saw a single white dude wearing shorts and flip flops. Chinese people believe in bundling up very well when it’s cold, as is the sensible thing to do!
- I’m not sure why, but I heard Psy’s song “Gentleman” more while I was in China than I think I had ever heard it before my trip.
- I slid down an ice slide or 3
- I seem to be on a mission to see aquariums and TV towers everywhere I go
- I paid my respects for the new year at a temple, where I totally hit a bell that was hanging in the middle of a giant coin by throwing a regular-sized coin at it and, yes, I felt like I had hand-eye coordination for just a moment!
- I got highlights in my hair again! The last time I dyed my hair permanently was almost 10 years ago, and it left my hair so dry that I was terrified of chemically treating it again.
- I saw a play in the gorgeous Chinese National Centre for the Performing Arts
- I was harassed by a shop owner in 秀水街 (Silk Street Market) who insisted I buy a polka dot top that I didn’t want when I wanted to buy some of his OTHER merchandise. I left with my mom buying the top and generally unhappy with the shopowner. XD
Things that did NOT happen during my China trip, much to my disappointment:
- Completely avoiding squat toilets (ughhhhhhhh)
- Eating my favorite items from American fast food chains in China
- Meeting my cousin’s husband
- Seeing one of my uncles
- Eating hotpot at a hotpot restaurant
- Karaoke T^T
- Have a nice foot soak (but it is winter, so)
- Get my head massaged while getting a haircut
- Sleeping through the entire evening when I shared rooms
- Breathing easily
It was an interesting trip, for sure! Full of ups and downs, my trip proved that I couldn’t live in China as a permanent resident but that it is full of reasons to go back for visits.