Thursday, May 31, 2012

Year of the Dragon

This was written on 1/22/12...

What a celebration! And this is only day two! *sigh* I'm sorry you guys won't get to read these until long after it happened. SO ANNOYING!

But, anyway......yesterday was day one of the Spring Festival. The fireworks started going off at about 10am. They sound like gunfire. People can buy fireworks of any size and set them off just about anywhere.......including in between apartment buildings! That is a crazy sight. And......looks like a serious fire hazard. AND you get hit with debris when you're walking down the street. :)
At about 5pm the fireworks started getting REALLY LOUD. It sounded like a war broke out in the area. I can't even imagine what it sounds like in the big cities.
We went out at about 8pm. We stopped to buy fireworks and then stopped to watch various displays as we waited for a taxi. The fireworks are everywhere! In every direction there is something going on and the colors are all beautiful and vibrant.
We met up with a bunch of people at the Jinshan Temple and Park. My guide for the night was a girl named Nicole. She was there with her cousin (who didn't have an English name and I could never get his Chinese name right. I caused a lot of giggling.) Nicole instructed me on how to buy incense so that I could make my wish for the new year. All the bundles of incense seemed so big! But, I chose a sort of middle size and paid the man. He handed me two candles and the incense, which I took with my right hand. He grabbed them out of my hand and handed me the candles to the right and the incense to the left. I was confused.
We walked to an area in front of the first temple....there was a bonfire made out of the discarded incense and two tower things of candles. Nicole explained that you were to light your candles with the right hand and then use them to light the incense with the left hand. She said you had to hold the incense with the left hand because the right hand was used to kill the meat you eat. It wasn't holy or something.........I couldn't remember to keep it out of my right hand. So, I hope that doesn't mean I ruined my wish!
She told us that we had to bow three times in each direction. Starting with the east, then south...ending with the north. Each bow we needed to repeat our wish (or you could pray). She said that some people will do this all night. Just keep going in circles. But, since we were only wishing...and not praying....we only had to do it once.
So, I did! But, I'm not going to tell you what I wished for........
Then we threw our incense on the bonfire and went to a tower thing that is some kind of well. Nicole told me to try and throw a coin in and if I make it....make my wish again and rub the tower. So, did that....and then we walked into the first temple. Nicole told me to take off my hat and bow before Buddha three times and say a prayer.
"That's okay. Thank you. I don't have anything to pray for."
Cousin: "You must pray so that the Chinese god can forgive you."
"Forgive me for what?"
Cousin: "FOR NOT BEING CHINESE!"
So, I knelt down and said, "sorry I'm not Chinese. Happy New Year."
Then we walked into another temple and I became totally "interested" in what the monks were doing......to avoid more kneeling and more apologizing. I also didn't want to take my hat off again. I mean....people are already staring at me! Why give them hat hair? :D
Then we walked outside the temple and park grounds to light off fireworks galore!
It was such a fun night. I came home a bit earlier than everyone else......but, I'm also the "old" one in the group. LOL. Well, I am about 10 years older than everyone.......but that isn't why I came home. I don't have the money (or the desire) to be in a bar until 3 or 4am. Does that make me old? Smarter with my money? Normal? Who knows.......
This morning the fireworks started just after 7am. They have calmed down now, but I bet after people are done eating lunch....BOOM BOOM BOOM!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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