Sunday, February 18, 2007

Chinese New Year

It's Chinese New Year again. It's hard to believe that exactly one year ago, on our way to a caravan trip in Australia and Tasmania, we had no idea we'd be living in Holland the following month. Things move quickly in our household!

This is the first time we have ever been in Taiwan for Chinese New Year, since we always take advantage of Peter's big vacation time to explore somewhere new to us in the eastern hemisphere. Our first year in Taiwan, we went to Palau, then we went to Thailand, followed by two great years of caravan-camping in New Zealand and Australia.

After six weeks of visiting across the U.S. over Christmas and the western New Year, we just wanted to stay put and sleep in our own beds this year, even if it means a week or so of stores being closed, taxis doubling their fare and most people being gone on vacation. And we discovered last night that it also means all-night firecrackers!

When we moved in 3 weeks ago, the landlord promised this cherry blossom would bloom in time for Chinese New Year. He was sure right.


Ada's Chinese New Year dragon mask. She made it at school.

Ada's dragon mask.

Jonas made this fish print at school. It says, "Happy New Year" on it. One day, he came home and told me about the dead fish that his teacher gave him to paint black, then press paper onto it. I'm glad that such a horrifying-sounding project turned out this nicely.

Jonas' fish print

The famed red envelope (hong bao). Children get these money-filled envelopes at Chinese New Year from friends and relatives.

Hong Bao

1 comment:

A. said...

Hi, Blythe and family!

This is Mandy, Uncle Jim's granddaughter. I'm the one who is working in Kashgar, Xinjiang, China.

Uncle Tommy sent me your blog address, and I was really happy to see it. This is my first Chinese New Year, and I've been blown away (almost literally, as children set off fireworks in the middle of crowded sidewalks as often as they do in the medians) by it. I've become close friends with another teacher and her parents and family here, and they invited me in for the Festival, so I feel really lucky to have gotten an insider's perspective on it (although it's mostly just toasting each other and drinking too much he jiu, then setting off fireworks in the courtyards).

My Chinese is still pretty bad. I never studied before coming here, and I'm mostly teaching myself and asking other teachers at the school when I have questions. I took some time during the Spring Festival to lable everything in my apartment with the pinyin Mandarin words for them, so I hope I should start improving more quickly.

Anyway, I'm excited to read your blog and compare our experiences. I've talked to a few friends about Taiwan (only when they start the conversations, as it's a big no-no here) and they are virulently (and sometimes violently) anti-Taiwan independence. But then again, we're living in Chinese Turkestan, north of Tibet, both of which have fought for and failed in their own independence efforts also, so maybe the idea of 'provinces' becoming independent is a little more threatening to those who've lived through the struggles.

Okay, xinnian kuai le! Hen gaoxing jiandao ni!