Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Sky is Falling! Fo' Realz!

Chinese New Year in Beijing is hard to encapsulate in a blog post. Really hard. Thankfully a friend of mine went through the trouble of trying to document last week's arrival of the Year of the Dragon on video for the New York Times:



It's an awesome job by Jonah and his merry band of videographers. The only complaint that I have about it is that he was not able to successfully bend the laws of space and time and actually transport viewers to where we who were lucky enough to be in Beijing were that night.

As I have for the past 3 years I organized a gathering for the local Couchsurfing community and visitors from out of town. The result was a raucous, rollicking bash that climaxed with us joining tens of thousands of people gathered around (and on) frozen Houhai Lake around midnight for a pyrotechnic display like none other. It seemed like everybody in this city if 20 million people was shooting off fireworks at once. The sky above my head was alive with light and the horizon in every direction was sparkling with glittering explosions. The noise was deafening.

I took some video myself on Chinese New Year's Eve 3 years ago. It's nowhere near as good as Jonah's stuff, but I was on a hutong rooftop and you can get an idea of the overwhelming sight of fireworks exploding in every direction all at once:


I would HIGHLY recommend everybody putting "Be in Beijing During Chinese New Year" on their Bucket List. This really puts the 4th of July to shame and, frankly, I wonder why we tolerate such comparatively miniscule displays on our national day. Then again, we in the US have only been around for 230-odd years. The Chinese have been at this for a few thousand. Maybe we'll get the hang of it after another millennium.