Tag Archives: Holidays

The Real Chinese New Year

I’m still in my first year of living in Hong Kong and this February I had the opportunity to experience Chinese New Year.

Having lived in San Francisco, home to the largest China Town in the States, I’ve seen parades and CNY celebrations which were a lot of fun and also the oldest/largest celebrations outside of Asia. Even so, living in a Chinese culture for CNY changes everything, kinda like being in Mexico changes Cinco de Mayo.

First off, I was impressed by the scope and the high quality of decorations leading up to CNY. There were flowers and blossoming bushes and trees everywhere, adorned with well wishes written on paper and wood block decorations. Lanterns and lights lit up the city just as much as all of the lasers and neon signs of the businesses.

Then came the celebration events. CNY is nearly a week long. On the actual New Year’s Day, I attended the big parade in Tsim Sha Tsui that was full of the most amazing floats, costumes and lion dancers. I was also surprised by mulit-cultural aspect of the parade… bag pipes, Latin/Carnival-like dancers, African drums and more. It was a spectacle that lasted over 2 hours!

The next day were the fireworks. I’ve seen some great fireworks displays from traveling throughout the States for the 4th of July and I must say, these were among the best I’ve seen. I was even more fortunate to be able to view the event with some friends from our own boat in Victoria Harbor and did not have to deal with the crowds full of millions of people. If anyone wants to watch fireworks in Hong Kong, I highly recommend renting a junk (party boat)!

The following 2 days were spent hiking in the northern parts of Hong Kong and visiting the temples. There are such amazing temples here full of statues, beautifully designed and painted architecture, and pristine gardens. The one thing I have to say though, is don’t visit the temples during CNY. Holy crowded, Batman! There was also so much incense everywhere I think I still smell like it.

I’ve got a few pictures from the week posted here. I’ll be posting more in a proper photo album soon.

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Home for the Holidays

The holidays is one of my favorite times of the year.  Time to gather with friends and family for lots of celebrations, eating, drinking, and so on.  When I left my home state of Michigan after collage to travel throughout the U.S., the holidays started to mean something different.  Since I wasn’t around to see everyone on a regular basis, it added to the excitement.

holiday dinnerNow, rather than living a few states away from my family, I literally live on the opposite side of the globe.  I joked with my mom that if I tried to move any farther away, I’d actually get closer!  Being away from home over the years has made me appreciate my family, my friends and my home more.  Now that I am closing in on 1 year living in another country and another culture, going home has changed for me all over again.

There are things I appreciate that I forgot or never new I did.  Things like owning/driving a car, good beer, snow, Christmas lights, open spaces, a slower pace of life, being more excited to give gifts rather than receive… and you get the idea.  There are also things I’ve begun to notice that really bothered me that I didn’t realize before.  TV shows SUCK!  I was newly reminded why I have not owned a TV for nearly a decade.  The news is depressing.  Always something about who was shot and/or killed, who ran who over, how businesses and the government are screwing the people, etc.  Where’s all the positive nice news?  Which brings me to my next comment: people were more negative and superficial than I remember.  People would get angry at the most trivial things.  I also thought my everyone I knew would be more interested to hear about my time living in Hong Kong but the top 2 questions I was asked was “How’s the weather over there” and “What is the crime rate like”?  I might get 1 other random question and then the topic would turn to (American) football or what the neighbors did yesterday.

Now that I’m back in Hong Kong, I feel like I had a bigger culture shock going home to America than I did moving here.  The feeling is hard to describe.  Ultimately, living abroad has given me many new perspectives on the world.  I think everyone should experience these perspectives at least once.  Step out of the world you know to learn something new and look back at your world from another angle.  You’ll be able to see, realize and appreciate your life in a new light.