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Welcoming the Year of the Horse

With fireworks and fireworks and more fireworks.

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This is certainly something to blog home about...

Last night I was curled up on my sofa watching a movie, almost content with the idea of staying in the for the Chinese New Year. My movie was occasionally interrupted by fireworks outside of my building (which made me think of how brilliant it was to shoot off recreational explosives among high rises), In a lazy attempt to make plans, I WeChatted my Iranian friend, asking her what she was up to. She offered to meet me at a bar in Sanlitun (a bar street area in Beijing) so I forced myself up and road my bike through the city, underneath the fireworks. While there was not as many cars on the road as usual, I had to still had to be super-aware while riding, lest I ride into a firework display set up along the side of the word. It was a little frightening but mostly exhilarating as fireworks were exploding overhead as I was riding.

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I met my friend at one of the only bars open, had two beers and then we met a group of friends nearby. We accompanied them as they bought what can only be described as a shit-ton of fireworks (along with a bottle of whiskey - again: brilliant idea) at a hastily set up firework stand (or, more accurately, a hastily set up firework expo). We walked to an (mostly) cleared out spot on the sidewalk and had our own mini firework display. Some of the thrill came from having fireworks exploding so close and most of the thrill came from doing something that I'd surely get arrested for in the United States (side note: the Beijing cops were nearby - supervising? ...probably not). We blew our load and, as it was getting close to midnight, we went in search for a legit(ish) firework display.

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We walked the city complaining about our frozen extremities - my toes were practically frozen. We ran into another group of friends and together we walked to where the fireworks were amazing the previous year (pays to have friends in-the-know). At the intersection a group of middle aged men were standing around, guarding a massive supply of fireworks. This was definitely going to be the worst of the best ideas. We hung around the intersection, talking and setting off our what turned out to be wimpy fireworks. Then, around 11:45 pm, it was go time.

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As if they had an organized plan, the middle aged Chinese men ran out into the street unrolling lines and lines of firecrackers - the entire street was literally filled with these firecrackers. Then, simultaneously, they were all lit. I felt like I was in a war zone with all the popping and cracking and smoke. Soon after, they lit the big ones off. The smoke was burning my eyes, the debris was falling into my hair - I was having a blast watching these men play with the fireworks in the middle of the street in Beijing. I forgot how cold I was and lost myself in the moment. My friends and I were running around, adrenaline and pure happiness running through our veins with fireworks exploding over our heads.

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Once over (at around 12:30 am), all that was left was a road covered in paper and other debris and a mound of empty firework boxes on the side of the street. The men had all but disappeared as we walked to a bar to defrost. Then, I said my goodbyes and rode my bike home. Fireworks went off all night, occasionally waking me up, and still, at 12:00 pm the next day, I can hear fireworks being set off.

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For me, life is all about the experience. Since I've come to Beijing good experiences have been more frequent for me. I am happy that I FINALLY got to witness the Chinese New Year in China. China sure knows how to celebrate a holiday!

Posted by pschief1 21:35 Archived in China Tagged beijing fireworks chinese_new_year spring_festival

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