Happy Lunar New Year of the Rabbit!

Today has begun the year of the Rabbit according to many Asian culturesso I want I wish you all a great lunar new year! I I hope it brings you luck, success, fun, money, good health, quality time with the people you love, sex (hopefully quality too) and everything you dream of having.

You know it This has been the first year that I have celebrated Chinese New Year in China., so I want to take this opportunity to tell you how my experience has been. So yes, today I won’t talk about fields of view or frames per second, but about fun and food… which are much more interesting. Travel blogger life is much nicer than VR blogger, maybe I should consider changing my profession 🙂

Before I tell you about my experience, I just want to clarify that China is a huge and heterogeneous country, so the experience I had may differ from that of other people you know in the country. I’m in Qingdao, which is on the eastern side of the country, also quite a bit in the north, and I’m sure things in other cities like Shenzhen, which is in the far south, may not be totally the same. So don’t take my experience as an example of what happens all over China… it’s just my experience.

My expectations for the Chinese New Year celebrations were the same as those given to me by years of American movies. In many movies, the main characters find themselves in Chinatown in some large American metropolitan city, at the time when there are celebrations for the new year. And in these sequences, I could always see many people cheering in the streets while there were many red lanterns in the sky and artists creating long moving dragons, while some ritual songs play in the background. She was especially curious to see the dragon show. And I’m still curious why none of this happened.

I just wanted to see this…

The celebrations here have been very different from what I expected. First of all, I understood that most of the time, it’s just about spending quality time with the people in your family. It’s not about partying a lot or anything like that, it’s more about coming home, preparing the celebrations with your family, cooking with them, eating with them and just enjoying your personal connections. It’s not even about doing crazy things with your family, like bungee jumping, it’s just about being together. It’s a bit like Christmas for us Italians: you stay with your loved ones, eat a lot and give each other gifts. I gave my hosts a nice meal, and they gave me back the beautiful toy bunny you see in the profile picture. And exactly like our Christmas, public activities are not super important. I inquired about the dragon show and was told that sometimes Qingdao city holds some public events for the new year, but not every year, and usually, dragons don’t play a relevant role here. Damn, this shattered my dreams.

so i got that food is also very important. When I got home in the early afternoon, the parents started making me try some Chinese food that you don’t normally find outside. I know a little Chinese, but I’m not skilled enough to be able to carry on a full family conversation, so wherever i didn’t know what to say i just ate things. Since they talked a lot and I understood very little, I spent the whole afternoon eating a lot. I had eaten enough when dinner was ready, and it was full of delicious home-cooked Chinese food, which I ate until my stomach exploded.. While I was recovering from this exertion, someone asked me, “Do you want some candy?” I was literally exploding, but I’m Italian and I can’t say no when someone offers me something sweet. so i used my secondary stomach turned to desserts to eat some wonderful cakes.

I can’t say no to cakes, really (Image from Reddit)

I was literally like a puffer fish, lying on the sofa with both my stomachs exploding when the daughter of the family told me “now we make dumplings”.

No, seriously, I wanted to invoke the Geneva convention to avoid making the meatballs. But it’s a traditional thing for families in northern China, and to say that it wouldn’t be quite offensive, so I helped them make the dumplings. I was hoping we could make these and leave them on the table for decoration, but the next steps have been to cook and eat them. I have been given a full plate of meat balls, which were wonderful. I found out yesterday that I also have a third stomach dedicated to dumplings. Which is a good thing and could prove useful in the future.

Back on the couch, I thought that all the food I ate that day could be used to solve world hunger. And after some time, I got a new question: “Do you want to eat some fruit?”.

I couldn’t say no

Turns out the only dragons I saw were the ones that were in my intestines all night.

This is what I felt inside for hours.

Another thing that caught my attention were the fireworks. All night there were people exploding firecrackers, fireworks and other similar things, in all parts of the city. Looking out the window, I could see that in whatever direction I looked, there was someone in that part of town blowing up something. We also lit things up to celebrate the new year in Italy, but this was on another level: fireworks everywhere, all night. When I went out to light some sparks myself (to avoid eating for 10 minutes), there was a constant noise of explosions… it was like being in a war zone. I’m told that the level of fireworks was actually still disappointing compared to five years ago… and if that’s disappointing, I can’t imagine the bombings that have happened in the past. I’m told that blowing up is a traditional way to ward off evil spirits for the new year, so it’s all part of the celebrations.

Something I didn’t expect at all was that people would light fires on the side of the street and burn a special kind of paper to remember their ancestors and send them some kind of gift. There is a special day dedicated to this celebration, but many people here still do this ritual on New Year’s Eve because it is a very important day. I didn’t take a photo so as not to disrespect this intimate moment, but it was still something quite unique for me, especially since the taxi that took me back home had to dodge some of them.

The TV was set to CCTV 1 which is the main TV channel here. There was a television program dedicated to the new year, with some funny skits, some traditional songs and ballets. The problem is that I already have a hard time understanding Chinese, and this show didn’t even have subtitles, so I was kind of lost. I looked at the pictures most of the time, but even here I didn’t see any dragons. Damn, they really wanted to make it difficult for me. But in the whole show, I did manage to get a joke, so at least I had a laugh. This was a net positive, because I’m afraid laughing too hard will make my belly explode, so not understanding anything saved my life. In Italy, when we celebrate the solar new year, we usually have a timer on the screen all the time, but it turns out that in the CCTV program they start the countdown only when -10 seconds to midnight. I was totally relaxed when OH MY GOD YOU HAVE 10 SECONDS NOW WE HAVE TO MAKE TOAST. It was like when the firemen hear the bell and have to run and go and extinguish some fire. Emergency mode activated: I had to immediately prepare to celebrate.

At midnight I had a little joy. I decided to try the Chinese baijiu liquor, which was told to me in the past by friends of mine that it tastes like gasoline. Taking a sip from a bottle bought in the supermarket, I can confirm that it tastes like gasoline, and considering the price of fuel today in Italy, I think we should consider it as a valid substitute to put in our cars.

At the end of the day, I can tell you that spending lunar new year here was a great experience. Totally different from what I expected, it was more personal and intimate than one of crazy fun, but I feel happy that I lived it. And with this warmth in my heart, I wish you again a wonderful Chinese New Year and a happy Sunday! And I hope you see some dragons too…

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