It may not be understandable to many people but Chinese New Year celebrations are not for just 24 hours like they are at home but last for 15 days. I have not idea why though I am sure it is found somewhere in the ancient past. It really doesn’t matter to me one way or the other except that I sorely miss my sleep during the nights of this celebration.
About a week before New Years Beijing is suddenly inundated with temporary fireworks stores. This year I was able to watch one up close and personal as it was built right below my bedroom window. It is made of two buildings – one as the store and the other as the storage I presume though I really don’t know. One night about four days before the big celebration I was kept awake on and off as the two big transport trucks pulled up and unloaded their cargo. While it was nice that the workers were happy, their continual laughter and chatter carried up to the 10th floor and disturbed my sleep.
Once the stores opened business was brisk especially the day of New Year’s Eve.
This all continued until dusk and then the fireworks started and continued until about 2:00 am. It was and always is amazing. Words cannot begin to describe what happens here on this great night.
I hung out my bedroom window and took incredible videos on my Flip Camera. I was so amazed how well it operated. For about six hours I took pictures with my big window wide open wrapped in my winter coat, mitts on and a scarf wrapped around my neck wearing my fuzzy slippers (the floor is heated).
I have posted the biggest of the videos on You Tube as the new year rolled in. As I have said before – it is breath taking. Part of the reason I was so thrilled is because it was the first time I had had a 180 degree panoramic view of the whole thing. My new apartment is wonderful for a clear view forever. The fact that the night was totally clear also helped.
The next morning after little sleep the fire crackers started and continued all day. If they are far enough away they can sort of fade away in the background and you can live with them but if they are right outside your apartment you might as well just give it up. Watching tv is impossible without a headset and any conversation must wait for a while. The small firecrackers can be irritating because they can be bought in strings of 500 and go on forever but it is the powerful bombs that shake a building that I really dislike. They are loud, scarey and bright.
There also is no real guidance about where fireworks and fire crackers can be let off. The road is always really popular and not just on the side of the road but out where cars are driving and bicycles are going by. The night my friend Melanie was riding her bike back from skating rink at Solana when someone set off some fireworks right in front of her. If she had not been aware of what was going on around her and slammed on her brakes she would have ridden right into the firecrackers just as they were going off. It is scary.
Things finally settled down and we can go back to sleep and then the 5th night of New Year’s arrives. I have absolutely no idea why the noise starts again with a vengeance on this night but it is loud and continuous. There are not as many fireworks and a really emphasis on noise. It is my least favourite night of the whole celebration.
So now we are now ten days into the celebration and things are relatively calm with just the occasional noise. We just have to wait until the Lantern Festival which is the 15th night for more celebrations and then we will officially be in the Year of the Rabbit.
Regardless of the noise and the consistent lack of sleep I wouldn’t miss this experience for anything.