China Life

 A Burger King opened on our street, maybe a mile west of our apartments.


Over Spring Festival, the kids cat sat for one of B’s co-workers who had three stray cats he’d adopted and who hid under his bed the entire time we were watching them. This was the view from his apartment of the Sculpture Park across the street.

I didn’t understand the displays or red bras, underwear and socks that are so prevalent around Chinese New Year until someone explained to me that if it is your year (ie: you were born the Year of the Monkey and now it’s the Year of the Monkey again) it is bad luck unless you wear something red every day.

Riding a bike in Beijing is tricky. Try doing it one handed while holding an umbrella and balancing a person on back.

I’m a member of an LDS Homeschool group on Facebook. Someone asked for fridge organization ideas. I jokingly showed them our tiny fridge here in Beijing.


Squidgems riding the bust with me to the grocery store. He was very excited.

 We went to BHG since I knew he’d like these little carts.


 Hmmm… homemade yogurt.
Snow White, advertising cookware in our new Wumart.


Isn’t this baby adorable next to Buddy. She’s all bundled up in traditional garb.


People share carrying shopping bags all the time.

Temple Fair at Ditan Park (Temple of Earth)

2/10  Line 2, Yonghegong Lama Temple stop, exit A

The week following Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) a lot of parks/temples around town have temple fairs. It wasn’t quite what I’d been told it was, more county fair or carnival with game booths than anything else… and crowded, but it was still fun to experience. It was mostly booths selling handicrafts, food or game booths.

We met our friends the WIs (only 3/4 of her kids came) there. They are leaving at the end of March so we wanted to hang out with them as much as we could.

The Chinese woman posing with the giant gorilla above… behind the red rope, got yelled out after I snapped this picture. She crossed the rope, touched the gorilla and had food she was eating. So annoying!

We found yummy Chinese pastries. Squidgems is eating a purple sweet potato “cupcake.” I don’t think it’s technically a mooncake because those are for a festival in September… but it’s the same idea. The fish shaped one is filled with a sugary black sesame seed filling. Both were tasty. We sent some to the US for the Ps to try.

After leaving Ditan Park, we walked by Lama Temple on our way through some hutongs  (small alleys) to go to the Confucious Temple to see about a wishing tree. Admission to the Confucious Temple was higher than I’d planned for and we weren’t sure there was going to be a wishing tree to tie ribbons to, and we were tired, so we headed home.

Squidgems requested I take his picture whenever he found a little spot to sit down.

Chinese New Year

Fireworks! Fireworks! Fireworks! 
The main display of fireworks was leading up to midnight on Chinese New Year’s Eve but there was a steady banging of fireworks for at least a week. Then it slowed down and on the last night, the night of the Lantern Festival, the fireworks picked up again.
We walked around our neighborhood the first night as it was getting dark.  We didn’t want to go into town after the New Year’s celebration in Shanghai that resulted in a stampede and several deaths. We couldn’t see much walking around, too many skyscrapers.  But we could see the remnants of people setting off their own fireworks.  It turns out, fireworks are illegal here, but only sort of.  You are allowed to set them off for a certain period of time on the holiday. As we approached our apartment building, there were people setting fireworks off in the street so we stopped at watched for a little while before going in to avoid injuries that got all the same type of fireworks banned in the US when we were kids.
We tried to watch the New Year’s Gala on tv, but it was really really lame.  After the kids went to bed, and midnight approached, we could see tons of fireworks off our eastern sun porch (photos and film taken towards the north gate of campus, right near our building) from the same spot on the street where people had been setting them off earlier.
From our sun porch toward the gate.
On the street in front of our gate.
The main restriction on fireworks is due to air pollution.  This the air quality on Chinese New Year’s Eve.  Around 10 pm it jumped from a low “Moderate” to a low “Hazardous.”
A lot of stuff shuts down.  We stocked up on a few days worth of food/meals not knowing for sure what the grocery store would be like.  We also stayed home a lot so I’m not totally sure, but I think mainly the grocery store just closed much earlier. We ordered food a few times and there was always a notice up on the website showing special hours for the holiday. And to get water delivered, we just call a number and say “one” which tells them to deliver one bottle to the address associated with our phone number. I’m pretty sure we had water delivered either on the eve or on the day of the New Year. But when we ran out maybe 1 1/2 -2 1/2 days later, they didn’t answer for 2-3 days.  Luckily grocery stores were open by then so we just got the big gallon jugs that fit on the water dispenser for a couple days.

Getting Ready for the Chinese New Year

In China, Chinese New Year is actually called the Spring Festival. B got about a month off from school.  It was cold.  The air was bad.  We were all cycling through colds. Rather than do any travel, we opted to stick around and see what Beijing was like for the New Year celebrations.

The fireworks stands reminded me of roadside stands in the States around the Fourth of July.
Our Chinese New Year decorations: