I’m Back!

For the past 2 weeks I have been visiting Grandma He and paternal family in Chongqing to celebrate 春節 (Chūnjié), Spring  Festival/Chinese New Year  (Year of the Dragon!). This was my first Spring Festival, a 15-day celebration (1/15-2/6), in the motherland. In the States, this holiday meant little to me but huge potlucks with our Chinese family friends in Boston, an annual event that sadly diminished as I got older.

Grandma He, the cutest most grandma-ey-ist grandma on earth!

The spirit of Spring Festival is equivalent to the entire holiday season back home which explains why the spirit I was missing around Christmas was far but made up for. Red lanterns hung everywhere, businesses offered special 春節 discounts, train tickets sold out, a week off from work, traffic cleared up (AMAZING), bags packed and most everybody was back home with their families, and I with mine.

Spring Festival has a lot of traditions that I don’t think my family keeps to. But the ones we did maintain this year included eating a Reunion Dinner,  cringing as we watched the annual Spring Festival Evening Broadcast (6 hours of flashy, cheesy music, dance, and comedy) on TV, exchanging red envelopes ($$$!), eating “rice dumplings” filled with black sesame (nom nom), and setting off fireworks (terrifying). I read in the China Daily that at least 70% Chinese people gain weight over this break, and according to my scale, this is accurate.

Right next to our balcony!

We did a whole lot of sitting around this holiday, but that’s part of the tradition: being at home. However, when I wasn’t at home learning how to knit socks with my grandma, stifling her dogs with my love and affection, munching on snacks, playing games on my phone, sniffling because of my cold, and freezing my buttocks off because there’s no indoor heating in the south, I was out and about with my parents, throwing ourselves in the mix of massive crowds. My uncle, a Chinese history professor turned businessman, took us to several awesome places I never knew existed including Dazu Mountain, Longxing Ancient Town, the former Communist Party headquarters in Chongqing, and Baigongguan (Kuomintang’s cruel prison for Communists in the 1940s). We even took a 2 hour train ride to Chengdu, the city with the best food–and pandas–in the world! Don’t you worry, I’ll write more about that trip in another post.

If there were a sudden natural disaster, we would all be doomed. (Photo taken at Ciqikou)

Sakyamuni Entering State of Nirvana at Dazu Mountain

Longxing Ancient Town: Mahjohng Haven

A room in the Communist Party headquarters (photographs were not allowed so don't tell!)

Cave for Interrogation at Baigongguan

Me and Yoshitomo Nara's Little Red Riding Hood at Chongqing's Three Gorges Museum

I’m back in Beijing now, 10 degrees colder outside but infinitely warmer and more comfortable indoors, and fireworks are still exploding (quite an annoyance). I have many, many more photos to show you but I’ll post them in installments to keep you comin’ back for more!! I will, however, leave you with this:

My dad.

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22 Comments on “I’m Back!”

  1. isabellart says:

    great pics !! looks like it was a fun trip 🙂

  2. I can’t even begin to see how you would pronounce some of those place names. The lanterns look fun though and that table of food looks nice. I hope the table wasn’t overly polished to the point where you slipped over and landed on top of the bowls.

    That Communist party room looks utterly depressing!

    How are your buttocks?

    • Emily He says:

      haha my buttocks are recovering. Thanks for askin’!

      Chinese is a tough language. Though I’m fluent in speech, I’m illiterate! As for the food, the table doesn’t need to be slippery for me to fall into the food; I do so on my own accord because I lack self-control when I’m presented with a feast.

      🙂

  3. THANK GOD YOU’RE BACK I HAVE BEEN WAITING

  4. Looks like a balling ass time!!! Great post!!! I hope you are all reheated and well rested

    • Emily He says:

      Thanks Mr. Mary! Unfortunately, can’t say I’m well rested. I had a cold and allergies to the dogs the entire time and now I have the biggest, darkest circles under my eyes! They’ll go away in time I’m sure, although the late hours into the night I spend online don’t help.

      • Call me Dave, I work for the evil empire now (NYU ) lol Ive been assimilated. As part of the collective we should be at least be able to go by first name basis lol I hope you feel better. You need a vacation from your vacation, nice little stay-cation perhaps before you head back into things ?

      • Emily He says:

        Too late for a staycation! I got right back into teaching English. As for NYU, DAVE, in which department do you work?!?! I’m a graduate of Gallatin!

  5. hola my friend, you are maked a fresh attempt 🙂

  6. daterofboys says:

    Welcome welcome back!
    1) Sounds like you had an amaaaaazing time 🙂
    2) Grandma He is so so so very grandma-ee!
    3) The rice dumplings with black sesame made me want to reach into my monitor and take one out! MmmMMmM!

  7. lostnchina says:

    Your Dad looks like a fun guy!

  8. mooselicker says:

    Welcome back! It looks like you did more than I did the last 5 years. It almost seems that the Chinese embrace New Year’s in such a more honorable way. It’s not just about getting shit-faced. Or maybe those pictures will be leaked later on?

    • Emily He says:

      Haha, I guess I did do more than just sitting around getting fat. No partying for me though this New Year; my grandma’s not a big party-girl and I kept her company. I’ve got loads of photos of pandas though! I’ll be glad to share THOSE with you!!

  9. You’re a lot of fun to hang out with. 😀 I got to have a trip to China! haha.

    Ohh, I got the seseme sweet dessert, myself. 🙂


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