Ex­pats find new ways to en­joy the hol­i­day pe­riod

China Daily - - HOLIDAY | COVER - - DU JUAN

As Lu­nar New Year be­comes in­creas­ingly rec­og­nized across the world, ex­pats who spend the tra­di­tional fes­ti­val in China are dis­cov­er­ing a wide range of en­joy­able pur­suits.

Huda Mo­hammed, a doc­toral stu­dent at the Univer­sity of In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness and Eco­nom­ics in Bei­jing, is look­ing for­ward to spend­ing her third Spring Fes­ti­val in China.

“My fa­vorite part of Lu­nar New Year is the fire­works,” the Ye­men na­tional said. “I went out with my friends to the street at 11pm on New Year’s Eve in 2016 to see the fire­works. It was so nice.”

She said her friends even searched on­line to check lo­ca­tions where fire­works could be seen, and we vis­ited them to en­joy the dis­plays.

“Af­ter the stun­ning fire­works, we re­turned to the cam­pus and had some dumplings made by my Chi­nese friends,” she said.

She also had fun with the on­line red en­ve­lope games on WeChat. Peo­ple can give and re­ceive dig­i­tal red en­velopes, or hong­bao, con­tain­ing real money, on their phones.

“We just kept re­ceiv­ing and giv­ing red en­velopes, which was re­ally fun,” she said.

For Huda, the best thing about spend­ing Spring Fes­ti­val in Bei­jing is the lack of pas­sen­gers on pub­lic trans­porta­tion, which she called “su­per good”.

Ac­cord­ing to data from the city’s de­part­ment of statis­tics, as many as 8 mil­lion peo­ple of Bei­jing’s pop­u­la­tion of 21 mil­lion are from other parts of China, which means that about 40 per­cent of the city’s res­i­dents may re­turn to their home­towns to spend the tra­di­tional fes­ti­val with their fam­i­lies.

In ad­di­tion, a large num­ber of peo­ple choose to travel abroad dur­ing the hol­i­day, mean­ing traf­fic con­ges­tion is not an is­sue dur­ing the fes­ti­val pe­riod.

For ex­pats who stay in the cap­i­tal, it’s a good time to travel around and en­joy the city. “I like Bei­jing dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val. Many peo­ple leave the city and it’s re­ally easy to get around,” said Bill Sig­gins, 60, an ed­i­tor from Canada.

Sig­gins’ wife hails from Xi’an, cap­i­tal of Shaanxi prov­ince.

He said he goes to Miao­hui — a type of fair held dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val — where peo­ple can en­joy tra­di­tional food and cul­tural shows in pub­lic parks.

“I’ll eat some weird tra­di­tional Bei­jing food — duck in­testines or some other or­gan — and buy a Chi­nese New Year sym­bol to hang on the door,” he said.

He of­ten trav­els to his wife’s home­town to spend the fes­ti­val with her fam­ily.

“It’s al­ways good to see my mother-and fa­ther-in-law, and we al­ways have a great time on New Year’s Eve. We eat way too much food, have too much fun watch­ing the TV gala and then get way too crazy with fire­works at mid­night,” he said.

This year, he plans to drive to Xi’an for the com­ing hol­i­day.

New­com­ers al­ways have a good time dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val.

Gopolang Mo­lale, a 24-year-old master’s stu­dent at UIBE, will be cel­e­brat­ing his first Spring Fes­ti­val in China.

“I’m ex­cited that I’m go­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence this fes­ti­val in China and be part of it,” the South African na­tional said. “I know some of the tra­di­tions about this fes­ti­val such as peo­ple go­ing back home and get­ting to­gether. I won­der if it’s like Christ­mas for Western­ers? The Bei­jing mu­nic­i­pal govern­ment has in­vited us to a tra­di­tional con­cert. I’m very much look­ing for­ward to it.”

He also plans to travel to Shang­hai dur­ing the hol­i­day and visit the Dis­ney­land re­sort there, the sixth in the world, which opened in 2016. Ac­cord­ing to the theme park, car­toon char­ac­ters will dress in tra­di­tional Chi­nese cos­tumes dur­ing the hol­i­day pe­riod.

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