Sunday, January 06, 2013

Chinese New Year is almost Here!

If you live in a big city with a large Chinese population, you're probably aware of this. Here in Canada, I'm always reminded of major international holidays through a quick flip through grocery store flyers.

While many across the world are preparing to resume their normal schedule after a short holiday, many East Asian countries and businesses are just getting ready to start their LONG holiday. By long I mean an entire month of winter holiday filled with feasting with closed family members, singing, dancing, travelling and exchanging red envelops.
Last year, I wrote about 10 things I learned about Chinese New Year, i'll encourage you to read it in order to gain a fuller understanding of this piece.
A wish/luck tree

If you are currently living  in China, have a friend or family there or may be thinking of moving there someday, here are some tips to help you prepare for the Biggest Festival in the Orient.

                                       Finally leaving my cold apartment to go check out the fair 
Alright, so you've got two options

Try your best to leave the country if you can, just make sure you get your tickets months in advance, because ticket prices goes up in the days leading to Chinese New Year (CNY) and in some cases, non existent. It been said that the largest human exodus takes place around CNY, with about 4 Billion people travelling by air, land and sea. I know what you're thinking 4billion? There aren't even that many Chinese or East Asians living on the planet earth. Well, you know the press these days! So take the opportunity to go visit family back home or be a tourist in a foreign land for a while.
                                                              Closed shops 
2) If you aren't fortunate enough to get an affordable ticket to go back to your home country or to a tropical destination; or may be you're like myself, curious to see how the Chinese in China celebrates CNY, then I suggest you stay to "enjoy" the festivities.

                        I enjoyed my walk to the supermarket and back on this clean and empty street :)

However, if you're gonna stay, make sure you do these things

1) Stock up on groceries, water, get your dry cleaning done, ship out packages and make sure you do everything that's needed to be done before the holiday starts. Because once it starts, almost everyone goes back to their hometown to spend the 15 day holiday with family. This means that small shops and businesses will be closed
This Supermarket was open during the Holidays :)

2) Make sure you've got a pair of ear plugs, because those fire crackers just doesn't stop! especially at night when you're trying to sleep

3) Bundle up, it get's really cold in the winter months and if you are unlucky like myself to be living in a poorly insulated apartment, then you'll need to make sure you layer up, even while indoor.
Spring Festival Fair at Chao Yang Park

4) Have a nice collection of music and videos to listen to and watch during the cold and idle days of the holiday. It wouldn't hurt to have a good book to read as well.
I noticed this book vending machine in my community upon my return after my Christmas Holiday in Canada

5) Go for a walk, big migrant cities like Beijing are like ghost towns around CNY, so take the advantage of nearly empty streets and parks to play catch with a friend while enjoying the (not so) fresh air.

6) Make sure you have a good working camera to capture the festivities at night

7) Attend the fairs at public parks which has many vendors, games, good food and performances

8) If you are lucky enough to be invited to go with a friend to her hometown to visit her family, seize the opportunity and go! Just make sure you improve on your Chinese a little bit and be prepared for awkward situations and compliments like "oh, you use the chopsticks so well!"

Chun Jie (Spring Festival)

9) And finally, like in many countries around the world, theft around a major holiday is very high, so be extra mindful of your belongings when out in the public. Also make sure you lock your doors at home, especially if you live in a shared apartment

Alright, I hope you're a bit more prepared for the holidays now.

再见 (zai jian)

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