Our family's stay in Shanghai, China

Archive for February, 2012

A Peek into Daily Life In Shanghai

Walking paths in our apt. complex with apartment buildings on the right.

We’ve had people ask what our typical day or typical week is like living here in Shanghai and I don’t really know how to answer.  I can’t say we have “typical” here.  Our weeks are pretty busy normally with several things going on, not unlike in the U.S.  The biggest difference is that the girls aren’t up early getting ready to leave for school, so mornings are more relaxed.  Also, David goes into the office later than in the U.S. because most things, including offices and stores, open later in China.

David is usually up early for a bike ride.  The girls and I are up between 7 and 7:30am.  They normally have breakfast and start schoolwork for that day between 8 and 9 am.  David typically leaves for work about 8:15am.  I often work while the girls are working on their assignments.  Laura has weekly school assignments and sets her schedule each day.  Jenna has daily assignments.

On Monday evenings we have mandarin class at 5pm.  It’s interesting, but we aren’t learning fast enough to be of much help day-to-day.  And the funny thing is, when we do use something we have learned, the person we’re talking to is so surprised, they aren’t sure how to respond!

On Tuesday afternoons, Laura has violin.  Her tutor comes to our apartment and they work for an hour.  Her tutor is from Georgia and is studying at a university here in Shanghai.  On Friday afternoons, she has French with Margaux, a young lady from France.

Jenna's scout troop meeting

Jenna has dance on Friday evenings.  Our driver picks us up about 4:15pm to take us to the studio for her dance class.  Right now the studio is on their winter break, but will start lessons again in March.

Every other Wednesday, the girls have Girl Scouts from 3:30 to 5pm.  Their troops are through one of the international schools here, so our driver takes us to their school campus for the meetings.

Laura's scout troop learns Yoga as part of their badge work.

In between those scheduled activities and schoolwork, we have the typical daily stuff of grocery shopping, cooking, dishes and laundry.  Our apartment is a “serviced apartment”, so a couple of times a week, the ladies come in to clean up the bathrooms, change out the towels and washcloths, and once a week they change the sheets.  They are very nice and friendly, but speak no English, so conversations are limited to ni hao and xie xie (pronounced nee how and shay shay), hello and thank you.  Laundry takes a long time because the washer and dryer are so tiny, so it takes 2-3 loads to do what requires one load at home.  Many apartments do not have dryers at all, so clotheslines are extremely common in Shanghai.  On most apartment buildings you can see clotheslines stretching out the windows even on the upper floors of high-rise apartments.

Laundry hangs outside apartments, even on the highest floors.

We’ve developed a routine of getting fresh fruit from the “fruit people” on the corner by our apartment.  The vendors are a couple of families that park on the corner and sell fruit from their vans.  Until a couple of weeks ago, they parked on the sidewalk.  Recently barriers went up, so now they park on the street.  They are usually there from mid-morning until at least 9 or 10 at night, 7 days a week.  They are very nice and we always leave with more than we buy.  Even if we aren’t stopping to buy that day, they will give the girls bananas.  We have tried to tip them or let them keep the change, but they never let us.

Laura and Jenna feed the black swans. The swans are pretty feisty with each other and with the ducks.

Our apartment complex has nice walking paths through beautifully landscaped areas around a pond.  Sometimes we take walks around the pond and stop to feed the ducks or swans.  We can also go into the clubhouse to relax, play table tennis, swim or bowl.

We try to get out to sight-see once a week or so.  Last week we visited the Shanghai Museum.  It’s a very nice museum in People’s Square.  They have areas devoted to bronze, porcelain, coins, furniture, etc.  It was very interesting and gave us some insight on China’s history.  We learned they were the first to print paper money.  And we saw some very interesting, though uncomfortable-looking pillows.

This ceramic "pillow" dates to Jin Dynasty, A.D. 1115-1234.

In the afternoon, we went to Shanghai Department Store No. 1, which, like many companies in China, is owned by the Chinese government (They are called SOEs, state-owned enterprises).  Built in 1936, it had the first elevators in Shanghai.  When it opened, people did not come to shop, but instead to ride the new “contraptions.”  We went to find Laura an outfit for the Father-Daughter dance.  As with most places in Shanghai, they build up, even in 1936.  Each floor was devoted to different merchandise.  Jenna was somewhat disappointed to find they had modernized elevators.

China-based department stores are a bit different from those we are used to in the US.  First of all, they are organized into little “shops”.  Items are primarily on shelves or racks for display.  If you find something you like, you can try it on and if you wish to purchase it, they will retrieve one from a storeroom for you.  I needed gloves and the display had one glove for each style and size.  When I found what I liked, they retrieved a pair for me.  To pay for the item, the sales clerk fills out a slip of paper and you then go to the cashier’s station in a central location on that floor.  Once you pay, you take your receipts and return to the sales clerk to pick-up your item.  While you were paying, she has nicely wrapped and bagged it for you.  We’ve only seen this system in the China-based department stores.  In the malls or big box stores, they operate like western stores.  It’s a labor-intensive system.  Every department store we have been in has an abundance of sales clerks and we rarely have any wait time for assistance.

Jenna likes to chase Laura, but rarely catches her!

Our days usually end with dinner around 6pm.  Since David has a driver and leaves the office about the same time every day, he usually doesn’t get home early or late.  After dinner, we are usually reading or spending time on the computer.  David often has calls in the evening with the US (Shanghai is 13 hours ahead of US Eastern time), so he is doing email and talking to his coworkers as they arrive to start their day.  We do have several channels of satellite TV (which our apartment provided even though it is illegal in China!) to watch occasionally.


Daddy Daughter Dance

Laura, Jenna and David leaving for the dance

On Saturday the 11th Laura, Dad and I went to the Girl Scout Daddy Daughter dance at the Kerry Hotel.  We had to take a taxi there.  I’ve never been to a dance in a taxi before.  The dance was really fun.  It was much fancier than the one we have in Noblesville, smaller and, there weren’t as many people there.  It was SO hot.  Part of it was probably because I almost never left the dance floor.

On their way in the taxi!

The food was fancier too.  It was more “pick your dinner” than “just snack and dance” but I didn’t really care.  They had salad, rice, chicken, fish and a few things that Laura and I liked like, chicken nuggets, crème brulee and kettle corn popcorn.  They also had candy.

Laura and Jenna pose for Photographer Dad

It was very formal.  A few men had tuxes on, a lot had suits and Dad had a sport coat.  The Dads all had a rose boutonniere.  I had on a red and white dress with a small red sweater and black shoes.  Laura had a fuzzy red sweater on with a pleated black skirt and black shoes too.  There was a girl with a red Chinese dress that had 3 or 4 areas that were parted so you could see a bit of black in the dress.  It was really pretty.

Dad and Jenna take a spin around the dance floor!

Dad took lots of pictures and a got few videos for Mom.  A photographer took our picture too.  We had a slip of paper to give to the photographer and it said: Schweikert, Dad, Jenna and Daughter.  Laura, of course, was offended by it.  The rest of us thought it was really funny.

I absolutely loved dancing.  I danced alone, with Laura, and with Dad.  It lasted from 6 until 9 so we had a lot of time to dance.  There were absolutely NO slow songs.  It was all modern or 80s.  They didn’t do the Chicken Dance, but they did do the Macarena.  Laura and I both saw a few of our friends from our scout troops.

Laura and Jenna at the Girl Scout Daddy/Daughter Dance

I liked dancing and it was fun going to a Daddy Daughter dance in Shanghai.  I missed my friends from my scout troop at home though.

Hong Kong’s Peak

One of multiple escalators along the hillsides on Hong Kong Island

For those of you who thought our blogs about Hong Kong were done and were looking forward to a new adventure, no need to read any more.  But, if you would like to know just a little more about our trip, keep reading!  Jenna and I wrote this one together.

Tram coming into the base station

After our first failed attempt to get to Macau, we had a day in Hong Kong without plans and David suggested we visit the peak.  My husband loves to travel, but he also likes to see new things.  Traveling to the same place multiple times doesn’t really interest him.  Yet, every time he goes to Hong Kong, he visits the Peak.  The Peak is the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island.  As a beautiful spot overlooking Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong residents have been building there for years.  The multi-story buildings seem to grow out of the mountain.  So many people live and work along the mountainside that on the lower part of the mountain, they installed a series of covered escalators to help residents travel up and down more quickly.

View from the tram on the way up

You can hike to the Peak, but we rode on a tram.  The tram ride is an adventure just by itself.  The tram cars ride on tracks with a cable that pulls the cars up and lowers them down again.  Before the tram, wealthy residents would pay for people to carry them up in sedan chairs.  In the 1880s, the first tram system was installed and has been updated and improved in the years since.

Along the way up, you go through heavily forested areas and can see houses constructed on the side of the mountain.  A few people stood up during the trip and we were amazed they could stand up because it felt like we were almost lying on our backs!  When you went down, you had to ride backwards because the cars seem to tilt on the steep mountain.  If you didn’t you would fall out of your seat.

Laura and Jenna by the tram car we rode in

The ride up was fun and we saw a lot of good views from the top of the Peak.  Even though it was the cloudy, we could see lots of buildings and the harbor and the mountains on the other side of the harbor.  We even saw another tram coming up the mountain.

View from the Peak with a tram car visible

Mom, Laura and I went shopping while Dad hiked a path around top of the island.  It was rainy so I did not want to go with Dad.  On his hike, Dad found a sidepath that he had not explored before, and wound up stairs to a blustery lookout point.  We went shopping instead.  There are many shops and restaurants and even a Starbucks on the Peak.  At one shop, Laura and I got some dragonflies you can balance on the tip of your finger and spin around on the very top of your finger.  Laura got a blue one and I got a pink one.  We also got dragon ornaments for our Christmas tree next year.

Laura and Jenna at the Peak

Tram car leaving the upper station and disappearing down the mountain

Our family really enjoyed the visit and it is a very popular tourist destination.  Sometimes people wait in line for a several hours to go up.  If we went back to Hong Kong, I would like to go back to the Peak, especially if it was a sunny day or at night when you can see all the lights.  It was really cool.

A Day in Macau

Path up to Guia Fortress

During our visit to Hong Kong, David really wanted to visit Macau.  Macau has been a special autonomous region for mainland China since 1999.  It’s like Puerto Rico and Guam for the U.S.  China describes these as “one country, two systems” which functions as China providing defense and foreign affairs for the territory, but Macau maintaining its own legal system, police force, monetary and customs systems and immigration policy.  Hong Kong operates the same way.  For instance, we needed a visa to visit China, but would not need a Chinese visa to visit Macau or Hong Kong.  Chinese citizens need visas to visit either region.

Laura and Jenna by Guia Lighthouse and Chapel

It took three tries to get on the ferry to Macau.  You can travel by helicopter or ferry from Hong Kong.  The ferry takes about an hour and is only about $18 US Dollars.  But, since it was a holiday week, it was incredibly busy and the early morning ferries kept filling up.  Macau is one of the smallest cities we’ve visited in Asia with only about 600,000 people.

Jenna and David peer out from a lookout tower

Macau is, to a large degree, a tale of three areas.  Near the ferry docks are numerous, modern high-rise buildings with casinos and hotels.  Today, Macau is well-known for its casinos and is a popular destination because of that.  The vast majority of the region has tall, dull, concrete buildings in need of cleaning, repair and upkeep.  Not very exciting or interesting.  The reason we went is the third area, a designated World Heritage Site known as the Macau Central Historic District.  This area primarily reflects the Portuguese history of Macau, which dates to the 1500s.

We visited several areas in Macau and traveled in the city by taxi, foot and cable car.  If you include our ferry ride, we took four different modes of transportation that day.  We hiked up to the Guia Fortress.  Constructed on Macau’s highest hill, the fortress was built in the early 1600s and was critical for protecting the Portuguese from invaders.  The fortress has an 1850s lighthouse.  Although the lighthouse wasn’t open, it was pretty neat for me to see an Asian lighthouse.  Next to the lighthouse is the Guia Chapel built by nuns to provide the soldiers in the fortress with religious services.  Colorful frescos on the interior walls have recently been uncovered beneath hundreds of years of painting and repairs.  This fortress retains massive stone walls and provides great views of Macau.

Macau Downtown Square

For about $1.50 for all four of us, we took a cable car ride down and headed toward the Macau downtown square.  After a winding walk and a short taxi ride, we were dropped off in a beautiful central square mobbed with people.  Chinese New Year decorations were the highlight of the square, which was lined with historic structures.  The unfortunate part is, it was difficult to see and enjoy them because of the mass of people.  And, like mainland China, you aren’t given any extra space.  We pushed and shoved our way through, looking where we could and trying to stay close together.

One of the highlights of the day was visiting the St. Paul’s Church ruins.  The church was constructed between 1602 and 1640.  In 1853, a fire destroyed the building except for its front façade and foundation.  Today, modern stairs and a walk have been constructed on the back so visitors can walk up and see what’s left.  It was interesting to see this huge stone façade standing with nothing behind.  And, for me, somewhat surprising was the fact that the façade was not demolished in the early years after the fire.  Since it is sited on a hill, I can only image the grandeur this church portrayed before the fire.

Remains of St. John's Church

Courtyard behind St. John's Church where the building used to be

We walked through the historic streets of Macau, which were less crowded than the square and more enjoyable and then visited Mount Fortress, which was constructed in the early 1600s in the shape of a trapezoid.  The fortress was Macau’s main defense and contained barracks, cannons, wells and an arsenal.

Macau Historic Area

Macau was an interesting spot to visit, a dichotomy of times and architecture.  A noteworthy place to visit, but not somewhere we’d make a second trip to.   It was, however, still the most European place any of us has seen anywhere in Asia.

Laura, Jenna and Mom walking around Mount Fortress

On a side note, we have written about our experiences with the Chinese people staring and watching us, particularly Laura and Jenna.  And with the photos people have taken of Jenna.  We did not have that at all in Tokyo or Hong Kong, but did just once in Macau.  As Jenna as I walked out of an area at the church ruins, a young Chinese girl approached us and spoke to Jenna and I in Chinese.  I replied that I did not understand her, that I didn’t speak Chinese.  She smiled and then said in broken English, “photograph with her” and pointed to Jenna.  She said “beautiful hair” in a very bright, excited voice.  I looked at Jenna who was wearing her “shy smile” and asked if she wanted to, if it was okay with her and Jenna replied, “yes”.  The young girl, who was probably between Laura and Jenna in age, was giddy with excitement, the most excited anyone has ever been when taking a picture of/with Jenna.  She had a huge smile and wide eyes and quickly called her friend over to take the photo.  David used my camera to take this photo, documenting what we feel is so surprising and a somewhat unexpected reaction to us here in China.

Jenna gets her picture taken in Macao

Chinese New Year

An impromptu family picture with a dragon. And Mom got to hold the pearl!!!

Elaborate costumes

Chinese New Year was an incredible, exciting and amazing experience for our entire family.  I asked everyone what their favorite part was and here are their responses:  David, being a part of the Chinese culture during a very significant celebration;  Laura, the parade;  Jenna, the Lion Dance; Mom, a tie between the parade and the Lion Dance.  We all saw the same things, had the same experiences, and I’m sure each of us came away with our own particular memories.

Chinese New Year is the biggest celebration for the Chinese people each year and the Year of the Dragon is particularly significant because they believe the dragon has strong personality traits, especially for babies for this year.  In fact, China expects a baby boom this year.

Stilt walkers in brightly colored costumesThe atmosphere from the time we landed in Hong Kong felt exciting.  There were decorations everywhere from construction sites to apartment buildings to our hotel.  Our hotel rooms even had small bags of chocolates as a Chinese New Year gift.  An interesting side note, hotel rooms in China are only priced for 3 people.  Whenever we travel here, we have to get two rooms.  Another side note, family memberships to museums, zoos, etc. are two adults, one child.  All this attributed, we assume, to China’s “1 child policy” limit on how many children a couple may have.  But, I digress. . .

Giant fish float

The parade on January 23rd was the first big event.  It started at 8pm and people were lining up as early as 5pm.  We claimed our spot, near the end of the parade route, about 5:30 and at least two of us remained there until the parade ended sometime after 10pm.  The crowds gathered pretty quickly and stood 4 and 5 people deep.  In the buildings across the street, people were lined up along the windows on the upper floors.

The parade was full of lights, colorful costumes, pageantry, music and of course, dragons.  Dragons of all shapes, sizes, materials and colors, with and without people in them were scattered throughout the parade.  I was amazed at the international groups that came.  Besides Hong Kong and mainland China, several countries including the U.S. (the St. Louis Rams cheerleaders, plus the mascots from the Chicago Bears and other NFL teams), Thailand, the U.K., Moldava, the Netherlands and Russia had representatives in the parade.  There were numerous floats, dance groups and bands, as well as acrobats, clowns, stilt walkers and unicyclists.  Several long fabric dragons came through the parade with people underneath or supporting the dragon on poles.  They would weave and wind the dragon around and swing it into the crowd for everyone to touch.  At one point, they swung it so far into us that Jenna said she wound up in the dragon’s tummy!

My personal favorite! The "ball" that is almost always seen with Chinese dragons is a pearl he is protecting.

The lion poses with his scroll wishing good fortune for 2012!

We were up quite late on Monday night, so after sleeping in and getting some breakfast, we were ready for the Lion Dance in the hotel lobby.  The note inviting hotel guests to the Lion Dance described it as a dance to bring good luck to both the hotel and its guests.  I can’t say the Schweikert family believes in rituals like these, but they are a part of the Chinese culture, so we thought it would be interesting to watch.  Well, it was much more than “interesting”.  The guys who perform the lion dance are more than just dancers.  They are incredible acrobats.  The lion dance wasn’t performed on the floor, but on pairs of tall poles, four and six feet tall.  Two guys were dressed in a lion costume, one as the head and front legs and one as the rear and back legs.  Their dance was performed almost entirely on the poles and included jumps (in unison) from pole to pole.  At times, the back guy would hold the front guy and swing him down from the poles or rear up with the front guy standing on the 2nd guy’s legs.  It was an amazing feat of both acrobatics and balance.  We were thrilled to have had the opportunity to see it.

Leaping lion! The two guys working in unison jumped from poles to poles.

The head guy gets swung down toward the floor by the guy in back.

On Tuesday night, we went to watch fireworks across Victoria Harbor.  The dry weather we had walking to Victoria Harbor only lasted about 30 minutes.  We spent the next 2 hours, mostly in the rain, waiting.  It’s not too bad to stand in the rain with an umbrella, unless several hundred of your closest “neighbors” are also standing there, elbow to elbow, with umbrellas up.  You don’t get wet from your umbrella or even from the rain itself.  You get wet from THEIR umbrellas dripping on you.  Thankfully, it was not a complete “wash-out”.  About 30 or 45 minutes before the fireworks were to begin, the rain let up.  And for about 20-25 minutes we witnessed the largest fireworks display our family has ever seen.  I’m sure there are some pretty big ones in the US for the 4th of July.  But in Hong Kong, they can’t be accused of a skimpy fireworks show.  With 3 barges all setting off fireworks at the same time, a huge area of the sky was lit up, with the Hong Kong skyscrapers as a backdrop.  At the end, we were wet, tired and hungry, but glad we suffered through the rain to see the show.

Chinese New Year is definitely one of the more exciting and interesting things we have done since arriving here.  I’ve seen the date marked on calendars and even caught a brief mention of the celebration on the news or in a periodical.  But you have to be here to experience it first hand to know what a huge celebration it is.  The decorations are up for weeks.  We see fireworks from our apartment almost every night (They are illegal in the inner ring of Shanghai, so I suppose that’s why it’s not every night).  The excitement is truly contagious.  I’m not Chinese, I don’t believe in luck, reading fortunes or Zodiac calendars, but it is an amazing experience to be here in the middle of it all!

Family photo with the lion

And, we don’t think it’s completely over yet.  During our grocery shopping trip on Friday, we watched workers putting together 30 or 40 lanterns.  Chinese New Year is a 2-week celebration that ends 15 days later with a Lantern Festival, this year on February 6th.

Tokyo Visit

Big hugs from Piglet!

Our family went to Tokyo because Dad had a show for work there.  Mom, Laura and I went for fun.  We had to ride several trains to get to our hotel in Tokyo.  It was crowded and it was hard with our luggage.  There were even some kids on their own riding the train home from school.  I would not like to do that.

Mom, Laura and I went to Tokyo Disneyland for three exciting days.  And exciting it was!   We went to Westernland, Fantasyland, Adventureland and Toontown.  In Toontown we got lunch, a Mickey-shaped pizza, and saw Mickey Mouse.  We saw Chip and Dale’s tree house, Donald’s ship, and Mickey’s house.  We ate maple churros and cinnamon ones, both were really good.  They were in the shape of Mickey heads which made them even better.

Going up. . . on Gadget's Go Coaster!

We rode a ride called Gadget’s Go coaster, which chugged up a hill.  Then, Whoosh! we zoomed down, up, down, up and sideways.  It was over before I thought it had even started.

In Tomorrowland, we went on a car race.  Laura won.  I was too short to drive which made me unhappy.  But Mommy let me steer a little and push the gas pedal.  Laura and I went on a spaceship ride called StarJets after that.  We rode an elevator to get to the spaceships.  We could see a long way away.  I almost felt like I was falling it leaned so far out.

In Fantasyland, Laura finally agreed to do the teacups with me, which shesaid later was a really BIG mistake because I made our teacup spin super fast.

Round and round they go!

There was a DisneySea park that we went to that was lots of fun.  DisneySea has lots of areas like American Waterfront, Mysterious Island and Port Discovery.  We rode on a two level carousel in the Arabian Coast.  That was one of my favorite rides.  Mermaid Lagoon was mostly inside which was nice on our 3rd day since the weather was cold and wet.   There was a blowfish race, a seaweed cup game, a jellyfish ride and a theatre.

The two-level Carousel was one of my favorites!

Both parks had shows and parades.  We saw a daytime parade and a colorful nighttime parade, a “Be Magical” performance and a Nighttime light show on the water that was pretty cool.  On the last day we were there we left early because it was raining.  It was so disappointing because it was our last day and we wanted to do more things.  Dad only came the 3rd day and he left early to work at the hotel.

Disney in Tokyo does not have the same kinds of food that Disney in the United States has.  Our pizza had corn on it.  We found a lot of food with rice, but I don’t really like rice.  Mommy got frustrated trying to find something I would eat.  We did find cheeseburgers, but Laura and I wanted ours with just cheese, no mustard or ketchup.  Mommy had a hard time communicating with them.  It took three different people to understand what we wanted.  We found lots of popcorn, but some flavors were weird like curry popcorn and milk tea popcorn.  They do not have cotton candy which was very, very disappointing.

I had a great time at Disney and wish we could go back soon.

Looking through the glass floor down the base of Tokyo Tower. That's our feet!

On Saturday, we took a bus tour to see a little more of Tokyo.  We went to Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace and a temple.  Tokyo Tower was my favorite because it was fun to go up in it.  I could see a lot of buildings.  It was different from Shanghai because there weren’t as many tall buildings.  Our tour guide said they didn’t have a lot of tall towers because they have earthquakes.

I enjoyed visiting Tokyo and would like to go back.  They were nice and very polite.  When they said hello to us, they would bow.  We started bowing to them too.  More people in Japan understood English than people in China.  Laura and I laughed at Mom because she kept saying “thank you” in mandarin to people in Japan.  They would just smile at her.

Our guide said the missing stucco on the gate house was cause by the earthquake last year.

Hong Kong Celebrates Chinese New Year

The pageantry of the parade, especially costumes like this one, was beautiful!

After Japan, we spent Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.  It’s a huge celebration, and most places close down for a few days.  In the past, they’d close down for at least a week, sometimes two, but now it’s only a few days.  It’s kind of like Christmas for us.  Decorations are everywhere, people take time off from work, and they often give gifts to each other in small red envelopes.  Monday night was the parade.  We had planned to eat dinner early, then get a place to watch about an hour before it started.  We walked out of our hotel about 5:30 and quickly realized we needed to get a spot right away.  It was already getting crowded, and the parade didn’t start till 8pm.  We had a great view right outside our hotel.  We were on the edge of the street, by the railing, so it was definitely a front row seat.  People crowded up around us, and if it wasn’t for the railing, we would have wound up in the street.  We had to brace ourselves at times because

With 2012 the Year of the Dragon, the parade was full of dragons like this one

the people would push so much.  Dad got take-out for dinner, but it was so crowded it was impossible to eat.  They had a few small groups come through before the parade started, kind of pre-parade entertainment.

Jenna touches the dragon as it swung into the crowd.

The parade itself was amazing.  2012 is the Year of the Dragon, so dragons were everywhere.  Several long ones came by, with people supporting them.  They’d come right up to the crowd, so you could touch, and feel the dragon.  They had a couple of bands.  They had groups from several different countries, and the U.S.’s was football-themed.  They had the mascots from several football teams, as well as cheerleaders from another.  There were so many floats, all lit up, and many people dressed up in very colorful costumes.  It lasted till after 10, and we were all exhausted when it ended.

Lion Dance in the hotel lobby

Tuesday was the fireworks and Lion Dance.  The hotel we stayed at did a Lion dance, meant to bring good luck to the hotel and its guests.  They set up tall poles, at different heights with a round flat disc on top to stand on.  Two guys dressed up in a lion costume, one as the head and front legs and one as the rear and back legs.  Their dance was all on top of the poles.  It was breath-taking, watching them just leap and jump in unison from pole to pole as if they were walking on the ground.  A couple times the back guy lifted up the guy in the front to make it look like the lion was rearing up.  It had to have taken hours and hours of practice to be able to do it.

The lion "rears" up (The head guy is standing on the 2nd guy's legs)

The fireworks were that night, and waiting for them wasn’t exactly fun.  It was raining, and at one point, started raining pretty hard.  Thankfully we had our umbrellas, but we were surrounded by people, so the water on their umbrellas would drip onto us.  All of us got wet, especially me, but the fireworks were worth the wait.  Thankfully, the rain stopped, so they were able to shoot them off.  We watched from the harbor, and they shot them off from two or three barges across the water.  The fireworks were so cool and covered so much of the sky.  They were all different colors, and a couple looked like a smiley face.  It lasted for about 20 minutes, and though we had had to wait a while in the rain, we were glad we had.

The Chinese New Year celebrations were incredible, and we were very glad we had decided to go the Hong Kong for it.  It was interesting to learn about another culture, and their holidays.  We spent the rest of the week seeing Hong Kong, and I’ll post more about it later.

Fireworks over Victoria Harbor!

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