Chinese New Year

I'm sorry that I haven't written for some time now. Work is busy and I haven't thought of anything rewarding to post. But it's soon February, which means one thing for the Chinese - the Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year. Almost everyone gets two weeks holiday and whole cities more or less shut down as more than 210 million people travel from the large eastern cities to their home provinces. It's the world largest annual migration so count your blessings if you don't have to travel within China at that time.

Guangzhou in 2008, and you think that Ikea is too crowded at times..

So, what's the Chinese New Year all about? Well, it mainly celebrates the beginning the first day of the lunar calendar, which this year is February 3. It's not only celebrated in China but also in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, etc as these countries have a significant Chinese population. So if there is any Chinatown in your city the first week in February is the time to visit it.

As with Christmas and New Year for "westerners" people here buy presents, decorate their homes (with loads of red & golden lanterns), cook huge family dinners and shop clothes. Also important is to do some serious cleaning of the house, in order to "sweep away bad luck" and make way for some of that good luck. The word "luck" in general has a special standing in China as it is part of many positive phrases. This is also why objects that sound almost the same as "luck" are considered lucky, more about that here.

During the spring festival firecrackers and fireworks are very popular and I have heard a lot of bangs since the middle of January, although many urban centres have banned them in order to minimize accidents.

A shop selling Spring festival decorations.

This year is the year of the rabbit, so all babies born this year will have the zodiac sign of rabbit. I'm born 1984 so I'm a rat, that might not seem very uplifting but rats are considered charismatic, intellectual, industrious, and shrewd. However, we can also be manipulative, self-destructive, critical, over-ambitious, ruthless, and scheming. Hmm, that sounds a bit too general, as anyone will be all of these things at some point in their life. You can check what you are here.

So Happy New Year 4709! (According to one version of the Chinese lunar calendar).

My behind on TV!

I just found out that I had about 2 seconds of fame on national TV. It's a documentary about two guys creating a room beneath a pier in Malmö. If you live in Malmö you should definitely check it out!

And how do I end up in this documentary? Well, Rebecka and I found out about this place two summers ago and decided with some friends to try and find it as it is somewhat of a secret and difficult to find. Rebecka took photos as she usually does and posted them on her blog. What the director of the documentary must've done is Googled around and found the photos and decided to include them at the very end of the documentary. The documentary can be seen here:

A world famous Swede?

I was out walking yesterday in a suburb of Guangzhou when I walked by a large sport shop, nothing extraordinary in itself but I recognized the guy that was on one of the large poster on the front of the shop.

More close up:

Yes indeed, it is Jan-Ove Waldner, a legend in table tennis. As table tennis is one of the most popular sports in China this Swede is greatly admired, in the nineties when Waldner was at the peak of his career he is said to be more widely recognized in China than Bill Clinton, president of the US at that time. He has many nicknames in China, such as 老瓦 Lao Wa - "Old Wa(ldner)" or 常青树 Chang Qing Shu - The Evergreen tree. These names refer to the fact that Waldner is still a great table tennis player even though he now faces opponents that weren't even born when he won his first Swedish Championship. That's unusual as table tennis is a sport that require extraordinary hand-eye coordination and quick reactions, something that becomes harder the older one gets.

Well, it's good to know that at least one Swede is famous in China!

Joined the club..

I'm now in the company of people who buy XXXL clothes. I just bought a windbreaker sport jacket to do some jogging in, I tried a few ones on in the store and found one that fit me OK. I was then surprised to see the label:

Guess I have put on a few pounds here in China..

I also bought two sweaters today, but I must have lost some weight in between the because these were "only" XL. Oh, and for the record I am (was?) a size M in Sweden. I'm a giant in Asia but I suppose I would be a XS in the US.. ;)

Gone home..

Today I followed Rebecka to the airport, and then I just hid inside and tried to keep warm in my cold apartment. I think the weather realised that there was no point in sunshine if Rebecka wasn't here to enjoy it. It's so lonely here without her. I try to think positive, that we have had a wonderful time together and that it's only four weeks until we see each other again but today positive thinking only goes so far.

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