A British band was playing at the Chinese New Year fair in Chaoyang Park, Beijing. The music did not create much enthusiasm among the crowd and the lead singer talked a lot. At a certain point the singer estranged himself even more from the audience when he revealed that “Chinese people weren’t too bad after all”.
In the meantime, during all the talking, a middle aged woman was standing alone in the crowd with her eyes closed. Slowly she started moving her feet and body on, what seemed to be, her imagination of the music that was about to start again. It was clear: she was ready to rock!
When the music started, she already looked like in a trance and she exploded into an expressive dance. Within a minute she attracted more than half of the audience, turning their back to the band, to watch her perform her solo dance performance.
Today, at midnight, the Year of the Dragon will start. People visit their families, eat, drink, light fireworks, go to temple fairs and enjoy performances. Celebrating Chinese New Year is the biggest event of the year. Several hundred million Chinese travelled to their hometowns in the past few weeks.
Not everybody, because Chinese New Year is also business. Shopping malls compete with shiny decorations, event organizers prepare the stages and booths for the fairs and many workers are hired to turn parks and temples into temporary amusement parks and open air markets where everything from Chinese zodiac costumes to homemade handicrafts will be sold.
We talk with a few workers in DiTan Park, the location for one of the biggest and busiest fairs in Beijing. Many of them are working for event organizers and travel all over China the whole year. Others are hired on a temporary basis. Coincidentally they were all from the Henan province. Although they disliked the fact that they cannot spend the New Year with their families, they are quite happy with the arrangements. For work during Chinese New Year the pay is 300% of the normal salary. While they are working before the New Year to setup installations for the fair, and after the fair to disassemble the installations, they have time in between to visit the “big city” and when all is over, they will spend time with their families at home. At New Year’s eve, their boss will provide for drinks, food and some fireworks to celebrate.
In Beijing the winter is long and cold. Spring is the shortest season, usually between 4 – 6 weeks only. But when spring arrives in the second half of April, everybody enjoys and visits parks or the mountains around Beijing.
Especially the Yuyuantan Park (Jade Lake Park) in the West of Beijing is popular and very crowded during this period because of the many cherry blossom trees.
This week the summer arrived. For mild temperatures in the low twenties we now have to wait until mid September when the pleasant (and longer) autumn will start.
Racing and betting at The Hong Kong Jockey Club in Sha Tin. Typically daytime races, 8 in total, start in the early afternoon and end around 5 pm.
This day the average betting totals were, as displayed on screens, around 20,000,000 Hong Kong dollars per race (1 Hong Kong dollar is slightly less worth than 1 RMB).
Behind the race track is a theater where the winners are presented after each race and where VIPs gather to be seen with the winners. The theater has different sections for “normal” visitors, members and VIPs and is an ideal place for networking.
Today is Tomb Sweeping Day (Qingming festival), a day to remember and honor ancestors at grave sites and burial grounds.
According to local residents, this area in the southeast of Beijing used to be a cemetery. The photos, taken one day before the festival, show decorations, food, drinks, a cigarette and money offered.