Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Year of the Snake: Temple Fair Mania

The Chinese New Year is here! Last Saturday night we inaugurated the Year of the Snake with a few happy fire crackers, and the next day we did the traditional Chinese thing: Go to a temple fair. 

Temple fairs are big fairs, with food, games, and performances, that take place at a lot of temples and other locations across town. The first few pictures here are from the Daguanyuan temple fair in southwest Beijing.

Lots of games...

...and snacks. The boys are eating delicious tomatoes (Simon) or mixed fruit (Thomas) on a stick, dipped in caramel sauce. Yum!

One particularly lovely sight at all the temple fairs are the children, bundled up in about five million jackets (give or take a few) and usually with animal hats! 

Party rockin' in the house!

We bought some of these delicious peanut bars and sesame crackers. They are really just gigantic slates of sugar with peanuts thrown into them. Delish, though I don't know if they'll appear on any kind of diet any time soon.

Above the lake was a tightrope performance. Never seen a guy bike across a lake on a rope in the blistering cold. :-).

Guards on duty.

Paparazzi are everywhere... Our blond boys are always invited into lots of pictures.

Spring came early this year...  No, the flowers everywhere are actually all fake! It looks lovely though :-)

In between temple fairs we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. I just thought I had to show you the sign at the ladies' bathroom: "Don't step onto the WC please". Please no! This is of course because people who are used to squatting might be inclined to take that same technique to a toilet seat half a meter from the ground. This might actually be a balancing act better than the tightrope walking at the fair!

We continue our entertainment at a second temple fair. This one is at the Dongyue temple, a daoist temple in northeast Beijing.

We buy and put up these red good-luck charms. (To buy the little tablets: 10 RMB, to have endless prosperity: priceless.)

More lovely decorations and wrapped children.

Simon and Thomas try their hand at some games and other activities. On the right behind them you see a whole wall of those red good-luck charms that people have put up.

We watched some great performances. This kid was doing things we had also seen big performers at the famous Shanghai Circus World do!

The temple itself was very interesting too. There were many small rooms (such as the one in the photo on the right) that showed particular aspects of Taoist believes in great detail. Mr. Frog had something to do with the gods from the water world. I prayed he would not show up in my bathroom anytime soon. 

On the way out, Simon climbs the Mt. Everest and we see this older man contemplate the traffic.
We're done with temple fairs for the day and head home. I just had to take a picture of the empty roads! Because everyone goes home for Chinese New Year, Beijing gets pretty deserted with only the true locals (and some lost Dutch Americans) hanging around. It's a great time for getting around!

In het Nederlands: Zondagochtend is hier het Chinese nieuwjaar, het jaar van de slang, begonnen. We mogen nog 15 dagen lang vuurwerk afsteken, dus daar hadden we niet zo'n haast mee. Wel gingen we meteen op zondag naar twee leuke "temple fairs". Een temple fair is een soort kermis bij een tempel, met spelletjes, eten en voorstellingen. Dat is gezellig en als het goed is brengt het ook een hoop geluk!

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