Chinese New Year (Xin Nian Kuai Le), the most important traditional Chinese holiday, is celebrated on the first day, of the first month, of the Chinese calendar (based off the lunar calendar). It is also called Spring Festival and lasts for 15 days. It is custom for family members to travel to their home towns and spend time with each other. Many businesses are shutdown for an entire week to recognize the holiday. Windows and doors are decorated with red paper banners, red lanterns are hung all around, and at night the area shines with colorful lights (similar to Christmas lights). On Chinese New Year Eve it's custom to light fireworks starting as early as 7am and continuing all through the night and for the next 15 days. The biggest fireworks happening on the Eve and actual New Year's Day.
This year Chinese New Year was on Sunday, February 10, 2013. It's the year of the Snake (Chinese Zodiac). I was born during the year of the Snake, will this be a lucky year for me? To celebrate the holiday we spent the weekend at the Sheraton Hotel, on Nanbin Road, across the river from downtown Chongqing. Nanbin area is a hot spot (popular and spicy food) with many restaurants, night clubs and walking paths along the riverfront. Three other Ford families (the Ly's, Hayley's and Woytowich's) joined us for a weekend of activities including a cable car ride across the Yangtze River, games in the hotel, a traditional dinner on New Year's Eve, a lighted water show, fireworks extravaganza, and a trip to Nanshun Park (which I'll go into further detail on a separate post). Our rooms were all on the 22nd floor of the Sheraton and this kids thought this was awesome as they could freely travel to each of our rooms and visit their buddies.
A view of the Sheraton hotel.
Inside the lobby of the hotel was a traditional Chinese New Year decoration. A tree with Chinese red envelopes hung from it. Red envelopes with money inside are given out as gifts during this holiday.
Playing Junior Monopoly and Twister.
Out for a walk along the riverfront with the skyline of downtown behind.
We took a ride on the Yangtze River Cableway and saw the city from a different perspective.
Looking at the Sheraton Hotel from the cable car.
More views from the cable car.
On New Year's Eve we reserved a private room at a local restaurant along Nanbin Road called Wei Dao Chongqing. Chinese dinners is served family style and dishes are brought out to the middle of the table and set on a spinning wheel. Because it was a holiday and we had a large group of 15, the restaurant asked us to pre-order our meal. Two days ahead of time, Alison and I select our food for the evening. This was a challenge. The menu was all in Chinese but luckily there were photos of every dish and we could pick some familiar items but we also took a chance on a few others. A pork and mushroom dish, noodle soup, and tofu were some of the favorites from our group.
Most of the kids dressed up in Chinese outfits. Front row (left to right): Casey, Nathan, Jack, Jake, Claire. Back row: Jacqueline and Nick
Later in the evening we walked along the river to a water show. It was a spectacular display with water, lights and music all synchronized together.
The girls: Alison, Jessica, Nikki, Chanley | The guys: Mark, Chris, Mike, Paul
After the water show we walked down closer to the river where there was a designated area to light up fireworks. To my surprise a show was not provided by the city (that was a disappointment). Instead locals purchase their own fireworks and are allowed to light as many as they want all through the evening. They do a very good job. Along with fireworks many locals were carefully lighting lanterns and sending them in the air. A sense of calmness came over me as I watched the lanterns float gently into the sky. They do this to send off their good wishes for the New Year. Our group purchased a lantern but unfortunately it was confiscated before we could get it into the air. The police patrolled the riverfront and we learned the hard way that it was illegal to send up the lanterns. We were not sure why, but only assumed it had to do with air traffic control.
After the water show and fireworks our group moved up to the hotel lounge. We had a view of the river and the action below us. We brought a large array of snacks and had our own private room for the kids to run around and play. At 11pm the lounged closed so we moved back down to the 22nd floor and rang in the new year together in one room, while the kids watched a movie in another room. At midnight the city rumbled with an abundance of fireworks to celebrate the New Year. It was incredible!
We all slept in very late the next morning and enjoyed a later breakfast buffet in the lounge. Our plan for the second day was to drive up the mountain to Nanshun Park to see views of the city and walk the landscaped grounds. To be continued.......