I made sure to celebrate the proper way…No messing around here in Guangzhou! Well, after my 6:30am Super Bowl viewing / Budweiser drinking at Hooley’s Irish Pub in Zhujiang New Town (I am American ya know, even though I sometimes feel Chinese deep down). I decided yesterday that I was a Broncos fan, guess I made the correct last-minute decision. Woop woop! Hooleys was a good time. Although, ironically, I was the only American at the Super Bowl event. I met some nice Aussies, several Brits, and a few Indians who were all there watching the game…I (the hardcore football fan that I am *Ha!*) was solely responsible for representing my country. Yikes. Do not do that to me ever again. I only came for the breakfast buffet, free jersey, and halftime show, duh.
After Hooley’s, I hopped on the metro to make my way to the CNY Flower Fair. Unlike the last five days, the metro was CRAZY today. Everyone was commuting to family gatherings and CNY festivities. Cabs are nearly impossible to flag down on days like today, so everyone resorts to public transit. The security check was no joke. I was patted down head to toe at every metro station. I know I look pretty suspicious. Afterall, I was the only foreigner in the metro station, which probably made them slightly confused / worried / distressed. There was even a security man who seemed to be on “lifeguard duty” (see pic below and you will quickly understand my reference). He sat on his tall lifeguard chair overlooking the masses to make sure everyone behaved themselves. Although, when I looked up he was playing cellphone games and picking his nose, so hopefully he didn’t miss anything too major!
Once I finally made it out of the metro, the magic began. Truly, it was a magical experience. Everywhere I looked, there were beautiful red lanterns hanging from the trees. There were money trees decorated with tangerines, red envelopes (Hongbao 红包) and kumquats. There were families wearing the biggest grins I’ve ever seen, excited for their only child (“Little Emperor” or 小皇帝as little boys are sometimes called) to experience the excitement of the Spring Festival. Children were flying kites, eating chocolate coins, and taking their photos in front of the lucky red backdrops that would surely be framed by their proud parents. Love and pride filled the air. I walked confidently through the happy celebratory chaos, my blonde hair glistening in the sunny 72-degree Chinese wonderland, unaffected by the stares, camera snaps, or finger pointing. Although I may be a “lao wai 老外” (Chinese term for foreigner or outsider), I don’t feel like one. Rather, I feel completely at home and in my element. I understand the Chinese way. I forget that I stand out (BIG TIME) to everyone around me. Who cares that I’m a blondie from New England who spent her morning watching American football at a pub. I can have both worlds. I do have both worlds. It’s awesome.
There’s not much open on the first day of the Spring Festival other than the outdoor festivities (such as the Flower Fair and lion dances), but I managed to find an underground “fashion plaza” that was full of action and highly entertaining. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I felt like I was at an underground rave. The mall, which literally went on for MILES, was entirely underground. Neon lights everywhere. Definitely a seizure-causing environment. However, the best part: the store names. Incredible! I had way too much fun reading all the names of the stores. I wonder if the Chinese shoppers had any idea what these titles meant? I was going around snapping pics of the store fronts, and the Chinese customers must have thought I was a total weirdo. Little did they know, “Lazy Family”, “Smoky Jan”, and “Lonely” aren’t exactly the kinds of store names you see everyday. They were picture worthy. Which store name is your favorite? Hard to choose, I know! (See below for pictures of many store titles). I didn’t buy anything, but I spent several hours weaving in and out of the neon maze, people-watching, and trying on “trendy” clothes. Like my hat? “New York Happy Life”. #Representing. Although, I did purchase a bubble tea. Awesome, but not quite as good as Liv’s. She makes some fab bubble tea, I must say.
I’m saving my dinner time experience for last because I feel slightly guilty, eek. If I were really doing the CNY right, I would have made some homemade dumplings. (I made them last year for my family and they turned out great. Really!) However, this year, I did something that may be considered a sin. I had a strong sushi craving, and had JAPANESE FOOD FOR THE CHINESE NEW YEAR! I know, I should be ashamed. But I’m not. It really hit the spot. It was not anything fancy, aka cheap conveyer belt sushi, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will work on making up for my sinful act by eating some Chinese chocolate coins for dessert. Problem solved.
What’s in store for tomorrow? Well, I just arrived back at my hotel to find an exciting note. There’s a message on my bed that the hotel will be putting on a traditional Spring Festival lion dance on the lawn outside the hotel at 8:25am tomorrow (my birthday!). What a great way to start off my 27th year alive! So, obviously I will be attending the lion dance. I was going to go to one today, but I found my way to the neon fashion maze instead. Now I get to do it all. Yay. After the lion dance, I will celebrate my big day by going for a run along the Pearl River (it’s suppose to be another beautiful 70-degree day tomorrow) and getting a Matcha green tea latte at Starbucks. Those two things will no doubt put me in a great mood. Looking forward to going to Hong Kong on Friday to properly celebrate with my best friend Jeanne. Cannot wait! Until then, I am living it up in Guangzhou. Tomorrow is my last full day here, so this is my last Guangzhou update for y’all. I am going blog-less tomorrow because it is my day to be selfish. I don’t want anything on my to-do list expect my run, my latte, Netflix, and a bubble bath.
HAPPY NEW YEAR.