Oct 1- Oct 10 is a holiday break from school which surrounds the National holiday, Oct 1. Most local people get Oct 1-5 th off. The holiday is for the local people to visit tourist attractions (national or traditional monuments) and “do things people like to do”. Not knowing this John and I went down to the Pearl Tower to visit the big “brand name mall” and when we came out of the metro we quickly learned what National Day was… there is a raised sidewalk to view the interesting buildings and avoid crossing the busy streets, and it was wall to wall people. Many people come from other cities, the country and all descended on this area… after all it is a major tourist centre. The mall was packed as well. I said it was like Christmas shopping and boxing day TIMES 10 all in one day! I did manage to buy some shoes and a dress on sale, so I guess it was worth it. With all those people waiting times were actually relatively short… they are efficient.
National Holiday must also be a popular times for weddings. There were 3 in our complex, one of which was in our building. Often on weekends we hear the loud firecrackers as someone just lights them off. This time it was very close and right on our doorstep. We watched from the balcony as the loud cracks exploded and then the larger ones exploded into the sky. Soon as they were done a large black car with flowers on the hood parked and a bride and groom came out. I know fireworks are used traditionally to scare off evil spirits, so this may be why they were used before the couple arrived at the apartment. We realized later the small crackers were laid out in a heart pattern -2 hearts with the points touching. The following day there were 2 more of these displays at a building across from us. Each of the brides wore the traditional white gowns, not the Chinese red. I believe many weddings now pair East and Western tradition and wear the white gown and later the red dress, especially if marrying a Westerner, which seems to be very common here.
John and I went out to get a few things last night and as we walked home we saw lanterns floating into the sky which were being released nearby. Later there was one released every few minutes… they could really travel. It was very cool to see the red lanterns lit from within (candles I assume) float up and bob over our heads and the 20+ story buildings.
Last night there was fireworks at the park, 3 blocks from here. We were not expecting it, or we may have gone to see them up close. We did have an amazing view from our balcony. The display lasted about 1 hour and was more amazing than any display I have ever seen before… the “Festival of Fire” at Ontario place I saw years ago was close, but still not as good. There was so many at once, but it was not tacky, too smokey or loud. It was really bizarre and beautiful to see the lights dance and reflect off the glass from neighbouring buildings. Being up so high the display became a truly 3D experience as I was in the middle of the sparkle and colour. There was the bright pink, white, yellow, green and blue like we have all seen then there was new ones… ones that looked like a waterfall of white falling sparkle, ones that were circles, or interlocking circles going horizontal and vertical, even one that had a star shape in the middle of a circle. Others started out 2D then turned 3D and looked as if it was coming right at you. The best was the ones that I thought looked like red dragons or snakes, red tubular shapes… they seemed to defy gravity as they hung vertically and floated in the sky and after minutes they faded into the night sky.
Stay tuned for more in China…