Okay, so it's been a long time. This term has flown by.
The rest of this vacation was spent at the homes of two different students. The first student lives in Fenggang (Dongguan), which is a suburb of a good-sized city near Guangzhou, and her name is Happy. In her home, there are: her father, her older brother, younger sister (April), and her little cousin (Jenny). Her mother came home for the New Year's holiday, too.
Me with April, Jenny, and Happy's Dad.
They were all very polite and kind hosts, constantly feeding me and taking care of me, even when I got sick (twice!). I got a cold that stayed for a long time, and I also got food poisoning once (at a restaurant, not their house!).
Jenny in front of a Fenggang landmark.
They brought me to several places around the area, including the Opium War Museum, which was a little strange for me. I was the only foreigner in sight, which is not something that's very strange in itself anymore. Most of the displays had English captions that, if not accurate, were at least intelligible, but the constant refrain of "the *cough*evil*cough* English and Americans" was unnerving in this context. I started to feel a little guilty by the end!
Lin Ze Xu, hero of the Opium War.
Another place was like a dude ranch, only it was a farm, not really a ranch. It frankly wasn't that exciting for me, farm girl that I am, but it was fun to pick (and eat!) strawberries.
Of course, I spent the actual day of New Year's, or Spring Festival, with them. The main celebratory elements in a modern Chinese New Year's are:
1) Hong bao--red envelopes given to (depending on specific region) the unmarried, or the children too young to work, by the married or those who already have full-time jobs.
2) Plants. Lots of potted plants, especially small orange trees.
Shenzhen flower night market. Yes, it was as huge as it looks.
3) The Annual New Year's National Craptacular.
A lot of fireworks.
Everyone traditionally goes back to their ancestral hometown for New Year's. Happy's family live only a few hours away from their hometown, and they are rich enough to have their own car, which makes the migration much, much easier than it is for many people.
This is their ancestors' home. We were here for about an hour while they paid their respects to the dead ancestors.
They also took me with them as they completed the yearly rites at the Buddhist temple...which, incidentally, is where the food poisoning hit. I threw up in the car on the way home, but not before I got a few good pictures of the crowded temple area.
Random pictures from my time with Happy's family:
Both born in the Year of the Dog (different ones, obviously).
New Year's bamboo pots
My final vacation post should be coming in the next few days. I say should, because I never seem to move as fast as I think I will on these things. I do want to get it done before I leave for the May (week-long) vacation, though.
P.S. I realized that I never mentioned: click on any of the pictures to go to my Picasa web album, where there are more photos.