Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lantern Festival

It’s Thursday night in Dalian. Today was the end of the Chinese New Year. It’s been like the Fourth of July since 5:oo PM. There are more fireworks going off than you could imagine….way more than we set off on any holiday. The end of the New Year is celebrated with the Lantern Festival. The whole city has lights strung up across the main roads. People are firing fireworks like they are going out of style…EVERYONE has a firework. It’s crazy! I’m not talking about little fire crackers…I mean the big ones, that shoot way up in the sky. People are setting them off in the middle of the street.
We went to dinner at a Korean BBQ, which is cool. They basically have a little charcoal grill built into the table, then you roast your meat choices on top of it. It’s a lot of fun. I was at dinner with two RA guys. John Xie (She-ya) and I were having a little bit of a power struggle over the grill until he announced that he was paying the bill, so he runs the grill….cool in my book!
The restaurant’s front was a glass wall, so I could see everything going on outside. So we sat there grilling the food and watching fireworks go off. Now Dalian is about the size of Chicago, so we aren’t looking out at a normal street. This street has high rises reaching for the sky. The smallest one is probably 25 floors.
As you watch out the window, you see people standing in the middle of the street, setting up fireworks. They all launch out of boxes, but are HUGE! The one’s you see on the 4th. They make giant explosions that cascade down, some of them have the little twirly bursts that flutter to the ground sparking.
The traffic is heavy during all of this. There are city buses rushing by, cars, trucks, people on scooters, and on bikes. Then you see these rockets rushing into the night sky…right as a car goes by. Then there is a giant explosion above! Sparks are shooting everywhere! It’s crazy! The Chinese are living on borrowed time with this program. I can’t believe China hasn’t burned down every year with this going on. It’s insane!
Then on every corner….I mean EVERY CORNER! There are kids running around with a HUGE thing of fire crackers. They look like they are carrying M-60 ammunition to the next foxhole. These things are massive. Once they pick out a spot (I couldn’t figure out what a good spot was for this arsenal). They would drop them on the ground and light them. (The kids are maybe 8-10) Then the explosion starts. I witnessed the start of these at the beginning of two red lights….they were still going when we pulled away. I timed one at dinner and it lasted a minute and 5 seconds. It’s crazy….AND sooooo loud. You have to raise your voice in the building as they are going off in the streets… I don’t know if it’s because they are so loud…or poor construction……they are loud.
It was something to see, the whole city was intent on burning itself down.
I also have some exciting news! I am going to Xian tomorrow. That is the ancient capital of China. It is also where the Terracata Warriors are. This is a sculpted army that was created to protect the emperor’s tomb. It was discovered in the 1970’s. It is the one thing I didn’t get to see last time in China. I’m VERY excited. This is a big one! There is more history there than in Beijing. I have a meeting on Friday at our Rockwell office, then the weekend to explore! My friend Woody is there so he will be my guide. He is from Beijing, and we really hit it off last time. He had me to his home where I attempted to make dumplings. So it will be a great time! My plane leaves at 7:30AM, so I had to cut my Lantern Festival short….well worth the sacrifice. We’ll that’s it for tonight! Warriors! Come out and play!!!

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