Happy Chinese New Year 2007 to everyone! It's been an awesome 2 days of festive celebrations in China for this year's Chinese new year. Although Chinese new year is on Feburary 18th, we started celebrating a whole week before that date. It's now Feb. 20th (19th in North America), and our family is still celebrating Chinese new year - still a few more days of celebrating to go yet.
Many may wonder what a traditional Chinese new year celebration is like for Chinese families. Well, I'll give a detailed recount of how our family celebrated the 2007 year of the golden pig. If you didn't know, 2007 is year of the Pig, however, this is a very special year in the Chinese Zodiac that happens only every 60 years - so, 2007 is known as the "year of the golden pig".
Many Chinese couples planned (or desperately tried) to have a baby born in 2007, as a golden pig. My wife is also pregnant and the due date is around august 2007; however, we did not know about the year of the golden pig until recently, so although having a baby was planned for, having a baby born in the year of the golden pig was not planned for. Nonetheless, it must be a good thing. :) I won't go in more detail about 2007 year of the golden pig, I'll save that for another blog entry.
Chinese New Year Transportation Nightmare
For people in China, Chinese new year celebration lasts for about 2 weeks, starting a week before Chinese new year's day, and lasting until a week after Chinese new year. Chinese new year celebration is a time where hundreds of millions (litterally) of people travel across China to gather and celebrate Chinese new year with their family. If you have not been to China during "Chun Yun period 春运", then you can't imagine the level of traffic congestion.
The Chun Yun period typically starts a week or so before Chinese new years (direct translation means "Spring Transporting"), this is a period of time where tens if not hundreds of millions of Chinese people begin their annual trip to make their way back home to spend Chinese new year with their family.
I HIGHLY recommend planning your travel to avoid this time period.
It's hard to imagine what it's like unless you see it for yourself. Imagine a country with 1.3billion people, and a public transportation system (trains, buses, planes) that's already stressed during "regular" times, now during Chinese new years, multiply that effect by many times. Especially buses and trains where entire stations are overflowed to such a point that passengers are lined up all the way outside of the station. Buses fill up so fast that within a few minutes, each bus is on its way, and often times, there are no buses left at the bus depot to transport people at the bus station.
I learned the hard way last Chinese new year when I had to goto Chengdu for a day. It was early in the morning, the bus depot was packed with people all the way out to the street, and there were no buses. I had to hitchhike a ride with a semi (paid $60yuan). What normally takes 2.5hours took twice as long. I'll never do that again.