Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day Five in Zhuhai - Chinese New Year's Eve

Today is Chinese New Year's eve, which means that we are going to a big celebration with Uncle Po. I also found out that Uncle Po is Andy's older brother so he is a Yuan! Being the eve of the new year, we didn't have much planned for the morning although Laura and I were treated to a different breakfast than usual. It consisted of rice dumplings with a sweet peanut filling cooked in tea and banana leaf-wrapped rice dumpling things filled with sweetened coconut and peanuts. They were taste but it was a lot of sugar early in the day!

After breakfast Nancy showed me some of the photos that she has taken on her travels. Most were of Szechuan, high in the mountains and they were pretty impressive. Since her recent travels have included her boyfriend David she commented on one picture in which she said he looked like Chairman Mao, which was funny initially but then I realized that it's true, he's just thinner than Mao.

During the course of our show-and-tell Nancy asked if we had fun yesterday and I commented that while the New Summer Palace is beautiful I really enjoyed going to the market with Aileen. She asked me if I would interested in seeing the fish market while cautioning me that it isn't a very clean place but that the fish is really fresh (and in most cases still breathing). How could I pass up such an offer? I enthusiastically told her that I would love to see it and fetched Laura for our adventure.

Shortly after setting off for what I thought was to be the fish market Nancy said that we should have lunch first so we stopped for dim sum and were met by David and Jeffrey. I wish I had a picture because I think it's great that cigarette holders are relatively common here (the guys at the next table were all using them). Enough of a digression... Dim sum was great and Laura got to try pigeon for the first time. During the course of the meal the topic of suitable attire for the evening's socializing came up. Nancy wanted Jeffrey to wear a fur-collared 3/4 length evening coat but he insisted that it is too formal. She then asked if I had brought a suit, which I did not, but Jeffrey offered to loan me a Batman suit that he has which, while generous, I declined, insisting that my own clothes would be more comfortable. We also discuss hair because Nancy thought that Jeffrey should get a haircut (which sounds familiar seeing as my mother says I need one every time I see her and often I have just had one) for which she gave him money but then decided that there was not sufficient time for, to Jeffrey's relief.

Once we were crammed full of dim sum we headed to the fish market. Nancy had a length of hose she wanted to return so she set us loose on the market with the car being our meeting point. As you walk in there are tanks and baskets and bowls and basins everywhere filled with all manner of aquatic life and crouched amongst the various vessels are people cutting, scaling or singing the praises of their goods. We found turtles, eels, snakes, ducks, geese, chickens, and even crocodiles alive and awaiting your dinner table.

Our adventure in the fish market complete, we returned to the house to prepare for our New Year's eve banquet arranged by Uncle Po. We asked Jeffrey how many people we should expect and he said ten to fifteen but when we arrived there were probably about sixty people and Uncle Po had reserved the banquet hall in a nice hotel. Although Laura and I are very important ourselves we were probably not the most important people in attendance. The Chief of Police was there as was the Mayor of Zhuhai amongst other notable people. We were presented with dish after dish of food prepared especially for the new year and many many people came by to wish the table happiness, health and wealth in the coming year.

Uncle Po is the third from the left and the two men to the right of him are the Mayor of Zhuhai and the Chief of Police, at the far right is Cousin Christopher, Uncle Po's and Aunt Helen's son.

Surprisingly, the dinner lasted only an hour and a half because there is a four hour television show that they broadcast every year, a kind of variety show, that Uncle Po's company helped sponsor so we were all told to go home and watch. Being the good Chinese people that we are, we went home and watched until we got sleepy and went to bed, or tried to because Nancy house is not far from the ocean and they light off all the fireworks along the waterfront so it was quite noisy but sleep finally came...

Nancy and Jeffrey with Lily by proxy.

Nancy with her boyfriend, David.


  1. OMG! David does look like Chairman Mao... but nicer. Someone needs a hair makeover.

    The picture of your uncle hugging the mayor and the chief is so cute.

  2. Hi Jeff! Having so much fun following your trip. Of course, the pictures are amazing, and I love your descriptions. Sounds like you are doing some interesting & exciting things and eating lots of peanuts.. good thing I'm observing from afar. Keep up the posts, and travel safely. Tell Nancy and Laura hello for us!