The first day of the Year of the Dog.
Feb 16, 2018
|What a noisy night it was, and it still carries on this morning! Down at the local shrine, there are flames burning, ready to light incense. Many offerings, many prayers being said, and firecrackers going off at random intervals.
We stood on the balcony for ages, watching the comings and goings. Nearly every business on the street is closed, on this the first day of the new year.
We were getting picked up by Gary and Denise, so we went down to the shrine, which at that time seemed to be deserted. So we had a chance to take photos, and just look around. While we sat waiting to be picked up, we were wished a Happy New Year by many passersby, all dressed in their best, and heading for family dinners.
Part of the new year regards cleaning your house before the new year comes in, all very symbolic. And you should wear completely new clothes on the first day. All indicating new beginnings, and out with the old, onward and upward!
Gary and Denise collected us, and we set off to the Grandma's house, which is not far away. She lives in her youngest daughter's house, often on her own, but she is very happy with that. What an amazing 84 year old - she is a retired High School teacher, and at 70 years of age, she started learning Chinese traditional art, and now gets commissions for huge pieces, and actually has a book published, containing her most significant work.
She is also very involved in her family's life, and revered and respected as the most senior part of the family. And a very active woman. When we arrived at her house, she was out playing mahjong, and after we had lunch, she got Gary to take her to the supermarket to get shopping! Never still!
After lunch, she was showing us some of her handiwork from when she, and her three daughters, were young. Her husband was a professional photographer, and she made all the clothes to be used in formal studio photos. And of course, she also made all her girls' clothes. Some of the things she showed us are exquisite. And some things, she is still wearing today!
We did not realize at first, but today is not only the first day of the new year, but also Shelly's 60th birthday. Unbelievable! There is no way you would believe she is sixty!
Part of the programme for us today was to go into the gardens of the very big residential complex and for the two Chinese women to pose for multiple photos. Auntie Xiao Ping is an avid photographer, and they obviously love the whole process. With all their posing and posturing, they are so unassuming, and just so much fun to be around.
Much later, we took Didi cars, to get to the old city wall. That was going to be our outing for the day, and I was planning to show them all the Grass Shoe Street. The whole area is the old stomping ground of Shelly and Xiao Ping, as this is where they grew up. They pointed out their old primary and middle schools, and even the site of the hospital where they were born.
It was taking ages to get along the wall, as there was a constant need for more photos, and standing around for posing!! All good, except that time was going to run out on us.
We were near to the tower on the wall, when who should turn up but Scott. He had been out walking, and joined us for a while. He actually surprised Carol by walking straight up to her, before she recognized who it was. Somehow, you do not expect to see someone you know in good old downtown Zhaoqing.
Long before we got to the Grass Shoe Street, we had to abandon our mission, because we were due to meet up with the rest of Gary's family for a New Year family dinner. So we decided that we would finish the trip on another day, and got a bus that took us to the Golden Diamond Hotel, on the corner of Duanzhou and Guta Lu. I had watched the construction of this place when I was travelling to and from the new campus by bus.
What a lovely sumptuous environment. We were booked into a very big room, very beautifully set up. The food managed to match the environment.
It was a lovely family gathering, with Grandma, her two daughters Shelly and Xiao Ping, Denise, Gary and Qianyu. Then there were Gary's mother, his sister Shelly, her husband and their daughter Sally. Such a nice atmosphere to be part of, and so lovely to see how the two families seem to relate to each other.
Small world, because Gary's sister and my friend Winnie used to be best friends in middle school, and Winnie remembers helping Gary with his homework, and that he was a cute little boy with round chubby cheeks.
After dinner, Carol and I walked home from the hotel. It was not a long walk, and a nice opportunity to talk about our day, which had been full of fun, and even surprises.
When we were home again, there were still firecrackers going off at random intervals, and we would be startled at the noise if it was nearby!