A new year is on us again – the year of the horse – as the Spring Festival or Chinese New Festival which started last week will end soon. My weeklong holiday began last Wednesday, though a lot of people already started theirs earlier as they had to undertake long journeys to their hometowns. Beijing accordingly is turning into a bit of a ghost town, since its population shrinks by at least a third. That’s because many Chinese in Beijing are from other provinces and regions, who in different forms and manner came to the capital to make a living. I suppose that includes me as well. I took a trip myself, down to Anhui province to visit Huangshan as well as the World Heritage villages of Xidi and Hongcun. It was good, but a bit rough and I’ll have more on that later on.
Anyways it’s a chance to do another year-end review, specifically a mini-review of my time on the mainland. I’m coming closer to the six-month mark, and at times it feels like I’ve been here longer. Things have become routine, whether it be work or taking the subway or going to the supermarket to buy things. Of course, what wasn’t routine was the BS with my old apartment, which had threat-making agent, shady dealings, landlady turning up out of nowhere, and ridiculous dealings.
Work has continued to be decent, and I’m really glad to be able to write articles. My colleagues have largely been some really decent folks, both Chinese and Western expats. While I had decent Western colleagues in Taiwan as well, my local coworkers have been pleasantly surprising. I’ve actually been invited to group activities outside work by local colleagues, something that never happened in five years in Taiwan. Meanwhile, I’d never have imagined discovering one of the best Chinese dishes I’ve ever had- lazijiding (spicy sliced fried chicken) -in a Chinese restaurant at 1 in the morning watching Premier League football after work.
I went to Hong Kong in early January for a cousin’s wedding and saw some relatives who I hadn’t seen in years. It was a bit of a hassle to arrange the trip and I originally didn’t want to do it, but it surprisingly turned out to be a welcome break. I came back feeling a little more upbeat, though I also had a bad stomach condition and a tough cold for over a week afterwards.