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Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Our year is 2016, where the Year Zero was when Jesus Christ was born.    Well, actually, there was no Year Zero.  Jesus was probably born around 5-6 BC, and almost certainly not on December 25.

The Chinese New Year is the first day of the new moon between January 21 and February 20, and in case you did not know, the moon is new when it is almost perfectly black.    February 8 will be Chinese New Year, and, depending on the scholar, this will be the Year 4714 or 4713 or 4653, the year of the Fire Monkey, characterizing ambition and adventurousness, but with irritability.  If you're somewhat superstitious, here are some things you should know:

You also need really good eyes, but can also click on it to enlarge.  

The big celebration is New Year's Eve, February 7, when families gather for their reunion dinner, followed by fireworks at midnight.  Red envelopes containing money are given during the eve:

Interestingly enough, mostly only couples and older people really need to give money.  If you are single, you don't have this obligation, unless you're doing well.  Grown children, of course, must honor their parents, who end up benefitting the most.

Chinese New Year occurs during a 40-day cycle called the Spring Festival, this year from January 24 to March 3.  It is estimated that 320 million Chinese will be traveling by train during this period, so the smartest thing is to avoid this mode of travel during that interval.  But if you must, reserve your tickets early, travel lightly, watch your luggage, wear warm clothes (many stations, and even trains, are not heated) and ONLY take official taxies or buses to your hotel. 

I might add that China has more bullet train tracks than the rest of the world combined.  They enhanced foreign designs, and now their indigenous trains have speeds up to 240 MPH.  The nonstop Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway system was supposed to travel at 204 MPH, dropping the travel time from 10 hours to 4, but with stops and slower speeds, the quickest time is just under 5 hours.

Thus, planning for the future:  
2015February 19 (sheep)

2016February 8 (monkey)

2017January 28  (rooster)

2018February 16  (dog)

2019February 5  (pig)

2020January 25  (rat)

I made an exploratory visit to Honolulu's Chinatown yesterday, mostly to have lunch at Lucky Belly, but also to find some Chinese  brown wine, the kind you warm and add a li hing mum (left).  At one time I could afford Moutai, a clear vodka-like potion made from sorghum and ranging in ethanol from 40% to 94%.  Today, I read where it costs for more than $200 for a regular-size bottle.  However, I see prices not much more than $50 on the internet.  To the right is Moutai Yingbin Chiew at $56.  Here is my photo travelogue:

By the way, immediately above, a giant bamboo shoot, and above that, abalones.  Tough enough just walking back uphill to 15 Craigside.  Try carrying three bottles of Chinese wine in a plastic bag that was shredding apart.

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