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Expats in deeper touch with China during Festival

Posted on January 27, 2012
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blankNANNING – Foreigners living in or traveling around China during the ongoing Spring Festival are finding the country even more impressive than at other times, as traditions and commercial promotion of the Chinese holiday come to the fore.

The jubilant Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations have always been a cherished opportunity for Indian Pazhani Raja to get more acquainted with the southwestern Zhuang-ethnic region of Guangxi, where he and his wife have been living for four years.

“The dinner on New Year’s Eve is so sumptuous that I had been waiting for the treat all year,” says Raja, an overseas student at Guangxi Medical University.

He and his wife have been invited to their Chinese friends’ homes to enjoy the special dinner every New Year’s Eve of the past few years.

“The essence of the dinner gathering is reunion, which is deep in the Chinese culture. After working hard for a year, the family dinner makes everyone feel soulful happiness,” he says.

His fellow student, a Namibian surnamed Nathaneal, said he likes to watch the TV evening gala staged by China Central Television, which features China’s most popular artists and performers.

He says the only thing his natives care about when he returned home was asking whether he had learnt Kungfu in China. But he wanted to tell them more about the country.

Spring Festival traditions such as setting off fire crackers and giving “red envelopes” — gifts of money made by seniors to children or unmarried younger people — all interested foreigners.

Nepalese Shree Ram Khadka says he has learnt to hand out red envelopes to children when visiting Chinese families during the festival, a practice which indeed added joys.

Besides being guests of Chinese families, foreigners have experienced China this Spring Festival by visiting the bustling Bund in Shanghai, the ice sculpture-clad city of Harbin, the panda-breeding base in Sichuan and even little-known villages to look for dying handicrafts such as paper dragon production.

Chloe Chanudet, a French girl living in Shanghai, was surprised to see throngs of tourists visiting temple fairs during the Spring Festival last year. “I was shocked to see such a huge crowd, but I liked that friendly and festive air,” she explains.

Chanudet worked for a French e-commerce website in Shanghai. She says she had to stay on duty during the holiday as all her Chinese colleagues got festive leave, but adds that she “enjoyed watching splendid Spring Festival firecrackers after work, which I had never seen elsewhere in the world.”

In snow-covered Harbin, capital of northeast Heilongjiang Province, a Thai tourist who gave his name as Ukrit, said he was thrilled by the ice sculptures arranged everywhere in the city.

Known as China’s “city of ice,” Harbin frequently experiences temperatures below minus 20 degrees Celsius in winter. Ice sculptures radiating in sunlight or lightened by colorful lamplight make the city romantic.

Tourists are particularly fond of a six-meter-tall snow sculpture of Marilyn Monroe, which is shown on a century-old European-style street in the old city quarters of Harbin.

Ukrit says he and his friends were aware of the temperature difference between Harbin and his tropical hometown and had prepared well for the freezing conditions.

25 Jan 2012

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2012-01/25/content_14492357.htm

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