Saturday, January 28, 2006


The Lunar New Year is the most significant festival for ethnic Chinese around the world, wherever they come from. It is a very jubilant occasion mainly because it is the time when people take a break from work to get together with family and friends.

The origin of the Lunar New Year Festival can be traced back thousands of years, involving a series of colorful legends and traditions. One of the most famous legends is Nian ¦~, an extremely cruel and ferocious beast that the ancients believed would devour people on New Year's Eve. To keep Nian away, red-paper couplets are pasted on doors, torches are lit, and firecrackers are set off throughout the night, because Nian is said to fear the color red, the light of fire, and loud noises. Early the next morning, as feelings of triumph and renewal fill the air at successfully keeping Nian away for another year, the most popular greeting heard is gong si ®¥³ß, or "congratulations."
Even though Lunar New Year celebrations generally last for only several days, starting on New Year's Eve, the festival itself is actually about three weeks long. It begins on the twenty-fourth day of the twelfth lunar month, the day, it is believed, when various gods ascend to heaven to pay their respects and report on household affairs to the Jade Emperor, the supreme Taoist deity. According to tradition, households busily honor these gods by burning ritualistic paper money to provide for their traveling expenses. Another ritual is to smear malt sugar on the lips of the Kitchen God, one of the traveling deities, to ensure that he either submits a favorable report to the Jade Emperor or keeps silent.

Next, "spring couplets" are hung up around the house. Spring couplets are paper scrolls and squares inscribed with blessings and auspicious words, such as "good fortune," "wealth," "longevity," and "springtime." The paper squares are usually pasted upside down, because the Mandarin word for "upside down," dao, is a homonym of the word "arrival." Thus, the paper squares represent the "arrival" of spring and the "coming" of prosperous times.
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Unfortunately, this year, the pouring rain kept most revelers indoors. There was a spirited outburst of fireworks and firecrackers at midnight that lasted about an hour, but it paled in comparison to previous years, or so we are told.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sunburned on January 14th

We returned to Kaohsuing once again. This time it was to watch Dave May and his team the "Tainan Phoenix" play in a soccer tournament. We started out Saturday morning at 9AM on a bus with the team and some other supporters. The bus ride was comfortable and didn’t take too long. We soon arrived at some fancy high school on the outskirts of Kaoshuing. There were 16 teams and they played 25 minute games. It was interesting for a while, but Karen and I do not equally share Mr. Mays’ love for the game, and found ourselves bored before too long.
The temperature was just less than 30 degrees and we were sunburned within the hour. We decided to hail a cab and make our way into the city, where we checked into our hotel and dropped off the heavy backpack that we had been lugging around all day. We then made our way to an 85-floor building with an observation deck on the 75th floor. The elevator is the second fastest elevator in the world, with the fastest also being in Taiwan -at the Taipei 101- which is now the tallest building in the world. It was a strange experience to have my ears pop repeatedly on an elevator ride. We traveled 75 floors in no more than 25-30 seconds. The view was incredible. We quickly settled into the bar at dusk(6PM-ish)where we had a drink and watched the night fall from high above the city.
We then made our way to a popular western joint- Smokey Joe's- where we had a fantastic meal, and went on to spend the rest of the evening bar-hopping. It was a great time, and we found some interesting places that we are definitely looking forward to returning to. I am including some pictures from our weekend.
Bye for now,

P.S. Since I don’t seem to be finding too many things that are bad or ugly, I am going to add another element to the Good, Bad & Ugly site. CHINGRISH and all the funniest instances of it we can find. Coming soon to a sidebar near you.....!

(Dave May sporting red knee highs)

(One of the views from the 75th floor)