It’s New Year’s Day in China, the first day of the Year of the Snake. Grace’ family from Beijing came over to celebrate the holiday here, so it’s a food and drink extravaganza at home. Last night my father-in-law prepared the New Year’s Eve dinner, he spent the whole day in the kitchen making all the dishes. It was excellent, especially in combination with the bottles of Champagne that I had opened to accompany the food.
The kids got presents and hongbao (red envelopes with money) from everybody, and Scott was already musing about what kind of things he could buy now. After the meal the family watched the annual CCTV New Year Gala, and I read some magazines. I am not a big fan of the show, if you have seen one you have seen them all. Scott and Elaine loved it though (I guess that says a lot about the level of the show!) and could not stop watching the stand-up comedians and the songs and dances.
At a certain point I fell asleep on the couch but the kids were still awake. I was a bit jet lagged, because we just came back from a week in Canada, and a big meal plus some nice wines don’t help to stay awake. The fireworks woke me up at midnight though and we all watched it from the 3rd floor of our house. I felt there were less fireworks than in years before, but maybe that was because I didn’t go outside this year. But the smog certainly wasn’t less, at 1 AM the index was above 500 (which is the upper level, above 300 the air quality is considered hazardous). Probably good that I stayed inside.
Today we drove out to Sheshan to climb the mountain there and to get some fresh air. The roads were quite empty and the drive went fast, helped by the fact that all tollroads are free during Chinese New Year, so you don’t waste a lot of time in traffic jams at the toll gates. But Sheshan itself was very busy and I was glad to find a parking space close to the entrance gate of the mountain. Also the access to the mountain was free now (it used to be quite expensive), but that also meant that thousands of others decided to hike up the hill as well.
Despite being 30 kilometers from Shanghai the air at Sheshan was actually still pretty bad. The kids asked why the air smelled like smoke and when we were at the top there was not much of a view because of the air pollution. Not sure if the walk was very healthy, but at least we got out of the city for a few hours, which is always a good thing.