This is my first time to write a blog. I went back to my family to celebrate the festival for the first time in many years. It was quite exciting to hear and see the build up to all the fireworks at midnight. They were banned previously and before that, they were very simple firecrackers. This time everyone was letting off boxes and boxes of fireworks everywhere. In our compound, the designated safe place was in the middle of the lake that was conveniently frozen over.
As midnight approached, there were increasing crackling sounds and smell of sulphur from fireworks which lasted for an hour before dying off a bit. They are getting so sophisticated now, you don't light up a single firework these days, you light up a big box, some the size of a beer crate, which has a whole selection 'programmed in' already, giving several minutes worth of different colours, sounds, shapes and forms one after the other. Last month we were in Bangkok, and saw fireworks displays put on by some hotels for the New Year, but they were nothing compared to the length of time, variety and huge area of sky lit up here in Beijing. Everyone tries to outshine their neighbour. The most expensive ones cost as much as the average monthly wage here, so it seems to me that the financial crisis has not hit Beijing at all. And the same fireworks fever was present in every city, town and village throughout China!