Yeah. That’s a middle-aged man wearing a rabbit hood and playing a vuvuzela. You don’t know how tempted I was to just leave this up as the sole picture in today’s ‘photoblog.’ Because really, anywhere I go from here is only going to be downhill.

That said, I decided there were other pictures that were sufficiently pretty (or creepy, as the case may be) to warrant posting anyway. Today is Chinese New Year’s eve, and all the festivals are starting to kick off. If you’re interested for whatever reason, the full list of things I can go to is here. I get home on the 7th and have the 8th off, so I’ll be going to at least three more of these (there is no way in hell I’m not going to the Qianmen lantern fair, but for whatever reason that’s conveniently staggered a week off from the rest).

Just a pinch of context, to avoid confusion: The Spring Festival (Chunjie) and “Chinese New Year” are the exact same holiday; and I’ll be using the terms interchangeably. To explain the vuvuzela man as much as such a task is even possible, 2011 happens to be the year of the rabbit. As a sidenote to any of my friends in Chinese, although rabbit is “兔子,” calling it “兔子年” is a common foreigner mistake that will make people giggle at you. It’s just “兔年.”
Anyway for Chunjie everybody gets a whole bunch of time off to go to their hometown (300 million people travel at some point during this week), set off truly ludicrous amounts of fireworks, and hang out eating various types of pastries with their families. It’s pretty awesome. During the week surrounding it, temples traditionally throw these big festivals called MiaoHui — 庙会, literally Temple Assembly. As far as I can tell, these festivals’ primary purpose is to equip the entire Chinese population with surplus cheap-plastic-toy inventory. All the stuff that either couldn’t fit on the boat to the states or was too weird to be sold there, conveniently ready to buy in one place! That was the theme of the Ditan one, anyway, although the website claims it is supposed to be about romance, or something? It wasn’t just chachka, though; they had a lot of performers and handicrafts and stuff too. Was neat. Look look!

This picture only included because it's hard to articulate how off-putting it is to see the subway like this. I immediately got a very bad feeling I was doing something wrong. Where the hell was everybody?

Alright so I'm off the subway. There's YongHeGong, the temple. But is the fair inside that, or what? Don't see anyone here at all. I'll look around...

...oh.

WELCOME TO DITAN MIAOHUI WE HOPE YOU DON'T THINK OF THIS RABBIT WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO SLEEP TONIGHT

(ALSO CONSIDER THIS A CHALLENGE: BY THE END OF THE FESTIVAL YOU MUST BE CARRYING SOMETHING LARGER AND MORE POINTLESS THAN WHATEVER THE HELL THIS RABBIT IS HOLDING OR ELSE YOUR ANCESTORS WILL SHAME YOU FOR ETERNITY). On this front, the little girl on the right is doing pretty well.  And… back to pictures

Found everyone.

It's like a diablo, but isn't balanced the same way becuase it only has one end. When you finish your routine you spin it on the small end like a top. This guy second only to vuvuzela-rabbit in badassery

Part of Chunjie involves turning anything red that can feasibly be turned red. And for everything that can't, tape something red to it or hang something red on it, damn it.

Anyone with insight regarding what the hell this thing is, why it is popular, or most importantly why it is wearing what appears to be a diaper is invited to enlighten the rest of us in the comments

Lunch-on-a-stick. Snack street picked up and moved here for the day. They had their employees put on different hats, fooling precisely no one.

Really cool cymbal+dance troupe. So cool I took a video...

I spoil you.

Alright so you guys may or may not remember this, but Russell and I have a longstanding tradition of giving each other weird random crap from foreign countries. This picture demonstrates exactly the problem with this Miaohui; everything was an option. I felt like I was cheating. Those Hitler matches (this post has a good picture of them) took me forever to find, but now one store offers angry chili peppers, zombies, and bellsprout? Too many choices — I balked. I’ll find something later though, I’m sure

Hehehe. I pointed out the typo to one of the workers in the stand next door, and ended up taking to her and her buddy for like half an hour. Fun times

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