CNYE in China Lite

Guò Nián Hǎo and welcome to the Year of the Tiger!

A couple cups of strong coffee and I’ve recovered from my 5th Chinese New Year‘s Eve in China. Despite living in Suzhou-Singapore Industrial Park (SIP) last year as well, this was the first time we celebrated the holiday in this district. Normally I would just hit Shiquan Jie (Suzhou’s bar street) for the big event, as its location in the downtown core puts it smack dab in the middle of all the action.

Because of our pregnancy, and a newborn in our tribe, we decided to keep things close to home this year and just had friends over for dinner and more friends over for drinks.

SIP, or as it’s come to be called in our little group, “China Lite”, is unique in that the majority of the residents are not locals. Many of those that live here are Westerners, North East Asians, HKers or Taiwanese. What’s more, a solid amount of the Chinese contingent are out-of-towners who simply work in wealthy Suzhou. What this means for holidays is that SIP becomes a bit of a ghost town as many head home for the holidays (or SE Asia, if you’re a laowai).

There are a lot of things that make life in SIP much, much better than many of the places I’ve lived in China, but the lack of an explosion-filled buildup for midnight is not one of them. We hedged our bets on something exciting happening down at Jinji Hu, the lake a block or two away from us, but didn’t find much after getting there. There were a few impressive displays in the distance and the night wasn’t exactly void of fireworks, but when I look back on previous years, this was definitely the tamest.

Fortunately we had what was important; friends, family, food and rum!

The other thing that might have dampened festivities was that Suzhou was hit with a relatively massive amount of icy snow last night. Walking back from the lake it was surreal seeing all the cars covered in white. Suzhou rarely gets snow, and usually the few flakes you might see fluttering through the air have disappeared before hitting the ground. But here are some pics of what I woke up to this morning:

The snow is reminiscent of January two years ago when snow virtual shut down the city.

Our dog Button hardly knows what to do with the stuff, timidly stepping on the now-crunchy and white grass to do her morning business. I’m hopeful that it might get a bit colder and give us some nice fluffy stuff so she can run and play in it, but more than likely it will just stay this icy, slushy sleet and/or melt away.

But that’s all the more reason for me to curl up in my cozy apartment and just relax on this holiday Sunday. All the best to you and yours in the year of the tiger. 春节快乐.

NOTE: Just after writing this I looked outside and large fluffy flakes are coming down — there’s hope yet for a (non-hospital-needed) snowball fight in Suzhou!

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