Yes, tonight I went to the Lantern Festival, which was colorful, cold, and really crowded.
I went with Sascha and we met with Yaya and Rebecca and one of their friends, to this place about 25 minutes out of town. The traffic on the way there was horrendous, and in the end we finished the rest of the journey there on foot. Already from the highway I could see hundreds of people gathered just under the freeway overpass. Tonight is the last night of Spring Festival – the annual two-week event to celebrate the coming of the new year.
The Lantern Festival, to my best observation, includes thousands of people at a night carnival. Also there are some lanterns. I didn’t know what to expect so I walked around with my camera, asking questions and taking photos until my hands were too cold to operate the camera controls. It reminded me of Kings Dominion; all around me were things to look at, not to mention many children and attractions catered to them, including carnival rides for children. Sadly there was no adult rollercoaster, but I was able to get a special traditional candy treat. People crowd around a wheel around which figures of chinese astrology are drawn and a wheel is spun selecting one of the animals. I spun, got the horse and watched as the guy dripped melted candy onto a marble surface in the shape of a horse. A stick is put into the candy before it melts, which is almost instantly, and when lifted it makes a neat handmade lollypop in the shape of a horse. Sascha spun and got a horse but the girls were able to convince the guy to give him a dragon, which was as enormous as it was detailed. Then we walked around and ate our huge candy things. Here’s a shot of people standing around the wheel, including a dragon already finished in the lower right corner of the frame:
After wandering around for another half an hour we found ourselves at the foot of a large pagoda. We paid 20rmb to get inside and then checked out the art, mostly of poets, on the ground floor before cheating and taking the elevator to the 13th floor peak. The view was beautiful and allowed us to get an idea of how large the festival was; which is enormous. It seemed to extend about a half mile in each direction, with almost no area of inactivity. Many of the pathways were lit by 40 foot long dragons filled with lamps, creating almost bright corridors of an outdoor art gallery.
Tomorrow evening I’ll go 30 minutes outside Chengdu to Guanhan (sp?) for some party in the evening that everyone’s going to. I don’t know much about it, but I found out about it through an apparently legit source; owner and proprietor of a local establishment called The Hemp House! It’s kind of a bar/lounge place with nice atmosphere and a pool table that’s always crowded. Anyway I hear the party tomorrow should be fun. The day after that I leave for Chongqing for a hip hop gig on Valentines day which I’m pretty excited about. I’ll play the set of love songs that I’ve been collecting over the last few weeks, and I’ll put a special mix online for someone!