新年快乐 (xīnnián kuàilè): Part I

For the week leading up to Spring Festival, or commonly known as Chinese New Year, there has been an exciting buzz around town. The grocery stores are jam-packed with shoppers getting ready for the week long celebration. It is customary for people to thoroughly clean their home on the eve of Spring Festival Eve to get rid of bad luck and to make way for incoming good luck. Houses are decorated with red lanterns and entrance doors are adorned with wishes of luck, happiness, wealth, good fortune and longevity. Chinese believe that the color red means good luck, happiness and energy. On the Eve, families gather together for a reunion dinner followed by the passing out of gifts of money to each other in red envelopes called hongbao. At midnight, there are usually immense amounts of firecrackers going off well in to the wee hours of the morning…it signifies driving away the evil. Unfortunately, with the intense surge of smog as of late, the city of Shanghai has banned fireworks and firecrackers. This poster is plastered EVERYwhere around town (including our “iron curtain”…the entrance to our apartment section).


No firecrackers for you!

Paul and I decided to head out to a few popular and spiritual locations on the day of New Year’s Eve. First off, we headed over to the Yuyuan area. It’s a small “maze” of hutongs (narrow streets or alleys). Decorations everywhere…so beautiful!


So many different types of lanterns!


Old meets new with the 128 story, 2,073′ tall Shanghai Tower in the background

The area and restaurants were so packed with people, there was over an hour wait at most restaurants. Before our hangry factor kicked in, we decided to grab a quick bite at KFC. (I know, I know…) We figured since public bathrooms are hard to come by, we decided to use the one there.

*cue the TMI portion of this blog post* (it was bound to happen sooner or later and will most likely happen again. You’ve been warned.)


Behold! The dreaded squat toilet!

So the time has come. My first go at a squat toilet. Great…

So I close the stall door behind me and don’t know which way to face. I see there’s a “guard” of some sort at one end. So I assume it’s so your poop doesn’t go flying everywhere? Makes sense to me. So I’m done peeing and come to find out AFTER I’m done that the toilet paper dispenser is at the entrance of when you walk into the restroom. Glad I had a few new Kleenex in my pocket! At lease there was an automatic flushing sensor on the wall. I can’t even imagine what that whole experience is like when you’ve got other types of situations going on with your lady parts or GI tract. I’m perfectly fine doing my business while camping amongst the trees, but this, this stuff is cringe worthy.

After that joyous experience, it was time for a little a little enlightenment, so we headed over to The City Temple of Shanghai.


We saw an elderly woman praying to this “God(?)” and had a sweet smile, so we decided to write our thoughts on the below red ribbon as an offering of well wishes


Part of the entrance gate with a reflection of red lanterns

After the Temple, we headed over to Yuyuan Garden…a 5-acre garden that was built in 1577.


Gorgeous stone walkway


Spring is right around the corner!

After exploring around all day, we headed home for dinner only to head back out again for the unknown excitement of what happens at midnight…stay tuned!

2 thoughts on “新年快乐 (xīnnián kuàilè): Part I

  1. I googled “how to use an asian toilet” and learned you face the hood! I just HAD to know 🙂

    These are the things people want to know! Hope you’re having fun and glad you’re sharing it with us.

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