You are browsing the archive for 2011 February.

by Gars

Chinatown: Boston

February 18, 2011 in Photos by Gars

Recently Gar of Huangdao sent in this report from his travels to Chinatown, Boston, USA.

It’s always nice to be home again in the U.S., but then again, it’s always nice to get a taste of China. When you are abroad, there is nowhere better to do that than Chinatown. Boston’s Chinatown is very small, taking up about three city blocks. Yet it is special. That small spot on the map has the power to you can transport you back to China.

Chinese people stroll around. Men group together playing Chinese chess. The signs are in Chinese. In the evening, loads of Chinese gather in the square. Your mind floats and “China” comes streaming through your senses. Everybody, it seems, is from South China. Cantonese is the main tongue. A laoban in a restaurant laughed to me, “Your Chinese is better than mine! We never speak Chinese. We always speak Cantonese here.” And so for me, as a Beifang laowai, a Qingdao laowai, it seems like I am traveling to a different part of China! “Lay ho!”

The joy here is in ordering Chinese dishes and drinking Chinese tea; in speaking Chinese while you stock up on Chinese cooking supplies and yuanxiao. When I am here in America, in the state of Massachusetts, I am sure to return often to Boston’s Chinatown.

Chinatown Boston

Chinatown Telephone Booth Boston

Chinatown Boston Gifts Shop

Chinatown Boston Chinese School

Chinatown Supermarket Boston

Chinatown Tsingtao Beer Sign

Relevant Links:
Chinatown on Boston.com
Boston Chinatown on Wikipedia

by Steven

Arnaud-Fleurent Didier 3.04

February 16, 2011 in Events, Music by Steven

Arnaud-Fleurent Didier, Cloé du Trèfle and Alex Nevsky perform at the Redstar in Creative 100 on March 4, 2011. The musicians are touring China, appearing in Qingdao courtesy of the Alliance Française du Shandong and Redstar.

When: March 4, 8 pm
Venue: Redstar, 100 Nanjing Lu, Rm 401 /红星南京路100号401
Tickets: 50 yuan (RMB)/ 门票: 50元
Info: 135.8320.6332

Watch video of the performers: Arnaud-Fleurent Didier, Cloe dutrefle, Alex Nevsky.

Relevant Links:
Arnaud-Fleurent Didier on Wikipedia (French)
Arnaud-Fleurent Didier on Myspace
Cloé du Trèfle Official Website
Cloé du Trèfle on Myspace

by Steven

Lantern Festival

February 8, 2011 in About Qingdao, Events by Steven

In addition to being a visually striking holiday of lights, the Chinese Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Jie/元宵节) is also a great festival for fans of food. The tang yuan (a kind of sticky rice with filling) eaten on this holiday are usually filled with sesame, red bean, or peanut paste. Variations on fillings are many – Jusco and/or Carrefour offer a great selection of pre-made and ready to make tang yuan though a local small traditional restaurant might supply more flavor on this night. Night-time is the best time to head over to Zhongshan Park for viewing the lanterns. The Lantern Festival falls on February 17 in the Year of the Rabbit (2011).

Lantern Festival Tang Yuan Rabbit 2011

Relevant Links:
Lantern Festival (Tang Yuan Recipe)
Lantern Festival Traditions

Photo Credit@ James Elaine

by Steven

Folk at SY 2.14

February 8, 2011 in Events, Music by Steven

Folk music by Zhong Li Feng, Ma Tiao, Chuan Zi and other performers with 13 Month Records in Qingdao at the SY Theater in Taidong on February 14. The Qingdao stop of their national 2011 Under The Banyan Tree, Folk Music on The Road Tour falls on Valentine’s Day and should be a thoroughly enjoyable night of song at the SY on Shunxing Lu. These veteran musicians have previously appeared either individually or collectively in Qingdao at Freeman Cafe, SY Theater, Sonospace Books, Owl Bar, and the Golden Beach Music Fest – seasoned professionals all, their music tells tales with evocative emotion, a good fit for a romantic evening or an entertaining night for fans of singers/songwriters/guitarists.

When: February 14, 7:30 pm
Venue: SY Theater / 青岛SY实验剧场
Location: 26 Shunxing Lu / 顺兴路26号
Tickets: 200 yuan (2 for 298) / 票价: 单人200 情侣套票298/2张
More Info: 8383.1883

Relevant Links:
13 Month Records
Zhong Li Feng on Douban
Ma Tiao on Myspace
Chuanzi on Douban
2010 Golden Beach Music Fest

by Cherie

Chinese New Year: Rabbit

January 31, 2011 in About Qingdao, Events by Cherie

The Chinese New Year is here again. On the evening of February 2, 2011, the air space over China will be populated by a sound and vision spectacular of fireworks while midnight will see the disappearance of billions of dumplings. February 3 is the first day of the year (Zheng Yue Chu Yi/正月初一) on the Chinese lunar calendar, and the official start of the Spring Festival in China.

Guo Nian/过年

In ancient China, it was said that there was a wild, violent animal called nian (年). It came into villages to eat people, especially children, on New Year’s Eve every year, and all the people were too scared to resist. After a long time of being terrorized by the monster, one man invented firecrackers to defeat the beast. That year, he set off firecrackers, and sure enough “nian” didn’t come to his village. This news quickly spread. Nian was finally famished, and the people lived in peace forever. In order to memorialize this special moment, the people named it guo nian (过年) which is now the term equated with the name Spring Festival celebrated every year. Guo (过) means passing by or threatening something away, thus guo nian (过年) means to drive all the bad things away from our life during the Chinese New Year. Read more about guo nian on China Today. Some view guo nian as just simply “pass a new year”.

Qingdao becomes a battleground of explosions and bombs of color flash and sonic booms, much like most of China on the night of New Year’s called Da Nian San Shi (literally, Big Year 30).

Door Couplets (dui lian/对联)

These Spring Couplets are seen on doors, usually with black characters on red paper. The short benedictions wish one and all entering the door prosperity, good fortune, health, wealth, and more. Many older people still gather a crowd at an informal dui lian market to write the traditional couplets. Check out more info on these poetic Spring Festival Distiches. Some common couplets seen in China: 四海财源通宝地,九洲鸿运进福门 (Wishing the world’s wealth and fortune to those passing through the door), 年年添富贵,日日报平安 (Year upon year surplus of fortune, day after day safe and peaceful), 人寿年丰好事多,山清水秀风光好 (Abundant luck and fortune for people, beautiful scenery beneficial).

Chinese New Year Rabbit 2011 Fu Fortune

Firecrackers And Other Artillery

Qingdao becomes a battleground of explosions and bombs of color flash and sonic booms, much like most of China on the night of New Year’s called Da Nian San Shi (literally, Big Year 30). The firecrackers are most intense around midnight, right when everyone is getting ready to have the jiaozi (dumplings) made for the special occasion. Eating jiaozi is a must on the eve of Da Nian 30 – as are the massive firework pyrotechnics that sometimes stretch to dawn. Special nights during the two week holiday period such as the 2nd and 5th nights are marked by huge fireworks set off by individuals all around the city. The streets are filled with the debris of red paper, burnt powder, and large cardboard boxes that dispensed ground to air pretty missiles – in Qingdao, they don’t stay long on the ground as the recyclers have a field day on the remains of the day.

Usually before people start to have the formal dinner on New Year’s Eve, they set off firecrackers for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Firecrackers are set off again at midnight followed by a dumpling dinner. This finally heralds the arrival of new year. In my home, we don’t eat the midnight dinner, but my father sets off firecrackers at midnight, and we (my mom, sister, and I) watch the Spring Festival gala on CCTV. After the gala, we go to bed and sleep for only about 4 hours. Then we get up to visit relatives and neighbors. When I was young , I used to get some lucky money in red envelopes and used it to buy my favorite things like books. After getting up and before breakfast (also dumplings), there are about 5 minutes of firecrackers. The first and last evenings of Spring Festival are the heaviest fireworks nights.

Chinese New Year Qingdao Dui Lian

Sticky Rice And Special New Year’s Foods

Break out the baijiu/白酒 (some award winning Maotai would be nice) and put on comfortable new year’s clothes for some serious eating and drinking. Spring Festival is a time to eat with everyone you meet, from the feast of New Year’s Eve to the meals shared over the first few days of the year as people visit family and friends in order of importance. The most important food of the festival is jiaozi. Usually people put a few coins into some of the dumplings to represent good luck and fortune. The people who eat the coin filled jiaozi are purported to be very lucky in the coming year. People who are already rich will become richer if he or she eats dumplings with coins. Ones who aren’t good at making money will eat more, but if unsuccessful in biting in to a money dumpling, then the coming year will be a time of spending more. The tail end of the Spring Festival brings Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Jie/元宵节), which is celebrated with tang yuan, a sticky rice ball in a sweet broth, with fillings of peanut, sesame, red bean, and more.

Many older people still gather a crowd at an informal dui lian market to write the traditional couplets.

Lantern Festival

There is a myth about why people hang red lanterns on Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Jie/元宵节). Long, long ago there were many horrible beasts in human society which did nothing but hurt people. People got together to kill these beasts but accidentally a holy bird got lost in human society and was killed by mistake. The emperor of heaven was very angry and ordered a big fire to be set to punish people. But his seventh daughter was too kind to see people suffering because of her father’s rage, so she came up with the idea of having people hang red lanterns everywhere to recreate the atmosphere of fire. Thereafter, people started to celebrate this day with the hanging of red lanterns. Eating tang yuan is the most important custom of Lantern Festival. The Chinese people want everything to have a happy ending, so eating sweet tang yuan on the night of the first full moon of the lunar year is symbolic of happiness and peace.

Relevant Links:
Spring Festival
Spring Festival Traditions
Lantern Festival (Tang Yuan Recipe)
Lantern Festival Traditions
Jiaozi Junkie