Chinese New Year No.2 with Friends in Datong, Shanxi Province

Chinese New Year celebrations, the second time around found ourselves in the traditional home festivities of the north of China. In the coal producing town of Datong in fact.

Datong is in Shanxi province, north west of Beijing and only about a 30 minute drive south of Inner Mongolia. So in the end of January it’s cold, very cold, -25 degrees Celsius or -13 Fahrenheit.

And why you ask did we decide to freeze our buns off for Chinese New Year of the Dragon? Well, our dear friend and Chinese teacher, Jane, invited us to come and spend the festivities with her family. They were more than accommodating and of course we had a blast!

With the great hospitality, we were also gifted with our amazing, dedicated friend, Tosha, paying us a visit along her journey around the globe. We loved introducing her to local life and give her a sharp contrast from the rest of Asia and some reminders of back home in the U.S.

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At Jane's home with one of many of the wonderful meals we had together. These were a special kind of fried, salty rice dough treats (disclaimer: best plausible food description).
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Our first meal with Jane's family, Mongolian hot pot, sooo good!
Jane is to my right, her niece and sister and law on the left. Next to Jason is her brother and mother in the far right.
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Preparing for Mongolian hot pot lunch with the family.
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Getting set up with the traditional coal fired pot.
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All the goodies inside, my favorite the wood ear mushrooms!
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Datong is famous for one thing, coal. Coal, coal, and more coal. This giant pile covered in happy new year, we are 'protecting the environment' cloak is one dome of yes,...coal. Later that evening, this dome would be burning bright until the wee hours, so much for the 'environment.'
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At the entrance to Jane's family home.
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Jane's Mom with her great smile posing next to, what is it, can you smell it yet, yes, coal! This would be warming us up around midnight that evening...
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Let the New Year of the dragon festivities begin with a grand family dinner!
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Jane's family took up 5 tables in this packed hotel venue!
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It looked like every table ordered one of everything on the menu, which is standard practice of course. First try of donkey meat and other delectable eats. We are so blessed!
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After a tour past the newly rebuilt walled center of the old city, we were ready for the festivities!
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Tosh had her first introduction to Mahjong. This is a huge past time all across China, mostly resembling Gin Rummy in domino's style tiles. We learned some local rules that were much different that how we've played before.
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When 11:30 came it was time to light the coal domes and brave the onslaught of smoke and gun powder...

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There are no shortages of fireworks of course, in the land that invented gun powder.

What followed at midnight and for at least an hour later was the most fireworks I had every seen and heard in my life. And this is coming from someone born on the fourth of July. There is no comparison, anywhere, period. I wasn’t sure at a few points whether I should be celebrating or worried because it sounded like a war zone was going off around me.

It definitely is impossible to photograph this kind of 4d experience. I will try to upload video too!

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2 thoughts on “Chinese New Year No.2 with Friends in Datong, Shanxi Province

  1. Wow! What a great blog entry. You are really experiencing the local culture! Unforgettable memories you are making.

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