February 23, 2010

This region is located Bihar the southeast area, has about 10kilometers from the Behead downtown, sits the vehicle big outline more than 10 minutes. Now, let me use this time to introduce the silver beach to everybody
Talks about the silver beach, lets us first start from the 90’sinitial period to mention! 90 years on November 23, also is in the North Sea big development time, original state president Comrade JiangZemin inspects when North Sea arrived here, and entrusted with North Sea to this nature people’s sand beach to give the very high appraisal. Original national Premier Comrade Zhu rongji base called here is “the world is unusual, China only has”; Tours older generation country leader Comrade Yang Shangkun when to here, while in a good mood wields a brush the preface, reputation it is “the world first beach”, now enters from the main entrance, we may see these characters deeply have engraved in a big stone;
91 years in July, in the Central Party Committee and under the Beihaipeople’s government concern, a silver beach issue of project completes and the official foreign opening; 92 year here namely is evaluated national one of 12 countries levels traveling vacation areas; 95 years are evaluated national 35 “the trump card scenic spot” center beautifully to rest one of places; In 2000 is evaluated the nationalAAAA level scenic area. Here element has “south Beidaihe” “Eastern Hawaii” the laudatory name.
Then, why the silver beach can obtain so many fine reputations? Here lets me come to come for everybody 11. First: Here sand beach extremely broad: East gets up the big crown sand, west to Crown Head the range, is continuous has 24 kilometers, the beach width 300-700 meters different, the total area has about 50 square kilometers, has surpassed Dalian, Yantai, Qingdao, Xiamen, the Neidaihehaibin bathing place sand beach area sum total; Second: Beach slope extremely gentle: Swims hundred meters far not to be able to let the sea water overflow the top of the head, swims the safety coefficient in here is extremely high. Certainly, everybody do not have to lower one’s guard, here lecture of security problem only is after all relative but non-absolute; Third: The sand is careful and white: The entire sand beaches has been through repeatedly surely the year by the high grade pure quartz sand Washes the principle to pile up becomes. In its sand silicon dioxide content reaches as high as 98.37%, the outward appearance crystal-clear snow white like powder, the creamy like cotton and kapok, spillover piece by piece the silver light under the sunlight illumination, name of the silver beach also from this. Fourth: Water temperature static, the wave is soft; Here sea water annual mean water temperature about 23.7, a year has nine month-long the time to be possible to go to sea to swim, this area is near the sea area not to have any industry pollution, the sea water visibility is bigger than 2 meters, the water quality surpasses the our country coast average standard above a time; Fifth: In the air negative oxygen ion content is high; In each cubic centimeter air the negative oxygen ion content reaches as high as about 2500-5000, is the inland city 50 to 100 times, is convalesces the vacation certainly the good institute; Sixth: Year to year four does not have: Does not have the shark, the inanimate object harm, dives without the sea flows, does not have the pollution; Indeed is south our country the rare ideal seashore bathing place and develops the sand beach movement the good place.
In 2003, Behead government in non- standard period has held two important matters,: Was has carried on the thorough transformation to the North Sea main road; Another matter: Is in “also the sand beach to the people, but also sand beach by nature” under the idea, the use large quantities of funds carried on to the silver beach rehaveplanned and the transformation. The present silver beach, the appearance is changed beyond recognition, everywhere obviously bluegrass-green tree, beautiful spring day.
Fellow friends, our vehicle now entered the silver beach traveling vacation area, here originally divided into three great merits energy regions, namely: Silver beach park, Beach Park, sea peaceful property. Everybody proceeds to look that, that dissimilar in shape and form villa group altogether has quite several hundred, a product which that’ll is at the beginning of the 90’s “the North Sea real estate is hot” when stays behind. Along with the this year silver beach again plan and the transformation, this piece left unused the long villa group also to obtain rational development and the use. Everybody looked these along the street villa rheas already repaired, believes in the near future, here could be a piece of vitality abundant scenery.
Good, we soon arrive the silver beach park the entrance. This group walks, did not know whether everybody did feel, the silver beach is having the earth-shaking change. When you saw when silver beach present appearance, how can the present mood be? Is not has suppresses the innermost feelings with difficulty joyful and is excited? No problem, if has a shout: The silver beach I came!
We already arrived the silver beach main entrance. Also namely wasgoing to invest into the sea bosom front, went to sea to ask everybodyconveniently to close the glass, the belt good along with goods, andremembered two requests: One is: Our parking place and the vehiclenumber need to remember, in order to everybody can promptly find ourlarge unit in the stipulation time; Two is: To everybody reiteratedonce again when swimming certainly must pay attention to the security.

February 23, 2010

Hua Shan (simplified Chinese: 华山; traditional Chinese: 華山; pinyin: Huà Shān, sometimes spoken Huá Shān) is located in the Shaanxi Province, about 100 kilometres east of the city of Xi’an, near the city Huayin in China. The mountain is one of China’s Five Sacred Taoist Mountains, and has a long history of religious significance. The mountain has five main peaks, of which the tallest is the South Peak at 2160 m.
As early as the second century BCE, there was a Daoist temple known as the Shrine of the Western Peak located at its base. Daoists believed that in the mountain lives a god of the underworld. The temple at the foot of the mountain was often used for spirits mediums to contact the god and his underlings. Unlike Taishan, which became a popular place of pilgrimage, Huashan only received local pilgrms, and was not well known in much of the rest of China.[1] Huashan was also an important place for immortality seekers, as powerful drugs were reputed to be found there. Kou Qianzhi (365-448), the founder of the Northern Celestial Masters received revelations there, as did Chen Tuan (920-989), who lived on the mountain prior to receiving immortality. In the 1230s, all the temples on the mountain came under control of the Daoist Quanzhen School.[2] In 1998, the management committee of Huashan agreed to turn over most of the mountain’s temples to the China Daoist Association. This was done to help protect the environment, as the presence of monks and nuns deters poachers and loggers.[3]
There are three ways up to Huashan’s North Peak (1613 m), the lowest of the mountain’s major peaks. The most popular is the also the original route, which winds for 6 km from Hua Shan village to the north peak. There is also the cable-car, as well as a path that follows the cable car to the North Peak. From the North Peak, a series of paths rise up to the four other peaks, the West Peak (2038 m), the Center Peak (2042 m), the East Peak (2100 m) and the South Peak (2160 m).[4]
Huashan has historically been a place of retreat for hardy hermits, whether Daoist, Buddhist or other; access to the mountain was only deliberately available to the strong-willed, or those who had found ‘the way’. With greater mobility and prosperity, Chinese, particularly students, began to test their mettle and visit in the 1980s. The inherent danger of many of the exposed, narrow pathways with precipitous drops gave the mountain a deserved reputation for danger. As tourism has boomed and the mountain’s accessibility vastly improved with the installation of the cable car in the 1990s, visitor numbers surged. Despite the safety measures introduced by cutting deeper pathways and building up stone steps and wider paths, as well as adding railings, fatalities continued to occur. The local government has proceeded to open new tracks and created one-way routes on some more hair-raising parts, such that the mountain can be scaled without significant danger now, barring crowds and icy conditions. Some of the most precipitous tracks have actually been closed off. The former trail that leads to the South Peak from North Peak is on a cliff face, and it was known as being extremely dangerous; there is now a new and safer stone-built path to reach the South Peak temple, and on to the Peak itself.
Many Chinese still climb at nighttime, in order to reach the East Peak for the dawn – though the mountain now has many hostels. This is also a hangover from when it was considered safer merely not to be able to see the extremes of danger and exposure of the tracks during the ascent, as well as to avoid others descending down what at many points were pathways with scarcely room for one to pass along.

February 23, 2010

To the Tang Dynasty Dinner Show, a performance of Chang’an music and dances that was originated in the Tang Dynasty of Chinese history over a thousand years ago.

It has been recreated in accordance with various historical records and ancient arts and relics discovered in Xi’an, the capital of the empire throughout the Tang Dynasty regime.

The Tang Dynasty Dinner Show is performed by the “Tang Dynasty Song & Dance Troupe”, a branch of the “Shaanxi Provincial Song & Dance Troupe”.

Accompanied with dinner, you will enjoy a national art that reflects the glory and richness of the Tang Dynasty era.

February 22, 2010

Famen Temple (Chinese: 法门寺; Pinyin: Fǎmén Sì) is located in Famen town, Fufeng County, 120 kilometers west of Xi’an City, Shaanxi

Province. It was widely regarded as the “ancestor of pagoda temples in Guanzhong area”.

One theory, supported by unearthed eaves-tiles and carved bricks of Han Dynasty, is that the temple was built during the Northern Zhou

Dynasty, by Emperor Huan and also by Emperor Ling of the Eastern Han Dynasty. The literature record indicates that during Northern Wei

Dynasty, Famen Temple already existed on a quite large scale. However, Buddhism was greatly suppressed in Emperor Wu’s years of Northern

Zhou Dynasty, and Famen Temple was almost completely destroyed. After establishment of Sui Dynasty, Buddhism was venerated, and Famen

Temple was rebuilt, although it couldn’t be recovered to its heyday in Northern Wei Dynasty. Its name was changed to Cheng Shi Dao Chang

(成实道场), and soon it merged with nearby Baochang Temple (宝昌寺), and became a temple-owned farm.

Famen Temple entered its halcyon days after formation of the Tang Dynasty. Wude 1st year (武德元年, 618), Tang Dynasty, it was named

Famen Temple, and monks were recruited next year. Later the temple took in homeless people from chaos caused by the war at the end of

Sui Dynasty, and was unfortunately burnt. It was rebuilt later by the effort of monks. In Zhenguan 5th year (631), a man named Zhang

Liang was appointed to demolish Wangyun Palace to build the pagoda. It was rebuilt in Gaozong Xianqing 5th year(660), and appeared to be

a four-storied pavilion-like pagoda. It was named later by Tang Zhongzong “True Relic Pagoda”. Tang Zhongzong actively advocated

Buddhism, and along with Empress Wei (韦后) buried their hairs under the pagoda (unearthed in autumn 1978). Jinglong 4th year (710), the

temple was renamed “Grand Empire Carefree King Temple” (圣朝无忧王寺), and the pagoda “Grand True Relic Pagoda” (大圣真身宝塔). In

Wenzong Kaicheng 3rd year (AD 838), it was renamed “Fayun Temple”, but soon was changed back to Famen Temple. When Buddhism was

suppressed in Huichang year of Wuzong, Famen Temple was affected. In Yizong’s years, it held the last activity of Buddha relic

acquisition in Tang Dynasty. At that time, Famen Temple was rebuilt, and its underground palace has never been altered since then. The

emperors of Tang Dynasty acquired Buddha relic 7 times here, and every time donated generously, which facilitated the expansion of the

temple and pagoda. After being built and renovated multiple times, Famen Temple evolved into a scale of 24 courtyards.

During Five Empires period, the king of Qin, Li Maozhen spent more than 30 years greatly renovating Famen Temple. In Houzhou Zhizong’s

year, Buddhism was restricted, but Famen Temple was not abandoned. After establishment of North Song Dynasty, Famen Temple was revived

again. After being renovated many times, in Da’an 2nd year, Jin Dynasty, it was claimed to be “Temple and Pagoda against Heaven”. During

Longqing’s years (1567-1572), Ming Dynasty, Famen Temple was greatly destroyed in Guanzhong earthquake, and the wood pagoda built in

Tang Dynasty collapsed. In Wanli 7th year (1579), the “True Relic Pagoda” was rebuilt, and became 13-storied brick-mimic-timber

structured pavilion-like pagoda.

During Qing Dynasty, Famen Temple was renovated in Shunzhi 12th year (1655), Qianlong 34th year (1769), and Guangxu 10th year (1884). In

Tongzhi 1st year (1862), the temple was damaged in Huimin Uprising in Shaanxi Province. It’s rebuilt later, but scale shrank a lot.

After formation of the Republic of China, Famen Temple was used to station army continuously, and it was largely ruined. Because of

natural and man-made calamities and the masses living in dire poverty, North China Philanthropy Association decided to rebuild the

temple and pagoda, and use labor work as methods to relieve the distress. The reconstruction started in 1938, and concluded in July

1940. A month later, the Buddhist activities were restored.

After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Famen Temple was among the first key protected historical relics of the

province. However, the properties of the temple were still appropriated for public uses, such like schools in Famen town. During

Cultural Revolution, the Red Guard damaged temple halls and Buddhist figures under the name of “breaking four old fashions”. The abbot,

Liangqing monk (良卿法师), incinerated himself in front of the True Relic Pagoda, in order to protect temple’s underground palace. When

the palace was unearthed later, the relic of self-immolation could still be seen. Other monks were either demobilized or killed. The

temple became “the temporary headquarter of proletariat rebellion of Fufeng County”. After 1979, Shaanxi province government once funded

reconstruction of the Grand Hall of the Great Sage (大雄宝殿) and the Brass Buddha Pavilion (铜佛阁). At 1:57am of 4 August 1981, half

side wall of True Relic Pagoda collapsed in the heavy rain. This incident drew universal attention. In 1984, the government implemented

religious policy and handed Famen Temple to Buddhist community. In 1985, Shaanxi province government decided to pull down the remaining

half side wall and rebuild the True Relic Pagoda. On 3 April 1987, the underground palace of True Relic Pagoda in Famen Temple was

opened, and a large quantities of precious historical relics were unearthed. This was quite a hit in news at that time. The expansion of

the temple and the reconstruction of the pagoda were completed in October 1988. On 9 November of the same year, the Famen Temple Museum

was opened.

In May of 2009 the Shaanxi government finished constructing the first phase of a much larger complex encompassing the Famen Temple. With

an area of 150 areas the new “Famen Temple Cultural Scenic Area” added 150 acres to the temple complex. The most obvious feature of the

new complex is the 148m Namaste Dagoba stupa and vault (see below).

Famen Temple currently maintains such a layout as Grand Hall following Pagoda. The True Relic Pagoda is regarded as the middle axle of

the temple. Before it stand the Front Gate, the Front Hall, and behind it is the Grand Hall of Great Sage. This is the typical layout of

the early Buddhist temples in China.

The True Relic Pagoda has been altered several times. It evolved from four-storied pavilion-like pagoda in Tang Dynasty to thirteen-

storied brick pagoda in Ming Dynasty. The current version was rebuilt based on the surveyed drawing of the pagoda in Ming Dynasty before

it collapsed. It is made of armored concrete as skeleton, and then covered by grey bricks. Inside the pagoda there are sightseeing

platforms for tourists.

The underground palace was restored to the structure of Tang Dynasty. Only few severely damaged parts were replaced. The whole palace

was built by white marbles and limestone tablets. Inner walls and stony gate are all engraved. During the renovation of the underground

palace, a circular basement was built surrounding the Tang palace, and Buddhist shrines were included. The preserved Buddhist finger

relic rests at the center of the underground palace.

The western division of the temple is Famen Temple Museum, including multi-functioning reception hall, treasure hall and other

buildings.

Buddha’s relics
From 5-12 May 1987, after the opening of underground palace, four relics claimed to be directly related to Buddha were found. Two of

these were made of white jade. The third relic was from a famous monk. These three are called “ghost relics” (影骨). They were placed

together with a “true relic” (灵骨) in order to protect them. The true relic was yellow-colored, with bone-like secretory granules. It

was declared by experts to be a the finger bone of the Sakyamuni Buddha.[citation needed] Thereafter, Famen Temple became Buddhist place

of pilgimage due to the discovery of what is claimed as a true relic of Buddha.

The finger bone was preserved in the last of eight boxes, each enclosing the others, each wrapped in thin silk. The outer box was in

sandalwood and had rotted away, but the smaller boxes were in gold, some in silver, and one in jade, and were in a good state of

preservation. Each box had a silver lock and was exquisitely carved.

[edit] Gold & Silver Relics
The underground “Palace” is now a museum, and contains some outstanding relics. One of the best preserved is a gilt silver tea set,

said to be one of the earliest royal tea sets ever discovered. It includes a tea caddy woven out of metallic yarn, a gilt silver

tortoise-shaped tea box, a tea roller-grinder, and a silver stove for brewing the tea. As a part of the set, a kind of container for

mixing tea, called a Tiao Da Zi, was used for tea mixing and drinking, since in ancient China the tea drinking ceremony was treated to

some extent just like a meal. First, tea was put into the container and spices added. Some boiled water was used to mix the tea into

paste, and them more hot water was added to make it into drinkable tea.

In addition, there is a magnificent silver-gilded incense burner on display, as well as a silver-gold decorated sandalwood burner. This

consists of a burner cover, stack, feet and other parts. The bottom rim of the cover is decorated with a circle of lotus petals

patterns, and the upper part is carved with five lotuses and enlaced tendrils. On each lotus lies a tortoise with its head turned back,

holding flowers in its mouth. The burner has five feet in the shape of beasts, the front parts of which are in the shape of unicorns.

The inscription on the burner indicates that it was made in 869 AD by an imperial workshop specialized in fabricating gold and silver

ware for the imperial family.

A tortoise-shaped gold-plated container with silver inlays is on display in the museum, the cover of which carved with turtle-shell and

brocade patterns. The container is 13cm high, 28.3cm long, 15cm wide. In addition, there is a set of five gilded-silver plates of

exquisite workmanship believed to date from the Tang dynasty.

A magnificent set of mini-sized costumes specially fabricated for the Bodhisattva can be seen, the most typical being a half-sleeved

blouse 6.5cm in length, with 4.1cm-long sleeves. This modelled on a typical short sleeved blouse worn by ladies in the Tang Dynasty, and

is made in the style of what the Chinese call “Gold Couching Embroidery,” and is top-grade crinkled embroidery made by embroidering with

gold threads. The blouse was worn drooped to the chest and has buttons down the front, with the collar and sleeve rims decorated with

patterns embroidered with twisted gold threads. The average diameter of the gold threads is 0.1mm, with the thinnest segment as thin as

0.06mm, which is thinner than a hair. Moreover, one meter of gold thread is developed from 3,000 circles of gold foil, which is hard to

achieve even in modern times characterized by high technology. In particular, loop edges of the gold threads make the fabric seem like a

painting, and are arranged to display gradually changing colours. The garment is obviously made by a master-hand and can be rated as an

unsurpassed piece of embroidery.

Also on display are 121 gold and silver articles,17 glass articles,16 pieces of olive green porcelain,more than 700 pieces of silk

fabrics,104 Buddhist figurines,hundreds of volumes of Buddhist scripture.

Colored Glaze
Colored Glaze is just today’s glass. Chinese glass manufacturing technology was long influenced by western Asia, and most common style

was Islamic. Because of it rarity, glass apparatus was as valuable as gold and jade. The unearthed glass apparatuses are mostly

hollowware such as disks, plates and bowls, totally over 20 pieces.

 Ceramics
There were a lot of speculations of “Mystic Color Ceramics” (秘色瓷) prior to the opening of underground palace. Someone thought mystic

color referred to a secret craft of glazing color. Others believed it was a name for a specific color. This conundrum was solved by the

description on the accounting tablet in the underground palace, and by the unearthing of 13 precious pieces of mystic color ceramics.

 Silk
China’s silk industry reached its prime time in Tang Dynasty, and the silk fabrics discovered in underground palace provided a

convincing evidence. Most of those fabrics were contributed by former Empresses. Among them there is a “Empress Wu’s Embroidered Skirt”

belonging to Wu Zetian.

 Figure of Buddha
There were 88 niches of Buddha in the 13-storied pagoda in Ming Dynasty, each containing a figure. By 1939, there were only 68 left.

Later after clear-up, there were totally 98 figures of Buddha, many containing scriptures, sealed at the times of Ming Dynasty and the

Republic of China.

February 22, 2010

The Mausoleum of Yellow Emperor (simplified Chinese: 黄帝陵; traditional Chinese: 黃帝陵; pinyin: Huángdì Líng) is the burial site of the Chinese legendary Yellow Emperor, located at Yan’an, Shaanxi province of China. It was one of the first listed on the China’s National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage issued by Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China in 2006.

The Mausoleum consists of two parts: the Temple of Yellow Emperor and Mausoleum Hall. As legend has it Yellow Emperor ascended to the heaven. So the Mausoleum only has his cloth and hat. Many Chinese emperors, leaders and VIPs have visited and paid tributes to Yellow Emperor’s Mausoleum, including Emperor Wu of Han, Fan Zhongyan, Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Zedong etc.

February 22, 2010

Banpo (Chinese: 半坡; pinyin: Bànpō) is an archaeological site first discovered in 1953 and located in the Yellow River Valley just east of Xi’an, China. It contains the remains of several well organized Neolithic settlements dating from approximately 4500 BCE. It is a large area of 5-6 hectares and surrounded by a ditch, probably a defensive moat, five or six meters wide. The houses were circular, built of mud and wood with overhanging thatched roofs. They sat on low foundations. There appears to be communal burial areas.

Banpo is the type-site associated with Yangshao Culture. Archaeological sites with similarities to the first phase at Banpo are considered to be part of the Banpo phase (5000 BC to 4000 BC) of the Yangshao culture. Banpo was excavated from 1954 to 1957 and covers an area of around 50,000 square metres.

The settlement was surrounded by a moat, with the graves and pottery kilns located outside of the moat perimeter. Many of the houses were semisubterranean with the floor typically a meter below the ground surface. The houses were supported by timber poles and had steeply pitched thatched roofs.

According to the Marxist paradigm of archaeology that was prevalent in the People’s Republic of China during the time of the excavation of the site, Banpo was considered to be a matriarchal society; however, new research contradicts this claim, and the Marxist paradigm is gradually being phased out in modern Chinese archaeological research[2]. Currently, little can be said of the religious or political structure from these ruins from the archeological evidence.

The site is now home to the Xi’an Banpo Museum.

February 22, 2010

The Stele Forest, or Xi’an Beilin Museum (碑林; pinyin: Bēilín), is a museum for steles and stone sculptures which is located in Xi’an, China. In 1944 it was the principal museum for Shaanxi Province on the site of what was formerly an 11th century Confucius Temple. Then because of the large number of steles, it was officially re-named as the Forest of Stone Steles in 1992. All together, there are 3,000 steles in the museum, which is divided into seven exhibitions halls, which mainly display works of calligraphy, painting and historical records.

The Stele Forest began with the Kaicheng Shi Jing Steles (开成石经碑) and Shitai Xiao Jing Steles (石台孝经碑), two groups of steles both carved in the Tang dynasty and displayed in the temple to Confucius in Chang’an. In 904, a rebel army sacked Chang’an, and the two stele were evacuated to the inner city. In 962, they were again moved to the rebuilt temple to Confucius. In the Song Dynasty (1087), a special hall, with attached facilities, was built to house and display the two Stele groups. It was damaged in the 1556 Shaanxi earthquake during the Ming dynasty.

 

It houses nearly 3000 steles and it is the biggest collection of steles in China. Most of its exhibits are steles of the Tang Dynasty. Ink rubbings of the steles are available for sale.

Among the unusual examples is a 18th-century stele depicting a Yangtze River flood control project. Another appears to be a bamboo forest, but on examination the leaves and branches form a poem.

The famous Nestorian Stele was moved to the Stele Forest in 1907, after the local authorities learned that the Danish adventurer Frits Holm was in town, trying to “obtain” the ancient monument and take it out of the country.[2]

Cao Quan Stele (曹全碑, Han Dynasty)
Sima Fang Stele (司马芳碑, Jin Dynasty)
Kaicheng Shi Jing Stele (开成石经碑, Tang Dynasty)
Nestorian Stele (大秦景教流行中国碑, Tang Dynasty)

February 9, 2010

Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon(新月)on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon(满月)15 days later. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival(元宵节), which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade.

The Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. The lunar cycle(月运周期)is about 29.5 days. In order to “catch up” with the solar calendar the Chinese insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a 19-yearcycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year (闰年). This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year.

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New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth(万物), the gods of the household and the family ancestors.

The sacrifice to the ancestors, the most vital of all the rituals(仪式), united the living members with those who had passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family.

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The presence of the ancestors is acknowledged on New Year’s Eve with a dinner arranged for them at the family banquet table. The spirits of the ancestors, together with the living, celebrate the onset of the New Year as one great community. The communal feast called “surrounding the stove” or weilu. It symbolizes family unity and honors the past and present generations.

The Origin of Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is now popularly known as the Spring Festival because it starts from the Begining of Spring (the first of the twenty-four terms in coodination with the changes of Nature). Its origin is too old to be traced. Several explanations are hanging around. All agree, however, that the word Nian, which in modern Chinese solely means “year”, was originally the name of a monster beast that started to prey on people the night before the beginning of a new year.

One legend goes that the beast Nian had a very big mouth that would swallow a great many people with one bite. People were very scared. One day, an old man came to their rescue, offering to subdue Nian. To Nian he said, “I hear say that you are very capable, but can you swallow the other beasts of prey on earth instead of people who are by no means of your worthy opponents?” So, it did swallow many of the beasts of prey on earth that also harrassed people and their domestic animals from time to time.

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After that, the old man disappeared riding the beast Nian. He turned out to be an immortal god. Now that Nian is gone and other beasts of prey are also scared into forests, people begin to enjoy their peaceful life. Before the old man left, he had told people to put up red paper decorations on their windows and doors at each year’s end to scare away Nian in case it sneaked back again, because red is the color the beast feared the most.

From then on, the tradition of observing the conquest of Nian is carried on from generation to generation. The term “Guo Nian”, which may mean “Survive the Nian” becomes today “Celebrate the (New) Year” as the word “guo” in Chinese having both the meaning of “pass-over” and “observe”. The custom of putting up red paper and firing fire-crackers to scare away Nian should it have a chance to run loose is still around. However, people today have long forgotten why they are doing all this, except that they feel the color and the sound add to the excitement of the celebration.

Traditional New Year Foods

Probably more food is consumed during the New Year celebrations than any other time of the year. Vast amounts of traditional food is prepared for family and friends, as well as those close to us who have died.

On New Year’s Day, the Chinese family will eat a vegetarian dish called jai. Although the various ingredients in jai are root vegetables or fibrous vegetables, many people attribute various superstitious aspects to them.

Other foods include a whole fish, to represent togetherness and abundance, and a chicken for prosperity. The chicken must be presented with a head, tail and feet to symbolize completeness. Noodles should be uncut, as they represent long life.

In south China, the favorite and most typical dishes were nian gao, sweet steamed glutinous rice(糯米)pudding and zong zi (glutinous rice wrapped up in reed(芦苇)leaves), another popular delicacy.

In the north, steamed-wheat bread (man tou) and small meat dumplings were the preferred food. The tremendous amount of food prepared at this time was meant to symbolize abundance and wealth for the household.

The 15-Day Celebration of Chinese New Year

The first day of the Lunar New Year is “the welcoming of the gods of the heavens and earth.”Many people abstain from meat on the first day of the new year because it is believed that this will ensure long and happy lives for them.

On the second day, the Chinese pray to their ancestors as well as to all the gods. They are extra kind to dogs and feed them well as it is believed that the second day is the birthday of all dogs.

The third and fourth days are for the sons-in-laws to pay respect to their parents-in-law.

The fifth day is called Po Woo. On that day people stay home to welcome the God of Wealth. No one visits families and friends on the fifth day because it will bring both parties bad luck.

On the sixth to the 10th day, the Chinese visit their relatives and friends freely. They also visit the temples to pray for good fortune and health.

The seventh day of the New Year is the day for farmers to display their produce. These farmers make a drink from seven types of vegetables to celebrate the occasion. The seventh day is also considered the birthday of human beings. Noodles are eaten to promote longevity and raw fish for success.

On the eighth day the Fujian people have another family reunion dinner, and at midnight they pray to Tian Gong, the God of Heaven.

The ninth day is to make offerings to the Jade Emperor.

The 10th through the 12th are days that friends and relatives should be invited for dinner. After so much rich food, on the 13th day you should have simple rice congee and mustard greens (choi sum) to cleanse the system.

The 14th day should be for preparations to celebrate the Lantern Festival which is to be held on the 15th night.

  Hi, My dear friends from all over the world, thank you so much for your every lovely comment on my blog. I promise i will contiune updating this blog and introduce China and China Tourism to you. Now, I’m put all my energy into the construction of  the Shanghai Expo Special page. I believe it can be finished after The China New lunar year, which is about 4 days later.If anyone of you want to visit the Expo Shanghai or Any place in China, please contact with me weiran@newworldtours.cn. I will give you a good discount! since I have mentioned The Chinese Lunar new year, let me introduce it to you in these couple of days. The most inportant thing for the celebration of the new year is lighting firework. So, today, An article about Firework in Beijing!

 

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Beijingers were fired up about fireworks yesterday when 671 licensed pyrotechnics suppliers opened for business within the Fifth Ring Road.

Many customers were eager to get their hands on some decorative explosives – even if some had their enthusiasm extinguished by the cost.

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“There were customers waiting for us before we opened our counter at 9 am this morning,” said a female storeowner, surnamed Chen, from her business near the Ito Yokado store on the North Fourth Ring Road.

“Customers have been coming in throughout the morning,” she said.

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“Most of them were kids who came and bought some less powerful fireworks. We are open until 9pm, so most parents are likely to drop by after work,” she added. Around 30 customers stopped by the store while METRO was there to check out the merchandise, although only two bought items, spending around 500 yuan.

“I think I could not get as many fireworks this year as I did last year for the same money, the price is higher,” said a female customer who spent 300 yuan on firecrackers. “My husband and son like setting off fireworks on Chinese New Year’s Eve, so I just bought some for them.”

A male customer agreed that the price was a little steep.

“I feel most fireworks are more expensive than last year,” said the man, who was in his mid 40s, after browsing for about 20 minutes.

According to the municipal government’s fireworks regulations, the shops can stay open until Feb 28.

February 2, 2010

How to eat hot pot, the many regional varieties and our top restaurant picks

The hot pot is one of Asia’s oldest methods of cooking and is still a popular choice for a night out in the city. Time Out gets to grips with the many different regional varieties and shows you where to find them.

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Types of Hot Pot

Hot pots in Beijing offer a massive variety of flavours, many unknown outside of China. The cooking base is the most important component – it’s the foundation of the flavour, and versions include fragrant Thai curry, fire-spiced Sichuan chillies and peppercorns, raging hot oil, and the lightest drinkable broths.

Our new favourite uses zhou (congee, or jook), that warming rice porridge, as a delicious base. The best part is that all of these flavours can be found within the city rings.

Cooking with fire is a primeval act of survival. The concept of huo guo, or fire pot, couldn’t be more simple: a single pot, liquid, some vegetables, possibly meat or anything locally available, and fire.

Arguments prevail over whether hot pot originated in Mongolia or Sichuan, but both versions are loveable. Fire is one of the Five Elements (along with wind, water, earth, metal) and a fundamental part of the balance of life in Chinese belief.

Unbeknownst to many, the basic broths are often prepared in line with traditional Chinese medicine. Dried red jujube dates, sweet goji berries, bitter medicinal roots and fresh ginger add flavour and depth to bland broths while slipping in health benefits as a bonus. Add a host of dipping sauces to accentuate and embellish each bite and the flavourful possibilities are endless.

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Northerners say ‘shuan yang rou’, the local parlance for swishing or ‘rinsing lamb’ in boiling liquid – a term that applies to all forms of hot pot whether you order lamb or not.

In the south, hot pot is often a light broth with natural flavours. Unlike other regions, sesame paste doesn’t preside. Instead, cooked food is dipped in a sauce of beaten raw egg enhanced by soy sauce and a Taiwanese chilli paste called ‘shacha’ with its misleading ‘Barbecue Sauce’ label. The viscous sauce coats just-cooked food, giving it a cooling effect, body and more substance.

Sichuan is considered the motherland for hot pot thanks to the numbing effect of their native peppercorn and liberal use of red chillies. Common poaching liquids are straight oil-based chilli, while others combine a soup with a spice-laden red floating slick. Malatang, one of the great street foods, are multi-coloured and shaped skewers of anything and everything, lined up like soldiers simmering in a steaming vat of spicy, seasoned liquid. It’s also one of the best cheap eats around.

Yunnan wisely makes great use of their abundance of mushrooms, creating a terrific broth for vegetarians (provided the broth is water-based). In Yunnan, a timer is often set on tables with a mandatory wait for the mushrooms to boil, essentially voiding any potential hazards. The result is a mind-blowing mouthful of flavour.

Celebrated Vietnamese cookbook author Andrea Nguyen describes ‘fire pots in Vietnam being mostly eaten during evenings with broths made from beef, fish, goat and oxtail. In Saigon, a favourite is made from mudfish, a type of perch that is fermented to create a funky flavour with bits of pineapple and lemongrass.’

The Singaporeans call it ‘steamboat’, offering massive buffets of ingredients, while Cambodia and Thailand hot pots use their own local flavours and vegetables in kindred spirit.

Japan offers iron pots of simmering broth called nabe, but options such as shabu shabu, and its sweeter cousin sukiyaki, are all one-pot soupy dinners meant to be shared.

Korea boasts a colourful but bland version in a traditional funneled pot similar to the copper pots found in China. However, their chigae is an example of the many types of soups and stews, including anything from tofu and clams to kimchi.

Hot pot can stretch its span as long as the last strands of a cheesy fondue. ‘Fondue Bacchus’, named after the Roman wine god, is sometimes called Fondue Chinoise, after its wine and broth base. In Switzerland, fondue bourguignonne is a popular way of eating cubes of raw meat that have been fried at the table in a pot of hot oil. These fondues are winter chalet food and their dips are usually condiments from mustard to mayonnaise, to Béarnaise.

Cooking your own food at the table is a great communal dining experience and a relatively inexpensive way to spend an evening with friends. Throughout the city, the more you look, the more you’ll find.

How to eat hot pot in Beijing…

The variety of offerings is perplexing to even the most percipient diners. Selections are reasonable, so try something different each time.

Most restaurants offer a mixed vegetable basket or meat selection, which gives value for money and a rainbow of choices. Tofu and other starches including mung bean noodles are great sponges for soaking up flavour.

And don’t forget the wan or spheres of hashed protein, often how fish and seafood find their way to the table.Wise up in cheaper establishments and be warned that some meatballs can have a texture as if they bounced off the courts of Wimbledon, so avoid them unless you’re in a reputable safe house.

Choices of meat on a menu can befuddle a butcher. Inner Mongolian lamb and finely marbled precious Japanese beef are the holy grails on most menus, and in the case of beef, there is a difference in texture and flavour, but always at a price. Considering the costs range from ridiculously cheap to astronomical, keep in mind three things:

  • The meat will be boiled in a broth, probably longer than well done.
  • Your choice of soup base will determine how much flavour you can actually taste.
  • Dipping your meat into a heavy sesame sauce will mask much of the prized flavour from an expensive cut.

The worst thing that can happen is to ruin a potentially good thing by overcooking it. And there’s no one to blame but yourself. So don’t let that leafy green boil to olive drab and ‘swoosh’ that paper thin slice of meat just until it turns from crimson blush to barely brown.

Each heaping plate of artfully shaved meat will cook to a final result of texture and flavour, something that can be tricky to discern. Avoid the pricier options unless you truly denote the difference. Save your money for a good juicy steak, but for cooking in the moat, opt for the cheaper cuts of meat and you’ll walk away both satiated and with deeper pockets.

Sesame paste is ubiquitous here in the north, but try other variations and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Some broths are so good the sauce becomes moot. And don’t forget the noodles (get the hand-pulled ones if you can), always cooked last, leaving a thickened drinkable soup at the end.

We recommend

Guijie (Ghost Street) is a no-brainer with almost every other restaurant offering hot pot, but here are some known and lesser-known favourites to discover for yourself.

Haidilao
A favourite, and with good reason: heaven and hell divided moats, which are great; plus a secret chilli spice pouch and a milky broth that balance like yin and yang. Order the hand-pulled noodles – complete with a private hip-hop table dance.
2A Baijiazhuang Lu, Chaoyang (6595 2982). Open 24 hours. Meal for two around 160RMB (for other locations, see www.haidilaohuoguo.com). 朝阳区白家庄路甲2号

Ding Ding Xiang (Hot Pot Paradise)
For posh white tablecloths and bling bling surroundings. You don’t have to share here thanks to fancy individual pots. Try their award-winning sesame bing.
Sixth Floor, Shin Kong Place, 87 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang district (6530 5997). Open 11.15am-10pm daily. Meal for two around 250RMB. 朝阳区建国路87号新光天地6层

Lemon Leaf
Tom yam, curry and other soup choices are on offer here, but we like the ‘benz’, a trio of drinkable soup bases. Order the minced shrimp in bamboo tubes and enjoy.
15 Xiaoyun Lu, Chaoyang district (6462 5505). Open 11am-10pm daily. Meal for two around 200RMB. 朝阳区霄云路15号

Chiansixianshige
Hands down the best of the lot and worth the trek to Chongwen. There’s a zoo of animals on the menu including rabbit, turtle and frog, but go for the wild mountain chicken and you’ll finish up with comforting porridge that melds all the good flavours in the end.
East side of Guanghe Lu (take the side road exit at Guangming Qiao), Dongerhuan, Chongwen district (6770 2288). Open 11am-10pm daily. Meal for two around 200RMB. 崇文区广河路东

Niu Xuan An (at the back of the Murayama meat shop)
This tiny secret of an eatery, behind the curtains of a Japanese butchery, fills up by 7.30pm with a savvy Nippon crowd. Skip the bland shabu shabu and opt for a curry or miso nabe or sukiyaki.
19 Xinyuanli Xi, Chaoyang district (6464 3383). Open 11.30am-1.30pm; 5pm-10.30pm daily. Meal for two around 150RMB. 朝阳区新源里19号

Dong Lai Shun
For classic hot pot options in traditional copper or cloisonné funneled pots, head to this chain and let loose. The pricey Yunnan mushroom and oxtail broth (188RMB) is fantastic, but base soups (from 20RMB) will leave your wallet sound.
12 Xinyuanxili Zhongjie, Chaoyang district (6467 3707). Open 11am-2pm; 5pm-10.30pm daily. Meal for two around 150RMB (other locations available). 朝阳区新源西里中街12号

Xiabu Xiabu
No one can argue about the merits of this counter-style eatery, given the convenience and price. Bargain-priced shareable combos make it a great lunch place for two.
Locations in almost every mall and food court in Beijing. Meal for two around 50RMB. 各大购物商场以及各美食广场均可见

Get the gadget

If you want to replicate the hot pot experience yourself, Dianmenwai Dajie is home to a small cluster of restaurant supply shops. Hot pots are priced from around 250RMB and come in stainless steel, traditional copper and fancy cloisonné. Keep in mind that these pots are heated; the optional funnel that works as a flue to control the heat is an additional accessory.

If you’re planning to make this at home, be sure you have an outdoor seating area, or well-ventilated space, and a heavy hot plate to shield your table from the heat.

You’ll need access to a charcoal grill to heat briquettes until red hot, then carefully transfer the coals to the pot. Most shops close by 5pm, so be sure to go early otherwise you could miss out.

For a simpler solution, any plug-in electric skillet will work and give the same cooking effect, although is obviously not as rustic as the traditional fire pot.