This past week was a “Double Holiday Week.” October 1 is China’s National Day, commemorating the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. It is usually a 5 day holiday, also called “golden week” because the weather is quite pleasant and many people travel. This year, Mid-Autumn Festival also fell during this week. It is a traditional festival and occurs on the lunar calendar, so it happens some time in September or early October. It is usually a long weekend holiday, and this year, it got combined with October Holiday for a total of 8 days off (October 1-8).
So many people travel during this holiday that I usually don’t travel, because I don’t like travelling with the rest of China. Lots of people who live in Beijing leave, but lots of people from other parts of China come to visit Beijing. So I spent the week carefully choosing where to go to avoid the crowds. Here’s a peek at what my holiday week looked like.
Chinese are flags out everywhere! Happy Birthday, China! This was from the hutong (old alleys) area of Beijing where I went to a cafe to do my homework and get some other things done. I didn’t call ahead and the cafe I intended to go to didn’t open until 2pm because of the holiday. Fortunately, there are lots of cafe’s in that area of town, so I found another one quickly.
I spent one day on a hiking excursion in the outskirts of Beijing, near the Great Wall. It was great to get out of the city and enjoy nature!
The other fun thing I did this week was host a game night! This was my third one this fall and had the biggest group of people. I’ve been serving a simple supper of soup and bread, and then we play a game or two together. It has been a fun way to show hospitality and have fun with friends.
Last night’s menu was curried pumpkin lentil soup with pumpernickel rye bread, hummus and vegetables, and apple crisp. While we were eating, one person who often thinks my desserts are too sweet, commented on the bread “it’s salty.” I clarified what he meant, if it was too salty or just not sweet. He seemed surprised that it wasn’t sweet. The British family that was over and I explained that bread is not supposed to be sweet, unlike most of the bread in China. Although Chinese people often think that all Western food is sweet and they don’t like sweet things, there are a number of foods that are savory in the West but sweet in China, including bread, pizza, ketchup, and sometimes mayonnaise.
For games, we started with a round of spoons with the whole group. Then we split into smaller groups to play various other board games: Forbidden Island, Set, Scatergories (a card game version), and a Chinese card game. There was lots of laughter and joy!