Margaret: 万圣节 – Wànshèng Jié – Halloween

November 1, 2011

At long last, the Halloween celebrations having finally finished.  What a weekend!  I couldn’t stand the idea of not dressing up as anything for Halloween, one of my favorite holidays, so I embarked on the seemingly impossible quest of tracking down a costume in Beijing.  Carrefour, a French hypermarket, had all of one costume for females – pirate wench.  One size fits all of course.  Well, one size didn’t quite fit all, and I ended up making a few alterations that fell out throughout the course of the weekend.  And the hook was totally necessary, am I right?   A select few Chinese caught on to the amazingness of Halloween while the rest of the crowds out on the town were expats.  I dropped big bucks on some American candy, and I never thought I’d say this, but due to an extremely limited selection of sweets, Snickers and Skittles are getting old quite quickly.

Karen, a friend of mine from Chinese class at the U of M, is studying in the city of Xi’An this semester, and she took the train in with two friends to visit me in Beijing this weekend.  It was wonderful to see her yet odd at the same time to have someone who knew me before China in Beijing with me!  I took them to the Temple of Heaven, which I had been to back in 2008.  Ming and Qing dynasty emperors used this complex for annual ceremonies to pray for good harvest.  I guess we have GMO’s for that now…

My friends really wanted to go the China military museum, which I hadn’t been to before.  Every museum I’ve been to in China so far just hasn’t measured up to anything in the U.S.  Poorly light halls filled dusty cases displaying the bowl so and so ate his porridge out of during such and such battle or the socks some general wore fifty years ago are ogled by old, bent over Chinese men who probably predate the artifacts while screaming children play hide and seek, poking in and out of the legs of huge statues depicting men who at one point in Chinese history probably did something particularly Communist.  Poor translations adorn the walls, meanings sometimes lost yet other times exacerbated.  My day was made when some genius thought it would be a great idea to bring his art class of seven year olds to the military museum to gain inspiration from none other than the small arms display.  Priceless China.  Endless entertainment…

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