Before I introduce my life in Taiwan, I want to address the most important holiday in Chinese culture: Chinese New Year. Admittedly, I haven’t learned nearly as much about CNY as I know I can. However, it’s not for lack of resources; it’s simply because I don’t really care. To make everything clear from here, I don’t care NOT because I am indifferent to the culture. This is not the case. Hopefully, by the end of this entry you will have a bit more insight into why I feel this way about CNY.
So, on a particular night whilst hanging out with my group of Taiwanese friends, I was asked what I had planned for CNY. Having passed two prior CNYs in China by myself, I had planned on continuing the tradition. My good friend was not having it! He insisted that I accompany him to his hometown in YiLan to celebrate CNY with his family. If you have been keeping up with my posts those far, you understand my mentality towards these situations: just do it; ask questions later! So, I was all set to travel with him to YiLan.
On CNY-eve (forgot the official name. Again, not for lack of resources, just lack of interest), we traveled the <1hr trip to his hometown. Arriving later in the evening, we immediately sat down with his family for dinner.
From what I can surmise, this was a very typical and traditional CNY Taiwanese dinner. The dinner went fantastically! And, of course, I was treated to the compulsory bottle(S) of 高粱(GaoLiang). My CNY can be summarized with the copious amount of GaoLiang that I drank with old Taiwanese men.
Another important aspect of CNY is gambling. Of course, gambling is illegal in Taiwan and China. However, according to my friend, this is the one time of year that the governments choose to “turn a blind eye” towards such acts. Not to get into any specifics, but there was A LOT of gambling. Hours and hours of gambling…
If I never again hear the annoying sound of MahJong tiles being shuffled around, I can’t say that I will be terribly upset.
Of course, YiLan is close to the ocean, so my friend took me to the beach. Here are some pictures of the ocean!
Okay, now for my issue with CNY.
Take for example the Christmas holiday (or whatever is the main holiday that your family chooses to celebrate). Everyone is excited to see each other after a whole year of limited contact! The whole family gets together because it’s been so long since they were all in the same room. They pretend, for a few hours, that they don’t all hate each other. And why not? It’s only for a few hours per year, right? Well, imagine that it’s not JUST for a few hours, but a few days. And since, most everyone is doing the same thing, all of the good restaurants and fun spots are closed for the holiday. All you have to do for a few days is stare at your family, and remind yourself of how much you dislike them…
In conclusion… CNY is not for me….