So Mid Autumn festival fell on the 8th to the 10th last week.
Mid autumn festival doesn’t mean a lot to me just yet. Actually, it means Thursday and Friday off but working Sunday to make up for this. It also means I frequently see different crates of moon cake and occasionally receive these delicacies as gifts. As far as I can tell moon cakes are little dough m’bobbies with almost any filling in the world in there. Strawberry? Sure! Green tea? Of course! Sweet beef? Uhh… Yay? Trout mixed with the feathers of the last dodo?… I’m kidding – as far as I know the Chinese do not have dodo feathers to spare on moon cake. But you get the idea, these are pretty varied and they really are a lottery that can leave your taste buds relieved or shrivelled.
So, when I say that the mid autumn festival does not mean anything to me, I mean it in the sense that no one has explained the purpose of the festival to me yet. I don’t understand its traditional context. And I think this level of question requires more English comprehension than my students possess so I will have to corner a teacher on Sunday and ask them. That being said, you’d have to be daft not to understand the modern purpose of the festival. In a country where hours are long for everyone (including our students) the mid autumn festival provides guilt free family time. Golden time which is allotted to family, officially, even if the kids are doing homework most of the day, dinner will always be spent together. Even if your family owns a diner and they stay open to serve other families on this holiday, they will close early and have their own celebration meal too. All throughout the day we were dodging ever expanding outdoor seating areas by little diners which were filled with raucous families eating a variety of shared meals, smiling and laughing. Whilst this may seem trivial, it was jarring to realise that this was the first time I had seen kids of middle and high school ages out with family. Sure I see adults and I see students eating out but at different times and rarely (if ever) together.
Which is all very heart warming and everything but Jesus Christ the moon cakes. For a nation with such beautiful cuisine why load the little things with devils filling and ruin a perfectly good dinner???
Moon cakes aside, since it was a day for family and the only family I have here is Sean we decided to extend the term to our newly acquired family: the other foreign teachers Andre and Adrian, plus Sara who has come down from Chungbei for the holidays 🙂 we had a lovely meal and then retired back to the school fully intending to wait for the moon and watch it together; which is the other mid autumn festival tradition Chinese families carry out. But a few beers later the moon was forgotten about and we ended up chatting the night away instead – not a bad ending to our first mid autumn festival.
Today we enjoyed our second day off by introducing Sara to outback noodles (a foreign teacher favourite) and visiting a local temple and a park. Despite this park being just down the street from us we hadn’t visited yet but it was a very sweet slice of serenity in a very busy town, all for the low, low price of 50p.
A very relaxing day ruined by another night out in m3 – our friendly neighbourhood club. Except this time we did not get drunk, although not for lack of trying (VIP is expensive! But they do give you ducks feet???)
So after a lazy morning on the Saturday we ventured into Chengdu and arrived at around 2 (way too late to do much since the last bus back is half 5) but we attempted to find peoples park for around an hour and a half before giving up and getting won-ton soup for a late lunch. As luck would have it, the guy who served us lunch spoke some English and directed us around the corner (it turned out we were literally a two minute walk away!). Unfortunately, by the time we got there it was time to leave so we about-turned and made it back in time to the bus; on which we watched smog descend like something out of a 90’s horror movie.
After teaching on Sunday to make up for the Thursday and Friday we all had off, Monday felt like a very long day. However, I enjoyed stumbling across a very strange dance group assembled on the sports pitch on my way back from class and kebab’d meat covered in spices soon cheered Sean up too. Plus I found an awesome hardback notebook: