As we all know the Christmas period is always crazy busy, stressful and tiring but when not working you actually have a lot of fun. December was a mad month, with Christmas classes, caroling, nights out, cooking, shopping, Jordan's birthday and no holiday until the very end. But we survived it with many interesting stories to tell.
Some of our fellow teachers formed a punk band and had a gig in a tiny bar near Lama Temple. I love live music and Beijing doesn't disappoint, there are numerous open mic nights, local band nights and just lots of people who enjoying singing. The gig was immense, I haven't heard real punk for a while and gee it was good! Paul (the singer) was screaming down the mic, running through the small crowd and yelling in your face...It was great! The Chinese bands were also exceptional, with violins, red leather trousers, sunglasses and at one point seven of them on the smallest stage. Towards the end we formed a mosh pit. During a concert with lots of people you don't really get too pushed around or battered, but here in the tiny bar, with not a lot of people, mainly us group of teachers, we could have caused some serious damage! But after months of work, everyone a bit stressed out it was good to basically charge at each other....good times indeed!!
Whilst Beijing hosts great music events, it also hosts some very strange winter activities! Rather than do a secret santa at school we decided a trip to the snow park would be much more fun. During the summer it is a water park with some pretty good slides, yet in winter it is transformed! Now many of us who have lived in China for a while should know not to have high expectations of things as you are most likely to be disappointed, yet for some strange reason, maybe because it was Christmas and you know at Christmas there should be miracles, we were expecting the most amazing snow park ever!! We should have known better! Alas as we approached with hopes of massive slides, loads of snow, maybe a polar bear or two we found ourselves in a water park, with a little bit of snow. So we went on the few slides, did some strange taser game where you got an electric shock and walked around getting cold. As we were about to give up and head home we found our Chinese co-workers, standing in the wave machine pool which was filled with snow. So automatic reaction, throw snow balls!!!!! Thus we started a rather large and very fun snow ball fight, did a few weird games, threw more snow, did a three legged race and attacked our boss with snow! All in all not a bad end to what could have been a very very disappointing day!
Where their is snow there is ice and we love ice skating! Down in Hou Hai the lake is partly frozen over during the winter months and they have ice skating, slides, mini bicycles, chairs and sleighs which you can chose to your own content. So as the last day of the holiday arrived and the wind had finally died down, we decided it was time to embark on this lake of ice! Now being a little bit of a sceptic, I hesitated as I stepped on to the ice....well you never know!! However it is pretty solid, just very slippery. Paul and Danni, two friends of ours, got ice skates, whilst Jordan and I decided on the chair. Only in China do they have chairs on ice! So we set off, with Paul pushing us, not realising that he was also steering us, into the crowds of people! Almost taking out quite a few people, breaking up a massive train of chairs, falling over, losing all feeling in our toes, we successfully managed a few laps around the lake before we had to give in to the cold and retire to ground! Great fun, but so cold! As we headed back to the subway we found a small crowd gathered, wondering what it was we pushed our way through. There we found a hole in the ice and some crazy Chinese men, stripping down to their swimming trunks and jumping in! I have don't one New Years Day swim at home and that was beyond freezing so I can't even begin to imagine how cold Hou Hai Lake is!!! Good on them, one crazy way to shake off the cobwebs and start the new year!