Honestly, with a few of these stories we weren't exactly sure what was going on, but perhaps you'll figure it out. Maybe we should start giving out Katy Perry tickets again. This year's first place prize is a 1000rmb Sherpas voucher. Second place is a 500rmb Sherpas voucher. If you got printed, you get a 100rmb Sherpas voucher.
"A Colour Explosion 50 Centimetres From Our Window"
by Olivia Henriksson
Previous years, I have been wise (according to many) enough to get my ass out of Shanghai to replace the ever so present smog with warm, coconut infused breezes. However, noticing that my wallet opened up far too many times in favour to beer drinking during 2016 I decided to suspend myself from travelling outside China. Nantong appeared as a convenient option for celebration, so I prepared myself to be soaked with being called out as ‘laowai’ every millisecond. I was not overly joyed. Nevertheless, I was greatly looking forward towards celebrating the New Year traditional Nantong style. At least that was until I made the terrifically bad choice to dress up rather than dressing on, referring to the countless layers of clothes sufficient for the indoor climate. Besides my disappointment in the lack of vegetables served during the dinner, I was more than grateful to the family whom warm-heartedly opened up their home. I have always considered myself as a firework devotee, and was thrilled when Team Uncle put on the show. If I for a minute, as we returned to our hotel forgot that we left Shanghai, I was quickly reminded. The firework shooting continued until 9am the next morning, peaking when approaching the New Year. It was a cocktail of emotions; angry, of course, owing to the disturbing noise; fascinated, by the never ending flowers blooming out across the horizon; anxious, that it actually might never end. Gazing out through the window on the 24th floor, a set of firework was unleashed and burst out in a colour explosion 50 centimetres from our window. It was equally bizarre and astonishing as terrifying. But needless to say, we were not surprised. That’s what I love about China, it will always treat you with the most exciting surprises.
This Chinese New Year, my American boyfriend, D, came home with me to Shanxi province. My family was determined to show their excitement with a home renovation and lavish feast. However, it wasn’t as smooth as planned.
Due to the rushed schedule, the renovation was only half done -- meaning no shower or toilet available inside the house for the next four nights. I warned D about the possibility of breaking his strict shower routine, but he said it would be OK like his backpacking days.
When we arrived at home on new years eve, I showed him the 30x60 inch dump hole in the yard before running from the freezing cold to the warm dinner.
During the whole night, D was quietly pouring tons of peanut sauce into his rice bowl with a big cheeky smile. Until dad put the chicken feet on the table. I suddenly realized I was so busy before visiting that I forgot to tell my father that my boyfriend was vegan. Mom thought he was just shy and started to put chicken feet onto his plate. I didn’t have the heart to tell my parents the truth. Luckily, D quickly pointed to his tummy and burst out three words “tai bao le” with a terrible accent, which made everyone laugh.
The next morning, D woke up next to a small bucket. He assumed it was for washing up and filled it with water from the kitchen. My mother walked into the room and screamed when she saw D pouring liquid from the pee bucket over his head. Apparently, America hasn’t discovered China’s greatest invention.
I hope next year everything would be better together -- if there is a next year together.
I went to Celia's three nights in a row.
"Extreme Delay in PVG and Not-That-Cold Beer"
by Joan Cane
Flying out of Pudong Airport is always prone to delays, but that ChineseNewYear departure-day under an extreme smog peak became a painful story hard to forget, even if it happened already some years ago.
Hoping to leave China for some days (that’s why we have holidays!), we boarded the plane ready for a short flight to Jeju, a South Korean island, and we waited for departure seating on our uncomfortable seats of a low-cost airline. And we kept waiting without moving, plane stopped under the toxic fog ... for many hours! One. Two. Three. Four ... I tried not to get crazy by wechatting with my friends that were flying to other destinations, also stuck on planes that we could not even see from the window. Suddenly (after some hours of boredom) I realized that I could buy some beer ... and everything went smoother, soaked in not-that-cold beer. Some passengers tried just to go out of the plane but it was forbidden, so we even saw a small fight with the stewardesses – who needs a screen for on-board entertainment?
After four or five hours, it seemed we were ready to fly, but then we were informed that the captain had already used all his working-hours (seating in the cockpit?!) so we had to wait for a replacement. Six or seven hours after schedule, we departed; the plane took off and finally landed in the destination. We were a small group of people that lost the connections, so we decided to hang out together on the island with some cold beers and Korean barbecue chatting about that painful experience: when a trip takes five times what is expected.
(Text prepared on-board a plane in Pudong, ‘slightly’ delayed due to ‘air traffic congestion’ this CNY’17).
"The Yak of Yunnan"
by Adam W. Matteson
When Felix sees the yak, his eyes light up like pachinko machines. He bolts across the dirt lot and approaches the shifu, who is holding the yak by a leash. Like the ancient beast would suddenly run off. A sign beside them reads: Yak Rides 10 RMB.
Felix, trusty travelling companion of the past ten days, turns to me for approval and I motion for him to go ahead. He gives the shifu a 10 kuai note. At 190 cm, Felix needs no assistance. He mounts the yak with the stride of a dancer, then instantly contorts his face in disgust.
“Smelly,” he says, waving away the stench. There is a pile of dung behind him.
I dutifully take his picture as he makes valorous poses. The yak shifts to accommodate Felix’s weight.
“OK, time for the ride,” Felix says to the shifu. “Zou ba!”
The shifu, who is barely taller than the yak, makes a tiny circle and arrives back in place.
“That’s it?” asks Felix. “What about the ride? Can’t we go across that bridge?”
The shifu looks confused.
“Yijing pai hao le,” he says. “You’ve already had the picture. Xia lai.” He gestures for Felix to come down.
“No no,” grins Felix. “I want to ride it!”
He mimes a galloping cowboy, but the shifu is unfazed. Felix looks down, decides he’s had enough fun and that the man is simply trying to earn a living and anyway the yak is probably tired. He hops down and, as if communicating its gratitude, the yak expels another pie which falls to the ground with an audible ‘splat’.
"Have You Ever Had Anal Sex?"
"Have you ever had anal sex?"
What an icebreaker. It's Monday of Chinese New Year, and I'm at Shanghai Brewery on my way to the bathroom when these questions arise from a group of three men. Two of them laugh, maybe a little nervously, but the third continues with presidential boldness: "Can a dick ever be too big?"
Their laughter grew louder.
Later, after I left the bar, my friends approach him and ask, "So can an asshole be too small for a dick? And why would you ever ask a girl that question when you don't know her?" With all the smugness of a douchebag, he said that he was entitled to ask any question he wanted and that "if a girl feels uncomfortable, she can walk away."
Maybe I should've, and maybe he shouldn't even ask those questions in the first place. But if it's an answer he wanted, then I have a belated one: you, guy, are the biggest dick I have met, and the only assholes you befit are your two friends. Happy Year of the Cock.
A CNY Poem
by James Moore
When it comes to Chinese New Year bragging rights,
You may think I’ll come up a little thin –
I’m a new expat, I’m broke, and I’m kinda clueless,
But, do you know what made me actually want to do this? I witnessed something during CNY.
It was something big, I’m not gonna lie.
It was something hard, I cannot deny.
It was so massive, so dense, it made the entire sky
Look containable in a two-man tent.
When I bared witness to this freak of nature,
I was in the company of 40 of the finest strangers,
I have ever had the pleasure of sharing with.
We shared everything for three whole days.
Food, laughter, tears,
Toilets and toilet rolls,
We shared the darkness of our fears.
We shared the weather,
Which blessed us day by day,
We shared plum bijou (and it tasted rank, I must say).
We went up, we went down,
But we never went alone.
We were each others family comforts,
When we began to long for home.
Because New Year is a funny time.
One where you can be hit by doubt,
Just as fast as pushed by optimism
Which sprouts outwards towards the lusciousness of the sky,
And if you poke your head outside the tent,
You’ll clearly see why,
This was still not the best thing about my Chinese NY.
If you start at the base, all bushy with life.
Greens, teals, viridian lose
Their lushness when your gaze may ooze
Upwards still. Fleshed and veined with
This site was erect with integrity,
Like respect for your elders.
And at the top, came bursting through,
The majesty which stood between us.
For this site, was a holy site…
And this site was Mount Penis.
Context Not Necessary
So there I was, walking down the cold, empty streets of Shanghai like the last bits of gas trudging about through a corpse. I gazed at temporary ghost town, then realized that not even I would care about my sh*tty picture of no cars and no people. As I enjoyed the lack of beeping scooters and shoulder-to-shoulder slow walking chain smokers, I reflected on the situation I was in.
Accepting an invitation from my partner to join a nice big traditional CNY dinner and drinks at his place had seemed like a solid choice. Earlier that day I realized I had forgotten to invite my girlfriend, and our late invitations collided mid-WeChat like two bullets in any action film worth my time. If I learned anything from Boy Meets World, it’s that double booking is always a good idea.
“Latina? Never been. Is it any good?” …
One unsuspected Brazilian bbq buffet later, I walked out still thinking about that quiet, middle-aged foreigner dining alone next to us sending me hopeful glances. “Sorry dude, I don’t know what to say to you. Uhhh… Happy Chinese New Year?” Instead I looked back at the sexy Brazilian guitarist on stage asking me to stay with him because I’m all he needs.
We arrived as (second) dinner was being served. Games taunted me from the other side of the couch. I sat with my back to the tv but I could see the reflection in the liquor cabinet doors. Why I wanted to play so badly I couldn’t say. Late arrivals, drinks, snacks, and good conversation were a salve on my gaming rash. Finally dinner was done.
“Anyone up for Cataan?”
Noooooooo! I cursed boardgames in that moment.
Two points for the longest road, indeed. Win, I did not.
And the winners areeeeeee....
1st Place: Pee Bucket by Jane
2nd Place: The Yak of Yunnan by Adam W. Matteson
Honorable Mention but He Gets Nothing: Celia's Man by Sacco