The lure of Katy Perry tickets proved strong. Not quite as strong as Stones tickets did last year, but we still got plenty of strong contenders this year for CNY stories. Here is this year's crop. And, once again, we'll start with the winner and runner up. Congrats to you both...
Cocks and Beer
by Joanna Hoctor
"It all started on a hot Sunday by Loboc River on the beautiful island of Bohol in the Philippines. We were about to witness a highly anticipated cock fight in the local village. We had been tipped off by our humorous and ever hospitable taxi driver the day before, “We have 2 churches here he said, one for the prayers and one for the cocks” laughing uncontrollably. So off we went with our nine-year-old daughter (I know, I know) to get a taste of Filipino culture. As we walked in, there were a few seconds of silence as the locals took in our burnt red faces (we're Irish).
We were then approached by a lovely lady with 3 teeth and a fine cleavage offering to help us place bets. We accepted her kind offer in return for beers, she put the bets on, we bought her alcohol. Anyway, she drank a few too many beers, and ended up slipping off the stand and body slamming a woman holding a small child. The entire stadium looked over at us sitting there with shocked faces as we had clearly overdosed the local prostitute and almost maimed a small child. We left IMMEDIATELY, of course. On the way home my daughter asked innocently...what was wrong with that lady? “Well, that is why u never mix cocks and beer my darling.” (And the award for worst parents of the year goes to....)"
The life lessons we learn as children are often forged in the crucible of our parents' poor decisions. For that you get two tickets to Katy Perry. Congratulations.
Tastes Like Wolf
by David Friesen
"I’m not a fussy eater. I’m partial to a frog or ten, I love radioactively spicy fare, and bones present no bother. But at a dinner with my wife’s family on the last day of my CNY trip to Guangxi, I finally understood the famed Cantonese reputation for literally eating anything. I seemed to have found myself in a New Year version of the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom dining scene.
There was some tasty turtle soup, complete with an entire boiled, skin-on snake that had the consistency of a dog’s chew toy. It paired surprisingly well with the snake blood fried rice, although perhaps my palate was somewhat skewed by the warm snake bile shots.
In an effort to return to culinary normality, I dived into what appeared to be braised pork with ginger and garlic. A strangely gamey taste ensued, however, and I had to ask my fellow diners what, in fact, this was. "It’s like a wolf," one proclaimed. It’s rare that I have to Google image search my supper, but after a time I got confirmation – some lip smackin’ raccoon dog. All this and more for nearly 3000 kuai. Yummy… Now I need a burger."
With 1000rmb in Sherpa's vouchers you won't have to eat raccoon dog for the foreseeable future. Enjoy.
Perhaps the Most Normal CNY. Ever.
"My most craziest moment during Chinese New Year 2015 it was when I went to my friend's place to celebrate the first day of Chinese New Year. I was shocked because there were a lot of baijiu placed on the shelf. Thus, there are a lot of fireworks, which will be ready to fire. As it goes again, everyone starting to drink the baijiu and get drunk. The crazy moment begins when all the drunk people starting to light up the fire on the fireworks. Well, u can imagine drunk people + fireworks. It sounds like war to begin with, crazy loud "BANG." However, I should say it is a positive way to see them having fun and this is how Chinese New Year should be. Everybody is bonding and the most importantly everyone are happy."
Red Pants Scandal
Carlos Francisco Berumen
"A Chinese family adopted me for the holidays. We were at dinner and the mother asked me to show her sisters the pictures of our trip to Huzhou, so I gave them my cellphone. They were looking at the pictures and I forgot that on the morning I took a picture of my butt showing my red underwear (because I’m a sheep and I’m hoping for good luck), so when they saw the picture they just made funny faces and asked me if that was my butt. My face turned to the color of my underwear in two seconds and everybody started laughing at me. I tried to explain that I took that picture to show a Chinese friend my holiday spirit but they didn’t listen, they were too busy laughing. Now they think I am an exhibitionist."
Seriously, Dude. Did You Just Give Us an Ad for an Online Movie Streaming Service?
"For CNY 2015 I maximized utility given my deteriorating budget (just moved to a new apartment) with the frugal pastime of watching full length feature films on China’s internet without a VPN. The film lineup in no particular order was Wreck-It Ralph, 22 Jump Street, Ratatouille, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Predator, Inherent Vice, American Splendor, Gladiator, L.A. Confidential, and The Pursuit of Happyness. All this set me back about CNY 25-30 for one-month membership on qq.com.
This is in addition to the site’s offering of premium cable shows in which I watched one and a half seasons seasons of Game of Thrones, half a season of Veep, and some shuffling to 爱奇艺 to catch random episodes of Community, two seasons of Damages, and one or two episodes each of Two Broke Girls and Marry Me.
Meals consumed during the viewings consisted of a Pizza Hut delivery, 水饺, one homemade Chinese dinner cooked by the GF, including a tasty beef dish, gratuitous amounts of a variety of tortilla chips and salsa, wraps, rewarding feta cheese preserved in oil, scones, apples, and peanut butter and Nutella-infused oatmeal, all paired with coffee, whiskey, and beer."
"This past CNY holiday, I took a friend to two of the most famous temples here, but unfortunately we didn't get into either of them. Why? When we arrived at the first one, we found out the admission was like 600 RMB, way higher than usual. We gave up and turned around immediately without any hesitate and thinking since we're poor people. Frankly, we don't believe that the more money you spend on the admission for a temple the better fortune you can get.
Then we switched to the second one, which charged a cheaper entrance fee, but, sorry, you know there is always a "but" we were both dumbfounded by what we saw. There was a few huge line in front of the ticket office, really bustled with people both inside and outside the temple, seemed like we had to wait for at least an hour to get in.
Eventually, we only stood outside the temple, faced to the front gate and prayed to the Buddhas for a while. Then something surprising and strange happened when we were about to leave there. I suddenly saw a red Chairman Mao. What?! I've no idea who accidentally dropped it on the ground, but it was just around my foot. I was thinking should I hand it to the cops? Or my dear Buddhas just gave it to me as a response and a New Year blessing right after I prayed to them? It must be a funny coincidence."
Aren't You Supposed to Pee on Jellyfish Stings?
"So I found a deal to go to Malaysian Borneo through a Shanghai travel agent and spent the first six days of my CNY break there. My friend and I went snorkeling, swam in the ocean, checked out the wildlife and then on the second last day we were enjoying a drink outside our hotel room when our next door neighbors, a middle-aged couple from Russia, came back from the beach. The wife had been stung by a jellyfish pretty badly up her left leg and had been given a bowl of limes to treat it by the hotel staff. I wound up using my phone's translate app to communicate with them (they had almost no English) so I, a hotel guest and not a trained medical professional, could treat her injury. I managed to get some white vinegar (to take the sting away) and a numbing cream and was basically treated like a hero by them until I left the next day."
Chinese Fire Drill
"My husband and I decided to go to Shanghai for Chinese New Year, and we stayed at a well-known hotel. We went out that night but came back before midnight to avoid the crowds and to get some rest for the next day but little did we know...
I was in the bathroom washing my face while my husband watched TV in the next room when the fire alarm started ringing! We look at each other wondering if this is the real thing but then I hear noises and running outside our door. I open the door to see the people opposite grabbing their stuff and running and a quick call to reception confirms that there is indeed a fire. Just as we turn to take our passports, the electricity goes off. As we dash for the stairs, I see people waiting to take the elevator.
Once we get downstairs the hotel staff are waiting for us and we’re told to stay put: for two hours! Imagine our surprise when the fire department and police came only to discover that the "fire" was just some Chinese guy hanging his clothes from the smoke detector in his room."
Qin Shi Huang's Revenge
by Julius Faber
"I decided to stay in China for Chinese New Year as I had three friends from my home country Holland, coming over for two full weeks to catch both my birthday and CNY.
They came prepared for Chinese cuisine with all sorts of drugs (not the fun Dutch kind). I jokingly made fun of their weak Western immune systems, saying: “Ha! I’ve been here more than a year and I haven’t been sick once!”
Karma came in the form of some street food which I could only describe as "deep-fried shrimp balls." Being the cruel mistress that karma is, I of course spent almost the entire next week, including New Years Eve and my birthday, making my toilet the most frequented seat in the greater Shanghai area.
My friends had a lot of fun though."
Lost in Translation
by Poppy Maglara
"As our plans to visit Japan for CNY this year fell through, thanks to soaring hotel and ticket prices, we decided to spend some days in Shanghai. An empty metropolis is still better than the city we live in...
Anyway, wanting to spoil ourselves with amenities not easily found in Kunshan, we decided to use Sherpa's and have some food delivered to our hotel. We chose some delicious burgers and added two soups to help them slide down our stomach easier.
Unfortunately, since it was the first time we used the delivery service, we forgot to order utensils. When the order arrived I went to the hotel reception and asked for a fork and spoon. The receptionist didn't understand what I was asking for, so I tried many times to show her in Chinese, English and even by using body language!
In the end, I took a piece of paper and drew the picture of a fork and a spoon. The receptionist laughed excitedly as she finally understood what I wanted and went to the kitchen.
Hurrying, she brought me back a set of chopsticks and a knife..."