India. The word evokes many images. A land of more than one billion people reaching from the vast Indian Ocean to the stunning Himalayas, India is awash in unparalleled color and beauty. Few locales in the world match its stimulating effect on the five senses — the exotic sights, a cacophony of sound, and exotic smells, tastes, and sensations of a vibrant place. The essence of “India” goes far beyond its exotic, and at times mystical, reputation. Its reality is far more complex that its ecologically diverse geography with dry deserts, towering peaks, and subtropical lowlands; ancient history spanning centuries of kingdoms and modern incarnation; and cultural and spiritual enclaves offer the casual eye at first glance. India is a country in the midst of change that honors its rich heritage as it establishes itself as one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing economies in the world. Millions of tourists journey to India each year to see it for themselves, drawn by the lure of Taj Mahal in Agra, the Golden Triangle, the Land of Kings, Rajasthan, Kerala, and elsewhere. Most soon discover that India is so much more than that. It is a home to countless languages, religions, and traditions — even gods. It’s impossible to absorb it all in just one visit. One must take a pilgrimage or a life-changing experience to begin to understand what India personally means.
How does one describe a country like China? Facts and figures do not adequately measure the immensity of the world’s most populous nation, its third largest by size, and one of its most ancient. Grandiose statistics do not do China justice. China is perhaps best described as “China.” The name itself conjures images of the Great Wall, megapolises, Zodiac calendars and complicated characters, sumptuous cuisine, exotic scenery, manufacturing might, exquisite artisanship, and many more. From the Middle Kingdom to a People’s Republic, China is a dragon both awe-inspiring and fire-breathing that has reawakened from its slumber and is now stretching its wings to reassert itself in the world. Like the 21,196-kilometer (13,171 mile) Great Wall stretching from the Yellow Sea in the east to the far western interior, the breadth of this land is difficult for anyone to fathom. An ever-growing number of foreign tourists flock to popular destinations like Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, or Guilin to immerse themselves in the Far East – or so they think – but they have only begun to discover what is truly China. Few ever will, for this dynamic land is always on the move, heading into the future and out of reach of full comprehension.
More About China
- Happy Chinese New Year
- Celebrating New Year of the Dragon in China!
- Zhujiajiao, the Venice of China
- Temple of the Town God in Shanghai, China
- Fireworks in Shanghai, China – Happy Year of the Dragon!
- Happy Year of the Golden Fire on Water Pig
- Another Fish Head on the Table?
- Greetings from Shanghai
- Xin Nian Kuai Le!
- Change of Scenery
- Other articles
The Great Wall
Pudong District, Shanghai
Forbidden City, Beijing
Terracotta Warrior, Xi’an
My wife Jing, son, and I spent the 2012 Chinese New Year with Jing’s family in Shanghai, China. It was a special New Year’s for us, not only because it ushered in the auspicious Year of the Dragon but also because it marked a first for our family—the first time we had been together with Jing’s family in China for the holiday. My wife had not spent New Year’s with her family in almost two decades, and it would be the first time my son and I joined them. The happy hearts and big smiles of my in-laws when we arrived January 21 foretold a joyous reunion.
新年快乐！Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! Happy Chinese New Year! Happy Lunar New Year!
Welcome to the Year of the Wooden Horse or the Year of the Green Horse. Why a wooden or green horse? The Horse is one of twelve animals representing a twelve-year cycle in the Chinese lunar calendar. Combined with the five elements in the Chinese Zodiac, Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth, the calendar goes through a 60-year cycle where each animal is associated with a different element every 12 years. Visit HanBan for a great summary of the Year of the (Wooden) Horse. Click here for more information about the elements.
This year may bode well for those born in the Year of the Horse with some promising personality traits such as being outgoing, energetic, active, friendly, trustworthy, and popular with friends, family, and acquaintances. The same may hold true for all of us during the Year of the Horse if the Green Horse appears this year and proves auspicious. However, as Wood can burn Red with flame, 2014 may also bring turmoil and crises. Who’s to say which Horse will cross the chronological plain this year. 没关系 (méi guānxi). No problem. Party on! It’s time to celebrate Chinese New Year!
How do the Chinese celebrate the New Year? Well, it starts with days of shopping for and buying any and all things red, gold, and (this year) green to make the holiday more festive. Shoppers stock up on food, drink and treats for Chinese New Year dinners, fireworks to blow off at stroke of midnight, and hongbao (红包 or red envelopes) to fill with money for the children.
Chinese New Year is a time for families to celebrate the holiday together. Families who stay home and host festoon their houses with New Year decorations and prepare huge meals for extended family who join them for an evening…or often longer. It’s a time to enjoy great food and holiday delicacies, to catch up with family you might not have seen for a while, and to give hongbao to the children. If you’re lucky, your child will bow before you and promise to be behave as they ask for their red envelope.
Going home to visit family by train, plane, or bus is a holiday tradition not often mentioned. The week-long lunar celebration triggers the world’s largest annual mass migration with an estimated 3.6 billion trips made, including 225 million Chinese who traveled overseas for Chinese New Year.
After dinner, many Chinese families relax and watch the annual New Year Show on Chinese Central Television (CCTV). Part variety show, part music concert, the event is watched by an estimated 750 million people.
Just before midnight, millions of Chinese take to the streets, rooftops, or any open window to blow off fireworks to usher in the New Year. The spectacle is unbelievably loud and beautiful. The fireworks during the 2012 Year of the Dragon celebration in Shanghai were incredible! Click on the video below to watch.
The next day, many Chinese families venture out to enjoy local public festivities. They may go shopping, watch New Year parades, or tour old, familiar places. The Lunar New Year is a time to remember family, friends, and ancestors, and many visit places that have been an important part of their families’ lives. These photos were taken in 2012, at the Temple of the Town Gods in Shanghai.
新年快乐！Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! Happy New Year to you and yours!
Map of China
M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring all three. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.
For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.
© 2014 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.
1. Do different.
2. I try to work in breaks, but it takes a lot of effort.
3. Those who do nothing are bound to repeat it.
4. Someone who is da bomb really rocks.
5. I’m a real fan of oscillating.
6. Is it okay to mock turtles’ necks?
7. Sometimes a paradise comes up snake eyes.
In Its Own Write
8. If the Beatles were around today, they would release a song called “E-book Writer.”
9. I’m trying to pen the write balance.
Holidays & Events
10. This year, remember those who made Memorial Day possible.
11. Today is the mother of all days. Happy Mother’s Day!
12. I trademarked the pronoun “I.” Using it as a letter is permitted under fair use.
13. I seem to have fallen off the face of the Earth. It’s definitely better than the rear.
He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series: Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant and Zoe the Zebra.
Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. A former U.S. diplomat, he served in South Korea, Paraguay, and Zambia before leaving the Foreign Service in 2011 to write full time. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.
His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at email@example.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.
© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.
1. When you overestimate your abilities, you end up feeling shortchanged.
2. I’m swimming in the sea of life when I’d rather be on the shore sipping on a drink and watching the sunset.
3. I’m writing my pièce de résistance. I’ve struggled with it for so long that it will never stop fighting with me.
4. I’m determined to get something done today. Does drinking coffee count?
5. The tongue is mightier than the pen.
6. Seize the day! If you do, be prepared for a struggle.
7. If your dream has become a nightmare, it’s time for a new one.
8. The best way to attract real friends is to be real.
9. Why can’t “good afternoon” be “good beforeevening“?
10. Says the cream puff to the chocolate éclair: “Wow, this place is desserted.”
11. Warning: Ultraviolent rays have the ability to kill you.
12. Aerodramatic: The art of crying at the speed of flight.
13. I’m not sure if I’m more sardonic or sarcastic. Perhaps sardoncastic.
14. Don’t take wood for granite.
15. Overheard at a meeting of contortionists: “Be flexible!”
16. Never suggest a health condition is grave to someone who is terminally ill.
Holidays & Events
17. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Since you’re in the green, I get the gold.
18. Beware the Ides of March,” said the soothsayer to Julius Caesar. His English was impeccable.
19. Beware, beware the Ides of March! Psst…what’s an ‘Ides’?
20. Heading into Super Tuesday, the polls showed that the new iPad is leading by a wide margin.
21. Happy Cinco de Marzo! Oh, wait, sorry. I’ll be back in a couple of months.
22. I forgot that yesterday was Leap Year and marched right past it.
23. European chocolates are delicious but too delectable to eat like candy.
24. Why aren’t there any books with the opening sentence, “It was a bright and calm morning?”
25. A guy walks into a bar. It was metal. It hurt.
26. My bed is calling. For some reason, it’s saying, “You have reached a non-working number. Please hang up and try again.”
27. Thank you for paying attention to me. However, my medium of exchange is cash.
28. You have reached a real person. If you feel you’ve reached me in error and prefer an automated system, contact 800-SPAM-BOT.
29. When food is revolting, does it rebel against you?
Intra-galactic Sophomoric Humor
30. Uranus is the most joked about planet in the solar system.
31. Earth stands between Mars and Venus to keep them from fighting.
32. The moon always moons the earth at night so that it won’t get caught.
33. The planetoid Makemake has a satellite called “Dodo.”
Click here to read the previous batch of Thoughts and Sayings.
Imagine a world where a green moon capable of sustaining life orbits the earth. The verdant orb lies close enough to the earth to intrigue humankind but too far away to reach — until the dawn of space exploration makes space travel possible and unleashes a race to explore this new world known as “Verda.”
What awaits discovery on a moon long coveted by humans but unattainable…until now?
Discover “Verda,” the story of this moon. It is one of 15 stories in Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories, a collection of short stories written over three decades with themes ranging from adventure, fantasy, mystery, spirituality, mythology, to love and war.
For more books and stories by M.G. Edwards, visit www.mgedwards.com.