During Spring Festival Beijing is laid back and festive. Most people which have their families not in Beijing, travel back to their home towns. Logistically the best thing to do during these days is to stay where you are. All others who also stay enjoy a week holiday and there are many things you can do in this city. Not just the cultural repertoire is huge, but also you can just get onto a lake ice skating, do a hike in the mountains along the spectacular parts of the Great Wall which are less "developed" or even drive up to a ski resort. Hiking, I was surprised that there are now also many Chinese going outdoors and enjoying the scenery. A few years ago, they did not go too much into the countryside. Now there are many "Donkey Friend Clubs", which are mainly self organized groups walking together far distances. For a first orientation, I found that the Beijing Hikers are organizing nice groups. There are a lot of foreigners in these groups, but they are not the typical Expats, but nice people which have been living long time abroad and many of them speak Chinese. I guess, that foreigners strolling around the Chinese countryside with a rucksack, already implies some self selection.
Of course, I would not be in China, if not everywhere small little businesses open to cater into all kinds of holiday demands. From the man with the mobile sweet patato bakery who is counting his money on the frozen lake where he sells his snacks to the ice skaters (see photo on the left), to extra capacities in taking family portraits in the China Photo Studio. Not to mention the huts selling the fireworks which turn the nights in Beijing into a self (un-)organized light show which is unmatched anywhere. I was wondering how safe it is when the firework's salesman is smoking sitting on a few tons of gunpowder. But you think it is "cool" just to smoke in a non-smoking area in Hong Kong and chase away the little policeman? That's nothing against sitting smoking on a pile of gunpowder chatting with the policeman on how the family is doing. Happy new year, health luck and prosperity for the Year of the Dragon.