The Year of the Pig…

Which began on February 4 ended Tuesday, February 19, with the “Lantern Festival.” So, while the West celebrates New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to ring in the new year, there are two weeks of New Year’s festivities here in China. In practical matters, here in Xi’an, it has meant two weeks of increased crowds in the subways and shops. I’m looking forward to a return to the normal, incomprehensible crowds.

A few days ago, I went up on the Old City Wall with my teacher friend, Kim to experience the seemingly unending array of floats that were lit up. Although pigs were featured prominently, as you will see from the photos below, there were a variety of random themes, some (like Disney), not necessarily associated with China. Go figure!

The next day, I went to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayanta) about a thirty minute walk from where I live. There is a new gourmet market there where I can buy baked goods that I can’t get elsewhere in Xi’an. Next to the Pagoda is the Tang Mall which also was festooned with decorations along with the Chinese version of America’s food truck culture.

Finally, on the last night of the two week festivities, I went back to Dayanta and Tang Mall with Kim to see everything lit up. I was hesitant at first because I knew I would likely be braving a sea of humanity starting with the subway at Dayanta and quite frankly, the last two weeks of crowding, above and beyond what is “normal” was taking its toll on my nerves. As you will see from the photos, I wasn’t incorrect in my assessment. Still, I got some great photos so it was worth becoming a human billiard ball for an evening. If you live in America and haven’t been to China, it’s unlikely you’ve ever experienced crowds on this scale; not even at Disneyworld on a holiday.  As I’ve written before, the Chinese phrase for “very crowded” is: . Translation: “people mountain people sea.” Very apt to describe last night.

I also want to lay down a “marker” associated with my last blog posting about Trump’s Pecker, so to speak. I’ve largely given up on predicting what will come of the crookedest administration in American history but here’s one I will make. Some publication will host the headline I posted; “Trump’s Pecker is in a wringer” when the shoe drops on Pecker (so to speak). The likeliest candidate for this will be Trump’s hometown nemesis: The New York Daily News. Headlines like that are their stock in trade. If that happens, remember, you read it here first.

Dayanta is one stop from the office and as it’s immensely popular with tourists, I knew to expect these types of crowds.

Once more, a terrible selfie as I was leaving the subway station.

Once out of the subway, everyone walks toward the pagoda and the Tang Mall which is about a 1/2 mile away.

The “Big, Wild Goose Pagoda” under a full moon.

These are lanterns with blessings for the new year.

This is my friend Kim. She’s wearing a mask because the air was a tad poisonous. “What? Me worry?”

The pagoda is in the background, center. Note how hazy the air is. Good old fashioned smog. We are at the beginning of Tang Mall.


Real San Francisco weirdness. A guy in a suit with no head but there is a hat and glasses!


This guy’s head is in a camera box. What’s with the umbrella? You would expect to see him on Market Street in San Francisco where no one would give him a second look.

“all you need…”

Food city. None of the food on offer bore any resemblance to the country or region shown.

More about Kim in following photos


People were walking around holding skewers like this guy. I kept thinking about the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode about Ben Stiller’s birthday party when Larry muses about what to do with used skewers because they could be dangerous and of course, then proceeds to poke Ben’s eye with one. Note these are much more substantive.

The following photos were taken in the pavilion just below the south gate entrance into the “Old City” that is surrounded by the Old City Wall. At the top of the wall are all of the floats and decorations for the New Year.  We were there four days prior to our outing at Dayanta.


At the base of the City Wall.

Up on the City Wall

Lanterns as in “Lantern Festival.” People paid money to write blessings for a prosperous and or healthy new year and then they were hung up. These canopies of lanterns were all over the City Wall


My pal, Kim. She went to UCLA in Westwood, Los Angeles, where I grew up. It’s funny to know someone in China who I can talk to about the different streets in “the hood.”

Tang Mall. Across from the Big, Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayanta). It stretches for many blocks and during holidays, it’s decorated and usually very crowded which of course, in China, is merely a redundant statement.  I went here the day after I was up on the wall  with Kim.

Food trucks aren’t a “thing” in Xi’an but on this occasion, there was a reasonable facsimile of a typical food truck retinue popular in American cities.

“Where’d you get the coconut?…Found them? In Xi’an?”

There aren’t any pictures of food, so until I come here with a Chinese friend, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea of what I would be ordering and I’m not THAT adventurous.

This is the beginning of Tang Mall. Across the street is the pagoda.

This is the pagoda seen in the night photos above. The word “Dayanta” actually translates as “big, wild goose pagoda.” Off to the right is the new mall which was my destination.

This is the brand new, Joy City Mall at Dayanta. I had absolutely no idea it was even being built until one day a couple of weeks ago, everyone was talking about it. It’s like it dropped from outside space, over night. That’s how things roll in China in the modern era. There is a gourmet market where I can buy bagels, a food item you cannot buy in local stores.

Victoria’s Secret. And no, I didn’t go in. Nor do I shop there (except on occasion…)