The Silly Hat Theory

Sheesh! Enough already!

It’s now Tuesday, the fourth straight night of fireworks. Maybe it’s tapering off a bit. I walked around a lot today, and most of the fireworks stands are getting pretty low on inventory. If I’m lucky, there are no new shipments on their way into town.
Here’s my new theory, that is to say, the theory which is mine and which is new: Any people who are willing to wear silly hats in public have hope in their lives. When self-consciousness gets in the way of just having fun, you’re taking yourself too seriously. I also have a theory that the brontosaurus was thin at one end, much thicker in the middle, and thin again at the other end, but we can go into that some other time – I am much too dignified to be going off on a Monty Python tangent.

After mostly hanging around my apartment on Monday, doing laundry and other mundane things, I decided to strike out again on Tuesday. This time I left a bit earlier. JW and KW had mentioned that they went to Ditan Park, which is not too far from here, and found huge crowds of people celebrating Spring Festival. The park is just a little north and west of the G-Box, so I took the opportunity to walk and find out how long it takes to get there. Knowing how cold it was yesterday and Sunday, I bundled up, but soon found myself carrying my coat instead of wearing it.
And if you’re interested (“People say-ay-ay I’m a dreamer…”) it took a half hour at a reasonable pace to get to the future office building.
Just past the G-Box is the Second Ring Road, and on the other side of that is a canal. The lights along the edge come on at night, and change color in a cycle, pink-green-purple-blue-yellow. (OK, I didn’t memorize the sequence, but you get the idea.)

There was a stream of people carrying stuffed animals and wearing silly hats, so I walked in the direction they were coming from and found myself at the east gate of Ditan Park. In spite of the multitude I had seen leaving the place, there were still a few people left in the park. The ticket was ¥10 to get in (something like $1.30).
In some ways, it was more of the same as what I’d seen out at Chaoyang Park on Sunday, only more compressed, since Ditan is smaller. It’s still pretty huge, but Chaoyang is really gigantic. I mostly just wandered around, taking it all in, comparing it to other fairs I’ve been to in Puyallup, Spokane, and Colfax. Some things are more or less the same. There are booths selling cheap trinkets, artists who’ll draw your portrait for a price, and booths selling portable food items.
I do not recall ever seeing a festival booth selling underwear.
Puyallup, this ain’t.
Some of the food items here don’t show up much in the United States, however. I handed over ¥10 for three skewers with grilled seasoned meat on them – maybe beef, maybe not – and ¥5 for a glass of milk tea. I did not try the squid, scorpions, grubs, or little tiny birds. I’m sure they’re tasty, but – well, not today.
There was a separate admission charge to the snake show, so I passed on it. I’m not really sure I want to see someone with a snake going into their nostril and coming out their mouth.
I saw some stages set up for entertainment, but did not see any performances. If there were any schedules posted, they were not in a language I can read. It is frustrating sometimes being illiterate. This stage looks to be set up for Voluntary Public Humiliation (otherwise known as karaoke), and there was a woman singing what sounded like a traditional song with rinky-dink programmed backing. Aside from wavering a bit on some of the high notes, she was pretty good.
On the way home, I took a slight detour to see all the lanterns outside the restaurants on Dongzhimennei.
The theme of this walk turned out to be motorcycles. First I came across this.
And then this.


  1. While taking a lunch break it is not good to be eating your Dick's french fries...especially when there is no one around to give you the heimlich as you choke on your fries seeing a picture of a familiar face wearing a moose hat or something.

  2. Yup I swallowed my gum when seeing the hat :) Ahhh the perils of reading blogs while at work.
    Yay to motorcycle pictures! I love looking at the car and bike pics to try to figure out what they are. The black one looks like a Russian made Ural but I could be wrong so keep posting those and I'll keep showing my ignorance :)
    Oh and also loved the pic of the lanterns, very cool.

  3. I have a whole series of pictures of cars that I should post sometime, but I'm afraid people will think I'm obsessive. Ever see a Chery or a Jinbei or a Cheer?

    That same evening, I saw another motorcycle that had a Chinese name on the gas tank, but I wasn't able to get a picture of it.

  4. And by the way, the little green car in the lantern picture is a Fiat Palio. I don't remember ever seeing those in the US.

    I also occasionally see a Citroen Picasso, which is a pretty interesting vehicle.

  5. On CBC this morning they Web Goddess was doing an overview of websites about China. Sorry to say, she didn't mention your blog, but here is a link to the websites she did describe, some of which sound fascinating.
    CBC radio is the best--the morning host of Music & Company does a weekly Cage Match pitting classical music pieces against each other, with the winner voted on by the audience. Last week (in honour of Valentine's Day) it was Flower vs. Brick. (more details on the website.)
    The music following the China Segment featured much loudness of the Lion Dance composed by Chen Yi.

  6. Hi JD,
    i'm impressed by the photos you took. very nice job! despite working and living in Beijing for nearly 8 years, i've never been to any miao hui (the fairs in those parks you went to). maybe i should go to one if i got another chance. also, my friends in Beijing once told me that blogspot sites were blocked there. but looks like you're using it just fine. anyway, it was great to read about the Chinese New Year celebration in Beijing. now i miss the city a bit.