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Thursday

Firecrackers served as a wakeup call, albeit a rude one. For the next few days, firecrackers would be heard every morning. After our usual breakfast, we headed off to the flower market. Susan and I wanted to head to town but most other people planned to sit around and watch TV. That is pretty much what the Chinese do during their holiday.

Paper from thousands of firecrackers litters a back alley in Nanning.

The flower market wasn’t that cool as it was pretty quiet. Eventually we broke away from the family and got on a bus for the town center. Unfortunately, our bus was going the wrong way, and it was also unfortunate that our last 2RMB had been used to get us on this bus.  We got off, crossed the street and then bought some water to get small bills for the next bus, which did get us to the town center, or nearly there.

A family shot in the flower market.

A game of ring toss in the middle of a sidewalk in Nanning.

Today the town was packed and a few stops before we got to the town center, we got off since traffic was getting worse and worse. On foot things were just as crowded. Normally Susan and I walk around together but if one stops to take a photo, the other might walk on a bit ahead. Here however I immediately lost Susan, then spotted her before losing her again. When I found her again after a minute or two, we now slightly changed our formation and resolved to stay closer. We bought some candied strawberries and apples which were pretty good and then went into a park which was wild. People were everywhere. Some were singing, others dancing, but everywhere crowds of people were standing and watching.

Perhaps lost, a man consults a map as others pass him.

Singers entertain dozens of people in a crowded park on New Year's Day.

This strong man rolls over broken glass to demonstrate how tough he is.

We continued to the park and grabbed a couple of lamb skewers before walking to Pizza Hut. Earlier in the day I’d ordered a pizza for my mom using the internet, so I had pizza on the mind. I decided to have some pizza myself. There was a line for tables so we sat down and ordered “take out.” While waiting, we fed Katherine. Our pizza arrived and we set off.

A minority sells skewers of lamb to anyone with 2RMB.

Pedestrians hurry past a patient vendor on a foot bridge.

We walked down the “food street” we got noodles in the other day and then tried some various foods. One woman gave Katherine a free strawberry. We saw a vendor make some sort of ommelette or crepe by throwing balls of dough into the air and spinning them around until they were paper thin. Then the dough was fried with meat and sauce, cut up and served.  Another thing we tried was a type of minority food that was cooked in a small “basket” of grass or reeds. It wasn’t very good. As we were unwrapping this rice food, Katherine started babbling something. Katherine had said a perfect “hello” when she was three months old but hasn’t said anything since. Her hello was perfect and she said it three different times on day. So we were excited to hear Katherine saying something again. It sounded a bit like “hello babba” but it wasn’t very clear. Unfortunately, I dropped our rice treat in the excitement.  Katherine never did say much of anything.

Food awaits appetites in the food street.

This guy put on quite a show tossing and flipping his dough.

Katherine.

We soon reached the river and spotted these bars built into the river wall. Apparently, there used to be a sort of “board walk” that ran along the wall and people could hang out on the river, drink and watch the scenery. Now the boardwalk has been demolished and the bars gutted but little clues and squatters remain. It was a bit of a challenge, but I was able to get around the barriers and get a closer look. Not sure why the place had been shut down but it was an interesting exhibit of urban decay.

A boat leaves a wake behind as it travels up the river in Nanning.

Old abandoned bar still sporting a wine shelf.

When we were ready to go home we took a taxi back. The driver was very nice as were all of the taxi drivers we met. At home Katherine pulled herself up to a standing position using a small plastic chair. It slid forward and Katherine took a step. Before long, she was “walking” around the apartment using the plastic chair.  We had leftovers for dinner then put Katherine to bed so that we could shoot off our “yuan hua” or “smoke flowers”. I had some sparklers that I thought might be really cool to use on camera but my relatives lit them all off so fast I never really could do what I wanted. We also had some spinners and “bees”. The spinners have been around for ever and just spin on the ground making a crazy buzzing sound during their 3 or 4 second duration. We also had bottle rockets and some Roman candles which we used up before going to bed. More to come.

Relatives light off sparklers.

Left: Katherine does her "chair walk." RIGHT: It is good to wear red in the new year, but this woman might have over done it.

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