Friday, January 29, 2016

The Year of the Monkey is coming!

Art from Aaron Hudson
Are you a monkey?

You are if you were born between February and the following January every 12 years beginning in 1908, which is within many people’s lifetimes. This year is actually the 4713th year that Chinese New Year has been celebrated.

The Year of the Monkey begins February 8. According to the zodiac calendar, the Year of the Money has started as early as January 22 and as late as February 20, in the last century. Chinese New Year starts on the first day of the first lunar month, and generally falls between January 21 and February 20. It is the biggest holiday in the Chinese calendar.

The monkey is the ninth animal in the Chinese zodiac, sandwiched between the sheep and the chicken.

Each animal in the zodiac is said to have special characteristics, and the money is no exception. People born in this year are said to be clever and intelligent, but at the same time they have strong tempers and are impetuous. While they are sociable, innovative and enthusiastic, they can also be suspicious and arrogant, and look down on others. When it comes to love, a monkey’s best matches are people born in the years of the ox and rabbit, but won’t have happy relationships with those born in the years of the tiger and pig.

Moneys won’t have smooth sailing this year. They need to be cautious and prudent, especially with investments.

Famous people born in the year of the monkey include Chinese basketball player Yao Ming, the Tang Dynasty’s Empress Wu Zehan, Celine Dion, Charles Dickens, Annie Oakley, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mick Jagger and George Lord Byron.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

China gets two spots on NYT's annual travel list

Traditional Chinese tiled roofs
Travelers planning to visit China in 2016 may want to consider Hangzhou and Guizhou. two places that made the New York Times annual list of places to visit in the coming year.

Hangzhou, home of the very scenic West Lake that inspired painters and poets, made the list for a number of reasons. including its booming economy. The city is home to several e0commerce biggies, such as Alibaba. More importantly, it is the first city in China to host a G20 summit. The city is adding new hotels and museums. One, the Folk Art Museum, is built on a former tea plantation. It features thousands of traditionally-styled roof tiles,as shown in the Times' accompanying photograph. Hangzhou ranked 16th on the newspaper's annual list.

Guizhou Province is just now being discovered by tourists, according to the Times, which notes a new high-speed train from Guangzhou reduced travel time from 20 hours to four. But it's a place that I fell in love with when I visited it 20 years ago. A visit to a minority village is a must; the Miao one I went to in the mountains was in the middle of rice harvest. (The photo of rice fields the Times used is stunning.) The village was rustic, set on hillsides. While there, I watched a man bath a water buffalo in a creek, which also served as a source of drinking water for the village. It's No. 44 on the list, but had I been making the choice, I would have put it much higher.