Chinese New Year is so important a holiday that even though my semester started a week ago today, I have only 3 days of classes this week then I am off on holiday until February 10th. From a strictly educational perspective this is a bit weird because momentum hasn't even built up yet and we're on break but from a cultural experience it makes perfect sense. Chinese New Year is IT in Hong Kong.
I am looking forward to seeing it first hand. I have some folks coming into town from NYC and I am sure we will make the rounds of the flower markets and other festivities. I am looking forward to seeing how the city lets so many celebrate and yet still functions. Also one of my friends is a former local so I expect to enjoy more of it than perhaps what the average expat would, we'll see.
NYC is often referred to as the city that never sleeps. I used to think that was true. After all the subways run twenty-four hours and there is an active nightlife. But it pales in comparison to here. You can go to restaurants and clothing stores a lot later here than in most of NYC. Most stores in malls, clothing, etc. are open until 11. There are so many 7-11's here and they are open 24 hours. I find I have stopped asking what time any retail establishment closes because 9 times out of 10 I wouldn't go there that late anyway. Not because Hong Kong is dangerous, no, but because I may be living in a 24 hour city but my lifestyle hasn't changed that much, at least not yet.
Another difference between NYC and Hong Kong is due to geography, I guess. In NYC during the winter we go off Daylight Savings Time (DST) which always meant for me that I would wake up in the dark, it would be light on my way to work and when I got off from work it would already be dark, by 4:30 sometimes it would already be dark. If I didn't go out for lunch, which would often depend on how cold it was outside, I would not see sunlight. Here I live a more leisurely life as a student but still, I get up at 7 which is already dawn or close to it and then it is light until sometime past 6 p.m. I can't tell you how different that feels to me. Sure the weather is so much warmer here but just being awake in daylight for an hour to an hour and a half more--I can't even explain it, beyond that I feel a bit more productive, as though I can do more in a day. I already thought changing our clocks twice a year was absurd, I may find it intolerable when I go back to the USA later.
Rambling aside, I am not finished preparing for tomorrow's classes so ...