This week I am a little uninspired. Plenty of things are happening but all I feel like is taking a nap. I had to abandon my plan to write about the lovely box of mooncakes we received from our landlord on Sunday because I found the box empty the next day (this did not inspire me). Someone accidentally ate them all and it wasn’t me since it turns out I don’t like mooncakes. Even though they are all slightly different, I feel disappointed every time. It’s like picking the wrong chocolate from a box that doesn’t have one of those handy explanation cards.
I really want to like mooncakes, because they look so gorgeous from the outside and the whole idea of them is very romantic. But even if I did, evidently the box would not last untill the festival moon which is when you are supposed to eat them. Gazing at the full moon while holding hands and floating sky lanterns (that’s the romantic bit).
There are mooncake gift boxes in almost every shop right now, even Starbucks make their own ones (mermaid on moon cake – a little weird really). Most of the boxes you see are bigger and fancier than their contents (a little bit like Christmas crackers) even though apparently the high-end mooncakes are not doing so well this year. I’m not sure when they first started appearing in the shops but I have been wondering for a while whether or not the Chinese also complain if they get on the shelves too early in the year, like when shops start to decorate for Christmas in August. Perhaps here they have rules for that.
The Moon Festival (or Mid-Autumn Festival), which is the reason for all this mooncake business, falls on September 30th this year. It is a big national holiday in China. Most people will be off work for most or all of the week following the festival, which turned out to be a good time to plan a little break. So even though we won’t be in China for the festival I just discovered we can also celebrate it while away in Vietnam. Plus the Vietnamese legend is, although somewhat bizar, a lot shorter and a bit more entertaining.
The Vietnamese version of the holiday recounts the legend of Cuoi, whose wife accidentally urinated on a sacred banyan tree. Soon after desecrating the tree, she sat on one of the tree branches and the sacred tree began to grow and continued until it finally reached the moon, leaving Cuoi’s wife stranded there. Every year, during the Mid-Autumn Festival, children light lanterns and participate in a procession to show Cuoi’s wife the way back to Earth.
A lovely story. I’ll let you know how we get on with that one later.
I also had to drop the idea of visiting and blogging about the Suzhou Red Ant Culture Park this week as so far this only seems to exist in my mind. Last week I was in a taxi on the way to the train station and I saw a building with a giant red ant stuck to the facade. I’m certain it was called the Red Ant Culture Park but that is pretty much where the story ends. No information to be found online and anybody I have asked about it looks at me strangely. I remember the general area we drove through when I saw it but have not yet worked out how to say giant red ant in Chinese. Not yet inspired.
And then there are protestors and they don’t seem to have been inspired much this week either.
I think I’ll take that nap now.