A month ago or so (yeah it’s been a while, so this post is longer) was 春节 (chunjie “Spring Festival”). 春节 is one of the most important holidays in China and almost everyone returns to their parent’s homes in the countryside. Big cities like Beijing nearly become ghost towns. It’s a week of fireworks, 白酒 (baijiu “white wine” but it’s actually a really strong liquor), 麻将 (majiang “mahjong”), big feasts, and spending time with loved ones. It’s an exciting occasion - for everyone except the foreigners. Most of the other foreigners I talked to had planned vacations in other countries during the festival. So I was left alone in Beijing, a poor foreign boy whose friends had all gone home and whose favorite places to eat are were all closed.