Thursday, January 17, 2008
Snowfall in Beijing
Today we got our first real snowfall of the year. Or the season.
There was a small dump early last month, but it was washed away by the late afternoon.
However today the white flakes (some say gray due to the pollution) came fast and furious soon after I arrived into the office this morning.
The city got a light dusting of the white stuff that has since stayed on the ground.
My colleagues had told me horror stories of how traffic grinds to a halt when there's snow because vehicles don't have snow tires, so I was worried about getting home.
However, by late afternoon the snowfall stopped and roads on the whole were clear. I got home at a reasonable time (just over 45 minutes) by bus.
While the roads were wet, it will probably turn to black ice tomorrow making it a treacherous commute. But I'll worry about that... later.
I took home some Laba zhou, or Laba congee a coworker made two days ago to celebrate Laba Festival.
It's a Buddhist event on the calendar celebrating the day Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism reached enlightenment after eating this porridge.
My colleagues don't know much about the significance of the event, but just that everyone eats this concoction with their families.
And it's a nutritious porridge -- some contain up to 29 different ingredients. But the one I had was still tasty, with green beans, peanuts, lotus seeds, barley, rice, red dates, and kidney beans.
Apparently hundreds of Beijingers lined up in the cold early morning on Tuesday at the Yonghegong Lama Temple to receive a free bowl of Laba porridge.
It's considered good luck to have a bowl from the Buddhist temple, but also a nutritious way to feed the body. The porridge is full of protein, amino acids and vitamins.
And for me to have it on a chilly day today (-2 degrees Celsius to -8 degrees) was perfect.