The big booms have already started.
Yes -- the fireworks and firecrackers are being set off in the prelude leading up to Chinese New Year which starts on Monday January 26.
As soon as it's dark you start hearing the thunderous booms -- but now that I think about it -- some idiots also set them off during the day.
Some places forbid setting fireworks and firecrackers off mainly to avoid having to clean up the endless bits of red paper, but that doesn't mean they can't be set off nearby, resulting in the noise pollution setting off car alarms and freaking out house pets.
Meanwhile traffic's been really light now that most students are off and traveling back to their hometowns. Our office will have fewer staff each day as the lucky ones manage to secure train tickets, making Beijing easier to get around and quieter, well sort of.
In supermarkets people are buying up expensive liquors and chocolates to give as gifts to loved ones, or carrying giant plastic jugs of peanut oil and corn oil to take home.
Subway carriages are packed with people and their luggage; they all disembark at the Beijing Railway Station stop.
The rest of us left behind are either trying to save money and celebrating the Spring Festival away from home, or waiting until the official holiday starts to go on trips.
This year will be bitter sweet for many who have lost their jobs and have to go home; after the Year of the Ox begins, that will give the true indication to how the Chinese economy really is faring and more importantly, how the government will react to what looks like pretty dire straits.