We all woke up really late, rolling out of bed around noon. None of us really had much on the agenda, so after a breakfast of coffee, fermented rice soup and rice balls filled with sweet red bean paste, we decided to survey the mayhem. Johnson wanted to show me some of the city, so we headed downtown on a minibus. These are technically taxis (although if you want to get really technical they’re illegal taxis), but operate along more or less fixed routes like buses. The difference is that you can stop or board anywhere along the route, and they are very cheap (only 2 yuan, about 30 cents). This seems to be one of the fastest and most popular ways to travel around Guiyang. We walked around the city, a place definitely not as developed as Beijing or Shanghai. Most stores and businesses were closed, and even though it was a crowded central part of the city, people were still setting off firecrackers and lighting smoke bombs everywhere. A thick and sulfurous haze choked the city, not leftovers from the night before, but smoke from the thousands of simultaneous explosions that continued to blanket the city.

There is a very famous temple in downtown Guiyang, which sits adjacent to the river. We walked through it and the adjacent park, explosions ringing in the distance, but it was peaceful compared to the rest of Guiyang. Somehow Johnson managed to lose his glasses and we couldn’t find them. Fortunately, new ones are cheap in Guiyang.

The temple was close to Wal-Mart, so we stopped in afterwards. Since Johnson’s uncle and father had been gracious enough to introduce me to the local bai jiu (rice wine), I was eager to reciprocate. Fortunately Wal-Mart had a high-end bottle of Jim Beam Reserve (it looked suspicious but turned out to be real), so I picked that up along with a few cans of Pepsi. While we were at it, we also picked up some American breakfast food – orange juice, cereal and milk. I also bought a block of extra sharp cheddar cheese – this is something not used in Chinese cooking, so I was curious to find out whether Johnson liked it. I also checked whether there was a wireless access point (since there wasn’t wireless Internet at Johnson’s house) and picked up a couple of telephone accessories so it would be possible to go online and use the phone at the same time.

By the time we got done, it was dark and time to return to the house. We caught a minibus taxi to a place a block away from the house, and arrived in time for dinner. Both of Johnson’s aunts had painstakingly prepared a very special Chinese New Year dinner of many Guizhou specialty dishes. Guizhou food is very different than Beijing food, and I was delighted by the different tastes. The whiskey came out and we kicked back many toasts – there are an endless series of things to toast in China, especially on Chinese New Year. Long life, prosperity, happiness, and grandparents – Johnson’s grandparents have been married for nearly fifty years. I knocked back shots with Johnson’s uncle – we became very friendly, and Johnson cut his whiskey with green tea. Later, he added Pepsi, which helped to take the edge off. Afterward, the family sat together in the living room watching New Years variety show specials. I had a little trouble following what was going on, and don’t really enjoy variety shows anyway (whether in the US or China) so jumped online. The next couple of hours went by fast, catching up on email and going through pictures.

All too soon, it was 2 in the morning – bedtime! I went upstairs and crashed hard.