Reunion Chinese New Year: The Biggest Celebration on Earth


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Reunion

An insight into the massive annual celebration. Dave Myers and Si King experience New Year's Eve in Beijing, and Jing Lusi goes behind the scenes at CCTV's Chunwan Gala.


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Yahoo! Welcome to China!

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It's New Year's Eve

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and we're here at Houhai Lake in China's capital city, Beijing.

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When the lake is frozen over,

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families love to come and have fun on the ice during the holidays.

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Now, the Spring Festival, as it's known in China,

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sees the largest annual mass migration of people on the planet

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as over a sixth of the world's populace travel home

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to celebrate with their loved ones.

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And the most significant night of the festivities is New Year's Eve,

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or Chuxi, as it's known in Mandarin.

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Traditionally, this is when families get together to eat,

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drink and celebrate,

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so Dave and I are going to find out what it's like to be

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at the world's biggest party,

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as over a billion people sit down to the most important dinner

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of the year.

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And here's what's coming up.

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Over the next hour, we'll be based here in Beijing,

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finding out how Chinese people experience New Year's Eve

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as they take time off and relax with friends and family.

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Good luck for everybody.

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Down south in Hong Kong,

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Kate Humble will be at the Wong Tai Sin Temple

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as it prepares for its busiest night of the year.

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-Is it like this every year?

-Yes, every year.

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Ant Anstead visits a distillery in the heart of China...

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Wow!

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..to find out about the world's best-selling spirit.

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Happy New Year.

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Jing Lusi will be behind the scenes at the Chunwan Gala,

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the most watched annual television show on earth.

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Through these doors is the main stage,

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and they're about to do the performance of a lifetime.

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And we'll be seeing what a traditional New Year's Eve is like

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with a Chinese family right here in Beijing.

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-Chinese New Year.

-Magical.

-It is great.

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Mountains of food will be eaten...

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..a giant bell will be rung...

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..and thousands of firecrackers will hit the night sky.

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And we'll be there to experience it all first-hand.

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-ALL:

-Xinnian Kuaile!

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-ALL:

-Xinnian Kuaile!

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-BOTH:

-Xinnian Kuaile!

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Welcome to Chinese New Year!

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For the Chinese people, family time together is precious,

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so they don't waste any opportunity

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to get out and have fun on Houhai Lake.

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And you don't have to be an ice skater to have a go.

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There's all sorts of bonkers equipment you can rent.

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You can get an ice sled. You can get ice rickshaws.

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-Yeah.

-But, being hairy bikers, predictable as ever,

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we've gone for ice bikes.

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-Hey!

-Yay!

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But before we go any further,

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here's a few things that you need to know about Beijing.

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The word "Beijing" actually means "Northern Capital".

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The city lies at the north-east of the country,

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surrounded by desert and mountains.

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Beijing is China's second-largest city

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and home to 21 million people

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and some of the most jaw-dropping architecture on the planet.

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It's the nation's cultural, political and financial centre,

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and an economic powerhouse.

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Millions pour into the capital from all over the country

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every year to seek their fortune.

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Beijing has transformed enormously over the last decade to meet demand.

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And some of its old ways have changed, too.

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MUSIC: Nine Million Bicycles by Katie Melua

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Well, you see, the Chinese, they love their cars.

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And, well, to be fair, you don't see that many cyclists any more.

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Ah, but hopefully things are going to change.

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Due to a government bike-sharing initiative,

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they want to put people back on the bike

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and also make cycling, well, cool again.

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HE RINGS BELL Oh, yeah.

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Beijing is an important player on the global stage.

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In 2022,

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it will become the only city in the world ever to have hosted

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both the Summer and the Winter Olympic Games.

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Its growing wealth and dynamism

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has created an incredible population explosion

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in an already expanding city.

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In ten years, the number of people in Beijing has grown by 44%.

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It's predicted the city's population will be 50 million by 2050,

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which means every New Year's Eve celebration in Beijing

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will just keep getting bigger.

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This is what Chinese New Year is all about.

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Loads of eating,

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preferably surrounded by your nearest and dearest.

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And the numbers are pretty impressive, too,

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there being over 400 million Chinese households.

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And tonight, we're sitting down to what's known as the reunion dinner,

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the most important meal of the year.

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And traditionally, many of these are in people's homes,

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a bit like our Christmas dinner,

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but there's a lot of socialising goes on during the Spring Festival.

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Now, as a result,

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the demand for restaurants right across Chinese cities is huge,

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and street vendors in Beijing are no exception.

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They're doing a roaring trade.

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This is Wangfujing Market,

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where you can get any delicacy you want,

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from silkworms to scorpions...

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Oh, to centipedes and spiders, Dave.

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-Lovely. Mmm.

-Oh, look, there's something that jumps.

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I'm not entirely sure whether I would prefer, just, like, a prawn.

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-What's a prawn?

-Cockroach of the sea.

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-Cockroach of the sea, with a fancy suit on.

-Yeah.

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Whatever floats your boat, it's here, because, you know what?

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It's New Year. You're home to your family,

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and you're going to have a lovely time.

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To be fair, though, dude,

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all these foods are for special occasions, aren't they?

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And I'm just wondering what the Chinese equivalent is to,

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say, well, like, you know, a bag of crisps.

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It's funny you should say that,

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-because I've just popped down to the Chinese newsagents...

-Really?

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-..and got us a few snacks.

-Oh, nice one, dude.

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Have a crack at this one.

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What do you think of that? I quite like it.

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-What's that?

-That's dried squid.

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-Oh!

-It's nice, it's savoury. It's all right.

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-I quite like that.

-Guess what this is, mate.

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Oh, yeah.

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-Chicken feet.

-Bingo!

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Got it in one.

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Now, this one, I'm really rather fond of.

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This...

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-is meat floss.

-Ooh!

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Also known as hot strip, its proper name is latiao.

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-Now, latiao is the most popular snack for under-25s in China.

-Right.

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And the market is worth an estimated 50 billion yuan per year.

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-Crumbs. That's a lot of hot strip, that, dude.

-Yeah.

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-It's nice, though.

-Well, this market is just getting busy now,

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but it's nothing compared to Beijing's

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biggest wholesale food market.

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It's massive,

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and it's just getting geared up for New Year's Eve celebrations.

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-Shall we go?

-Yeah!

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If there's one place that's the very soul

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of Beijing's food culture, this must be it.

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Imagine if all the fresh food

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consumed by a city was all put together in one place.

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Well, feast your eyes on this - the Xinfadi food market.

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The biggest wholesale market in Asia.

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This mammoth market sprawls over one square kilometre.

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It provides 80% of all the agricultural produce

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consumed in Beijing.

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It's like a town that's dedicated to food.

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-What could be better?

-Nothing!

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This food town has constant food traffic.

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And to keep Beijing's 21 million people fed,

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it has food neighbourhoods, too.

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Some produce is so popular it has its own street.

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Guess where we are.

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Pumpkin Street.

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This is Onion Street.

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-BOTH:

-And this is Marrow Street.

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Unsurprisingly.

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We're in the best market in Beijing.

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It would be criminal not to cook up a traditional New Year feast.

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Luckily, we're going to have a helping hand.

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Local restaurateur Sue Zhou is from a long line of chefs,

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so she knows old-school Chinese cookery inside out.

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Do you love coming here?

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Yes, it's really, really nice to be here.

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It's a huge market, and you can get anything here.

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-Like, anything you can think of, you can get it here.

-Yeah?

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The first thing Sue wants to show us is a Beijing cookery basic -

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the cabbage.

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-Why have you brought us here, Sue?

-So, in Chinese, we call this baicai.

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The cabbage. Chinese cabbage.

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And the reason why we love to eat it during Chinese New Year

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is if you pronounce it slightly different,

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it means "100 fortunes" in Chinese.

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-It's more like a poem than a meal.

-It is!

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So, we're going to cook a hotpot.

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Is it like a really traditional dish here?

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It is, yeah. OK. Success with the shopping.

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-Perfect.

-Brilliant. Can't wait. Thanks.

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Sue's given us a list of hotpot ingredients to find in the market -

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lotus root, mushrooms and beef.

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There's no stalls, as such.

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The trucks rock up, they sell the veg, they go home.

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That's how it works.

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-He's sold out.

-Have you sold out?

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Oh, good. Very good.

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-Hello, how are you?

-How are you?

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-Very good. How are you?

-Very good.

-Yeah!

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Do you know what? There's a real happy atmosphere here, isn't there?

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It's lush.

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So, Sue wants us to get lotus root.

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Look at that. That man is, like, living in a swamp

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of his own making.

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That's remarkable.

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-Go on, Dave, get stuck in.

-Right. Can I have three?

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-Dave?

-Yeah.

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Now, Dave calls this a hard-nosed haggling technique.

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How much? Oh!

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I call it handing over the dosh, no questions asked.

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-20? Oh, it's two quid, I suppose.

-Yeah, yeah.

-Not bad.

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Just as well it's as reasonably priced as it is fresh.

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Thank you. Thank you.

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Onto the next item on Sue's list...

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mushrooms.

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Look at them, Si. They're like velvet.

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They look like people's ears.

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You know, like you when you played rugby, your cauliflower ears.

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Get loads, these are superb.

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There's one more item left to buy,

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and that means heading deep into the heart of the market.

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This is Beijing's meat hangar.

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In the West, we tend to design a meal around our choice of meat,

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but traditional Chinese cooks use meat more like a garnish.

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-There's such a lot of choice.

-There is.

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Now, I know my beef,

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but finding the right cut for Sue's recipe isn't as easy as you'd think.

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It's hard to recognise the joints.

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That silverside, isn't it?

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-Silverside would be good, wouldn't it?

-Yeah. We could do that, yeah.

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Can we have this, please? Thank you.

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-Thank you. Happy New Year.

-Thank you.

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Great.

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Well, it was a bit of a mission, but we finally tracked down

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and bought everything on the list.

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And once we find Sue's restaurant, we can get cooking.

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Tucked away in the depths of Old Beijing,

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Sue's place is the perfect homely spot to enjoy

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a traditional New Year hotpot.

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So, what would you like us to do?

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So, we're going to slice it up.

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-Just slice?

-Yeah.

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As we chop up all those lovely Chinese veggies...

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-There it is, look at that.

-The design of that is brilliant.

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It's like a hardened loofah.

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..we get a hearty broth on the boil.

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And then in goes our beef.

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Just, like, drop it in here.

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It's like a Chinese fondue.

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-Oh, no.

-It's stuck there.

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The pot wants to have your piece of beef!

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It's sheer and utter genius, this.

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-It's theatre, isn't it?

-It is.

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I think it's done, yeah.

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It's time to let the New Year feasting begin.

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-What are you guys going for?

-Beef.

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THEY LAUGH

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-Oh!

-Hot?

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It's hotpot!

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Is it true that the Chinese like a bit of chew,

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like a little bite in food?

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Yes, we call it QQ, which is like chewiness.

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-Yeah?

-Like, if it bounces back...

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-Yeah.

-..that texture, we really like.

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Cooking and eating together at the table is just fantastic.

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No wonder this is a New Year favourite.

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-This would be a great thing to do at home.

-Mm.

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Just get yourself a little burner, a little pot,

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get the family around, don't burn yourself.

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It might not be as good as at Sue's though.

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Definitely, undoubtedly not.

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Another popular market at Chinese New Year

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is Beijing's flower market.

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The Chinese love to buy blooms during the Spring Festival

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to decorate their homes.

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Thousands of flowers are brought into Chinese cities every day

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at this time of year.

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Kate Humble has been exploring

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some of the biggest flower farms in China.

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-KATE HUMBLE:

-In the far south of the country lies Kunming,

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China's Spring City.

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Its warm and temperate climate has made this city the centre

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of the flower industry.

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Kunming and the surrounding area

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supplies 70% of all the flowers sold in China.

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I've come to one of the largest flower farms in the area, Jinyuan.

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I've never seen anything like it.

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It's more like a factory than a farm.

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Every single thing grown here is grown under plastic

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in these polytunnels, and they stretch for 500 acres.

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It's remarkable.

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The farm produces an unbelievable seven million flowers every year.

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Demand peaks in the run-up to Chinese New Year.

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During this time, they buy flowers like a gift

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and to celebrate.

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-You've got beautiful yellow, red, pink behind us.

-Yeah.

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Is there a particular colour that's particularly important

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for Chinese New Year?

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Red.

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It's a lovely place to work, surrounded by beautiful flowers.

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-You feel very happy..

-Yeah.

-..the whole day.

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This is big business, worth up to 30 million Chinese yuan per year.

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That's over £3 million.

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This one?

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That one. OK.

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They need to be...

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They need to be the same length?

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Right down there, yeah?

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OK. Got it.

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These ladies have been cutting roses all their working lives.

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They live locally to the farm, and apparently,

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they cut between 3,000 and 5,000 roses every morning.

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Right down there?

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I asked them if they grow flowers at home, but they don't.

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Vegetables - much more practical.

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This one?

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So, the harvesting happens just as the heads are starting to open up.

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And they're cut really far down so you get these lovely long stems.

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And there seems to be a way of bunching them,

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which I think I might have messed up already.

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Once the roses are cut, they come in here to be sorted,

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and that's what I'm doing.

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Basically, they're sorted by stem length,

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and once that's happened

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they get moved over to the packing area.

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And they're packed in sort of... carefully wrapped in cardboard,

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so you have a line of five blooms, cardboard folds over,

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another five blooms, and that's one pack.

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All really carefully protected.

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80% of the farm's roses are sold back in the city

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at the Kunming International Flora Auction Trading Centre -

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one of the biggest auctions in Asia.

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This is where wholesalers go to buy large quantities of flowers

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at cheap prices.

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This is the main flower auction in Yunnan,

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and flowers from all over the province will come here.

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There are about 100 different varieties,

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and as it gets closer to Chinese New Year,

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the pace just picks up exponentially.

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They've had to bring in 500 students just to go through all the flowers,

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count them, check them,

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and pack them into these orange crates.

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The smell here is unbelievable.

0:19:210:19:23

It's not highly perfumed,

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but it's just this amazing smell of, kind of, fresh-cut wood.

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It's just wonderful.

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This vast space serves as a viewing room

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which gives potential buyers the opportunity

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to inspect the flowers before bidding on them.

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What tells you that these are good and that you want to buy them?

0:19:420:19:45

In 2014, over 750 million fresh-cut flowers

0:19:550:20:01

were sold through here.

0:20:010:20:03

I'm used to agricultural auctions,

0:20:090:20:12

but this is quite unlike anything I've ever seen before.

0:20:120:20:15

This is an absolutely fascinating process.

0:20:180:20:21

I don't think I've ever been to an auction like this.

0:20:210:20:24

I'm used to kind of buying sheep.

0:20:240:20:27

Here, it's a bit like taking part in some sort of weird game show.

0:20:270:20:30

Everyone's sitting in front of these little consoles.

0:20:300:20:32

There is a man talking, but you have to wear headphones to listen to him.

0:20:320:20:35

And, obviously, I don't understand a word he's saying.

0:20:350:20:37

Unlike auctions that we're used to in Britain, this is a Dutch auction.

0:20:410:20:45

This means that the auction begins at a high asking price,

0:20:470:20:51

which is lowered until it reaches a price

0:20:510:20:53

that someone is willing to pay.

0:20:530:20:55

The orange dot represents the price.

0:20:570:21:00

When the dot stops, someone has bought a batch of blooms.

0:21:000:21:04

On average, a lot is sold every three seconds.

0:21:040:21:08

But it's crucial to hold your nerve until the price is right.

0:21:080:21:12

There's a real sense of concentration.

0:21:120:21:15

Quite a lot of smoking going on.

0:21:150:21:17

There's quite a lot of sort of nervous energy in the air.

0:21:170:21:21

The cheapest flowers can go for as little as 1p,

0:21:210:21:25

but these bidders will be buying in the hundreds and thousands.

0:21:250:21:28

Luckily, to help make sense of the bewildering numbers and lights,

0:21:280:21:32

I've got some help from a seasoned bidder.

0:21:320:21:36

-This is Mr Xiang. Mr Xiang, hello.

-Hello.

0:21:360:21:39

He's kind of adopted me. He's been showing me how to do it.

0:21:390:21:41

And very unwisely, has lent me his credit card.

0:21:410:21:44

Mr Xiang is buying a variety of roses for his store in Beijing.

0:21:450:21:49

What do you think?

0:21:520:21:53

OK.

0:21:570:21:58

Only on number one? All right.

0:21:580:22:00

Yeah.

0:22:000:22:01

I've got one!

0:22:080:22:09

Quite a lot of money.

0:22:090:22:11

It appears I've just bought Mr Xiang 200 Carola roses at 10p each.

0:22:130:22:20

I'm going to have to walk home at this rate.

0:22:220:22:24

All the way back to the UK!

0:22:240:22:26

It's so quick!

0:22:340:22:36

They're quick, these guys.

0:22:390:22:41

At peak times, like in the run-up to the New Year,

0:22:410:22:44

five million flowers can be sold here every day.

0:22:440:22:48

That's over 3,000 every minute.

0:22:480:22:50

Yes!

0:22:520:22:53

I've got 100 at .81.

0:22:550:22:57

-Was that a good one?

-Very good.

-Very good?

0:22:570:23:00

I could come and work for you, Mr Xiang.

0:23:020:23:04

You'd have no money!

0:23:040:23:06

Despite my help,

0:23:060:23:08

Mr Xiang purchases between 6,000 to 7,000 roses

0:23:080:23:11

at the total cost of 8,000 yuan, which is around £860.

0:23:110:23:17

These flowers will be sold to customers the very next day,

0:23:190:23:23

all ready for the New Year's Eve celebrations.

0:23:230:23:26

Back in Beijing, we're in one of the oldest parts of the city,

0:23:470:23:50

the Bell Tower.

0:23:500:23:51

It's been on this site since 1420. That's nearly 600 years old.

0:23:510:23:55

That's a long time. Look at the view. Wow!

0:23:550:23:59

Now, look, Beijing has changed a lot,

0:23:590:24:02

but it still has some of its ancient buildings.

0:24:020:24:04

And what you can see right over there, that is the Drum Tower,

0:24:040:24:08

which is in direct line of sight from here, the Bell Tower.

0:24:080:24:12

The Bell Tower, it houses this gigantic bronze bell.

0:24:120:24:16

It weighs in at a whopping 63 tonnes,

0:24:160:24:19

and it plays a vitally significant part

0:24:190:24:21

in the New Year's Eve celebrations.

0:24:210:24:24

Precisely at 12 o'clock on the dot, it's struck.

0:24:240:24:28

It's a bit like Beijing's Big Ben, and that lets the New Year in.

0:24:280:24:31

Now, the bell is struck by a big wooden ram

0:24:310:24:35

in the shape of a whale.

0:24:350:24:36

It's struck 108 times,

0:24:360:24:38

because that's significant as a lucky number for the Chinese.

0:24:380:24:41

-Now, there is a point, though - we can't strike the bell.

-Aye.

0:24:410:24:45

The reason being that some time ago,

0:24:450:24:47

the bell-ringers were practising.

0:24:470:24:49

The city thought there was an earthquake, or some such disaster,

0:24:490:24:52

so there's no ringing the bell until New Year's Eve.

0:24:520:24:56

But, you know, it is an incredible feat of engineering.

0:24:560:24:59

-Yeah.

-First - this is 600 years ago -

0:24:590:25:02

the bell, the model was made in butter and beeswax.

0:25:020:25:06

How mad is that?! Butter and beeswax!

0:25:060:25:08

And then a massive pit was dug,

0:25:080:25:11

and they worked from the top to the bottom.

0:25:110:25:15

They cast it, and poured 63 tonnes of molten bronze into that cast.

0:25:150:25:21

-Amazing.

-Well, ding-dong!

0:25:210:25:24

And I for one can't wait to hear that bell sound on New Year's Eve.

0:25:240:25:28

Talking of which, dude, we've got a party to get ready for.

0:25:280:25:31

Across town, a local family

0:25:360:25:38

have invited us to spend New Year's Eve with them,

0:25:380:25:41

and they've already started their preparations.

0:25:410:25:43

Like most Beijingers, Zhang Yen leads a busy modern life.

0:25:470:25:52

But each spring,

0:25:520:25:54

she and her family take a break to indulge in the traditions

0:25:540:25:58

that make this time of year so special.

0:25:580:26:02

Chinese New Year is the most important festival

0:26:020:26:06

in Chinese culture.

0:26:060:26:08

It is a festival that requires the whole family to get together,

0:26:080:26:11

so it gives us a concept of reunion.

0:26:110:26:14

Me and my husband are going to celebrate together with my parents,

0:26:170:26:22

and my sister, her whole family.

0:26:220:26:25

In the first five days of the New Year,

0:26:250:26:28

we're not supposed to do any cleaning,

0:26:280:26:30

so, before that, the whole house needs to be thoroughly cleaned,

0:26:300:26:35

and everyone in the family should get involved.

0:26:350:26:38

This year is special to our family

0:26:390:26:41

cos we have a few monkeys in the family,

0:26:410:26:45

cos this is the Year of the Monkey.

0:26:450:26:47

My mum, my sister, my brother-in-law and uncle and auntie,

0:26:470:26:51

they're all monkeys, so this is really their year.

0:26:510:26:55

While Yen and her sister pick up some last-minute decorations

0:26:570:27:00

from the market, the men of the family,

0:27:000:27:03

including three-year-old Zhiyuan, have an important appointment.

0:27:030:27:07

There is an interesting tradition that we need to have our haircut

0:27:070:27:12

before the Chinese New Year day.

0:27:120:27:15

But there's more to the traditional haircut than just looking your best.

0:27:150:27:19

Because in China we believe that if we have a haircut in the first month

0:27:190:27:25

of the New Year, then it will do harm to maternal uncle's health.

0:27:250:27:30

I don't personally understand why it has anything with the poor uncle!

0:27:300:27:35

As the Year of the Monkey is particularly important to Yen's family,

0:27:370:27:41

they're having some special decorations handmade.

0:27:410:27:44

Paper scrolls are normally put up on both sides of the doorway.

0:27:440:27:49

There are certain strict rules to mirror the words.

0:27:550:28:00

Like, if there is a character on the left-hand side saying "sky",

0:28:000:28:05

for example,

0:28:050:28:06

then they should be another one on the right-hand side saying "ground".

0:28:060:28:10

And if there is rain, there's wind.

0:28:100:28:12

If there is red, there's green.

0:28:120:28:14

So, it's kind of a thing that brings good blessing

0:28:150:28:20

and good wishes for the New Year.

0:28:200:28:23

This is the pair for our family, and here is us,

0:28:230:28:27

standing over the old year with three sheep.

0:28:270:28:31

And this one says, "Welcoming the new spring with six monkeys."

0:28:310:28:36

And Yen is with us now.

0:28:430:28:45

Yen, thank you so very much for the invitation.

0:28:450:28:47

Dave and I are really honoured that we're going to be celebrating

0:28:470:28:50

-New Year with your family.

-Welcome!

-Thank you.

-It's brilliant.

0:28:500:28:53

-Now, we want to be the perfect guests.

-Yeah.

0:28:530:28:56

So what can we do to help?

0:28:560:28:57

Um, you know, there's a saying in Chinese,

0:28:570:29:01

for the New Year, especially.

0:29:010:29:04

Oh, great.

0:29:070:29:08

Meaning a dumpling with baijiu -

0:29:080:29:10

the more you eat or drink, the richer you'll be.

0:29:100:29:13

-Oh!

-Ah!

-Sounds like our sort of party, that!

0:29:130:29:16

-It does. Baijiu.

-Baijiu.

0:29:160:29:18

So, if you don't mind bringing some baijiu in for us,

0:29:180:29:21

-that would be perfect.

-Of course.

0:29:210:29:23

-Well, that's a perfect job for us, dude.

-Absolutely!

0:29:230:29:26

-We'll get the booze. Baijiu?

-Yeah.

-Right, OK, we'll do that.

0:29:260:29:29

-And we'll see you a bit later on.

-Yeah, see you later.

-OK.

0:29:290:29:32

Where's Dave gone? Oi!

0:29:320:29:34

-Kingy!

-What on earth are you doing?

0:29:370:29:41

Kingy, I'm square dancing!

0:29:410:29:43

-You're what?

-I'm square dancing.

0:29:450:29:46

Or technically speaking, it's guangchang wu.

0:29:460:29:49

-Oh, is it really?

-Yeah.

0:29:490:29:50

What it is, it's what all the participants in the community

0:29:500:29:53

like to do to keep fit in China.

0:29:530:29:55

It started 20 years ago.

0:29:550:29:56

And, you know, it's so popular now more than 100 million Chinese people

0:29:560:30:01

practice guangchang wu every day.

0:30:010:30:04

Oh, well, I can see that all that work on Strictly

0:30:040:30:06

didn't go amiss then.

0:30:060:30:07

No, not at all.

0:30:070:30:09

So, it's kind of like t'ai chi and, like, swing dancing,

0:30:090:30:13

that type of thing.

0:30:130:30:15

Anyway, look, we've got a job on. Come here!

0:30:150:30:17

-How's my dancing going?

-Dancing, very good!

0:30:170:30:20

-Hey!

-Is it?

-Very good, very good.

0:30:200:30:22

Thank you.

0:30:220:30:23

I'm going to take him away now

0:30:230:30:25

-because we've got a job on for New Year's Eve.

-Kung hei fat choi.

0:30:250:30:28

Come on.

0:30:280:30:30

We've got to go and buy booze...

0:30:300:30:32

Listen, twinkle toes,

0:30:320:30:34

you seem to have forgotten we've got to get a bottle of the local tipple,

0:30:340:30:37

baijiu, to bring to the party tonight.

0:30:370:30:40

You're right, Kingy. We have to be certain we don't take any old plonk.

0:30:400:30:45

-Well, we want to make sure that we're buying the right baijiu...

-Mm-hm.

0:30:450:30:48

..so we need expert help, and we've found it

0:30:480:30:50

in the shape of Simon Dang,

0:30:500:30:52

who's the co-owner of this baijiu bar.

0:30:520:30:55

Now, Simon, what is baijiu?

0:30:550:30:58

Well, baijiu is a big classification,

0:30:580:31:01

and literally it means white spirit.

0:31:010:31:05

Let's say you had gin, vodka and, say, schnapps,

0:31:050:31:09

all in one category called white spirits.

0:31:090:31:12

Right. So, what do we have here, Simon?

0:31:120:31:14

This is the strong aroma.

0:31:140:31:15

-This is probably the most popular baijiu.

-OK.

0:31:150:31:18

It's from the Sichuan area, and it's blended and fermented,

0:31:180:31:21

and blended and fermented.

0:31:210:31:23

I think it has a complex flavour to it.

0:31:230:31:26

Are these baijiu glasses?

0:31:270:31:29

These are our official baijiu glasses, yes.

0:31:290:31:31

Oh! What's "cheers"?

0:31:330:31:35

-Ganbei.

-Ganbei.

-Ganbei!

0:31:350:31:37

It means "dry glass" - you've got to drink the whole thing.

0:31:370:31:40

Oh, great.

0:31:400:31:41

-Oh, yeah!

-I like that.

-Very different.

0:31:410:31:43

I love this little glass. I feel as though I'm in Lilliput.

0:31:430:31:46

It's dangerous because you can drink a lot of them really fast.

0:31:460:31:50

It goes down, it's got the fiery taste, but it has a cleaner finish.

0:31:500:31:53

-Pear drops.

-Marmite!

0:31:530:31:56

-Oh, yeah!

-I really like that.

0:31:560:31:59

-I do. That's good.

-That is good.

0:31:590:32:03

And this one, you'll see, has the light aroma, the Fenjiu.

0:32:030:32:07

So, this is popular in the North.

0:32:070:32:09

It's made with also some rice and also sorghum.

0:32:090:32:13

Well, very different on the nose.

0:32:150:32:17

On the nose as well, yeah.

0:32:170:32:19

And this one actually has more of a funky flavour to it, actually.

0:32:190:32:23

Some people have described it as kind of like a blue cheese

0:32:230:32:27

-kind of a taste to it.

-Mm.

-Mm.

0:32:270:32:30

Whoa! Baijiu! Never mind baijiu, by jove!

0:32:300:32:33

Flipping...

0:32:330:32:34

Hee! That's, erm... Yes.

0:32:350:32:38

There is a taste...

0:32:380:32:40

-There's a small...

-Like a burn, yes.

0:32:400:32:42

There's a small explosion just underneath your diaphragm.

0:32:420:32:45

-Phew!

-I like that!

0:32:450:32:47

-There is...

-It does give you a small levitation, a lift.

0:32:470:32:50

-I've just lost the power of speech.

-It's great!

0:32:500:32:53

Now, back to the job in hand.

0:32:530:32:55

We need a baijiu that we can take on New Year's Eve,

0:32:550:32:58

and we're cooking dumplings.

0:32:580:33:00

Which one goes well with dumplings?

0:33:000:33:02

I would recommend a light aroma,

0:33:020:33:05

so you could go with this Shanxi Fenjiu.

0:33:050:33:09

The light aroma is the most popular in the Beijing area.

0:33:090:33:11

-Really?

-Yeah.

-Thanks, Simon.

0:33:110:33:13

Righto, mission accomplished. It's the light baijiu for us.

0:33:130:33:17

Meanwhile, Ant Anstead has been at

0:33:170:33:19

one of the oldest distilleries in China

0:33:190:33:21

to unravel the mysteries of baijiu.

0:33:210:33:24

-ANT ANSTEAD:

-Baijiu is a tradition that is centuries old...

0:33:270:33:30

..and full of secrets.

0:33:310:33:33

Sichuan Province is famous for its fiery food,

0:33:410:33:44

but the city of Luzhou is also home to strong-aroma baijiu.

0:33:440:33:49

Pure water from the surrounding Phoenix Mountains

0:33:530:33:56

has long been a key part of the distilling process here.

0:33:560:33:59

I've come to the country's longest continually running distillery,

0:34:010:34:05

here in Luzhou Laojiao.

0:34:050:34:07

Here, they've been making baijiu for nearly 450 years.

0:34:070:34:10

The baijiu here is famous for its fierce liquorice flavours.

0:34:120:34:15

Letting me in on the secret is Anna Chen.

0:34:180:34:21

-This is our workshop.

-Wow!

0:34:220:34:26

What an amazing space.

0:34:270:34:29

It's a real hive of activity.

0:34:290:34:31

It's like a fiery inferno bursting with fumes.

0:34:320:34:35

Laojiao baijiu is made out of a grain called sorghum

0:34:400:34:42

which is constantly recycled.

0:34:420:34:44

Used sorghum is mixed with fresh grains for each batch,

0:34:470:34:51

meaning the drink has been flavoured with grains that are centuries-old.

0:34:510:34:55

Water, yeast and microbes begin the fermentation process.

0:34:570:35:02

-So, there's microbes...

-Yes.

-..grain, yeast,

0:35:030:35:07

and it gets put in the pit and it ferments?

0:35:070:35:09

Yes.

0:35:090:35:11

-So, how long does that take?

-Three to six months.

0:35:110:35:14

Some of these ancient pits have been in continuous use since 1573,

0:35:160:35:20

and have passed through centuries of China's tumultuous history -

0:35:200:35:23

from imperial dynasties to Chairman Mao's Little Red Book.

0:35:230:35:27

After fermentation, the powerful blend is transferred

0:35:270:35:30

into large distilling vats.

0:35:300:35:32

So, basically, he's spreading it out inside here...

0:35:340:35:36

-Yes.

-..and then this gets heated up and boiled.

0:35:360:35:39

How long will it be in the boiler for?

0:35:390:35:41

About 30 minutes.

0:35:410:35:43

-Just 30 minutes?

-Yes.

0:35:430:35:45

Steam rises up through the fermented sorghum,

0:35:450:35:49

and finally condenses into this mighty drink.

0:35:490:35:51

I've been invited by one of the distillery workers

0:35:590:36:02

to a local restaurant to learn the special art of drinking baijiu.

0:36:020:36:06

Thanks to Confucius,

0:36:080:36:10

etiquette is a vital part of Chinese life,

0:36:100:36:12

so there are centuries-old rituals that need to be observed.

0:36:120:36:16

So, you're the host. What's your role?

0:36:160:36:19

As a host, we will toast three times.

0:36:190:36:21

-Ganbei.

-OTHERS:

-Ganbei.

-Ganbei.

0:36:210:36:23

Once the host has toasted three times,

0:36:260:36:30

it seems fair game for anyone else to raise their glass.

0:36:300:36:33

Guests always come first.

0:36:330:36:36

So, what if you're on a table with 20 people?

0:36:360:36:39

20 people, then one by one.

0:36:390:36:42

Friends...

0:36:420:36:44

Baijiu is generally brought out for formal occasions and celebrations.

0:36:440:36:48

Cheers! Cheers.

0:36:510:36:53

It's just as well, because some of us are struggling to keep up.

0:36:530:36:58

-Are you OK?

-OK.

-Good man.

0:36:580:37:01

So, when you're in having business meetings,

0:37:010:37:03

do you drink for a business meeting?

0:37:030:37:05

Yes, yes.

0:37:050:37:07

How do you get any work done?

0:37:070:37:09

OK, ganbei!

0:37:090:37:10

In modern China, baijiu is an essential part

0:37:100:37:13

of business etiquette.

0:37:130:37:15

And once you're in a toasting round, it's tricky to get out.

0:37:150:37:19

It sounds like a drinking game.

0:37:230:37:25

It's not actually a drinking game. It's drinking tradition.

0:37:250:37:29

If you want to play some drinking games, five, ten.

0:37:290:37:33

-No.

-No. This is drinking games.

0:37:330:37:35

Last time I played a drinking game, I ended up naked.

0:37:350:37:38

I think I better leave the baijiu to the experts.

0:37:380:37:42

-Happy New Year.

-Happy New Year. Happy New Year.

-Happy New Year.

0:37:420:37:46

-Ganbei!

-Ganbei.

-Ganbei.

0:37:460:37:47

-SI KING:

-Back in Beijing,

0:37:560:37:57

people are making their preparations

0:37:570:38:00

for tonight's New Year celebrations.

0:38:000:38:02

And we've had an invitation that's too good to turn down.

0:38:020:38:06

Now, look, as you well know,

0:38:060:38:07

there's one thing that Dave and I love to do on our travels,

0:38:070:38:10

and that's cook with local people in their homes.

0:38:100:38:13

There's never a more authentic experience

0:38:130:38:15

then seeing how things are done for real,

0:38:150:38:18

-and tonight is a special night.

-Ooh!

0:38:180:38:21

It's New Year's Eve!

0:38:210:38:22

So, this is the equivalent of seeing how a family in the UK

0:38:220:38:26

would cook their Christmas dinner.

0:38:260:38:28

-I can't wait. I'm excited.

-Yes!

-Oh-ho-ho!

0:38:280:38:31

-Hello, hi.

-Hey!

-Hi.

0:38:330:38:38

Yen, who invited us for dinner earlier,

0:38:380:38:40

has asked us to help her and her family make a traditional meal

0:38:400:38:44

for tonight's celebrations.

0:38:440:38:46

My uncle, my husband and brother-in-law.

0:38:460:38:48

Hello, sir. Very nice to meet you.

0:38:480:38:51

-Ni hao.

-Ni hao. Ni hao.

0:38:510:38:54

And this is my auntie and mum.

0:38:540:38:56

-They're starting the preparations for the dinner already.

-Oh, hello.

0:38:560:39:01

We're going to be making one of my favourite things

0:39:010:39:03

in the whole world - dumplings.

0:39:030:39:06

Out in the dining room,

0:39:060:39:07

Yen's dad has already made a start on the filling for the dumplings.

0:39:070:39:10

So, there is the fennel going in and what else is there?

0:39:100:39:14

-Yeah, and mince.

-And mince.

-Mince, yeah.

-Is it pork?

0:39:140:39:16

-Pork mince.

-Yes, it is pork.

-Wow.

0:39:160:39:19

-It's great party food.

-Look at your face.

0:39:200:39:23

-Fresh dumplings.

-Look, look.

0:39:230:39:25

-Dumplings.

-They used to call me "Dumpling" when I was a baby.

0:39:260:39:29

-They did.

-I think it was cause of the way I looked.

0:39:290:39:32

Dumpling Dave. I don't care, I'm happy.

0:39:320:39:35

I know you are, mate.

0:39:350:39:37

Right then, Dumpling Dave,

0:39:370:39:38

it's about time we got down to business.

0:39:380:39:40

-What do you think?

-Too right, Kingy.

0:39:400:39:43

I can't wait to get stuck in.

0:39:430:39:44

This is a masterclass in dumpling making.

0:39:460:39:48

-OK, I'll show you how to do this.

-Yeah?

-So, you take the dough...

0:39:480:39:51

You just use, like, this bit.

0:39:510:39:54

And the shape of the dumpling is very significant, isn't it?

0:39:540:39:57

This shape of dumpling, exactly, when you see it,

0:39:570:40:00

-when I close it...

-Yeah?

-..it looks like a Chinese golden ingot.

0:40:000:40:05

-Yes.

-That was currency in the old times.

0:40:050:40:08

Basically, the money.

0:40:080:40:09

So, that's why they say if you eat more dumplings

0:40:090:40:12

-you can make more money next year.

-I'm going to be rich next year.

0:40:120:40:15

-So, that's a good sign.

-You sure are.

-You've got a lot of filling in there, as well.

0:40:150:40:19

-They're not mean dumplings.

-No, they're not, are they?

0:40:190:40:22

Remember to turn your ends up.

0:40:220:40:23

Yeah, it's a bit difficult the first time when you try this.

0:40:230:40:27

Yeah, that one is great.

0:40:270:40:29

We tend to put it this way.

0:40:290:40:31

In a circle, that means reunion to us.

0:40:310:40:34

-There's so much tradition...

-Yes.

-..in Chinese culture, isn't there?

0:40:340:40:38

Especially at this time, Chinese New Year.

0:40:380:40:41

It's magical.

0:40:410:40:42

Ah, I've got the crimp now. That's it.

0:40:420:40:45

She loves it.

0:40:480:40:50

Yeah!

0:40:500:40:52

If Claudia Schiffer was a dumpling, she'd be that one.

0:40:520:40:55

Looks more like Quasimodo.

0:40:550:40:57

No, it's not. That one's cracking.

0:40:570:41:00

Yours looks like Frank Bruno.

0:41:000:41:02

Yeah, fair enough.

0:41:040:41:05

"Yeah, fair enough, Harry!"

0:41:050:41:06

In the old times, we used to put a coin inside,

0:41:060:41:10

so anyone in the family eats that one

0:41:100:41:13

means this person gets the best luck in the whole year.

0:41:130:41:15

-So, that's the magic dumpling.

-Yeah, but this...

-So, in England...

-Yeah?

0:41:150:41:19

..we have a tradition about putting a coin in the Christmas pudding.

0:41:190:41:23

Wow.

0:41:230:41:24

So, whoever gets the Christmas pudding, it's the same.

0:41:240:41:28

Nowadays, we'd consider the hygienic part

0:41:280:41:31

and then we'd change it with peanuts.

0:41:310:41:33

-Ah.

-Yeah.

0:41:330:41:34

But what happens if you've had too much baijiu to drink

0:41:340:41:37

and you just eat your peanut?

0:41:370:41:39

That's why we're going to put a few rather than just one.

0:41:390:41:42

Ah! I see!

0:41:420:41:45

Yen's mum puts the peanut in the lucky dumpling

0:41:450:41:48

and pops it on the plate.

0:41:480:41:50

Now, they're ready to cook in the steamer.

0:41:500:41:53

While the dumplings are steaming away, Yen's aunt

0:41:560:42:00

is cooking the rest of dinner.

0:42:000:42:02

Looks like it's going to be quite a feast.

0:42:020:42:05

But there's still work to be done.

0:42:050:42:07

We lend a hand laying the table ready for the big meal.

0:42:070:42:10

So, here we are, our favourite moment -

0:42:120:42:16

eating the food.

0:42:160:42:17

This is magnificent. Just tell us what's on the table.

0:42:170:42:20

-It's fantastic.

-So, normally in the New Year's Eve

0:42:200:42:24

dinner like this, we must have a fish here.

0:42:240:42:27

This also has the similar pronunciation

0:42:270:42:30

of extra, wealthy, rich, so that means every year we have wealth.

0:42:300:42:35

Apart from that, we also should have chicken, duck, beef, pork.

0:42:350:42:40

Everything. Tofu, vegetables.

0:42:400:42:42

It means a plenty and rich life.

0:42:420:42:44

What a feast.

0:42:440:42:46

-And of course we've brought baijiu!

-Wow!

0:42:460:42:51

Is this a good one?

0:42:510:42:52

Have we done all right?

0:42:530:42:54

Top ten! Yay!

0:42:560:42:57

Thank you!

0:42:570:42:59

LAUGHTER

0:42:590:43:00

-Cheers!

-Cheers.

0:43:000:43:02

What an honour to be part of Yen's family New Year's celebrations.

0:43:040:43:07

They've made us feel right at home.

0:43:070:43:10

Is the moustache straight?

0:43:100:43:11

Yeah.

0:43:110:43:13

The dumplings are going down a treat and the drink is starting to flow.

0:43:130:43:18

You're not wrong there, mate.

0:43:180:43:19

-Bottoms up!

-Bottoms up. Yeah.

0:43:190:43:22

Woo!

0:43:240:43:25

Brilliant.

0:43:250:43:26

That's good.

0:43:280:43:30

To be perfectly honest,

0:43:300:43:31

it's the best New Year I've ever had.

0:43:310:43:34

And I've had a few.

0:43:340:43:36

-We have.

-Oh, more dumplings. HE LAUGHS

0:43:360:43:39

He's full of baijiu and dumplings. That's it, he's in seventh heaven.

0:43:390:43:43

-This is lamb.

-The lamb ones.

0:43:430:43:45

Oh, right, OK.

0:43:450:43:47

Well, I think it's time for a toast.

0:43:490:43:51

And traditionally around a Chinese table

0:43:510:43:54

the toast goes to the host, and,

0:43:540:43:57

Yen, I think it's your uncle who's going to make the toast tonight.

0:43:570:44:00

-Welcome.

-Thank you.

0:44:090:44:11

-It's a great, great honour. Thank you very much.

-Thank you.

0:44:110:44:15

-Ganbei.

-Ganbei.

0:44:150:44:17

THEY CHEER

0:44:190:44:21

A meal like this is a Chinese institution,

0:44:210:44:24

but there's one other institution that we simply can't miss.

0:44:240:44:28

And that's the Chunwan Gala.

0:44:280:44:29

I mean, it's the most-watched TV show on the planet,

0:44:290:44:32

and every household in China and beyond will be watching it.

0:44:320:44:37

And it's on the telly over there.

0:44:370:44:38

And here's Jing with a backstage pass.

0:44:380:44:41

JING LUSI: It's China's biggest party - TV on a huge scale.

0:44:440:44:49

The Chunwan Gala.

0:44:490:44:52

An epic extravaganza viewed by millions at New Year,

0:44:520:44:56

it is the most-watched TV show on earth.

0:44:560:45:00

Running live for four hours, each of the selected 1,000 acts

0:45:000:45:04

rehearse for up to a year to make the big night run like clockwork.

0:45:040:45:08

I've come to the national state TV broadcaster,

0:45:160:45:19

China Central Television,

0:45:190:45:21

on the day of their first dress rehearsal to discover

0:45:210:45:24

what goes into putting on such a huge production.

0:45:240:45:28

Now, incredibly, despite this being a Chinese institution

0:45:290:45:32

that has been going for over 30 years,

0:45:320:45:34

we're one of the very few foreign film crews that have ever been

0:45:340:45:37

allowed to film backstage at the event.

0:45:370:45:39

This is TV on a huge scale, and it's extraordinary.

0:45:390:45:43

The acts have been rehearsing relentlessly.

0:45:450:45:48

For many of them, this could be their big break.

0:45:480:45:52

The show features every type of Chinese entertainment including,

0:45:520:45:56

of course, martial arts.

0:45:560:45:57

After a very lengthy selection process,

0:46:200:46:23

Li Yuhai and his martial arts team from Shandong

0:46:230:46:26

heard they'd beaten the competition

0:46:260:46:28

and would be appearing on the show live to the nation.

0:46:280:46:32

Appearing on such a massive show,

0:46:520:46:54

every move will have to be absolutely perfect.

0:46:540:46:57

The pressure is immense.

0:46:570:46:59

Look at the little kids. Oh, they're so cute.

0:47:020:47:05

And this is an outfit and a half.

0:47:050:47:07

Oh, OK, OK.

0:47:110:47:13

With over a thousand performers and an even bigger army of crew

0:47:130:47:17

and technicians,

0:47:170:47:18

I've come to meet artistic director Lu Yitao

0:47:180:47:21

on the day of the first dress rehearsal.

0:47:210:47:24

So, this is the most-watched show in the entire world.

0:47:270:47:30

That's insane.

0:47:360:47:37

I mean, you must start with a lot of acts.

0:47:400:47:43

What you think about our martial arts guys?

0:47:450:47:47

I'm off to find Yihai and the boys.

0:47:590:48:01

It'll be their final run through before going into the full studio -

0:48:010:48:05

the last chance to pull all their practice together

0:48:050:48:08

before facing the cameras for the first time.

0:48:080:48:10

And now, finally it's their turn to do it in front of the cameras.

0:48:340:48:38

And that's it, they're in.

0:48:380:48:39

Through those doors is the main stage and they're about

0:48:390:48:42

to do the performance of a lifetime.

0:48:420:48:43

The vast production line is a huge logistics challenge

0:48:450:48:49

as over a thousand acts from all over China await

0:48:490:48:52

their slot in the main studio.

0:48:520:48:53

He's breathing so heavily.

0:49:040:49:06

Oh, thank you so much.

0:49:100:49:13

It's been great to meet you and good luck on the night, yeah?

0:49:130:49:15

-Happy New Year.

-Happy new year.

-Bye-bye.

-Bye-bye.

0:49:150:49:20

And on New Year's Eve,

0:49:210:49:23

all of China gets to see Yihai and his team's

0:49:230:49:27

flawless performance.

0:49:270:49:28

Now, the gala is in full swing,

0:49:420:49:44

so just before we sit down to watch it,

0:49:440:49:47

there is one more Chinese tradition that we have to adhere to.

0:49:470:49:51

The family photo.

0:49:510:49:54

Right, Dave, go. Oh, you're there.

0:49:580:50:00

-ALL:

-Xinnian Kuaile!

0:50:020:50:05

Here in Beijing, we're just hours away

0:50:070:50:09

from ringing in the new year.

0:50:090:50:11

Kate, meanwhile, in Hong Kong has a very different New Year

0:50:110:50:15

at one of the most incredible temples that you would ever see.

0:50:150:50:19

KATE HUMBLE: Nestled in the heart

0:50:220:50:24

of the only landlocked district in Hong Kong

0:50:240:50:27

is the astonishing Wong Tai Sin Temple...

0:50:270:50:30

..which is home to three religions -

0:50:330:50:35

Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism.

0:50:350:50:38

This is one of the most popular temples in Hong Kong

0:50:390:50:42

and it draws huge numbers of people here every single day.

0:50:420:50:46

But on New Year's Eve, this place is absolutely heaving.

0:50:460:50:51

There could be as many as 100,000 people here in the evening.

0:50:510:50:55

People come here every day to make an offering of incense sticks

0:51:010:51:04

and to pray, but on New Year's Eve,

0:51:040:51:06

it's a particularly important day to come and to ask for health

0:51:060:51:10

and good fortune for the coming year.

0:51:100:51:12

What really brings the crowds to Wong Tai Sin

0:51:150:51:18

is the chance to have their fortune told

0:51:180:51:21

according to an ancient practice known as kau cim.

0:51:210:51:25

To tell your fortune,

0:51:250:51:27

you have to take a bamboo vessel filled with 100 prayer sticks

0:51:270:51:30

and shake it until one falls out.

0:51:300:51:34

That numbered stick is then interpreted by a fortune teller.

0:51:340:51:37

To take me through the process, I'm meeting Wilson Orr,

0:51:400:51:44

who has worked here for the past 30 years.

0:51:440:51:47

-You have to kneel down here.

-OK.

-Do that.

0:51:480:51:51

-Yeah.

-And then tell our God...

0:51:510:51:54

-Yeah.

-..first of all, your name.

0:51:540:51:55

-Yeah.

-Your date of birth.

0:51:550:51:58

-Yeah.

-And then the question.

0:51:580:52:01

OK. So, this is going to be my secret.

0:52:010:52:03

You have no idea what I'm asking.

0:52:030:52:06

Perfect. And this is a number I always like.

0:52:150:52:19

Oh, that I like to hear.

0:52:190:52:21

-17.

-So, number 17.

-Yeah.

0:52:210:52:23

Now, usually my numbered stick would be read by a fortune teller,

0:52:250:52:29

but this is Hong Kong -

0:52:290:52:31

a city where tradition meets technology

0:52:310:52:34

like nowhere else on earth,

0:52:340:52:35

and my fortune is going to be told by a machine.

0:52:350:52:39

-So, is this it?

-Yeah, this is the machine.

0:52:410:52:43

Well, in the old days, if you wanted the answer, of course,

0:52:430:52:47

we have the book.

0:52:470:52:49

But now we are using some new technology

0:52:490:52:52

to help to make life easier.

0:52:520:52:54

-And your God doesn't mind?

-No, no.

0:52:540:52:57

All you have to do is touch a sensor, select print here,

0:52:570:53:01

-and that's it.

-Really?

-Yes, and the messages come here.

0:53:010:53:05

So, there it is. That is the answer to my question.

0:53:050:53:09

I'd love to tell you what it says, but it's a secret.

0:53:110:53:14

The temple might seem tranquil today,

0:53:170:53:20

but tonight, on New Year's Eve...

0:53:200:53:21

..it's a completely different story.

0:53:230:53:25

Thousands of people are queuing up outside the temple gates

0:53:280:53:31

getting ready to burn incense and make their wishes

0:53:310:53:35

to bring good fortune for the coming year.

0:53:350:53:39

The crowds are already gathering for this,

0:53:390:53:42

the most auspicious time of the New Year's celebrations

0:53:420:53:47

here in Hong Kong.

0:53:470:53:48

Do you think this year is going to be a good year for monkeys?

0:53:480:53:50

-Yes.

-You do?

-Good luck for the monkey.

0:53:500:53:53

-Good luck for the monkey.

-Yes.

0:53:530:53:54

Well, now that I've met you, I think everything is going to be fine.

0:53:540:53:57

Yes, thank you.

0:53:570:53:59

Good luck for everybody.

0:53:590:54:01

So, how long have you been here so that you're at the front of the queue?

0:54:010:54:04

-Around two o'clock.

-Two o'clock?

-Yeah.

0:54:040:54:07

-Really?

-Yeah.

-So, you're going to queue for ten hours,

0:54:070:54:09

it's that important?

0:54:090:54:11

It's the lady in pink that I particularly like.

0:54:130:54:15

She's got this sort of very fluffy,

0:54:150:54:18

rather friendly looking cat on her sweatshirt, but her face says,

0:54:180:54:22

"No-one messes with me."

0:54:220:54:24

Now the crowd are really pushing forward.

0:54:240:54:27

There's going to be this almighty shove,

0:54:270:54:29

I think, to get right to the front of the queue.

0:54:290:54:32

I'm wondering if my wish earlier on

0:54:320:54:36

at this temple should have been that I don't get crushed tonight!

0:54:360:54:40

This evening, the temple opens at nine,

0:54:420:54:44

and being the first to enter and make an offering

0:54:440:54:47

is considered particularly lucky.

0:54:470:54:49

And these worshippers will stop at nothing to beat the crowd.

0:54:530:54:58

-Is it like this every year?

-Yes, every year.

0:54:580:55:00

Once they're inside, worshippers collect incense sticks.

0:55:060:55:10

The crowd is moving through with their unlit sticks

0:55:100:55:14

going through here and getting them lit,

0:55:140:55:16

and then they're walking back up towards the temple.

0:55:160:55:19

The sticks are placed at the temple's altars

0:55:230:55:25

whilst they wish for good fortune in the new year.

0:55:250:55:29

The incense smoke carries their messages to the gods.

0:55:300:55:34

For those most dedicated to attracting good luck,

0:55:360:55:39

there's the chance to make an especially auspicious offering

0:55:390:55:42

on the stroke of midnight.

0:55:420:55:44

The crowd here are waiting patiently.

0:55:440:55:47

Many of them have been here for five or six hours.

0:55:470:55:50

And here they come.

0:55:500:55:52

There's a real tangible sense of joy and achievement

0:55:560:55:59

that they've made it.

0:55:590:56:01

This clearly matters so much.

0:56:010:56:04

CHEERING

0:56:040:56:06

SHE LAUGHS

0:56:060:56:08

And that is "Happy New Year" from Hong Kong.

0:56:080:56:12

-SI KING:

-Back in Beijing, the firecrackers are so loud

0:56:250:56:28

we're going to need subtitles.

0:56:280:56:30

Some might say it's about time!

0:56:300:56:33

It's a stunning end to our New Year's Eve in Beijing,

0:57:100:57:13

but the festivities will continue for another 15 days.

0:57:130:57:17

Tomorrow night, Kate will be bringing the show from Hong Kong.

0:57:170:57:21

Thanks, guys. Yes, tomorrow night and tonight

0:57:230:57:26

we'll be here in Hong Kong together joining the New Year's celebrations

0:57:260:57:29

which will be going on for the next couple of days.

0:57:290:57:32

I can promise you lion dancing,

0:57:320:57:34

a spectacular night parade and four-and-a-half tonnes of fireworks

0:57:340:57:38

lighting up the iconic Hong Kong skyline.

0:57:380:57:41

Don't even think about missing it.

0:57:410:57:43

It's amazing to think that the warmth,

0:57:460:57:49

intimacy and excitement we've experienced here

0:57:490:57:52

with Yen's family is just a tiny part

0:57:520:57:55

of the billion people letting off fireworks all over China.

0:57:550:57:59

What an incredible experience, eh, Kingy?

0:57:590:58:02

The Hairy Bikers Dave Myers and Si King take us to New Year's Eve in Beijing, following an extraordinary day in China's capital city. They experience life in the mega-city on this special day, from preparations at the bell tower, which can only ever ring on the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, to a Beijing family, the Zhangs, who are getting ready for the biggest family get-together of the year. The whole city comes to a halt as everyone gathers round dinner tables to tuck into the traditional reunion dinner.

Jing Lusi goes behind the scenes at what some call the world's most popular television show - CCTV's Chunwan Gala, watched by 800 million viewers. For the performers, this is a make-or-break opportunity. Kate Humble takes part in a huge flower auction in the warmer Yunnan province as bales of flowers - mostly lucky red roses - are sold to hit the shops in time for new year. Ant Anstead discovers how the spirit baijiu is made in 450-year-old pits and learns the subtle etiquette that surrounds its drinking.