A Chinese Funeral

Grandpa Funeral

What do Chinese people do in a funeral? I don’t know what other Chinese do, but my family recently had a funeral for my grandpa and it was nice and low key.

Since we’re not that religious and no one knew what Buddhist sutras were appropriate or even how to chant them, we outsourced that part and hired monks from a nearby temple.  It may seem strange that even though we’re not religious, we hired Buddhist monks, but it makes sense to Chinese people who by default believe at least in some parts of Buddhism.

Hiring monks turned out to be a good idea because not only did they come and chant for us, but they also instructed us about all the traditions that go with a funeral: what food offerings to make, what food to eat during the wake, what offerings to make for dinner, etc.  They met us at the chapel and passed around sutra books and started the chanting.  Afterward, we did the incense burning and walking once around the coffin.  Even though traditionally, everyone has to burn three sticks of incense, it was okay to take shortcuts and just have each person burn one stick because my extended family was so large.

Grandpa Funeral

Although it’s not a Buddhist belief at all, my family also burned paper sacrifices to send to the afterlife.  There was a large two story house made out of paper, a paper BMW, paper gold and silver mountains, and of course, paper money.  Some of the paper money said “Hell bank note” on them, which I thought was weird. I guess hell isn’t such a bad place to be for the Chinese.

After the funeral, the whole family went to a vegetarian restaurant for lunch.  The vegetarian food is supposed to be an offering or sacrifice to Buddha to make him happy.  According to my dad, there must be a tofu dish at lunch.

The dinner following the funeral was almost the complete opposite of lunch. It was full of chicken, pork, and fish because it’s an offering to my grandpa, who happens to enjoy his meat.  We cooked some of his favorite dishes: roasted suckling pig with the crackly skin, steamed fish, fried fish, and various meat-filled dim sum (we bought those).

Before the family could eat, an altar was set up outside with plates of the food, dessert, fruit, cups of tea, and cups of alcohol for grandpa to eat.  Then, candles and incense were lit.  The adults of my parents’ generation couldn’t eat until the incense burned down because that was when grandpa was done eating. The kids just dug in at the kids’ table.

It seemed strange for a not-so-religious or superstitious family like mine to perform these funeral rites, but most of them were tradition and passed from one generation to the next.  I think at least for that day, everyone believed in them.

Ace Hotel (Palm Springs)

Ace HotelThe BF and I wanted a calm, low-key, relaxing vacation for the weekend.  I wanted to check out the Ace Hotel. That’s how we ended up in Palm Springs.  For a place that’s known (according to my boss) only for four things — golf, tennis, shopping, and sitting by the pool, Palm Springs isn’t usually a place we’re jumping to visit but the hotel made it a vacation spot.

Ace Hotel

The first feature that caught my interest about the hotel were the rooms. These aren’t your mom and dad’s hotel rooms. There’s no tacky floral bedspread and bright orange faux-wood dresser.  The rooms look like a room that I’d actually want to live in.  We got a standard room which came with a huge bed (with denim headboard) and two smaller kid-sized beds that could be partitioned off with curtains.  Good for a family, I suppose.

Ace Hotel

Ever since staying at The Serrano in SF where there was a complimentary robe, I’ve been a big fan of hotel bathrobes.  The ones at Ace were comfy and long — perfect for wearing to the pool (which we did), wearing to the sauna (which we did), and just lounging around in (which we also did).  It’s weird that I’m such a big fan of bathrobes in hotels, but I don’t own one at home.

The only bad thing about Ace Hotel is that because the place is so hip and the clientele is made up of young people, the hotel gets pretty rowdy.  It wasn’t too bad during our stay there, except that the hotel was hosting some skateboarding company thing and there were a lot of teenagers staying the night. Rude, loud teenagers who needed a kick in the face at 3 in the morning.  I would guess that the place gets even more rowdy during the busier season of summer.  I’d hate to get a room facing the main pool or any main area where the DJ spins.

Because I don’t do golfing or tennis, I spent most of my time lounging by the poolside reading a book (they have hammocks!) or actually in the hot tub and heated pool.  There’s also a spa with a masseuse on-site with pretty fancy rooms, which was really nice.

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Although the rooms were pricier than what most of the other hotels are charging, the amenities (a heated pool, a clean hot tub, public fireplaces, a great steam room, awesome bathrobes, etc.) are certainly worth it.  I probably wouldn’t schedule a massage and scrub every time I stayed at the hotel, but if every city I visited had an Ace, I’d probably rack up a lot of frequent flier miles with them as long as they could give me a some-what quiet room away from the nighttime ruckus.

Ace Hotel & Swim Club
701 E Palm Canyon Dr
Palm Springs, CA 92264
(760) 325-9900