It's been a really long time since I have not felt anything when the Chinese New Year quietly arrived.
But it returned early in the morning in the haze of the Chinese sun, the day after I arrived in East Huizhou.
Red should be the color of the Chinese New Year. Certainly for this neighborhood store. The floor in front of it was dyed red as if by thousands of petals of the Chinese plum or prune flowers which bloom around this time of the year. The store brought back memories of a similar store across the street right opposite to the first floor verandah of our house when I was still a kid. It brought back the smell of peanuts fried with 5-spice powders, of peanut candy, the smell of fresh bread, the pungent smell of pickled yellow "Kai Choi" sprinkled with red ginger powder and white seasame, pickled spring onion, pickled papaya, salted dry prune (wa mui), ngun lin, ka ying chi, red ginger, yellow ginger strips and a dozen other mouth watering snacks which I used to buy from that store and in which I begged for the caps of various types of bottled soda drinks so I could play our favourite game of "flicking caps of Dutch drinks" on the ground with the neighborhood boys. On the late morning of first day of each Chinese New Year, I would go to that store and say "Kung Hei Fat Choi" with the best smile I could conjure up for the delight of the fokis there in the hope that I would be given a red packet plus some snacks as new year gifts. I was never disappointed.
This lady in red is mumbling some pious prayer to her favorite local god first thing in the morning.
Another girl in a nearby store has her joss sticks right in front of the make-shift joss stick basin and saying her own private prayers. Perhaps finding a good husband this year?
This old lady is well past that age. Maybe praying for better business for her store. Look at the size of her joss sticks!
This electrical machine repair shop has already lit its huge string of firecrackers. But a few red lanterns are still sitting on the ground, not yet put up.
Never saw so many fragments of red firecracker paper before. In fact, nearly half the sidewalks are in a similar condition.
The owner of this roadside peddlar table has decided to take a few days off.
No double steamed milk pudding, icecream, milk tea or milk shake and no nothing today.
An empty fireworks carton from the previous night.
Big fireworks, small fireworks. All kinds of fireworks are lit at night. There's hardly any night when I did not see firework displays or hear the sound of firecrackers. In rural towns, old new year customs die hard.
combing the deserted street for more photos
The sun has been up some time. Hardly any store is open for business.
Everywhere, we find a twig of fir leaf is placed on the joss stick basin for good luck.
Some with just joss sticks, others with red candles as well.
I don't know why the burned tips of the joss stick don't fall off but are curled up as if tied into complicated looking knots.
a red balloon to start off the year in this stationery store for students
Ah, some one has just lit another string of fire crackers
What appears to be a wish banner lying on the floor. I wonder why.
another string of fire cracker has just been lit.
Little left now except lingering smoke and the last few cracker
another smouldering heap of red.
Before I'm done with the previous one, another string of firecrackers has been lit at the end of the street. I suppose this must be an auspicious moment for "opening the year"
still cracking away
"Here another string of cracker for you crazy photographers!"
It feels really good to see the bright almost whitish yellow of the crackers with bits of red paper flying around it to the thundering machine gun like sound of the crackers. That's Chinese New Year! The kind we're forbidden to have since the riots of 1967!
It's one thing to see firecrackers being lit. It's something totally different to light it yourself.
There it goes !
After the first explosion, sometimes it may take a bit of time for the fuse to light up the next cracker especially when the next has a long fuse or there's not sufficient gun powder on the fuse.
But you never really know whether the next one is a long or a short fuse or has more or less gun powder. So it's wise to run off as quickly as possible once it is lit.
This one probably hasn't got enough gun powder.
Ah, too bad, it looks as if the next one is a dud.
But it hasn't gone completely extinct. There's still smoke. There's hope yet.
The smoke is getting thinner and thinner
No, it's getting thicker again !!!
and thicker still !!!
Oh, must be a mistake, it's just that some red paper lit previously by the firecracker burning quietly on the ground
Maybe we're wrong? I hope not.
Oh, it looks as if our guess may be right. What a let down. !
Never mind. Let's get another string of firecrackers.
a much longer string of more powerful ones.
It's started. Look at those flying bits of red ! Ho, ho, ho, a long way to go before we'd reach the last one! We can expect a long string of little joys!
What an explosion !
followed by some less powerful explosions
That's a big one !
with a few flying off to the side
leaving behind a huge cloud of smoke
Another one flying up high and exploding !
No, not just one but several !!!
Coming down now !
Wow, look at that flying strip in the cloud of smoke !
And all those bits of red flying off in the air in all directions !
The final explosions!
This is our new year firework display. But it's not quite the same thing. So tame. No way I'm not going to prefer those I saw in China. They're just so much more authentically Chinese. I can still hear those strings of bigger and smaller bangs as the fire crackers set off the chain of explosions down that sloping street!