Year of the Ram
CNY, no not Crosby, Nash, Young, I don’t think Stills would approve. HK CNY as I have come to see it written in print articles and online tour advisories, stands for Hong Kong Chinese New Year. More accurately/simply it is the lunar new year. CNY is a festive week of visiting family, and handing out Li Xi (pronounced Lie Cee), which is lucky money distributed most commonly in gold calligraphy, embellished red envelopes. Families will get together at varying family homes depending upon the date to eat and be merry. Children visit their parents’ home, first a night at the paternal grandparents and then an evening at the maternal grandparents and stops for shopping along the way. Children are always the main recipients of Li Xi and extra lucky for them, it is consider luckiest to put two matching bills in each envelope, meaning grandmas all over China have to fork over double dough to ensure luck through out the year for their precious grandchildren. Today, I’m sure grandma feels a lot less lucky when her grandchild uses his/her Li Xi for a new Nerf cannon that he/she then bombards granny with.
My CNY experience was a little different. I did get to visit with my Mom, she arrived on the 3rd of February, but she didn’t give me Li Xi. School was out for the week of CNY, so I used it to show my Mom the colourful sights and sounds of Hong Kong. She found the deals and delicious tastes along the way. It was great touring around for the week, I have explored very little of Hong Kong since I arrived over six months ago. We took in a piano concert by Richard Clayderman at the Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall. We shopped at several out door and indoor markets including The Flower Market and The Ladies Market, and we took part in a couple of the CNY celebrations. The Ladies Market does not sell ladies to my dismay, but rather it has a large selection of outdoor stalls and tucked behind them in the building storefronts are a number of clothing outlets full of buried treasures. Haggling is not only encouraged but also required to get the best price. You can talk down prices almost everywhere here, making a good deal that much better. ‘One handbag for $50 HK’? ‘How about two for $60 HK’. The best deals are the ones you get when you walk away. ‘Okay, okay, for you two handbags $50 HK.’
We didn’t spend the entire week shopping, although I am sure that would have made my Mom happy, we also went to some classic Hong Kong CNY events. The annual International Night Parade held at Tsim Sha Tsui was full of light emitting-diodes and dragon taming drumbeats. We camped out roadside for a couple hours to ensure a good view and despite a few locals trying to squeeze their way in we maintained our vantage point. The vibrant, cacophonous collage of floats descended upon us, there were dragons dancing, children in cupcake and cookie costumes, Denver Bronco Cheerleaders, African Drum groups, even two story fat ladies singing opera. Surprisingly they didn’t end the show. My favourite was the high-school marching bands, though admittedly I have more pictures of the belly dancers and Denver Bronco cheerleaders.*
The highlight of the week was the fireworks show in Victoria Harbour. Even with a public building in our line of site we saw a spectacular twenty-minute continuous explosion in the sky. Sky scrapping towers provided a fantastic backdrop and no building could prevent the snaps, crackles, and pops of Chinese invented gunpowder from reaching our ears.
Welcoming in the year of the Ram was a joyous celebration of wonderment and haggling. My overloaded senses are back to school, relaxing with the day to day routine of computer classes and Learning Support. The children are slightly richer after their week off and I am happy having had a memorable week of dancing ladies, luminous gunpowder and great bargains. To all those Rams out there enjoy your year and to my fellow Monkeys, we’re up next.
* See more photos from the parade by clicking on Photographs in the menu bar or following the link here.