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 Jan 24/Jan 1

It's New Year's Day ...


2 days ago ...

Crime scene, yesterday ...

9am. This is supposed to be the busiest in Kowloon. Where's everybody?

Now. The suspect who touched my behind has run away ...

On new year's day, it's all so quite. Few people on the streets, few vehicles roam the roads. Some 1.5 million (out of 6.5 million) Hong Kongers left HK to spend their holidays. A growing trend after 1977 handover is that lots of us like to vacation in mainland China. Taxi drivers are not happy with that. For me, who is so used to seeing tons of human beings everyday, HK is almost like a ghost town in the morning of New Year's Day.

  


A happy note on a closed door saying that the company will reopen on the 9th. The cool fellow in costume is the God of Fortune.

It takes some extra cash for businesses to carry themselves into a new year and thus it's prime time for businesses to close down just before new year. This shop has an unhappy notes on it's door saying "For Rent". 

Bank holiday runs from 1st - 3rd of Jan (Lunar) but most of the private companies will start work on the 8th. Some traditional businesses will even have their doors closed till the 15th. 

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On New Year's Day, you can forget everything but not "Kung Hei Fat Choi". It means "wish you get rich". Very materialistic but it sounds more new year like than "Happy New Year". So why change it? 

Ok, back to person business. New Year greeting within the family is the first thing to do on New Year's day. My sister Carol and I pop into dad and mum's room yelling "Kung Hei Fat Choi" like 2 big New Year alarms (sounds like we are still little kids but we are 30+. Well, we are always kids in front of dad and mum). Dad and mum are obviously prepared. 2 "Lei Si", or red packs, are handed to me and Carol. He he.

For kids, or big kids, Lei Si [lucky thing] is the fun part of Chinese New Year. Simply put, it's money inside small red envelopes. Some people are givers of Lei Si while others are receivers. The rules goe:

  • one have to be married in order to give Lei Si
  • older generation gives to younger (like dad to son, grandma to dad, Joe to Joe's friend's kids, etc.)
  • boss to subordinates
  • anybody if the giver doesn't mind

A "complete box". It only shows up during New Year to hold New Year candies for visitors. We have fried melon seeds, candy water chestnut, candy lotus seeds [have nice babies every year], loose skin orange [luckiness] and some other candies here. Be my guest and put on some weight.

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At 11am, my smaller family is all dressed up and head for grandma's place for a greater family New Year greeting. Let's see some action:

   


Grandma and grandpa sit in the middle to accept greetings. Besides Kung Hei Fat Choi, we wish them "healthy body", "stay young forever", "mahjong killer", etc.

Lei Si flying around. Need an accountant to keep track of which uncle/aunt has given Lei Si to which uncle/aunt's kids.

Say cheese. Cousin Sylvia takes a PIC with grandma.

Grandma feeds slices of loose skin orange to all big and small kids, meaning giving luckiness to them.

Hey, this is the legendary Lei Si. This way please ...

My Lei Si. It says "Fu" [fortunateness] on the red envelope.

Grandma happily displays her "doorbells". Everyone is glad to see grandma in such a good mood. 

Lots and lots of them. Keep them coming ...

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On New Year's Day, we are not supposed to have meat. What we have for lunch and dinner is a chaotic-looking but delicious dish. What's in there? We have rice noodle, lotus seed, Fat Choi [get rich] (I've been eating this for years without knowing exactly what it is. It's some hair-like plant growing close to deserts), mushroom, lettuces [generates fortune] and dried oyster [good business], etc. 
 

Why oyster when It's not supposed to be a vegi? Grandma answers "there was a monk who posts his stick (don't know exactly the name for that stick) near a sea and said 'what ever that crawls up this stick is not a living creature any more' (I guess it means it can get out of the reincarnation cycle). So an oyster did."

Climbing up that stick just to be eaten on New Year's day together with mushroom and stuff!? How intelligent.

  

 
It's the most popular Chinese game - mahjong, after lunch. 

I am not that crazy about mahjonging with grandpa and uncles. So I go home and catch up with my sleep. 

In the afternoon of New Year's Day, we are supposed to go to relatives' to say greetings. But since our family hasn't been doing that for years, there won't be an exception this year. 

 

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So that's how my New Year day looks like. Mainly a family day. It would be nice if I can light some fire crackers, but if that is not allowed in HK, I think an afternoon nap would be just as exciting for me.  
  
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