Yesterday (Monday September 24) was the Mid Autumn festival (or Moon Festival) celebrated in Hong Kong. Sort of like Thanksgiving for us Americans, traditionally families gather to celebrate a good harvest on the day of the full moon. While the festivities are over, today is the day off many people for the holiday. It was my first real cultural experience here and I was pretty impressived. The festival actually lasts a week leading up until last night. There are different displays of lanterns hanging up and on Monday night in Victoria Park there is a great display of lanterns, traditional songs and dances, and perhaps the biggest crowded gatherer, the fire dragon dance.
The dragon dance is a parade a couple of blocks from Victoria Park. It’s been a tradition for over a century and is performed a few times on the final nights of the festival. Legend behind the flaming dragon is that there was a typhoon and a plague before the festival and fortune tellers convinced everyone that this fire dance needed to happen for three days and nights to return everything to normal. The locals followed the directions, the plague ended, and they continue on the tradition to this day. When I think of dragons and China, I think of the colorful, cloth ones that people are inside of and are hidden under. This one isn’t the typically thought of dragon, it’s much thinner and covered in incense sticks. It’s a long dragon at 220 feet (67 meter) which takes 70,000 incense sticks to cover. There was also Chinese people in kilts dancing to bagpipes which I don’t understand how this fit into the rest of the celebration. It was terribly hard to get a good video as everyone’s phones went up the minute something exciting happened.
There were a bunch of girls dressed up carrying lanterns, they didn’t dance or do anything else but they were nice and close for pictures.
I watched the parade with some friends I’ve made here and we wondered through Victoria Park to see the lanterns and lights set up there.
I’m not entirely sure what these are, I found them in the park at the one place selling food, everything else had paper crafts making going on. The traditional food of the festival is moon cakes, which I’m sad to report I didn’t try one, I’ve really been living in a bubble lately.
Typhoon Mangkhut really did a lot of damage to Hong Kong, more to the Philippines of course, but it was the most destructive storm to date here. The city was back on its feet the next day with not many people having a day off work, even though some people had to climb over downed trees to get there. Most public transportation was working until the following evening. Only the metro was operating and I’ve seen the pictures from that day, I’m grateful I dont take it to work. (pictures not mine) They are still cleaning things up in the parks and I’ve read the islands still have some work to do, but overall Hong Kong was able to bounce back quickly from the typhoon.
Working six days a week keeps me much busier than I thought it would, even with two mornings off. I try to spend one morning at the pool because what’s the point in living somewhere warm if I don’t take advantage of it, right? The one I typically go to has an indoor pool and three or four outside ones as well complete with a few waterfalls. Not too shabby for about US$2 so I took advantage of my day off for the public holiday to build my tan back up.