Last night was Chinese New Year’s Eve, and boy, was it a doozy. (But then, Chinese New Year’s Eve is always a doozy in China.)
When people ooooh and aaaah over fireworks shows in the States, they’re talking safe, orchestrated fun. The fireworks explode in set patterns, perfectly timed to the swell of patriotic/Disneyotic music. Everything is cordoned off, the professionals are the only ones with fire, and emergency crews are on hand, just in case.
That’s nothing like Chinese New Year’s Eve. There is no coordination, other than the collective knowledge that the biggest, craziest stuff should be lit at midnight. There are no rules. Or rather, it’s like people read the list of rules on the back of the fireworks box and mentally replace “do not” with “it would be awesome to” for each one.
Multiply that by 1.35 billion people, and you have utter chaos. You never know when or where there’s going to be some explosion right in your path, or sparks raining down on you, even if you’re watching from your balcony. It’s a madhouse, and it’s beautiful.
My crappy phone pictures are not going to do the night justice, but we can at least take a look.
Here we have “it would be awesome to allow children to play with fireworks.”
“It would be awesome to set off aerial displays within 50 meters of people, cars, and buildings.”
I know it’s hard to see, but in the second photo, the sparks from the bursts are actually hitting the building. The third photo is of an aerial rocket launching from the volleyball court of our apartment complex – this is the view from our balcony.
“It would be awesome to light fireworks in the middle of pedestrian walkways.”
But, hey, who are we to cast stones? I don’t know that our family was much better.
As the midnight party exploded all around, the air quickly got wicked thick with smoke. We were practically to Beijing levels and everything.
And let’s not forget about the noise pollution. It was LOUD. We were walking around like this the whole time.
Here’s the one-minute video Eric took, which is also crappy quality, but it will give you an idea of what it was like to be in the middle of the CNY war zone. When you hear this video, you’ll think “it doesn’t sound that bad,” but remember, no phone camera on earth has the capability of recording the sustained decibel levels of Chinese New Year’s Eve.
Wow. But let’s remember, this is FUN. Everyone is having a great time.
And the party don’t stop. Around 1 a.m., things had quieted down enough for all of us to try to sleep, but they had certainly not ceased. I was still woken up a few times throughout the night by firecrackers and the whistles of rockets going up. (Oh, and once by a guy retching loudly outside our window. Good times were had by all.)
As soon as the sky was light this morning, the pyro party continued. It’s come in waves, but I don’t think we’ve had more than a 15-minute lull the whole day. Now that night has fallen, the aerials and ground displays are coming out again. I don’t think it will get back to the level of insanity that it was last night, but did I mention Chinese New Year is a two-week celebration? We’ve still got lots of time for the chaos to continue…
Preparing for tonight’s “war zone”
New Year’s is coming, the goose is getting fat
January 14, 2016 at 6:47 am
I remember when I lived in Xi’an in 2008. I arrived at my apartment complex in the evening just as the whole neighborhood was going up in smoke — literally. I could not cross the street without getting fired on. I remember ambers falling on my head. Thankfully I had a hoodie. The explosions, however, were deafening and I had to run across the street to avoid losing my feet to friendly fire. I did reach home safely but every time someone lit a bomb the walls of my apartment would shake. Oh, what fun! Such memories!
January 14, 2016 at 10:18 am
It’s honestly amazing that more buildings, trees, or hoodies don’t catch fire every year.