Last weekend was a bit more interesting than usual in Hong Kong!
To start with, last Friday was a public holiday, entitled ‘The day after Mid-Autumn Festival’. I was a little confused by this, but it would appear that the Chinese get together for family meals in the evening of mid-autumn festival and consequently, most people finish work early. Tom was pleased to discover that he could go home at 3.30pm on Thursday! I guess that everyone gets the day after off to recover?!
Mid-autumn festival celebrations include eating mooncakes, watching a ‘fire dragon’ and taking in lantern displays. Mooncakes seem to be a bit of a ‘local’ taste – I don’t know any Westerners who like them! The traditional ones have a kind of pastry outer layer with lotus paste and a cooked egg yolk inside. We cheated and bought flavoured ice cream ones instead! The flavours included mango and chocolate. They were pretty nice!
The Tai Hang fire dragon dance is definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in Hong Kong around mid-autumn festival. Tai Hang is a small area near Causeway Bay and each year the streets are closed off for the fire dragon dance. I have to admit that we didn’t go this year – I’m just too pregnant to be able to enjoy evenings out any more! However, we went last year and enjoyed ourselves.
We arrived shortly before the advertised start time and it was already pretty busy with people lining the main street 5-10 people deep. We heard a policeman tell someone else that you can get a better view by going round to the back streets so we did that, and we found the place where they were assembling the fire dragon.
The fire dragon is basically made of a base into which are stuck thousands of incense sticks. Once the dragon is assembled, it is danced around Tai Hang and on the night of mid-autumn festival it continues into Victoria Park (I think on the other nights that the display is held it just stays in Tai Hang).
There are lantern displays all over Hong Kong at mid-autumn festival, with possibly the largest being held at Victoria Park. We visited this last year as well and it was good fun to visit and walk around. Here are some pictures from last year:
This year’s lanterns looked pretty good too. Bluebalu did a great write-up of the lanterns in Victoria Park here (she also did a 2 part series on the Tai Hang fire dragon here and here). Hong Kong Fong also did a great summary of this year’s mid-autumn festival celebrations here.
But, not only did we have the excitement of the mid-autumn festival celebrations but everyone was also on tenterhooks with the imminent arrival of Typhoon Usagi on Sunday, which was expected to be the worst storm in Hong Kong in 30 years. Whilst it was out in the Pacific Ocean, Usagi was the biggest typhoon/hurricane anywhere in the world this year so far, and it was making a beeline straight for Hong Kong.
Luckily, Hong Kong is well equipped to cope with typhoons. Summer is typhoon season here and we normally get a few big ones coming nearby every year. This means that for most people it is quite an exciting event, with the possibility of a day off work. In the end, Usagi had slowed a little and was further north from Hong Kong than expected, so it wasn’t as bad here as expected. It hit in the evening too, so all we could see was that it was a bit wet and windy outside and people only got a couple of hours extra off work on Monday morning.
Having said that, we do need to remember that other places in this area aren’t so well-equipped in the face of typhoons. At least 25 people died in southern China from Usagi, and the Philippines and Taiwan take regular batterings from typhoons. Those who were badly affected by Usagi are in our thoughts.
Thanks for reading!