Monday, December 12, 2011

Let's Visit Hong Kong: Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival from Paige's Journal 

Before our first week of classes even started, there was a National holiday.  September 11th was the date of the Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival.  Eight friends and I went to Causeway Bay in the evening to celebrate with the locals.  Causeway Bay is one of the more popular parts of town on Hong Kong Island; it’s where Times Square is (the Hong Kong version).  This is a huge Buddhist holiday.  I’m not sure what exactly is being celebrated or why, but I know a lot of people celebrate. 

We got downtown and it was really crowded.  Part of the festival was a lantern exhibit on the fair grounds.  There was a cornucopia of lanterns.  Some were beautiful and some of them were cheesy.


Towards the back of the site was a huge lantern sculpture in the shape of a fish.  The sculpture was so big it made the Guinness Book of World Records!  It was humongous.  It also lit up and changed colors.

Record-breaking lantern sculpture

Another portion of this holiday celebration is a dragon dance. I’m not sure why it’s done, but my friends and I wanted to see it.  We waited around hours for it to start.  The crowd began to thicken, and visibility became zero.  We had a couple of guys over 6 feet tall, and they couldn’t even see, mostly because of all the little kids on their parents shoulders.  That gave us, the 20-something old art students, an idea.  We put one of our girls on the shoulders of one of our guys.  We gave her a camera, and told her to record the performance so we could see too.  The plan worked well until Chris (guy Chris) got tired.  We were all exhausted.

Priya on Chris' shoulders. It was about 95 degrees and humid.

Another part of the Festival

About 20 minutes before the performance, we decided to leave and try to dodge the crowds.  It kept getting even more crowded.  We were in a group of nine, not ideal for a big crowd.  We didn’t want anyone to get separated, so I came up with the idea (in honor of the holiday) to make a human dragon.  We all grabbed the shoulders of the person in front of us, then weaved through the crowds.  After getting separated from each other often earlier that evening, it was refreshing to be able to move together.  We walked for about a half-mile using the “human dragon” technique.  Sure, we inconvenienced some people, but it was worth it to stay together.  I could hear my friend yelling “Mhgoi” at people, and them replying, “sorry”.  Mhgoi means excuse me.  We finally got out of the chaos and back to our refuge, Sham Shui Po in Kowloon (where SCAD is located).


The next Visits and Verse post is scheduled for Monday, the 19th. Paige is home on break now from Hong Kong and we plan to spend some time together. One of the things we've scheduled is a short visit to Boulder. Paige wants to check out a school there for its Master's program in Art History. I've never been to Colorado before.



The Prude said...

That lantern fish sculpture is amazing!
Love the inventive ways college students manage in other cultures- especially the 'dragon train'
Great post today- it has to be to get us through till next week!

Lori Lipsky said...

Thanks for reading, Prude. I always appreciate your comments!

Robin J. Steinweg said...

I enjoy these snapshots of culture at the eastern edge of the world. You give that personal touch one doesn't find on PBS! Thanks!