Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Lunar New Year Fair: Report from the Trenches

An overview of the Lunar New Year Fair at Victoria Park from an overpass
I just got back from Victoria Park to see what was up for grabs at the Chinese New Year fair. As expected there were tons of people, and after entering the Causeway Bay entrance there were so many people that at one point the crowd did not move for 30 seconds.

Which phone apps do you use?
But no one got upset -- people were in good spirits and didn't complain about how it was so crowded -- it is to be expected when you go to these kinds of events. Luckily the temperature was perfect so it wasn't too warm.

What was hot this year? Lots of equine-themed toys with the Year of the Horse coming on Friday, lots of minions from Despicable Me and then some trendy things like stuffed animals from the Japanese chat app Line and cushions that looked like phone apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, the Facebook "Like" sign, and icons for Instagram and Candy Crush.

Many of the young kids liked buying helium balloons though a few Hello Kittys and minions floated up in the sky...

The pan-democrats were out in force, some keen to bash Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Some drew giant caricatures that made him look like he was beaten up, and one even made a giant stuffed Lufsig, based from the popular Ikea wolf toy with the grandma attached. That stall, manned by The Democratic Party, even handed out a paper cut out of the toy wolf.

A giant Lufsig with grandma attached
Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, former Legislative Councillor and former leader of the Civic Party was still out in her stall wearing fingerless gloves and writing Chinese calligraphy for donations. When she first got into politics she was ashamed her calligraphy wasn't very good, but after some lessons she actually quite enjoyed it and since then has shown up writing new year couplets for donations.

And of course Chinese New Year wouldn't be complete without flowers. The flower stalls sold lots of orchids -- some of the more expensive pots cost HK$6,888, and then there are the plum blossom trees, the Chinese equivalent of Christmas trees that people have at home and hang lai see envelopes on the branches.

There were lots of chrysanthemum flowers and water narcissus, some already in bloom -- which aren't the ones you want to buy now -- but they were so fragrant, their scent so gorgeous that I could smell it all day. I was tempted to buy some bulbs that were about to bloom, but in the end I decided my green thumb skills weren't good enough to a) discern which bulbs to buy and b) look after them well enough for them to bloom in time for Chinese New Year!

Beautiful and fragrant water narcissus already blooming
Another pungent scent was that of stinky tofu... it led to some food stalls that were also selling sugar cane drinks, squid balls, strawberries on sticks glazed in a syrup coating, and even chuar -- meat on giant skewers that were roasted on a grill then dipped in a giant tray of cumin that also smelled delicious. But alas I was still full from dinner!

After almost two hours touring around and the purchase of the stuffed rabbit from the Japanese phone app Line, I made it home and realized I was really wiped out. Done and dusted for another year.

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