Kicking Off the Year of the Horse

43 comments
Asia, Hong Kong
Chinese New Year Decorations, Shek O

Chinese New Year Decorations, Shek O

In early January when heavy rain poured over Semarang on a daily basis, I was sitting in my room – sorting out photos for my future posts from the amazing trip to Bali and Timor-Leste with James last December – when an email arrived in my inbox. James told me that his parents invited me to come to Hong Kong for Chinese New Year. Excited, I prepared myself to redeem the rather foggy experience from my first trip to the city two years ago.

Knowing each other through the blogosphere and meeting up for the first time in Hong Kong just one week before 2012’s Chinese New Year holiday, my friendship with James was forged ever since. Only having one and a half days to show me around the last time I visited, he made sure I experienced Hong Kong’s great outdoors and less visited corners on my second visit.

During my two-week stay in the territory we went to Hong Kong Island’s own less-touristed beach at Shek O, visited deserted white sand beaches at Sai Kung in the New Territories, explored the fishing village of Tai O on Lantau Island, walked the historical Ping Shan trail and went hiking to the north to Lai Chi Wo, not far from the border with China.

We also went to Victoria Park where the annual Lunar New Year Fair – a colorful sprawling flower market – was held. Chinese people, known for their penchant for anything auspicious, bought flowers and fruits – particularly those considered bringing good things – to welcome the New Year. The word “tangerine”, for example, in Cantonese it is also a homonym for “lucky”. Hence the plethora of tangerine bushes sold at the market.

One day after the Chinese New Year I had my first experience of saying wishes in Cantonese to James’ grandparents and extended family. Practicing for two days to ensure I pronounced it correctly, “Wish you health and may your heartfelt wishes come true” rolled off my tongue quite smoothly on that day. Finally that night Hong Kong ushered in the Year of the Horse with festive explosions of colors over the harbor with a nearly half-hour pyrotechnic show. As expected, the number 8 – homophonous with the word “prosper” – also adorned the night sky along with other shapes.

Celebrating Chinese New Year with my travel companion who showed me the very best of Hong Kong’s four corners was such a fitting way to start galloping in the Year of the Horse, with new opportunities to seize and challenges to conquer.

Chinese Lanterns, Lai Chi Wo

Chinese Lanterns, Lai Chi Wo

Red Candies

Red Candies

Blooming Orchids

Blooming Orchids

Tangerines for Luck

Tangerines for Luck

The Unique Solanum mammosum, also Called Nipplefruit in English

The Unique Solanum mammosum, also Called Nipplefruit in English

Happiness Abound

Colorful Flowerpots

Fragrant Narcissus Blossoms

Fragrant Narcissus Blossoms

Peach Blossoms

Peach Blossoms

Colorful Explosions

Lighting Up the Sky

Purple Dandelions

Purple Dandelions

A New Year with Big Hearts

Big Hearts for the New Year

More Fireworks over Victoria Harbor

More Fireworks over Victoria Harbor

All Colors

All Colors

The Smoke over Two IFC

The Smoke over Two IFC

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Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.

43 thoughts on “Kicking Off the Year of the Horse”

  1. Bama, the pleasure was all mine – thank you for coming and giving me the best excuse to go out and explore more of HK. I love how you combined the shots of the flower market and the Lunar New Year fireworks; and I’m so glad the weather was perfect for the entire first week. Someday I’ll just have to experience Eid in Indonesia with your family!

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    • Thank you for having me and taking me around! When I read your posts on Shek O, Bride’s Pool and all those less-touristed places of HK I never expected to visit them so soon. I’m really glad for the weather as well. I will definitely miss all those roast duck, turkey, goose and everything else – also Cookie! After hearing my stories this morning, my parents can’t wait to have you in Semarang for Eid!

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  2. Interesting, what you call tangerine, we call quất from the Cantonese kumquat. We have them for new year too but I never knew the Chinese (or Cantonese) consider them lucky because of the homophone thing.

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    • I only figured that out when I was in Hong Kong. They also put it on top of guo poon – the round wooden container to put candies and chocolates.

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    • Thanks Randall! Yes, it was such a special celebration – the fireworks alone cost something between HK$ 6 – 8 million. 🙂

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      • That is amazing. I remember being a kid and hearing that my hometown fireworks celebration cost $1,500 and I was astounded by that figure. HK does know how to celebrate 🙂

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    • Thanks Sreejith! Having James as a local guide helped me see things most people don’t see and experience the celebration firsthand.

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      • Yea, I know 🙂
        You guys are a great team and we are lucky, we could see a lot of incredible images from both of you 🙂

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    • Chinese New Year in Hong Kong is indeed an event to look for every year, Rachel. Hope you’ll experience it next year! 🙂 Thank you for your lovely comment too!

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  3. A beautiful gallery Bama! Makes me realise how little I have seen of Hong Kong myself. Wish you many new adventures in the year of the Horse 🙂

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    • Thanks Madhu! None of the experiences I had would be possible without James as my trusted local guide. Wish you a more joyful year ahead too!

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    • I was lucky to have my best friend who’s a local to help me with all the conversations. However, based on my experience some people on Hong Kong Island speak quite decent English compared to those living in other parts of HK.

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    • Actually there were times when I went to places where most people didn’t speak English at all. I managed to communicate with a taxi driver in Bangkok only with hand gestures, also with street food vendors in Thailand and Vietnam. So don’t let language hamper your desire to visit HK. On my first trip to the city two years ago I managed to go around with public transport without experiencing too many obstacles. Good luck with your plan!

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  4. Love it! Your photos are brilliant especially the fruit! I do love Hong Kong and I miss it although it’s been soooo long since I was last there sigh! ‘Hopefully, I’ll make it back there very soon 🙂

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    • Thanks Victoria! Hong Kong, like Singapore, is always changing. Hopefully your next visit there will rekindle those sweet memories of yours of the city.

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  5. Great pictures Bama….I think I am starting being ur fans now hahahaa
    Combination of natural pics with cozzy blog are all yours Bama 🙂

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    • Thank you, Avis! I’m flattered. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed my blog and thanks for the tweet. I really appreciate it.

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    • I also enjoyed it very much despite the crowd. However I had to walk down the waterfront promenade to find a nice spot, and ended up standing behind three or four people. 🙂

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    • Gracias, Erick! I’ve been eyeing on Chile and other South American countries for the last few years. 🙂

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