Chinese New Year = Happiness for any man or boy from America who has been deprived of the privilege of lighting off fireworks for so many years.  And do the Chinese know how to do it.  Imagine the Disneyland fireworks display but going off on each street corner.  I’m not kidding, huge 5″ and 8″ mortar bombs that launch 8, 10 and 12 pound bombs several hundred feet into the air.  I’m surprised no one was killed…

As we finished dinner and cracked open the second bottle of wine, I began looking over my wonderful collection of bombs and rockets.  At the prompting of the other party guests, I posed “Rambo” style with my explosives just before I began lighting them off.

To set the mood properly, I must explain that fireworks had been going off all week long: mortar bombs, skyrockets and long strings of firecrackers.  As I’d said in an earlier post, Chinese firecrackers put their little American cousins to shame.  The Chinese firecrackers are about as thick as a cigarette and about an inch and a half long.  The body is constructed of cement and when they explode, rock shrapnel flies everywhere and they are about as loud as a 9mm handgun.  A string of them is like standing next to 3 guys with Mp5 submachineguns on full auto – all firing at once.

By New Years Eve (this day), the strings of firecrackers and bombs were continuous.  You couldn’t count to ten – any time of the day – without hearing some firework commotion in the distance.  I was quite happy to add to the commotion and began with some acorn sized cherry bombs.  I was wise enough to light them and run away as I didn’t want to lose any fingers (yes, they are powerful enough to separate digits).  And I am surprised that more Chinese aren’t blind; if it wasn’t for my sunglasses, I certainly would be!

After I lit of this cherry bomb and ran away, Anya snapped the shutter just as it blew up.  You can see the shrapnel flying towards the camera over 20 feet away!  Yes, these fireworks really pack a punch!


Next up, I lit off a string of firecrackers.  During the day, I could rely on my sunglasses to protect my eyes but at night it was too dark to see.  So, I closed one eye and held the camera in front of the other eye.  While my eye was protected, my face was constantly splattered with cement dust and small cement rocks; I had little red welts all over my face the next morning.



Then came the skyrockets.  As you can see in the video, they are quite loud, even when 100′ or more high.  If one was to blow up near you it would be quite a bang.  The Chinese seemed to be good sports and have good aim about their fireworks as I didn’t see any fires, broken out windows or anyone otherwise injured.  I still shake my head thinking about it.



I heard a loud string of firecrackers going off in an open stairwell in an apartment overlooking the police station.  When I came to get a closer look I found that the policemen (who were on duty) had a bigger arsenal than mine.  They were firing Roman candles with wanton abandon causing as much ruckus as the people who lived nearby.



Even at 1 hour to midnight the roar of the fireworks increased and increased.



Finally, at midnight, the girls lit off some sparkler cones that I bought especially for them.  It was a festive mood and everyone was dancing and singing and you could barely hear due to the overwhelming bangs and booms and stings of firecrackers.  As we approached midnight, the sound became a strong roar – something like at the Superbowl or a playoff game – except that instead of screaming fans, you had never ending strings of hundreds of thousands of firecrackers and mortar bombs exploding.

Right at midnight, between our dancing and singing, we went up on the roof to view the firework show that was in all directions and went as far as the eye could see.  Realize, we are only in Guilin, a relatively small city in China, and we are in the suburbs on the outskirts of town and still the fireworks were this intense.  I met other westerners on the flight home who were in downtown Beijing at hotels on the 10th floor who explained that they had to keep all the windows open or else they would be broken by the shock waves.  The firework shows went on for hours.

All of these fireworks that you see are not the local high school, the city or Disneyland, these are the fireworks that local people and business men were lighting off.  China’s industry and wealth has grown in the last decades and the Chinese are displaying their newly acquired riches in the forms of grand and colorful firework shows.  Just as many American communities compete for the biggest lawn and roof light show at Christmas time, the Chinese compete with gunpowder.



I can say, it was quite a show – and one that I will not soon forget!


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