Wow, what a difference in Guilin since we last visited in December; the streets were full of people, cars filled the streets and were honking their horns, the sidewalks were full of people and the noise of the city buzzed. On our first day back there is no one on the streets. It is quite an eerie feeling, almost like a war zone. No, actually, exactly like a war zone: there are no people, the only sound I hear is of distant explosions and of nearby firecrackers (that sound like machine gun fire), there are no people to be seen anywhere and the acrid smell of sulphur lingers in the air like a thick fog of a nearby battle.
I shot this video just outside of Erica’s parents home. The building on the right with the blue overhang is the local police station. Later we would blow off enough fireworks to entertain an entire American city block as the police looked on and nodded with approval. Gosh, I love China.
As we went out to forage for last-minute party favors we found that store after store was closed. It seemed that many of the people left the city for the countryside to visit relatives. Those who are left were staying indoors to visit with family. The spent bodies of firecracker remains were everywhere. Unlike American firecrackers that are a small roll of cardboard, the Chinese firecrackers are about the thickness of a cigarette and about 1/2 as long. Their bodies are made of cement, not cardboard, and when the explode they are about as loud as a 9mm handgun. When a string of them goes off, it sounds like someone is firing a MAC-10 or UZI near you. Many times I had to hold my hands over my ears and by the end of the day, my ears were ringing.
We finally did find one open store a few blocks away. The proprietor’s children were playing with some of their own fireworks. I spent all I had; firecrackers (belts and belts of them), cherry bombs, mortars, sky rockets, sparklers, cones, everything. Oh, and a couple bottles of liquor. I was grinning ear to ear. Come on, booze and bombs? What’s not to love?
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