The 2012 Chinese New Year firecrackers and fireworks roundup!

fireworks roundup

Yes, it’s that time of the year again! :) This is the annual Chinese New Year fireworks and firecrackers roundup for 2012. There’s a lot of quirky fireworks this year – gift hampers, old firecrackers which I haven’t seen for decades and fountains which goes up over one and half storeys high! :)

cake fireworks

Sibu has a fine selection of retro firecrackers and fireworks this year. However, the ever popular multishot fireworks cake barrages are the most prevalent and there are multiple places selling it openly…in the morning, despite the massive RELA and police presence due to the recent murders. Well, that’s Sibu for you. :)

All Chinese to English translations kindly furnished by my dad.

Chinese firecrackers (RM 100)

chinese firecrackers

We have here one of the old skool Chinese firecrackers – the extremely noisy ones than produces massive amounts of smoke and tons of red paper.

12kg firecrackers

This weighs 12 kgs and is unique in the sense that it has a large firecracker braided *on top* of two rows of smaller firecrackers, making a formidable stack of 3 in the string.

chinese fireworks roll

However, I can’t bring myself to use the word “smaller” with this since even the smaller firecrackers are about 6 times the size of Shun Lee Hung firecrackers.

chinese firecrackers roll

See the grandma walking past? She was followed by a woman who told her in Hokkien “Ah Ma walk faster, he’s letting off the big firecrackers.

…and being the neighborly sort I told them not to worry, I’ll let them pass before I light it and CNY greetings were passed. That’s the spirit! :)

I was standing quite far away (about 2-3 meters) coz my dad was holding the digicam and I had to walk back to him, but some of the firecrackers went past me, showering me with Chinese New Year cheer (and the possibility of grave eye injury). I like!

smoldering firecracker paper

It was still smoldering on the ground after it finished its barrage. I let this off on the morning of the 1st day – woke up early just to do this. :D

Fireworks cake barrages / repeaters

fireworks cake repeaters

These are the aerial firework barrages which comes in a “cake” configuration. It has several tubes which launch the projectiles into the air. It’s very popular in creating a sustained barrage (which is why some people call it that) of aerial fireworks and depending on the artisan’s imagination, can range from being mundane to impressive.

However these things has two major flaws:

1. Susceptibility to wind conditions

It is advisable not to let these off during high wind conditions. The initial propellant that shoots up the shells sends it from 75 – 150 feet (depending on the primer). However, the aerial shot itself is quite light and wind can send it in a totally unpredictable direction (usually diagonally) and limit its apogee, which can be quite disastrous. I’ve seen one send shots that explode 12 feet above and let me tell you, that is quite an experience since it’s supposed to go off 10 times that distance.

It had us all watching nervously and asking if anyone has a fire extinguisher and telling cars not to pass.

fireworks exploding

2. It can explode on the ground if poorly constructed

I actually wrote an article about it. One of my firework cakes exploded on me.

Despite those flaws (everything has a downside), firework cakes are probably the greatest invention since sliced bread in pyrotechnics. :D

Beautiful Mountain and Rivers (RM 220)

20kg fireworks cake

This 2 feet long, 68 shot beauty comprises of multiple artillery barrages that has mortar sizes ranging from 3” to 1”. It produces a rather nice finale and it’s this year’s crème de la crème of fireworks cakes in my stash – it even beats the more expensive ones above with the fanning effect (angled mortar tubes).

fireworks cake launchers

It was at the stroke of midnight that I let this one off so there is a lot of competition from other sources. However, you can see the effects of this aerial barrage quite well. :)

The finish was amazing, I love the “sparkling rain” kind of effects for an ending.

Well worth the RM 220 I spent though as you can see this class of fireworks barrages is not exactly meant for you to see (the optimal viewing angle is too high) so maybe if you live down the street, you’ll appreciate it more.

Celebration (RM 35)

fuse

This is a fast 36 shot fireworks cake barrage. It’s simple, effective and quite awesome. It sends up to 6-7 aerial shots in a row up which explodes in a burst of color up in the air.

It’s over in a few seconds but classic. :)

Glowing Beautiful Woman (RM 25)

barrage fireworks

This 200 shot baby is quite impressive despite the small mortar tube size and height. It’s 1/9 the size of my largest fireworks cake and it’s easy to dismiss this wonderful piece of carefully arranged barrage. Fireworks cakes are like flower arrangements…the mediocre ones are blah but the good ones is a work of art. This is the latter.

200 shot fireworks cake

It doesn’t go very high but has a nice mixture of spinning whistlers, star bursts, and sparkling rain – it’s quite fantastic. I bought several of these and I’m glad I did.

It’s well worth the price, I’m grabbing more next year if I see it. Highly recommended!

Stepping Up (RM 35)

This one is representative of the general small fireworks cakes. It would be nice if it didn’t blow up on the ground though.

Stepping Up was the multi-shot fireworks cake barrage that blew up on me. I had to pick up pieces from 25 meters away.

Prosperous Family

repeater fireworks

I don’t know the price to some coz it was a gift or a throw in after a large purchase. This is one of them. The retail price should be around RM 35-40. It has a variety of different effects and launches it quite high up – you can tell from the size of the fireworks cake and mortar tubes.

I like the part in the middle where it “fans” out the aerial shots and the ending. Nice.

…and yes, we let off the cakes in the middle of the road in Sibu, which is why you shouldn’t drive on CNY eve at midnight. All the locals know that but just in case you’re visiting, be home by 11 pm or wait till 2 am. :D

Fireworks gift hampers

fireworks gift package

This is another unusual development this year. It’s priced at RM 85 and comes with a smorgasbord of fireworks – mostly directed towards children.

fireworks gift box

There are:

The total price of the items inside exceeds RM 85 commercially. It’s quite a good gift for kids, and it has a lot of nostalgic fireworks inside. I like the variety and there’s even one multi-shot cake/fountain inside.

Fountains

fountains

This is a typical example of a fountain. It’s a small tube about the size of a salute (e.g. Thunder King) that you set on the ground and light with various effects.

The color on top of the fuse shows what it’s going to look like.

Desert at Night

desert at night

I don’t know which category to put this in as it is quite atypical. It’s a fountain with very nice effects and it has 7 aerial repeaters built in.

Thus, you get a combination fountain and aerial shot cake. :)

Cone fountains

cone fountains

Violets and Crimsons

Pretty mediocre. This came out of the fireworks hamper and is the smallest of the fountains. It’s barely taller than my lighter.

Volcano (RM 20)

volcano

Very impressive. This retails for RM 20 for singles and it slowly shoots up to a very respectable 1 ½ storeys high.

It’s worth the display. :)

Soaring Spirit

I wouldn’t buy it myself but it came in the gift hamper. Interesting display.

Conic Fountain (RM 20)

conic fountain

I bought a pack of this for RM 20 – it contains 5 fountains and it’s supposed to have a different effect for each.

I found out the hard way when I let one off which is a plain fountain and another when my two year old niece was watching where it had loud reports. There is no sign of what you’ll get – you have to light it to find out.

Tube Fountains

tube fountains

Krakatoa Fountain

This cylindrical fireworks fountain has height going for it but ultimately only has one effect.

Butterfly Flower

It’s quite typical of a fountain, nothing to write home. I couldn’t find the fuse at first and just lit the entire paper on top before floundering around with it. I also used the tube for something else. More on that later. :D

Box Fountains

box fountains

Large Golden Flower

It’s quite mediocre.

Peach Flower in Spring

This is quite good actually! It starts with a screaming effect and just when you thought it was over, it keeps on going to another effect. I like. :)

Windmill / Spinners

spinners

Da Feng Che

da feng che

This is supposed to be attached to a stick but I broke the stick so I lit it on the ground. Haha!

wheels fireworks

Honestly, I’m not sure it’s even safe to put on a stick coz I vaguely remember accidents from my childhood from the wheel actually spinning off the stick and flying off due to the rotational speed.

One of the fireworks I played with as a little kid. It has a dual (single?) fuse e.g. the fuse burns simultaneously into *TWO* tubes. That’s the interesting bit.

Ground Bloom Flower

This US made spinner is a fast one with various effects and colors. It’s a typical example of a spinner. I liked it.

Salutes

Thunder King

crazy bang

There’s a new batch of Thunder Kings this year which is quite a bit smaller than the original ones. I made a loudest firecracker comparison.

Chinese firecracker

I wouldn’t call this a salute per se – it’s just one of the firecrackers that dropped off the roll. I’m just showing how large and loud it is compared to the typical Shun Lee Hung firecrackers. Old skool is gold skool. :)

Triangle Firecrackers

triangle firecrackers

This is very, very old school. It’s a simple firecracker that contains flash powder wrapped into a triangle shape – the construction is easy and you can get bags containing 100s for little more than spare change. There are some strange imports this year though – Triangulinor which is definitely not from China.

It’s loud and effective. Fun to play. I had some fun playing fireworks with the neighborhood kids with this and one of the first videos I filmed back home was with my dad above. That’s what Chinese New Year is about. Family, friends and fireworks!

Hope you’ve all had a great Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fatt Chai everyone! :D

Fireworks multi-shot cake barrage exploding on the ground

fireworks barrage

It’s made in China. Quality control is not a big priority over there and with no regulating body, malfunctions are bound to happen. When it happens with multi-shot aerial barrages, the results aren’t pretty. The first one happened to my neighbor during Chinese New Year eve when a 48 shot cake blow up right after the fuse went off.

It sent flaming balls of fire everywhere and I watched for a while before the tubes totally lost their integrity and sent some my way. I’m telling you it was the first time for years I’ve ran into the house. My neighbor shouted a quick warning and beat a hasty retreat as well.

It’s a good thing nothing major happened (except to the car of my neighbor).

fireworks explode

One of my smaller fireworks cake (a 36 shot) also blew up on the ground a few minutes later. However, this happened after most of it has been sent flying into the air to burst at the proper distance so the damage isn’t that bad.

I was filming it too, and I didn’t even realize it blew up until I felt something zip past me into the house and set one of my t shirts on fire. I was remarkably calm in the video though coz I thought it was a plain misfire (when a tube goes awry) instead of the entire cake blowing up. I was just standing 1 meter away!

You can hear sounds of explosions and fireworks despite none going airborne and the clacking of flying cardboard mortar tubes flying everywhere towards the end.

My mom who was watching from the inside was more concerned since she saw the entire thing. However, most of it missed me though and it was lucky that it happened towards the end.

unexploded mortar tubes

The other lucky thing that happened is that some of the tubes didn’t ignite (see the white, unblemished cardboard) so it didn’t cause an all out explosion – this can happen if the explosive force separates the burning ones from the rest in time. It’s not a built in safety precaution – merely chance and luck. :)

Why do fireworks cake barrages misfire?

1. Well, it’s made up of cardboard mortar tubes.
2. These tubes are linked by a fuse to create an aerial barrage of pyrotechnics.
3. A catastrophic event happens when the tube is not loaded properly and instead of the fuse burning into the next tube in line, the mortar tube (there’s a lot in a fireworks cake) explodes, causing a chain reaction that sends all the other tubes into a massive conflagration on the ground.

mortar tube exploding

You can see where the problem has occurred – instead of burning on to the fuse, it explodes and sends the other mortar tubes on fire – the entire integrity of the cake has been compromised then (it’s not meant to go off on the ground but in the air) so the tubes all start firing in every direction.

explosion fireworks

This is caused by the Stepping Up 36-shot barrage and I had to pick up cardboard mortar tubes from as far as 25 meters away. :x

fireworks barrage explode

It’s a good thing this is my smaller fireworks cake instead of the bigger ones. I have a huge 20 kg one with 3” shells that would probably wreck havoc if it explodes on the ground.

Happy Chap Goh Meh everyone and stay reckless safe! :D

How I Met Love-Box

Okay kids, now over the years you’ve heard me mention several different stories on how I lost my virginity.

Story #1

riccarton high school

I was studying in New Zealand when I was 15 and hooked up with this Kiwi girl called Natalie. This is the generally accepted claim which I documented in my NZ high school chronicles.

Story #2

This is a little known fact that only a few of my closest friends know. I actually didn’t penetrate when I was 15. I had various sexual encounters over the years but never intercourse until I was 17. However, it was with a girl which I would probably never bring home to my family and when the time came (the movie Poltergeist was playing in the background – how’s that for total recall) I semi-penetrated without protection but ended up limp coz I was so afraid that she had HIV.

It’s an irrational fear of mine due to all the STI literature with graphic photos that my mom forced me to read when I was a kid. I tried again the next day with a condom but I just couldn’t get it up.

nye

I finally got over my fear during New Year’s Eve of 2006 when I was at the ripe, old age of 25. My girlfriend at that time was quite puzzled by my reluctance (since the opposite is usually true). We’ve been together for a couple of months and she made me overcome my fear (plus I thought I was way too old to be still a virgin then and it was NYE).

I did make up for lost time though and I can’t even remember how many sexual partners I have.

truestory

One of them is, anyway. ;)

I’ve actually won an award on a piece I wrote on the blog on the importance of HIV testing and it won the RRMA Media Award 2004 which to the best of my knowledge is the first mainstream recognition of blogs as a medium.

rrma

Sex education in Malaysia has always been rather lacking. A lot of people do not know about gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HPV, HIV and other STIs. According to the Durex Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey 2011, a staggering 40% of Malaysians do not use protection at their sexual debut. That is indeed quite shocking when you combine it with the other bit of information gleaned from that study.

34% of Malaysians do not know the sexual history of their partners.

sex

A bit of a recipe for disaster when you consider the lack of protection and awareness. I can totally understand the second bit – people usually only talk about their sexual history after they’ve known each other for a while. Strangely, the very same people have sex *before* they consider it polite or feel comfortable enough to ask.

Anyway, some of these problems can be addressed by using protection. It’s not 100% effective (nothing ever is) but it’s close enough for government work. You’ll have a better chance in getting hit by a car while walking down the street.

Durex Love Boxes

Durex is coming out with a limited edition product from 1st February onwards. It’s the most trusted brand around so you can’t go wrong with these contraceptives. The Durex Love-Box comes in 8 stylish and cool designs and it’s really a great way to carry condoms around.

Instead of slipping a single into your wallet (which is actually a very bad place to put it – heat and friction) you can put the box into your pants. Hey, with the interesting Durex Love-Box designs, it could even be a conversation starter. ;)

Durex Love-Box will be available exclusively at Watsons. There are 3 Durex Fetherlite condoms in each. Best thing is, you can use the boxes for other stuff when you’re done too. :D

lovebox contest

In conjunction with the launch and upcoming Valentine’s Day, Durex is having a contest on Facebook where you can win the perfect getaway for 2 to Krabi worth RM 10,000. Just strike an affectionate pose and take a photo – no purchase necessary! Like the Durex Malaysia Facebook page for more details!

The loudest firecracker face-off

firecrackers comparison

These two look similar (they even have the same name) but they’re actually very different firecrackers. Crazy Bang is just a marketing moniker – a wrap around the salutes. It doesn’t really mean anything – chai lei was called Pop Pop (the contact firecrackers kids play) one year.

crazy bang thunder king

The large one is actually the original Thunder King while the smaller one is the new Thunder King. It’s a very “Luke, I am your father” moment. It’s really hard to find the old ones nowadays.

Original Thunder King a.k.a. Caucasian dick

thunder king size

It has an OD (Outer Diameter) of more than 1 inch. 3 cm to be exact.

thunder king length

It is almost half a foot long – 14.5 cm.

New Thunder King a.k.a. Asian dick

size thunder king

Diameter of less than 1 inch – about 2.3 cm. You can’t really go much smaller than this for loud salutes.

length thunder king

The length is nearly 4 inches. It’s 9.5 cm.

Of course, the size doesn’t mean a thing – it’s the flash powder charge inside and how it’s constructed that determines how powerful and loud it is so I have here…a side by side test!

I lit both of the Thunder King salutes within close proximity of each other (but not so close that the first blast will send the other firecracker flying) and recorded it while I stood in the middle.

It sounds almost similar but the original Thunder King has more flash powder inside and you can actually feel the strength of the salute as it sends flying debris around. You can see that in the video. The originals are the bane of schools everywhere as kids tape it inside toilet cisterns with a time delay (usually a mosquito coil) and breaks it.

firecracker size

There was one memorable year where the girl’s toilet had more ruined cisterns that needed replacing when I was in high school. I know the girl who did it. Heh.

Giant black snake fireworks

black snake fireworks

I remember these things from the days of pull string crackers. Black snakes are novelty fireworks that doesn’t do anything except grow in size…exponentially.

black snakes tablets

It comes in a packet that has a roll of 6 black tablets. You can set each of the tablets on fire individually and a large roiling snake-like thing will emerge from the black mists of creation…or you can just light the entire twist of black snakes to create a gigantic one.

black snakes fireworks

I opted for the latter and you can see the results here. I didn’t unwrap the roll, I just lit the ends of the twist and it burned and hissed and formed into a long and huge snake.

Putting this and a lighter in your pocket will give new meaning to the line “Is that a snake in your pants or are you just happy to see me?”. smirk

python fireworks

It is woefully fragile though and breaks up when you touch it. Even a gust of wind will shake it as the video shows. This is one of the retro fireworks that turned up this year – it’s fascinating to watch a giant black snake grow from a small pellet.

It totally blew my mind when I was a kid to see that happen. :)

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