I had a rather gnarly experience during Chinese New Year earlier this year – one of the locally produced 3 feet Roman Candle style mortars with 5 x 2” shells exploded barely a meter in front of me!
Yup, this is the precursor to the *badly delayed* annual Chap Goh Meh fireworks and firecrackers round-up of 2013 (post up tomorrow!). I had procrastinated due to the sheer amount of videos I had to upload so I decided to put it up during Hari Raya Aidilfitri – another occasion for fireworks, though not as large scale. /excuses
I bought two of the 3” long Roman Candle mortars that shoots out 2” shells and let off the more powerful version – a dual salute (report) with stars. To give you a perspective of how large the aerial shells are, here’s a 2” shell from a reloadable mortar:
Anything re-loadable above 1.75” is classified 1.3G – requires a licence in the US and is a possession is a felony – they’re not meant for consumers but professionals. However, in Sibu, anything goes – even 3” and 5” display grade shells.
This particular disposable cardboard mortar is not the more intense 3” aerial shells that we launch from a metal mortar tube made by local blacksmiths.
3″ fireworks aerial shells (requires mortar – these are display/professional fireworks but can be bought)
The 3” fireworks shells pictured above from my stash are definitely not consumer fireworks. I played with them last time but lost my mortar, one of this exploding 1 meter away would do me serious bodily harm.
I had stupidly tied the 5-shot Roman Candle disposable aerial shells to my automatic gate with shabby nylon. It’s supposed to be half buried (1 ½ feet) into the ground for safe display.
What I *didn’t* see was that the mortar was really close to being blocked by a solid metal piece welded to the gate.
How aerial shells work:
Lift charge launches shell into the air
Shell bursts open safely hundreds of feet in the air
Watch and enjoy
First shell of the five inside the mortar tube launched
It had such a powerful lift charge the mortar tube shifted
Second shell still left the tube safely and burst in the air
Third shell hit the metal slab and bounced back down and burst one meter away
Videographer (me) shouted “Shit!” in surprise at the force of the blast
Forth shell exploded right in front of me, showering me with flaming debris
I shouted “Fuck!” in a bit of a panic as I saw the mortar canted at an angle towards the house
Fifth and last shell went into the porch and exploded beside a car
Full video of the fireworks accident
The problem with the digicam is that it cuts off the last 3-4 seconds so you can’t really see #8 but the pressure wave was so strong that my dad, who was standing at the door, felt it.
These 2” aerial shells are supposed to explode harmlessly hundreds of feet in the air.
Instead they exploded *right in front of me*.
It wasn’t fun, people and property could very well have been seriously injured/damaged but it’s a good thing nothing bad happened.
I had to use a hammer to knock the 1” stainless steel gate that bent (!!!) at the force of the explosion impact though. -_-
Okay we have a fireworks post today but it’s not just any regular fireworks post. These are daytime fireworks e.g. fireworks you let off at daylight coz you *wouldn’t* be able to see them at night.
It’s actually called smoke salutes with a comet tail effect but these are airborne shells arranged in a barrage cake that contains bombettes filled with colored smoke that bursts in the air, creating a colorful cloud. This is the first time I’ve seen it available in a commercial format like this.
I bought this cake of 49 shot colored smoke salutes for RM 200. I was specifically told to let it off in the morning. I found that it’s best to use these daylight fireworks when there’s no wind to make the smoke linger longer.
This colored smoke aerial cake produces a wonderful display of pink, green, blue, yellow, purple, smoke (black) and red. Pink is the most vivid color, followed by purple.
I was surprised that the 1.2” mortars in the cake can produce such an impressive show. It’s quite long too so the shells shoots up quite high.
Unfortunately, I had set my video mode to Shutter Priority so the sun completely washed out the smoke salute display. :x
It’s actually a very nice show and I’ll definitely be getting more of these next year. I’ll remember to film it better next time. The colored smoke lingers around in the air for a while and the vivid colors from the aerial smoke salutes makes for a novel daytime fireworks cake. :)
I compiled a list of random photos from CNY open houses, visiting friends and generally doing the things I do each year during Chinese New Year. :D
This is a performance of a yu – a traditional Chinese musical instrument. I don’t know what it’s actually called, I just looked at the list of Chinese instruments at Wikipedia and the yu seems to fit it best. It’s a flute of sorts with a gourd at the back – there’s multiple tubes and it can make quite an enchanting melody.
I also managed to catch up with Ting Chuan, a very old friend of mine. We went through the same class in primary school *and* high school together. Luke is to the other side of me.
My high school mate has been married for a long time (his wife Siew Ling and their daughter is in the first photo) – was one of his heng tai during the wedding and he’s now the proud father of a bouncy new baby. This is the cute Megan. :)
I’m always amazed and a little envious when see stuff like this. I’ll love to have kids of my own too. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a soul mate yet. I’ll see how things pan out. ;)
I went clubbing three times too – it’s been a while since I drank this much. It was a lot of fun! That’s Romeo and Stephanie @ The Base. I get to see this bunch of friends only once a year since we all work at different places.
This is 3 Degrees. We made a new tradition of going clubbing with just cousins starting this year. :D
I also got my very first birthday present from Patricia Felicia – my birthday is not until 5th of April but she reckons she’ll not see me then coz I’ll be in KL so this is a 2-month early birthday gift. Thanks Pat! :)
Speaking of birthdays…this is my great aunt’s 80th birthday!
She remembers me as a little kid when I lived in Sungai Merah. To be honest, I don’t even remember living in Sungai Merah but that’s what the older generation is for. Haha!
Letting of sky lanterns with my bros Eddy, Calvin, Romeo, Ah Tong. This is a RM 2.50 biodegradable sky lantern sold as an alternative to fireworks.
It really goes up high with a 15 minute burn time.
We also let off a fireworks cake called Jin Se Pu Bu (Golden Conflagration – a classic barrage from the early days way before the ban). This is up there with Colorpeony in terms of multi-tube aerial shots – back in the days (talking about the ’80s here) these are the *really popular* ones.
Two foot long fountains were also lit simultaneously beside it for a better show.
I also visited Arthur’s house, which is just around the corner. Those are his muesli cookies.
Arthur has been a good friend of mine since I was a little kid. I didn’t have a car (mom’s car broke down) so Grace picked me up.
It’s has been an awesome Chinese New Year! I’ll be getting the annual fireworks and firecrackers post up before Chap Goh Meh (the 15th day and the end of the Lunar New Year). Hope ya’ll had a great CNY too! :D
This is a powerful multi-layered braided string of 39,999 traditional Chinese firecrackers – it’s huge, with lots of powder and chalk, which produces tons of red paper. I strung them up around the gate like a snake yesterday for the 7th day of Chinese New Year.
It’s really, really loud. I was standing about 1 meter away and I could feel debris and chalk flying right past me.
Anyway, after my ears stopped ringing I suddenly heard a cat’s pitiful mewling.
Puzzled, I looked around.
We searched and searched and finally isolated the mewling to a corner with our temporarily deaf ears. Me and my dad thought it was coming from *inside* the air conditioning unit.
We spent a good 10 minutes trying to pry it open coz the cat sounded like it was trapped inside.
I kept looking in too but I couldn’t see the cat.
My dad went in to fetch a suitable spanner to undo the lugs while I tried to see how the cat could have gotten in but there are no openings.
…and then my dad happened to look up.
We were crouched down and looking inside the air conditioning unit so we never thought it was coming from above. Besides, our hearing was shot.
I think it’s a stray that was walking from the backyard when the firecrackers scared her and in a burst of adrenaline, she somehow managed this amazing acrobatic feat that she couldn’t extract herself from.
I had to get her down.
Nice cat, wish it stayed but she haughtily stretched herself and left after I petted her a little and the ordeal was over. Ungrateful. Hmph.
I came across some interesting novelty fireworks this year. The Lady Bug is a fist sized firework painted like a ladybird that’s supposed to launch several stories high into the air. I thought that was quite an impressive claim so I got a few packs.
It’s sold in a pack of 3 for RM 15, which makes it RM 5 for each of the ladybird fireworks.
Lady Bug fireworks is basically a spinner connected to an aerial shell-like lift charge. I think that’s how it works – I didn’t dissect it to find out.
The ladybird fireworks really shoots up to 4-6 stories. It’s variable – I’ve seen some that goes higher (about the same range as a 3” aerial shell would go).
I’ve seen a lot of people lighting these off – it’s a straight vertical lift after some furious spinning action. I reckon a *report* at the end of it’s apogee would make it more interesting though. :)
I always have my Chinese New Year reunion dinner at my grandma’s place. It’s just our family and my grandma with a few aunts eating some great home cooked food.
I traditionally also let off a string of firecrackers before eating. :)
I love the hearty Heng Hua dishes that my grandma and aunts cooks – it’s what I ate during my formative years and I’m very fond of chai bo (a preserved vegetable), the sea cucumber + razor clam mix and the pork + chicken stew.
Here’s everyone! My grandma is the one to my left, my mom is on my right. The chick that looks like me is my sister, who flew off just now headed for New Zealand. My dad is on her right and that’s Kara, my niece, on her left.
I also brought along a Bushmills 10 year old single malt whiskey from Ireland for drinks. Almost finished the bottle, it’s a lot more fun drinking like this.
My cousins all came later – this is also a tradition of ours, I’m the banker and we played Blackjack and later a crazy version of Baccarat where there’s no edge to the house (me). My uncle was telling me I was doing it wrong. Haha! I don’t mind, all of my cousins are younger than me and I want them to win.
I lost a few hundred from our gambling session (which I actually have to budget my losses each year coz I do stuff like giving extra payouts for audacity e.g. hitting up to 5 cards and not busting in Blackjack) and everyone went away happy.
Shun Lee Hung firecrackers are the most common type of Chinese firecrackers around town but it’s usually sold in a 3,000 firecracker configuration.
I got the much rarer small box thrown in with a purchase and was drying it out just now when…
…it rained. :x
I decided to let a string of these small firecrackers off since some of them got soaked.
They went off alright but due to the close proximity, it *ignited* another string of firecrackers in the box. An act worthy of a Darwin Award mention – I did it so close to my entire fireworks and firecrackers stash.
Here’s my first batch of fireworks and firecrackers which I got for Chinese New Year. I ordered them from KL last year – it’s cheaper to get them when it’s here instead of waiting till CNY itself.
There are a lot of places selling it though – I bought some assorted interesting fireworks and was undecided between two huge fireworks aerial salute cake that I saw. There’s one with very nice packaging (the pink one) on the right, and there’s an industrial grade one on the left.
The latter has a larger mortar size though (which usually means higher and better starbursts) so I ended up with that one. It’s RM 300 vs RM 250 for the nicely printed box. It’s quite large – it’s just a single 100 shot fireworks cake and it’s sitting on my lap in the photo above.
Just open and light it up! There’s a secondary fuse as well which is a cable tie/fuse contraption for use in daisy chaining several cakes up to go off simultaneously or in sequence, depending on how you link ‘em up.
My friends dropped by with some fireworks as well – 12 inch (1 foot) fountains, which I’ve seen around retailing for RM 35. They got an entire box and passed me some of the 1 foot monsters which are popular and new this year. Last year the largest one was the Volcano fountain at 9 inches.
Here’s my bill from last night for the novelty and smaller fireworks purchases if you can read Chinese. I can’t. Heh. I know I got slaughtered on the Shun Lee Hung firecrackers though – can’t be helped, I didn’t buy enough for the traditional days where I do let ‘em off.
I’m off to buy a couple of large fireworks cakes (making a grand trio of large fireworks cakes as my flagship this year) in a bit.
This is where I currently stand – better photos with everything when during the annual roundup but I’ll let some off first!
The angpow is handmade – very thoughtful and kind of her to send it over. Yes, it does contain money inside, making it my first ang pow of the year. Cheers Yee Ling! :D
P/S – Just got another batch in. There’s daytime fireworks cakes in there too (bottom of the photo – blue colored cake). It’s going to be awesome! It’s meant for daylight use, will show you the principle soon! :)
I was out here the night before I was supposed to fly back to get some last minute Chinese New Year goodies for Sibu. It was a real pain-in-the-ass to lug them all back coz most of them had to be carry ons so it’s a good thing I had this huge bag from buying CNY clothes that I chucked everything in. Heh.
Petaling Street was quite festive – lights were strung out and there were heaps of people out and about.
Waxed meat is a popular item.
I was told that you can’t get proper ngaku (arrowhead chips) in Sibu so I bought a couple of tubs. I heard that this place has some of the best ones around. It’s RM 13 per container, I don’t eat them but my sister says that my brother-in-law can eat one tub, no problems. They were trying to get some back from Singapore too.
I also bumped into this intriguing shop selling candied vegetables. I was looking at them and the lady was kind enough to offer me lots of samples. I didn’t quite like any of the others except for carrot, peppers, lotus root and coconut so that’s the only four (4) types I got.
You can mix and match – it’s RM 15 for 200 grams (I think that was the price, can’t really remember) so I bought two small tubs back.
I also went to Sanbanto to grab a few packs of ba kua (pork jerky). They have two types – sliced pork meat (RM 50) and minced pork meat (RM 48). It depends on what you prefer.
I’ve tasted them and was quite impressed – there are no preservatives so you have to eat them within 3 days once it’s open. However, each piece of ba kua is individually wrapped and there’s 500 grams of porky goodness in there.
I don’t usually like ba kua but this was made in-house and tasted so much better than the mass produced ones that I thought it’ll make a good gift.
Next up! Fireworks and firecrackers for CNY! w00t! :D
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! :)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
2. It can explode on the ground if poorly constructed
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)
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).
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)
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)
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.
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.
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
This is another unusual development this year. It’s priced at RM 85 and comes with a smorgasbord of fireworks – mostly directed towards children.
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.
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
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. :)
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)
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. :)
I wouldn’t buy it myself but it came in the gift hamper. Interesting display.
Conic Fountain (RM 20)
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.
This cylindrical fireworks fountain has height going for it but ultimately only has one effect.
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
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
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!
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.
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. :)
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