open house

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.

cny visiting

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.

ting chuan hb luke

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. :)

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. ;)

romeo steph

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.

cousins

This is 3 Degrees. We made a new tradition of going clubbing with just cousins starting this year. :D

birthday present

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! :)

chinese 80th birthday

Speaking of birthdays…this is my great aunt’s 80th birthday!

great aunt

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!

sky lantern cny

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.

sky lantern

It really goes up high with a 15 minute burn time.

fountain cake fireworks

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.

muesli cookies

I also visited Arthur’s house, which is just around the corner. Those are his muesli cookies.

arthur grace

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.

josiah

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

chinese firecrackers

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.

firecracker

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.

No cat.

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.

air con

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.

firecracker cat
(cat)

Yeah…

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.

stuck cat

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.

petting cat

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. action

lady bug fireworks

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.

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. smirk

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. :)

firecrackers

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. :)

reunion dinner

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.

cny 2013 reunion dinner

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.

bushmills single malt

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.

Happy CNY everyone! Gong Xi Fatt Chai! :D

shun lee hung

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.

shun lee hung firecrackers

I got the much rarer small box thrown in with a purchase and was drying it out just now when…

rain fireworks

…it rained. :x

fireworks rain

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.

firecrackers disaster

I don’t think I was thinking at the time. smirk

This happened in 2006 when I played firecrackers indoors too.

Happy Chinese New Year’s Eve everyone! Updates on fireworks and firecrackers soon! :D

fireworks 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.

large fireworks cakes

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.

hb fireworks

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.

fireworks cake daisy chain

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.

jona eddy hb

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.

fireworks price

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.

fireworks display

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.

my fireworks

This is where I currently stand – better photos with everything when during the annual roundup but I’ll let some off first!

yee ling ang pow

Oh, I also got an ang pow from Yee Ling!

first angpow

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

fireworks haul

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! :)

cny petaling street

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

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.

ngaku

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.

candied vegetables

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.

sanbanto

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.

sanbanto bakua

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.

petaling street cny

Next up! Fireworks and firecrackers for CNY! w00t! :D

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 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

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.

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