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 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! :)
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
It has an OD (Outer Diameter) of more than 1 inch. 3 cm to be exact.
It is almost half a foot long – 14.5 cm.
New Thunder King a.k.a. Asian dick
Diameter of less than 1 inch – about 2.3 cm. You can’t really go much smaller than this for loud salutes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”.
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. :)
I was playing with firecrackers the day before when some kids from down the street came over. They very unselfconsciously asked if they could watch and I said sure, but told them to stand back coz I was lighting some huge aerial salutes then.
One of them asked if they could play with my firecrackers and I let them fire off the the stash I brought out. I helped them light it and watched very closely as they did, telling them to be careful.
The smallest one was probably around 7 years old or so – at that age I was playing with loud salutes like chai lei so when he asked if he could light one himself, I let him have the lighter and stood beside him while he lit the fuse.
I believe with proper supervision, kids can learn how to let firecrackers off safely, like how I did when I was their age. I even let the smallest one light one of the large Crazy Bang salutes. I had to hover over him while he did it and tell him not to touch the firecracker while lighting it though.
It was very tiring having to babysit but the smiles on their faces and their glee from the unadulterated fun they had was worth it. All three of them were enthusiastically taking turns to let off the firecrackers. I like them – very polite kids, thanked me for the experience.
They came *running* back last night when they saw me playing with fireworks and together we finished up most of the stuff I got.
It was one of the most memorable Chinese New Year experiences I’ve had this year. :)
This is one of the fireworks that I used to play with when I was a kid. I haven’t seen it around for *ages*. The most interesting bit about the complex (in the sense that it’s not a simple salute) build is that it behaves more or less like a tank.
It has wheels that actually work and the fuse propels it forward in a surprisingly sudden fast turn and it emits a spray of sparks (which I imagine is the flamethrower) before the grand finale – at the very end the tank actually fires it’s main gun.
Tame stuff, but nostalgic. This cardboard tank spits out an arcing ball of fire which travels a short distance and explodes on the ground.
It’s very cute actually. The video shows the firework tank in action – during the heydays before the firecrackers and fireworks ban, there were lots of nifty and creative fireworks like this.