New Years

It’s kind of weird to be one of the first to celebrate new years eve. I stayed up late celebrated, went to sleep, woke up, toured the town, and then came back home to a bunch of well wishing emails from back home. My first thought was that mail was delayed, but no, it’s just that the new year started 15 hours later.
Of the various celebration options, I chose the fireworks show. The best place to view it, I was told, was from Kowloon, facing Hong Kong Island. This was easy because my hostel is also in Kowloon, about four blocks away from the water front.
The organization of the event seemed to have been planned to injure the most number of people, while also confusion and frustration for many others as well.
To aid in crowd control, they shut down the major roads near the water front. This included the main high way which runs along the waterfront. However, the police were reserving the side of the highway closest to the water for emergency vechicles, so there was no way to actually get across the highway. The only way across was via one of two pedestrian bridges located a mile down the road, or via the ferry building, which was already mobbed as it was the obvious place to view the fireworks. The first pedstrian bridge disappeared into an upper level of a mall, and it looked far easier to head for the second bridge than to try to figure out how to get there from inside the mall (I would later learn that the police had blocked this route, so I’m glad I didn’t try). The second bridge was a pain to access because it was not designed to accept pedistrian access from the road level of the highway. As a result we only a cop there to yell at people trying to climb through the bushes, and forcing us to walk down to the next highway exit.
Anyway, once across the bridge, it was another long hike back towards the waterfront. The only problem was that the police had blocked the way and were sending people accross the first foot bridge into the aforementioned mall. I’m not sure what the police were saying because I don’t speak Cantonese, but I figured that this was the best seat in the house, and clung to the police barracade. You have to cling, or the people around you will try to pry their way in.
This place was a little far, and there was no clear reason given (in english) for why the best viewing spot along the waterfront had been closed off, but I was fine with the place I had. Then, fifteen minutes before midnight they decided to open the barrakcade. Suddenly I was clinging to my barracade with all my strength as hundreds of people clawed at each other to be the first down the nearly empty waterfront. If anyone had fallen at this time, they would have been trampled by the stampeed.
The show itself was pretty cool. They shot the fireworks from the tops of the major buildings in downtown Hong Kong. I was pretty impressed that they kept them syncronized. The show only lasted for 4 minutes, and didn’t include any of the huge impressive fireworks that I guess I’m used to. Maybe it’s the economic downturn…
Well, we’re off to a new year, and one of my resolutions is to be better about replying to email, so send me a message so I can succeed.

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