By Maya Haziza
The bustle of millions of people running around the city and preparing for the new year is a unique time in Hong Kong. People swarm the streets buying orchids, fruits, and gifts for their friends and family and never miss taking their children out to the carnivals in the city. As I walk down my block towards my apartment I can smell the pungent scent of Chinese cooking fill the air as I step on wet streets that have been sprayed with water during the preparation of orchids to be sold.
I put my hands together and shake them as I approach a Chinese couple and say “Gong Hei Fat Choy,” which means “Congratulations and may you be prosperous.” If the couple has truly connected with you they will often times give you a little money in a red envelope as a way of reciprocating the wish for prosperity. My friends and I roam the streets in Victoria Park, where there is a carnival for the new year, trying different Chinese deserts and buying the little knick knacks for sale.
The reason I find this time of year so special in China is because it is the most exciting and joyful holiday in Chinese culture. Every family spends weeks preparing for the new year celebration or planning their travels to mainland China from Hong Kong and visiting their families and friends. The metro is packed with people pushing their way out of the exits to make it to see the new year parade in Tsim Sha Tsui. Then finally on the day of the new year, Friday - it all stops and there is silence throughout the streets. All the stores and malls are empty and everyone is with their loved ones welcoming in the new year together.
I am so grateful that I was able to be in Hong Kong during the new year and experience the excitement. For the new year my roommates and I have planned a 9 day trip to Vietnam ... can’t wait to share it next.