It was uncharacteristically quiet on both Hong Kong Island and Kowloon ahead of the beginning of the Year of the Water Dragon. Most of the shops and restaurants were closed, and the few that stayed open priced in a hefty surcharge for keeping their workers away from their families on such an important holiday.
Based on the Chinese Zodiac, I (a Fire Tiger) will have passably good luck this year, particularly in my career. I would have liked to thresh this out more by having my fortune told at Temple Street, but I couldn’t trust the wispy old man enough to base his reading solely on my complexion (fair skin equals many boyfriends, according to the poster of Nicole Kidman outside his tent) or the shape of my nose. Plus, my host in Kowloon was adamantly skeptical of the exercise. The winter chill also discourages any extended jaunt outdoors.
Save for the faint sound of drums and bells characteristic of a dragon dance I heard this morning while I was toasting French bread at my friend’s apartment, I will miss the main events today — fireworks at Victoria Harbour, the Tsim Sha Tsui night parade and the crush of revelers with their eyes on red and gold. Though I did swing by Man Mo Temple along Hollywood Road, where I came out smelling of death and incense.
Perhaps another year, I’ll get to experience more of its colorful traditions, beyond the obligatory meal at a spectacular Cantonese restaurant.