‘Park-anywhere-you-like’ day

Filed in General, Hong Kong

Today is one of the few days in the year that you can park your car anywhere you like. Unlike other countries like Australia and the U.S.A., people can only park their cars in designated stretches of the road. If the sign does not say "Parking", then you can't park there; period.

So what's so special about today? It's the Chinese New Year. For four days, people don't have to go to work. They get to spend time with their friends and family and relax or get bored as the case may be.

There are a few traditions associated with Chinese New Year; the giving and receiving of Lai Sees, money enclosed in fancy, normally red, envelopes; the burning of strings of tens, sometimes hundreds of banger fireworks; huge crowds gathering to watch the government financed fireworks display in the harbour; walking through the flower markets the night before New Year, and the meeting and gathering of friends and family.

It's all a lot of fun. We don't do all of these things. We hear the explosions of bangers going off in our village, usually just after midnight to celebrate the new year, and our dogs hear them too almost certainly responding with lots of barking much to the annoyance of others in the house trying to sleep. We didn't walk through the flower markets this year and we didn't go to see the fireworks display. We did visit with family and friends though and to me, that's the most important tradition of the Chinese New Year.

We visited my wife's father on Cho Yi, the first day of the new year. We also visited the 'super doctor' who treated my wife's mother for more than a year before she died of diabetes complications. And today, friends will be coming to our home for dinner. It's a great time of the year if only for this gathering of friends and family. It's unfortunate but even Christmas doesn't measure up in this aspect. For as long as I can remember, Christmas was always about family and never about friends. With Chinese New Year, everyone is involved.

And that brings us to the 'park-anywhere-you-like' day. The police understand that people everywhere will be driving all over Hong Kong to visit with family and friends and therefore are especially lenient about parking in non-parking areas. You can even park on the sidewalk if there is no space on the road. This only happens for the first two or three days of the year so make the most of it.

Happy Chinese New Year to all.

Gongxifacai    Shentijiankang