Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lighting Up

Tonight we had dinner in Hou Hai, the back lakes. And afterwards we walked around to check out the nightlife scene.

We saw some lanterns floating in the sky and encountered some bare-chested men who wanted to sell us the lanterns. After a bit of bargaining, we managed to get two for 15RMB, originally asking 30RMB each.

There are large and small ones. The small lanterns are still quite large, about one metre tall. When you take them out of the package, they're made of thin red paper and shaped like a squarish balloon. At the bottom is a wire shaped like a circle and in the middle of it is a square piece of material, sort of like wax.

Once the lantern is spread out on its edges, you light the square and after a short time, the hot air from the flame naturally lifts the lantern out of your hands. And depending on the wind, it can fly quite high up in the sky. If not, it catches fire and self-destructs, the burning ashes falling into the lake.

These lanterns will be very popular less than two weeks from now when Mid-Autumn Festival rolls around on September 25.

Moon cakes, lanterns and a perfectly big, round moon. Can't wait.

1 comment:

ks said...

this is another example of chinese ingenuity. it is called 'hong ming lamp' named after a brilliant militarity stratetgist 'hong ming' during the era of 3 warring states around 220 b.c.. it utilizes the hot air balloon principle getting the baloon up as a form of signalling for military communication. it should be played only above water to avoid being a fire hazzard when falls back on land.