Hong Kong Homies is a series where we get deep real fast with Hongkongers.
Mr Chan, 60
I haven’t really been celebrating Chinese New Year for the last few years, since I… became single….
I don’t really have plans for it and spend it very simply. I go have yum cha alone in the morning of the first day of new year, walk around a bit after, and then go home. Simple dishes and rice is enough for me nowadays. I don’t get a chicken even if it’s Chinese New Year, because why bother? I wouldn’t be able to finish it anyway. It’ll just go to waste.
I haven’t gone to the Chinese New Year market in a while either. I used to go with my wife after finishing Chinese New Year dinner she cooked for us. I loved her soup the most. We wouldn’t go out on the first day of the year, but on the second day, we would go bai neen at my father-in-law’s. I haven’t seen him or the family in a while now though. As for my kids, I don’t even know where to begin to talk about them…
I work in the transportation industry. My career started off on the sea. The sea transportation business was a family business, where we mainly imported rice from Thailand. The family worked and lived together on boats, which we parked at the old Sheung Wan pier.
During Chinese New Year when we rested, there was a lot to do and many traditions to stick to. Other than going to neighboring boats to bai neen, we would have to worship the sea goddess for the entire course of the first four days of the new year to ask her to bless our voyages. But we will definitely not continue worshiping from the fifth day onwards. In the summer when it got too hot, we would jump into the waters and go swimming.
We worked together until the sea transportation industry shut down 20 or 30 years ago. I haven’t seen them or my crewmates for a long time. Everyone is busy now — well, everyone has their own family now and their own life to live.
We always say we’d hang out or have a reunion, but it never really happens. We don’t see each other during Chinese New Year, but sometimes when big life events happen, like when someone’s daughter is getting married.
Even the land transportation industry is disappearing quickly. Nowadays, I do part-time work two to three days a week, just to have something to do during the day. I don’t have much to do otherwise.
I don’t really have any hobbies – I’m not interested in watching TV, doing sports and I was never educated or cultured enough to start reading. Sometimes, I don’t even know what I’m living for.
Things have changed a lot over the years. They were much simpler and happier in the past. Everybody is busy nowadays, and things are so much more complicated… well, not necessarily… maybe it’s just because a lot has happened over the years.