The minibus dropped the 13 of us off at Ping Che, far away from the comfortable air-conditioners in shopping malls and convenience of MTR stations. However, nothing could extinguish our passion of visiting the elderly while performing the characteristic Fire Dragon Dance, a long-time tradition in other parts of Hong Kong which has been a prominent feature of Ping Che in recent years.
Carefully weaving the metal wires around the frame, we raced to put the finishing touches on this magnificent creature. Following the beat of the gong and the drum, we practiced how not to lose our balance holding such a gigantic being in our grasp, or, if possible, how to effectively control the fire dragon and tilt its body in various directions like the professionals would.
We were almost drained as we managed to drag ourselves to the entrance of the nursing home. As the music started to ring in the dining hall, where a Mid-Autumn Festival party for the residing elders is in full swing, I led the march-in, swinging the Dragon Ball with all my strength while trying to recall which moves ensue. The rest of the volunteers followed me around the hall, replicating the movements Mr. Wong showed us half an hour ago. The jubilation emanated from within as the elders gazed like naive children at the fire dragon and our clumsy yet earnest body movements. Some even tried to reach out and feel its straw body by their palms! This was something simply unparalleled.
Knees weak, arms heavy, palms sweaty, shoulders suffering from sunburnt — if these are all I brought home, then no doubt the day would be a nightmare. Luckily, renewed friendship, a whole new perspective about villages, bringing joy and elation to elders… countless scenes and memories deeply engraved on my mind has already more than compensated me.
Text by Owen Chau