Hong Kong's shutterbugs swoon over Mid-Autumn moon magic

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 September, 2013, 12:13pm

Photography enthusiasts loaded up with lenses and tripods turned out at Victoria Park last night to capture an exceptionally bright full moon, which coincided with the Mid-Autumn Festival for the first time in a decade.

The focus of their cameras was a three-storey lantern created from 7,000 large plastic water bottles.

Designed especially for the carnival this year, a spherical hole in the top was calculated to match the position of the moon.

See our gallery of Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations from around the world

But amateur photographer K.K. Lau said the best angle to film the full moon was from outside the lantern.

"The shape of the lantern echoes the shape of the moon, which makes an interesting composition," he said. Another highlight of the three-hour carnival was a fire dragon covered with 72,000 incense sticks. Three hundred performers holding up the straw dragon paraded the century-old Tai Hang fire dragon along narrow streets to the park.

The park was not the only place in town brightened up by fire dragons last night. Three wended their way through Pok Fu Lam Village. a traditional enclave surrounded by luxury homes, while five small dragons emblazoned with burning incense visited nearby Aberdeen.

But as families gathered in Victoria Park to enjoy the hundreds of beautifully crafted lanterns, a different message was being delivered by smaller lanterns hanging silently in the dark outside Beijing's liaison office.

They accompanied a petition from solo mainland mothers of Hong Kong-born children seeking the chance to live with their offspring.

The divorced or widowed women, who are barred by mainland regulations from gaining one-way permits to settle in Hong Kong, protested outside the office.

The city has a daily quota of 150 one-way permits for families separated by the border, but the power to screen the applicants rests with the mainland.

Video: Hong Kong's fire dragon dance

Zhang Liangying, the single mother of a nine-year-old boy, has not been able to submit her application since she was divorced in 2004.

Without relatives in Hong Kong, Zhang has to take her son out of school for two weeks every three months when her visitor's permit expires.

"My son barely talks when it comes to the time to travel back to Guangdong because he gets mocked by his classmates," Zhang said.

The Society for Community Organisation estimates 7,000 children in the city have mothers who must return to the mainland every three months so they can renew their visitor permits.

"They are like orphans, abandoned by their father and separated from their mother every now and then," said social worker Sze Lai-shan, who wants the government to seek the right to screen the applications and reserve some of the quota for single mainland mothers.