Macau Fireworks Competition – Alex’s Experience Part 1
Alex and Krystal were part of the Team that won the Peoples Choice award and 3rd place in Macau. This is his story about the experience he had.
Until not so long ago, my wife and I seemed destined to complete our first year (out of 6 together) without having made any holiday plans. That all changed when an opportunity of a lifetime was offered to me from employer, a chance to work on the Australian display in the Macau 26th Annual International Fireworks Competition.
Only 2 months after accepting the invitation, I found myself carrying a bright red firing computer and having to explain my way through Brisbane International Airport customs, along with my 3 other team members, Max, Denzil and Paul. After reaching the bright city of Macau and exploring the sleepless casino-filled streets, we met up with the extra four team members from Cairns to make a plan of attack for the next few days, unaware of how much work was ahead of us.
The next morning, with stomachs full of unfamiliar breakfast food, we were transported to a dock where small 4-passenger sampan boats awaited to take us out to the firing barge. Once boarded, our first challenge was obvious: Product positioning. With a crane on one side and a ship cabin on the other, we were forced to arrange our firing racks on angles that achieved the intended display width but avoided the ship’s obstacles. A long first day of hard labour and an extension to our original knock off time allowed us to complete the majority of the mortar rack construction by 7:30pm under the barge floodlights. Once we were back on the mainland, the group shared its first restaurant dinner together as a full team of 8 before retiring for the night to recover for day two.
Awoken by an unfriendly alarm at 6:30am, Denzil and I ignored our aching muscles, threw on our UV protection work clothes and joined the others for breakfast. Using a mobile photo of the dock, we were able to show the non-english speaking taxi drivers where to take us so that we could board the barge an hour earlier than the scheduled transfer. The extra hour head start helped us finish building the last of the mortar racks by mid-morning so that we could get straight into fusing and loading shells.
Split into groups of 2-3 and with the assistance of the Chinese workers, we were able to load the majority of the mortar tubes, despite interruptions by swinging containers getting rearranged over our heads. Another day turned in to night as we finished plugging modules and prepared some of the more intricate parts such as chain fuses.
We had made serious progress over the first two days, much more than the other two competing teams whose barges were butt up against ours. Based on how much work we had left however, uncertainty of completion loomed over us. Later that night, once everyone had split off to their rooms, I was able to greet my wife into our hotel after her 9 hour flight and ferry. Much to everyone’s appreciation, Krystal had agreed to join us on the barge for the last 2 days before showtime to help the team finish the job.
We had made it past the half way point and now had an extra set of hands. The third day was spent finishing off the last of the shells and setting up the multi-shot cakes. Despite the overwhelming humidity, it was easy for everyone to get into the swing of things now that everything seemed to be coming together. Recurring work patterns could be seen over the 3 country’s barges from atop a crane tower and it was inevitable that we were all nearing completion.
Another hard day’s work and solid night’s sleep brought us to the final day of preparation. All that was left were finishing touches and cabling up the firing modules. We spent the morning making sure every shot was loaded, every fuse was fireproofed and every rack was angled perfectly. The afternoon crept up on us and eventually everyone except the show supervisors, Max and Paul, were taken back to the mainland while the barges were dragged down the river and put in to position. The rest of us were then driven back to the hotel to enjoy a free afternoon while we awaited show time.
PART 2- Showtime is to follow. Editors Note