Saturday, February 15, 2014

New Taipei City Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival (新北市平溪天燈節) [Taiwan Day 167: Pingxi Is In The Air - Feb. 14, 2014]


February 14 was the day I was waiting for. Not because it was Valentine's Day but for the 2014 Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. Pingxi is a district in a New Taipei City and sky lanterns are the main tourist attraction in this place.

Divya
I went there together with my PhD classmate Divya and a dozen of new friends from National Yang Ming University. I thought that only a few people will join our trip but I was surprised that they were many and most of them were women. I didn't have time to talk with them since as I was so hungry and I was just thinking of what food to eat once we reached Pingxi District. If there was something to eat there!


The group met at Taipei Zoo and from there we took a bus going to Pingxi and paid 50 NTD for the fare. The trip was around 40 minutes and the route was full of zigzag roads. Temperatures in Taipei on that day was around 13 degrees Celsius and I checked the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) website that temperatures in Pingxi might go down to as low as 9 degrees Celsius in the evening.


I was not able to enjoy view outside the bus since the glass windows were full of moisture inside and out of the bus. I just talked to my friends to entertain ourselves.


We arrived at around 5 pm and the temperature was 11 degrees Celsius and we were welcomed by a cold breeze and light rain. Brrr! Pingxi is a mountainous area so the temperature was really lower than in Taipei.



A little walk from the bus stop and we came across a night market. Since everybody was hungry we stroll around the night market with our umbrellas to look for some good food. I ate some sliced sausages to fill my stomach and drank milk tea to obey my thirst.

the Pingxi train


After eating, the group went to the venue of the sky lantern festival. Pandas greeted us at the gate and since I was wearing my 'panda bonnet' which I bought from Carrefour I asked Divya to take me a picture with the panda gate as the background. Haha!

a proof for registering in the sky lantern festival
My original plan was to go alone to Pingxi and take pictures of the flying sky lanterns. I knew that one can register in the festival and have the chance to release a lantern but I didn't register. I just found out that my friends in Yang Ming registered and we were given a chance to participate in the program.













After falling in line and waiting under the cold rain for a long time, our group was led to the backstage and from there we were brought to an open area facing the stage. We were given red markers to write our wishes in our lanterns. We first wrote our wishes before the lantern was lit.














Waiting for the free shuttle bus going to MRT Taipei Zoo Station.
We still saw sky lanterns as we fall in line.










a lamp post in Pingxi



Every 30 minutes 200 lanterns were released for that night. And when our lanterns were released, people were screaming with joy. I took a video of this magical experience. The experience watching those sky lanterns flying in the sky was better than watching the fireworks in Taipei 101. I considered that moment as one of my best experiences in Taiwan.


People say that 'Love is in the air' during Valentine's Day but when I saw those sky lanterns flying above me carrying people's wishes I told to myself that night 'Pingxi is in the air!'
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