Taiwan Day 122 & 123: HAPPY NEW YEAR! -Dec. 31,2013 & Jan. 1,2014 | Travel in Asia

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Taiwan Day 122 & 123: HAPPY NEW YEAR! -Dec. 31,2013 & Jan. 1,2014


Dec. 31, 2013 - I woke up at 9:20 am only realizing that I have a Biology 1 (B1) Class at 9:00 am. I was already late but I didn't forced myself to enter the class. It was the first time that I was absent in B1 but my stipend won't be affected since my sole absence from this class haven't reached 1/3 of 14 which was the total number of classes. I just used the time in cleaning my study table as I want to start the New Year with a clean and organized table. I also used the time to print the chapters in the molecular biology book that I need to read in order to review for our upcoming Final Exam. In the afternoon, I went to my Python Programming Class at 2:00 pm and I have presented my Local Alignment Algorithm in front of my classmates. I almost forgot what I need because I submitted the project a week ago but still I was still able to explained it well. The programming class ended at 4:00 pm but the excitement was a little bit stopped by the TA Algorithms Session right after Python Programming. It was all about Suffix Trees. A very easy topic for me. hehe! At 6:00pm everybody was ready to prepare for the biggest show in Taiwan at 12:00 midnight which was the fireworks in Taipei 101.

Our group was coordinated by my PhD classmate Chris. He made an initial plan of where to go and what to do but he still let us decide which we want to go. Alcides, Divya, Kidane and Nikhil were also part of this New Year adventure team. I also saw Michael, the friend of Chris whom we first met in Taiwan Day 115. I was curioused why he was with Chris even during the Python Class so I asked him if they were the best of friends and he said 'yes'.

Alcides was not at first able to join the group as he need to sleep and he said that he will join the group at 11:00 pm. From TIGP Dorm, our group composed of Chris, Michael, Divya, Kidane, Nikhil and me rode Bus 212 to reached Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station. Inside the bus Divya and I just learned from Chris that we need to pay twice since we are taking a longer destination from Academia Sinica. We were surprised about that and I thought the the bus fare was fixed at NTD 12 no matter what the distance was. Chris told us that there will be a sign in the LCD screen inside the bus that will indicate that we need to pay twice for the bus fare. He also said the bus drivers cannot speak English so I a foreigner who needs to pay twice just swiped their Easy Card only once he or she will not be scolded by bus driver as the driver could not express his words in English but for citizens of Taiwan they will be easily told to swipe their Easy Card twice. Chris talked to our bus driver and we were surprised that driver said that we don't need to pay twice anymore. Diyva was happy and I just told her to call the incident the 'Chris Magic'.

When we exited in Zhongxiao Fuxing we met one of Chris' friends and her name was Irene and she joined our group in celebrating this New Year. The gang went to a Hong Kong Style Restaurant. I ordered a chicken meal with two rising eggs but I forgot the specific name of that dish. Divya ordered a fried rice while Chris ordered a seafood meal with 'pancit canton'. Our milk tea were the first to be served before our heavy meals. I was really hungry at that time since I usually ate my dinner at 6 pm. It was already past 8 pm so my gastric juices were already protesting that they need something to digest. I ate my dinner with passion and since the servings were large I was not even able to ate the last small piece of chicken. Nikhil gave me some fried rice while Chris offered some fish balls that made my stomach almost full before finishing half of my dinner.

After our dinner, we walked back to street in Zhongxiao Fuxing and met Alcides. The group first tried to walk near Taipei 101 but suddenly turned back to buy some food in a fast food restaurant. After buying the food, the group then decided to walk near Sun Yat Sen Memorial to find a good spot to watch the fireworks. There were already a lot of people along the streets. It was my first time to experience walking in the streets of Taipei in New Year's Eve and it was a memorable experience. I was able to chat with Irene while the group was walking and I learned from her that when she went to China she used another passport to go there as she was a Taiwanese. Irene dresses like a typical Taiwanese woman but I would always remember her angelic face.

Once we reached the park, Nikhil took the lead in finding a good spot to watch the Taipei 101 show and we were able to find a very good spot where we can see even the base of Taipei 101. Finding it was not easy as we need to be in contact with the members of the groups as we insert ourselves into the thousands of people that were also eager to find a place in Taipei's public park. I really admire Nikhil's initiative in finding a good place and his intuition in telling whether there was a better spot to look for. But where was this nice spot that we found in watching the fireworks in Taipei 101? I won't tell. It is a big secret. hehe!

Taipei 101 was at first lit that you can see the outlines of its bamboo-shaped structure. Infront of Taipei City Hall was a large stage that acted as the main New Year's Eve show of Taipei City. Seconds before January 1 approaches, the crowd became crazy. Shi[10], Jiu[9], Ba[8], Qi[7],Liu[6],Wu[5], Si[4], San[3], Er[2], Yi[1]. At the strike of 12 midnight, the greatest show of Taiwan began. Taipei 101 was transformed into a magical sparkling building. Shining brightly into the darkness of the night, all attention was given to this tall structure. There were a lot of people who took photos and videos using their smartphones. I also took a short video then I suddenly switch to took photos since I want my album cover for this Taiwan Day 122 and 123 to be the blazing Taipei 101. It was really hard watching the fireworks display live and at the same time taking photos and video but I really enjoyed it. It was a one of a kind experience. Watching it live was more fun than seeing it on TV or in Youtube.

After the fireworks,the lighting of Taipei 101 changed. Just look at my photos on how the building transformed into a bright rectangular prism. The people in the park started to decrease indicating the end of the main event. We changed to another place and we tried to watch the live show infront of Taipei City Hall. We don't have a nice view but I was able to climb and sit on a railings. I took some videos to show how jam-packed the people are. I was also awed by the design of the stage. There was a very big LED screen and the design was comparable to stages in concerts of international artist. I guessed that the Taipei City Government spent a lot of money for this New Years' Eve Celebration. At 1:00 am the show ended and I was surprised that the bright lighting of Taipei 101 suddenly disappear and it returned to its usual unlighted form.

We went to a night market then to a public park to rest and have some chit-chat. I was already tired at around 3:00 am. Divya, Kidane and I wanted to go back to TIGP Dorm. We separated with the group at Taipei City Hall Station. The others will join the flag raising ceremony in front of the Presidential Palace. I really want to join them but my body wants to sleep.

2013 was a year full of drama. I lost a loved one due to cancer and I need to be strong. I was accepted in TIGP, I made my first international trip in Hong Kong and I survived my first 100 days in Taiwan.

This 2014, the future looks bright and I even have to wear shades!

Xīn Nián Kuài Lè (Happy New Year) !!!

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