Taitung (台東) - hot air balloon - Taiwan International Balloon Festival (臺灣國際熱氣球嘉年華) Night Glow Show [Taiwan Day 1036: Utopia Part 1 “Welcome to Utopia” - July 2, 2016] | Travel in Asia

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Taitung (台東) - hot air balloon - Taiwan International Balloon Festival (臺灣國際熱氣球嘉年華) Night Glow Show [Taiwan Day 1036: Utopia Part 1 “Welcome to Utopia” - July 2, 2016]


ABSTRACT: Utopia. Is there such a place in Taiwan? To tell you frankly, there is! Taiwan's land of legends is the most ideal place to live, work and play. You might not agree with me but they have “Flying Machines” here. They were big, colorful and lighter than air and a must-see during the summer season. Look into the ocean and you will discover “The Island of Orchids” where skilled seafaring aboriginal people called the Yami live in harmony with the sea. This ideal society had been in close in contact with the Ivatans of Batanes for thousands of years and their common language is a proof of their interaction. Surprisingly, I met one Ivatan on the island through the help of a Japanese woman who got married to a Yami guy. The Ivatan also got married to an aboriginal man and together they inspired me to write “Of Friends and Lovers”. I was supposed to stay in Taitung for six days but I have to cut my trip because of a typhoon. It was predicted to be so strong that it brought so much chaos when it struck the province. Taitung was heavily battered and it was turned into a dystopia. But from the ashes of destruction it stood again to restore its former glory so that everyone can see once again the grandeur of a great Utopia.


Sometimes Taiwan's ideal society have a weird way of saying “hello” especially during the time of summer where flying machines can be seen floating in the sky. Don't imagine big battle ships that kept hidden in the clouds. They were just hot air balloons that makes the picturesque town of Luye more exciting to visit during the “Best Time of the Year”.

Like any other place in Taitung, the plains of Luye have its own fair share of its origins. We all knew that the island of Taiwan is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire so we expect earthquakes to be a daily part of every Utopian. The Philippine plate collides with the Eurasian plate creating the East Coast Mountain Range and it faces the Pacific Ocean while the center of Taiwan crumples in the middle forming the Central Mountain ranges. A flat piece of land was then trapped between these two mountain ranges and this place was called the East Rift Valley Scenic Area. 

Sounds great right? But remember the East Coast Mountain Range is the boundary of the Eurasian Plate and anything on the coastal region in Taitung sits on top of the Philippine Plate. Go down south and you would encounter the city. You won't see any coastal mountains here so it's not protected against tsunamis. But wait! Typhoon Nepartak was coming. Earthquakes, tsunami and typhoons are a perfect combination to destroy Utopia. Could our ideal society survive the challenge or would it easily turn into a dystopia?

But before it gets worse here in Taitung, let's start the ball for rolling for the first Night Glow Show of the Taitung Hot Air Balloon Festival. I asked first the Taitung Visitor Center about the shuttle buses that visitors can board to the event area. There were people that could speak English there and they were able to answer all of my questions. For those who didn't know the Night Glow Show is where you can see the hot air balloons inflated during nighttime and the fire created from their burner gives them that glow. Check the schedule of the Night Glow Show when you visit Taitung because they are held in different places. To make it simple, the shuttle buses would start at the Taitung Bus Station so choose a hostel near this public transportation hub to make your trip efficient.

The buses for the hot air balloon viewing every 5am and 5pm were free but for this Night Glow Show I paid NTD 74 for the fare. The bus took us to the mountains and when it made its final stop I followed my bus mates where I was led to a big grass field called the Long Tian landing field. The spectators were either sitting on the ground or lying down on the grass. I searched for a good spot and then sat there. A hot air balloon was just nearby and its burner emitted a giant blaze. “Whoa!” said by the audience.

Everybody enjoyed the band performances. Even I who don't understand Chinese appreciated the music that went inside my ears. The experience was like worshipping the god of fire until the audience heard the sound of thunder from the sky and combined with light illuminating from the clouds. The audience was in disarray and the balloon master appeared or should I say the 'high priest' came out to calm down the “society”. He checked his smartphone and looked at the radar images and then the man declared the activity to continue. 

A roll call was made for the participating hot air balloon teams and they responded by creating a big blaze on their torch. When everybody was ready, the balloon of EVA Air started to inflate. It was then followed by heart-shaped Taitung balloon but unfortunately the raindrops started to fall. It then become bigger and bigger. The event was turned into a dystopia! The balloon master soon declared that the Utopian ceremony to be cancelled to the dismay of its followers. Oh! I wished that tomorrow it would be a beautiful day.

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