Mialoi Bombing the Dragon

Yes, you read the title right, and they did literally that...poor, poor dragon! He never even knew what was coming!

This festival/tradition/craziness is still a little hazy for me as to the origin or the whereabouts of this idea, but this is what I've gathered....

It is tradition, sometime during the 2 weeks after Chinese New Year to have a fireworks festival {actually they use fireworks the entire 2 weeks...trust me!...but  they dedicate a specific time to having a festival to use them} in which TONS of firecrackers are set off with the thought that the loud noises will scare away all of the bad spirits and things in your life. [My personal take on this...if the firecrackers didn't scare the bad spirits away NOTHING is going to, and now both the spirits and myself may be permanently deaf....but who's asking me anyways!]

There are 4 different locations around Taiwan that hold these festivals and each is a little different. While some just enjoy throwing the firecrackers, others encourage people to stand where they are throwing them {I swear I can't make this stuff up!}, and others yet use dragons as the main spectacle to throw the fiery noisemakers at. Mialoi, the county right below me, is the latter; hence, the Bombing of the Dragon Festival!

Last Saturday (when I finally got off work...boo to having to teach on a Saturday this week!) I headed down to Mialoi just in time for the festival to really get going. I had ZERO idea what to expect, but was still quite taken aback when I got there! I was less than 2 yards off of the bus when a guy volunteering at the festival deems me as "a beautiful lady" and tosses a light up dragon hat on my head {you only live once right?!} From there, the night continued to get weirder! I met up with my Miaoli friends (Rebecca, RJ, William & his friend) and after grabbing some food from the stands near by, I convinced them it was time to get our party started...donning on the dragon costume time it was!

We got in line, were handed helmets, goggles, ear plugs, face masks, & gloves and then waited our turn...still not sure what exactly to expect. Next thing we know they were ushering us into the center ring, handing us each a long pole that a section of the dragon was attached to and telling us to run...then the firecrackers started...they were trowing BOXES of firecrackers right at us!  Haha I kid you not, I was laughing so hard I could barely run, to say it was an  interesting experience is an understatement!

Once we finished our run it was near time for the actual show of the night to start. The real dragon bombing show was similar to what we did (people holding the dragon while firecrackers are being thrown at them) except their moves were choreographed and the dragon they had was beautiful! Each dance/bombing lasted about 20 minutes {umm hello TONS of firecrackers!} and then there was another dance or performance in between each of the bombings to give them time to clean up and for our ears to stop ringing. When we left around 10pm we had seen countless dragon bombings including an electric light up dragon, a Chinese dance show, a local middle school's Japanese drum student performance, & a Chinese lion/god dance. Needless to say, the dragon bombings were definitely a learning experience, and one of those times I just have to laugh and tell myself "only in Asia!"