A Wish is a Dream Your Heart Makes - Pingxi

February 28, 2016

When you think of pictures from Taiwan {Ok let's be honest 1/2 of you have never seen a picture from Taiwan before this blog}...ok pictures from Asia; one thing that always seems to come to mind is the brightly colored paper lanterns. We see them hanging in Chinese restaurants back in the U.S. We see them adorning calendar pictures of brightly colored temples, and on the off chance you happen to stumble upon something during Chinese New Year time, chance are you've spotted a paper lantern there as well.

Needless to say, these paper lanterns are somewhat iconic and I've been itching to get my hands on one since I've stepped into Taiwan {no shame in playing hardcore tourist for the last 8 months here!} [Insert my travel buddy Tina to the rescue!] Of course Tina will venture to Pingxi (pronounced Ping-shee) with me to release lanterns!

Good luck bamboo sticks in Shifen

After spending the previous day exploring the lantern festival in Taoyuan (just outside of Taipei) what better time to head east from Taipei towards Pingxi and Shifen to do a little small town exploring. Of course while traveling things don't exactly always go off without a hitch! I had stayed in a hostel the night before we left in Taipei and because we had a long weekend (no school Monday) due to 2/28 holiday {a day marking an anit-government uprising in Taiwan in 1947} I had wanted to stop and check out the 228 memorial park near my hotel before heading to Pingxi. Needless to say I woke up in the morning and called Tina, the conversation went a little something like this "Umm hi, yeah, Tina...I'm not sure I'm going to make it today" "mmm why? (I think I woke someone up lol" "yeah umm...my face looks scary today" "mmm yeah ok, I'll meet you soon" me"yeah, but really Tina, I look like an alien, my whole face is swollen up". The kind man that owned my hostel showed me to the hospital and after gentle reassurance from my doctor that though I indeed did look like an avatar character, he thought I made a rather beautiful avatar character lol. Apparently they think it's allergies...I think it's scary!

Eventually I met up with Tina...she agreed I looked rather scary lol and we checked out the memorial park as well as the small museum on the park grounds {which was open free to the public for the holiday...score!} Later, we rode the subway to the end of it's line and there ventured to the bus station where we eventually located the tourist bus that takes you east of the city stopping at Shifen; our first stop of the day. The ride was not the shortest of rides that I've ever experienced, but we were excited and the time passed quickly. 

Once arriving in Shifen we grabbed a quick lunch to share and then set out exploring. First up, the suspension bridge...I love them...Miss Tina, not so much lol, but the views were beautiful and the pictures fantastic. Afterwards we began to venture towards the famous waterfall in Shifen. We were told it was a quick walk, I'm not sure who considers a 30 to 40 minute walk quick, but exercise can't hurt us right?!?! I'm not even going to try to tell you about this waterfall other than saying it was beautiful! I'll let the pictures speak for themselves today!

We left the waterfall a little later than intended around 5pm {in hindsight we may have planned too much for a day and coupled with the hospital visit...we had a long day lol} walked back to the train station and borded the next train headed for Pingxi. Fun Fact Life Saving Fact: when exiting these trains you must cross the train tracks by foot to reach the station, the tracks quickly become crowded and if you aren't careful a stopping train may just just a little too close to you for comfort! ;)

Arriving in Pingxi just after 7 we had one goal and one goal only in mind...find and release our lantern! Walking along the train tracks {you would think we would have learned out lesson!} we found many shops selling lanterns, I wanted to find one that let us use the traditional calligraphy brush and paint so we settled on a place, paid our $150 ($5 USD) and got to work each decorating our 2 sides of the lantern. Each color lantern had a different meaning such as love, family, or career. The typical red lantern, like we used, was a general good wishes lantern. 

Once we finished we were led out to the train tracks where a lady helped us light our lantern, take picture for us, and then directed us how to let our lantern and wishes go into the sky. Do I believe that letting a lantern go into the air is going to help me win the lottery and marry the love of my life...no...was it a fun experience and a great way to reflect on my personal goals for 2016 and accomplishments of 2015...most definitely!

We grabbed some late night snacks in Pingxi, borded the train and headed back home late for a much deserved good nights sleep!