Hi there wanderlusters! (Is this a word? There’s a red squiggly line underneath it, so I’m guessing… no. I’m keeping it there, though.)
Have you seen the movie Tangled? It’s the animated movie about Rapunzel and I really loved that film because it’s so hilarious and heartwarming.
In said movie, Rapunzel’s biggest dream was to see the floating lanterns. When she finally got to see it, it was such a magical scene that I actually shed tears during that part. (Yes, I’m the weirdo who is easily moved to tears by beauty, like the beautiful solos on Phantom of the Opera and Wicked.)
|Image source: Tumblr|
When we planned our Taiwan trip, I became like Rapunzel – wishing on a floating lantern became my biggest dream too.
So I was super excited on our second day in Taiwan, for this moment, not just because I was on a reunion with my best friends. After we had gone to see the beautiful lover’s bridge over at Danshui and ate a sumptuous lunch, we headed back to Taipei main station.
Chi then had to leave to take care of a sick Panda so she couldn’t come with us. By Panda I mean her hubby, that’s her term of endearment for him. So sorry if you thought she was really caring for a literal sick panda!
The rest of us took a train to Ruifang. It was a nice train with comfortable roomy seats with lots of leg room. Our tickets also came with seat numbers and we were surprised when we went to take seats and there were people seated on them. We politely informed them of the mix-up and they stood up and stayed that way all throughout the ride. I guess they were chance passengers.
Once we got to Ruifang we took another train, this time on the Ping Hsi line going towards Jingtong. Our one-day passes supposedly allowed us to get on and off the train as many times as we wished on any of the seven stops.
But we were pressed for time, so we decided to just get off one stop – Shifen. This was the only place in Taiwan where people were legally allowed to light up floating lanterns. It’s dangerous elsewhere, see. The train was very pretty inside, by the way, that we just had to “cam whore some more!”
There was a funny incident in the train, by the way. We met some new tourist friends on the train whom we found out were going off at Shifen too, so when they got off, we did the same, only to find out seconds later that they were mistaken, and we all had to hastily hop back on the train. Geesh.
When we finally got off the right stop, we noticed that there were lots of shops located so close to the train tracks. The first things we noticed in the shops, though, were not the floating lanterns, but the miniature ones. They were so pretty that we just couldn’t resist! The cheapest ones were at 50 twd each, but there were some glow-in-the-dark ones that cost 100 twd.
You could buy one to display at home for a wish to come true, and each lantern had different wishes written on them.
Now the problem was that none of us knew how to read Chinese characters, so we had to ask the only English speaking girl at the shop to translate all the wishes for us.
I chose one for “dreams coming true” so that I don’t have to buy so many. I mean that one is so general and encompasses everything already, right?
After buying our miniatures, we set out to find the floating ones. There were also lots of shops that sold those, and they were priced the same, at 100 twd a lantern, with additional 80 for firecrackers. Apparently you can’t just get any lantern, you have to choose a color for the kind of wish you wanted to make, as was stated on this poster:
So we decided to pick four lanterns to share amongst us all:
WHITE for HEALTH
PINK for LOVE
GREEN for CHILD
YELLOW for JOB
As you can see below, someone had the brilliant idea of labelling the lanterns so as not to confuse the wishers. Haha. I can’t remember who it was, though. Melvin, I think.
We took some time writing our wishes down on the different lanterns using felt tip pens that were provided by the shop.
Since the shops were right next to the train tracks, we had to step on that, too, and everytime the train was about to pass, someone yelled for everyone to get off the tracks for a while, then when the train went past, it was business as usual. Haha.
If you know what this means, I request the highest of fives! Leave a fist bump in the comments, please.
We mused that the lanterns would have looked so much better with chinese characters on them, but none of us knew how to write those, so we stuck to the English alphabet.
Finally, after we were done putting down all our wishes, the shop owners helped us light up our lanterns, release them into the air, and took our pictures while doing so (which is the most important part!).
It was a wonderful feeling to see our wishes lift off slowly and finally float away up into the sky, to be swallowed by the great granter of all wishes.
It wasn’t exactly as magical as the scene from Tangled, but you know what? I don’t even care if none of the wishes we wrote on those lanterns comes true… the act itself was a dream come true for me.
All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I’ve been
Now I’m here, blinking in the starlight
Now I’m here, suddenly I see
Standing here, it’s oh so clear
I’m where I’m meant to be
And at last I see the light
And it’s like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it’s like the sky is new
And it’s warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you
P.S. Before we left, though, we found some coal mining wagons that totally reminded us of District 12 in Hunger Games so obviously, we had to do the Katniss Everdeen gesture.