Monday, March 9, 2015

2015 Taiwan Lantern Festival ( 臺灣燈會) - Luce Chapel - Miyahara Ophthalmology - Taichung Park - Taichung Station - Gaomei Wetlands [Taiwan Day 553&554:“Next Stop: Taichung” Part II-Mar. 7 & 8,2015]


PREVIOUSLY: After having some rest, I went directly to the 2015 Taiwan Lantern Festival. Taichung was chosen as the host for this year's lantern festival. The open space in Xinwuri Station was the main venue. I boarded a train from Taichung to Xinwuri but I didn't expect what I will encounter. Xinwuri Station was full of people and packed like sardines. A stampede was just waiting to happen.
 

Described as “more Disney than Disney” the Taiwan Lantern Festival is the grandest of all the lantern festivals in Taiwan. It is celebrated every 15th day of the first month of the Lunar New Year and attracts local and international tourists. I was expecting a large crowd at the festival grounds but not on the train station itself. It seems that all of the Taiwanese went to Taichung to see the bright lanterns like bees searching for flowers.


There was pushing as everybody was looking for their way out in Xinwuri Station. A mother even got angry at the loss of one of the rubber shoes of her daughter while two men shouted at each other as the other guy was a bully among the crowd. I got scared at the situation. One big push from people from the back and it would create a stampede. While everyone was in panic mode I raised my camera to take a video to document the situation and I caught a glimpse of the lantern festival. Wow!



































It took me one hour to get out of the train Station but it was all worth it. The 20 hectare Wuri High Speed Rail Special Zone was full of lanterns of different sizes and shapes from simple small lanterns to the giant ones. The highlight of the event was the lighting of the main lantern which was the goat lantern. It changes its color and appearance as it turns around. The people were also thrilled as beautiful Brazilian dancers took the stage and showcased their talents.


After having fun taking photos at the lantern festival for hours I decided to go back to my hostel. And the agony at Xinwuri Station continued as a mass exodus was happening. The train management opened the gates without asking any tickets anymore or even tapping the EasyCard. The crowd walked to get into the platform. 1,2,3 then stop. 1,2,3 then stop. The crowd entered and laughed as the people flowed like dancing cha-cha.



















I also went to Taichung Park.
















I started with a bright day on my second day in Taichung. I rode the BRT to see the Luce Memorial Chapel at Tunghai University. The church boasts its unique shape like two hands pressed together in a praying position. I also admired the Baroque style architecture of the Taichung Station. It was built in 1917 during Taiwan's Japanese colonial period. A few blocks away is the iconic Taichung Park while another remnant of the Japanese times is the Miyahara Ophthalmology which is now an ice-cream and sweets shop.
 
























I boarded a train to Qingshui Station from Taichung Station and there was Bus 179. It took me to Gaomei Wetlands where I walked along the wooden bridge. I removed my socks and shoes and then folded my pants. I carried my tripod as I dipped my feet and walked into the mixture of clear water and mud. A thick fog was blocking the giant sun that there was no spectacular sunset but I still managed to have fun.
 


I opened my tripod and it landed on Gaomei Wetlands like a NASA probe landing on mars. It's the first ever aquatic landing of my tripod! Its three legs were very sturdy as I placed my camera and made many shots with the windmills. I even made a selfie with those people who chose to stay in the platform and not dipped their feet.
 





Until the next "Taichung Special" ...
Bus 179 took me back to Qingshui Station where I waited for my train that took me back to Taipei. My body was tired but my heart was full of joy. When will I go and see Taichung again? There were so many places to see and explore that two days were not enough. I can't wait to take another train again going to Central Taiwan and hear this announcement one more time “Next Stop: Taichung”.


Taiwan Day 553&554:“Next Stop: Taichung” Part I 
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