Sunday night had the first full moon of the new lunar year, and the occasion is marked by the Lantern Festival. It’s celebrated differently all over Taiwan—a parade in Taipei, sky lanterns in Pingxi, beehive firecrackers in the south. Originally we were going to go down for the Beehive Festival and have firecrackers set off all around us, but when Friday rolled around and we hadn’t procured helmets or any other necessary protective clothing, we agreed to meet Andy and Pascal in Pingxi.
The weather this weekend was beautiful, and Pingxi is known for its hiking, so Colin and I left a few hours early to take advantage of it all. Even six hours before dark, the train to Pingxi was packed. Foreshadowing.
Our hike began at the forgotten station of Sandiaoling. It was really a pleasant walk to three charming waterfalls with a few surprises along the way. We got a bit lost (once we were back on paved road, no less), and I had an internal moment of panic (stuck overnight on a mountain with no food!—maybe that Thailand jungle experience left some deeper trauma than I thought), but we quickly figured it out.
The trail landed us right where the Pingxi festival was happening. We fought through thick crowds for overpriced noodles and terrible corn, and then the show began.
By 8:30, we were lanterned out and got in line for the shuttles back to Taipei city. Two hours later, we got on a bus, and two and a half hours after that, the MRT pulled into our station.
Oh, and I turned 23 on Thursday.