The town of Pingxi, East of Taipei, has train tracks running through it, with trains regularly passing through – especially crazy when thousand of people are trying to launch sky lanterns at the same time.
As part of the Chinese New Year celebrations, it’s traditional in Taiwan to release sky lanterns into the, well, sky and mark the coming of the new year with wishes and desires for the 12 months ahead.
For those people that have not released sky lanterns – ie: most people I know – it is truly a magical thing. A nightmare for local fire services admittedly, but a magical thing none the less.
The idea is, to write your wishes onto the side (pick your colour first), wrap it up, and head to the launch pad / open space. Once there, take your wad of prayer money (soaked in lighter fluid for two hours) and place it into the recepticle on the inside frame. Take your most pyrotechnically-inclined person (usually a male) and light that wad, ensuring that your friends / family members are supporting the outside paper and maintaining the shape. Then, watch it slowly fill with hot air and when ready, synchronise the release.
“We want bonus”
If the salesman has properly soaked the wad of cash, it should woosh up into the air, accompanied by ‘coos’ and ‘aahs’ of the team, and hopefully some pointing and poorly exposed, shaky photos. Served best, surrounded by thousands of other people doing the same … and for desert, watch other peoples’ wishes plummet from the heavens and crash into the ground!
Ah, sweet schadenfreude (isn’t it great how the Germans have a whole word, just for this concept ).
And this is the result …
My first trip, after four years of wishing I could go … lovely!