Talking about life and travels in Taiwan, hoping to help people who want to visit Taiwan, and encourage those who haven't came yet to pay a visit.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I'm on my own vacation, in Switzerland. Will start posting again when i get back in April.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Lunar New Year: Running around

During my 26 years of life, I spent 23 Lunar New Years on this little island, and never been to Dihua Street (Taipei) until last year. Not until Dihua Street did I discover how vivid the Lunar New Year could be.

My family is the kind of family that we MUST go back to grandma's house every year. According to the tradition, we go to the dad's parents' house on New Year Eve, stay there until we go back to mom's parents' house on the second day of New Year. What's going on the streets? No one cares. We always try to go somewhere during these travelings, like downtown of my dad's mom's city, or a cow farm between the three homes, but unfortunately, it's always packed with people, which are doing the same thing as we are.

During the New Year Eve dinner, mom brought up a question: Watching the news during Lunar New Year, we always see reports about how China Town celebrate New Year, and they always have those lion or dragon dance. But we don't have those kind of things on New Year day, why is that? I thought about the question, and came up to an answer, we usuallly spent time at home practicing the traditions and traveling to grandparents' houses, then go out on outings on the once-a-year long holiday. People aren't interested in seeing lion dances at this time. But on the 5th day of New Year, shops and markets open again, people put out fireworks to celebrate the first day making money, that's when we see the lion and drangon dance, because the dances are supposed to bring luck and fortune.

Unless you have a Taiwanese friend that can let you join their family reunion, it really isn't a good idea to visit Taiwan between New Year's Eve and the 4th day of Lunar New Year. On the first few days everything would be closed (I remember there was one year we decided to come to Taipei for New Year, because that's the only time the city would be empty!), and after the 2nd day of New Year, there would be trafic jams on every tourist spot. You could come after the 5th day of New Year, and stay until the 15th, which is the Lantern Festival. Or else you could visit before New Year, take a look at the New Year markets like Dihua Street.

Dihua Street provides a variaty of new year goods, from dishs for Near Year's Eve, to candies for guests during New Year's time. I squeeze into the crowd, experience the place using my eyes, ears, nose and tongue. This is a place of scent, all kinds of amazing smells occupy the street. Sellers are proude of their products, they beg us to try them, and they seem to be always happy, even if we're not going to buy it. They are extremely friendly to foriegners. I remember there was a family who own a tea farm in Chiayi(which is way down south), and they just rent a space in the New Year market, carry all their beautiful tea to Taipei, and give it a shot.

Thanks to my friend Tomoko again for the photo.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Lunar New Year: Atmosphere

Finally this year's Lunar New Year have ended. There was a special thing about this year's New Year: it was particularly late. Usually it comes in late January or early February, regarding the solar calendar, so the students' first semester ends arround January 20th, and the second semester starts at mid February after the 3 week winter break.

Now look at this year: Lunar New year is on February 18th. And there's an at-least-5-day-holiday following it. From half a year ago, governors and the education circles were scraching their heads out to figure out how to make the school schedules fit the New Year holiday. People are used to prepare for Lunar New Year right after the solar New Year, and now it takes one more month, as the days go by, the anticipation and excitment gradualy turns into impatience. "Why is the fxxking New Year so late, when is it going to end?" I wonder.

I can feel people being a bit more tired this year. Besides of the merry cheery smile on the face of merchants in the New Year market, I can easily find the tireness of facing such a huge amount shoppers everyday. Just like most moms, my mom usually hates Lunar New Year, because there are dozens of things to prepare, lots of tradions to follow, and all the women do the work. But this year she doesn't care, not even my grandma cares. Usually shops play traditional chinese new year music all day long, and they play the same few songs every year, people get so sick about it and can't help complaining. This year, my mother said to me in a sad look, "I think I don't hear those stupid New Year songs that often this year...", I said "You hate it all the time, but now you can't live without it, huh?" She agreed and said it's just not like New Year.