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.

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.


youko said...

My memory about this street is the smell mixing with dry squid, candy, and different munchies. XDD

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