Some Things You Can't Buy

24 February 2013

To mark the end of the Lunar New Year, the Lantern Festival, held on the first full moon of the year, is generally a pretty exciting occasion in most of Taiwan. This year, I was lucky (or crazy enough) to join the 40,000 people descending on the sleepy mountain town of Shifen in the Pingxi district, where for the Lantern Festival an endless stream of locals and tourists set off sky lanterns en masse.

Sky lanterns are essentially bamboo frames with a paper shell, filled with burning paper money - the hot air pushes out from the bottom and it rises like an uncontrolled hot air balloon. On the sides of the sky lanterns, people write wishes in ink before setting them up into the sky.

Preparing sky lanterns

It's a pretty moving sight (if you can, for a moment, set aside the environmental concerns) to watch a constant stream of hopes and dreams float off into the sky - and for one day and one night we come together to hope for a better, happier, healthier new year.

Releasing sky lanterns

Tags: Lantern Festival, Pingxi, Shifen, Taiwan

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