Niet ver van Taipei ligt het dorpje Shifen. Deze plek staat bekend om drie zaken: de waterval, de mijnen en de wenslampionnen in Old Street. Voor ons ook opvallend: de toeristen. Het was de eerste keer dat we iets écht toeristisch bezochten in Taiwan. De meeste plaatsen zijn hier nog superrustig en vaak kom je slechts enkele mensen tegen. (en dit zijn dan meestal nog eens locals die in het weekend de natuur opzoeken)
After a short drive from Taipei, you can visit a village called Shifen. This place is popular for three things: the Shifen waterfall, the old (closed) mines and the lanterns at Old Street. New for us: the tourists. It was the first time we visited a touristic place in Taiwan. There are so many calm places in Taiwan and most of the times, you run into very few people during your trip.
We visited two attractions: the waterfall and Old Street to launch a flying lantern into the sky.
The hike towards the waterfall takes 15 to 20 minutes and therefore you have to walk across two suspension bridges.
In Taiwan, they have another name for their Shifen Waterfalls: The Mini Niagara Falls. I think it’s a bit overrated with a height of 40 meters, but hey! It still is a beautiful place to discover!
On our way to the waterfall, we did see train tracks on several places. These tracks pass through Shifen Old street, but more on that later! I read you can also walk from the waterfalls to Old Street by following the train tracks. The hike should take approximately 30 minutes.
We took the same way back to go to our next stop. When we passed Shifen by car during the morning, we did see a lot of lanterns in the sky. This is how we decided to come back during the late afternoon to release one ourselves.
When we arrived at Old Streed (which is very close to the waterfall), we immediately saw the train tracks and the little stores with lanterns. Every shop offers lanterns in all kinds of colors so you can choose what you wish for.
The red one represents a wish for a good health, peace, and fortune in life. The white one makes you wish for a bright future. You can also choose to wish for a good marriage, luck in your studies or at work. There’s also a lantern to wish for money. I’m wondering if it would work 💸There’s also a lantern to make a súperwish. Each side has a different color so you can wish for a lot of things at once! If something goes wrong after releasing this lantern… Then I don’t know 🌈😅
After a short walk through Old Street (no, it’s really not that long), we decided to release one ourselves, but only after sunset.
In the meantime, we could (again) enjoy a beautiful sunset. It has already been raining a lot during the weekends. A lot more than on weekdays. Sometimes, I think the weather gods are just making fun of us. 🤷🏼♀️ But hey, the good thing is: if the clouds open up you get to see one beautiful sunset! 🧡
One drink later, it was dark, so that meant that we could start decorating our lantern! 🏮🙌🏼
Once we had chosen the right color, they attached it to some kind of clothing rack. Then it was up to us to decorate our masterpiece. On every rack, there’s a small pot filled with ink and some pencils. Not spilling on my white t-shirt was the hardest part. (By the way: nailed it! 😏)
Once your lantern is ready, they offer you a full-option all-in service. One of the employees uses your camera to take pictures of you, holding your lantern in all possible angled. Including the obligatory peace-sign picture ✌🏼 Now it’s funny to look back at these pictures, so you just have to go with the flow. Another coworker lights your lantern and 3, 2, 1: release! Then it is just a matter of following ‘your light’ until it dies. We managed to follow it until the light went out. Now we’re just hoping for the best! 🤞🏼
The Pinxi Sky Lantern Festival is a festival that takes place every year in Shifen. It’s never on the same date because they use the Chines calender to count days. In brief, the Festival takes place on the fifeteenth day after Lunar New Year. In 2019 the Festival is on the 19th of February. I wrote it already in our diary! I’ve seen some pictures from previous editions and it seems wonderful. A sky full of lanterns, I’m already looking forward to it! 🏮