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Published: June 29th 2014
Friday, 18th April 2014
For me, this morning started out exactly the same as the previous day - sunrise viewing by the beach followed by a wholesome homemade breakfast at 8am. Today's menu consisted of French toast and potato soup which were nicely done in style and taste.
By 10am, it was time for us to bid farewell to our gracious hosts at beautiful Toucheng and Sea Luv Homestay. Our train journey back to the city of Taipei took less than two hours. Before noon, we had arrived at the lobby of City Inn Taipei Station Branch III ready for our check-in.
After leaving our luggage at the reception, we rushed off to board the next available train to Shifen, a township famous for its legendary sky lanterns. As cheesy as it sounded, writing down our best wishes and releasing these lanterns appeared to be a must-do activity for all visitors coming to Shifen.
On a Friday afternoon, the streets on both sides of the railway tracks were lined with numerous vendors offering such services. The prices for these lanterns ranged from NT150 to NT200. The huge, rowdy crowds were trying to pen down as many wishes
as possible on their huge lanterns. There were episodes when the whole lantern caught fire even before it was released to the sky. The vendors appeared well-prepared for such emergencies with pails and pails of waters on standby along the sides of their stalls.
The practice of releasing sky lanterns was an overly-commercialised affair given that the crowd was simply overwhelming for a small town like Shifen to handle. Compared to my previous visit in August 2008, the tranquillity of this small town was long gone. The only saving grace was probably the iconic railway station as it continued to exude the old school vibe of those coal mining years.
In the evening, after all that crazy train transfers, we were happy to have our well-deserved dinner at one of the Japanese restaurants at Q Square. The value for money set dinner was delicious and given that we were so hungry throughout the day, we finished our lovely dinner quickly.
We reached our beautiful room after 9.30pm feeling relieved that our crazy day in Taipei was finally over. Very soon, the three of us were fast asleep beneath our comfortable beds.
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