Taiwan remains largely undiscovered and unrecognized, but those that make it there are in for a real delight. I have been to Taiwan not once but more than thrice. Every visit to Taiwan is beyond pleasure but the most amusing experience was the New Year eve. I call that evening “A Crazy Evening in Taiwan”.
I work for a private firm and my work profile demands cross border travel at times. Everybody was sharing good bye messages of Year 2015 on social media with a hope to spend upcoming year with grace and peace more than before. I was in Taiwan during last days of year, and was flying back to India on 1st day of 2016. Since the flight was scheduled for afternoon, I had ample opportunity to explore New Year evening 2700 miles away from India.
It was a group of three non-Taiwanese boys. Excluding me, Jitri and Andre were my alter-egos for that evening. Jitri is from Philippines and was there in Taiwan for quite some time. Andre is based out of Brampton, Ontario but living happily in Manila, Philippines. We finished our day a little early. The main agenda of the evening was to see Firework at Taipei 101 building. It was told that the 2015 Firework may be the last firework owing to the pollution threats. Being in Taiwan, I could not afford to miss the gathering.
We took the Green Line (Xindian Line) from Jingmei to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. From Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, we had to change the line (Danshui Line) in order to reach Taipei Main station. Taipei main station is the prime station and a junction stations for different lines running across Taiwan. This main station is like Rajiv chowk metro station (Connaught Place) in Delhi, India. The best part of people and metro station here is that people wait in queue to board the train and if the train coach is full and there is no comfortable space to stand, people wait in queue for other train to come. There is no hurry, yet they reach on time.
“We as Indians always be in hurry and we never reach on time – We create rush“
Underneath, Taipei Main station, there is a huge electronic market. You will be able to see many electronic markets but this is the most expensive one in Taiwan. If you are looking for some good gizmo, I would rather suggest visiting local electronic mart in Taoyuan District.
Our plan to see Firework was intact till then. We had good number of hours left in our hand and hence we decided to take a ride on High Speed Rail. The next moment we all three were in queue to buy to and fro tickets. Jitri took the lead here and bought three tickets. We were heading towards Hsinchu in HSR (High Speed Rail). This was a 45 mins non-stop ride one way. And, hence a total of 90 mins round journey. We board the train and grab our seats. The train ambience was comforting. Three people seating arrangement on both sides of aisle, yet comfortable space for leg and butt.
Taiwan HSR View - Ticket and High Speed Rail
At around 5:00 PM, we were back at Taipei main station. We walked towards Taipei 101 building. Our plan was to see the Firework from Top of Elephant Mountain which is also called as Nangang District Hiking Trail. My office colleagues from Taiwan advised me to find a spot opposite to the wind otherwise the smoke during Firework will cause disrupted view of 101 building. I had this in mind and hence we wanted to be on top and above the height of 101 so that the smoke could not ruin our excitement. Without stopping, we started hiking on Elephant Mountain. At around 7:30 PM we were on top of the mountain. It was no surprise that like us, there were many who already have reached on top and had blocked the space for perfect photo shooting. We like amateurs, didn’t bring anything to eat or drink. On the other hand, the experts have come up with complete preparation. It was cold on top of the mountain and view of Taiwan City was beyond explanation. Soon, the thirst and hunger lapped us and we decided to walk down the hill, grab some food and climb again.
View of Taipei City from Elephant Mountain
We climbed down the hill. While reaching the foot of the hill, we saw couple of vendors selling boiled eggs. I saw the brown eggs and hesitant to eat at first. When Jitri explained me that the eggs are boiled in tea leaves water and it has tea flavour, I had not one, but three. Like me, if you ever see such eggs in Taiwan, do not hesitate rather go for it.
Exclusive Egg clicks -
By the time, we finished our dinner; we lost our strength to climb the mountain again and hence decided to find a good spot near 101 building and enjoy watching Firework show from ground itself. At around 10:00 PM after having nice dinner and tea, we reached at the base of 101 building. A live DJ was playing peppy English songs and more and 1000 people were standing and enjoying the music. Why are they standing, I asked Jitri? No answer. I, Andre and Jitri started penetrating the crowd and slowly walked towards stage making our way through the crowd. We reached where DJ was playing songs and without losing any second, we started dancing as if we don’t care. Why should one care when its New Year eve? Moreover, DJ is playing music for us to dance. We danced and we danced like we never did before. In a matter of minutes, the crowd started following our steps and entire space was filled with cheer. Being an Indian, I could not resist Bhangra no matter the music genre. Taiwan found my steps amusing and they followed.
From right - Niraj - Jitri (with mouth open), Andre ; DJ playing music
The Ultimate Crowd below - New Taipei 101 Tower
After being heroes of crowd, we stepped backward and found an empty space opposite to wind flow. It was mid of the road facing north of 101 towers. Nice spot, and 101 building was clear and visible. Time tickled 11:45 PM. Only 15 mins left for me to witness the show. By the time, some of the countries in different time zone already had started New Year Celebration. Andre grabbed fresh brewed beer bottles and we sat on the mid of the road. More than 10 K heads were on road, sitting and comfortable. I missed Elephant Mountain and convinced myself to capture moments and be satisfied with the situation I was in.
The clock on 101 towers started with the countdown and people started along with. We did the same and focus our mobile camera on the tower. Firework started.
Watching firework at Taipei 101 was splendid and a treat for eyes.
My friends from office were right. We were on right spot wherein people from other side missed the most of Firework because of Smoke. I am sure people at Elephant Mountain must have good view, thought I wished for other way around. Little selfish on my part. Hehe.
Firework stopped and we started our way back to Xindian district. Andre was staying nearby 101. We shared out contact details on Facebook and like each other page. He left me and Jitri with good wished of Year 2016.
There was no point going towards Taipei main station because of crowd and hence we decided to walk our way to Liuzhangli Metro Station which is 2.5 km from Taipei 101. It was 2:00 AM, when I reached hotel. India was going to say good bye to year 2015 in next 30 mins. I being an Indian did that 2 hours before.
The same day late morning, I was on my way to India. The memory will be refreshing always. I was going through the pic and thought to share the memories with readers. Let me know your feelings in comment section below.