Li ho Taiwan

In keeping with my strange backlog of travel posts, its about time I shared the trip we took back in February.  I haven't been on any other trips since so this will put me all caught up in the category.

When I told people we were going to Taiwan for a holiday, I often got a weird look. And the people that gave us the strangest looks were the few native Taiwanese people I know!  Everyone seemed to ask "Why Taiwan?" 

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Well in a word: Lanterns!  Once a year Taiwan holds a large lantern release festival that looked so amazing we had to see it for ourselves.

I admit it's nothing like the calm zen like experience I imagined. Its more like being placed in a foreign country's version of grand central and then figuring out how to get to your train on time.  Thankfully we arranged a guide to help us get to the valley and figure out all the details. Although it was nothing like I expected, it was still a magical experience.

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The big release is at night but you have to get there way early to grab a spot.  Earlier in the day we spent a little time in the small town of Pingxi, which just so happens to sit right on top of the railroad tracks, to paint our wishes on our own lantern and send it skyward. Every so often a train would stop and send all the painters onto the tiny sidewalk.  Since there are virtually no western tourists here, we were quite the spectacle as people were taking photos of us as we wrote ours in english.

When it was time for the big release, the anticipation in the crowd was high.

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My photos don't really do the experience justice.  Maybe a video will help. You definitely need to turn your audio on for this one.  You can hear the excitement very clearly as well as our own giggles.

So having crossed the Pingxi Lantern Festival off my life list, what else is there to do in Taiwan?  Eat! 

The food is delicious and exotic and cheap.  Taipei is famous for its night markets that feature stall after stall of little nibbles.  If it weren't for the smell of fermented tofu wafting around, its heaven.  I had the most amazing fried chicken and freshly made donut at the Shilin night market. Yum!

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There are other things Taiwan has to offer like interesting temples, natural wonders, hot springs and fun shopping.

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But it was all about the lanterns and the food for us on this trip. We had a great time and would love to return one day.


  1. Your blog brought back so many fond memories! You were so right about the food being so diversified and cheap. Did you try the famous beef noodle soap?

  2. I think that would be a great experience for sure. How neat! Love your photos and the food looks interesting to say the least

  3. That was magical , it reminds me of a book I loved as a child , what an experience.

  4. What a wondeful experience! I can see why you wanted to attend the lantern festival. Really beautiful.

  5. How beautiful! I spent a summer there after high school & it was so much fun. I remember the shopping & food being wonderful too! Your pics have me wanting to go back already!

  6. Vinita11:58 AM

    Loved your travel post and it was breaktaking to see the lanterns lift off into the dark night. And the food photos are wonderful too. I crave a fried donut right now.

  7. Alandval201112:29 PM

    I know this is absolutely not related to this post and it's also vast amounts of time early from actual Halloween month, but I would LOVE to see some fun Dia de Los Muertos inspired stuff here when October approaches!  As creative as you are, I'd love to see what you'd do with it!  Even though I know that holiday day is actually celebrated Nov 1 & 2....
    Just my friendly encouragement! ;-D

  8. I'd never heard of the lantern thing until I saw Tangled (gosh, I just love that movie!), and then they did it on The Bachelor.  It's so neat and I bet it was so magical to be there.

  9. Wow, the lantern festival is beautiful! It must have been a really wonderful experience, it looks amazing.

  10. The lantern pictures gave me chills. Totally beautiful!

  11. It looks like a great place to visit.  Do you mean lanterns?

  12. The video put a smile on my face.

  13. Bethany3:34 PM

    Oh, that's so cool and makes me homesick for Taiwan. I lived there for a year (in Hualien, but toured all over the island). Believe me, you haven't even scratched the surface of all the things to do/see in Taiwan -- definitely worth a trip back. :) Love the night market pics, I've been to Shilin too! I never saw the lantern releasing thing though .... now I really want to go. I think the movie Tangled has brought so much awareness of lanterns everywhere :)

    sweet post! 


  14. Your pics are AMAZING!!!!! I love the one of the couple, the woman's red dress is to-die-for. Loved this post & I would totally go to Taiwan for a vacay.

  15. Chelsea5:13 PM

    My husband and I lived in Taipei for 2.5 years and loved every minute!  Glad you got to experience a bit of their fun culture!

  16. Of course! It was goooood. Although pretty much everything we ate was exceptional considering the prices!

  17. Ha! You think it's too early for Halloween planning? Not here. I already have my theme for this year all planned out (at least in my mind!). But thanks for the inspiration - ill definitely keep it in mind for future years. Do you do a big Halloween too?

  18. Thanks! You should totally go!

  19. I enjoyed reading this post.  My husband and I lived in Hsinchu, Taiwain for a year after graduating from college.  We still think of it as one of the most fun years of our lives.  As for visiting Taiwan, the highlights are the cheap, delicious food, Taipei 101, the hot springs, and Toroko Gorge.  It is a beautiful country that is definitely off the beaten path for most travelers.

  20. That video gave me goosebumps!

  21. Rocio9:17 PM

    You go on the most amazing trips.
    I think you would be amazing in a job planning and coordinating trips for people.  I know I would definitely pay for the experiences you have in each of your trips.

  22. Megan@twodelighted10:41 PM

    That video gave me chills.  What an amazing experience.  

  23. That is so magical.  Your pictures are always so vivid, I really love your photography.  That must have been an amazing experience!

  24. Absolutely LOVED this post.  My husband and I travel to Taiwan often.  We love it there.  The people are so friendly.   Kevin's music is  popular there thanks to a Mitusbishi commercial so he performs there yearly.  We have never been to this lantern festival but I have added it to our list.  :)  The night markets are so much fun.  On your next trip there, try to be in Taipei on a Sunday and hit the Jade Market.  It runs for what seems like miles there with vendor after vendor.  It's fun to look and haggle for a good price.  

    Would you mind if I shared your lantern video on his Facebook Fan Page and linked back to your blog post?

  25. Argspam10:22 PM

    i watched the video and cried! don't ask me why, i am a little nuts [: what an amazing experience to have! I would love to see that in person someday!

  26. Oh im glad you had the same reaction to the video as I had to the experience!

  27. Thanks Rocio - very sweet of you to say.  Im not so sure if I could plan other peoples trips - too stressful :)

  28. Sure - be my guest.  Thanks for asking.

  29. I spent a lot of time traveling there since my father was an expat in Taipei. Lovely city and the night markets are a fav. As we're moving to Japan soon, I hope to go back simply to eat!

  30. Sharonchen62:33 PM

    I found your blog via pinterest and while i was browsing through your blog, I saw this article. I am a Taiwanese live in Canada, it's so nice to see my country through your camera, you took some amazing photos. I am glad you had a good time in Taiwan, looking at your photos make me miss Taiwan!


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