Sunday afternoon, after church, we were being lazy around the apartment. Liz was on the computer, and I was laying down getting sleepier by the second. Our apartment is so relaxing. We were enjoying the cool breeze of the fan, listening to scooters on the street go buzzing by, not having TV to watch, or anywhere to be. I was just beginning to doze off when the explosions started. We’ve noticed in one week that Taiwanese people love their fireworks. The temple around the corner, while beautiful, loves to pop fireworks at random times. This didn’t seem any different at first. But the normal 5-10 second burst of fireworks kept going, and going…and going. The roar was deafening, and we could smell the black powder all the way in our 8th floor apartment. Finally the roar of explosions ceased, and the silence that followed was just as loud. We thought it was over, but about two minutes later it started again, and went on for even longer, probably around 2-3 minutes straight. Finally this round finished as well, and we could hear drums and music playing. It was so soft at first, but grew louder by the second.
“Is that a parade?” I asked Liz, without getting out of bed. She got up and looked out the window.
“I think it is!” she replied, as the explosions started again.
This time I dragged myself out of bed and went to look, and sure enough a steady stream of people in orange hats and shirts, and some in big costumes were filing down the street towards the temple. I saw four people carrying some sort of totem on their shoulders and walking directly over the fireworks, and even stopping in place and marching on top of them. The fireworks continued to pop-pop-pop.
“I gotta get down there!” cried Liz as she grabbed the cell phone and ran down to the street.
I grabbed the camera and went up to the rooftop. The camera I took had not been charged, and immediately died. So I watched for a few minutes from the roof and then went down to find Liz among the sea of people in orange hats. She was not hard to find, as she was in the middle of the street photographing everything with our cell phone camera, even amid the stares from the revelers she was receiving. She had been down at the temple, shooting pictures and a few videos of small fires on the ground, and people lining up to step over them one by one.
Bringing up the rear parade, almost as if to the catch any stragglers, were 3 trucks with poles attached to their roofs. Three young, scantily clad girls attempted to choreograph a dance routine, but mostly just stood around, looking slightly embarrassed.
We were unsure what the purpose of them being half naked and pole dancing was, unless it was some sort of clever ploy to get the unwashed masses to follow them to the temple. I don’t think they were even sure what they were supposed to be doing.
All in all, the parade lasted less than 15 minutes, but we will never forget it. Our first parade in Taiwan!