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Being at Shifen Old Street to release the world renowned Shifen Sky Lantern is like attending a big party, where everyone is cordially invited. Everyone is here to make wishes. To me, it sounds more like a holy pilgrimage.
If you have come to Taipei, it’s a must to attend this pilgrimage!
Shifen Old Street十份老街
Shifen is the neighbour of Jiufen. We took a 30 minutes journey by taxi from Jiufen after seeing the Golden Waterfall, it cost us NT$600, not sure if it was expensive, but it was already 4pm, the day was getting darker, we decided to spent a bit to buy some time. Otherwise, the usual journey would be to take a bus/taxi from Jiufen Old street to Ruifang Train Station, and from here take a 50 minutes train journey to Shifen.
Entrance of Shifen. It’s a 2 minutes walk to the ‘party’.
Here we are, at our dreamland- Shifen Old Street!
First impression of Shifen: messy and chaotic! The place is probably smaller than 2 football fields, but look at it, there are people everywhere, everyone is enjoying themselves, there’s a party going on!
Shifen Sky Lantern 放天灯
The main reason that kept these people busy and excited is this Sky Lantern. The sky lantern has a history in China dating as far back as the 3rd century BC, it was then used as a tool to pass message during many military actions.
Today, it is used as a method to send one’s wishes to the God, in the hope that it would be answered. The Chinese believes that God lives in heaven. For the commoners to talk to the God, someone/something must help pass the message. Someday, someone believes that Sky Lantern could do the job.
Whatever the reason is, just by releasing the sky lantern with one’s wishes written on it makes everyone excited. Who cares if the wishes made would come true or not, but the fact that there is a place and a channel for people to make such wishes made everyone feels good. It gives hope to all, isn’t that what wish is all about?
To start it off, get a lantern from any of the dozens shop available. Do not bother about the price, there’s not much difference. The level of service standard was probably the only thing that differentiate them. We choose from the first shop since the lady-boss was so friendly, eager and enthusiastic, with all smile on her face.
Next, choose your favourite colour lantern. Every colour signifies different wish. And the more colours you choose, the more expensive the lantern is…… not much difference though, example, single colour cost just NT$150 (us$4.75), 4 colours cost NT$200, 8 colours is NT$350. Noticed that most people choose the 4 colours lantern. To me, I thought the 4 colours lantern looks more beautiful.
The few charts provided clearly spells out the meaning of each colour. Believe it or not, it does bring hopes and the drive to go on, anyway, just enjoy the fun of it.
Next step: The shopkeeper would help clipped the sky lantern onto a railing. A big canned of black ink and Chinese brush is already there, pick it up and start writing your wish.
Wish, wish and more wishes. So what they actually wrote there? In general, most wishes a good and healthy family, longevity, great fortune and trouble-free either at work, study or business. Most would write all the above mentioned wishes.
The sky lantern has four sides, once you finished writing on one side just tell the shop assistant to turn it onto another blank side. The shop assistant is always on the move within the shop vicinity offering his help to any of his customer. But you can take your ‘own sweet time’ to make your wishes, he is not there to hurry you.
Sometimes one never realized who’s your most dearest in life till you put it into writing. This is the moment to know who meant most to you!
We were asked to hold the sky lantern. I was rather surprised when the shop assistant asked if we wanted to have our picture taken. His service was excellent. As the sky lantern has four sides, he would direct us on the way to hold the lantern and helped took all pictures of it, each time patiently waiting for us to turn the sky lantern to the other side. Count that service into the cost of the lantern, now the price of the lantern seems to look cheaper.
Once pictures of all four sides are taken, the shopkeeper would light-up the sky lantern, within 3-6 seconds, hot air quickly filled up the sky lantern, its ready to let go!
May all my wishes and all our wishes come true! The sky lantern stays afloat on the sky as long as the fire stays alighted, but would drop onto the ground in the next minute.
How to go to Shifen from Taipei ?
I came to Shifen twice in 4 months, both from Taipei. It’s so easy to go to Shifen from Taipei.
Simply go to Taipei Main Station, take a TRA train from there to Ruifang Train Station, the journey takes about 50 minutes. Ruifang Train Station is a main station. From here you can alight and proceed to Jiufen. Do read my other post on From Taipei to Jiufen
If your destination is Shifen, then alight at Ruifang Train Station and cross to the opposite platform to take another train to Shifen. The journey from Ruifang to Shifen takes another 50 minutes. Do read Taipei to Shifen, Jiufen and Qingtong
The train has arrived at Shifen Train Station.
Things To Do At Shifen Old Street
Shifen Old Street is not just about releasing the sky lantern, there are many things you can do:
- Grab the many many many lovely souvenirs. Most of the souvenirs feature these miniature sky lantern, ranging from NT$100 each to a few hundred dollars more, depending on sizes and designs. Many of these mini lantern could glow in the dark upon some vibrations or a simple shake, it’s lovely! I bought a dozen of it and hang it on my ceiling, when wind blows, it lighted up, very fascinating.The many souvenir shops here are always crowded- open a shop here and you become a millionaire in no time!
2. Sent a postcard home to those you miss dearly.
Letter Box is provided just outside the shop.
3. Eat and eat and eat the many delicious street food! There are many stalls along the street. This one which sold chicken wing is a must-try. It was so unique and delicious that we first had two then got another one and another one till we were so full to walk. Haha!
4. One major attraction is the sudden arrival of train. Everyone just got excited and starts to be pictured with the train.
The train runs very fast, about 70km/hr, it passes by the small town in less than 20 seconds from the moment it appears at the other end.
5. Walk further for another 30 minutes and you can visit the famous Shifen Waterfall 十份瀑布
There are many more things visitor can enjoy at Shifen, the brochure tells you all:
After all the fun at Shifen, I have only one regret: I should have been here much earlier in the day, probably before 1pm. Now I knew I had missed out so many of Shifen attractions…… would I come again?
Certainly YES, YES, YES !
That’s why this is already my second visit to Shifen in 4 months! A strong testimonia of how interesting the place is!
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