Sunday, February 12, 2012

SYS Memorial Hall Lantern Festival 2012

I am a horrible, lazy person. I went to this last week and didn't put up photos, or even edit them, until yesterday (Catherine here certainly beat me to the punch by about 7 days). I've had a long week - I unexpectedly found myself in Hsinchu three nights out of five working in the Science Park, and that not only takes a lot of time (for which I am well compensated, don't feel bad for me) but also a lot of energy.  Generally on Wednesdays I get to race back up to Taipei at warp speed in the passenger seat of a student's car, but that student was on a business trip so it was the HSR for me - which is great, but when you factor in MRT and taxi times it still takes awhile.

But, here, enjoy - we didn't make it to Pingxi this year but we did, for the first time, make it to Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, where an entirely different sort of lantern is on display. It's slightly less crowded, too - although even at some distance from the hall it was hard to get a seat anywhere for dinner. We ended up at Harbin Dumpling King and got the last available table. All out of dumplings but that was OK, they still had spiced lamb kebab!

Mmmm spiced lamb kebab - I could go and just eat this.
The lanterns at SYS are spread out over four axes, coming together at a central sculpture by the fountain on the Ren'ai Road side which, every thirty minutes or so, puts on a water and laser show that also involves fire around the edges. A bit corny but fun to watch as part of a crowd.

Now, my camera doesn't take great night photos - even though what I'm using now is technically a professional camera. I'm not sure why this is - you'd think with its huge lens and pro specs that it would do a better job. My best guess is that, because it is a pro camera and not a little one you can shove in your purse, that Canon assumed that for shots like these you, as a real photographer, would obviously have a tripod. I mean duh. But I don't and even if I did I wouldn't want to lug it around this crowd or try to set it up in the unending stream of people.

But, you know, enjoy anyway!

Many of the lanterns this year focused on dragons - "Year of the Dragon", "around the world", "Taipei" and "Taiwan" were popular, if not necessarily creative, themes (love the dragon above though. I think he was my favorite lantern of all).

I also quite like this white tiger. The White Tiger Star is apparently very important in this dragon year, meaning many people will be more prone to sickness or accidents - including those born in the year of the monkeys (that would be me - great).

Less crowded and arguably more romantic was the walk through the park near SYS and Taipei City Hall - the trees were decked in fairy lights and the winding paths were perfect for a short walk hand-in-hand with a loved one (awww).

Back to SYS - we didn't make it through the entire festival - it was just to crowded - although in retrospect I wish we'd stuck it out. At the time it seemed like they were all starting to blend together, but now, looking back at my photos, I can see how different and unique - and well-made - many of the lanterns were.

Also, robots!

 I have to say that I think this one is a tad...I dunno. I raised my eyebrows for sure. I think the guy with a bone in his hair is meant to be a Taiwanese aborigine, which, c'mon - maybe a little racist? The generic white kid is, I think, meant to be French (there's an Eiffel Tower next to a Native American to the right of this photo). I"m not quite sure what to make of it. There's a Pyramid, too!

I didn't get that close to some of the lanterns - it was really a madhouse on Sunday. If you go next year (assuming it's not still going on), try for a weeknight. Trust me.

 These are some of my favorites, too - I love the detailed paint job that gives this set of lanterns more depth.

The park across the street has a whole set of lanterns from Chinese mythology.

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