New Year’s Eve in Taipei: the inner part of Taipei is car-free and occupied by thousands and thousands of youngsters and families. Everyone is here. Everyone is waiting.
We decided to go to the area just around Taipei 101 to await the Taipei fireworks. Just as everyone else we slowly strolled around the crowded streets, ate oily street food, took photos and watched street performances.
To my big surprise the Taiwanese started sitting down directly on the road while waiting. (In this part of the world sitting on the ground is considered strange and dirty, people usually go for squatting instead.) After some minutes of searching we could finally find a small space enough to fit in the three of us.
The countdown started everyone started recording and clicking photos.
On a normal New Year’s Eve fireworks and crackers often seems to be abundant. The sky is usually full of them the minutes before and after 12 o’clock – but in Taiwan it was a calm sky. I didn’t see a single firework the whole evening. Either rules here against crackers must be strictly enforced or the Taipei citizens must be very obedient. So when the fireworks from Taipei 101 started it was an explosion of light and sounds just over our heads it was a great thing.
It was a short but beautiful show. I think I enjoyed it more as the locals around us clapped their hands and screamed “Oh so beautiful” at every part of the show.
My Austrian friend said they have a tradition of dancing a waltz to celebrate the New Year. We tried for our lives to remember the tones of “An der schönen blauen Donau” while I stepped on his toes and we bumped into countless Taiwanese. It was an awful dance, but fun to try.
As soon as the fireworks was over people immediately let go of the feeling of festivity. Everyone around us just tried to get home and small army of school students dressed in yellow jackets and started to pick up trash.
It was quite interesting to walk around and see the Taiwanese arrangements. The underground was completely blocked and passengers would just be allowed to walk inside in limited groups. To keep the waiting crowds happy the staff was arranging a music quiz and handing out prizes.
We ended the night at a café before finding our way back home to Hsinchu again.