Saturday, January 2, 2010

“Three! Two! One! Happy new year!”

For the first time since I’ve been in Taiwan, I went to celebrate the new year at Taipei’s 101.
“You’ll be trampled to death!” they said.
They were pretty much right, but boy, was it worth it.

After class on Thursday, I went home to change. While I was trying to figure out what to wear I thought to myself: what the heck am I supposed to wear? It’s December 31st and it’s 15 degrees outside. In the end I just grabbed a big jacket and out I went.

I wasn’t that excited during dinner. I don’t think I knew what I was getting myself into, haha, it seemed as if it was going to be like any other day in Taipei. I had no idea what was in store for us.

Getting in the MRT from Banciao, you don’t get the feeling of new years. There weren’t swarms of people, there weren’t any people rushing to catch the train. There weren’t even that many people in the MRT! Until we got to Taipei.
Standing back-to-back and back-to-front and front-to-back, every single inch of space in the MRT had someone standing on it. My Malaysian friend had his eyes wide open, staring at the swarm of people squeezing their way into an already overloaded carriage. “Oh my, God!” he kept saying. “Oh my God!” Haha, he hadn’t seen anything yet!

When we arrived, we met up with a few of our friends and chatted the night away. We were still wondering how were going to pass the two or three hours before midnight, but when we started chatting, we just lost track of time. With 10 minutes to go we moved with the crowd to the middle of the park to await the long anticipated spectacle. Come on, Taipei! Don’t let me down.
The spotlights that lit 101 and the hundreds of neon lights atop the building went out. Taipei 101 was an unlit candle, waiting for that majestic moment to beam.

“Eight, seven, six, five, four…” as 101 is slowly lit up ring after ring,”Three! Two! One!” The tip of 101 blinked white for a fraction of a second, then Boom! Boom! Boom!
Screams broke out as 101 performed its grand finale. Rockets of different colours shot out of different floors. Bang! Bang! Bang! Taipei 101 carried on for 188 seconds while big letters spelt out Taiwan’s new year’s resolution: “Taiwan UP”. None of us actually knew what it meant, but it looked cool so we cheered for it anyways, hahaha.

For the most part I was too shocked to scream. It looked beautiful! Like nothing I had ever seen before. Sure, I’ve seen 101 on the tele, and I’ve seen scenes of Time Square and Trafalgar Square etc, but being right there, in front of the landmark that separates Taipei from all the other cities in the world, it just felt different. As I recored the firework show, I knew it wouldn’t be half as good as watching it with my own eyes. It’s just one of those things I guess.

Everyone cheered after the fireworks show stopped. We all wished each other and gave each other a few hugs for the new year ahead. We were still bedazzled by the awesome display of fire power, too spellbound to realise what was happening around us.
The thousands of people standing in the park started moving. A few started sprinting away, as if they were being chased by some imaginary creature. That was when my friend, Jenny, came, “We have to go!”
“Oh,” I said.
“We have to! We have to go, now!”.
Turning, I grab my friend by the arm and pushed another one in front of me. The bunch of us started making our way to the MRT station as fast as we could.

We stopped about 100 meters away from the entrance to the MRT station, blocked by an army of people all trying to get in. I had never seen anything like it. The spectacle, the marvelous sight of new year madness. It was so heart-warming, it was so…Taiwan.
Pushing our way into the MRT station one meter at a time, I couldn’t help but to laugh at what was happening. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before! It was mad! It was crazy! It was Taiwan! This is ridiculous, I thought to myself, I love it.

Unfortunately I was trampled to death and didn’t make it back home.
But fortunately I got better and I made it into the MRT station with some of my mates. We all arrived back in Banciao to regroup while some others went home. Part two of our New Year’s adventure was over. All that was left now was karaoke and some really good sleep.
A bunch of us found a place to sing and got comfortable inside. Needless to say I died of fatigue.
But I later got better and made it home for some proper sleep.

Happy New Year. And please, let’s do that again. JSF.

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