Shortest Time in Shifen

We step inside the bus, settle ourselves. It zooms past a few more zigzags until we reach Yin Yang Sea. This time, I sit still and watch other tourists hop-walk their way on to the other side of the street.

Taipei’s countryside is an image of peace. The colors are paler, the roads are more spacious and the grasses are greener. It seems like we are off to a good start.

Uncovering Eden - Shifen Taiwan-08

Uncovering Eden - Shifen Taiwan-07

The bus makes a hard left. Then stops at an open road. I guess we are already in Shifen. The door makes that opening sound that signals us the time to go down. I quickly notice a few droplets kiss my skin. I look up and the skies are suddenly all gray. This is not looking good. At all.

We form a semi-circle to check our headcount. Twenty-four. Afterwards, we scatter into our sub-groups and go on to our lantern stations.

The steps are slippery on the way to Shifen’s main attraction.  I see a lot of frantic people where the actual lantern lighting is being performed. Going through the motions won’t work for me here. I almost feel like I need to elbow people just to get past them.

Uncovering Eden - Shifen Taiwan-02

The guide leads us inside the first store on the right. It is packed with tourists, as usual. Lanterns are scattered and paint splatters are all over the floor. However, the postcards and magnets are meticulously hanging on both walls.

We grab our brushes and fight over who goes first. I pick last—I always do. The green side is the only one left. Actually, I am quite pleased. It is the color I wanted even from the start. Thank goodness, the heavens conspired to make it happen for me.

I start to writemy wishes—quick, simple and straightforward.

Uncovering Eden - Shifen Taiwan-06

Uncovering Eden - Shifen Taiwan-01

The rain is starting to fall so heavily and they are asking us to fly the lantern as fast as possible.

We are holding each side of the lantern when the guy starts taking photos of us. Then all of a sudden, he’s commanding us to let the lantern go. No savouring, no basking in the moment, no life-changing epiphany as I watch it float across the sky, whatsoever.

Due to our dismaying experience, we tried to cool down by walking to the famed bridge here. Though the rain is going on so hard, we will still take our time getting each other’s snapshots.

Uncovering Eden - Shifen Taiwan-05

Uncovering Eden - Shifen Taiwan-04

Our guide fetches us in the middle of our pseudo-photoshoot, telling us she’s been looking for us because it’s time to leave. My friends and I make our way through the crowd until we get to our meeting point. What’s worst is end up waiting for a couple who apparently left Shifen without us knowing.

Shifen is amazing don’t get me wrong. Maybe in a different circumstance, I might enjoy it. But the unpleasant weather, the chaotic crowd, the limited time, just do not work for me. I am the kind of person who likes to bask in the moment. I want the moment to fully take over me. On the brighter side, this could also be a blessing in disguise. Maybe Taiwan is telling me to come back. It always does.


Read about my other stories about Taiwan here:

Jiufen –

Temples in Taipei –

Tamsui –

Taichung –

Houli Flower Farm –

Alishan –