Recently our Taiwanese co-worker and her fiancée took us out for an afternoon in the mountains, where we had the great fortune of visiting two really cool towns.
When I was a kid I always started looking forward to my birthday, as all kids do, months in advance. I remember daydreaming about what my birthday wish would be. It had to be the perfect wish. I didn’t want to waste it. Every year mom reminded me, “Make sure you blow out all the candles or your wish wont come true.” I poured every ounce of my being into that breath of air to ensure complete extinguishing of those candles. I knew that as soon as I saw the last flame go out, there was no chance that my wish wouldn’t come true (on that note, never put trick candles on my birthday cake).
As I’ve gotten older I’ve pretty much sworn off birthdays, only using them as an excuse to behave irresponsibly. I hadn’t even thought about birthday wishes for years – that is, until I visited Pingxi.
This is the site of the yearly Pingxi Lantern Festival, where people can go to send their wishes out into the world via paper lantern. The four of us shared a lantern, each of us taking one of the four sides, and wrote our wishes. I immediately reverted to my 7 year old brain thinking, “What do I wish for? I kind of want a puppy, but also I really want my mom and dad and brother and best friend and aunt and cousins to be happy.” In the end I wished for something closer to the latter.
All I know is that watching that lantern float up and up until it was a tiny black dot gave me the same feeling that I had each time I successfully blew out all of my candles. I just know that my wishes will come true.
Living in Taiwan has helped me to realize something about myself that I never really realized before: I LOVE tea. This realization was confirmed on our day in the mountains when we visted Pinglin, which I will forever, from now on, refer to as tea-town.
Pinglin is nestled in the mountains in northeastern Taiwan, surrounded by tea plantations, and complete with a beautiful river running through its. Here you can sample all sorts of Taiwanese teas and tea infused candies and snacks. We tried plain old-fashioned green tea, green tea infused candies, and even tea noodles, which came dressed in tea-infused oil.
I am definitely looking forward to a repeat visit when it gets warmer so I can take a dip in the crystal clear river… aaand so I can eat more tea noodles.