We took a 1.5 hour train ride eastward from Taipei City to Ping Xi, which is surprisingly still in New Taipei City. We came here for one main attraction: sky lanterns (天燈). You can see one in the photo above.
It was a Tuesday during midterms for high schoolers but Ping Xi was still very packed. After getting off the train, we followed the train tracks to the lanterns. The train tracks were literally a few feet from the sidewalk that led to the lantern shops. There was no protection from the trains except for railroad or lantern shop staff that would blow a whistle whenever a train was about to zoom by. The train tracks were swallowed up by tourists as soon as the train rolled past.
The apartments next to the lantern shops have wire nets protecting their windows and balconies from lanterns.
You are supposed to write your wishes on the four sides of the sky lantern.
The lanterns are multicolored or single-colored, and each color has a meaning, ranging from luck, wisdom, health, muscles (?), love, and good grades on an upcoming test. Because my friend and I are exchange students, we chose the color purple for getting good grades on tests, although we broadened the meaning to learning Chinese quickly.
After writing on all four sides of the purple lantern with a calligraphy brush, the lantern shop staff member supervising us brought the lantern to the center of the rails and he lighted the fuse-thing inside the lantern.
We let go on the count of three.