Me and the vendor and the red lantern Liz and I bought for good luck.
I'VE been in Taiwan for the past few days and am blogging from Keelung, Taiwan, a port city around 60 kilometers from Taipei. I'm here with a group of 11 other international journalists covering the annual Ghost Festival that the Taoist Chinese hold every year to feed and appease the lost ghosts who are allegedly let out from Hell for a month on the seventh month of the lunar calendar.
Every year an association of around 15 local families organize the event where a three-hour parade of bright floats takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. along the city's main avenues. We sat in bleachers with the mayor and other VIP guests watching the parade. Later at around 11 p.m. we went to a beach in Keelung where the various families gather and bring little temples elaborately made of wood, styrofoam and plastic. They are very colorful and are then stuffed with paper money and food for the lost ghosts who haunt the seas. At midnight, the little houses are set afloat into the sea, with candles in them lit, and as the waves carry them away they burn up.
Liz, a British journalist, and I bought a large red lantern for NT$500 and wrote our names on it and let it fly away after a little fire was lit inside. It climbed and climbed into the black night sky for around five minutes until it became a tiny speck that vanished into the inky darkness.
This is a photo of two cute schoolgirls who participated in the parade: