Keelung was fun! But quite tiring as well.
I was exhausted before even getting there, so I slept all the way from Taipei to Keelung. The car ride must have been something like 50 minutes long. The nap felt good, though a bit short.
With four hours to spare until the event began, I looked around, first for the lanterns and then for my cameraman. The lanterns were nowhere to be found, but I my cameraman wasn't too far away. I introduced myself and Chen Chong-han, my cameraman, quickly brought me over to where the other cameramen were hanging out. For some reason, other reporters were nowhere to be seen. The guys gave me a biandang (お弁当/boxed meal) and fried vegetable bun. The vegetable bun had an entire egg, oysters and lots and lots and lots of yummy carrots, cabbage and other veggies in it. After eating dinner standing and with my hands, Chong-han told me about the water lantern festival tradition.
For the next three hours, I wandered around and soaked up the atmosphere that was gradually warming up, and also the moist sea air. I talked to the captain of the rescue squad and he was so nice as to offer us a ride in one of the rubber rescue boats during the lantern floating.
After the speech and parade, I took off my heels, rolled up my pant legs and was about to head down to the beach when the rescue squad stopped me and said I was crazy. They took my shoes, gave me a pair of their reef shoes and put a life jacket on me.
When I finally made my way down to the boat, I was caught between all the excitement and having to work in it. I guess that's what made it fun!
It was fun, except for those times when we got too close to the giant ship lantern. I thought my hair was going to be singed off and my nose blasted off by the firecrackers. That was not fun.
I love being on the water, though, whether it's on a rescue boat, a yacht or a rowing shell. The last time I was on a boat was in Aomori. We were taken out to the bay out there to watch winning Nebuta floats tugged around and a fantastic display of fireworks. Keelung was no Nebuta matsuri, but it sure reminded me of it and how lucky I am to get to see all these things.
Work is tough sometimes and so is life. But the rewards I've had so far make it all worth it. I've hit another low in both, and I think I need to have some patience and put in some more hard work until the next wind comes. I just hope it comes soon.