Renegade Writings

The collected writings of a Renegade Tourist

Tag

Fireworks

The Balcony, 12:08 am

I stand looking out over the seemingly sleeping city. There's a light breeze that makes it feel like the cold of the night air is creeping in through the gaps between my shirt buttons, and chill of the stone floor is seeping up through my socks. A new round of fireworks starts, I can hear the sharp cracks somewhere off to the right but they are hidden from view by the nearby buildings, all I can see is the colorful flashes of light on the surrounding facades. I stand there in the cold dark space of the balcony, the revelry and fireworks just on the edge of my consciousness, and feel that special kind of feeling that isn't quite loneliness but isn't really anything else either - clearing the mind from daily stresses and just absorbing the cool quite now, and yet, realizing somehow that you want to be where those unseen fireworks are. And that's the moment that I notice it, the fireworks are reflected on the windows of one of the buildings in the distance, the glass making the images ripple and become dreamy; a moment of beauty pierces my solitude and brings me back to reality. I listen to the fireworks for a few moments longer then let the cold drive me back indoors.

Beehive Firecrackers

Before I tell about my experience, here is little bit of background. In the 19th century the town of Yanshui was suffering from a cholera outbreak. Locals called on Guan Gong, the god of war, to ward off the decease. The god agreed to help but said he had to be greeted by fireworks, so people organized large amounts of bottle rockets to be fired off. Apparently it worked (some say the sulfur in the fireworks killed the bacteria) so the town has made it a tradition to set off masses of fireworks on the 14th and 15th days of … Read the rest

Yanshui Junior High Sports Field, 10:03 pm

It's the last big fireworks of the night and this rack is the biggest, with three tiers of firecrackers ready to be shot out over the audience. The announcer starts the count down and we in the crowd count along with her, three, two, one. The rockets start spewing out from the rack, streaks of orange passing over us, and the sound of explosions somewhere behind us like we're in the middle of an oven full of popcorn. Where I'm standing the rockets seem to be firing right at me, the orange trails just passing over my head; it feels like I'm a soldier under fire. Every once in while a firecracker will actually fall into the crowd, exploding close by, sending sparks flying. I can feel one hit my leg, another hits my left arm, and a one even pings off my visor in a disconcerting way. Despite this I'm not scared, I feel secure in my protective gear. It is a visceral experience.

Wenhai Road, 8:22(?) pm

I'm dripping with sweat, the mask makes it uncomfortable to breath and my visor is fogging up but trying to do anything about that now would be far too dangerous. A cloud of thick smoke is enveloping the crowd, the rack of firecrackers, which I know to be just a few meters in front of me, is all but invisible and people further off in the crowd have disappeared completely. The incessant sounds of explosions fill the air and from the smoke comes burst of orange and flashes of lightning as the firecrackers detonate. All I can do is weather the storm and take it all in.

Wenhai Road, 8:16 pm

Despite the south Taiwan heat I'm fully covered: thick jacket, gloves, full face motorcycle helmet and two towels wrapped around my neck to cover all the gaps. I'm sweating like a pig but I can't take any of it off, the protection is necessary for what is about to happen. I stand in a crowd of people and in front of me is the rack absolutely full of fireworks, ready to be set off any minute now. My sense of anticipation is palpable as I watch intently while the final preparations are made...

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