My trip to Taiwan was a special one. Not only did I get to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time ever, but I also got to stand under the Sakura tree (Cherry Flower). How magical. How romantic. I’ve always found Sakura flowers a reminder of the quaint romantic and brave tales from the Orient (remember Mulan?). The Sakura tree in question was growing gracefully on the Shangri-La Eco Leisure Farm, Yi-Lan County (note: The Shangri-La Eco Leisure Farm is not to be confused with the international ShangriLa Hotel Group).
Where wishes come true
It was already night when we arrived at the farm in Yi-Lan county from Taipei city. It was drizzling, the fog started to descend, and I was feeling cold. We were, after all on Mt. Dayuan, at 250 metres. Thanks to the hot, lavish dinner at one of their Muslim friendly restaurants (Photos to follow), I started to get revved up to see what craft activities they held on their farm. It was, however, too dark to go fruit picking or discovering fireflies, so, instead, I got to write my wishes on a sky lantern and letting it float into the universe. Tammy, the lady who works on the farm and also owns her own company called The Taiwan Education Trip company, handed me a caterpillar made from tissue paper. I yelped as the caterpillar moved, till I realised it was just a handcrafted caterpillar. It was ‘crawling’ at the tip of the pencil and was created at one of their DIY (Do-It-Yourself) activities.
Our sky lantern, made of thin paper was really huge, thus giving enough space for us to scribble our dreams and wishes. Sky lanterns traditionally serve as getting the wishes and prayers of mankind into the expanse of the sky and the universe and the best way to convey these dreams and wishes is by writing them out on the paper. Which is what I did. In fact, I have only just found out that the sky lantern festival in Taiwan (on the 15th of February 2014) coincides with the Western Valentine’s Day.
What’s your wish this Valentine’s day?
Actually, I felt very shy in sharing what my wishes and dreams were (see photo above!) and I attempted to hide them from the photographer. I have since then decided to declare them. This is how it went.
To travel more.
To spend more time with close family and friends.
To live fully, to love powerfully, to laugh endlessly.
To empower others in their quest for coming alive and living their life to their fullest.
To inspire them to find out their true calling so that today we can shift the world from its slumber into powerful ways of living.
So, now that I’ve shared my wish, what is yours at this time of the year, when two special occasions coincide? Share below in the comments box!
After we finished writing our goals and wishes, it was time to light the sky lantern. The lantern needed to be lit with a source of hot air. In this case, it was a flammable material as it was a huge lantern. Filling with heat, it started to inflate and magically lift into the air. Despite the cold and the drizzle, it persisted in going towards its prescribed trajectory.
Weddings, Love and Romance at Aquavita
After we lit our lanterns, we visited the sister hotel called the Shangri La Boutique Hotels, seated on the Dongshan River and home to floating chapel called AquaVita. Contrasting with the pitch black cloaking the night, the walls of the chapel were white. Very white. I could only imagine how beautiful it was during the day. Here’s a link to a photo of the chapel. Mine don’t do any justice to its exquisite beauty.
If you are planning to host your wedding in this chapel, you are looking at minimum of a year to book. It is a popular venue for wedding ceremonies from people all over South East Asia and most recently, has captured an international audience. I’ve also been told that Taiwan’s wedding photography is a rage amongst South East Asians (the photo below, demonstrates it all!).
As for me, I couldn’t of course, stop myself from touching the white piano and play my own hurried rendition of ‘Here comes the Bride.’ The crisp music tones echoed through the chapel – as if I was in a glass jar. And how could I not resist taking a photo of me in the chapel. It was taken with a wish as follows:
For all those, who are with your loved partners this Valentine’s Day, I wish you all the love and joy ever possible, in your lives. And for those that are single, know that you are loved beyond measure. The ‘thumbs up’ is to go ahead and love yourself even more, treat yourself well and be generous in loving others whenever possible.
Photos Source and Copyright:
Photos from Taiwan Tourism Bureau are copyright and are used with permission.
Other photos are taken by either Jan D’Sa or Jimmy Chen of ProTours Taiwan.