Monday, March 05, 2007

last night peter and i went out to this giant matsu temple to check out the fireworks display they were having. when we got there we had to sit(well, stand really) through a bunch of boring politicians giving speeches. luckily, there were people launching skylanterns to keep us amused while waiting:

once the politicians were done boring us, the fireworks started in earnest. first up was the gate of the temple exploding in a nice display. we were practically underneath it so it was quite a sight.

after that people suddenly moved away quite quickly from where we were standing. we did too once we saw the vehicle of fireworks being pulled our way. some people pulled out plastic tarps, others put on motorcycle helmets - all to protect themselves from what was coming up next. the vehicle of fireworks didn't just shoot vertically but also out the four horizontal sides. some poor camphone footage:

it was one of the most amazing and crazy things i've ever experienced. and the show didn't end after this one vehicle. there were 5 or 6. each a little different. with each one the crowd moved a little further back and in our case to an angle not directly facing one of the side "holes"(more poor camphone footage here).

at some point there was an announcement that if anyone got hurt they should go to the hospital and the temple would pay for it. there were ambulances and emergency crews on hand as well as the police.

after the vehcile works had taken place there was a traditional fireworks show up in the air. fireworks from japan and switzerland apparently(some of which looked suspiciously like hello kitty). and after that they brought out more vehicle fireworks.

after the first of the second set of vehicles we decided to get some ice cream(there were vendors around the temple courtyard). we'd just started to eat it when they wheeled out the next vehicle. with each new vehcile there was a sense of excitment and dread. it's sort of like that feeling when you are standing in line to get on a giant roller coaster, or when you are going up that first hill and keep thinking to yourself "oh god what have i done..."

when this one went off we had to rush to protect our ice cream from falling debris. just after that finished and we thought we were safe a man appeared near us brandishing a box of rockets and a lighter. he'd turn around and in any direction people would scream and duck. we couldn't back up anymore as the vendors were behind us. then he lit the fuse and off shot the rockets in various directions.

after this bit of excitement peter and i decided to head up to the third floor of the temple to see the view from there. there were a ton of photographers lined up with their tripods and cameras. from that safe distance we watched the rest of the vehicles wheeled out(each getting bigger and more powerful).

after the final vehicle of fireworks went off there was another big fireworks display up in the sky. all in all over 2 hours of back to back fireworks. there was also music blaring from speakers during the show(a loose accompaniment i guess). i heard "new york new york" and "what a wonderful world" twice and something that sounded like hooked on classics, but the piece that brought the biggest smile to my face was hearing "rock you like a hurricane".

the funny thing is this isn't even the biggest of the shows. there's another temple that has fireworks for 24 hours and people attend wearing heavy clothing and protective gear because the fireworks are much more serious and chances are that something will hit the audience. peter and i are talking about trying to take that in next year.