Monday, April 20, 2009

Matsu's Birthday

Matsu, the god of war or the sea, depending on who you ask, has a birthday around this time of year. He's the favorite god of many in Taiwan, and there's a huge parade that travels across many towns, including Fong Yuan. By huge I mean it lasts several hours. Last year, it happened while I was teaching.

This year, his birthday fell on Saturday, and the parade fell at exactly the time I was driving my scooter to meet a friend. The parade cut across my path. I went down another street. I ran into the parade again. I drove down another street. I stopped at a stoplight, but usually these long parades follow the lights so I figured I could go soon. Except the light was set to stay continuously green for the parade.

I decided to be patient. I got a couple of pictures (on my camera phone, into the sun, so not of the highest quality):

One of guys on stilts, one of a kind of float that plays loud atonal disco music. Yeah.
I couldn't call the person I was supposed to meet because it was so noisy. After waiting for five minutes I decided to try to turn around and back-track, but traffic had me totally blocked in. At that point a small marching band came by, with horns and majorettes in short skirts. They started to walk around in a circle in front of me- like, march in a circle in the intersection they were blocking, right in front of me. I just started to laugh. It was like, "Ha ha ha, you can't go anywhere!"

Eventually I managed to go right and get around the parade. The person I was meeting said, "I figured you'd be late, because it's Matsu's birthday!" About 10 other people told me it was Matsu's birthday that day. Couldn't they have told me the day before?

Edit: Here's a blog post of a similar parade but with my better pictures. Most parades have some floats though.

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