Yanshui Beehive Firework Festival
The Yanshui Beehive Firework Festival is pretty bad ass. If you want to try something extreme and a little different go to Taiwan about 2 weeks after the lunar new year. Why "Beehive"? 'Cause that's what they call these clusters of rockets that were once used as weapons. Really Bad Ass, eh?
This all started when cholera hit Yanshui pretty hard and they asked God of War, Kuan Kung to aid in the battle against the outbreak. Even MORE BAD ASS. I swear.
Note: PEOPLE DO GET HURT EVERY YEAR! Just sayin.
1) Does it hurt? Yes. The initial hit isn't that bad. Think Paintball. But after they bounce off, they explode. If you're unlucky enough to have an explosion go off ON your body, it could hurt a little. Again, we were idiots and didn't purchase gear. My friend ended up getting a little cut from one of the explosions. I had one explode on my temple but it was more shock than pain.
2) What should I prepare? Read below. Main thing is, get your gear there and bring pants, shoes, and a jacket. AND MONEY
3) How expensive is it? The festival is free. Don't pay more than $25 for your helmet, towel, gloves. Food and drinks are everywhere for cheap. A dollar here a dollar there. If you want some fun, bring some pocket cash for the games. The train ticket and bus tickets were cheap. From Taipei, don't expect to pay more than $40 USD for a round trip. So transportation, gear, fun, explosives, food, and a few games? Less than $100 USD.
Here's how to have a similar experience:
1) Buy a plane ticket to TPE. Taoyuan International Airport.
2) Hop on a bus or a train to Yanshui. The bus station and the train station are both within about a 15 minute drive from the festivities. The problem is, I don't remember the exact names of the station names. If you get to Taipei and have some time, any tourist office or hostel would have the information. If I find it later, I will add it here.
3) Buy a helmet, gloves, towel (to cover the bottom of the helmet, some fireworks make their way up in there). They usually come as a set. Do NOT buy them on the outskirts of the festival. Get right into the middle of things and they will be half priced generally. They should be around 10-20 bucks. Super cheap! It's also good to come prepared with a leather jacket or something similar. I saw some people standing behind sheets of plastic or fiber glass. This is another option. You could technically go totally Ironman and get big socks, duct tape, etc. but I'm not going to lie, it was kind of fun having the explosives go off on my bare skin. Crazy? yup.
4) Party in the carnival area and eat a lot of street food! Walk around and enjoy it.
5) When you're ready follow the noise, smoke, and people in helmets. They will lead you to a beehive.
6) Get in as close as you're willing. The festival is rated in the top 5 most dangerous festivals in the world, and like the running of the bulls, it can be super safe. If you're far away from the action. wuss. If you get right in there though expect the fireworks to feel like mini punches. You may get some small bruises.
7) go back and party for a bit to recharge.
8) Try to find the big parade like processions that go around the city. They often have huge set ups. These firework clusters are the size of small trucks. They also end with huge firework shows so they should be relatively easy to find.
9) Although the trains stop, there are buses that go 24/7. These buses are about 15USD and are AMAZING. Your seats can recline and you can play Street Fighter. Try to have an exit strategy though. There are not many taxis and modes of transportation readily available from the festival. We had random people call for the taxi... which ended up being a lot of fun too. That's actually a good point to touch on. Some of the best memories of my travels are completely unplanned. These people called for a cab, shared their beer, and shared their fireworks with us. We couldn't speak the same language and we didn't know each other. Great people. Great.
Good luck and enjoy! Make your way back to Taipei the next day so you can hit up the Lantern Festival!