Light Up The Night: A Pokemon Safari in Taiwan
Pokemon has always rocked my world. Some of my favorite childhood memories are running around the streets of Kanto in Pokemon Red. When Pokemon Go came out last year, I was ecstatic because the fantasy that I have been playing since I was a little kid could become a reality. So when my editors asked if I wanted to visit Chiayi, Taiwan for the recent Safari Zone Event, I immediately jumped at the chance.
Taiwan is my cultural home. My parents come from Taiwan and although I grew up in America, I was raised with the stories and heritage of the island nation. The Safari Zone Event is being held in collaboration with this heritage. Chiayi county is where they are hosting their 2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival, a celebration of art and culture in the form of giant glowing monuments. This year, however, tradition meets technology as Niantic will be offering visitors the chance to catch the elusive Mr. Mime and Unowns in their popular AR game.
With much excitement I packed my bags and flew all the way to Taipei, landing in the late afternoon. It would be remiss to talk about Taiwan without talking about its amazing food culture. The first thing I did after walking out of the airport was to walk straight into a local dumpling house. The extravagant flavors of shrimp shaomais and the juice filled xiaolongbaos were brought tears to my eyes. Fueled by delicious Chinese food, I set off on the next leg of my Pokemon journey and took a train to the southern town of Taibo, in Chiayi county.
The next day started at 7 in the morning and I had an entire day ahead of me to explore the festival and catch as many rare Pokemon as possible. I was off to a great start immediately as I was greeted by a shiny magikarp right in my hostel!
My goal today was to catch Mr. Mime, which was region locked to Europe before this event. It was very heartening to know that my trip wouldn’t be wasted as the grounds were plentiful with the mimes. What was even more exciting was when a crowd suddenly rushed past me, each yelling “Hurry Hurry, only 5 minutes left!” Following the commotion, I arrived to find a gathering crowd, each furiously swiping away at their phones. An excited old lady then came up to me to show me her prize: a perfect 100% IV Mr. Mime. Naturally, I followed her lead and caught one of my own.
As I wandered around the festival, admiring the many sights, I also encountered a variety of the alphabet Pokemon “Unown”. For this event, Niantic released the letters after the county name: “C”,”H”,”I”,”A”,”Y” as well as “G”,”X”,”F”, and “C” to symbolize “Gong Xi Fa Cai” for Lunar New Year.
When 5 PM arrived, the scenery changed. Following the event, the Unowns and Mr.Mimes departed into slumber and chinchous and lanturns came out to play as the lights went on. It was a magical sight to see so many Pokemon interact with so much art. The combination of both my favorite franchise and my own cultural roots made me feel truly at home.
The Safari Zone Event had been a great success for me. Not only was I able to gain a deeper appreciation for my own family traditions, I was also able to fill up my Pokedex. I ended such a deeply meaningful day the only way I knew how: by gorging myself on some awesome seafood.