Clouds obscure sunrise
Most people who got up early yesterday to see the first rays of the sun this year were unable to get a glimpse of them because of cloudy weather nationwide. Those who braved the chill to visit popular tourist destinations — including Sandiaojiao (三貂角), Hehuanshan (合歡山) and Kenting (墾丁) — saw no sun. At Alishan (阿里山), a year-round popular spot for watching the sunrise, tourists who defied temperatures of 2oC to 3oC were also unable to greet the first sunlight until 7:09am — four minutes late and soon again hidden behind the clouds. However, many remained in high spirits as various events such as concerts and flag-raising ceremonies were held in these areas.
Revelers pack Taipei’s MRT
More than 2.06 million passengers used Taipei’s mass rapid transit (MRT) system on New Year’s Eve, an increase of 23,000 people over 2011, the Taipei City Government said yesterday. More than 1,000 MRT staff and volunteers were deployed at various high-traffic stations between 6am on Monday and 6am yesterday to guide the throngs of people, most of whom were flocking to the Taipei City Hall area, where large concerts and fireworks for the year-end countdown were held. The Maokong Gondola also drew 23,000 passengers, a 42 percent year-on-year increase, government statistics show. Meanwhile, as of noon yesterday, nearly 7 million motorists had traveled the national freeways since the New Year holiday weekend began on Saturday, according to transportation officials.
Sri Lankan appeal starts
World Vision Taiwan said it is collecting ballpoint pens to give to schoolchildren in resource-lacking areas of Sri Lanka who do not have sufficient stationery supplies. The public can donate new pens to World Vision Taiwan offices around the country until Jan. 31, the Christian charity said. “Children here [Sri Lanka] often had to quit school in the past because of financial difficulties at home, so they cherish the opportunity to go to school. They like pens more than candies and cookies,” Sanjeewa Rodrigo, director of the charity’s Mangrove Area Development Program in Sri Lanka, said in a statement. The program, which began in 1998, serves children and families from poor fishing villages in the country’s Negombo area. The charity also called on the public to sponsor needy children in Sri Lanka. Donors can sponsor a child for NT$700 per month.
Japanese drummers to visit
Taiwan is to become the 52nd country toured by Wadaiko Yamato when the group of Japanese taiko drummers visits the nation for the first time later this week, said Kuang Hong Arts Management Co, the tour promoter. Founded in 1993, the percussion troupe has had more than 2,500 live performances worldwide and chose Taiwan as the first country to visit this year, Kuang Hong Arts said, adding that the group’s “explosive power and stirring performances” will offer a good way to usher in this year. The group is scheduled to perform eight shows around Taiwan, starting with four shows in Taipei from Friday to Sunday. The group will perform in Greater Tainan on Jan. 9, in Greater Kaohsiung on Jan. 10 and in Hsinchu City on Jan. 11 before ending their tour in Greater Taichung with a show on Jan. 12. The group made their international debut in 1998 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where the group was honored with the “Spirit of the Fringe” award.