Hands down, Taiwan does some things better than America.
One of those things is baseball.
Confession: I am not a sports person. I would choose to do just about anything over watching any kind of sports game on TV or live in person.
I decided to give Taiwan's professional baseball league a shot because our friends went to a game and relayed some pretty awesome things to me.
First, the noise makers.
Second, the personalized songs and cheers.
Third, the fireworks and confetti.
And last, the deep fried hot dogs.
So on a steamy Saturday night, seven of us hopped on the High Speed Rail headed north to the city of Taoyuan so we could watch the Lamigo Monkeys versus the Brother Elephants.
Taiwan has a handful of professional baseball teams, all named after creatures: the Lions, the Monkeys, the Bulls, the Bears, the Elephants and the Rhinos. There are stadiums all over the island so everyone can catch a game every now and again. From what I can tell, most Taiwanese people choose one team and root for it with impressive passion and fidelity.
And let me tell you, they take their fandom to the next level!
In the end, this made the difference for me. The one time I went to a Mariners baseball game in Seattle, I was bored to tears. I don't play baseball, I don't watch baseball and I could care less about baseball. What I loved about Taiwan's baseball had nothing to do with what was happening on the field and everything to do with that was happening in the stands.
Watching Taiwanese people go crazy over baseball was by far one of my favorite moments in Taiwan, ever.
Normally, Taiwanese people are much more reserved and quiet than what I am used to as an American. They are nearly silent on trains and metros and seem to go out of their way to avoid rudeness or making a spectacle of themselves.
That disappeared the second the game started and everyone went crazy.
In order to fit in during a Taiwanese baseball game, a lot of participation is required.
First, each player has his own personalized cheer. When that player is up to bat, the eight cheerleaders for that particular team lead the entire section of fans rooting for that team to sing the song/cheer, which involves words and dance moves.
And the fans participate with great gusto.
Then, when anything happens or is even about to happen, it is imperative for fans to sound their horns or their mini drums or wave their inflatable toys around in the air and scream and shout really, really, really loudly.
It's total pandemonium and this lasts for the entire game!
Sometimes, when a player does something truly great, confetti bursts from one side of the field into the night sky. Then, at the end of the game, a 10 minute firework show that I swear would rival an American fireworks show on New Year's Eve or the Fourth of July celebrates the winning team's victory.
The whole entire thing was one big experience in sensory overload and I cannot wait to go again!
- If you want to catch a game, consult this website for game days/times/locations
- Tickets cost 250 NT, which is less than $10 USD
- Attend a game along Taiwan's west coast so you can use the majorly convenient high speed rail
- Take a free shuttle bus from the train station to the baseball stadium
- Eat a deep fried hot dog; you won't regret it
- Bring your own toilet paper! The bathrooms are the squatty potty variety and after two years of living in Asia, I still have to completely take off my pants to use these contraptions. Also, there is no T.P. to be found anywhere in the stadium.
- Get a horn or drum and participate
This post is part of the Sunday Traveler link up. Check out the blog Ice Cream and Permafrost for more great travel writing!