Tales of Taiwan

Tales of Taiwan
Summer 2010. That's when I first moved to Taiwan. I came here to teach English for six months and I ended falling in love with this little island. That is why, after being home for a year, I had to move back.This time to dance. I can't wait to see what adventures lie in my path this time...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Call to Adventure: Having crossed the Threshold....

Well its been a few more weeks since I arrived on this incredible little island. As you can from the picture above, the crew and I are acclimating quite nicely. What's with the masks you ask? Pollution masks. They are worn almost everywhere by many many many people. Therefore we felt the need to purchase ourselves some matching ones. Whales seemed like a good option. I'm still keeping an eye out for one with a mustache...

The past couple of weeks have been just as grand and adventurous as the first few were. I have many pictures and descriptions to go with them should you choose to continue perusing this blog.

The first weekend since my last entry was simple and relaxing. We just went on a little day trip to Taichung. Taichung, for those who may not know, is a rather large city that is not far from Changhua. In fact, we venture there every Sunday for church. This time, however, we went there on a Saturday so that we could leisurely enjoy the markets and the park. The picture below is all four of us standing on a little temple/shrine thing we came across in the Taichung park. This picture wouldn't exist if it weren't for a very sweet older gentleman who approached us and offered to take it for us. :) A very small example of the kindness of the Taiwanese people to foreigners. The whole country treats us as if we were their personal guests and its their responsibility to make sure we have a great time here. People are constantly waving and calling out to us. I now know what it feels like to be a missionary in Utah.

This next picture was taken inside a little outlet mall. For some time I have been wanting to own a small truck.... well i don't think a truck could get much smaller than a mini cooper truck. Okay dream car how do I get you home to America??
Later that week we had a couple of friends over for a special dinner. Kevyn, the boy featured in this picture, decided to give us ladies a welcome by having a small party which he called "HKFFFD" or "Have Kevyn's Favorite Food for Dinner." And we certainly did have Kevyn's favorite food for dinner.....
Seafood pizza. D-lectable. Why doesn't Dominoes in the US serve lobster on pizza? Definitely a new favorite of mine. But this was only the first course. After the pizza came the roasted duck which was actually pretty good. We did get the whole duck, however, which means THE WHOLE DUCK.
This, my dear friends, would happen to be the brain of the duck....
So of course Kailey and I had to try it. It wasn't so bad but as we ate it I couldn't help but think of one of the song we sing at school daily: five little ducks went out to play....over the hill and far away... the mother duck said quack quack quack... FOUR little ducks came waddling back. Don't think too much about it...
Our next excursion was to the oh so historical city of Lukang. This city has definitely captured my heart let me tell you.
When we first arrived in Lukang we were welcomed by there lovely blue, earless, cat like things. You know its going to be a good town when its visitors center is so welcoming.
Our first stop in Lukang was to one of the oldest Buddhist temples on the Island. This thing was so old and so beautiful. As a national monument, it literally wreaked of history. The details, as with everything in Asia-land, were so intricate and beautiful. When we walked into the temple there was a group of musicians practicing traditional music with their many different instruments that I couldn't tell you the name of. It was a nice way to add to the magical historic feel to the place.
After the temple we wandered around until we found a lovely little folk arts museum. It was a fascinating place that just helped to add the the historical tingle I felt in my very skin the entire trip. This was a rather old sewing machine that I photographed for you mum. Quite lovely.
I couldn't resist taking the next picture. Who knew that the Taiwanese were the glasses fashion inspiration for Nicole, Harry Potter, and John Lennon???
Among the amusements we found in the museum were the signs we found on the bathroom doors:
For those who don't yet know what a "squat type" is....
This little garden found outside the museum is EXACTLY what I want my back yard to look like one day. Just thought I'd share.
After the museum we made our way to "Nine Turns Alley" which we casually stumbled upon almost by accident. The alleys and streets in this part of town were extremely narrow and winding. The purpose was to avoid the nasty winds from the ocean that came during typhoon season. Very cool.
After exploring a few more intriguing sites in the city we made our way to the old market street which was full of beautiful old shops with artisans at their craft right there in front of you. Our favorite was this incredible artist who paints fans. When we walked into his shop he knew instantly where we were from and that we were LDS even though he spoke little to no English. It wasn't long before we realized why. He had photographs on his wall of many missionaries and teachers that have come to him before. He loves Mormons. And I am very glad he does too.

Here is my gorgeous fan with a very Asian depiction of Lehi's Dream. A real treasure.
After our little outing we returned home and went up on our roof for the first time to watch the sunset. One of our delightful guards escorted us to the top of our fourteen story apartment building so that we could see this....

Perfect end to a day.

Weekends are definitely where we do our more exciting traveling but that doesn't mean that exciting things never happen during the week:

After one of the hardest days at school the Lord knew the best way to cheer me up would be to put a perfect mustache face on my tortilla. I honestly had nothing to do with this. I simple flipped my tortilla over to find this little guy looking up at me. EXACTLY what I needed.
And what would life be like without dying your hair every now and then?? Teal was the color of choice this time for me and Kailey. Liz went with a more subtle red and it suits her just great.We have yet to convince Annalisa to join us....

Also one of my students brought us all a gift back from his trip to Japan. French Fries in a bag!
They pretty much just tasted like thick potato chips. I still think its pretty funny though.

Our next trip was a true adventure. It just so happened to be fantasy day so we wanted to do something a bit more adventurous. We picked a location: Jhushan. We looked it up and found virtually no information except for the fact that there was a suspension bridge there. And we headed out on our journey. Most places we visit have a lot of information available for tourists, but not Jhushan. This is probably one of the reasons we were so drawn to the idea of it.

Our first stop was back in Ershui where we had to wander around for a bit while we waited for our bus. It was here that we discovered the little tree that could. This tree reminds me of Dad's great experiment out front. It was just a tiny little sprout of a tree growing from the stump of a grand, deceased tree. It was such an intriguing and inspiring image. If I were a great artist I would somehow use it as inspiration for my craft.
We did eventually make it to Jhushan and even just the bus ride there made the trip worth it. We really were in the heart of Taiwan. Everything there seemed much more authentic and full of the integrity of the country than anywhere we had been yet. We could tell that they didn't get a lot of foreigners there either because most places have English translations on the signs at the very least. But not Jhushan. Everything was in Chinese characters which once again just made me love it more.

After wandering around awkwardly and asking for directions using mostly body language, we did finally find the visitors center. Out front there were several incredible bamboo sculptures. Apparently Jhushan is known for its bamboo forests. I am growing quite fond of bamboo...
After some more body language discussion with the kind people at the visitors center we were sent in the direction of an old suspension bridge. On the way there we came across a gigantic and beautiful Taoist temple. Confession: I'm not entirely sure how to tell the difference between Buddhist, Confucius, and Taoist temples but this one had some large Yin-Yang symbols on it so I'm going to go with Taoist... Whatever religion it was, this was one of the coolest temples we've seen yet.
As we continued on our way up the little mountain we came across several endless tea fields. Quite picturesque.

And the came the suspension bridge we were longing to see. This was very appropriate for fantasy day. Who hasn't always wanted to cross an old rickety suspension bridge?? And to just add to the moment there were several people casually fishing in the river below. Don't ask me why that made the image that more perfect, It just did. The fishermen were an ideal addition to the landscape.
Once we had seen the suspension bridge we were planning on heading out but instead we came across a breath taking botanical garden. When I say breathtaking I mean it. There are a few times in my life when something beautiful has made the air literally catch in my chest. And this was one of them. Wo ai Taiwan.
And of course there had to be something that would keep me from running away and moving into the jungles of Taiwan....
I don't know if you can really tell from this picture but this spider was suspended in several feet above us, his web attached to a power line. Therefore I am certain that this spider was easily bigger than my hand. Even now looking at its terrifying elegance in this little picture makes me shudder. I am SO thankful that I haven't seen any of those in Changhua. It makes the cockroaches a little bit more bearable... Jhushan: I would definitely go there again and most likely will. I think we have just scratched the surface of your mysteries....

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