Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
23Trip End Dec 06, 2011
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Where I stayed
What I did
Visiting Iviee, my friend from OSU whose family lives in Taiwan
- - Sunday, Sept 4 - -
I attended a family lunch with Iviee and a large portion of her family, more than 80 people
- - Monday, Sept 5 - -
Iviee and I took the train into Taipei which takes about an hour and 15 minutes, then we got on the MRT to get around the city. We went to the Chang Kai Shek Memorial hall, which is for the first president of Taiwan. There are exhibits that displayed his belongings and his statue was guarded. The guards are required to be attractive and a certain build. We watched the changing of the guards ceremony. It reminded me a lot of the Arlington Cemetery the way the guards were and the ceremony. Around the same area was an opera house and a music hall.
We went to a large temple and there was a ceremony going on. It was a temple that is encouraged for tourists to visits so it was decently crowded and there was a small gift shop inside
We went to the night market that is known for their foot massages and large snakes to briefly check it out before dinner. We met up with Iviee's sister Zoe and went to Little Hong Kong for dinner. We had the best lo bak gao (daikon radish root) I have ever had! After dinner we went to the mall to look around. We were in the shoe department of what I thought was a department store. Things are set up a little different with no check out counters and they have sales representatives for each brand. It is interesting because if you are looking at a shoe in one brand, the sales reps will only give you more selections from their brand, where in the US the reps have the entire shoe department and all the brands to offer you. The reps here are also very much more active. Iviee said if they are not helping you, she usually goes to a different store. They were closing and as we left the store the sales reps bow and say something like..."have a good night, come again." Such a different shopping experience!
When we got home, I had my first Chinese lesson with Iviee's mom. Iviee's daughter, Misha, is about a year and eight months so I started picking up words from her as well because she has a small vocabulary and will repeat the words over and over
- - Tuesday, Sept 6 - -
First thing in the morning I had a Chinese test say what I wanted eat. Luckily I had written out notes! We went to The One: Land of Retreat and Wellness for lunch. The grounds were built in a valley between mountains and had been closed to visitors up until 2007 and Iviee and her family had always wanted to go. When her dad was younger, he would climb the mountain to look over the ridge at the grounds. After lunch we toured the grounds. They were built for someone very important and were designed to have only the best in all aspects. The doorways were shaped as pitchers. In Chinese, pitcher sounds a lot like 'peace' so each time you walked though a doorway you would think of peace. I also saw the largest spiders I have ever seen...they were easily as large as my face!
That night at dinner I learned a bit more about the customs in Taiwan. We ate with some of Iviee's family next door and they would consistently offer me alcohol and ask Iviee why I wasn't drinking. Come to find out, the host is considered to not be a good host if their guest is not drunk at the end of the night
Iviee and I went out on their scooter which is a main form of transportation here. She showed me the three main streets of her town that made up the entirety of downtown and 7-Eleven. 7-Eleven is different here because they actually serve some really good food. They have sushi that is packaged so the seaweed doesn't get soggy and instant ramen that is so much better than in the US. The employees will heat it up for you and you have an awesome meal! Too bad Singapore doesn't have that kind of service...they are more similar to the US with deep fried fast food readily available.
- - Wednesday, Sept 7- -
Iviee's mom made me a Chinese pancake with an egg that is served with sweet chilli sauce. It was so good! I'm going to look for those when I get back to the States. We went to the mall and there are many people that stand in the walkways to try to get you to buy things. Except they were not approaching us. Iviee thought it might have been because they heard us speaking English and assumed we didn't speak Chinese. This was a great assumption for us! They usually are very persistent and ask you the same things if you walk by them more than once. Even in the stores when we were looking at products they wouldn't approach us until they realized she spoke Chinese
- - Thursday, Sept 8 - -
Went back to Taipei to go to the National Palace Museum. We took the train to get to the city, then the MRT, then a bus to get to the gates, then it's a good walk up stairs in the heat to reach the entrance. It was worth the long trip! We made it to the 4th floor which featured bronze and jade pieces. The bronze section was deserted compared to the rest of the displays. Then all of a sudden, there was a Chinese guy behind us...then he proceeded to follow us. It was very odd and finally we asked what he wanted. He wanted to follow us around to hear our English. So he followed us around for the entire bronze exhibit and just listened to us. There are no pictures allowed but their exhibits were quite extensive and took us a couple hours to walk through. Some of the exhibits included Arts for the Qing Imperial Collection, Splendors of the Qing Furniture (1800-1911), Religious Sculptural Arts, Rare Books and Documents, Antiquities, Kneaded Clay Ceramics, Painting and Calligraphy, Bronze, Jade and Beautiful Stones, Carvings of the Ming and Qing Era, Chinese Jades throughout the Ages, and Bell and Cauldron Inscriptions.The Jade, and Stone Carvings, and Qing Furniture were my favorites.
We went to another night market to eat and shop. This one was known for the great food and attracting tourists. This is the first time I have seen more than one other English speaking person since I have been in Taiwan! I tried many things that night...pork sausage which was very good but there was a horrible smell that was around the booths. It reminded me of a pig pen
- - Saturday, Sept 10 - -
When we were at the National Palace Museum, Iviee explained that there are three parts to the Chinese paintings: the picture, the calligraphy, and the stamp
We had lunch at a Japanese restaurant then headed to Taipei to meet with some friends. Traffic was pretty bad at the time and we ended up missing our dinner reservation. Here, reservations are only kept for five, maybe 10 minutes before they are given to someone else. Since we missed it, we went to check out Taiwan 101, which is the tallest building in Taiwan and used to hold the World Record for the tallest building. We ate at a hotpot restaurant instead which was really good. You order raw foods and then you cook them in the hotpot at your table. They also had an ice cream buffet of hogen doz ice cream! I had never tried their ice cream before and was not disappointed! It was so good and it made me realize how much I missed ice cream. I don't usually get ice cream anymore especially since Yogurt Extreme moved into Corvallis. That night we went to a lounge for some drinks and met some friends.
- - Sunday, Sept 11 - -
BBQ with Iviee's family to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival
- - Monday, Sept 12 - -
We went to Iviee's grandpa's house and I met more of her family. they ate chicken feet and offered it to me. I couldn't get myself to try it. After raising chickens and knowing where their feet have been I just couldn't do it. Down the road was even more family and they had many types of animals. They included: an indigenous endangered monkey of Taiwan, squirrel, ducks, dogs, and chickens. There was also a snake in a cage on the way to their house. Turns out they caught it and are planning to eat it later. The monkey was taken out of his cage and thrown in the lake. Don't worry he can swim! After his swimming session, he was tethered to a pole and the puppy came to harass it. They wrestled and later Iviee showed Misha the monkey. She ended up being a little bit too close and the monkey grabbed the clip that was on the top of her head a pulled it. She backed up after that!