Posted by: patriciamar | October 14, 2017

Taiwan: Time in Taipei & Taichung

In Taiwan I learned about generosity.  I have taught a pretty good number of students, even in my relatively brief (so far) teaching career of seven years.  In Taiwan, I got to see five of my previous students.  In Korea I got to see nearly a dozen, and in China I saw almost twenty.  When you teach English, you act as a linguistic and cultural guide, whether you do it consciously or not.  Students see your city, you recommend the sights, you teach them the words to say your favorite foods (double double animal style!) and you use examples that demonstrate how you grew up in this culture and country.  

Flipping that classroom and travelling to spend a few days in their territory is an absolute treat.  

In the three days that I spent in Taiwan, I was taken care of in such a way that this time will always be remembered like a family vacation.  I was never alone, I saw unbelievable sights, and I was constantly sharing laughter, memories, dreams and goals, and of course so- much- street- food!  

It took me days to recover from the amount of fried chicken, octopus balls, glazed strawberries, tea, boba, goosefat with rice (Yeah, huh?), grilled stinky tofu, pomelo, mooncakes, suncakes, pineapple cake, white pepper snails, cold and hot mochi, sweet potato doughnuts, freshly wrapped and cooked spring rolls, Asian sausage, wild boar sausage, wax apples, fish balls, egg and oyster pancakes and red bean paste smoosh that I ate.  

I feel like I forgot something.  Ha!

I had a lot of favorites, but the glazed strawberries were amazing, as were the octopus balls and the grilled stinky tofu with crushed peanut.  Asian sausage was very strange but also delicious.  It is a sausage in a “bun” of rice sausage.  It’s hard to describe, but the flavor and texture was great!  I love snails, too.

From Taichung, I went to Sun Moon lake, which I’ve been dreaming of doing.  My friend and I drove around the lake at dusk, and then continued around the south side back toward Taichung through a thunderstorm that made the trip all the more exciting.

In Taipei, I travelled to the coast with another friend, where I drank a can of Taiwan’s finest while dripping sweat onto the beautiful sculptures of wind and water eroded sandstone that decorate the coast.  I think it was 11 a.m.  I was too sweaty to understand time.

We also visited a little town on the tracks near Pingxi, best known for its sky lantern festival.  I got to do the whole shebang, choosing a lantern by the colors, hoping for happiness or love or health or wealth.  I took the lantern into the little store, and it was hung in a spot where I could paint or write all my wishes and dreams.

In words.

(or pictures)

At just a moment’s notice.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been asked to write all my wishes and dreams down, on command.  I began, and wrote a few words and thoughts.  However, I hadn’t put enough, so I was sent back to my lantern immediately.  More!  More!  Fill it up!  Everything that you could ever want!  It made me laugh and think more deeply.  Is it possible to write all that you could ever want onto a tissue paper lantern?

I gave it my best shot.  Now, three weeks later, I guarantee that a few of my line items are still floating around in my head.  What do I want most out of my life?

Then I took my lantern outside to the train tracks running through the green valley.  My friend helped me hold my lantern up, the flame was lit, and it floated up into the sky, soon to ignite in flames with my dreams.

What I will remember most from Taiwan is a feeling (and not just feeling full).  I will remember how kind and friendly the people were and how generous and welcoming my students were.  I had a wonderful time and I can’t wait to get back to circle the island on my bike!

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Taiwan  –  September 18-21, 2017  –   Taipei and Taichung


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