Hello! To start off, I have been in Taiwan for about two weeks now, and it has been quite the experience. The people here are radiating with heart, the cuisine is delicious, and I feel as if the weather here is about the same as a toned-down desert (jokingly; unless it rains).
In these recent days, I have been observing not only the architecture, but the people around me as well. I have explored various historic temples, cultural buildings, and NTU’s (National Taiwan University) campus. I noticed that some buildings are old, with vines and vegetation crawling from the bottom up (imagine a person drawing all over a brick wall with green paint). Some buildings are new with clean exteriors, so it’s apparent which buildings are older, and which buildings look “newer”. I learned that the traditional architecture in Taipei was heavily influenced by the Japanese, it is very apparent at the “Presidential Office Building” or “總統府”, because the entire structure is essentially a square with a inner courtyard that reflects the Japanese style of architecture. I want to mention that the temples here are the same, cube-esques, but beautiful nonetheless. I digress, the homes in Taipei are very old, and as you might expect, the examples of “new” looking structures might be hotels, stadiums, or tourism locations.
This is a picture that I took from the 11th floor of the Math and Astronomy building at NTU’s campus (I was visiting a friend who was doing research at NTU).
From here, I will talk about the more important days:
On June the 9th, I met my language partner, David, a inquisitive nature, quirky humor, and endless enthusiasm were all qualities that he possessed. That day I also met a person who’s fluency in English was unmatched by any of her peers; Joanne, a person who in my opinion, probably speaks better English than me. I digress, that day at the Zoo I saw many animals: Penguins, Tigers, Monkeys, Giraffes, Zebras, and many species of birds. Interestingly, that day I also rode my first cable car, I’ve never been good with heights, but it gave me a wonderful sight of the mountains. Later, David led us to an restaurant where we all ordered a different variety of hotpots. We discussed about our different backgrounds and cultures, from an ICLP student perspective, we learned more about the popular tourism spots in Taiwan. From their perspective, they learned about the different America’s culture and slang.
In the former half of the day, I attended multiple lectures to learn about the life in Taiwan, academic resources to utilize for Chinese studies, and how important it is to recycle here. In the latter half, our student group journeyed to the National Palace Museum. There, I witnessed the beautiful architecture of the museum as well as the nature surrounding the building. The interior rooms were filled with beautiful cultural artifacts, and each floor displayed a different category of relicts. I saw scrolls displaying ancient text, models of the buildings of yore, and everyday common objects of the past, are now currently “scared” materials on display. Looking back, I wished I could of purchased a replica of the scrolls, that would be a great souvenir.
This is perhaps my favorite day to date. In the morning, our student banded together and journeyed to “Maokong“ or ”猫空“, a quaint village located at the top of a mountain providing breathtaking views of Taipei City. What I’ve witnessed that day was unlike any other: gondolas, mountainous paths, tea shops, I have never in my life witnessed a more beautiful sight. Captivating, marvelous, magnificent, these synonyms could not describe the fullness of my feelings. We journeyed to a tea shop, and there I was blessed with the opportunity to drink the finest tea that I have ever sipped. My most memorable memory was meeting an old lady who taught me how to wrap tea leaves. She was patient, considerate, and her encouraging words made the whole trip worthwhile. I asked her about her life, she uttered each word happily, and I listened to each word with attentive ears. We drank tea, wrapped leaves, and snacked on homemade delicacies. What can I say? I loved it all, yes, even the scary gondola ride back to the foot of the mountain. The floor of the gondola was completely transparent, that was a scary experience, but I have to get over my fears someday right? I promised myself to go back, to that mountainous path, back to quaint tea house where I met a wonderful person that I miss dearly. Regardless, it’s been a fun week, packed with many fun memories!
This is the wonderful old lady who taught me how to wrap tea leaves; she’s awesome!
A nicely set up table in tea house, with flowers and ornaments alike.
My roommate Thomas and our friend Bridget, trying out the amazing tea.
I didn’t exactly ask what this was, but, it definitely looked cool, so I took a picture!
A picture that I took while I was in the gondola; it is a beautiful sight of the city below.