First Weekend in TW

This is part 3 which I wrote on my phone during my stay in Taipei:

This weekend seems pretty exciting so far. Yesterday was such a long day that started as early as 6 in the morning. After we left the school on Friday, the English teacher drove us down to Taoyuan. The road through the mountains wasn’t really straight so I got a bad headache and couldn’t take any photos. After 2 hours we arrived at the university  and went to eat something for dinner. Our meal was very unusual(at least was for me) – we ate something called “Hot Pot” and was basically a soup with cabbage, meat, tofu and some seafood on top of a small flame that kept it boiling all the time. Oh…and we forgot to pay after we ate the food and had to come back again to the place…

Steam Boat

hot pot

After that we went for a walk in the university campus and drank some milk tea(first time for me :P) That night I didn’t have a pillow and in the morning apart from waking up at 6 I had a stiff neck and slight headache.

We caught the early train Taipei around 8 o’clock. The trip itself took an hour but the train was more like a subway car moving through the cities. I think it was just for Taipei-Taoyuan area. It is useless to mention that it was quite crowded inside as well. When we arrived in Taipei we went to Longshan temple which is one of the biggest  in the city. It was really an unique feeling to observe people in their prayers and to experience a completely different religion.

Taipei Subway

MRT

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Temple entrance

When we left the the temple we got the subway again to Chiang Kai-Shek(..hope that I spell it right) memorial hall. By the way I forgot to mention more details about the MRT itself. It’s a subway network that goes all around Taipei – it’s relatively cheap and you pay for the number of stops you take. More importantly food and drinks are not allowed in anywhere on the cars or outside at the platforms. It is also very convenient for foreigners because there are signs in English everywhere.img_3915

img_3924The memorial hall was a huge monument covered in marble and a big statue inside – amazing view, but not really useful :P. After that I was able to experience something very unique – we went to Taiwan Storyland, a museum that was representing parts of Taiwan’s history and culture around the time of the Japanese occupation.

We had lunch and the whole afternoon was ahead of us. We got to the train again and after 30 minutes we got to Danshui which is close to the sea and is famous for many shops and the ferry that goes to the other side. Of course we didn’t miss the opportunity to go there and once we arrived we rented some bikes and explored the area. We ate some local donuts and had some milk tea again. Around 5 we decided to go because it was already getting dark so we had to move on. Now it’s the time to describe the food because I think it was really unique in that area. First we ate a dish that looked like a shell of tofu covering some rice noodles inside and the whole thing was in a spicy sauce – very delicious but it wasn’t enough to anyone. After that we went to another place where we ate some kind of sweet soup with beans and tofu.

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Sunset at Danshui

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Oh and the last part for the night was our visit to the local night market. Night markets are something that I think exists only in Asia(not sure in which parts though). That place is a combination of food stores and clothing and that plus the thousand people walking in between the narrow streets gives you the feeling you’re just a small piece of sand on the beach. We didn’t stay there for too long because it was really busy. Around 9 we separated and while I went to Daniels house to the night Vivian went to the ER’s. I am so glad I had the chance to experience the atmosphere in a family environment here in Taiwan.

That really gives a more complete idea of people’s way of living – apart from everyday life on the outside. What is different from us is that they go to sleep relatively late and I think it’s common thing for the entire country(still I have no way to explain why). But apart from that everything else is pretty similar(especially the part when they told me how when Daniel comes home on the weekends he always eats everything around).

Sunday marked the 6th day of my stay here in Taiwan. Even though I’ve been here less than a week it seems to me that I’ve visited so many places already. In the morning I tried some traditional breakfast including soybean milk and a kind of pastry from the nearby bakery. It wasn’t really bad but it felt like something I’ve already tried before. After breakfast we left to the National Palace Museum which contained a lot of items dating thousands of years back. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos inside and I feel sorry for that. We saw things that were really amazing – handicraft of extraordinary quality. The museum looked great and the fee was around 10$ which is OK for such famous place. I thought that I’ve seen well crafted items before but when I saw some of the things in there I couldn’t believe those things were made by human hand. One really amazing thing was a small carved stone that had Chinese writings on it, but they were so small that I needed a magnifying glass to see them(and how the artist made them is a complete mystery).

When we finished with the museum we bought some souvenirs and headed back to Taoyuan. Around 6:30 we gathered in a restaurant where a surprise party was prepared for us. There was really a lot of food…which was unexpected. I had opportunity to see some local AIESEC dances as well. Strangely we finished the party at 9 and went home to sleep. Today we’re going back to school…I miss the kids already. For some reason I feel sad. I know I shouldn’t, but I feel disappointed from something..or maybe just disappointed from myself. Actually the only thing I regret is that the school so far away and we can’t travel as often as we wish..and I know Vivian is leaving on the 29th and I’ll be all by myself in the following month”img_4102

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