Tuesday, August 16, 2005

More than a taste...

This weekend was one of the most enjoyable of my time here. On Saturday, despite continued rain off and on, we decided to go to Hualian. Our good friend Michelle joined us. She's a teacher at the cram school here. We did some shopping and were going to go to the Indian restaurant for dinner, but it was closed, so we ended up going to KFC instead. Wow, has it ever been a long time! Then we went to Hualian's Cave books, but unfortunately arrived about 5 minutes before closing. Michelle tried to talk the guy into staying open a little longer and eventually got her way more or less, as he helped her find her books and purchase them. Meanwhile the other clerk was turning off all the lights and giving us dirty looks! When we finally left (after the second coworker) we had to duck under the half closed metal garage type door which covers the front of most stores when they're closed. We spent some quality time at Starbucks and then came home on the train.

On Sunday after church, I was chatting with our friend and former student, Su Han and she asked if I had any plans for the afternoon. I didn't, so she invited me to go to Taitung with her! The first place we went was an aboriginal village about 25 minutes away from Taitung, which was founded by a pastor who wanted to give his people a source of income. I can't remember how many people live there, but they make their livelihood through tourism, including the traditional crafts and food they sell, and a show they put on daily. We were fortunate to be there for the afternoon show which included singing and dancing. It was really impressive! We have had some students who are from the Bunun tribe (all the students at Zhuo Feng) and so have already learned a little about the culture, which made the experience all the more enjoyable. We bought a CD of their music and had it signed, then had a late lunch/early dinner which also included some traditional foods.

This in itself was really fun and memorable, but our day was far from over. We stopped to buy some "famous" Baozi - steamed buns with meat inside from a little shop that constantly had people lined up out the door. Then we continued up a little mountain road to a tea house/garden which overlooks Taitung city.
It was a really pretty place, and the first time I'd been to such a place, though I hear it's a popular pastime in Taiwan. First you buy a jar of whatever kind of tea you want to drink, and then they bring you a little tray with the loose leaf tea, a little pot and small cups. Beside each table is a little pit where they set another pot of water over some hot coals, and you just continue to fill your pot and cups, all day I suppose! Well we drank at least 3 full pots of tea, and used just a fraction of the tea leaves (or in this case, flowers).

When we were finished there, we somehow got to talking about KTV, a favorite pastime in Taiwan, and decided to go see if we could find a KTV in Taitung. KTV is karaoke, except your group gets a private room, and thus a much smaller potential audience, which is much more to my liking! Anyways, we spent about two hours there before heading home. On the way home, we stopped to buy some custard apples, or Buddha heads as they are roughly translated to in English. I think I may have eaten a variety of this in Brazil, called abacate, but I'm not 100% sure. They're really sweet, but quite good!

All in all, it was just a great day. I really enjoyed the company of Su Han and Susan who both work at one of the mental hospitals in Yuli. They were talking about us taking another trip to the south of Taiwan (where Su Han's hometown is) and saying that we're not allowed to live in Taiwan for a year and never see Kenting, so perhaps there will be more adventures with them in the future!
Enjoy the pictures below, all taken with my new camera!

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