Danshui River Walk

Taipei City is a huge metropolitan of more than 2.6 million people. There always seems to be hustle and bustle. And heat. On the weekends, many city dwellers like to go a little outside of town to get away from it all, cool off  from the ocean breeze, eat some snacks, and play a few games. Recently I had a chance to visit Danshui, where the Tamsui River meets the Pacific Ocean. It was a perfect respite from constantly being in the city center. travel in Taiwan

Taiwan Danshui mountains

The mountains were beautiful!

Snacks in Danshui Taiwan

Yum?

Yum?

Danshui Taiwan

Is this not the tallest ice cream you’ve ever seen?!

Taiwan Beach

Playing games

Playing games

Temple in Taipei Taiwan

There were even a few temples there

 

Danshui Danshui Taiwan

Man's Silhouette in Taiwan

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Why Did I Just Pay Someone To Injure Me?

Tonight I had a Taiwanese/Chinese foot massage.

When I lived in China, a few American friends and I used to get a massage almost weekly. I don’t know if it’s that I’m not used to them anymore or if this one was just extra intense, but yowzer! Did I really pay someone to hurt me?! Did I actually hand a man money for jabbing his elbow into me?

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One can clearly see in this picture that my dude was trying to break my ankle.

Ok, ok. It wasn’t too bad. There were times when he pressed on certain parts of my feet, and it hurt though. You know how your feet are supposed to correspond to certain parts of your body? Well, maybe my spleen is bad, or perhaps my windpipe is in bad shape. (Hey, it’s on the list, along with genital gland!)

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Chinese massages are said to be healing. They can increase blood flow, remove blockages, help the lymphatic system, and remove toxins and waste. Maybe they’re not supposed to be pleasurable but just beneficial. My friend thought it would be a great idea for me to have one tonight since I’m sick. Traditional Chinese medicine for the win!

And I’m kinda obsessed with the sounds that are made during a Chinese massage. Watch my ultra, super-secret iphone video to see what I mean.

While living in China, I also had fire cupping done on my feet, and I also had a blind massage (massage done by a blind person). There was also that one time we had Chinese women hanging off ropes on the ceiling and walking on our backs, but that’s a whole other blog post! Have you had a Chinese massage before? If so, how did you like it? I fully expect my diaphragm to be feeling better by the morning!

I Now Know What A Taiwanese Hospital Is Like

Yesterday I started feeling really poorly, and I mean pretty bad, so my friends insisted I go to the hospital today. Doctors’ offices are closed on Sundays, so off to the Taiwanese hospital it was for me!

American goes to Taiwanese hospital

Turns out I have an acute respiratory infection, probably from the high humidity, a low-grade fever, and am very close to having heat exhaustion. I was prescribed 3 medicines and sent on my way.

Taiwanese Cough Medicine

 

I was also told not to stay outside so much and to drink more water. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was hot here! And when you’re out walking around in it for 9 hours a day, that doesn’t help much either.

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And my colleague thought it’d be a fun idea to take a picture of me during this adventure.

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Thanks Mackay Memorial Hospital for helping me get on the road to recovery! Oh the adventures I always seem to have while traveling!

 

Modern Toilet Restaurant- Taipei, Taiwan

I ate out of a toilet today. So, there’s that.

The Modern Toilet Restaurant is just one of many themed restaurants in Taiwan. There are others, such as hospital or airplane-themed, but the toilet-themed must be the strangest and most unique of them all.

                           toilet restaurant Taiwan                   toilet restaurant Taiwan

 

They serve drinks out of urinals and food out of toilets, both the Asian-style “squatty potty” and Western-style toilets. The most popular are chocolate ice cream and also curry, and you can see why. You sit on toilets instead of seats, there are showers are on the wall, and you can buy poo themed souvenirs.

 

toilet restaurant Taiwan

 

curry in Taiwan

toilet restaurant Taiwan

 

toilet restaurant Taiwan

toilet restaurant Taiwan

If you’re ever in Taipei, visit this restaurant. The food is actually quite good, you’ll get some great pictures, and have a few laughs!

 

 

Taiwan, Are You a Country or Not?

Well, it depends who you ask whether Taiwan is a country or not. Most of the world will unofficially say it is. It has its own government, issues its own currency, and has its own flag.

Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

Yet, only 23/191 members of the United Nations officially recognizes it. Taiwan has a population of over 23 million, and its sovereignty is disputed, yet Vatican City has less than 900 people and is a sovereign state. Why is that?

China puts a great deal of political pressure on the world to support them in saying that Taiwan is just another province of China. No one wants to make China mad. In fact, China has said they will invade of Taiwan ever tries to officially state its independence. After living in China for 2 years, I can tell you firsthand that it is a very sensitive subject. Chinese people refer to Taiwan as Chinese Taipei.

Modern-day Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China,  began when the communists took over China in 1949. Over 2 million Chinese nationalist fled to Taiwan and began a government there. That’s why the language is Mandarin Chinese, the food is similar to Chinese cuisine, and many aspects of the cultural are identical to mainland China. I’m very interested to see exactly how similar or different these two places are for myself.

So, what makes a country a country? This short video does a good job at explaining it.

Most will agree there are 196 countries in the world, Taiwan included.

 

 

Chinese New Year

I am sponsoring a diversity club here on campus. It’s a new club we’re starting up this semester. To kick it off, we did a presentation today about the Chinese New Year, since today is, in fact, Chinese New Year. It went really well! I wrote it and a student from Taiwan delivered the speech. I think most Americans know nothing about the holiday. Here is the presentation; I hope you learn a thing or two.

Today is Chinese New Year. You didn’t even realize today was a holiday, did you?

Over 1.4 BILLION people around the world celebrate it. It is called Chinese New Year because one of the main places it’s celebrated is in China, but it’s also celebrated in Australia, the U.S, Taiwan, Korea, Canada, Malaysia, and anywhere else that has a large Chinese population.

Have you heard of the Chinese Zodiac? Perhaps you’ve been in a Chinese restaurant and seen a placemat that lists years and animals. This is similar to Western astrology, like being a Gemini or Virgo. There is also a Zodiac sign given to each year. This new year is the year of the horse, or,ma, in Chinese.

Here’s a short video about the legend of the animals in the zodiac.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5aY11MpvsI

There are many traditions that people keep as they celebrate the Chinese New Year, which is also called Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year. The Festival lasts 15 days. Most people have about 1 full week off work and 1 full month off school. How nice!

During this time, everyone travels home to be with their families, just like at Christmas in the US. In mainland China, the population is over 1 billion people, so the trains and buses are so crowded!

Red is the lucky color of the New Year and everything is decorated with red and gold. We decorate with paper lanterns. In fact, the last day of the New Year celebration ends with something called the Lantern Festival. On the 15th day of the lunar calendar, you can go around town and see huge lanterns or light displays. These huge light displays can also be found at temples.

Fireworks are a huge part of the celebration. Did you know that fireworks were invented in China and have been around for over 1,000 years? It is said that we began using them to drive away evil spirits from our New Year. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, you will see and hear so many fireworks.

Hong bao, or red envelope, is used to give gifts of money. This is always done for Chinese New Year. Again, the color red is lucky and also wards off evil spirits. Mostly the hong bao are given to children. This is probably pretty similar to giving Christmas gifts.

 Of course a huge part of any holiday is the food. There are many traditional foods that we eat for Chinese New Year. One of the main ones is fish. The Chinese word for fish is yu. It sounds similar to the word for riches. So, on New Years we eat fish so that our wishes will come true in the year to come. Many sweets are also eaten because they symbolize a sweet and rich life. Can you see that the Chinese really love symbolism? The luck might come from the name, as I already stated or it might even be considered lucky based on what the food looks like.

I hope you enjoyed learning about Chinese New Year.

 

Photo I took in Xi'an, China for New Year 2011

Photo I took in Xi’an, China for New Year 2011

College Culture Night

After many hours of prep work, I pulled off my university’s culture night. And oh boy, it was more work than I ever imagined! I asked the participants, I helped them think of an idea for a performance, I wrote bios for each performer, I wrote the script for the emcee, I arranged the facility, and I advertised. Shew! I’m tired all over again from just typing that!

I desperately wanted to give our international students a chance to showcase their culture and their talents, and I wanted to give our American students a chance to learn about their classmates. We had students from Japan, Guatemala, the Philipines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, and America  perform. They all did an excellent job, and I do believe that all involved had a great time. I hope to make this event a yearly thing!

Japanese culture

Masa and Shin doing kendo fighting

Filipino student

Mara singing in Tagalog, a dialect of the Philipines

Japanese student

Hikari bowing in her kimono after her piano performance

Japanese kimono

Masa writing Japanese calligraphy

Puerto Rican student

Orgen rapping in Spanish

traditional Chinese dress

Minmin introducing a video about dating in Taiwan

Puerto Rican musician

Orgen, from Puerto Rico, playing the bongos

culture night

Culture Night Participants (I’m 2nd from the left in the front row)

Thanks to our school photographer, Derek, for the great photos.