This is the hundredth post we’ve made on our circumnavacation blog! Kudos to me and Steve. Steve for writing three of those, and me for writing the rest, a number which shall only be known to those who can do subtraction. A mystery, in other words. *wink*
This summer in Taiwan has gone far too fast! Let me try to recap what’s been going on in the past few weeks, what we’re doing right now, and what we’re up to in the next month or so.
The last time we saw our brave heroes, they were being reunited in Taichung… Steve and I missed each other a lot when I was in Taipei for two weeks, but it also had its perks. He used a lot more Chinese while I was gone, and people here do treat a white man differently when he’s not being accompanied by an Asian woman. He gets a lot more “Hello”s on the street, among other things. I on the other hand got to visit lots of cat cafés, ha! I think I got the better end of the bargain. Since I came back to Taichung, we’ve been doing more of the usual things, trying to explore more of the city, and paying more attention to our individual projects. I have a lot of ambitious plans for the second year of grad school, and some of it needs planning and attention now. Steve is also doing several freelance projects involving building apps and websites, and it’s consuming a lot of his attention.
We were glad to put some of those aside for July 4th weekend, when Kara and Ken came down from Taipei to visit us. We hung out when Steve and I went to Taipei, and Kara accompanied me on several trips in Taipei to see dragon boat racing, the hot springs in Beitou, and also a cat café. This time, they were able to drive down to Taichung and stayed here for two nights. We took advantage of their car situation to see several cool things slightly out of public transportation distance in Taichung. There’s a Rainbow Village just outside of the city, which is an old complex of buildings that have been painted by an elderly artist a dizzying array of colors; he started by painting his own house, moved on to his neighbors’, and just never stopped. People come from all over to visit now.
The other things we saw were Jukiuju, an abandoned mansion outside of Taichung which is rumored to be a poet’s mansion and maybe haunted. But it’s hard to feel like there’s ghosts around on a hot sunny day like it was when we visited. It was a beautiful, crumbling sight, though, and the trees had grown roots into the very walls. We went from there to Tunghai University northwest of Taichung, which is home to the beautiful Luce Chapel, a graceful, curving thing that lets in lots of light. We saw a couple take pictures there just after he proposed to her, and I in classic Connie fashion twisted my ankle. Oh, well. I recovered in time for dinner; we went to the curry man, a local chef who makes his own secret curry recipe, and took a walk through Maple Garden Park after sunset, and then walked all the way to Fengjia Night Market where Kara showed me how amazing matcha green tea sundaes from McDonald’s can be. One of the highlights was that Kara gave me my very own beer koozie, ideal from getting a beer from 7-Eleven and walking around Taiwanese parks! (That’s right, open container laws can go stick themselves where the sun don’t shine.)
— Connie Ma (@ironypoisoning) July 4, 2015
The next day, we visited the Gaomei Wetlands, which are on the coast. We gazed off into the distance across the Taiwan Strait, and saw the awesome giant windmills that line the seacoast there. The wetlands themselves are genuine marshy wetlands, with a lot of waterfowl and marine life. They also presented an achingly lovely view. I couldn’t stop taking pictures! Then we said goodbye for the time being – we may see them down south again when we go to Kaohsiung, and of course when we’re back in Taipei before we leave Taiwan!
What are we doing now? Summers in Taiwan go by wicked fast. Tomorrow is Monday, and the beginning of my last week at my internship. I feel like I’ve done a mediocre job of recording my internship experience, but you know, ten weeks go by in no time. On Thursday, I presented on the program evaluation that I did in front of the whole social work and training department; it was a good experience! I had a huge migraine, and was nervous about not having everything down perfectly, but everyone was really nice about it, and I think I did okay for a detailed presentation entirely in Chinese. I even answered some questions and had a good discussion about the future of the program. For the last week, I am working on finishing my report on the evaluation (shaping up to be about 30 pages, but full of Excel tables) and translating some survey questions that they may use in future evaluations of the program. Then I’ll say goodbye to everyone I’ve met here! It’s going to be kind of sad, but I’ve learned a lot. I’ve made good connections who may be able to help out if we decide to move here next year and I need to find a non-profit job here. =) I have also learned a lot more about STATA and about myself when I work on individual projects. Basically, I like organizing my own work, and I’m not bad at being self-directed, but it’s really boring and slow for me to be doing that work by myself, and it would’ve gone faster and been more interesting if I had someone to bounce ideas off of all the time. Since this is our last week, we’re also moving out of the apartment soon and selling all our stuff. I’ve posted a number of items to a Facebook swap shop group, and someone’s coming by this very afternoon to pick up a chair we bought at IKEA!
O magic 8 ball, what does the future hold for our heroes? Next Saturday, we’re jetting out of Taichung, and heading out of the city to Sun Moon Lake. We visited the lovely scenic area last time we were in Taiwan, but this time, we’ll be staying in a hostel on the south side of the lake and just enjoying walking around, maybe hiking a bit, and biking around the lake. It’ll be a great change of pace after here! Thereafter, we’re heading to Kaohsiung to be reunited with the city that we loved so much and revisit all of our favorite restaurants! Hopefully we’ll get the chance to show Ken and Kara all the fun things about that city. After that, we’ll brave typhoon season, which tends to hit the east sea coast first, to visit Taitung on the southeastern tip of the island, and Dulan, a small mountain village outside of Taitung for some slower paced living. Everyone says the eastern side of the island is very different, has more aboriginal Taiwanese culture and people, and is really beautiful! We’ll find out for ourselves. Finally, we have a few more days hanging around in Taipei, in which I would like to visit the hot springs in Beitou again and generally hike into Yangmingshan just outside of the city, before we fly out of Taipei on August 5th. Then it’s four more days hanging out in Hong Kong before we’re back to the US. And the summer wraps up really quickly!!
I’ll do my best to update again before we leave Taichung, and write down some of the things we’ve enjoyed doing the most here for posterity. =) Enjoy the most updated photos!