Showing posts from 2015

An Outsider's Look At America

Well, I'm finally back in America for good. (Although I'm coming back to visit Taiwan at least once a year!) The first few weeks have been a whirlwind of adjusting to the time, car-buying, apartment-finding, and all-around moving in. I don't think it's at all unusual that I feel like an outsider here, having lived abroad for over 5 years and assimilated into their culture and language. It's not a bad feeling, although I'm trying to be prepared for when reverse culture shock kicks in. I just think it's interesting some of the things I've been noticing and feeling, now that I'm back for a longer period of time.

The strangest thing I've felt so far is having to readjust to the language, specifically the pace of it. Of course I had to use English everyday in Taiwan when I was an ESL teacher, but I'm used to talking with non-native speakers, focusing on their accent and correcting mistakes. Over the course of time I've slowed down the pace of…

Guan Zi Ling 關子嶺- Mud Spring Resorts near Tainan

So the last part of our trip in January was to go to the Guan Zi Ling hot springs near Tainan. From Tainan we had to take a train and rent a car to get there. I've been wanting to visit this place for a while because they have mud springs here and it sounded like fun. On the train. We went to the King's Garden Villa Resort. Before entering the hot spring you could put a facial mask on and you could choose from either apple, mung bean, or mud. Of course I went with the mud! Then you could put your feet into a mini spring while your face dried. Also included in this resort are what I can only assume as fat-reducing machines. In the picture below you had to put your feet on the gray thing and it would shake your whole body from side to side. For this one you would wrap the belt behind you and it would shake your midriff. We didn't have enough time to try them out but I think it would've been funny if we had. I don't believe they would help you lose weight- or if they…

Tainan Souvenirs: Sword Lions and Puppets

So Tainan is famous for its "Sword Lions." They were first used on the shields of Koxinga's soldiers and later they became symbol that is believed to protect you. The number and direction of the sword means different things as well. If there's two swords it means it's extra strong, if the blade points to the right it's meant to expel evil spirits, if it's pointing to the left it will supposedly bring good fortune and luck. I thought it was a pretty cool souvenir and I like the design of it. Also, puppetry is a tradition in Taiwan, called Bu Dai Xi (布袋戲). I'm really into the story Journey to the West and I found a puppet of Sun Wu Kong, the monkey king. He's known for being mischievous and intelligent and he's pretty funny too. The cudgel (the long stick in his hand), is said to grow and shrink at will and this puppet can twirl the cudgel by a small rod in the back. These puppet shows are common on TV and sometimes are performed live. However,…

Tainan Revisited: Yummy Snacks, a Catholic-Temple Fusion, and Koxinga's Park

This was our breakfast on the second day! Tainan is famous for congees (rice porridge). This one had fish and other unidentifiable things in it. I prefer not asking, otherwise I might not have dared to try it. It was really delicious! Oh, and Albert's eating fish stomach lining. (Ew!)
So there were a couple more used book stores we stopped today but I won't get into that. We had a midday snack of "NGUA GUI." It's Taiwanese and super hard to pronounce and spell. Basically it's made of turnip and it's served in a bowl. I thought this one was great! Better than the one I tried in Taipei. Oh, and by the shop was a really large and cool looking tree. Would you try it??? Something that also keeps Tainan apart from other parts of Taiwan is its abundance of churches. I was very surprised to notice it this time. I wonder why they are so prevalent here. Maybe because of missionaries? It was the capitol for a long time. Anyways, today we wanted to visit a special Ca…

Tainan Revisited: Five Concubines Temple, "Hell" Temple, and Garden Night Market

Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan and the original capitol. It has a completely different feel from Taipei in that there’s no subway system, many of the buildings are brick and look extremely old, and there are way more temples and Catholic churches.
Another common feature we found on this trip was that there’s also an abundance of used book stores. We stopped in almost every one we saw and bought at least 1 book on average at each one. My favorite finds were a book of Chinese synonyms and one on common grammar constructions.

But books were not the main focus of our trip- that was only a happy coincidence. I wanted to stop by the famous temples we missed last time (years ago) and go to the old street for shopping.

This is a common treat in Taiwan: Wheel Cakes (車輪餅). They’re filled with various things, such as red bean paste. Believe me, it’s actually good! You can get a feel for the old type of building methods here. Some roads were even cobblestone. Our first place to visit was the Fiv…