I'm really aching to get to the present day on this blog, but I don't want to skip important things either. So, I felt that before I rushed ahead to the Moon Festival I should introduce where we live. We live in a city in South Eastern Taiwan called Tainan. It is the fourth largest city in Taiwan and is known as the cultural capital of Taiwan. This is mostly because there are ancient Buddhist temples EVERYWHERE, lots of old buildings in general and because there is, supposedly, good food. I'll get to the food in a different post. Anyway, because we are in the South it is warmer year round. There are also more ethnic Taiwanese people (aboriginals) and it is more laid back. Oh, and things are a lot cheaper - thank goodness. In many ways, the city looks exactly the same as every other city in Taiwan. Lots of tall buildings with big chinese billboards. Lots of smog and lots of scooters. Plants everywhere. Convenience stores (711, Family Mart, Hi Life) on every corner. But there are some differences. The differences are especially apparent if you go to the Anping area of town, which is an old dutch settlement. It's by the beach and there are lots of old historical buildings. We live pretty far away from that section though.
Another thing about living in Tainan is that there aren't as many foreigners here, so we are a bit more of an anomaly. We get stared at pretty much 24/7, which I think we've gotten pretty accustomed to. We try to just pretend we are celebrities. This is especially easy since we occasionally also have people ask to take photos with us. People definitely stare at me more than Tom though, because he has darker hair and a darker complexion. Here, my hair is considered "golden" and people are fascinated with it. Which reminds me of something funny that happened the other day. Speaking of hair, another things that is different about me than most Taiwanese women is that my legs grow hair. Nice, dark, thick hair too. So, the other day I was in class with kids who were about 5 or 6. I'd pushed up my pant legs for some reason and had forgotten about it. A few minutes later I was sitting on the floor with my legs out in front of me, talking to them when I noticed that one of the little girls was just transfixed on my legs. I'm sure she was horrified and had never seen anything like my hairy legs before. It was pretty funny.
Back to the topic at hand. The last thing I'll mention about Tainan is that along with all the temples comes a lot of tradition. The people here are much more traditional than they are up North. They are always setting off fireworks to celebrate some diety at some temple. We also often see processions where they have an idol of some diety being carried on a sedan chair with music and a group of followers and usually more fireworks. We see them from our balcony a lot, but, ironically the most common time we see them is when we are headed to church! We see them on the way to church at least every other week and often we see more than one of them along the way. Here's a picture of one from our balcony. Not sure where the actual idol on a sedan chair is, but you can see the devotees, a car blasting music and some people dressed up in deity costumes.
I plan on making lots of posts about things around town using my own photos, but for this blog I just googled some.
|This is an overview of one area of the city. It looks like the buildings in the foreground might be National Cheng Kung University. The tall building is a hotel.|
|This is what 99.9% of streets in Taiwan look like.|
|This is also a very common street scene. In fact, we have one of these archways right next to our apartment .|
|This is the Tainan Train Station with that hotel from the other photo in the background. We live about 5 or 10 minutes from this and go through this roundabout all the time. We've also taken quite a few trains from here.|
|One of my favorite parts of Tainan is Zhongshan Park. It's five minutes from our house and is the largest park in Tainan. It's also GORGEOUS. I'll have an entire post about it with lots of pictures I've taken at it.|
And that's my overview of Tainan. I'm sure I'll talk a lot more about it in later posts, but I just felt the need to introduce it.