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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Communication is Underrated: Taiwan's East Coast

Well, part of the reason it has been so long since I have updated is that I just had no idea where to start!  It has been a little daunting to think about.  This post will just be about a trip that we took and then whenever I get the next chance, I'll try to wrap up Taiwan altogether.  Eventually, I'll tell you about what's actually going on with us right now!

Anyway, the trip was with a family in our ward (church congregation).  I'm not quite sure how it came about because they don't speak English and we speak hardly any Chinese.  I'm sure you're wondering how going on vacation without any communication works.  Well, it's interesting for sure.  Basically, we never had any idea what was going on or where we were going.  They would try to explain, it wouldn't work and we'd just indicate that we didn't care.  Eventually we'd get somewhere and sometimes would be like, "oh, thaaat's what they were saying," and sometimes we'd still just be confused.  Alright, so let's begin!

Day 1 started with us meeting them at 5am, piling into their van and driving for a few hours.  They have two little boys, aged 3 and 1.  In Taiwan, seat belts aren't seen as essential, so the 3 year old just wandering around in the van.  We became good buds, the three of us.  Also, we were driving through VERY windy and thin mountain roads at breakneck speeds.  On top of the terror involved with that, we were sitting in the back seat and were constantly being jarred up and down.  I'm not complaining about this though, because it's all just part of the adventure.  I assure you that most of the time we were just cracking up about it.  Below, you can see our first stop:

The way it was explained to us, is that it had something to do with the ground shaking.  We never really did figure out what it was though, because we never got it.  We drove up, talked to the guy (about what?  who knows!) and waited around for a while.  Then, we drove to a place I'll show you below, where we took a bit of a hike.  After the hike, we came back, waited around for even longer and then we eventually left.  I couldn't tell you what the problem was.  We just did what we were told and went with it.

The van.

There were some pretty entertaining pictures displayed there.  This one's for you mom.

We assume this is demonstrating what happens when the ground shakes...

Ok, so below are pictures of the place where we hiked.  It was quite nice.

Some water buffalo.

Tom with "the older one."  Don't ask us what his name actually is.

So, these pictures are a bit out of order here, but this amazing bug flew up while we were waiting at the earth shaking place.

Please take some time to notice his shirt.  Also, he carried around the plant that's in his hand like all day.

This is the little one.  We kind of know his name.  It sounds like "Shao Sheen."
After we left the shaky place for the 2nd time, we drove around for a long time again.  Then, we went to  this place where they cook a whole chicken (and I do mean completely whole) in a big tin can thing, on top of some fire.  If you saw my post about the English camp that I did, I talk about it there too.  Anyway, we don't get grossed out by it, but I think a lot of Americans would.  The dad loves all the innards the best.  We stuck to the breast meat.  I love the picture below, because I feel like our facial expressions are so accurate.  

 Then, we went to this really cool High School.  I think we were there to meet up with some of their friends who work there.  It's an athletic high school, so the kids just do sports all day.  The facilities were AMAZING and better than most good college sports facilities.  Like, way better.  I would have LOVED to go to a high school like that.  No pictures though, because my battery died after the shaky place, so the rest are from the dad, whose English name is Andy.

Here we are playing a simple but obviously extremely entertaining game where he hits my leg and then I pat his back.  Repeat.
After the high school, we had 2nd dinner.  This time at a cool aboriginal themed place with the friends from the high school.  They had dancers and everything.  The food was pretty good.

This whole day was VERY exhausting.  Like, on the one hand, we really enjoyed ourselves, because it was a great experience and we really thought the family was great, because they were doing all of this for us and they were so nice.  On the other hand, it gets exhausting not having any clue what's going on or when you be done driving or walking around a high school or whatever.  And sometimes you just want to get to the hotel room and be alone, ya know?  So, after the dinner, we drove for a while longer, all the way up this windy mountain.  When we got up, we checked into our hotel.  We were really hoping that would be the end of the day, but then we went on a little hike together.  Then, they said we could go in and change, etc., then come out like an hour later (around 11pm) and we'd go on another little hike.  We couldn't imagine why we were doing this, when we figured they must be tired too, but we said ok.  It turned out that there was some kind of eclipse or something.  So, after that, sometime after midnight we went to sleep.  Of course, then we met up at 5 am so that we could watch the sunrise.  

If you click on this, you can see us, on the left, sleepily watching the sunrise.

We were SO tired, but the sunrise was pretty sweet.  The location was especially nice, looking down over this very green tropical mountain to the ocean below.

Then, we went on a hike up this windy road that went along the side of the mountain.  There were some pretty nice views.

There's a boar in that cage up there.  Apparently they're a big problem in the area and are very mean.

Isn't Tom endearing?
After the hike, we were given a little time to go shower (read: sleep) before breakfast.  After breakfast, we took a bunch of pictures around the hotel.  The hotel was pretty cool, by the way, because it was situated on the edge of the mountain and had this amazing view.  See below:

Then we went on another hike:

After the hike, we packed up and left.  We drove for a while and then went to this...natural food place.  Basically, they grow a bunch of herbs and other things and built a really cool and informative (if you speak Chinese) museum/activity center around it.  They also had a store and a restaurant, which we ate at.  We ate so much unfamiliar food on this trip.  A lot of it was good, but there's just something about new food.  You can eat a little, but after a while it gets really overwhelming and you're body just say, "Ok, this MIGHT be good, but I just need something familiar for a change."  Like, even if it's good, you have to get used to it before you really like it.  We secretly brought some snacks that we stashed in our backpacks, so whenever we'd eat something strange, we'd just pop in a pringle or something afterward.  

Anyway, the other thing they have at this place is a bunch of animals.  The best part of that was the ostriches (or emus, who knows?).  People would hold out some vegetation to them and when they'd grab it, MAN they were powerful!  It was scary and cool.  Also, they are really strange looking.

After that place, we just drove home.  It probably took like 5 hours or something.  Of course, we had to stop at this rest stop and look around at the bridge that crosses the street and the playground and everything first.

Here we are on the bridge.
When we finally got back, we went by their house first.  We were so ready to go home, but we had to settle for going inside anyway.  But it ended up being good, because the dad (who's a chef) showed us how to make this really yummy warm drink that involves milk, Taiwanese brown sugar and chocolate.  

Then we drove home!  In the end, it was a really great trip with some VERY nice (and cool) people.  We are amazed at Taiwanese hospitality.  Where else can you go and have people who can't even communicate with you take you on vacation?  Truly amazing.