Thursday, May 31, 2012

Xiang Mao (Panda!)

The past two days have been even more different than before! Both have been spent at the Taipei City Zoo, the first day with my labmate Mia, where I was introduced to the rescue center (I've never seen so many different kinds of tortoises in my life! There were several hundred there I'm sure.) and we ended up just walking around the zoo. I got to see my first pandas too! It is kind of strange to see animals that are native to other parts of the world when I am not native to this area either, especially when looking at animals that are from North America (they had a mountain lion, bison, and bobcats). Not that I see those animals everyday, but it still feels weird! So we had a really great time. Afterward, my other labmates Kido and Zai picked us up and we went to a very small night market that is famous for its stinky tofu, something that every foreigner must try when in Taiwan! We had some, but it wasn't as stinky as some of the other kinds I have smelled when walking down the street, thank goodness! It is one of the most horrid smells I have experienced, but apparently it tastes good?? I am sure true stinky tofu will be forced down my throat at some point. We also had steamed bamboo, which I loved because it tastes alot like artichokes, which if you know me, I am kind of obsessed, and tofu soup. And to top it all off, I tried some tofu ice cream! It was surprisingly really good.

Yesterday I came back to the zoo to help as a volunteer in the rescue center. Shalou, a student in my lab who is doing turtle research, took me to the zoo on the back of her moped, which was quite the experience! There are probably more mopeds, or they call motorcycles, than cars here. They also probably follow less rules as well, which makes quite an experience. At the zoo I helped with preparing diets, cleaning cages, feeding the snapping turtles baby mice (which I thought was pretty fun), but most of all getting to know the other zoo keepers. They all seemed to be around my age, which made things really fun! I mostly helped QT (when I say names, that is their English name, which is laughable sometimes), and we had alot of fun with our free time. We played with lots of tortoises, including "Big Fatty" who was their biggest tortoise. Three of me could probably fit inside its shell. But probably the highlight of my day came when she asked if I wanted to go see the tigers. That's a no brainer! There were probably about 8 tigers kept in the back. Then the keepers who were in the tiger area pointed up to a cage that was above the tigers. So QT and I went to go see it. QT has only been working at the zoo a couple of months so she was just as curious about seeing things as I was. There were orangutans up there. We got to go right up to them through their fence, hold their hands, and even gave them kisses! I was in total heaven at that point! The best part was when one of the males kept trying to poke us with sticks in his enclosure. Then we realized what he was trying to do. He would take his stick and try to lift up our shirts and procede to peer under to see what could possibly be up there! It was one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen. Of course I had to teach QT some more English vocab, including "pervert." I could have stayed with them for hours, but I am not sure we were really allowed to do everything we did. But neither of us had a camera at the time, so next time I go back to the zoo hopefully we will hopefully get some pictures with my new orange buddies.

Everything else has been going pretty well so far! Other than my chronic soreness from my supportless bed, things have been alright. I still cant imagine how great a real bed is going to feel when I get home! And a curtain on the shower... that I will appreciate as well.

Walkway beside my dorm

On the way to the lab

My lab


Strangest parking garage ever- you drive your car onto an elevator, which then stores your car for you in a big warehouse; I've never seen anything like it!

Night market- Usually they are much more crowded, but the weather was pretty bad so we had the place to ourselves.

Garlic Tofu (almost all eaten), tofu soup, and steamed bamboo

More tofu! I didn't like this kind so much

Tofu ice cream

Kido and Mia

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