Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shān (Mountain!)

I feel like if I don't write soon enough, I will totally forget everything I have been doing! It's been a great couple of days. We stayed 3 nights at Meifeng farm, and there I think I may have had one of the most fun hiking experiences ever! We climbed Hehuan Mountain at Taroko National Park, and the scenary was absolutely beautiful. It reminded me very much of what the Alps must look like- completely green and one of those you-have-to-be-there kind of places. The people I was with made it to the top first, by a long shot! So on our way back down, we had a little bit more fun and took some more "dangerous paths." My friend Fan and I probably would have had many of the teachers freaking out when we passed maybe one or two signs saying "do not enter, precipitous path." There was no way to resist though. I definitely had my adrenaline rush for the day.

Some other things we did at the farm were sugar beet "harveting" (aka making fruit juice), tomato harvesting (aka tomato-eating), early morning bird-watching (so difficult- groan), night moth observation, amd tours around the different experimental gardens. Many of the places we are staying at are actually owned by NTU, so much of it is for research purposes. Though I am learning alot through this whole program, many of the things we see I have a feeling are not genuine examples of agriculture here in Taiwan, but a good idea of it anyway. Also while staying here we went to a place called Cingjing Farm, which seemed more like an amusement park for little kids, and it is a shame that this is what many people are being shown what a farm is. We saw a sheep show, where a man from New Zealand, who reminded me alot of any American cowboy with his humor and mannerisms, sheared a sheep and shocked people by his talent of auctioning, which no one here has ever heard before. It was pretty hilarious to see their reactions. When leaving the farm, we went to visit a place called Sun Moon Lake, which actually was a favorite vacation spot of Chang Kai-Shek. We even got to see the church he went to while there. And of course, just as last summer I was picked to do a Masai tribal dance in Kenya, I was brutally forced against my will to perform a Taiwanese aboriginal dance... well not really, but I think Masai is more my style, personally.

I am now at Shuili Wood Utilization Center, which is also owned by NTU. We have learned and seen the process of lumber-making, as well as some very beautiful wooden artwork and furniture in the exhibition center. I have actually made 2 different pieces while here, with my superior artistic abilities. I made the Chinese rubiks cube-like puzzle, which I hope I will remember how to solve when I get home, as well as a stool, which took almost the entire day to make. I am pretty proud of myself to say the least.

One thing I have to say however; I am getting very tired of rice- VERY! Each meal we have what they call a round-table. We never have our own plate of food. Many dishes are put in the center, and we have or own little bowl of rice and use our chopsticks to take bits of food to mix with the rice with in the bowl. It's all really delicious, but we have it EVERYDAY, every meal. Some of us Americans are getting desparate to get some kind of carbohydrate that isn't rice. So I actually bought a loaf of bread, and sometimes I sneak it in my backpack to dinner and we all take a slice instead of eating the rice! I didn't realize how much I missed just a plain slice of sandwich bread! Now that I am writing about it, it seems kind of funny. One of my roommates here from China was telling me that if she doesn't eat any rice for about 3 days she will get a severe stomachache. It's amazing how different we are!

We now have our groups picked out of the reseach project we are supposed to do in a couple of days at a place called Sitou Experimental Forest, also owned by NTU. Two of my groupmates are from NTU- Carolina and Ivy, and one is from China, Vivian. We will now be living together for the rest of the time outside of Taipei. We have gotten along great and are good friends already. The project we are doing is just a couple day experiment based on anything we can find inside the forest, with very limited time and resources. I have no idea yet what we're going to do yet... if you have any ideas or suggestions, let me know! Anything where reliable results are generated would be fantastic.

Only 11 more days left! I am having the time of my life, but so ready to just relax for a little while. My brain has never absorbed this much in such a short amount of time. I am sad to know that I am missing essential summer things like the county fair, family parties, the swimming pool, and hanging out at the horse barn, but the sacrifice for this trip has been worth it, for the most part. Looks like I will have some catching up to do once I get home.

Hiking in Hehuan Mountain

Fan and I climbing on something we weren't supposed to....

This girl had no idea she bought a sheep after the auction. So funny to hear an auction in Chinese!

Shearing sheep Austarlian style- something I had to do last semester!

Researcher from Kenya doing research on endemic birds in Taiwan; his accent made me nostalgic...

Peach grove at Meifeng Farm, our lecturer kept repeating how seeing this in the springtime makes everyone want to get married on the spot. Not too sure about that...

I've never seen so many species of flowers in one place before!

Sun Moon Lake

Funny sign I found- the translations here are great sometimes

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