We had a tour of the tea garden the next day and then learned the extremely intricate process of serving tea. No, you dont just turn the hot water on, mix some leaves, and drink it. Everything must be done so precisely and each cup and pitcher warmed before serving and the leaves brewed at the exact temperature and brewing time according to how many cups have been served. There's even a correct way to swallow the tea! Wow, culture is really a strange thing. We also learned about the process of harvesting tea leaves. Did you know that only the top three leaves of each plant are harvested? I can't imagine how many plants there have to be in order to keep up with such a high demand! I still don't completely understand it, but that's what they said. We even got to try a tea that costs over $100 US a bag! We might as well have been drinking money, because it was disgusting.
We visited a specialty bamboo store with the most expensive knick knacks I've ever seen. They let us play with tradtional Chinese jewelry and storage boxes that have a secret puzzle in order to open them. Some were impossible to do, but I did figure out my first one after about half an hour. I have to say, this country makes me feel intelligent...
Now that we are at Sitou, we have had several completely invigorating lectures, one being a two hour presentation on soil this morning, as well as exploring and brainstorming ideas for our group project. We finally presented our proposal this afternoon- in very short terms, we are going to use a method of measuring tree growth, specifically Japanese Cryptomeria growth, to interpret carbon dioxide concentration in the local atmosphere. Not my specialty, but I will be stretching myself with this one I am sure! It shouldn't be too hard as we have alot of help from researchers and professors here at the forest, and today we learned how to take the different measurements, so hopefully everything from here on out goes smoothly! We will do our final presentation once we get back to Taipei.
One thing that has been a little surprising here is the amount of tourists. When I saw that we were coming to an experimental forest on the itinerary, I was expecting that we would be going into the rea,l deep forest in the middle of nowhere on top of some mountaintop sleeping next to monkeys and snakes and what not. Well, that is slightly exaggerated, but this place seems more like a little nature Disney World than an experimental forest. Actaully many of the places we have visited on this trip have been a little bit that way. I definitely have not been disappointed by anything by any means, but I think I just need to remember that I am in Asia, where over half the world's population exists, probably. There seems to be no real line of where the "wild" starts here; there's just too many people. It's a little bit sad, but I also don't want to make any conclusions when I have not seen all of Taiwan, or all of Asia for that matter!
We have two full days here to work on our project, four more nights in Taipei, and then I am finally homeward bound! At this exact time next week, my plane will be taking off for Los Angeles. I can't believe it sometimes, but I still feel like I have been here FOREVER! I'm 7/8th's done, woohoo!
One of the many rows of specimens at the Reseach Institute
Cute little pygmy owl!
Temple earthquake remains
At the Tea farm
Getting ready to show off my tea serving skills
Finally.... it's open!
Bamboo Iphone case... don't ask how much it was
A boulder in Sitou that also fell off the mountainside in the 1999 earthquake. It must have rolled a mile before it landed here!