Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Yángguāng (sunshine!)

Wow, another couple of great days in Taiwan. For one reason, we've had clear blue skies for three or four straight days with no afternoon rains! Though the heat and humdity is increasingly getting more intense, I am finally enjoying some consistent sunshine! It is pretty funny to see the western students try to soak up the sun, while the Asians start to complain, pull out their umbrellas, giant hats and even jackets in temperatures nearing 100 degrees F. They don't use sunscreen, which I found surprising since they value white skin. But then I realized why, because they don't burn! So I maybe got a little dark a couple days ago, nothing too extreme but pretty normal for me in the summertime, and the other students kept asking if I was ok, if I had been bitten by large bugs, if I was having a major allergic reaction, or if I needed to go to the hospital! It was pretty funny to tell them that we westerners love the sun, especially those of us who don't get it 12 months of the year, or actually have cold winter times. We were shocked when we asked them how often they go to the beach, since NTU students don't live relatively far away from it, and they pretty much said they never go! Our cultures are so different. Oh, I also learned that instead of getting kids to quit their nap times in Kindergarten, like we do, grades 1 through 12 all get nap times after lunch here! Why can't we do that? I learned when I first got here that many people took naps at work after lunch (after realizing people weren't sick or sad everytime they laid their heads down on their desk), but I didn't realize that they did it with kids and teens at school. It's so funny when we're on the bus and every Asian falls right to sleep with the blinds shut in the afternoon, while the Westerners have our blinds wide open and staring and commenting at the scenary going by, wide awake. They are usually baffled when they wake up and realize we were awake the whole time.

I feel like I've done quite alot since I last wrote, even though it was only a couple days ago. I went to a place called Danshui on our free day, which I was supposed to go to with my labmates a long time ago but got rained out. We went in the evening, which was the perfect time to go. There is a bridge there called Valentine's bridge, that apparently if you cross it with your lover, you will be together forever! And it is very popular to watch the sunset there, which we got there just in time to see! It was absolutely gorgeous. Then we walked along a night market along the water, which was pretty much the same as the othes but by the ocean made it so much better!

The next day we went to probably my favorite place so far- Yeliu Geopark. It is a tiny peninsula at the northern tip of Taiwan that has some pretty incredible rock formations formed by wind and nature. It reminded me a little bit of a minature Utah park. I still don't understand how it looks the way it does! The place was amazing, and if you know me, you know that I love to climb on top of things, especially large rocks. This place was close to perfect for my addiction. At the entrance to the park there is an area with walkways that takes you around to look at some of the basic formations, and especially the "Queen's Head" rock. But it was pretty small and extremely crowded. Then we were given some free time, and I with two other Americans, Alicia and Corinne, found where to go to reach the very edge of the peninsula. We climbed all the way there, and we were pretty much the only ones around except for a couple of native fishermen. It took alot of time, sun, and sweat, but we eventually got there. Jack, our coordinator for BACT, said it is always the Americans who are the adventurous ones! There's no doubt about that.

We've been to two different marine museums, one a fisheries research institute and one a fish museum that is supposed to open in about a year. They were a little underwhelming, but interesting all the same. But this afternoon was really fun. We went to the northeast intertidal zone when the water was at lowtide so that we could look at all the animals left behind. We saw Spongebob, Patrick, Mr. Crabs, Gary, Squidward (or close to him), and all their neighbors (we saw sponges, starfish, hermit crabs, sea snails, octopus, and many kinds of fish). And of course, there were plenty of rocks for me to climb. I wish we could have stayed longer!

Tomorrow morning we leave Taipei! Though we were planning on being gone a total of two weeks, we will only be leaving for two nights, coming back to the dorm for one night, and we will be gone a week and a half more. The place that we had planned to stay at is too dangerous to reach because of falling rocks and blocked roads, so we will have to stay back here again! Scary stuff. But hopefully I will still find time to keep writing while I am away!

I miss you all. 19 more days!!!

At Danshui

Sunset :)

Valentine's Bridge

At Yeliu Geopark, too hard to pick pictures! It felt like what Mars probably looks like, but way prettier

I found Patrick

Don't ever set your water bottle down, or some Asian will come take it and catch an octopus in it!

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