Saturday, July 21, 2012

Zài Jiàn (Good-bye!)

Wow, the day has finally come. And I definitely underestimated how hard last night would be to say goodbye to everyone! You never know how close you get to people until you have to part with them. I am so grateful for the friendships I've made in BACT, and we all want to try to stay close, even when living half a world apart. We are already planning our next reunion. A little hopeful? Probably, but it makes it easier to say "See you later!" It was even emotional saying goodbye to my favorite professors on the trip, like Dr. Tsai, the adorable entomologist who came to many of our events, as well as Jack, our superman coordinator who made our trip so smooth and with relatively no problems the whole four weeks! He was our teacher, tour guide, chauffeur, mom, dad, doctor, mediator, crossing guard, banker, and friend. These people are all so special, including my labmates and the zoo keepers from the first month. I could go on and on, but this is hard enough as it is!

Anyway, to finish out my experience here, our group actually went back to the zoo, and we even got to go behind the scenes to where I worked in my internship! I was so excited to surprise my old friends that I got to see them again and catch up, even for just a few minutes. I got to say a last goodbye to my favorite orangutans and tigers, and my best friend, Big Fatty, the giant land tortoise. If no one else will, I'm sure he'll keep in contact with me.....

After that, several of us went to the Hello Kitty restaurant, a long-awaited Taipei specialty that is any little girl's dreamland for a birthday party. I honestly would still want mine there too. EVERYTHING was pink and decked out, including our adorable but slightly pricey five-course meal. They also had a bakery with equally adorable cakes. Sometimes I'm not sure how our guy-friend Tracey, from China studying in America, manned up to go with us, but he stayed strong the whole time. This place would definitely do well in the States.

After that we visited the NTU animal hospital. The building there is huge and reminded me alot of the facility ar Purdue. Though the technology was all very familiar to me, what was most fascinating was how the vet program is set up. While in the US to become a vet, most people will complete their undergraduate degree (or most of it) go to vet school for four years, complete their internships and residencies, and then if they don't specialize further into a specific field, they can start to practice. For the NTU vet program, there is no undergraduate program, or pre-vet major. The students go to vet school straight out of high school! This absolutely blows my mind, as I still have no idea what I want to do with my life. How could a high school graduate know exactly that they want to be a vet? The program is an intensive five year program, and after completing, graduates are allowed to be on the national board, complete an internship, and start practicing. Sounds a little crazy to me, but from what I could observe, the staff seemed just as knowledgeable and qualified as any American practice.

We have also finally completed our final presentations and research papers, which is the final checkmark of the program for us! What a relief, and I do believe I heard the professor say that we had A quality work. Though our results were laughable, they still appreciate that we clearly understood the objective of the project, and that's all that matters. To celebrate the end, we went to a very nice hotel restaurant that served western food! It was so good, with a buffet and an entree, and not a roundtable dinner. I even had to relearn how to eat my salmon with a knife and fork! And there were POTATOES with it too! Though not exactly Asian, it was the perfect last supper. We took about two hours in the restaurant taking pictures with every possible combination of people; I feel so terrible for the other people in the restaurant. Many were teary-eyed once again, but we all knew it was coming. After the dinner, many of us finally went to KTV, something I've been waiting to do since the first weekend I was here! We went into a room much smaller than I expected, with tables and booth-couches on the wall facing a big screen TV. The room was even complete with our own private bathroom, which just proves how obsessed people are with KTV here; with food service available, no one ever has to leave! People can stay here for six hours and not get tired of it! I thought it was a blast, but I could not have stayed over three hours. If there had been room to dance however....we Americans would have enjoyed it much more! It was a great way to end my stay here in Taiwan, but it took us forever to separate at the end. Thank goodness for Facebook! Even the Chinese students promise they will figure out illegal ways to stay in contact with us, since FB is forbidden in China. Or well just have to come back to visit them...

How is it the end? I'm feeling very confused right now; I have no clue what to think. I remember writing down when I first got here how I was an emotional roller coaster. I am feeling the exact same way now! I am beyond excited to finally go home, but I did not even think how much I care about all the students in the program, or having the opportunity to live in such a beautiful country. That's something I feel so lucky to have gotten to experience- that I didn't just vacation here, I actually got to live here. It's a major difference, something that is going to really help me later in life. And I am so glad that I chose to document my time as often as I could while staying here; it has helped me focus on the important parts of my trip and get my thoughts down. For those of you regularly reading about my trip, I hope you've enjoyed it all and that maybe you got a tiny, microscopic taste of what life is like here. Words cannot not describe nearly well enough, however; you must be here to experience to even come close to understanding! I hope that is not something that I struggle with when I go home- that no one will understand what this experience was like for me. At least my new friends here will understand completely!

Please ask me any questions about my trip at anytime, or if there is anything that I should have mentioned in my blog. There is so much going on here that I can't possibly write it all down or take pictures of everything (I don't think I could take another tourist picture if I tried). My ride to the airport will be here in just a couple short hours, and then the wonderful 13 hour flight to LA. My 10 hour lay-over there should be pretty fun, as my great aunt and uncle who live there are going to pick my up and head to Santa Monica pier to meet my cousin for a couple hours, who has an internship in Cali. I've been looking at the weather, and it looks about perfect. I'm not sure I remember what <99% humidity feels like. The weather in Indiana looks like a different story. Joy.... Please pray that all goes smoothly, and that THIS is my last post; I don't want to have anything to report about my flight!!!!!

Alright America, get ready, cause I'm coming home :)

Cakes at the Hello Kitty Restaurant

Vanilla Pudding!

NTU Vet Hospital

Last picture with my groupmates!

Saying bye to the guys!

My western friends :)

I thought Jack was a nice guy.....

Dr. Tsai!!

Hanging out at KTV

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mǐ (rice!)

The end is in sight! Only three more nights until departure day. I have been looking forward to it for so long, until it hit me today. If I go home, that means I have to leave all these awesome people behind! So not fair! Today, Dr. Tom Gavin, the retired professor from Cornell University, as well as his wife, who have been traveling with us the whole time (I can't even remember if I have mentioned them or not! I feel terrible if I haven't. They've been a big part of the trip.), said their goodbye's today, because they are leaving a day before us. Dr. Tom has taught several of the lectures along the way, and gave us all some comic relief throughout the trip with his stereotypical American sense of humor. Don't worry Dad, I got my fill of "dad jokes" this past month. The Asian students have been in love with him the whole time. Many got teary-eyed when he gave his goodbye lecture, which was mainly just showing pictures he managed to capture of us sleeping with mouths wide open on the bus... me being a culprit, just one time. That made me realize how hard Saturday night is going to be, when we have our closing ceremony together. I just won't think about it until then.

On a different note, I believe our experiment went rather well, if you are looking for accuracy and not actually learning anything.... While at the Experimental Forest, my group and I measured trees- many, many trees, and gathered the data we needed to see how much CO2 they have taken in the last five years. We did all the calculations correctly, even under the intense scrutiny of the researcher at the forest who was rather protective of his work. The problem? Location, location, location (which I think is going to be the title of our presentation). We barely had any time to make enough samples; we needed to take over 70 sample areas rather than just... three. So besides our approximately 500% error, we had a great project! I did learn alot, but I liked hanging out with my groupmates probably much more.

On the way back to Taipei, we stopped at the earthquake museum, which was located next to an old junior high school that was nearly demolished in the 1999 earthquake. Again, they left it exactly as it was the day it happened, just as the temple was. It was pretty incredible. Many of the Taiwanese on the trip remember it and where they were when it happened; luckily it was in the middle of the night so no children were in school. School building in that time were very poorily constructed and were the main structures affected by the earthquake. I also didn't realize that there are an average of 4 earthquakes a day in Taiwan! I am grateful that I haven't witnessed anything tragic... but a little shake wouldn't be too much to ask for, right?

We visited the National Agricultural Institute, which was about as interesting as it sounds. But today was the real ag experience. Can't get enough of eating rice? Then make it yourself! Which is what I did- rice harvesting- fully equipped with sickle and cliché Asian acorn hat. The best part was planting later on, with no shoes and knee-deep, feet-sucking mud and water. All I have to say is rice farmers probably have really nice skin for taking a mud bath everyday.

I can't believe that I may only have one more post to write after this one! I hope that I can really take advantage of the next two days while I'm here. Too crazy!

Marking a tree for our project

My favorite group mates with an old fashion camera! Vivian is on the left, Ivy in front, and Carolina on the right. They're all too cute.

Remains of a bathroom of the junior high school

NTU rice paddy

I look like I was meant for this.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Shíyàn (Experiment)

There are only 3 more nights until we're back in Taipei! We are at the last traveling stop, at Sitou Experimental Forest, also owned by NTU. I think most of the places we are visiting are NTU, if I didn't mention that before. Before coming here we stayed one night at Phoenix Tea Farm. We went to the Endemic Specimen Research Institute, endemic meaning species of plants or animals that are only found in one area. Taiwan, being an isolated island, has many endemic species, which we hear about ALL the time, and they are very proud of it! I thought the institute was very interesting, as well as the Wildlife Rescue Center that was nearby. I volunteered at a rehabilitation center last summer near Hope, IN, and the animals being housed there were mostly raptors (birds of prey), so I was very familiar with it. We also had a lecture on bats with the most adorable speaker I think we've had yet. He was very passionate and even read us the popular children's book Stellaluna, a story about a bat who thought she was a bird. He even brought in a live bat and let it fly around the room for us. Also that day we visited the Mingsin Academy, a previous school built before Japanese rule, as well as a  famous temple that was near the epicenter of the huge 1999 earthquake. No one ever touched the building, so it was so neat to see how the first floor completely caved in, but the rest of the temple just sunk down one level!

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!

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

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hǎiyáng (Ocean!)

First things first... I am so grateful for an experienced, talented bus driver! In the past, I have had some pretty risky, an-inch-from-the-edge-of-a-cliff drives, but never in a 50 passenger tour bus. Hopefully we will be in just as good of hands for the rest of the trip!

We have been to some awesome places while traveling outside of Taipei. The first day outside of the city, we visited the gold ecological park, where I didn't realize that gold and coal were such a huge industries here in Taiwan several decades ago. We also went to the touristy town of  Jiufen and stayed in the town of Shifen that is famous for its floating lanterns. That evening we got to make our own and send them off to the sky with our wishes written on them. It was so beautiful, and our lanterns looked like stars, something I haven't seen since being home! Some of the lanterns in the distance had firecrackers on the end of them, which seemed very appropriate and nolstalgic for the Americans, since it was July 4th! But we just got to celebrate it a little differently this year.

The next day we listened to a lecture and visited King Car Orchid Park, another huge industry here in Taiwan. While in the US, orchids can cost around $40 a plant, and here they are only about $3! I was considering buying some seeds to take home with me and starting my own business and droping out of college, but I'm fairly sure that's illegal, and it is extremely difficult to raise them. It was a good try though. They were very beautiful flowers, and I was hoping we would be able to see the species that cost around $200,000 a plant! I still don't understand how a flower can cost that much.

We have seen some gorgeous coastline views that are breath-taking along the way to our different stops! The east coast is rocky with tall cliffs that drop right into the ocean, while the west coast, which we won't be visiting, is flat with sandier beaches. That afternoon we stopped at Cingshui Cliff, which had a rocky beach with stones that were so flat and colorful I wish I could have taken them all home with me. However, the next day may be another favorite of mine. We went to Taroko National Park, where we hiked a trail beside the most bright blue river I have ever seen. It gets its color from a certain mineral in the sediment, but I can't remember what it is. We found a spot that yet again satisfied my climbing needs even more so than any of the other places I have been to! And I was so happy when many others joined me this time. I'm not sure I've ever had so much fun climbing rocks, and that's saying alot! It was sad when we had to leave for Taipei for the night, but I am certain we will still find some great places. I am now at Meifang farm, where we will be staying for three nights before moving on. We will not get back to Taipei for I think 10 more days.

Of course all great times never come without a price, right? Well the other night while in the town of Hualian, I really needed some medicine for my stomach issues that have never completely gone away. I was hoping to just get some medicine, but here going to the doctor is so cheap that everyone goes to see them for just about everything, even for just a common cold or sore throat. So I decided that I might as well just see a doctor. So my coordinator Jack and another girl from NTU came with me to find a "clinic", and we found one, but we walked right past it not even realizing what it was. Not a good first sign. According to Jack, it looked very "traditional" which is not always a word I have learned to like here. Carolina, the girl who came with me, went to look at the doctor there, which was her way of deciding whether we should stay or go. She came right back and said "Let's go." Then we finally managed to find a real hospital that looked a little more like something at home to me. It was a Buddhist hospital that we believed would surely have English-speaking doctors, as they are pretty much all required to speak English anymore. But with my luck, did mine? Of course not! I felt so so terrible for Carolina, but she had to translate for me for everything! She is such an angel. I owe her so much. Now I have some medicine and will hopefully be feeling better soon. What an experience!

I also got my first taste of some KTV (karoke) today, however, it was on the bus ride. It was one of the funniest things I've seen in awhile. They are obsessed with it here. The cheesy music videos and 80's Chinese love songs are hilarious. I am excited to go to a real KTV when we get back to Taipei, where big groups of people will rent their own rooms for karoke parties that last all night. It will be interesting; I'll be warming up my vocal cords until then...

Only 2 more weeks left, and I will finally be home! I had my first real American-like dinner the other night- seafood spaghetti with tomato sauce, if you can call the American, or Western. And it even came with a fork. I never knew I would appreciate efficient silverware so much! Hoping for some pizza, macaroni and cheese, or mashed potatoes in my near future.... I better stop now...

Going into the gold mine

This place is literally called Pregnant Lady Mountain- can you see her?

Flora and I with our lantern!

Orchid Farm- cha-ching

At Cingchui Cliff

Taroko National Park

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!