Embracing the Fatherland

It has been just slightly over a month since I first landed in Taipei an exhausted confused and slightly homesick traveller with absoutely no idea what the next ten weeks had in store for me. The first brush of wind I felt was heavy and humid and at 5:30am my body was tired and hungry and overall not impressed.

But holy moly; part of me would love the opportunity to reassure my past self that the next ten weeks will be the best of my life. The other part says “No way” because a huge part of this experience has been all the wonderful people I’ve met and excursions that are still so vivid in my memory.

It’s funny; even though this exchange has been at the top of my “to-do” list for over a year I still never really accepted that I was leaving home until I left my mom at the gate of the airport.

And to put it simply, I’m thriving. Sarcastic, sardonic, cynical me is thriving off of the constant flow of people that I meet every single day. Back home I would vehemently insist that I couldn’t stand to be around loads of people all the time and that my being alone was necessary for my survival.

Now if I don’t have plans with people for one day I feel lost.

Granted, travelling personalities have been easier to get along and converse with than most (MOST NOT ALL) people back in Vancouver. The shared goal of experiencing a foerign part of the world leads to easy conversation. I’ve met up with friends I made in a different hostel, still go back to Eight Elephants, and have already had to say goodbye to a best friend I made in less than a week and knew for less than three (Seriously, when the heck does that ever happen?).

I feel as if it would be pointless to list off all that I’ve learnt not only because it’s so much but also because a different personality could be in my exact same position and have gotten a completely diffeerent experience than me. There’s so much I want to say about Taipei and myself but writing in  blog post really wouldnt do it justice. I’ll instead end off with the following:

Is it possible to feel as if your personality has matured?
Because mine has. The combination of studying my heritage language and meeting the most phenominal people has changed a perspective or two of mine – something that has surprised stubborn little me.

Taipei Masterlist Pt 1

I must apologize in advance because this post probably won’t contain as much dry humor as previous posts (*Gasp* But Nathalie whyyyyyyyy). The reason for this is that I just want to give a basic list and description (Yes there will be pictures don’t freak out) of all the sights I’ve seen around Taipei so far. Even though I’ve seen so much there’s always (And probably always will be) more for me to discover around Taipei. *Apologies because I don’t have photos of the first two things on this list. If you have the time I strongly encourage a Google search of the temples because they are simply stunning.

June 21: Taipei Confucius Temple                  
The Taipei Confucius Temple was built in 1879 during the Qing Dynasty. During Japanese occupation of Taiwan the temple was destroyed. However in 1930 Wang So-Shun rebuilt it. I was lucky enough to get to see the interior of this magnificent temple, which only opens it’s doors twice a year. During this day (June 21) students gathered to pray for god luck on their examinations.

June 21: Dalongdong Baoan Tample
A Taiwanese Folk Religion Temple located close to the Taipei Confucius Temple with absolutely beautiful exterior adornments. June 22: Wulai Wulai is a gorgeous rural district in the South of new Taipei City. I went on a trip organized by the hostel I was staying at and was in complete awe of the colour of the water and the mist rising from the surrounding mountains. I walked around the town and got caught in a rainstorm while hiking a path called “Lover’s Trail” alone (HAHA IRONYYY).wpid-img_20140622_140610.jpgwpid-img_20140622_172107.jpg

June 26: Shilin Night Market and Taipei 101 I was lucky enough to get to meet up with my friend Sophia who took me around Taipei for the day. We walked around a local shopping district before heading towards the Shilin Night Market. There we had  雞排 (Ji pai/Chicken steak) and 臭豆腐(Chou dofu/Stinky tofu). One thing I’ve noticed about Taipei is that not only is bubble tea a huge deal, so is juice. Fruit, mixed, milk, you want it? You got it (My jam (HA) is 芒果牛奶: mango milk). The highlight of this day was definitely Taipei 101. I absolutely adore looking down on cities as they’re lit up at night and getting a 360 view of Taipei was a blessing. A free audio guide was included in the ticket and so I got my fact fix and beautiful view quota of the night! wpid-img_20140626_223922.jpg wpid-img_20140626_200902.jpg

June 27: National Palace Museum I’m just going to say it now: I’m a museum nerd. I love museums. I could spend all day in museums. As soon as I found out the Palace Museum housed one of the largest collection of Chinese artifacts I knew this was at the top of my “to-do” list. I got there as soon as it opened and immediately found my way to the old books collection. There was also an entire floor dedicated too Chinese calligraphy and drawings which I got lost in for another hour. The third floor holds the most famous items: the jadeite cabbage and meat stone. While the cabbage was away on tour in Japan I braved the crowds of tourists (Wait, that’s me too, right?) to view the very small meat stone. Also amazing was the ivory carving collection, some with such fine minute detail a magnifying glass was required to see it in all its glory. wpid-img_20140627_014900.jpg

June 29: Maokong Gondola You have not lived until you have had oolong tea on a mountain overlooking gorgeous, tranquil scenery. That is all. wpid-img_20140629_150354.jpg

July 6: Teapot and Banping Mountain A gap in the adventures as classes start. There’s a story to go along with this day trip! This hike was beautiful, gorgeous, amazing…need I go on? The views were unbeatable and we were blessed with nice mountain breezes and cloud cover every now and then. But on the way down, disaster. Half our group (Me included) split off to take a short cut back to town. This short cut turned out to be a very untidy “path” through the bushes with markers every now and then. After 1.5 hours (When we supposedly should have been back in town) we had scraped a good proportion of our bodies climbing over rocks and under branches from following a river. Slowly accepting that we were lost, we made the decision to keep following said river. Another hour and we were getting close to complete mental and physical fatigue. We managed to find a different way down after hitting a section of river that we thought would be impossible to cross, and after another half hour we were back in civilization. That was one of the single moments of great relief that I’d ever experienced in my life.  

So that’s that! I have so much more to see and now I’m terrified I won’t be able to get it all done…but I’ll try my best. Here’s to minutely planned sightseeing schedules!