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July 14, 2012 / windlessly

Taiwan Travels: Day 14

Just had the BEST time in Jiufen and Keelung today! Museum, paintball, night market, and well, eating of course! We woke up pretty late today at 8:30ish… I didn’t sleep that well because I kept waking up from the hardwood floor, but I felt rested enough anyways. We got our whole group together, the six of us plus our three teaching aids, our director, and our two soldier recruits/security people that hang out with us.

We took a bus to the local Jiufen Gold Mining Museum, which ended up being pretty boring except for the 220kg solid gold brick that was displayed on the second floor. It’s only like a world record for largest solid gold piece ever or something. Aaand it just happens to be worth around 10 million US dollars. We were talking about how someone would heist something like that, and how inconvenient it would be to sell.

Photo op touching the $10 million gold brick:

  

Anyways, there wasn’t much else to see- going through an old abandoned mine was pretty cool and we got to wear these hardhats during it. It was more of an obligatory visit to the museum since we were staying in Jiufen and it was part of the culture, but there were still really nice views and good tofu pudding.

 

 

 

Anyways, we headed out and had lunch at none other than…. McDonalds!!! Yup, golden french fries, fatty burgers, and obnoxiously sugar-loaded drinks. But it was sooo good. We looked like total pigs in the picture, but hey, might as well experience it once in Taiwan! I was actually super embarrassed for not being able to read the menu- like, AT ALL. Hahaha three cashiers were needed to try to interpret our chinglish/pointing and bad descriptions of the food we wanted to order. We definitely held up the line for a bit and I felt horrible for not being able to order my own food- at a fast food restaurant of all places haha!

 

Kevin eats a lot…

… just kidding. But still a ton of food (others not pictured here), we’re not THAT fat

Two things that impressed me about the McDonalds we were at in Taiwan- awesomely packaged sugar (much easier for eating, IMO), and SORTED garbage.

 

After we enjoyed the air conditioning for a while,  we went back out into the muggy noisy crowded streets. Traffic is insane in Taiwan… basically every man for himself, be it on motorcycle, bus, car, taxi, or foot. Our bus driver today was PRO. Especially in Jiufen up in the mountains, all the roads are really narrow and windy. He was passing cars like a boss, narrowly avoiding running over people and honking constantly at motorcyclists who were on the road.

Our next destination was: Taiwanese paintball!!!

 

Just entering the place was absurdly cool- we were in a really foresty region so automatically I thought of intense battles flying through the woods and ducking and covering with the shrubbery. It wasn’t QUITE that cool, but it was still pretty awesome. Our group was led by a game master who went over the basics and the rules with us. They also supplied us with pants, shirts, a scarf (to protect the neck), a cap (with a backwards brim to protect the back of the head), a head mask, and also gloves. It was pretty legit, let me tell you. The guns were nothing special compared to the one time that I went paintballing back in the US, but we had a ton of fun just within our group. We played two rounds, one of one-sided capture the flag (I was on the defending team) and another of AID volunteers vs supervisors (just seeing who could pelt each other more). I had a blast playing… the arena was small, but even in the first round I had a lot of fun in the back just sniping people. We ran out of bullets and left with exhausted quads, sweat pouring out of our masks, and (for some of us) several new bruises. Edit: I’m actually a little peeved I didn’t get to walk away with SOME sort of mark or bruise on me… haha would’ve made me feel a lot more manly, plus I could’ve bragged to others that I played paintball. But oh well.

 

 

We had a brief respite on the bus as we then went to Keelung to meet up with a friend of our head teacher (who incidentally was another teacher from an English school) that wanted us to meet with some of her students. I didn’t realize this until later, but out of a hundred something students that went to the school, we met with the six that made speeches on why they wanted to meet us and were selected by the teachers. Richard was my “buddy,” and in pairs we were led by the kids around the night market to taste all the best foods. He was super shy at first, but being in 5th grade, Richard spoke english relatively well. He brought me around to a bunch of different shops and vendors… we started out with sushi, then moved on to braised pork rice (yumm), sweetly salted mango strips (also yummm!) oyster omelet, which was surprisingly delicious, and then of course shaved ice with mango, strawberry, and kiwi. Sooooo goood.

And this apparently was not a very busy day….

No words required.

We left Keelung with full stomachs, that’s for sure. We had to say goodbye to the kids, who I had become friends with in just two hours. It turns out Richard really likes English! They have school around 8 hours a day during the school year, and if I understood his Mandarin correctly, he has English class for two hours a day during the summer. The best part is, he really wants to come to America to visit! I told him that he should come to the states for college, and then find me so we can hang out in 7 years. =]

 

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