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July 15, 2012 / windlessly

Taiwan Travels: Day 15

What an awesome weekend!! It really was just as fun as I thought it would be. Our group just came back from another long day, and I’m currently still in food coma after dinner so I’ll just reflect on all the fun I had today. We’re really bad at waking up on time… (well maybe it’s because we barely got any sleep), but we were late AGAIN today. Our supervising teacher and aids were really chill though, so we just got our breakfast sandwich and hopped on the bus for another hour to two hour long ride.

We stopped by Ruiting to pick up the AID group from there because they were going to the water park with us!! It wasn’t too bad of a ride, so we just napped and talked. The place was actually pretty big- when we first arrived we almost went in the wrong direction to get in the park lol. Apparently it was the Yilan International Children’s Folklore and Folkgame Festival.

 

It was hot, even at like 9 in the morning. We weren’t quite sure what the dinosaur theme was supposed to mean, so we changed and just started walking around. The water park was a LOT different from the ones that I’ve gone to in the US… there were very few rides that you had to stand in line for- no inner tubes, no lazy river, none of the things that are common in amusement water parks back in the US. They had only a couple of large scale slides that you had to go tubeless down, and we waited a decent amount of time for that. The rest of the park was basically large open areas with an assortment of pools, sprinklers, jets, and springs of water. They built large structures that had several floors that were wide open to the outside, but you were sprayed constantly as you went up. Of particular fun was this one section that was basically like a huge inflatable bouncy house- you tried to keep your balance while being sprayed from all directions. Lots of fun =D

But the best part was in the middle of the park were there was just a big stage with these HUGE jets of water spraying out from the ground. Our group basically started a dance party in the middle of it- after all, they were blasting mostly American (and some Japanese) music so we couldn’t resist the urge. The only hard part to grooving it out was that we were blasted by water every few seconds- those jets were powerful, too haha.

After we dried off and ate lunch, we took a boat over to the Yilan village where there were a lot of small street shops to visit.

 

Our first stop? Starbucks of course. The place was NICE. Three stories and a menu I couldn’t read at all =P Using the english subtitles though, Ryan and I got some of the Green Tea Cream, which was delicious. Think frappe texture with green tea flavor- beats just about any frozen drink I’ve had thus far.

The street was filled and alive- everywhere you went in there was sweet air conditioning and all sorts of cool things. Outside on the streets, there were pipes lining the roofs of the stores that let out a constant mist to cool people off. And on top of that, we got to see a street performer slice things up with his whip. Just goes to show how exciting street culture in Taiwan is!

 

So many different trinket/souvenir shops!! We had a hard time figuring out what “4-D” puzzles were, but we let it go.

 

It was a lot of fun to just look around and browse through all the shops. They’re geared to tourists, after all. Most if not all of the products we saw were all homemade, which was pretty impressive. We even got to see a candy maker pull some kind of taffy-like confectionery.

 

These are small shops that are all interconnected on one side of the street…

 

 

One of the pictures above was of all the hand-painted tops that they were selling. The decorations get to be pretty fancy, but the concept remains the same- spin the wooden top by winding a string around it and then whipping it onto the ground. It actually takes a lot more skill and precision than you think. I know because I tried and failed on the streets where they were letting people try xD.

An awesome umbrella shop we found…

  

The other highlight of the day: as we were going through the streets of Yilan we came across these authentic shadow puppets:

 

Apparently the Taiwanese equivalent of Romeo and Juliet…

We later saw the show in this special auditorium, which was…. interesting to say the least. It was all performed by one voice actor, who was incredibly talented, but the whole show was in Taiwanese (the mandarin subtitles on the side did not help me much). It was cool- a very generic plot of “save the princess,” and I was confused as to which figure was the girl and which figure was the white-dressed hero, but it was entertaining and well paired with the music. H-swag provided basic translations throughout the performance haha. There were some crazy stuff in it, let me tell you- spinning lotus flowers, three-headed dragons, huge snake/dragon of death, and magic volcanoes.

 

 Although I didn’t understand anything that was being said at all, I could still figure out certain things just by the actions on the stage. In the end, all the actors came out- there was actually a lot of people that had to contribute to the performance, but my favorite was the guy playing the chinese flute (for lack of the actual term). He was pretty pro I have to say.

 Anyways, it was a cultural experience to remember. We went back to our bus for the ride home around 4, which actually turned out to be pretty fun too. So remember those AID people I said we picked up at Riuting? Yup, they turned out to be pretty chill people. We hadn’t really introduced ourselves at the water park or on the previous (two!) bus rides, but when we finally convinced everyone to gather in the back of the bus to play mafia, it was a must. So let’s see if I remember correctly: (from the back corner of the bus) Emilae (Omelet), Vanessa, Emily (P or V or whatever she wants to be called), Jessica, Tait (spelling?), and Kathy. Boom I’m so proud I remembered six new names =D. It’s a bit late in the program, but getting to meet new people is always fun. Oh, did I mention they were all Canadians? Haha mafia was really fun, especially since it was the first time for a lot of the people in our two groups. It makes me wish we got to hang out earlier in the program! I guess we still have our bus ride to Chientan and the tour left, but it’s always nice to have new company (and to socialize with, as Ryan so candidly pointed out) xD

We got back around dinner, and because we didn’t have time to order anything, we just made a quick stop at Hi-Life to pick up some food. I feel like I’m in the college life already, eating a dinner like this:

It’s kinda late now, and we just had our daily group-bonding time by having movie night (finally!), something we’ve planned for a while. We’re in the library and we hooked up our laptop to the projector to watch 21 Jump Street, which ended up being pretty hilarious. Hard to imagine we’re teaching tomorrow, so I guess I better get to sleep soon!

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