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August 6, 2012 / windlessly

Taiwan Travels: Day 23

Pretty much having the time of my life here in Taiwan- I’m really glad I ended up applying to this program to see what it would be like. There’s definitely a whole touristy feel to the whole program after the teaching portion is over, but I’m definitely okay with it. Everything we do is with friends and people I’ve gotten to bond with over the past few days.

 

 

 

Today we started out with a visit to a paper factory and learning about the traditional way of making paper out of fiber pulp. The technique actually looks really hard- super thin layers of paper are made by collecting pulp (fibers made from basically anything, from trees to elephant dung) and then draining the water, interlocking the fibers are you go along. I don’t know how exactly it works, but it’s cool. Paper is such an important invention that gets overlooked so often. I found it interesting, at least. Anyways, we also got to make our own paper fans- much more difficult than it seemed =[. My fan ended up ripping a bit, and I STILL don’t know what these characters on my fan mean lol. I guess I’ll just hang it up somewhere and hope that someone, one day, will be able to translate the ancient chinese characters for me.

Snacks that we got on the bus:

 

After lunch we went right to Hugo Assam Tea Farm, where we learned how to roll and prepare black tea leaves! It was actually a really cool experience, seeing as how I’ve never learned where tea leaves came from. They look like this after they are picked and dried for a day or two:

The fun part came after that- we had to roll and crush the leaves by hand until the leaves withered and became sticky.

We basically pounded any remaining moisture left in the leaves, making the air smell amazing in the meantime. The final step was to dry them, so while we waited for the machines to finish, we got some lemon black tea and then painted our tea canisters. There were some really artistic people in AID, I was surprised… I mean, I did my best but there’s no way my dragon can compete.

The bajillion palm trees we saw in the forest to our left as we left the tea farm:

We stopped at a souvenir pastry shop on the way back, where some people picked up snacks. They all looked really good, but I decided some of them seemed pricey- I took pictures instead haha. Sun biscuits, pineapple cake, dried tofu, rice balls, taro pastries, and a lot LOT more. Took a look around and realized there were a lot of things I have not tried yet.

 

It was raining by the time we got to Chitou Youth Activity Center, which was tucked all the way in the rainforest/in the mountains. I got out and just marveled at the trees and scenery… it’s just like any camp, but with really nice facilities. Our cabin has three beds, a shower and bathroom, a table, a fridge, and a TV. Nice. I feel bad for those who are sleeping in the main building- they might have wi-fi but they’ll have to sleep on mats or hardwood floor today. I know how discomforting that can be… anyways, I’m typing this in a wi-fi-less cabin so I’ll only post it a couple (or a lot haha) of days late.

Dinner was DELICIOUS (Leslie can testify to that haha). All the dishes were pretty good, and after eating our fill we stuck around a bit for our talent show practice. Our Bus B group actually was productive today and learned dances to I’m Yours and Waka Waka. I’ll admit, any sort of talent show seems lame in the beginning, but if you get into it, it’ll be really fun. Some of our other groups had stellar dancers in their group and pulled off some very nice performances.

Other than that, we were given the night to relax a bit. I met up with Pearl, Rachel, and Danny again since I never get to see them during the day (boo group D… haha jk). So we had a 10pm tea party at the building we had dinner at, then wandered around the trails to the cabin a bit. Nothing too eventful today… making our own tea was cool. Apparently our bed checker tonight thought we were drinking in the cabin room because he smelled alcohol, but I didn’t smell anything at all. It’s just musty in here. Sleeping arrangements are fine, but there’s no AC and it’s pretty humid. It doesn’t help that our dehumidifier is broken.

Tea partayyy

Overall, fun day! Another day passes, and I’m trying not to give the tour a countdown =[ Met some new people, danced with some new people, walked around with old friends. I can’t wait to try some of the tea I made today though! With no wi-fi I’ll probably end up going to sleep a bit earlier today, which is good because we’ll be hiking tomorrow. Still debating jeans vs shorts… comfort vs. bugs? I don’t know, everything is giant here in the mountains. Plants/bushes as tall as me, so I’m assuming the centipedes and spiders and snakes are just as monstrous. We’ll see tomorrow though.

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