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August 9, 2012 / windlessly

Taiwan Travels: Day 25 (Talent Show)

That was freaking intense. I don’t have the photo evidence to back up what I just experienced [edit: video below!], but it’s just one of those moments where you just have to pause and soak up the glory of the sensation. I don’t know why I’m so enthused about it all, but it must be because that I saw some pretty incredible stuff tonight.

Let me preface with the fact that at any summer camp, the campers or students will always have some sort of attitude towards rules and regulations. They’ll always resist the counselors somewhat, and be as uncooperative as humanly possible. I guess it’s just a mixture of apathy and laziness. So when I heard about this talent show that Summer AID 2012 was putting on, I pushed it aside, thinking that the work and effort would not be worth it, that we were too cool to really take it seriously, that it was just a nuisance to get through. I don’t know about everyone else, but I didn’t really take it to heart. We were split into our different bus groups, each to put on a 5 to 15 minute act or show. We had exactly two nights to think, brainstorm, prepare, and rehearse.

But man, put together 350 of the most creative, talented, exuberant people and you WILL get a show. It didn’t matter that a lot of groups procrastinated and threw together stuff last minute. I was entertained the whole way through, and pretty freaking impressed with some of the groups as well. Rowdy dancing acts, chorale performances, skits, chinese diabolo, and more than I could imagine.

I’m so thankful that the counselors made this happen. I was entertained but more importantly inspired. These people that I hang out with and go to camp with- they’re amazing! Two dancers stood out to me like none other- put on a jaw-dropping act. And you could obviously tell it was their choreography that the group used. Then came the daibolo-ers (dunno if that was correct… maybe chinese yo-yo-ers?)… The ones that we saw at the opening performance were NOTHING compared to them. Sure, they messed up a few times, but they knew what they were doing and they weren’t scared to try the hardest tricks ever. And then came the creativity from the rest of the groups- some really cool stuff happened. The skit was ingenious. The voiced-over fight was hilarious (Kevin jumpmasterrrr hahaha). The dancing was good. The 4-chord song rendition… awesome. Basically, I’m spending my time in Taiwan in the presence of some pretty awesome people. It was a couple of hours of solid entertainment, but also pure appreciation for the people going up on stage- the personalities and talent they bring to the camp.

Even the counselors were amazing- not going to lie, some of those girls could really bust some moves, and the fact that they were willing to rehearse and practice like the rest of us made me appreciate them that much more.

Anyways, enough of my gushing. Today was a long and event-packed day. We started out with another eventful bus ride to another tea house. Poor Kevin was a good sport about it when he FINALLY found out, but it did take a while of his best detective skills…

At the tea house, we had a rare Jiufen reunion with our whole group as we bonded together to make some tea.

Except this time it wasn’t drying and preparing tea leaves- it was crushing and mixing green leaves, sesame seeds, and peanuts. It was hard work, but really cool- eventually it turned into a mushy paste type substance, which was added to water and ice for a refreshing and tasty drink.. The peanuts were the hardest to crush but they released the freshest peanut aroma, giving the drink some grit and taste.

 

The green mochi they prepared for us was pretty delicious as well.

 

We obviously made the best tea paste ever. I mean, our Jiufen group just rocks the house.

We added water and ice cubes to it and just savored the taste. They provided these interesting rice krispies and bean soup to add to the tea. It was surprisingly refreshing… we had to go for second and third bowls it was that good.

 

 


After the tea, we went out the “old streets,” a series of street shops and the like. They let us loose and we had a good time.

Here’s a pic of THE cutest bunny we saw at a street vendor. I didn’t even bother looking at what he was selling, I just spent a couple of minutes petting the bunny xD

From that point on, it was just free time. The one thing about street shopping in Taiwan is the bargaining and haggling. Store owners will take advantage of tourists and try to rip them off of items that aren’t specifically marked on the shelves. But it goes both ways- if you’re skilled enough, you can lower the price of just about anything before making a purchase.

Kathy finally getting her farmer’s hat, successfully haggled from 80 to 60 NT:

Ryan and Leon and their matching shirts:

Still not quite sure what’s deliberate and what’s not…

Secret Santa among the bus is actually really fun. It’s always a nice surprise to get something random from a person you don’t know, and having an assigned “master” to buy gifts for makes shopping a lot more like a treasure hunt for the best gifts, which makes our trips a lot more fun. People get a lot of fun but weird stuff, including an inflatable giraffe lol. Ryan and I also got gifts from our “angels.”

 

 

We saw the first of many bridges, crossed it, and then found even more shops.

Zhuge Liang figurine, in addition to the fan he wields in Red Cliff (and later, a life-sized fan):

 

Turns out all the main characters in the historical three kingdoms epic were turned into plastic figures as well:

Some very nice elephants…

The views were nice enough, but we essentially just wandered around, peeking into random shops and enjoying the air conditioning for a good while.

 

Mushroom cloud/angry head trying to take a bite out of something

And it’s only fun when you’re around your friends, too. I’d be so lonely exploring all of Taiwan by myself if I didn’t have all these good AID friends to hang out with. Case in point, the park we went to after shopping the old streets got boring after a while, but of course Richard is smart enough along his “massaging sticks” that he got from his angel, so we had some time to bond that way hahaha. The rest of the Marks of the Jiangs, filled with statues (mostly Chiang Kai-shek) and monuments and grassy fields and meandering streams.

All the statues… and then there’s Kathy xD

 

Panda!

 

We finally got back after a long day of traveling and walking. The hotel was pretty awesome- the thing about this program is that after 4 weeks, I feel like I’ve already gotten a taste of college dorm life. Today I roomed with 7 other guys, had a balcony with a japanese-styled seats, and shared a bathroom and floor lobby with everyone. It’s fun to be on a floor where you know everyone, and you can go knocking on either side of your room to find friends.

Double rainbowww!

After we claimed beds and got settled, we went down to dinner- I’ve become used to dining with all these people too! I’m definitely gonna miss everyone once the program ends. We have such a nice table… the people are all super nice to hang out with, and of course I’ll remember all the fun times we’ve had filling our rice bowls, passing out utensils, getting water together, and playing mind/trick games.

After a short rehearsal after dinner, everyone then gathered together for the talent show! I already told you about how mind-blowing it was. It far exceeded my initial expectations, and even though our bus definitely was not the strongest, all the groups really went all out and prepared something really creative. The skit about AID Summer and the counselor impersonation was HILARIOUS. Can you tell which one’s the counselor and which one’s the impersonator?

 

Here’s just one of the groups that performed… skip to 7:20 for some intense chinese yo-yo skills!

After the talent show, people filed back to the main hotel and milled around for a bit. Everyone seemed to have a lot of energy and were chatting it up on all the lobbies and in certain rooms. A group of us went on the roof and took some pictures with the glow sticks hahaha. It was nice up there… kinda dark, but peaceful and quiet. I had to leave Kevin and Kathy and her group after a while, but glad that we all made it up to the ledge on top of the roof =P

 

went back down for a nice stimulating game of Literature, then went back up to chill for the remainder of the night. The sky was a nice dark gray pink, and the breeze actually felt really nice. It was a popular destination though- lots of people were up there, for various reasons. I’m gonna miss all this so bad. Two nights remaining at Chientan. =[

I’ve been so absorbed in all of the events and fun and people that it’s hard to keep track of time. The tour really flew by this week- and when I say flew by, I mean each day felt like nothing compared to the first week at Chientan. We’ve done a lot of various camp activities, and if I didn’t actively try to blog and remember all of them, I would be so sad- that’s what having non-stop fun in a short period of time does to you. But really, it has been non-stop fun. I could get used to this.

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