Thursday, May 3, 2012


I'm behind schedule...again! No point in dwelling on it, let's get to the good stuff .

As all of you who have read my previous blog know, I have changed host families. I am extremely lucky because they love to bring me to awesome places. I moved on February 28th and we started our activities almost right away. Take a look:

1) March 1st: New Host Mother's Birthday.

Me and My Host Mother

2) March 4th: Bai Bai
Today I went to a Bai Bai ceremony for my host grandma who died last year. The ceremony was very quick and simple. We prayed to Buddha, went to my host grandmother's grave and gave a moment of silence, and then we burned money as a religious offering (not real money). It was a very elegant procedure, and it showed a lot about their cultural and religious beliefs.

3) March 10th/11th: Taiwanese history museum/YEP Conference.

Dutch Merchant's trading map. Taiwan was a Dutch colony in the mid-1600s and was a very important trading post.

4) March 16: Skipped school and traveled to Taipei.
No school! Today my host father had a meeting up in Taipei so I tagged along. The day was pretty boring, all I did was sit in meetings while they talked about sales inventories and communications issues. The cool part about it was that the Asia Correspondent for my host dad's company was a really nice lady from Switzerland who didn't speak Chinese so I got to experience an English-to-Chinese business deal. Which is nice.

5) March 17-18: He Huan Shan Mountain
This was our first big trip. We left pretty late on the 17th and ended up having to drive up the mountain in the dark. I personally believe that I handled the insane ascent fairly well: I was only in danger of wetting myself three or four times. We spent the night chilling in our hotel playing cards and watching Rush Hour 1 and 2 (not very culturally enriching, I know). The next day we went to the peak of the mountain and then later saw a sheep-shaving and horse-back-riding show(they didn't shave the sheep while riding horses although that would be tremendously amusing). We then made our departure and took a side detour to Taichung to visit the biggest night market I've ever seen. All-in-all it was a very fulfilling trip.
The view from my hotel

Taichung Night Market
6)March 21: Went to Taichung with host mom and aunt
Skipped school again! This time I went my host mom to chill with her sister and her sisters' friends. It was a very relaxed day because we spent the day just sitting around and talking. They are all very intelligent, kind people and I'm glad I made their acquaintance.
My Aunt and Host mother's friends

7) March 25: Liu Duei and hung out at the Harbor
My host mother, host brother, and I started out the day by going to a cultural center called 6 domes which wasn't very special aside from the awesome black swans in the pond. From there we met up with  one of my host mothers' friends in Kaoshiung. We spent a few hours "ripsticking"(the funny looking skateboard thing in the second picture), playing frisbee, and playing a lacrosse-esque game. After that we rented some bikes and rode around the Kaoshiung harbor, visited the British embassy, and ate some delicious ice. It was supposed to be a very short trip, but we played it by ear and had a lot of fun.
Cool pond in the Culture center with black swans!
Playing at the Harbor with my host brother.

8) March 30/31 Sun Moon Lake:
Another big trip. This time my host parents took me to the gorgeous Sun Moon Lake. We stayed at a very simple hotel with a great view of the lake(top picture). The next day was chock full of activities. We started by riding gondolas across the entire length of the lake giving us a beautiful, unobscured birds-eye view of the landscape. We  then proceeded to a cultural reservation for Taiwanese aboriginals designed to give the public an idea of how the indigenous tribes lived. We got to travel through various tribes' traditional houses and witnessed a marriage ritual of the Paiwan tribe as well as a performance showing every tribes' spiritual rituals. After that, we were all pretty cultured-out so we went to an amusement park based after the Japanese show "One-Piece." Oddly, the amusement park was part of the cultural center. It was definitely an awesome trip.

Top: The view from my Hotel
Bottom: Gondolas
9) April 5,6,7: Went to Penghu
This was one of the regrettably few trips that had been planned for us exchange students. We toured the islands of Penghu on a number of buses and boats. Surprisingly, we didn't see very many of the famously beautiful places in Penghu including the Twin Heart Stone Weir. It was a little disappointing, but just being around my fellow exchange students made up for it. The 2nd day also redeemed the trip. We spent half the day swimming, tubing, and eating pizza on the beach. That day was definitely an experience that will live with me for a long time.

10) April 22/23: Went to Alishan Mountain
This was by far my favorite trip, but you'l have to wait until my next blog to hear about it!

Well, that's all for now folks. I hope you enjoyed it! I certainly have been enjoying myself these past few months! If you want me to elaborate on any of my trips just shoot me an e-mail at Thank you all and see you next time.

Big Dong

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