I’m back with the last blog of the month! Without further ado, let’s see what I did today…
This is probably the earliest I have ever woken up on a Saturday. My group of fellow hikers decided to meet at the base of Xiangshan (a small mountain) at 9 am, so I had to wake up around 8 am to get there on time. The mountain is quite small, but with two or three breaks along the way it took us a total of around 2 hours. We had a fun time relaxing and singing songs while enjoying the beautiful nature all around us.
After a quick lunch and resting for a bit, I joined a different group at the main entrance of campus. We took a bus to the National Palace Museum, and during this time I got the chance to meet local students as well as exchange students from Japan and Germany. Once we arrived, everyone finished storing their large items (they can’t be brought in to the museum) and then we went to meet our tour guide. The tour itself lasted around 2 hours and was really interesting, probably thanks to the humor that the guide added to his descriptions of the various artifacts.
One of the items that I remember well is a sphere shaped art piece that was actually a handcrafted combination of 15 or so concentric spheres, with each sphere having the ability to roll in any direction around and inside the other spheres. It took a total of 30 years to make! Talk about dedication and patience. The guide explained that many of the artifacts are worth crazy amounts of money, and they were mostly made for emperors and other important people. Another cool thing we saw was a “Carved olive pit in the form of a boat”. Basically, someone took a regular olive pit and spent a lot of time turning it into a tiny model boat with people and working doors!
After our legs were finally sore, we ended the tour and took a short break. Then we traveled to a nearby garden area that with a beautiful small pond. We saw two black swans that some other tourists were feeding. There was a fun little “lottery” to decide which participants would get a small gift. I was one of the winners! Yay!
Afterwards we traveled to the Shilin Night Market, where we split up into small groups to experience one of the best parts of Taiwanese culture. You guessed it: Food! Sometimes locals will travel to a random night market when they have free time. Everything is really cheap, but if you decide to indulge yourself in more than the usual 2-3 things, it can still be a good chunk of money.
Overall today was a great success. Not only was it a fun day full of activities, but I also got the chance to meet new friends as well as practice a little German with one of the German exchange students. It never hurts to try out my rusty command of the language (I haven’t really used it since middle school) before I end up fully immersed next semester in their culture! The semester is more than halfway over, and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned and experience thoughout my time in Taiwan. I have a few more blogs left this semester, they will most likely be in the reflection type format. Until then, go ace those finals (if you’re in school) and enjoy the rest of fall semester!