Saturday, 19 September 2015

My Recent Trip to Taiwan

  Taking a small break from movies... Between the 15th-28th August 2015, I was far from cold, wet England. I went to Hualien, Taiwan! Land of night markets, free wi-fi, and Hello Kitty. For two weeks, I immersed myself in the culture, toured the land, and met lots of cool people. Students from Japan, China, Thailand and Korea, as well as Taiwan, were there, and the whole trip was an incredible experience.

Hualien (where we are staying) is in the west, whereas Taipei (where we landed) is up north.

The Group from England, about to board a long flight.

  All the transport took a long time. About 24 hours in total (including transfers and trains). But once in Taipei, there was a massive culture shock. It felt like an alien planet, as there were no white people, and Asians everywhere I looked. And wherever I did look, they were already, uncomfortably, staring back. As we leave the station, there are the occasional cockroaches and massive snails, the size of your hand, on the floor, and a bat flying around a streetlight. Back inside, and we find a part of the train station where you can sit on the floor. Crazy stuff.

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Area for people to sit in the middle of the train station in Taipei.

Big snails everywhere. The snails are so much of a problem, that at night, as you are walking, you may hear a massive CRUNCH from standing on one. Happened to me. They moved here from Africa because of Global Warming.

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Example of a cockroach (downtown in Hualien).

  So we finally got to the college in Hualien (see the map) and it is really late. So as I go to my room, I find out I have to sleep on the floor... and share that floor with four guys. Not what I was expecting, but it was fine. In fact we won an award for the tidiest room. Not quite sure how, but I'll accept it.

The floor.

Receiving the award (note: the guy in the middle was not a roommate but the man giving the award).

  While there, the food at the college was strictly vegetarian (Rice, eggplant, tofu etc), but for dinner, we were allowed to venture out and try  some of the local cuisine including sushi, noodles, a scrumptious hotpot and ramen.

Vegetarian food.

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food on a day out

Sushi! Probably the tastiest food on the trip

  A highlight was a day out at Taroko National Park. This national park is considered by many sites as the number one attraction to see in Taiwan, and nothing quite prepares you for the beauty of it. Gorges as high as the sky, and a road on an edge, that dips in and out of caves. On the mountainside are temples, the trees and plants are beautiful, and there was even a monkey in a tree. A monkey in the wild!

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Beautiful Taroko :) At the start of the park.

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Near the middle of the park. Note the temple on the mountain, and the amount of photos being taken. There were lots of photos.

UK+Thailand+Taiwan.

  There were many activities throughout the trip. One was a tea ceremony, another was a hidden aborigine museum under the college, another was calligraphy. All of them immersing me in their incredible way of life, culture and history.

Tea ceremony group :)

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Before starting the tea ceremony. 

Aboriginal Museum

  After a week, we took a day trip to Yilan, the county above Hualien. There we met with Andy's mother, father and grandmother, as they showed us around their hometown. This included a brewery, a cake-making shop and a night market. Not forgetting a park with an ocarina shop and temple.

 Brewery

Ocarina shop. Everything was an ocarina in there. Ducks, cats, cows, guitars, turtles... Truly mind-blowing how he can make all those different musical instruments.

  Wherever you go in Taiwan, there will be weird things. Here are a few...

Seaweed flavoured crisps... In England this is very strange.

Everyone knows Shaun the Sheep. He was everywhere in the park in Yilan. This is me and Shaun just chilling.

Stray dogs are everywhere. The College adopts about 30 of them, and puts collars on them. They lie down all day. All across the college are sleeping dogs, and they often enter classrooms.

 Cactus with faces.

A taxi with about 100 anime figures in the front of it. Safe? No. Cool? YEAH!

A shop called 'Kiss my Baby'...

  What really made this trip was the people. I made many many friends while there, and I will miss each of them. I hope to keep in contact with them, they're great people.

China + Taiwan.

Jay from China, with his identical twin. He prefers Iron Man to Thor for some reason.

Me + Eddy from Thailand.

Me + Yan-Fei Jiang from China :)

Me with the guys from Japan

Andy. He is always happy.

The girls from college in Taiwan.

Viktor and Andrea

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Last view of the college

  And with that, the Taiwan trip concludes. Thanks to everyone for making it a great time, and I would definitely recommended everyone to visit the country. Thank-you for reading this. I'll be back soon with more film reviews. Especially as I may have just got a job in my local cinema. More soon... :)

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BONUS: View of London from the plane on the way back from Taiwan.

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