Friday, September 7, 2012,
I wanted to stick with one post a week, it's so difficult when there is so much to say!:) I'll start doing two posts a week, one post to tell about the things I've done, and another post to cover more informational things. I can't believe I've only been here for two weeks. Usually time flies when you're having fun, but I think that I've had so much fun and done so many new and crazy things that it definitely seems longer. Seeing as my last post was just pictures, I'll talk about my past two weeks in Taiwan. My first, second, and third host families are all related, so I've had the privilege of spending a lot of time with my second and meeting my third. It's so interesting, because every day everything is boring to them, and the most exciting and different thing to me. Every street, person, television channel, and even candy wrapper is new and exciting. I try to reflect back and think about how boring the parallels are in the USA, and although they are quite boring, I just can't possibly see how someone could see all of these things in Taiwan with the same boredom.
The first full day here began with a breakfast of some strange fruit I had never eaten or seen before. I couldn't tell what it was, but it was really good! The fruit is better here than the fruit I've had in the USA. I gave them the gifts I brought, and I had fun explaining the different things to them. They drove me to a place in I-lan called Luna Plaza, which is I-lan's biggest mall. The drive there was really the first time I got to see Taiwan in daylight, because it was really dark when I came home the night before. I wish I could describe the atmosphere here. I-lan is a combination of very old and very new buildings, it somewhat resembling Japan, but with many palm trees. Not to mention scooters, everywhere. That afternoon was the first I got to be among many people outside of the airport, also. As soon as I stepped out of the car instantly all eyes followed me. I laughed a little to myself because it was funny. You know those awkward moments when you look up at someone and they were looking right at you, too, so you both look away? It's like that, except with everyone. I can't look at anybody without having awkward moments. So naturally, I think it's a little funny. Anyway, I'm used to it by now.
I have so many cool smaller stories, but seeing as this post has already become long, I'll just mention a couple of the bigger things I've done. I went to Taitung, which is in southern Taiwan along the eastern coast, to see an event with hot air balloons. It was my first time seeing hot air balloons, it was really exciting actually. While I was waiting in the ticket line to be able to ride in a hot air balloon, the person right in front of the person in front of me bought the last ticket. It was unfortunate, but I was grateful enough to even be there!
Later that night the hotel we stayed at had bikes you could rent out to ride around the town, so my host father, host mother, host sister, and I took a late bike ride around the city. It's actually quite safe at night in most places in Taiwan. I believe it's because of the night markets that offer a safe alternative to some of the many not so great things people in other countries like the USA do at night. It was a great trip.
Then I also went to Hualien (also spelled Hualian), a big tourist city about 2 hours south of Taipei by train, with my second host sister and her friends. I met some really cool people there who brought their sugar gliders everywhere with them.:)
All in all, Taiwan is a very friendly place. Many people are extremely curious about foreigners here, and I think if you take the initiative and talk to people, you can easily make some really good friends.