Sunday, July 14, 2013


As I mentioned earlier, I am trying to catch up on my blog posts. This post will cover a whole bunch at once. I am sorry for that.

Our first week in Taiwan was spent trying to learn about the country's rich culture. We were treated to a 10 course dinner our first night together as a group. Some of the many dishes included chicken's feet, rice cakes rolled in peanut powder, squid, and a whole host of other dishes. I did not take pictures. However, we were also treated to performances from several music groups and I did remember to record a few. 

Here is a video of a group singing a traditional song from one of Taiwan's aboriginal tribes, the Hakka.

Of course, there were several other groups that performed that night.

 Speaking of the Hakka, later in orientation we were able to visit a Hakka farm and learn a little about their culture. We made our dinner in the fire pit below.

We heated up the rocks, placed our food under them and then destroyed the mound. This way the rocks were in direct contact with our foil-covered food and directly heating them. We then buried the entire shebang and allowed the food to cook.

After dinner we explored the cultural center a bit.

This is an old rice threshing machine.
 Here we are making a traditional tea from scratch
 After, we went on to make paper lanterns
 How many PhD's does it take to put together a simple lantern?

We lit a fire under the lanterns and let them fly off.

Later in the week, we went to the Shilin night market in Taipei. Our job was to practice our Chinese while ordering food. Note: we are all wearing the same shirt so the SIT staff could keep track of us.

There were many interesting items at the night market...including chicken butt. I actually ate that.

We also visited the Lin Family mansion in downtown Taipei. It is the only large private garden left in the city.

You had to be careful when walking through their doorways because almost all of them required you to step over a "lip." The idea is that ghosts are unable to figure out how to step over these lips and, thus, cannot enter the house. "A fool and their money..."

 We also dressed up in period pieces, although no one was quite sure which period these pieces were from.

Our final big cultural trip took us to the Longshan temple. It is a multi-diety temple, though Guanyin is the central God. Whenever you enter the temple you use the tiger gate and exit through the dragon gate. The idea is that no one wants to walk into a dragon's mouth; but I can't see a tiger's being a better choice.

The gold pot in the picture was filled with incense. It is important to note that it was about 95 degrees and the folks in the center of the image are standing in direct sunlight with that smoke wafting right into their faces.

As holy as it is, the temple was surrounded by buildings

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