NTU Summer+ Program: Two-Day Field Trip! Part 3 (10th-11th August 2013)

Well, that last party was certainly a workout! Felt like I had ran a marathon the day after, so who needs a gym anyway?

Well it was a fresh new day, ready to go again for cultural exploration and enjoy some laughs/banter along the way. So first stop, the ’National Center of Traditonal Arts’, a diverse display of the different art influences that shape Taiwanese culture today, blending Japanese, Chinese, and local styles. From Cosplay in the streets, to a Chinese opera (where a tale similiar to ’Robin Hood’ was performed!), plus a long stretch of different shops with their own niches closely connected to Asian culture. So to start, enter Waterfront Boulevard and beyond!….

Now you might be thinking ’but what about all those shops you spoke of? you didn’t see it unlessed you snapped it!’ Well most of these shops had a strict policy of no photography inside, but at least you can see a taste of the scenery! (Except for Yoshi’s ’Big Brush’ photo…I mean, breaking the rules once isn’t too bad, just keep the ’flash’ off)

So after a lengthy yet fruitful tour of this area, next stop was the water park! However, no swimming took place to begin with, we had someting far more authentic to test first (and something which my ’Viking Longboat’ roots were calling me to)…..this being of course Dragonboating!

With an efficient (and passionate ’Spartan’ style team), we completed the route at great speed, with ourselves wondering where the time had gone. A super fun team activity that I would totally recommend to anyone, whether you’re thinking about doing it or not. After this consisted of some lazying/playing around in a water park, including myself injuring my foot (only Jeddy Yuan will know why 😉 ) In any case, we all had a great time, but found ourselves starving from our physical ordeals. So how should we dine on the way back? In style of course, at a classy Sashimi style restaurant!

These dishes and many more were served up to our respective tables with one/two dishes at a time, giving our palettes a rollercoaster ride of flavours from many different types of meats, vegetables and especially seafood. This routine was a relief to myself and others, since the first dish was finished in no more than 5 minutes, while we sat there wondering ’…is this it?’. So in the end, we filled our bellies plenty, concluding our activities in Yilan, and the Two-Day Field Trip, where we would head back on our coaches to our dorm buildings in the late evening.

I can rate this trip an absolute 10/10, full of great new experiences, food, places while being accompanied with some outstanding student advisors and many amazing friends which added an hugely positive atmosphere to the trip in general. So with this gratitude, I must sign off this post and can say the Field Trip is finished. Stay tuned in, and in the mean time, stay classy people!

NTU Summer+ Program: The Two-Day Field Trip! Part 2 (10th-11th August 2013)

Alright, so we left off from last time with the start of the trip, including clog making and volcano chickens! Starting on this entry, we moved on afterwards to the place where we would stay, as well as experience a colourful evening!

So, our accomodation? It was as certainly different for me! But the scenery could be described as beautiful, with the vibe of serenity in the air. This place, a perhaps simple bed and breakfast (known as ’The Kite Bed and Breakfast 風箏民宿’), appeared to be good value for money.

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(All pictures of the lodge I stayed in, with 6 others)

A great outdoor place to chill in the late afternoon, enjoying the calm atmosphere with some Japenese, and American and a Swiss, before an eventful evening fixed by our student advisors. However, some Japanese decided to chill indoors, and unfortunately, my finger slipped on my camera…woops!

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Moving on, we were not resting our for too long, as our welcome party started the early evening at a small open plaza building in the center of the lodging area, with a buffet of a wide selection of western food, including pizza and kentucky fried chicken, a more rare commodity these days on this side of the world!

Following the opening mingling, our student advisors wished to show us and let us get involved with Taiwanese culture, starting with entertainment. We were taught to sing a Chinese song, known in English as ’Wind in Summer’, being taught a famous dance that is done at high school proms in Taiwan, as well as being taught a game called ’King of the Seaweed’, effectively a strange competition requiring people to compete against each other using arm gestures, with the losers joining the winner in what I can only describe as building up a ’Conga’ line. Seems strange? Totally confused? Believe me, I still am, but it was fun to do with the whole group of us anyway!

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(Performing ’Wind in Summer’, a crowd sing-a-long, tragically difficult to sing for westerners like me, even with a song sheet….and with alphabet phonetics!)

The mood definately stepped up when all hell broke loose, the advisors turned out the lights….and all of a sudden, bright lights filling the air above us, only to drop to our feet, where many bemused expressions quickly filled with joy, to our delight finding glowsticks everywhere! And right on cue, the music kicked in, and the party-rocking had begun. Everyone throwing their invisible shapes like crazy, including a stage (thin platform) performance of Gangnam Style by myself, Yoshinori (Japan), Jeddy (USA) and Armand (France), showing a more dance-style approach at the United Nations could be a healthy/popular change!

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…..Oh yeah, did I forget to mention sparklers as well? A large supply of them appeared out of nowhere, much like the glowsticks from before, and cake to complete the (excuse the pun) icing on the evening. I’d find it hard to be able to speak of festive evenings that have been more fun than this one, for many reasons: the cultural input, the outdoor party setting, the bubbly atmosphere, as well as this all shared with some incredible people, both fellow students and student advisors. This concludes part 2 of this mini-adventure, the 3rd and final part is to follow, find out in the next episode: the next day’s activities, and how similiar are these guys to Vikings? All will be revealed shortly 😉 until then, 再見!

NTU Summer+ Program: The Two-Day Field Trip! Part 1 (10th-11th August 2013)

Howdy everyone!

The opening week of the summer program was nothing short of intense, with Chinese lessons proving to be quite a challenge, but fun/interesting at the same time, with two very kind and patient teachers or ’laoshi’, one for speaking and listening, with the other focusing more on vocabulary, writing and reading Chinese. Two amazing people who helped throughout, helping me to survive in Taipei where English doesn’t really cut it most of the time!

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(My Chinese teachers, Lin Laoshi and Hen Laoshi….oh, and Ryosuke, fellow student!)

Anyway, moving on to the topic of the blog entry, our first weekend would serve up an amazing trip to the area outside of Taipei called Yilan, which was anything but like the busy and metropolitan city of Taipei, instead one’s eyes could feast upon beautiful countryside as well as many interesting stops to make up an action-packed schedule. Our first stop was LanYang(蘭陽) Museum, a place which put on display the history and cultural origins of Taiwan and the Yilan area, especially the shaping of the geography! Was of course a great opportunity to get into tourist mode and get some snaps!

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(A model of Yilan Landscape, inside the Museum)

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(…..and a small taste of the landscape in the flesh)

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(….Oh, and a mandatory pose picture will fellow compatriots Jeddy Yuan and Yoshinori Goto)

Followed by this fascinating place, with perfect sunny skies to compliment the day, we moved on to the Suao Baimi Clog Village, proving that the Dutch are not the only ones who can make some works of art out of wooden footwear!

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Our meal of the day was the well reknowned ’Volcano Chicken’, said to be special due to the fact that local farmers breed and raise these chickens within the steep depths of a volcano in the local area which, according to experts, is still alive……..

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Just kidding, can’t say I remember the reason behind the name, but it tastes amazing anyway, an opinion shared by these happy chappys!

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That concludes part 1 of this elaborate field trip, questions to be answered in the next installment: Where did we stay? And the evening plans? All will be known soon, so stay tuned! 🙂

NTU Summer+ Program: The Asian Adventure Begins!

So, for the first time ever, I arrived to Taipei a month early to start my exchange (from 4th August 2013), with the purpose of learning Chinese in mind, as well as to learn of the unique culture that exists in Taiwan.

So how can one put the first month into words? I’m not sure words could do justice to describe this vibrant experience so far. But I know for sure I have met many firends for life, with hugely diverse backrounds, at the same time seeing surroundings that leaves one only in awe. With my following posts (mainly being pictures), I hope that what my eyes have witnessed can better describe Taiwan so far, during what has been an intense month, but certainly the most fun in my life so far!

So here’s a first taste of the summer cultural adventure, starting with the caligraphy 🙂

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