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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Treasure Hill

I went on a tour of the Treasure Hill area of Taipei with a group from AIT.  I love when I have the opportunity to explore the city with a group of people.  I have to admit, I thought Treasure Hill was rather lame.  It has a great concept behind it, it's just sort of limping along instead of thriving.

Treasure Hill was an illegal settlement, founded by military veterans in the 1940s.  Today Treasure Hill is a worldwide community of artists.  You can apply to live here for a period of time to explore your art.  I expected the area to be vibrant and full of creative minds with little shops and cafes.  It's not.  It has great potential so I hope it takes off.

Treasure Hill Temple

Inside the temple

The streets of Temple Hill




Fixing hair for a selfie

Tea time

Bread Oven

Thursday, July 21, 2016

god parade

Elena and I were getting off the metro on a Saturday to meet Chad at AIT for lunch.  We heard traditional music, a lot of banging and garbled noise.  My interest was piqued.  We followed our ears and found a parade approaching.  We watched for awhile, understanding that this was a god parade, then went to meet Chad.  We sat down at our favorite fried rice stand and within a few minutes the parade was approaching us from a different direction.  Chad's nurse told us we were rather fortunate to stumble across this parade as it only happens once a year.

Religion here in Taiwan is a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, ancestor worship and folk religion.  My understanding was that this parade was to celebrate the birthday of one of the gods. 

Carrying an idol

Boys dressed as the different gods.

Traditional drumming.


This man led the parade.  His job was to sweep away the bad spirits with this long broom.


The boys dressed as gods, stopped at this offering outside a business.  They blessed the offering then went into the business and swept away bad sprits and blessed the business.  Sometimes we see offerings on the street in front of businesses to bring them good luck and prosperity.



Traditional Chinese dragons.  They did a dragon dance for us.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Din Tai Fung

If you visit Taiwan, you must eat at Din Tai Fung.  With restaurants in several countries, including the United States, Din Tai Fung began in Taipei.  Specializing in xialongbao (steamed dumplings), people gather around the windows to watch employees shape the little dumplings.  They are steamed in traditional bamboo trays stacked several layers high.  The small ball of meat inside cooks, creating a nice broth.  The restaurant is always packed, but it's well worth the wait.

xialongbao

Instructions on how to eat xialongbao.

Ginger and soy sauce to dip in.



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Hellos and Goodbyes.


As the sun was waking up here in Taipei, Chad and I crawled out of bed and stumbled across the hall to our friends' apartment.  From the moment they welcomed Chad and Elena into their home and invited them to dinner and breakfast and lunch and dinner again on their first few days here, while the big typhoon hit Taipei last summer, they have been like family to us.  We have celebrated the birth of their daughter, hung out and shared adventures.  This morning, they loaded 15 suitcases, an oversize stroller and their family into a van that took them away from Taipei forever.  We couldn't let them go without one last hug.

I came home from work and walked past their apartment.  It no longer has the colorful drawing that their girls made, taped to the door.  I didn't hear any squeals of delight coming from within.  It's empty and sad.

After dinner, Chad and I headed over to a nearby apartment and unpacked a welcome kit.  I made the beds, Chad got the kitchen ready.  We put a few items for breakfast in the refrigerator and a basket of fruit on the counter.  Tomorrow a new family will be arriving at post.  This is life in the State Department.  Hellos and Goodbyes.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Taiwan A to Z


I thought I would throw a book suggestion onto our blog.  If you are planning on moving to Taiwan, you need to get this book.  Asian culture is a new thing for me.  It's been the most different culture I've lived in yet.  I'm enjoying it, but I honestly don't understand a lot about it.  I'm so fortunate to work with some awesome locals who help me out and introduce me to things that I would never experience on my own.  This book gave me a spring board to being conversations.  From holidays to cultural customs and history to religion, I learned many things that would have left me puzzled without an explanation.  I would read a chapter or two on the metro ride to work then ask my friends how they explained the topic or experienced it in their home.  I see things I could have walked right by without noticing and now I have a bit of understanding.