Home | Newsletters

29th issue by NTOU on December 2011

Whenever you hear stories about Taiwan you might think it’s a common country, obviously with some differences when you compare it to the western countries, but at the end you might think it’s just another island on the world. The surprise comes when you put your first step into this beautiful country and you realize it is much more than a small island.
It has been one year since I’ve been to Kenting, which is located in the Henghun Peninsula of Pintung County, Taiwan.
“My Adventure in Taiwan: Paragliding in WanLi (萬里)
Clear blue skies, what felt like around 27 degrees temperature, and cool frisking winds meant perfect ingredients for my Paragliding adventure in WanLi, Taiwan. My friends and I set off from Hsinchu and Jhongli, respectively, and met at the agreed Taipei West Bus Station where we’d board the north bound Jingshan Bus to head up to WanLi on the northern coast of Taiwan for this great adventure. The journey was filled with outflows of much excitement, enthusiasm and speculation about what to expect. Finally, we arrived at WanLi Elementary School, the designated pick-up place for the Jingmei Flying Club, where our guide Marsden picked us up and whisked us away in his mini-van to the “departure” platform.
My debut as a High School teacher
I have always supported the idea that adventures are that “something” that makes your life more fun and interesting. The fact of coming to Taiwan for pursuing my bachelor degree is indeed one of the biggest adventures of my entire life. That’s why since the very beginning I was just expecting the typical experiences of being in a foreign country such as culture shock, different foods, and a completely new language. Now, I laugh so much because I had no idea that in Taiwan my biggest adventure so far would be my debut as a high school teacher!
“Taiwan for me is a piece of the world, and the whole world in a piece. It is beautiful, safe and developed.”
After one year and three months to be here, I can say that Chinese language is hard to learn, due to it needs to combine the four elements listening, speaking, reading, writing. And each one has its own grade of difficulty, for listening I spent almost 4 months without catch any syllable. For speaking, I still have to try several times until reach the right tone. For reading and writing, those have a directly relationship between each other and maybe the most difficult is the writing, but also it is the most beautiful.
My First Experience to Taipei
It had been one week since I come to Taiwan. Today, my university does not have any activity for the new student, so I decided to explode Taipei, alone. I had been wonder for a long time that will I get lost before I make it to Taipei since I haven’t been there. Without too much consideration, I went out with map and the most important thing, my program manager phone number. Even if I get lost, I still have somebody who can save me.
I went to Keelung by bus, and then to the Keelung station. I decided to go Taipei station by train because I don’t know which bus I can take to Taipei. It takes almost 40 minutes to the Taipei station and I totally shock when I get out of the train. The station is very big and there are many exit gates. At first, I think I was lost because I don’t know which exit I should go out for. After that, I am wonder am I possible to find my way back if I going out of the station.

Always the beginning is very hard and Taiwan is not the exception. It's been almost 70 days 16 hours 45 minutes since I came to Taiwan, I felt fear of a new culture, different language and a new academic experience, but now that I know this is one of the best experiences had happened to me. Every step I take day by day is an adventure uncertain, and I must accept it. As two Guatemalan friends would say : “Well, my friend, you need to have a open mind and to be positive and above all not lose the charisma that characterizes the latin american people”. Well, guess what? In my short time in Taiwan every day I have tried to implement it and the result has been ... .. If you think that way, your stay in Taiwan becomes a great adventure that you can enjoy.  Now you can imagine how many good times that I have it, when follow this little rule, sinces a walk in the 101, visit to the CKS memorial hall, walk through the night market or an innocent visit to Mi casa. But now I can tell you one in particular which has been one of the most special for me: the visit to Hua-xi to eat snake soup. Many may wonder why it's special??? Instead of being something special for many, it can be nasty among other things. But I think it was a great experience ate snake soup, and although the place was not very nice and very crowded, I'm sure it's worth experimenting, the taste is not bad, actually is very nice, and although minutes later your body temperature increases and feel hot, the taste is very similar when you eat iguana meat, except with snake meat has too many bones and ultimately eat more bones than meat.

What an experience in an Island full of diverse culture and tradition different from mind.Yes,I mean Taiwan! Being my first travel far away from my home country, I experienced different things-people, food, language to name just a few.
The constant staring by locals on me through the windows, bus, MRT, Packs, restaurant….was a must scenario. This was more common among the young one and the elderly. Some take photos of me, and even try to touch me. At first, I feel very irritated about it, but when I asked one of my Taiwanese friend why, He told me most of these people have never seen a black human color before.Thats reminds me of my childhood days when I normally see a white men how I used to be excited and happy –and called them “Toubabou” meaning Whiteman.
In October 2011, I had the pleasure of attending a ceremony in a small rural village of Taiwan which was a very unique experience. We left Keelung at about 7am, to head out, when we arrived at the village about 90 minutes later, we were unaware of what to expect. But as soon as we drove past the deep vegetation, and came to the top of this mountain, there in the road was a large pile of steaming hot coals, two men were tending the flames, the smell of pitch and tar was high in the air. To the left of the pile of coals was about 100-150 people, who were clearly getting ready for something important to happen. There were several statues that were placed on tables in the front, and as people got ready there was a definite feeling of tension in the air. However, first there was an opening ceremony of sorts, with a few of the key community members addressed the crowd, speaking about the good harvest that they’d experienced in the year, and as they purified themselves, they were going to ask the gods for a another good year of harvest. After the speeches, refreshments were served. There were several traditional farming dishes serves, with many fresh vegetables, including sticky rice, and vegetable soup, as well as a bread that is made with peanuts.
Amazing! One word can perfectly describe the greatness and likability of Taiwan, the culture, land and people. It’s been a little over a year that I’ve been living and studying in Keelung City, Taiwan and I must comment that the rainy city is not much fun during winter time, but don’t let that stop you from visiting. Keelung is absolutely beautiful and bright during the spring and summer and is filled with many adventures. Their specialty is a wide variety of fresh seafood, which can be bought at practically any restaurant, nice beautiful beaches, parks, night markets, and a lot of older local people that are very friendly despite their disadvantage of speaking English. From Taipei, the cost of visiting Keelung ranges between 40-100 NT on public transportation and about 700-900NT in a taxi.