Sunday, 15 January 2012

Adventure is beginning!

Adventure is beginning!  I’m currently on the high-speed train to Tainan, where the professor and a group of university students will be waiting to give us a tour. It’s been a pleasant morning so far.  We stayed at the Taoyung hotel last night, which I will be returning to near the end of my stay.  It’s a huge hotel that hosts a lot of tour groups apparently.  The rooms are heated and Penny didn’t know what Dr. Kan was talking about when he warned me of those temperatures- the room was heated and it's supposed to be around 70 degrees outside today.  Every thing in the hotel was pretty normal except I felt like a giant in the shower.  The ceilings are already low and I was reminded how tall I am compared to Asians when my head was only an inch away from the lights.  We ate breakfast at the hotel before departing for train station.
Hotel lobby

What a random assortment of foods!  I had some fried rice, pineapple and eggs but they had everything from French fries, to an extensive salad bar to fried beans, pickled beets, etc.  I laughed when I saw how some things were labeled- “thousand iscald” dressing and “icey lettuce”.  Penny laughed at me when I asked her whether she normally eats things like this for breakfast but she says she tends to stick to bread and hamburgers (not sure if that’s really what she meant) for her morning meal.  I made sure to save room because we are supposed to eat at a famous, popular Japanese restaurant for lunch.
I was surprised when I woke up this morning and the election is over already!  Blue party won.  This morning on the news, they showed a bride, in her dress with a bridesmaid holding her veil placing her ballot as the honeymoon car waited outside.  It would be awesome if people got that excited about voting in the US but unfortunately democracy is something most of us take for granted. 
I found a great magazine about Chinese New Year in Taipei- I’m especially enjoying reading about all the traditions at various temples around the city.  Fortunately, I don’t have any exams coming up but the Wenchang Temple is supposedly really popular for students praying to the God of literature.  Students tend to bring their exam ticket, green onion (“cong” sounds similar to intelligence), celery (associated with “diligence”), “elite bearing” osmanthus petals, tangerine for good luck and they drink mineral water so they can be a “spring for ideas”.  It’s interesting how they don’t sharply distinguish between Buddhist and Confucian temples- some I can’t even tell which faith they are associated with.  
Turns out I ended up going to a temple to education Gods later that afternoon- here's some of their prayers for tests this weekend