This week I was able to travel with my host family to the northern area of Taiwan, to Yangmingshan National Park. In addition to Yangmingshan National Park, this week I was also able to experience for the first time the roasted duck Yilan county—where I live—is famous for.
Local Time: 1:00 p.m.
Time Zone: CST China Standard Time
How far did I travel this week? 300 miles
How far have I traveled on our journey so far? Tens of thousands of miles
How did I get around this week? By bus, scooter, train, and van!
What was the most interesting place I visited this week? A mountainous area in the North of Taiwan, where the cherry trees were all in bloom! I visited Yangmingshan National Park is located very close to the capital city of Taipei, so it was very easy to catch a bus to get there.
This Week’s Travel News: This week was a lot of fun! I went with my host family to an area of Taiwan famous for its beautiful flowering cherry trees. We took the train to get there, and then took a bus all the way up a mountain to see the trees in their natural habitats. I took a lot of photos of my host mother among the trees! She explained to me that Taiwanese people think of cherry trees as symbols of spring and of the warm months ahead!
Weather Tally (enter the # of days for each weather type):
Sunny: 2 Cloudy: 1 Partly cloudy: 0 Rainy: 4 Snowy: 0 Windy: 5
What is the air temperature right now?
85 degrees and very muggy!
How was the weather this week?
The weather this week was either very rainy, or very hot and sunny!
What animals did I see this week?
This week I saw a lot of mosquitoes. Summer is coming, and that means mosquito season in hot, muggy Taiwan.
What was the coolest thing I saw in nature this week?
The Taiwanese cherry trees are beginning to bloom. I recently traveled to a mountainous area and got to see them blooming in all of their pink glory!
This Week’s Nature News: (short story about what happened this week):
February to April is Cherry tree season in Taiwan, and that means the higher mountain areas are blooming with dark pink flowers! The sight of the Taiwanese cherry trees—shorter and more slender than the Japanese kind—blooming against the dark blue sky is one of the prettiest sights I’ve seen in real life! I’m very lucky to have taken some photos so I can remember it!
It is amazing to me that I have been able to experience nearly all types of environments while in Taiwan—from the flat, rainy plains and rice paddies of Luodong, to the white beaches and high, jagged mountains of Hualien on the southeast coast, to the tropical forests and lush green meadows of the aboriginal areas in Nanao and Datong in the eastern part of the island. Yangmingshan National Park is located in the mountainous areas of Taiwan, in the north of the country. In contrast to other areas of Taiwan, the climate there is drier and cooler because of its higher altitude. This is in even greater contrast to the southernmost city in Taiwan, Kenting, whose temperature and climate more closely resemble Fiji than the dry, cool weather in Yangmingshan—and they are located in the same country!
What languages are spoken here?
Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, Hakka, Japanese, and aboriginal languages like Atayal. Older people in Taiwan mainly speak Taiwanese, and I have begun learning some very basic phrases to say so that I can communicate with some of the older ladies in my neighborhood! Taiwanese is very different from standard Mandarin—while Mandarin has four or five tones, Taiwanese has EIGHT!
What type of money is used here?
The New Taiwan Dollar, called “taibi” in Chinese. This week was the first time I saw a 200NTD bill, which I did not know existed until now! Something else I find interesting: Taiwanese dollars are printed in 100, 200 (rare), 500, and 1000 dollar units. The 100s are pink, 200s are green, 500s are brown, and 1000s are blue in color!
How much does a bottle of water cost?
About fifteen cents.
What was the best meal this week?
This week I had roasted duck with my teacher and some local friends. Yilan County, where I live, is famous for its duck meat. People from all over Taiwan travel to Yilan to eat spicy duck necks and other specialties. The roasted duck was absolutely delicious, and I can’t wait to eat it again!
What music did I listen to this week?
This week I listened to some popular Taiwanese singers. A lot of the famous Chinese pop music is sung by Taiwanese singers. I can understand why—the songs are really catchy and fun!
What activity was the most fun this week?
This week, going to see the beautiful cherry trees blooming in their natural mountain habitats was the most fun thing I did!
What did I read this week?
This week, I read the book “Lean In,” by Sheryl Sandberg about women in the workplace. I also read some newspaper articles in Chinese about some different events going on in Taipei this month!
What games or sports did I play?
This week, I ran a lot! This weekend I am going to a national park called “Taroko Gorge” to hike a historical trail. The trail was opened up through the mountainous areas in Taiwan during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, and was used as a major trading route for dozens of years.
This Week’s News: (short story about what happened this week):
This week I went with some friends to a local restaurant in Yilan County to eat Yilan’s famous roasted duck. There were ten of us sitting at a large table with a lazy Susan in the middle. We ordered off the menu, and waited a short time for the restaurant staff to wheel out an ENTIRE duck, roasted golden brown! A chef came out and carved the duck in front of us, explaining the method for cooking and roasting the duck meat so that it is as juicy and delicious as possible. After, we had several dishes with the duck meat—duck breast with plum sauce wrapped in pancakes, shredded duck meat and tofu, and a soup made from the bones of the duck were just three of the many dishes we ate that night. While it was pretty expensive for Taiwan—about $20 per person in U.S. Dollars—it was worth every penny, and I can’t wait to go back!