Most of us still have cankles. I'm wondering how long this will last? It makes wearing most of my shoes kind of difficult because not only are my ankles swollen, but my feet are, too.
Moving on, there is super good news! The air conditioner in our bedroom is now working! It actually feels super pleasant to be in here right now. There's a girl party going on on the other side of my armoire, but I am getting tired, so I've retired back to my bed, which is just slightly more comfortable than the little wooden chairs that we have. Also, my eye keeps twitching, so I think I need to get some sleep. First, though, I wanted to share a few adventures from the rest of my day!
This afternoon, Gerald trained us a little more on the culture here in Taiwan. I don't know, I haven't found anything really shocking yet. Of course, I have only been here for 2 days and haven't had a whole lot of interaction with the Taiwanese people, so this may change. The fact that I am here doesn't really seem real to me yet. It feels kind of like I am visiting China Town in San Francisco or something, except it goes as far as the eye can see and you don't feel like your life is in danger if you're not in the touristy part of town.
Side note: I pet a cat today. I think it belongs to the people who own the bing sha (it's like a smoothie, kind of) place down the street, because I saw it behind the counter yesterday when we stopped by. It was a very sweet cat, except the fur was super short! I have never seen a cat with fur so short. Texture was very different from Drawly's fur. Now most everyone knows I have this strange obsession for cats, and I'm totally OK with that. (This picture of me and Drawly was clearly taken before I left the States. Cutest cat ever!)
After some cultural training, Gerald took us around a bit again. We stopped at this memorial park that was pretty cool. The park has a statue in honor of Chiang Kai-shek, and while we were there Gerald told us a little about the history of Taiwan's struggle for independence. The park was super green (like all the landscape in Taiwan) and pretty serene. It is near the "mountain" and apparently close to some hiking/biking trails. There is also this giant koi pond. Apparently, it is the thing to do to go to this park and just watch the fish swim around when you need to relax. They even have food you can buy to feed the fish! Of course they do.
Statue of Chiang Kai-shek
Part of the park
Two of the giant koi
Next we stopped at a Taoist/Buddhist temple. Apparently they like combining religions here in Taiwan. Gerald was explaining that if you want help with a certain thing, you have to pray to a certain god, and if you want help with something else, then you have to pray to a different god. For me, that sounds way too complicated, and I am grateful that my God lets me pray to Him about anything and everything and finds way to bring me peace about even the silliest concerns (story later). But it was still a really cool looking place. One of the temple volunteers seemed pretty enthusiastic when Gerald asked him if it was OK for us to take photographs. I did feel kind of weird taking pictures inside of a temple, but I guess it was not a whole lot different from taking pictures at/in the Hare Krishna temple in Spanish Fork. I ended up taking quite a few pictures, actually, so I'll share them with you.
Part of the courtyard outside
The front of the temple. Can you tell which Chinese zodiac year it is?
The red lanterns at the front of the temple
This guy actually looks like some of the statues at the Hare Krishna temple
Part of a really detailed and elaborate wall panel thingy (I know. I am so descriptive!)
I don't even know, but there were flowers in a plate to the left of it (her?) that smelled really nice.
Another wall thingy
Ok. This is pretty cool. Some of the rooms in the temple had these pillars that glow orange I have no idea what their purpose is or anything, really, but when you get close to it, this is what you see. The next pictures is of the pillars at a little bit more of a distance.
I figure the little guy to the left is one of this god's minions.
The offering table
A god/guardian at the entrance of the temple wearing a giant poncho. Why? I have no idea.
These rabbits are adorable and huge. I am pretty sure they light up at night, too!
After we got back home, we all decided to walk down to this new bakery (you can tell it is new because they have these red pineapple things hanging outside of new businesses) for dinner. It was super busy and kind of adorable! Inside they have all kinds of pastries and breads. It was pretty amazing. I have no idea what more than half of the stuff is, but I found a few items that looked pretty promising. When I got up to the counter to pay for my things, the girl packaging my foods pointed to one of my items and starting asking me something (I can, at least, usually tell when they are asking me questions here; I just don't always understand what the question is). I just looked at her with a "huh?" expression, and she picked up my pastry, pointed to the bottom of it, and asked me the question again, except this time I heard her say "chocolate." I thought, "Girl, I have no idea what you are saying to me, but I think it involves you offering to somehow include chocolate with this thing, and I am totally OK with that." Out loud I said, "Chocolate? Yao!" (There was a guy next to her that also worked there that she kept looking at. I think he knew some English, but he wasn't sure what words to use.) After paying, we went outside to eat at the tables. Turns out that pastry? It's like a giant cream puff filled with chocolate! SO GOOD! The outside is flaky and buttery like a croissant, but inside it's all chocolate. I think there were other flavors that she was probably offering me, but I'm sure when she said "chocolate" she saw this light bulb go off in my head and probably a little excitement too. I think most, if not all, of us intend to frequent that place.
The bakery is called "Hahu." I may have to name my next electronic after it (if you know anything about the names I've given most of my electronics, this will make sense, otherwise don't worry about it).
After visiting the bakery, Jessica really wanted to go for a bike ride. No one else would go with her, so I told her I would. I am super glad that I did! It was a lot if fun! We decided to take Circle Street (it's not really called that, but the teachers call it that because it circles around most of the city) to try to find the LDS chapel again (Gerald pointed it out to us yesterday). We will probably not be attending church in this chapel, though, because they only have the Chinese wards here; the English branch is a little south in Taichung. We got to the chapel safe and in one piece. Inside I saw a few guys get into an elevator, so we decided to park our bikes and see if we couldn't go inside to look around. The front door was locked, but a side door was open, so we went in. We were walking around the second floor (where the Stake offices seem to be) when we could suddenly hear someone watching "Finding Faith in Christ" or something like that. Suddenly, the missionaries pop out of this room and start talking to us. It was kind of awkward. They asked us if we were English teachers, did we have a map of Fengyuan, were we members.... Then they also told us where we could find a really nice map. We thanked them and made our awkward way back outside to our bicycles. As we were about to cross the street about half a block away, we heard people yelling and whistling, trying to get our attention, and it was the elders again, beckoning us to come back, so we did. They asked us if we wanted the sister missionaries phone number, just in case we had any questions, and then they gave us their phone number, too, just in case we needed something the sisters couldn't help us with. I was actually really grateful for this, because I've been wondering what I would do if I suddenly needed a blessing. Prayer answered!
I'm sure most if not all of you are only "reading" my blog for the pictures. Hopefully this one included enough to spark some of your interest. So far, I am having a blast out here. I haven't really experienced any jet-lag yet, and I'm hoping that I just... you know, don't. I am, however, pretty tired by the time 8 pm rolls around. It also starts getting dark here pretty early compared to Utah in the summer, and I imagine that is part of why I start thinking I need to go to bed. Of course, now it is a little after 10 pm and I am still up, so apparently me being tired doesn't really affect how late I stay awake!