Taiwan

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It was a blistering hot day in Taiwan, typical for June and July. I had just gotten off the airplane and stepped into the humid air, beginning my three week adventure in the country my mother had grown up in and where my father went in his adult years. This was my second time in this country, so the searing humidity was not surprising to me and was simply something I had to get used to. Adjusting to the air was difficult; it was like getting out of a hot shower without ventilation, only you couldn't exit the room and be relieved of the sticky feeling.
Adjusting to the new time zone was hard; Taiwan iss thirteen hours ahead of Kansas. I remember on the second day while visiting my mom's friend, my brother and I both lay down on the couch, exhausted from twenty-four hours of traveling as well as the time zone shift. We struggled to stay awake for the rest of the evening and quickly fell asleep when we returned to the apartment. Jetlag made the overseas traveling experience difficult in the first few days.

Whilst in Taiwan, we stayed in my mother's old apartment in Zhong He, a city outside of Taipei. Only one room in this apartment had air conditioning, so we put all of our air mattresses in that one room seeking temporary relief from the sodden air that constantly preyed on our skin, mind, and body.
The food in Taiwan was not like anything I had eaten before. My cousin had told me that I had to go to Taiwan and eat as much as I could simply because it was very good. Not only did the food taste great, it was cheap, too. I remember my family once got breakfast for five people for seventy-five Taiwan dollars, which is approximately two American dollars.
Taipei also had an excellent subway system which was not only efficient but also provided another source of air conditioning! Air conditioning was so desired that some restaurants would use it in their advertising. Walking through the streets of Taipei was tiring. Plus, every other person smoked and smelled like an ashtray. It is always frustrating to walk past someone who has a cigarette in his or her hand because I have to hold my breath for a few seconds. I'm sure my friends and family can't bear that smell, either.

My dad, brother, and I rode Taiwan's High Speed Rail (HSR) from Taipei to Kaoshiung to meet family and to stay in my aunt's house (the second of eight children; my dad was the eighth of eight children) for one night. The HSR was so fast that it traveled up to three hundred kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour) and was a thrilling ride. It felt like a roller-coaster only without the ups and downs, twists and turns.
Kaoshiung is the second largest city in Taiwan, and looks a lot less congested than Taipei. It had a lot less skyscrapers, which allowed me to be able to look up and see the sky in the city. We called a taxi and rode to my aunt's apartment. My aunt greeted us and showed us in. It was pretty much what I had expected; the walls covered with oriental designs, pictures, scrolls, and characters, a typical Asian home.

I was not, however, expecting ten or more other family members to be present, or for a family gathering of my father's side. There was a lot of talking in Chinese involved, and since I'm not fluent in Mandarin, it was somewhat difficult to communicate with my family members, but I seem to know enough to get by. My two cousins, Hamlet and Hardy, and my brother and I decided later into the night that we would play a game of Mah-Jiong. I had learned to play this when I was six-years-old, and my brother had just recently caught on. We hauled out a small folding table, laid out the tiles and began playing.
My family seemed surprised that I knew how to play, and were even more impressed (or surprised) that I had learned when I was so young. It is traditionally a gambling game, but I have always played it for fun, and I usually only get to play it on special occasions such as family gatherings and holidays. My cousins played a slightly different style of the game, and my brother and I had to quickly adapt to it. The game itself gave us at least an hour's entertainment. It gave my brother and me the opportunity to enjoy our stay in Taiwan while having fun with the family, who I have not seen since the trip in June of 2007. We sat around the table and shuffled and mixed the tiles around, creating a raucous. The sound was so loud, everyone knew when a game ended or was about to begin. The tiles were lined up like soldiers, the dice rolled, and the game began. Anxious family members gathered around us anticipating our every move and commenting on the game. As the night neared its end, we all headed to bed.





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lindzy14 said...
Jun. 9, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Wonderfully written! 

Your poetic prose is just stupendous! ;D

 
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