Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wu Lai, Taiwan

- - - Wu Lai, Taiwan - - -

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

On this day, my grandparents and I took a half-day trip to Wu Lai, a town outside of Taipei.  Our host, Cindy, grew up there, so we went to check it out.  To get there, we rode the Taipei metro and then took a bus.  I was particularly interested to see that the tickets for the Taipei metro are little, blue, plastic tokens.  On the metro, I noticed that many, many people were wearing dental masks.  I'm not sure if they were sick, or just didn't want to inhale other people's germs.  Since the air is fairly gritty and polluted, they could also be trying to prevent themselves from breathing in all of the suspended pollutants.  Interestingly, people wear these freely, as if they were just another accessory - like sunglasses.  They wear these masks at work, out to lunch, to go shopping, etc.

Minding the Gap in Yet Another City
When we got off the bus in Wu Lai, we found ourselves at a river.  Cindy, Teresa, and Will wanted to show us the bridge before we went for a ride on paddle boats.  Our boat was broken, so we just floated around, but we still had a nice time.

Zaidy & Grandma Jean in a Paddle Boat
Later in the day, when we drifted back to the shore with our broken paddle boat, we went to lunch.  At lunch, we met Cindy's brother, who works as a guide at the Atayal Museum.  During the meal, we had yet another variety of fried noodles, and shared a side dish of a block of tofu.  The family is vegetarian, so I learned a lot about vegetarian dishes in Taiwan.  Many of the foods are created to look like meat, but they're not, and you can never quite tell what they're made of.  At least with tofu, you know it's tofu (left).  
Zaidy and Grandma Jean Dressed Up - Atayal Museum
After lunch, we went to the Atayal Museum, where we learned about some of Taiwan's history and the lifestyles and customs of the people living there throughout the ages.  Cindy's brother gave us a tour of the museum's exhibits.  My favorite part of the visit was when my grandparents got to dress up in traditional Atayal gear (right).  They pull off the look pretty well!  
When we finished checking out the museum, James returned to pick us up so we could drive back to Taipei to visit the Jianguo Holiday Jade Market.  I love browsing and shopping in markets, and was particularly excited to see the jade and coral gemstone pieces.  On the route back, we stopped for a photo at a huge, free-falling waterfall.  After that, we took a quick siesta during the ride back to Taipei.

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