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Journals from Yonsei University, Korea

2009-11-18 Taiwan: 10/24/09

Today has been filled with touring around Danshui and Beitou with Kiki and Angel. It has rained on and off, with progressively stronger wind gusts throughout the day. I had heard after I bought my plane ticket that there was supposed to be a typhoon on Wednesday, which is why I went south right when I got here. Go figure--the worst weather of the week in Taipei would be when I returned for the weekend. Danshui is a port town where the river and sea meet. Although there were many clouds blocking the horizon, I was still able to get some pictures of the Taiwan Strait. They took me to the major historical sites-Consular House, French Fortress, the street that has schools from kindergarten to university, and along the old shopping street. They joked last night that they took me to the best University (Taiwan National) and today the worst (Danshui's college). The campus was gorgeous, though, and the church there is home to the largest organ in South East Asia. As with last night, food was a prominent part of the tour. I had A-Gei for breakfast at the most famous store. It is a fishball filled with glass noodles in a soup with hot sauce. As a treat the owner gave me a fish dumpling, the other local delicacy. Later I had Bubble Tea at the most popular store (even though the boba was just freshly made, I liked the one from the night before better) and rice cakes at the famous store. They gave free samples, and after trying that and 3 different types of Chinese moon cakes I ended up liking the traditional one the best. I bought that for around $2 to have as a snack later on in the weekend. They were impressed with my knowledge of some of the foods and that I liked them-the good remnants from my time spent with those who I came to think of as my California Family. After touring Danshui we went to Beitou, famous for the hot springs that the Japanese had made. We ran into a sort of Hot Springs expo by the MRT station where there was a long corridor of booths hawking their respective place's services. The most clever set of people passing out fliers were wearing bathrobes. We went to see the new Beitou library and the hot spring museum where Kiki used to give tours as a volunteer in high school. They showed me the public spring nearby, and time permitting I will try to go back before I leave on Tuesday. Before heading home they took me to the National Palace Museum, the Smithsonian of Taiwan. The entrance is free on Saturdays 5-8:30 PM and it is one of those things you can't have come to the country without seeing. I am writing this from a cafe there now, sipping on a cup of delicious Oolong Tea. I am truthfully exhausted and not really in the mood to be tramping through art galleries soaked from the shins down, but I can now check this off my list. I am trying to decide now what I will do tomorrow. I am supposed to head to Taroko Gorge, but with the weather here it might be dangerous. The idea of taking a -hour round trip to visit a gorge in the rain that is known to have falling rocks is less than appealing right now, especially since the travel time would mean maybe not seeing other things in Taipei. I have to at least make it to Taipei 101, the world's tallest building. All the things closer may have been impacted by the recent earthquake (train to Alishan, of the most beautiful rail routes, has been closed due to the quake's effects) or not as nice due to the weather. So decisions, decisions. I'm off now to find dinner, contemplating whether or not I want to head to the famous night market in this weather... Ashley Price Yonsei, Fall 2009

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