Family attraction – 19. 2. 2007

Posted in Nantou County at 17:55

For the first time since Bournemouth one and a half years ago I would see today all three Taiwanese friends together again. So this day started early because we were going to travel. After a ten minutes ride by taxi to Feng Yuan the next bigger center, my friend and me took a local traffic train to Taichung City. It is quite easy to use this transportation because all the destinations and stations are also named in English. After arrival in Taichung (photo) we met another friend who is living around there.

Now only the third friend from Taipei was missing. This was exactly the cause of our journey. She was waiting at her grand parents place in ChuShan (Nantou County, 南投įļĢ). But the way to go there by public traffic is not that easy. The bus company we tried first was already sold out for the next bus so we had to find another way. And my friends were really good at this. After asking around and chatting to some people they first found a taxi driver who would drive us there for NT$ 1000 (CHF 40). Too expensive for a ride of more than two hours. Finally we found a small bus company, of which dozens exist here, which would bring us to ChuShan. After buying a ticket for NT$ 125 (CHF 5) we entered a mini bus with about eightteen seats. Fortuantely there were stil three free seats left in the back of the bus. A few moments later the ride begun. A few moments later I learned that this journey was not going to be like I was supposing. Even when all seats were taken always more people were entering the bus at several bus stops on the way. Finally there were about thirty people in the bus. For example an old woman who was grabbing the grip bar with both hands what made her looking like hanging on a high bar was standing just next to me. Me however had to take care that I do not hit the head against the bus roof. Quite a funny situation. I already gave up my seat to two school kids that used this chance to practice their simple English with me. Here children are already studying English in elementary school. Two hours later we finally arrived in ChuShan and met our third missing friend.

There was no time to relax. After a short lunch we already left to a local attraction in the mountains, a big rope bridge in the middle of the mountain forest. The ride in an offroad bus up the narrow road which in places was in very bad condition would be worth to write half a book about itself. But thanks to our very skilled driver we safely arrived at our final destination which is a popular local tourist attraction. When we arrived the cloudy and foggy weather started to clear up and finally opened the sight to the beauty of the Taiwanese mountain environment. A … for refreshment and then we had to hike. Unfortunately we were not alone. A crowd of people were squeezing along the narrow paths. From youngest children to oldest people on sticks, everybody wanted to enjoy the masterpiece of engineering, the rope bridge, and of course first of all the overwhelming beauty of the nature here (photo, photo). It was a big contrast to the city life I was experiencing in the last few days. The was air fresh and the ambiance very relaxing. Only the mass of people was disturbing the silence of the nature.

After dinner my friends took me to a temple to worship. Religion is very different here than I know it from Christianism. It is omnipresent, especially in these days around Chinese New Year, and a lot of people are practising to not annoy the gods, ask them for advice or make some wishes. Everyone has his own understanding about the belief which was mostly taught by their parents. It does not matter if you are from another religion, or like in my case actually none, you can always talk to the Gods. And I did. I thanked them because I never thought before to feel so comfortable here. Of course this is because everybody does a lot to make me as happy as possible here. It is a part of Taiwanese culture and therefore I am definitely not lost in translation. I feel like home. After worshipping the couple that supervises the temple invited us to a cup of tea and sweets to have a talk. I feel so bad that I cannot speak Chinese. Everybody wants to know who I am and what I am doing in Taiwan. Western tourists are not often seen here.

But the day was not ended yet. Together with my friends father we went to their relatives nearby. What I experienced then is difficult to write down in words. Around twenty people of every age were assembled when we arrived. They served us all kind of fruits, tea and a home made sugar cane liquor. After a shy accustomising time the school children were practising their English for the first time outside school. Only a thirteen year old boy and an eleven year old girl did dare to talk to me. Sometimes still with help of their English book and the guy made himself very understandable by acting a lot of words. A great and funny experience for all of us.

Back again at the house of the grand parents it was time for playing MahJongg. Together with the father, the grandfather and a cousin I was trying my luck again. Playing MahJongg is also about playing about money. And this time I was more successful. I could not believe that I won two times and the grandfather had to give me some coins. I think everybody was quite astonished.

After the game I needed a break where my friend’s father served me some Japanese whiskey. Unfortunately Taiwanese people are not very used to drink alcohol and so he was quite drunk after a short while. The girls wanted him to go to sleep but they could only achieve this when sending me to the bedroom, which I was sharing with him, too. Even when the evening was not that late I also fell asleep, even when I absolutely did not want to, and I still do not apologize this trap to them… 😉 But eventually it was still a long and happy day.