About Me

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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My Family's First Visit to Formosa: Taipei

My Family, Chiang Kai Shek Entrance Gate

It took them six years but they made it to Taiwan, finally. I really didn't expect them to. I figured my brother when he and his Korean wife moved back to Seoul, he would be the first family member to come visit. My Mom couldn't fathom sitting on a plane so long, my Dad is still working and my brother Ed suffers from seizures which are exacerbated by stresses, spikes in his blood sugar (as well as gluten). Then out of the blue about a year ago during one of our weekly Skype sessions my mom revealed she voluntarily wanted to fly out and see is. It was nothing short of a miracle.

My Dad sent me a message from Narita airport their plane would be delayed one hour, it wasn't. And I didn't know which airline they flew, so didn't know which terminal they were. Anyways, after some time, I found them, exhausted of course and quickly bought bus tickets to Banciao and got off at Fujong. I booked  two nights at the Jade Hotel. It actually was harder to book tickets for all of us because I didn't want my bro to sleep alone (in case of seizures) and I wanted my folks to have a room to themselves, which seems easy enough, but most all the available places charged an 8 year child as an adult and wouldn't allow to add an extra bed. The Jade Hotel has kids under 12 free and also could add an extra bed. The rooms were smaller than the photos, but it was clean, staff was nice and it was conveniently located near the Fujong MRT station. It was next to a large EsLite Bookstore with shopping and places to eat everywhere.

Night Market adjacent to Jade Hotel and Eslite Bookstore

The Jade Hotel is within walking distance (about 10 minutes) to the sublime Lin Family Mansion and Gardens (林本源園邸)That day and the next happened to be record breaking high temperatures in all of Taiwan and the highest was where we were at in Banciao. It showed. All of us were sweating buckets, my folks were in shock: culture shock, climate shock coupled with jet lag. They dragged their feet the whole time but were happy troopers. 

Family Portrait, Lin Family Mansion
We spent a good hour and half walking the mansion grounds, it was a photographer's paradise and my Dad thoroughly enjoyed himself snapping away. My brother Ed despite his disabilities somehow can take these amazing shots with his I-phone. Even my mom was inspired to try and take a photo with my Dad's camera. There were many nooks and crannies, pathways, moats, ponds, shrines, groves, ducks, sitting pagodas where one could rest, find respite, gather ones thoughts or watch them melt away. If I lived in the area, I'd be there regularly, sketch book, diary, yoga mat. It is Taiwan's most intact surviving example of traditional Chinese architecture, a detailed explanation is found here.

Me with my daughter, Lin Family Mansion

After the heat and hunger made us restless, we walked back to the Hotel via the traditional market. My mom bought a hat, my Dad an umbrella and each of us a sweat handkerchief. Z and I pointed out various foods an by the end of it they had a couple of bags of apples, mangos and lunch boxes. My father spoiled my daughter, carrying her on his sweaty shoulders. We were turning heads wherever we went.

Ed watching my Dad carry Z in the market

We returned to the cool of our air conditioned hotel rooms for a shower and rest and then regrouped for a flash tour of Taipei City. They had told me museums were not a priority, which was a shame because they all have A.C. It was totally new for my Mom and brother, navigating the MRT, but my Dad was a little more quick to catch on, having been on London's tube before. We got out at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, and walked the grounds admired Taipei 101 in the backdrop and were walking to catch a taxi to Elephant Mountain, when my my mom fell. We were walking under the trees, when I heard my daughter scream, I turned around and my Mom was on the ground, my Dad and brother rushed to her, she sat up slowly and just stayed there. It was frightening for a second. I assumed the heat and humidity and jet lag got to be too much for her. But it was just the uneven sidewalks of Taiwan, she tripped and landed on her beautiful cheekbone. I bought her an iced water from a vending machine to apply to her cheekbone and we opted to take the rocket elevator to the top of Taipei 101, rather than take a short hike to view it from Elephant Mountain. It was more waiting in lines, but they prefered to be inside with air conditioning.

  On the way back to Jade Hotel we got off to see the square at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial  (中正紀念堂)  so by time we arrived at Fulong station it was dinner time. Finding food everyone liked proved tricky. My brother is on a gluten free, low-glycemic diet to help control his seizures (a modified Ketogenic Diet) which means even white rice will spike his blood sugar. As for my mom, she too is gluten free, but as a lifestyle choice and even tho they wanted western food, it was all wheat of course and thus impossible. Z and I thought Sushi Express would be a safe bet. My mom just had the miso, Ed just had a plate of broccoli and my Dad just had the tea, so dinner that night was not a success, but they were all good sports. I think they were too jet lagged and dehydrated for any kind of appetite, so they just had fruit in their hotel.

My Dad observing, Sushi Express

I promised them Tainan would have more food options. The next day we took our time checking out, made it to Taipei Main Station and took the lunchtime Kavalan bus to Jiaoxi, Yilan County.

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