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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.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bloody Moon Festival Weekend

Hello Moon Festival  or Mid-Autumn Festival a three day holiday weekend, celebrating the much needed end of summer. I have so many pleasant memories associated with this harvest holiday,  yet this year's was a little different.

Last year we went to three separate waterfalls including the amazing Auhua waterfall in Yilan County,  as well as Mingchi Forest, a wonderful memory, a fabulous weekend (read post here). A few years back when we lived in Tainan, my daughter and I headed to Guanshan to witness rolling hills of orange daylilies against the backdrop of the blue mountains that separate the east coast from the rift valley. A distinct, amazing mid autumn festival weekend. A further Moon Festival weekend of note was  shrimp fishing  at my friend's family business, where we joined her family BBQ, surprisingly dazzled by their impressive fireworks celebration.

 Friends back home ask me what Moon Festival is. In Taiwan it amounts to accepting the obligatory invitation to a communal mass BBQ which is a smoky, loud and carnivorous endeavor. (For a thorough explanation click here).

Zen and I went to a pre-Moon Festival BBQ in Toucheng with friends the weekend before the actual holiday and that was quite enough processed meat, pomelo and smoke to last me.

This year's blood moon wasn't visible in Taiwan, but the absurdly powerful gravitational forces were indeed felt in the form of a wicked typhoon.  The night before the typhoon came, I overheard my neighbors beneath my balcony complain I was boring for not BBQing (among other things), so I went down and joined them and had a good time. It was a more subdued and less smokey affair.

Leaving work Friday I told everyone I knew, "Just you watch, it will be a 4 day weekend" and sure enough Typhoon Dujuan indeed gave us in Yilan another day, Tuesday off and a rain free one at that. I admit watching the news I was starting to feel apprehensive, the typhoon was literally bigger than all of Taiwan and it was hitting smack into Yilan. Local news was vastly more entertaining. There was Yilan train station a sea of people all pushing each other to try and take the afternoon Monday train back to Taipei before all hell broke lose. The high-speed train stopped running at 3 pm leaving millions of travelers on their holiday weekend stranded.

On the morning of  Monday the 28th it was calm. Zen was playing with her friends outside. The wind started to pick up so the girls were playing with the gusts, trying to walk against it. Around noon I called her in and at around 1pm the rains came and it looked like being inside a car wash looking out of our windows. The news said the typhoon would hit us directly at 9pm, but it seemed to have come sooner. Our windows were leaking in our bedrooms and kitchen. We went thru all our towels and some blankets trying to sop it all up. It was a minor inconvenience, but we were safe. Little did I know that all our neighbors lost power and my coworkers lost running water too. I had filled up my bath tub just in case.

My daughter and I drank pots of chai and British tea and watched episodes of Portlandia, reveling in being utter couch potatoes for a day. Typhoon Dujuan left at 1am and Tuesday was called off everywhere but Tainan. Yilan received  914 mm of rain, just second after Su-ao which is still Yilan County and a 15 minute drive down the coast.

My favorite doorman, Moon Fest BBQ with neighbors the night before Dujuan
 The weather Tuesday was perfect, the better to assess the damage and clean up. All the trees in our neighborhoods were blown over, completely uprooted, the topsoil was ripped out by the winds. In other parts of Yilan and Taiwan the rivers were flooded. I spent most of the day cleaning my balconies and floors, washing the towels and blankets that quickly dried in the sunny weather on Wednesday. If it weren't for the fallen trees and blown off building signs, you would haven't guessed a typhoon was in town the day before.

The fallen soldiers at Yilan Sports Park

Not the most ideal mid-Autumn Festival weekend, but I can't complain. Taipei dwellers tend to flood Yilan on holiday weekends anyways and working full time and Z doing homework at her anchingban til 6:30 makes kicking back at home a necessary and joyful relief.

Mid Autumn Festival BBQ, Toucheng.

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