Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lauren in Formosa

I am so lucky to have had friends and family come alllll the way to Taiwan to see me!  My best friend Lauren came to visit back in June, and she graciously agreed to write a guest blog about her time here.  Enjoy!

Ah, reunited at last!  It’s hard to describe the joy I felt when, not only did I see Samantha waiting for me outside my gate at the airport, but also an entire welcoming committee!  Samantha’s roommates and friends loaded up in the car to pick me up in her boss’ car, and waited so patiently while I dealt with a small man in charge of the lost baggage office.  I had landed safely and on time, but my bag had never left O’Hare.  Much to my dismay, he told me they would get my bag back to me as soon as possible, but I was stuck for a few days without my stuff.  I told that small baggage claim man that it was a good thing I had packed my toothbrush in my carry on, to which he replied with a shy giggle and covering his mouth.  It’s a good thing I didn’t mention anything about clean underwear!
Together again!

Eating, as in the United States, was one of my favorite things to do while in Taiwan.  Both Samantha and my brother Chris made lists of foods I had to try, and I proceeded to eat my way through the country.  The best places to eat were the night markets, where you could wander from food cart to food cart and try a wide array of seafoods on a stick, stinky tofu, tropical fruits, and noodle concoctions.  Towns would come alive at night when markets would open, bringing masses of shoppers and eaters.  
Ice cream crepe in Shida

Squid-on-a-stick in Danshui

TYPHOON.  Unfortunately we were rained out from Kenting and our Green Island adventure.  One bit of good fortune was our hostel in Kaoshiung called Cozy Planet, owned by a sweet Taiwanese man named Sam and his beautiful, pregnant wife.  Cozy Planet was our refuge from the torrential downpours that plagued the island for 3 days of our week together; while the typhoon required us to formulate plan B and plan C for our week, we still had a great time seeing the sights of Kaoshiung and Tainan.  
Typhoon fashion

Tainan ended up being an epic adventure of a walking tour throughout the city- 13 temples in one day, whew!  Good thing we re-fueled with some mango ice, a delicious treat of shaved ice, fresh mango, and sweetened condensed milk poured over the top.  Heavenly.
So many temples

Heaven in a bowl

My brother Chris, who is currently teaching in Hsinchu, came and spent the weekend with us in Taipei.  We braved the heat at the annual International Dragon Boat Festival, and enjoyed a delicious dinner at the establishment of Samantha’s famous “Noodle Lady” in Wugu.  She created a special menu in English just for Sam!  *Note- the noodle lady does not have a liquor license, so you have to BYOB from Seven-Eleven.
Best noodles ever

I would like to tell you that Taiwan is not a beautiful island, so as only to keep it an undiscovered treasure from masses of Western travelers.  I was blown away by the kindness of strangers, the ease and cleanliness of transportation systems, the beautiful sights, and the amazing food on this island.  I’m so glad to have visited Chris and Samantha, to get a glimpse of their lives in Asia.  I’ve already begun planning my next trip to Asia, wherever they are teaching in the Summer 2013!  

Lauren Boyd

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