23 January 2007


From:that frolicsome kid
To:Whom this may concern
Date:23 January 2007, 09:15
Subject: Pilgrimage to Taiwan - Part Two  

Holy? =PBefore I begin, I want to thank katelyn for using this word in her comment below. *big grin*

I don't know whether it can be accurately described by that word though.

Anyway, I was sort of happy that our third day was our last day for the whole Buddhist ceremony. We had lunch together with a few thousand "specially invited" people and the Grandmaster Lu Sheng-Yen, of course. Throughout the lunch, performances were held which I did not really spectate as I was too busy pigging down on my food. I know, I'm sorry, I should have watched it. =P

The food - I must say Taiwanese food has a very unique taste. I wasn't used to eating such food, so even though some of them were hailed by our newly-made Taiwanese friends as delicious, I thought it was quite the contrary. It wasn't downright disgusting, but they have definitely played with my taste buds! But it's okay, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience anyway! =D

Nearing the end of the lunch, Grandmaster treated everyone a show of his martial art skills (dang, I forgot the name again!) which received everyone's loud and tremendous applause. He was really good you know, it was in sync with the Chinese "kung-fu style" music played and his every movement was in a word, awesome!

And that sums up my family's pilgrimage to Taiwan to attend a very revered Buddhist ceremony which worships the Buddha called Kalachakra. According to some of my mom's friends who came along with us, they were told that the ceremony was broadcast live in a Chinese channel. I looked it up online and it was indeed true. Click for the news. It's too bad it is past the 20th of January. You couldn't watch the telecast anymore. =(

You'll never believe what happened after that. Later in the evening, my family was up at Taipei 101! Can you believe it? We had left footprints at the tallest building in the world!

Taipei 101 at night
© Wikipedia.org

Actually, my mother had gotten someone to drive us to Taipei from Taichung when we found out that many of her friends are heading there to spend a day there as well. And the airport was a stone's throw away too, so there is no need for us to wake up at wee hours of the morning and try to rush the 2 hours plus trip to the airport. It promised so many benefits, why not take advantage of it? ;)

I was the one who suggested a visit to Taipei 101, since it's one of the most prominent landmarks of Taiwan (and the only one I know, hehe!). So we took a 37 seconds ride up the elevator (yes, the world's fastest elevator is located there as well) and we admired the magnificent views the metropolis has to offer for us! It was really amazing to see how forward Taipei already is; it's like Tokyo (somehow, the views remind me of Tokyo, even though I have never been to Japan).

I remember seeing many buildings and skyscrapers clustering nearby, with beautiful apartments rising up from the ground. I also won't forget the old shophouses located near there, and the night lights! Oh, they were immensely beautiful!

When the car drove along the streets of Taipei, I was trying to absorb in what I was seeing. I cannot believe what I saw. Elevated freeways running atop streets below, buildings facing the freeways, the people, the vibrant city life, the curvature of the roads, criss-crossing here and there, the cars and did I forget to mention motorcycles, the road bullies? =P

Whenever the traffic lights turn red (and they'll stay red for quite a long time!), motorcycles can be seen overtaking cars and they all move forward to stop just in front of the intersection box. So whenever the light turns green, you can see the big group of motorcyclists roaring their way before the cars actually do! And I was really fascinated by the fact that females, yes, ladies, do ride motorcycles there. It was really a new sight for me (I always have this notion that motorcyclists are mostly men). But visiting Taiwan has proven me wrong. I remember seeing a mother sending her child back home using a motorcycle. It was so cool!

The cities of Taiwan are definitely modern and way developed than I expected! =O

I also would like to give a mention to the freeways at the island. Whoa! Freeways upon freeways. Amazing! I really have never seen such good infrastructure before. You could actually get lost in the freeways! It really is exciting to see roads built like that. Here's a tip though in case you're planning to rent a car in Taiwan when you go there next time. Please have some spare change in your car when you are driving on freeways, because there are many toll booths that need your money before passing through. This also applies when you are entering into Taipei as well.

And what do I learn from this trip? I should have continued learning Chinese. Why?

Because I was bombarded by Traditional Chinese writings all over Taiwan (and Simplified Chinese in Mainland China). Adverts, brochures, flyers, shop signs, and even road signs are all writing in pure Chinese with very little, or no English translations (freeway road signs are kinder though, they have at least provided straightforward, short and crisp English words). It's that bad, and I struggled badly trying to read the Chinese wordings.

If you're lucky, some places and hotels do provide English translations but even then, don't expect much. The English is horrible! There are spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and wrong phrasing of sentences! It can really drive an English purist mad, but then it's really better than nothing.

It's still alright though as I don't need to read much. There's already spoken Chinese which had kept me on my feet at all times. Oh my gosh, I was really embarrassed when I do not know how to express a word in Chinese and I have to actually add English words to my already broken Chinese. It would be considered normal in Singapore (phew!) though. So far, that has yet to happen to me. Thank goodness I could think up of simpler Chinese words as substitution.

My Chinese accent sounds very out of place in Taiwan. A few people who I conversed with have asked me where I come from. And I said out my country's name, and to my dismay, they gave me blank looks. I have expected it anyway, and I say it's close to my neighbouring countries. And they were, "Oh! Oh! Okay...", although I doubt they still know it. *sigh*

I really dig their Chinese accent though, especially Taiwanese Hokkien. It sounds more melodic and softer compared to the Hokkien spoken here, which to a foreigner's ears sounds very rude and loud. =P Thank goodness my parents can speak a it a little, as my mom likes to watch a Taiwanese drama where the actors speak completely in Taiwanese. Phew~

I think I picked up a little of their accent though, because I remember I sounded so different when speaking to Singaporean hawkers. Too bad it was temporary. I have lost it already! =(

It was really a relief to overhear a Caucasian speaking English in the airport prior to me leaving for Singapore. I cannot tell you how wonderful it sounded to my ears!

Bottom-line is if you intend to travel to China or Taiwan, learn a little bit of Mandarin Chinese before you go. Bring along your phrasebook as well, it helps a lot (Lonely Planet or Berlitz are good). To be safe, stick to more tourist-friendly places. ;) The Chinese people appreciate it much more if you do try to converse in Chinese, and they will treat you much more friendlier.

My mom asked a taxi driver how on earth do they communicate with foreign tourists who do not know how to speak Chinese. He said that they will show him a business card to wherever they wanted to go, and he will send them there. He and his customers will communicate with sign languages. I wanted to laugh at the humour, but I restrained myself. Language barriers are not funny, and my so-so Chinese (I studied it from Years 1 -6, and forgot a lot of them =( )could only get me so far. =P

And believe it or not, this is my first time wearing winter clothes, albeit only 3 layers (underwear, clothes and winter jacket plus scarf). Cool! =D

There you have it, a first-person account on his trip to exotic Taiwan (even though it was only a 4 day pilgrimage). I hope you enjoyed reading it!

P.S. After that, we went to Singapore for a few more days. There is nothing much to describe as my trip was filled with shopping, shopping and more shopping. For books, of course! English books! I freaked out when I saw a section dedicated to Chinese books, I quickly retraced my steps back to Literature/Fiction section. I have experienced enough Chinese for now. =P

Comments (23):

That sounds so awesome! Taipei has never struck me as a desirable tourist spot, but it sounds like one now.

1. Who are you? katelyn
2. Are we friends? Pfft yeah!
3. When and how did we meet? Well, I Googled "soliloquys" to find the correct spelling of the plural of "soliloquy" for an essay. I saw your blog, started reading...
4. Do you have a crush on me? No, I don't think so...Sorry FK ;)
5. Give me a nickname and explain why you picked it. Does TFK count? :P
6. Describe me in one word. Cheerful!
7. What was your first impression? "How does he write so much?!"
8. Do you still think that way about me now? Haha most definitely!
9. What reminds you of me? Random places that I didn't even know existed. And procrastination :P
10. If you could give me anything what would it be? Tough one. I'll have to say ability to beat procrastination, too :)
11. How well do you know me? I only know what you post, but I suppose that's a fair amount.
12. When's the last time you saw me? Not actually "seen" you...But you commented on my blog recently.
13. Ever wanted to tell me something but couldn't? Umm No, I don't think so.
14. Are you going to post this in your notes and see what I say about you? Facebook Notes :P. You've already commented on my blog :D

Excellent account, FK!! Love it! You've done so much in those four days, and you've brought them alive in your writing. Like Katelyn said, it was never a place I'd considered going to before, but you've got my interest piqued now!!

You're very lucky to have had Chinese in your education. I've often wondered what all the symbols mean, and wonder where I would start to learn such a language. It would be fun to try, I think, but I also think it would take a lot of time, since it would be learning from scratch, and I've heard there are so many nuances...
Shame, I've never seen anywhere teach Chinese over here, either... :-(

I looked up the Tower you went up... Looks amazing, and so structurally strong for such a tall building! When you said you 'left' your footsteps in the Taipei Tower, did you mean literally?

Laughed with your description of not watching the entertainment, because you were pigging down your food!! I think that might have been me too! :-D

It's nice that you suggest to your parents that you go to the tower, and then you go... I think your parents sound really nice

This was a great visit to you, FK - Thanks!!

Hey guys! Before I went to Taiwan, I was thinking, "Is there anything interesting in Taiwan?". I was heavily doubting I would enjoy the trip but I was pleasantly surprised that the trip has proven me wrong! It's another eye-opener into the world. =)

Maybe I should research a bit on my next holiday destination. ;)

katelyn, I didn't know that you found this site by chance in Google! =O I was wondering why weren't you using an online dictionary though. Still, fate (or rather English) has brought us together, LOL!

And thanks for doing the questionnaire/meme! You certainly have plastered a big smile on my face! =D


Hey annelisa! Originally at first, I thought my trip was really so-so but it was only when I typed out a blog post on my trip did I only realise how interesting my trip really sounds! =)

I'm speaking from experience here. Chinese pronunciation isn't as hard as you imagine. Maybe it'll take time to learn and master them, but once you know how to say it, it's very easy. There aren't a lot of exceptions to pronunciation rules (e.g. you can say the word "ma" in 4 different ways; you can mean mother, horse etc., depending on how you say it).

Of course, it's the written language that is the big bugger! You not only have to know how it is pronounced, you have to learn how to write it and recognise it. So yeah, it's very time-consuming but at the same time, you gain a lot from studying this language which is gaining in popularity.

Hmmm, maybe you can try calling your local Chinese embassy over there? I'm sure they do know who offers ad initium Chinese classes if you are interested. ;) (That's how my mom searched for my German teacher).

Coincidentally, I read yesterday's newspaper and it featured an article that mentioned about the Chinese language. Fortunately, it's a snippet from a US newspaper, so I have looked it up online and found it at Yahoo! News. After reading that, I feel motivated to pick up Chinese again. It's too bad I'm struggling with my Malay and German =P, and I have school subjects to study. =(

Taiwan 101 IS amazing!!! And it amazes me how man can build such a sturdy and tall building!

No, I did not literally leave footprints behind. =P How I wish I can, but then, it wouldn't be recognisable amongst the thousands of footprints left behind. ;)

Hey, I was hungry, okay? =P My appetite sort of dwindled down due to the "unique" food.

Hahaha, yeah, it was nice of them to bring us there. Well, we could do shopping but shops would be closed down a few hours later anyway. Besides, they also weren't sure where to go too. =D

Ah, the wonders of English...

Hey. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. I really like how you have designed yours here. So original. Are you sure you're only 16?:-)

Hehehe ;) to katelyn!

Hey Maryam! Nice to see you here! =D And thanks! =D Yep, I'm only 16. =)

Sounded like quite an experience! that's one heck of a building! *whistles*

I kind of got stucked though with what you said about the food. Why wasn't it tasty to you? Was it the spicies used in it or what?

I wonder then how it would be for em that is so used to the Swedish food...

It's majestic, mrs lifecruiser! The building looks even more splendid on New Year's Eve. At the stroke of midnight, fireworks shoot out from each of the "bamboo stem". When I saw that on TV, I was flabbergasted!

The food. The taste doesn't taste quite right in my honest opinion. It's too exotic for me! =P

Same thing for sushi. My friend let me taste his orange sushi (the orange skin was actually fish eggs, not seaweed). I chewed, and I bloated the sushi out!

I think I need some time to get used to these sort of food. Then I'll give my second opinions. =D

Hmm...Swedish food. At the moment, I can only think of deer meat. =O Are they delicious? ;)

Ha! That's why I've always avoided sushi before... the thought of raw fish doesn't quite do anything for me! (lol! I can just imagine you spitting the stuff out again!) The other day, though, my boss said she went to a sushi place, and there was hot food available... so, one day I might overcome my distaste of the idea, and try it!

Love spicy food though! Could eat masses and masses! (and do! :-D )

The raw taste felt too weird for me, annelisa! Even so, I like eating raw salmon. The meat feels cold and nice!

You love spicy food? You should try Malaysian cuisine over there, they have lots of spicy food available to satisfy your hot tongue. ;)

Believe me, FK, I have sought out and found all the local spicy food places already! Including Malaysian and Thai and Indian...

Do you mean smoked salmon?

Wow, that's fast annelisa! Do you dine in those places everyday? ;) Mmmm, just thinking of it makes me want to have beef rendang (curry beef) for lunch!

Well, I don't exactly know how to call it but its texture is orange in colour and rather slimy, I think. So no, I don't think it's smoked.

I like your blog very much. We live in the same area.Can we meet in the nearly future?

Leava a message on my personal blog and see if we can meet together in the nearly future.

http://www.bikerkiss.com/blog/maria

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