Tag Archives: Kaohsiung

What Taiwan has Taught Me…

19 Dec

After an another amazing 4-month increment in my life I am leaving again…. With that being said here is a little list of funny times, quotes that stuck, mind opening experiences and things I learned while in Taiwan:

–       I have acquired a new rule to life: Any post-graduate education must be obtained where there is a beach within 1 kilometer. Why study in a library when you can study on a beach?

–       At NSYSU you can be witness to a dance battle, solo instrumental performance, full out orchestra rehearsal, martial arts, and various other dance styles from all over the world! So always have your camera handy.

–       It is perfectly fine to party the night before a midterm and a final exam when in Taiwan.

–       These are the best times of our lives, live for the moment, be sure to always love what you do and do what you love.

–       Fireworks are strangely popular in Kaohsiung; there is not a night on the weekend where you cannot hear some boom. You can’t always see them but you can hear them all the time!

–       If food smells funny, it most likely tastes funny too… sorry Taiwan, not a fan of your chòu dòufu (stinky tofu). However, I will be using Chinese spices and ginger in my cooking more back home!

–       Some of the funniest moments had were enjoyed at 5 am, helping ourselves to coffee mugs at Màidāngláo’s 😉 and convincing the taxi driver to turn up the radio as loud as it will go, to preferably the English station (if not we will make it work with Chinese).

–       Also, in regards to taxi’s in Taiwan there were only 2 times I thought I was going to die… other than that they were wonderful & most of the time would try and teach you some Chinese too!

–       …Tonight I will love love you tonight
 Give me everything tonight
 For all we know we might not get tomorrow
 Lets do it tonight… – Pitbull

–       It can be more fun to be dropped off at the tunnel and run to the dorms rather than having them drop you off at the door, right? (then we can get more drinks at Family Mart on the way home… but really, like we need anything more to drink)

–       Just because your dollar goes a long way in a different country, does not mean you are getting a good deal. Do not compare it to what you are paying in your dollar but what kind of deal you are getting locally, would a local be spending this much for this ________? If not, then it’s not a good deal.

–       It is always more fun when you are partying on a boat… oh and it is so much better when funneling beer out of a watering jug for plants.

–       When talking to someone from France you need to make it clear, did you say bitch or beach and are you hungry or are you angry? However, after being here for the semester with so many of you wonderful Frenchies… OF COURSE I can tell the difference!

–       ‘When life is hard, patience helps. When people are hard to figure out, honestly helps win intimate friends.’– The Everlasting Light: Dharma Thoughts of Master Hsing Yun

–       Champagne showers are the best type of shower, and even better when coming from Steve Aoki. Oh, and if you happen to catch the bottle after the shower, well then that’s just the sweetest cherry on top.

–       NSYSU needs to get a handle on the stray dog situation, I know it is difficult because there are soooo many of them, but it is so sad to see all of these dogs that are sick or hurt and still having more puppies. In the classic words of Bob Barker, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.”

–       When planning a road trip in unchartered territory, always look somewhere for road conditions first, especially if there are mountains involved. Also, never start a journey into to the mountains with less then half a tank of guess, even if you don’t want to return the rental car with more gas then what was in it when you got it.

–       Every party needs a pre-party… especially where you play a good Canadian drinking game like Flip Cup or Moose 😀

–       Let people know that you appreciate them.

–       Hostels should always have VIP Lounges, leopard/zebra print EVERYTHING, and speakers to blast your pre-partying tunes.

–       Radiate positivity, show your zest for life, and do not be afraid to let it be known that you are an amazing person. Good people come into your life when you display your greatness for all to see.

–       After coming home from a party on at least 3 occasions with only one earring… it turns out I need to always wear earrings with really strong backs. (If someone who is still in St. Andrew’s could send me a new pair of sparkly purple earrings from the jewelry shop downtown that would be great!)

–       ‘The world is half good and half bad. Though the good half seems to be losing, it will win in the long run. Though evil seizes the initial advantage, it will fail in the end.’ – The Everlasting Light: Dharma Thoughts of Master Hsing Yun

–       How come Famiy Mart always gives you a discount at the register? You see a price as 20NT they scan it, hit some button and the price magically drops by a few NT. I have never understood why this happens the entire time I have been here but I like it.

–       Shit happens, and you may end up having the wrong VISA… so learn to deal with the hand you are dealt. I did not get to go to Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, etc… but I have to say I believe I have seen a LOT of Taiwan, and I enjoyed every single minute of it.

There was nothing I could do to control it and my amazing Uncle Walter passed away while I was here. In learning to deal with this while away from my family, I believe I have become a stronger person. Thank you to my dear friends who were so supportive to me in Kenting when I found out, you have no idea how much you did for me by simply being there for me to cry on your shoulder. For those who I was not able to be with back home during this time, on Boxing Day we will have many many many caesar’s and listen to Waltzing With Bears on repeat!

Amazing people can be found all over the world… they are what makes leaving Taiwan so incredibly hard. I keep saying that I wish I could have stayed for the full year, as I am not ready to go… but in perspective if I were to have stayed a year, it would have been just as hard (if not harder) then as it is now to say goodbye. People come into your life for different reasons: someone who gives good advice, someone to cheer you up when you are sad, someone to hold you at night, someone who loves to party just as much as you do, someone who can help you with your studies, the list goes on an on… I have to say that every single person I met while in Taiwan has left me with a different reason to remember them by.

Over the last few years I have been getting better at saying goodbye (Mum says it is a sign that I am getting older and more mature, blahh) but I really am struggling with all the goodbyes this time. I’m going to blame it on the magnitude of how many goodbyes there are.

If any of you are EVER in Canada please let me know, because I will happily tour you around and show you a good time! Do not be a stranger, keep in touch, add me on skype, write me postcards from all of your new adventures and someday (near or far) have a couch ready for me to crash on and come visit you!

In the great words of Dr. Seuss “Do not cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Love Always




Mixed Feelings

16 Dec

Working on my final post from Taiwan

I’ll be uploading it sometime next week

I am so excited to get home but this is the hardest 4 month increment to say goodbye to EVER…

Last night was our ‘Kiss Me I’m Leaving Taiwan’ party & even though we all were having a great time, there were still thoughts hiding in the back of the mind ‘oh no… I’m leaving in 5 days’

Now today I’m a mess, maybe it has something to do with that I’m leaving this behind:

Goodbye Kaohsiung

Day Trippin

12 Oct

Due to my recent VISA complications I will be making the most of the rest of my exchange right here on the beautiful island of Taiwan. I had come here thinking that I could change from a single entry to multiple entry VISA at any time… you can if you are staying for a year or if you go and re-apply in another country, like Hong Kong. So I could risk it, but I really don’t want to be stuck out of the country, so instead I will be embracing Taiwan with all it has to offer. Bye bye to the trips I had planned to Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Philippians. The great thing is that there is so much to see here in Taiwan, that it really isn’t a big of a deal at all.

Saturday: Foguangshan Buddhist Monastery – About 50 min out side of Kaohsiung City by bus, it is free and open to the public from 8 in the morning to 5 at night.

The Great Buddha Land

There are nuns and monks walking around to assist you and if you call in advance they will even give you a tour. This place is home to the Great Buddha Land where 480 miniature statues rest at the feet of a 36m Amitabha Buddha.  One of the very first things you can do is take a tour through the caves, which reminded me of ‘It’s a Small World’ ride at Disneyland, except full of the history of Buddhism. There was sooo much to see so it was worth the day for sure. A new section of the monastery is almost finished being built to house the shrine of the tooth of Buddha. In the new area that was opened also had a full restaurant where the people who also serve the Master of the monastery serve you. The food was all vegetarian, but I swear some of the tofu tasted exactly like chicken! At the end of the meal, you choose what you want to pay by donation, if you feel really happy and full show it in your donation. If I remember correctly I think my roommate has told me about a restaurant in Victoria, BC that is also vegetarian and you pay what you feel at the end of the meal as well. I will have to remember to check that out when I get home! All in all the day was wonderful, the hospitality of the nuns and monks was amazing, they are always portrayed as such happy people and that portrayal is 100% accurate.

Sunday: Lotus Pond – 10 min walk from Zouying Train Station in Kaohsiung it is free and open to the public 24/7.

Dragon and Tiger Pagoda

We arrived just before the sun set to find crowds of people gathered at the Lotus Pond for the Kaohsiung Folklore Festival.  We had seen pictures of the pond at night so we thought it would be a good time to go, however it was a bit rainy but we still managed to enjoy ourselves. The pond is surrounded with many temples and is dotted with Pagodas. Earlier in the day I was skyping with family back home for Canadian Thanksgiving and my cousin had asked if I had seen any coy fish, so I had to try and take some pictures for him but it was hard it the dark. His favorite is the white one with black spots and a red dot on the head. I will be sure to go back in the daytime to get some good pictures!

Monday: Taiwan’s 100th Birthday Fireworks in Lukang – 3 hour train ride from Kaohsiung City for about $20 CDN.

Fireworks way in the background…

In honor of the 100th Birthday of Taiwan there were 3 different celebrations in 3 different cities. Taipei, Thaichung, and Lukang were the cities featuring the celebration and at the last stop there was to be amazing fireworks. We arrived in the city with a few hours to spare and figured we would get a bite to eat and then find a good place to sit and watch. TURNS OUT, people had been staking their space since early morning and they were now bussing people to the fireworks destination where about 20,000 people would be watching. We were tight for time and knew that we could get to the fireworks, but did not think we would make it back for our train home. So we started to ask people if they thought we would be able to watch them from where we were. They thought it was only about 3 km away, so yes. We found a building that had stairs with access to the roof, jumped through a window and found a good ledge to sit on, watch and take pictures. The fireworks lasted 45 min long and were amazing, I wish I had a better camera so that I could share with you how magnificent they were.

King of the Jungle

4 Oct

Banana Signs Guide You to the Trails

Just a few minutes in a cab up the mountain from National Sun Yat-sen University and past the Wanshoushan Zoo, you will be delighted to find Monkey Mountain! Myself and a few other exchange students drug out buts out of bed on a Saturday morning on search of all the monkeys.

There are three different trails that take you around the park and into the jungle where you can enjoy the company of many monkeys, big and small. We were not to sure if we were heading in the correct direction to start, but no more than 50 meters into the trail we were delighted when we saw a monkey skurry on to the path ahead of us.

Monkey's Guiding the Way

Getting our cameras out and ready we were soon surprised to see that the first monkey we saw was the lookout man and behind him came the rest of the pack (not sure if that is the correct terminology for a large gathering of monkeys, but that is what I’m going to go with). The monkeys came one after one after one…. you get the idea. We decided that the smartest thing to do would be to follow them and by this time there was more people on the trail with us, they looked like they were going to do the same thing, so off we went! Up and up the stairs to arrive at what looked like a monkey’s playground, families were grooming each other, little ones were eating and others were very curious about us (sniffing for food is my guess). The hike to the top took us about 1 hour and on the way down it started to rain, so we took shelter in a hut surrounded by monkeys, one was even brave enough to hop on the roof and peer over at us to have a look, he was my most favourite monkey of the day.

My Favourite

Throughout the walk we were greeted by many locals who were out for a sunday hike with the family or a daily exercise routine that many of the Kaohsiung elders have. A young father and small son were happy to show us shortcuts along the way, big smiles and the general kindness of the Taiwan people were very heartfelt all along the trails. I think we may have taken the long way back down the mountain, but it lead us to a beautiful view of the city (everything happens for a reason, right?). The signage on the trail is in English and Chinese but the direction of the signs left you guessing, as well as what the numbers meant on them, we had no clue! We decided that we will have to go back and try out the other two trails, so I will keep you posted if we do!

Welcome to Taiwan

9 Sep

Well, I have survived the first week here and I might even be starting to get used to the heat. You could say that I have become acquainted with some of Kaohsiung city and I am able to navigate the MRT (subway system). Luckily there are many people here who are willing to help you learn, if they have been here for two years or two days every one is really great about sharing advice. We are all in the same scenario or they have been in the same situation at one point or another so it is really good to know you have people who are so willing to help. It is all about good karma, so when new people arrived after me I was there to help them out as well.

In order to get to know the city better I feel that I just need to get out there and do things! So far I have seen only a couple places and gone to eat at a few different restaurants, but the city is full of life and there will be much to preoccupy my time with this semester (between classes and studying of course 😛 ). Prior to coming here everyone kept telling me that I was going to love the food, the people and the beauty of the country… well this was all extremely true. Here are a few pictures for you to see what I mean:

The first weekend here my exchange buddy took me to Cijin Island

Trying new food with my buddy's friend… yum yum!

Shaved ice with mixed fruit topping

Inside Famosa Boulevard MRT Station - 'Tunnel of Light'

The NSYSU campus is so beautiful

On the Taiwan tourism website, they say Taiwan is the ‘Heart of Asia’ and I totally agree with this, not because of the location but because of the kindness of the local people, they have beautiful hearts! On my first trip into the city from the school I was walking around a busy street with a few other exchange students trying to decide what food to try from the vendors. We clearly stood out in the crowd and a Taiwanese high school aged student walking with friends comes up to us smiles big and in English says, “Welcome to Taiwan” then walked away. This really touched my heart  ❤

Departures & Arrivals

1 Sep

Sooke Pot Holes

Over the past few weeks I have been saying my good byes, from New Brunswick to Victoria and friends/family scattered in between. I was fortunate enough to have my Dad visit me in Victoria right before I left to help get me and my stuff to the airport and send me away. In the days before hand we were total tourists, enjoyed island adventures to the Sooke Pot Holes and as well as China Beach on the Juan De Fuca Trail. Canada just ceases to amaze me, just look at the picture; made me sad to say goodbye but I have more to look forward to when I come home! See ya in 4 months Canada 😀

So tired & attractive, right?!

YAY I have arrived in Taiwan!!!! My forehead is glistening (aka. Dripping sweat) and I am hauling my luggage up to the second level of the third floor in the International Residence building. It is dark out, smells like a jungle, and I am exhausted. All I want to do is crash in a big soft bed, not going to happen.

I am now almost settled in my room in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I knew arriving here that the room would be furnished, but have no mattress or pillow and I arrived late in the evening, so there was no way for me to get them last night. My sleeping arrangement last night was my blanket made into a pillow, my mattress cover under me and my top sheet sprawled around me as it was way too hot and sticky to even bother. Woke up once, woke up twice, woke up way too many times… but I knew from my trip to Australia that the best way to beat jet-leg was to get up early and get busy, so by 7:30 AM I had enough of tossing and turning and felt it was time to get on with my day.

Items that I was determined to find by the end of today:

–       mattress or something that resembled one

–       pillow

–       how the hell to turn on the AC in my room (the remote is in Mandarin)

–       if I am feeling hungry, maybe a bite to eat

–       internet cord

–       cell phone (not in a hurry to get one, but will need eventually)

Made my way with a spring in my step to cross all of these items off my list. The spring in my step mainly coming from the fact that the residence building is on the top of Shou Mountain and the National Sun Yat-Sen University (NSYSU) campus is on the bottom (not particularly fun walking back up in +32 sticky/sweatyness, but I will learn to deal with it, mainly because we have beautiful views of Hsitzewan Beach as you can see in the picture).

View from my floor!

First I found a Family Mart (convenience store), International Exchange Office where they told me how to get an internet cord, and upon returning to residence a friend who could speak Mandarin and help me to get a mattress, translate my remote so I can get my AC turned on, and directions to a store where I can get a pillow! Life is good 🙂

With my new friend and map in hand we made our way to find a store that I only had the Chinese name of and no idea where it was. She had heard of if but turns out she does not have a very good sense of direction. So we found someone who could give us directions in Mandarin, she would translate to English, and I would get us there. After this outing we have decided that I am going to teach her how to get around campus and she is going to help me learn Mandarin!

The Mandarin instructions I had taken down, surprisingly people could actually read it!

I basically was able to get everything that I needed, except a cell phone, but that can wait. I have pictures up and my dorm is starting to feel like home. I currently have no room mate, but over the next week they may be moving in. Here are some pictures of my room, and yes I can see the water from my window!

Desk area 🙂

My bed last night 😦

My bed after today 🙂