Here’s a few random experiences and random thoughts (as well as some pictures) from our last few weeks in Kyrgyzstan and our first week in Taiwan:
Some guys in Kyrgyzstan must be real shy to ask a girl out. It’s a sad thing, but before we left Kyrgyzstan we heard that the reason one of my students missed some of her English classes was because her sister had been kidnapped. She and her family were now preparing for the wedding. Yep – some Kyrgyz guys kidnap a girl and make her stay overnight at his house (nobody touches her) until she agrees to the wedding. The next day they contact her family and probably her parents will also agree to it (there are many financial and social reasons to comply). However, if her parents don’t want it to happen, they can always take the girl back home. This whole idea sounds pretty old-fashioned and barbaric but it’s still around.
Taiwan is a great place. Taipei is expensive, but it’s orderly, high-tech, clean, and efficient. The buses and subways are amazing. The people are generally very friendly. A dentist gave me a filling in less than 2 minutes. People line up to get on the metro. Everyone wears helmets when they ride scooters. The weather this time of year is hanging around 70 degrees. There’s a 7-11 on most corners and I even ate at Subway last week. We’ve been staying with our friends, the Lius, in Taipei. It’s always good to stay with friends (it’s cheap!) and hear how things have been going with them and encourage each other.
Jennifer and I went to the top of Taipei 101 last week also. It’s been the tallest building in the world the last 4 years and still claims that spot. There’s a skyscraper in Dubai that’s taller now, but it’s not finished yet, so we won’t count that. Checking that out, as well as the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial and the National Palace Museum, made for a great week. I also met a number of Jennifer’s cousins. We ate meals with them and ran around on scooters sometimes.
The food in Taiwan is real interesting. Maybe you didn’t know that Taiwanese food is quite a bit different than Chinese food, especially the Chinese food you get in the States. Sure, there are noodles and rice here, but there’s also plenty of slimy or gritty or tasty concoctions. Yesterday I ate pigs’ feet, noodles, baby bees, rat, wild boar, green shoots, peanuts, shaved ice, guava, a number of different kinds of breads and vegetables, and plenty of other things. And then we closed the day with Jennifer’s family by finishing off a whole plate of the famous Stinky Tofu so loved by the Taiwanese. All of that doesn’t really describe Taiwanese food very well because some of that was mountain stuff and there’s lots of seafood here – just depends where you are. But believe me when I say the food is ‘different’.
We’re so blessed to be able to travel. I met Jennifer’s grandmother this past weekend and some of her aunts and uncles. We traveled south out of Taipei on the High Speed Rail on Friday to Kaohsiung with Jennifer’s cousin Jesse. After that we took a bus to Donggang, which is where most of Jennifer’s mother’s side of the family lives. Her grandmother is Japanese, so she speaks Japanese and Taiwanese. They’ve all treated me so well and fed me lots of seafood and taken good care of me. Jennifer and I are approaching one year of marriage and to be in Taiwan with her has been really meaningful.
Mark wearing his Kyrgyz hat in Taipei with our friends’ family
Jennifer with her cousin Jesse eating vermecelli noodles wrapped in tofu skin covered with brown sauce. They love it!
The top visitable floor of Taipei 101 – it took 37 seconds to travel almost 90 stories.
National Palace Museum in Taipei – it holds 650,000 pieces of Chinese history
A tasty baby bee in it’s cocoon (is that the right word?) on the end of Jennifer’s chopsticks
The famous Stinky Tofu is on the left