Just got back! It was weird mix of China and the West… It’s like Beijing, but cleaner, calmer, tons of delicious desserts, people have more Western manners… so basically nothing like Beijing.
Here’s how I knew I was on the right flight back to Beijing:
1. Everyone was wearing Crocs.
2. Someone sneezed on me.
3. I got jostled in line to board.
4. My seatmate kept bumping me, took over the center armrest, and ate three pieces of fruit she brought for a three hour plane ride where they serve you a meal anyway.
It’s good to be back.
The flight back. (The world is pretty cool looking, actually.)
Side note: you can’t tell from these pictures, but it was wicked hot. I decided to travel closer to the equator… should’ve thought that one through…
In Taipei, I stayed with Debby’s aunt and grandmother. They were the sweetest hosts! They wouldn’t let me do anything to help while I was there, they drove us to the train station every day, and cooked… I could go on! And Debby’s grandmother kept trying to feed us. Here’s a typical morning.
Debby’s grandma: I’m making you breakfast, what do you two want?
Debby: No thanks, we’re going to eat when we get into the city.
Debby’s grandma: You need to eat! If you don’t eat, you might faint!
Debby: We won’t faint, Grandma.
Debby’s grandma: Okay, just eggs then.
Debby: No eggs!
Debby’s grandma: What about her?
Debby: She doesn’t want any eggs, Grandma!
Debby’s grandma: Then juice?
Debby: No thanks.
Debby’s grandma: Okay, I’ll bring you some milk.
She also told us to come back home before dark, or else we wouldn’t be able to see. I was so happy to meet them though, especially because now I know where Debby gets her sassiness! Ha!
Everything is written in traditional characters there, and since I can barely read simplified, that was a little difficult. Also, the accent is hard for me to understand! It was funny to me, because I could understand Debby’s aunt and grandmother (since they came from China and speak more like people here) than her cousins (who’ve lived in Taiwan their whole lives and have thicker accents.) In Beijing, it’s usually the opposite, where it’s easier to understand young people rather than 老北京人who have a really nasally hard “r” sounding accent.
It was nice to go to a place where the specialty foods are all amazing sweets!
Like.. 雪花冰 (shaved ice with topped with fruit, tarro, and condensed milk), 太陽餅 (flaky pastry with a sugary filling) and 凤梨酥 (pineapple tarts). Oh and of course, 奶茶 (pearl milk tea).
Since Beijing isn’t especially known for its sweets, I bought some of these to bring back home. (In fact, one of the only dishes Beijing is famous for is Peking duck, which is delicious of course, but not exactly transportable. Not to say that it isn’t a popular gift for Beijingers to bring to give to others when they travel. You can buy a vacuum-packed, hermetically sealed, entire roasted duck. It looks really nasty, but I’m certain they’ll be surviving the apocalypse.)
Lately, I’ve been shopping like crazy to buy gifts to bring home. Almost done, but I think I’m still going to make another trip to the Pearl Market soon. If you’ve ever wanted anything of ANY luxury brand, let me know! Gucci, Louie, Fendi, Prada, Longchamp… (Did you know that a lot of Chinese people go to the US to do their luxury brand shopping? I thought it was crazy when I heard that, but now I understand their desire to make sure they’re buying legitimate products). Also, I’ll take requests for any movie or TV series ever created (if you don’t mind Chinese subtitles)…
Other than souvenir shopping, things are winding down here. About half the people in the program have already gone home. My roommates and I are currently sitting on the couch blasting the AC. When I got home, they were working on this needlepoint project (?!), watching historical dramas, and snacking. I have the feeling they’d been passing the week similarly :)
Less than a week until I’m back in the U.S. Can’t believe it!