Today is our last day in Taiwan. We leave for Vietnam early tomorrow morning. It was a free day today so the group scattered for last minute shopping and sightseeing. I will chronicle my own day later in this post if anyone is interested.
Reflections on Taiwan: Our group is unanimous that this is a great place to visit. The people are extremely friendly and helpful. The predominant culture here is obviously Chinese, but influenced by many other cultures, such as Japan and Southeast Asia. The food is terrific, the infrastructure is modern, and it is a pretty inexpensive place to be. The traveller can quite easily get by with English but boning up on a half dozen Mandarin phrases will endear you to the locals.
Wulai: I spend the day in Wulai, a mountain village in the north of Taiwan. It is a popular spot, boasting hot springs and a magnificent waterfall. It is the home of the Atayal people, an aboriginal tribe dating back 7000 years in Taiwan. Once a tribe of fierce warriors, they are also master craftsmen and weavers.
The sign says it all. It takes about 2 hrs to get to Wulai from Taipei, if you go on the cheap, which is by subway and bus.
Once in Wulai, you walk through the village lined with people hawking various goods and foods. After a quick snack of wild boar sausage, I started the 2 km trek up the mountain to see the waterfall. It was well worth the trip.
This is a young woman in traditional Atayal dress, weaving.
This is Charles and Kathy, and there is a story behind our meeting here at the waterfall. On the long bus ride up the mountain, we were packed like sardines. I was near the door, and at one stop along the way, a very elderly Chinese man asks me, in English, if I am Swedish (??). I told him I was from the US, and he proceeds to begin a conversation with me, most of which I did not understand. What made it awkward was that he was supposed to be getting off the bus, but he seemed quite happy to stand on the steps and talk with me. After a little while, someone who I assume was his wife reaches up and hauls him down. His parting question was to wonder if I was an engineer (or banker, or something. I forget). I mentioned that I was a professor, he seemed content with my answer, the doors shut, and he was gone from my life.
In Wulai, on the trek up the mountain to see the waterfall, I hear someone saying “hello professor”, and there is Charles and Kathy. Well, Charles obviously knows me, but I can’t seem to recall him. I rack my brain, but can’t remember him. Slender Chinese guy? That hardly narrows it down. Well, it turns out I don’t know him. He was on the bus, and heard me tell the old gentleman that I was a professor. We had a pleasant chat, they offered me some of their fruit to eat, and we parted. After I left them, I told myself that I should have taken their picture. Well, upon coming out of one of the shops in the little village outside the waterfall, there they were again! So I got the picture and added two more folks to the list of friends we have made here in Taiwan.
That’s all. Next post from Ho Chi Minh City.