Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Final Thoughts from Isle Formosa.

This is it, my final blog from Taiwan. First of all, I would just like to take the time to thank everyone who has been reading, and posting, and sharing this once in a lifetime opportunity with me. It has kept me going, and kept me writing. Just looking back on my previous blog posts, and my over 1000 pictures that I have taken while in Taiwan has made me realize just how much I have experienced. I was hoping to actually write my final Taiwan blog in Chinese and then translate into English, but after writing for 6 hours with still no end in sight I told myself 慢慢來 man4man4lai2 (don’t rush this, just take your time) and decided to just wrap things up in my mother tongue. I hope to take advantage of my six-hour layover in San Francisco and finish up the Chinese version there.

This chapter of my life has changed who I am in a huge way. Apart from learning, thinking, and dreaming in a different language, I have grown the most as a human being. I have altered my views, and expanded my opinions on the world. I have met travelers and friends from all parts of the globe and not only listened to the stories they have shared, but shared a few tales of my own. I have finally experienced living independently for the first time in my 23 years on this third rock from the sun, and think I have done all right. Sure, I didn’t ever actually cook a meal, and I may be a thinner than when I came to Taiwan, but I kept my clothes clean, my house in order, and got my self up and off to school everyday without a hitch. I learned how to manage a relatively small monthly budget, and make it last. All in all, I am claming success.

I have enjoyed everyday that I have spent here, and the past 10 months have been like a dream. I have learned so much, and I know that I won’t possible remember it all. But, I am sure that I will carry this momentum home with me and just keep trudging on; learning new knowledge, and reinforcing the old. Counting down my final hours here seems surreal. I know that tomorrow night I will be back in Milwaukee, but I couldn’t think of anything that was a “must do” during my last afternoon. I am, however, saying to hell with the summer heat and going out for a hot pot dinner tonight, one of my favorite meals here in Taiwan, but other than that my day has been spent just relaxing and taking in the rolling tides of noise generated by scooters, buses, and cars that fill the streets.

Although today has been rather uneventful, I cannot say the same about the past week here in Taiwan. It has been jam packed with new adventures. Monday wrapped up my final test of the quarter, and after that it was smooth sailing. I spent the rest of the week working on things that really interested me about Chinese, mainly poetry, idioms, and traditional stories. I really learned a ton in the past week about the history and culture of the Chinese language, something that really made my one on one class worth every cent. Wednesday night it was out for my final night at Roxy 99 with my fellow classmates and friends from Taiwan. We had a blast and I ended up getting home very late. Thursday was the big day, our GuZheng class had our end of the quarter performance, and my classmate Rou Wen and I performed a section of 梁祝 Liang2 Zhu4 a song based on the Classical tragic romance between two lovers Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai. This story is often known as the Chinese equivalent of Romeo and Juliet. The performance was a lot of fun, but I was incredibly nervous. Everyone did a great job and our teacher took some awesome video of the whole thing, but I haven’t had a chance to upload it to Youtube yet so guess you all with have to wait till I get home to check it out.

Friday was my final day of class but I wouldn’t call it a class at all, my teacher and me spent our two hours looking over a bit of my writing and then just having a chat about anything that came to mind, politics, travel, my future studies in Chinese so on and so fourth. It was a wonderful end to my three quarters here, there was no test, no TingXie, no nothing, just pure conversation, it was grand. On Saturday a very special friend of mine Vivi, a wonderful Taiwanese girl that I have been spending time with, decided to spend the day in Wulai, a small town about an hour south of Taipei. Wulai is known for Natural River hot springs and it’s over abundance of aboriginal Taiwanese culture. While we were there took a mini train to the waterfall in the area and avoid the rain by eating a wonderful aboriginal lunch, the highlight being rice wrapped with taro and cook in a bamboo stalk, it was mouth watering. Sunday we took a walk from my place over to the Jade/ Flower market near Daan Forest Park. It was nice to see, but nothing spectacular, but the hour walk to the market was certainly very enjoyable. That night it was off to Little Indonesia with the hostel gang for some wonderfully spicy Indonesia food, that place has become our recent Sunday tradition.

Monday was a lot of fun. Me and Vivi originally wanted to head over to Mao Kong Gondola for a nice hike in the mountains of Taipei, but during our MRT switch from the MRT Blue Line to the Brown Line I discovered that the Gondola is not in service on Mondays. Although I really wanted to check out the Gondola before I left, I wasn’t going to let it get me down. We headed over to Elephant Mountain for a nice hike in the blazing heat. The hike left me covered head to toe in sweat, but the view during the day was worth every drip. I realized just how small Taipei was, and just how many people live in this city. They couldn’t build out, so they just built up and it makes for a miraculous view. I felt like I was king of the world, although Taipei 101 still loomed above me standing tall and proud. Taipei 101 is a true marvel of human engineering. After descending from the Mountain it was over to Sun Yat-Sen Memorial hall, after studying some Chinese history I really took a great interest in this man. It took 10 tries to over though the last Chinese dynasty, but he never gave up. It was awesome to see the changing of the guard and to just walk around the Memorial Hall that was built in his honor.

After S.Y.S. Memorial it was back home to relax and start getting my items in order. My busy final week in Taipei had come to and end. Now it was time to get some last minute things packed and decided one and for all what clothing, books, and other assorted items I was and wasn’t going to take home with me. At this point only my laptop remains out side of my bags. And looking at the time I think it’s time to even pack this away. I have had a remarkable journey, an adventure that I will never forget. I am looking forward to coming home and sharing my experiences with you in the flesh. Well… until next time Taiwan,and there will be a next time, I bid you farewell.

Jacob Gill

Friday, August 15, 2008

Install your language packs.

Well everyone, the days are counting down till I am back in the States. The end of the quarter has been keeping me busy. I have been spending most of my time hitting the books, doing more Chinese reading, writing, and speaking. Don't really have much to report since the last blog. But I did want to share something with you guys. The story below is not of my own creation, but I did write it in Chinese. I present my version of Snow White to the blogger verse. You don't have to read Chinese to know how the story goes, but if you do read Chinese, I encourage thoughts and criticisms. Just remember in the end, Snow White and her Prince, lived happily ever after. I will see you all soon enough when my own fairy tale here in Taipei comes to an end. But keep an eye out for one more post before I get home. Just a final recap while still on the beautiful Island Formosa.


王后也很漂亮,頭髮黑黑的,眼睛也很美。她覺得自己是世界上最美的女人,於是每天對著魔鏡問:『魔鏡,魔鏡,世界上最美的女人是誰?』 『是您,我的王后』 魔鏡每次都這樣回答。但是說也奇怪,有一天魔鏡說:『最美的女人是白雪。』 王后聽了以後,氣得要命,就叫了一個獵人把白雪帶到森林裡殺掉。不過那個獵人很同情白雪,於是對白雪說:『王后要殺你!我求你趕快逃到森林裡去吧。』

白雪就跑進森林裡去,跑了很久跑得累極了。這時候,她看到森林裡有一間小房子,裡面有七張小小的床,她心想:『我累得不得了,我就在這裡休息一下』她一閉上眼睛,就睡著了。她睡覺的時候,住在這裡的七個小矮人回家發現白雪在他們家裡。他們覺得該讓這個美女睡覺,不要打擾她。白雪起床以後告訴他們她的情況,七個小矮人聽了以後說:『你可以住在這裡,只要幫我們洗衣服,做飯就好了。』白雪聽了就說:『一言為定』。可是第二天那邪惡的王后又問魔鏡:『魔鏡,魔鏡,世界上最美的女人是誰?』,魔鏡還是回答『 最美的女人是白雪』魔鏡的回答讓王后非常生氣,所以她決定化裝成一個老婆婆到小矮人的房子去給白雪一個又紅又大的毒蘋果吃。

有一天小矮人都要出去工作,出門以前對白雪說:『我們到山上去挖金子,你在這裡等我們回來,千萬別讓人進來。』 不久以後,白雪聽到有人在敲門,她從窗戶偷看是誰,發現在外面站著一個老婆婆,雖然小矮人說別讓人進來,可是她心想:『這是一個看起來很誠實的老婆婆,再說她拿著一個又紅又大的蘋果看起來很好吃,請她進來吧』。白雪走過去把門打開來,原來站著一個有鷹勾鼻,駝背的老女人。老婆婆目不轉睛的盯著白雪說:『美女你好嗎,請吃吃看這個又紅又大的蘋果吧!』 可是白雪吃了一口以後,就一直昏睡。

當天七個小矮人回家以後,發現白雪昏迷不醒 。七個小矮人都覺得她已經死了,於是做了一個玻璃棺材把白雪放在裡面。轉眼過了一個月,有一天那個愛著白雪的王子騎馬走進森林,走近一看嚇了一大跳,躺在棺材裡的女孩就是他心愛的白雪。他心想:『不管她是不是死了,我都要親她。』 所以王子抱起白雪親吻了她,結果白雪慢慢地張開了眼睛對王子說:『我在做夢嗎?原來是我的王子,謝謝你救了我,我愛你。』 從此他們就過著幸福快樂的日子。 結束