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
高建

9 comments:

Johnny K said...

Jake. Following your trip through your writing has been very inspiring and exciting. I am looking forward to seeing you in Tosa. Hopefully you will have some good travel tips for me!

Anonymous said...

Jake, I am excited that I will see you tomorrow but a little sad that your wonderful, informative and interesting posts will be over.

Safe journey home----loving hugs, grandma

Tom Gill said...

Jake - hurrah for the internet! In addition to keeping in contact with people halfway across the world on a regular basis (which was a saving grace for us), you now have this incredible written collection of stories, pictures, observations and musings...in the 70's there was an iconic image that suggested "Keep on Truckin'" and perhaps I can speak for all who've enjoyed your exciting and poignant posts to say, "Keep on Bloggin'"! Hope your trip home is a smooth transition for you...see you VERY soon! - Love, Dad

Aunt Carrie said...

Jake,

I finally had a chance to read your last blog. It appears to demonstrate emotions of sadness and happiness. I guess you could call this a bittersweet moment. You are sad that you are leaving a place that means so much to you yet happy to be returning to the family and friends that love you.

I feel those emotions too. I'm glad that you are returning but sad for the closing of the window to Taipei that you've opened for us. While I will cherish the stories and experiences you've shared with us, deep down I will always eagerly await your future adventures and experiences.

I hope that one day I may be able to open a window to the corner of the world for others the way you did for us. Thanks for sharing your great experiences and insights, it has been a worthwhile treat that I will always recall with great fondness.

Carrie

your family said...

Jake's in 'Tosa!...Picked you up a few hours ago and we are so glad you are safely arrived/returned to your "home base", a term I use because we've just witnessed how well travel suits you and we all know the world and opportunity will come knocking for you again... Dad, Mom, Emily

歡唱 said...

錢,給你帶來歡愉的日子,但不給你帶來和平與幸福 ..................................................

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