-by Amy Yen
Day 4 in Taiwan, we finally ventured outside of Taipei. It was unbelievably easy to do so, due to Taiwan’s awesome new High Speed Rail (HSR) system, which cut a trip across the entire country to Tainan—which in my childhood used to take approximately six hours by traditional train—down to about an hour & a half by bullet train. And because I was dragged out of bed at 7am to take said trip, I passed out within the first minute & woke up on the other side of the island. Um, awesome.
In Tainan, we met up with my uncle Joe & his family, who are some of those long lost relatives I remember vaguely from my trips to Taiwan in my youth, back before I had those annoying obligations like needing to attend college. The result of not seeing said relatives for 12 years is they have the overriding impression that I do not know Chinese, like, at all, which is not true. Actually, I understand Chinese fluently & speak it pseudo-fluently, like I’m not going to pretend like I’m as good as I should be because, let’s be real, I bailed on Chinese school in like third grade, but come on. I can follow a conversation about typhoons just fine. But I didn’t mind much because, hilariously, what ended up happening was I would actually get congratulated on being able to answer basic questions in Chinese, like “what would you like to drink?” & “would you like some more delicious Asian pear?” If only it was this easy to impress people in America.
The other thing we did in Tainan was go walk around National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), where my dad attended undergrad, studying & rather unfortunately learning to despise industrial design, which is why he eventually went & got a bunch more degrees in other majors in the US instead.
Anyway, it’s a lovely, sprawling campus & we had fun taking obligatory tourist-y pictures in front of their giant oak tree, which is apparently like 14 gazillion years old. We also went & got Chinese shaved ice at a shop near the campus & I got to hear cute stories about how my mom used to meet my dad at that very shop all the time back when they were dating because she worked right around the corner. Awww.
Tomorrow…I’m not entirely sure, but if I had to guess, probably more shopping & eating.