Hooray for Holidays!

We’re just returning to school/work today after a much-anticipated four-day weekend celebrating Taiwan’s National Day (on October 10, also known as Double Ten). We also had last Wednesday (Oct. 4) off for Mid-Autumn Festival, but aside from eating moon cakes, that one day was only enough to disrupt our week, but not enough to be restful.

But having four days off! Many friends traveled to other parts of Taiwan for a short holiday, but we opted for a stay-cation, taking day trips to explore the city and surrounding area. Even with the day trips, there was still plenty of down time to relax and to get some chores done. It was fabulous and just what we needed.

On the first day of our break, we took a trip to Tainan, the oldest city in Taiwan, with another family. We met up with friends familiar with the city from having lived there for many years. As a group, we all explored the city together. From what we saw, the older parts of Tainan are quaint with lots of history, little alleyways with vendors, and temples. We explored the Confucius Temple, the Anping Castle, the Anping Tree House, and little markets on old streets. Tainan also is a foodie’s heaven, with its delicious seafood, oyster omelettes, douhua, and shrimp rolls. We also saw a man dressed as the Monkey King walking around outside a temple and taking photos with tourists.

The next day, we took it easy and stayed closer to home. We took a hike up “Monkey Mountain” in Shoushan National Nature Park. The hiking wasn’t quite what I was hoping for–though I shouldn’t be surprised by now–with paved roads and crowds of people, with many in possession of portable radios that they played loudly. It wasn’t quite the peaceful and relaxing experience with nature I’m used to, but we were able to go off on smaller side trails to get a taste of that. We also saw many, many monkeys casually walking about and swinging from trees, including adorable baby monkeys.

We took another trip out of our area with our friends on our third day off, to Fo Guang Shan, a Buddhist monastic complex. It was beautiful and amazing, with seven pagodas lining a wide walkway to the 30-meter Buddha statue. On the grounds, there was a museum, shrines where visitors could pray, an auditorium where films are shown, and several restaurants. We spent many hours walking the grounds, admiring the view, visiting the shrines, and taking it all in.

Our last day of break was spent at home, taking it easy and preparing for a short week. This break, our first “real” break since school began two months ago, did a lot to help rejuvenate us. Now onward to the rest of our first semester in Taiwan!


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