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Published: March 31st 2010
This week I had a really good few days with Cynthia and Jasmin, two of my class mates from the Cardiff Uni MA programme back in 2005. We stayed at Jasmin's house in Yilan county and between the two of them they gave me a real introduction to Taiwanese culture - especially the food which they assure me is the most important element! We visited areas around the county and walked amongst Taiwan's gorgeous semi-tropical vegetation and along the wild pacific coastline.
We also went fishing for shrimps at an al-in-one style fishing-catching-cooking-eating-karaoke (random, yes) place full of families, dating couples and friends having fun. We failed at catching many shrimp, in fact we only caught two, but a man who had been watching us with pity kindly gave us his catch so we had plenty to cook and eat.
Jasmin also initiated me in the arts and crafts of Taiwan, from the glass modellers and soap makers in the Yilan cultural park through to her own home - designed by her father in traditional Taiwanese style. A Taiwanese home is shaped like a 'n' - with the right side being more important than the left and therefore the
location of her parents room, and each side of the house having a mirror image the other side. Therefore the sitting room on the left is reflected with a second on the right, and in the same way there are two reflecting reading rooms. The central area is home to a shrine to the family's ancestors where they light incense and prayers are made. In front of the house is a courtyard area enclosed by the bedroom wings, it was very interesting to see.
I also experienced Taiwan's worst sandstorm in the country's history, with muddy rain blowing in from China and covering us, the cars and everything else in a thin layer of sand!
The main aim of my friends was to feed me all of Taiwan's weirdest culinary concoctions - from bowls of congealed pigs blood and deep fried shrimp to liver and intestine for breakfast! There wasn't anything I didn't like, although the quantity almost beat me!
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