Monday, August 15, 2011


Due to time constraints (better known as Ally needs to regularly sleep more than 4 hours per night to be a happy functional human being), Ally has unfortunately fallen behind in updates on the blog. She will continue, however to update on her official SayTaiwan page (now available here).

Here is a picture of Longshan temple in Taipei to tide you over.

More to come!

Day 3: Taipei!

Spent Day 3 Exploring Taipei with Cathy and my host cousin Jacquie. Photos are below. I hope you enjoy :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 2 - Danshui (Tamshui)

On Sunday morning we headed northward to Danshui to visit my host father's family - including my 90-year-old host grandmother who still produces amazing artwork (see below) - as well as the Alma matter of both my host parents, Tan Kang University. Cooper, my host cousin (whose real name rather awesomely sounds like the Chinese translation of Optimus Prime) and my host mom Cathy were my guides for the day. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 1 in Taichung

Could not have asked for a better start to my stay in Taichung - we spent the entirety of yesterday doing my favourite thing, eating!

Started off the day with a Taiwanese take on the traditional western brunch (complete with an awesome apple-kiwi smoothie -yum!)

The food got rapidly more Taiwanese from there as Cathy took us to visit the Taichung day market. 

Everyone was just so friendly and warm and they all kept giving Laura (a fellow Taichung SayTaiwan guest from Colombia)and I delicious things to try! There were lots of red bean patties, sweet fruits such as Dragon's Eyes, melon based jelly drinks, dumplings and more! We also stopped off at a small temple and a table loaded with offerings and burning incense in honour of Ghost Month this month.


From there is was off to the Taichung City Seaport Art Centre, where we met up with another host family and guest Mohamed from Tunisia, and headed toward the Taichung Harbour for even more delicious foods - including salmon and tuna candy, miniature snails (sooo yummy), red bean balls, deep fried taro dumplings and a spicy crab and squid medley :).

After stuffing ourselves full we raced off toward the Gao-Mei ecological protection wetlands to wade into the ocean, watch some miniature crabs and catch the sunset. (Laura and I also managed to chow down on some more grilled squid so that, by the time we made it to the welcome BBQ that one of the other host families was hosting we were stuffed to the brim!)Such a satisfying day! Gonna try and catch another half hour of sleep before starting the next one :).

Friday, August 12, 2011


Not sure yet how the jet lag or 12hour time difference are going to hit me but woke up this morning at 6am Taiwan time after going to bed around 1am, so it doesn't look too shabby yet - that being said, it brings the grand total of hours that I have slept in the last 36 up to 8... Should be doing fine?

Arrived in Taipei last night on a beautiful sunset flight from Tokyo. It's a pity that those three hours of travel time were the three I slept. What I did see of the flight included periwinkle blue and white clouds floating between a deeper blue sky and a paler blue pacific, rimmed by pink and gold and topped of by a pale nearly-full moon. I'm sure with my lack of sleep I'm not doing the scene the justice it deserves but it was beautiful! I'm also told there was a great burning orange sunset visible from the other side of the plane but, that I completely missed!

I'm not sure weather the having a night landing in Taipei was unfortunate or exciting. Regardless, coming in from the ocean, the first thing you see are the bright lights dotting the harbour before the sparkling mountainous island seems to just rise out of nowhere. It's truly spectacular and I can't wait to see it during the day! Unfortunately, I couldn't quite capture the image due to the darkness of the night and speed of the plane.

We managed to meet up with some fellow SayTaiwan Centennial Homestay-ers on our flight from Tokyo and all of us received a very warm welcome (both in terms of the weather and the people) upon arrival - there were signs in the airport and everything!

I think Kunal and I may have been a bit excited to arrive... also, as a side note, do you have any idea how much the average traveller carries weight wise in their carry-on? We do! They were conducting a survey at Narita Airport so Kunal and I volunteered to be weighed. 26lbs was how much I was carrying! Kunal only had 20... being 60some-odd pounds lighter than he to begin with, I think this is oddly amusing ;)...

The volunteers who met us at the airport were uuber friendly and helpful, making sure we got our phones, teaching us some mandarin and getting us on to the right forms of transportation to disperse us around the country. I left Kunal in Taipei and, joined by others from places such as Brazil, the US, Algeria and Jordan, headed toward Taichung to meet my absolutely lovely host parents Cathy & David :).

After a brief exchange of living necessities and Canadian gifts (including the requisite maple syrup of course) it was time for a brief email home to state that I was still alive and then off to bed. By the time I finally arrived at my new home it was 12 midnight Saturday morning local time /12 noon on Friday Toronto time - a full 29hrs after having left home in Toronto on Thursday morning.

Looking out my window I can see the pastel colours of Taichung, the green-ness of the parks and all the little minuscule (I'm on the 14th floor) people doing their morning exercises. That, combined with the crazy-exciting super-packed schedule my hosts have planned for me, has made me excited to get started. That being said, I think I might take another short 2hr nap before I decide to truly start my day ;).

And we're off!

So after 18hrs of travelling fellow Torontonian Kunal and I are awaiting our final flight in Tokyo's lovely Narita airport, lounging on comfy futons and enjoying some genuine Japanese sushi :). 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

T- 24hrs

Just over 24hrs to take off and I'm starting to get excited! Fortunately I have lots to occupy myself with - I haven't managed to start packing yet! Best get on that... See you all in Taiwan :)!!!

Friday, August 5, 2011


*Insert Cries of Jubilation Here* Yay! Things are just so much more exciting when they work! I wasn't sure how well my photos would upload but, there one is! (for the record, those of you reading this are looking at a picture of the landscape just outside of Mexico City taken from aboard the most turbulent (read:fun) Air Canada flight I have ever taken). More pictures to be put up as I travel Taiwan. Hope you all enjoy!