This has been one of the best weeks I’ve had in Kaohsiung. It was just great because of the laughs I had, new places I visited, and fears I not necessarily conquered, but did indeed confront. We officially completed amplifying and digesting DNA samples on Thursday, so Friday was free. Next week we will meet with Dr. Li to discuss our submitted rough draft and go over our Power Point presentation. In the meantime, I spent the four day weekend exploring more of Kaohsiung.

Waiting while staining agarose gels with EtBr as well as rinsing the gels with water in order to be sure that our gel will look great under UV light in the transilluminator

On Thursday, we all went to dinner to see my beloved roommate Ophine off. She would be returning to Sumatra, Indonesia the next day so we decided to go to the restaurant where we had our first group roommate meal, Spice Shop. This restaurant is my favorite in all of Taiwan, and ironically is not a Taiwanese, but an establishment that prepares Indian cuisine. We ate our masalas and curries with fresh butter naan, and samosas, a delicious last meal in Kaohsiung for my dear Ophine. Afterward, we rented city bikes and rode along the love river from Aozihdi MRT station back to KMU. In the morning upon her leaving the dorm for the airport, we all shared goodbyes, see you laters, and well wishes. Although the occasion was bittersweet, it helps knowing that in this point and time I know have acquaintances and friends from all over the world. Perhaps next time I see her, we’ll be in Bali?

Sabrina, Arisa, Amy, and I at the National Sun Yat-Sen University

Views from the National Sun Yat-Sen University

Friday, I went to areas around the Yanchengpu and Siziwhan MRT Stations with Sabrina, her roommate Arisa, and Arisa’s friend Amy. Amy was a Kaohsiung native, and therefore the perfect tour guide. Before we truly started the day, I had a dish of duck meat and a kind of clear/translucent noodle apparently made from green beans. It looked quite interesting, but was ultimately tastier than I expected. And one must always have their bubble milk tea with them at such meals. Amy took us to one of the more famous tea shops, Shang Fei, which she told us meant two concubines; it was the best milk tea I’ve had in Taiwan. Later, we walked around these areas going to the Pier-2 Outdoor Art Museum. This attraction is like a huge sculpture garden, and was a beautification project at an old transit station in Kaohsiung. Next we walked by Fisherman’s Wharf where many ships were visible at the port, and later headed toward the National Sun Yat-Sen University where the famous “Monkey Mountain” or Shoushan is located.

Take some time to smell the flowers.

I try my best to stay away from monkey’s and similar wildlife despite my status as a biologist, so I was not too disappointed when we weren’t able to reach the mountain before sunset, but the views at the university were amazing. Ships were on the water, the sky was beautiful, and the way that the light touched the trees and surround buildings and structures was just breathtaking. Kaohsiung at sunset is a wonderful place to be. And to make it even better, we ended the night at a famous shaved ice place where we ordered a dish of strawberries, mango, pineapple, watermelon, and condensed milk. Talk about YUMMY!

Me at Fisherman’s Wharf

Many a times at food vendors in Taiwan, you’ll see that food is advertised with these plastic look-alikes. Still looks like delicious shaved ice to me.

I’m never ready for those pictures that they take before the ride begins.

On Saturday, my glorious weekend continued with a trip to The E-Da World Amusement Park with Sabrina, her roommate Julia from Germany, and her old roommates from Malaysia, Cin and Yi Yi. Cin and Yi Yi are some of the loveliest people that I have met in Taiwan, true friends that I hope to keep in contact with upon returning to the US. When we first arrived to Kaohsiung and our KMU dorm, it was them who made us feel welcomed and introduced us to our new surroundings, for which I’ll forever be grateful. Continuing on, at E-Da World we encountered some virtual reality (VR) games such, some of which were easier to handle than others (i.e. I am entirely unable to participate in horror related VR escape rooms). Before we entered the eerie room where our game would begin, the safety/storyline video warns that one should be mentally ready for the experience, and I remember thinking to myself “how will I know I am ready?”. Putting the headset on and seeing myself during the first few seconds of being in the game environment in that “Hospital of Horror” answered my question. I must say it was hilarious to see how ridiculous the tasks were from the outside looking in.

Poses at E-Da World Amusement Park

In addition we rode some really fun rides that allowed us to see the splendor of the Dashu District of Kaohsiung. And, I am proud to say that I rode my first Ferris wheel on Saturday, which according to the E-Da World website is 230 m or 755 feet above sea level. As the wheel began, it’s slow rotation and I saw the ground and the surrounding areas lights appear farther and farther away, I must admit my heartbeat quickened, my fear of heights creeping into our cavern. I might not have conquered my fear, but I definitely confronted it. Deep breathing is key, and laughing was the best medicine, for my acrophobia, and my broken heart because Sunday officially marks my last week left in Taiwan. Amazing how time flies. Until next week, Indigo