Taiwan 2018: Starting Lab and Weekly Excursions

Week 3:
Dragon Boats!
The start of our first full week at Kaohsiung Medical University was a holiday—Dragon Boat Festival! Our lab mate was kind enough to take us to Love River to see the exquisite boats, intense races and to eat delicious street food (dumplings, “onion stuffed bagels”, and more dumplings). It was nice to start the week with a cultural event. The rest of the week consisted reading articles that related to our project. We worked in a temporary lab space until a work space opened up near our “real” lab. Reading articles for so many hours was tiring; however, I am glad we had lots of time to do so because I learned more on how muscle wasting and CKD relate and how serious of an issue it is. I also read articles that sparked my curiosity in the methods being taken to increase physical functionality among CKD patients. Week 4:
View of Lotus Lake from the Tiger Pagoda
The start of week 4 was very eventful and fun. We visited Cijin Island over the weekend, where we walked through a  black sand beach, a large street market and rode a four person bike around the island and along its waterfront. We enjoyed sunshine and tranquility at Lotus Lake the next day and perused around the temples and pagodas lining the lake. It was nice to go back to Cijin Island after going with Matt on our first week here. The first time we visited, we got stranded at Cihou Fort for a bit because of a small typhoon that was passing through.The heavy rain and strong winds were so different for me, a California girl, but it was definitely exciting! I am glad we still saw a great view of Kaohsiung’s skyline, the harbor and the beach. This event made me realize that my umbrella was no match for the local mix of rain and wind and that rain ponchos really come in handy here.
Sunset at Cijin Beach
Our week in lab was similar to week 3—finding more research articles that related to our project. This was the last week of finals at KMU so we had to be patient for a little while longer.  Luckily, we met with a Post- Doctoral student in Dr. Guo’s lab and discussed the details of our exercise intervention. In summary, the lab has created a device to support an in-bed exercise routine for hospital patients. I love how they kept in mind the importance of a portable exercise device. Not many sick patients are strong enough to exercise with heavy equipment and not many researchers are able to easily transport heavy exercise equipment! I am excited to learn how to use the software and to work with subjects. We will start by testing the device on healthy people first to ensure it is safe enough to use with CKD patients.

We ended week 4 with a trip to Fo Guang Shan. This enormous Buddhist temple had beautiful gardens, shrines, statues and traditional Chinese architecture. I appreciated the inclusivity, kindness and selflessness the temple community emanated here. I will never forget the unexplainable feeling of silently being handed an offering, shyly walking it up to a Buddhist shrine and praying/giving thanks in front of the most breathtaking, man-made structures I have ever seen. The feelings that followed brought tears to my eyes as I thought “This is beyond mine and my family’s wildest imagination!”.

  Until next time, Melissa