This week I thought that I’d focus on the memorable activities that I did outside of the lab and KMU. One of the most relaxing moments I experienced in Kaohsiung was walking—in the late evening—at the local parks. Most Taiwanese exercise at night; since it’s the only time the weather is bearable and also because most people are off work.
When you go the park, there are what I’d like to call “free gyms.” There’s equipment where you can exercise and you’ll find old couples working on their fitness. Badminton and basketball are popular here, so you’ll find groups of people playing at night too.
I think what stood out the most to me, was the sense of community I felt at these parks. At the Kaohsiung Cultural Center/Park, we found three separate, organized groups at the center of the park. In an open theater area, with plenty of space, you’ll find people dancing. First was the flash mob. There was a boom box with speakers and one dancing instructor in the front. Surrounding the instructor, was a group of about 40 women following her movements. Second, was the Tai Chi group of roughly 10 people. Like the first group, there was one person leading the group. The music was much softer and relaxing. All of the movements were so graceful… whereas, I’m not the most elegant of dancers! The third group was by far my favorite. There were about 15 couples dancing in a circle. Most of the couples were either middle-aged or elders. The songs reflected different genres and styles of dances. There were tracks for waltz, tango, folk dances, and even swing. This was a ballroom dance group!
I was so excited to join this set of people. Seeing elderly couples waltz was absolutely adorable! 😊 Since this was around 10pm, we realized that they were getting ready to leave. Most people were packing their bags and changing shoes. We talked to the main dance instructor and he welcomed us into their group. He told us the times and days they went to practice. (For the curious, it was Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays from 7-9:30pm) Of course, I went to their next dance meeting. Edgar and I went together, so I already had my dancing partner. Now, the problem was learning the dance routines. It seemed like all the couples were expert dancers! So we just jumped into the dance circle and tried to mirror their movements. One man noticed we were slightly struggling to keep up, so he pulled us aside and showed us all the steps. He was incredible kind and patient. He took the time to teach us and he even knew the steps for both dance partners (girl and guy). When I felt more comfortable with the movements, he surprised me by doing the classic ballroom “dip!” (You know, where the man holds the girl by the waist and she leans backwards, almost as is she’s falling.) I felt like it was a scene from a movie and I couldn’t stop smiling!!! It’s possible we had unknowingly been taught by an expert dancer. Regardless, we had so much fun dancing that we didn’t even realize that 2 hours had already passed and practice was over. Afterwards, we thanked the impromptu instructor for his help and he told us that he’d be happy to teach us more. When I finally got home, I was exhausted and I fell immediately asleep after I had taken a shower.
As a side note, in this same area, we found a lot of street art. This building looked amazing and I believe about 2 years ago they had a street art festival. So I thought I’d show some pictures of this neighborhood!