Taiwan blog #2 – the wishing trees

The best word to describe the past 2 weeks would have to be: rainy…but that did not stop us from going out and continuing to explore Kaohsiung and to appreciate everything that is offered here! These past 2 weeks have been filled with tons of group bonding with everyone in my cohort and with our lab mates. We did a lot of Western things from eating pasta and pizza to watching Incredibles 2 (there is a movie theater conveniently located right next to campus)! I did not have much expectations for the pasta but it was actually some of the best I have had! The movies in Kaohsiung are nothing like America because you can actually bring food into the theater! So of course we brought our dinner into the theater and enjoyed the movie.
Squid pasta!
              That weekend we visited Lotus Pond which is famous for the Dragon and Tiger towers. It was pretty crowded when we went and I saw a lot of international travelers as well. There are old temples that line the pond (which is more like a lake because of how big it is) and I will definitely be going back to visit those temples. I know the others have pictures of the Dragon and Tiger towers but what stood out to me the most were the Wishing Trees! One of the temples on the pond had an area of trees where people would write down their wishes, dreams, hopes, and/or aspirations and hang them on the trees. It made me warm inside to see my own wishes being shared with such different people all over the world to show how deep down we are all the same. I would have written down my own wish and hung it up on the tree but I could not figure out how to purchase the wooden plate.
Wish Tree at Lotus Pond!
The next week the group, led by Rachel a graduate student in Guo’s lab, went to visit Fo Guang Shan which is famous for the Buddhist temples. The location was out of the way but there is Uber in Kaohsiung and our driver was nice enough to give Rachel his contact information because he knew that Fo Guang Shan was so out of the way that calling an Uber from there to get home would be next to impossible. The site is separated into 3 sections and it took the group half the day to get through 1.5 sites, there is just so much to see: the temples are beautiful and the statues are enormous! One thing that stood out to me while at Fo Guang Shan was the museum. On the second floor of the museum the walls are lined with paintings from local elementary, middle, and high school students. I loved seeing what the kids here had to say because I do wonder what it is like to grow up in Taiwan and looking at their paintings brought me a little closer to that. While we were waiting on our Uber home, we visited a tea shop in the visitor area and the man there was nice enough to let us sit down with him and sample the teas. I was really impressed since I almost never drink tea and even bought a bag to take back home.
Sitting Buddha statue at Fo Guang Shan!
One of my favorite paintings at the museum from a student!
                The research is still going a lot slower than I anticipated. The graduate students here are busy taking finals and do not really have the time to prioritize us but I was introduced to the software that I will be using examining sarcopenic patients. My research project is to examine older adults who are diagnosed with sarcopenia which is muscle atrophy causing a decline in functionality due to aging. I do not have much research experience working with the geriatric population and I know that aging is an inevitable process so I am very excited to begin hands on work. At the moment I continuing my literature review and preparing for my weekly journal presentations in lab. Best, Lam