Touring parts of Taiwan with my fellow fellows was awesome. Aside from getting to know them a lot better, I definitely enjoyed visiting Taipei as well as the various smaller towns. We visited a variety of natural reserves. We biked towards the mountains, hiked other mountains, visited a Buddhist mountain temple, crossed a suspension bridge, went to a variety of different beaches, learned about the history of each place and went to awesome museums.
There is one thing I didn’t like about exploring the natural reserves though: encountering countless certain colorful arachnids. From what I have read, it is the general rule rule that animals show they are not to be messed with (either because they are venomous or poisonous) by making themselves be seen, especially through colorful ornamentations. I am not scared of spiders when I know for a fact they are not venomous, but I am very cautious when it comes to novel species. Needless to say, it seems that one of the favorite memories of my fellow MHIRT trainees during the first week was my usual cautious behavior when encountering said creatures (which at one point might have included fleeing by cycling furiously).
It is worth mentioning that an added benefit of exploring is the great amount of exercise, which allows for guilt-free indulgence on the innumerable different tasty dishes in Taiwan. The 7-elevens here have actually pretty good food also, i literally go to a 7-eleven at least three times a day. During the pre-departure cultural orientation, we were told that there are 7-elevens in Taiwan like there are Starbucks in California, which I obviously thought was an exaggeration. It turned out to be that it was actually an understatement as I cannot believe the amount of 7-eleven stores found here (I might try to avoid those stores back in the US to prevent me from being depressed about not being in Taiwan anymore).
On a different note, it did not take too long before I realized that it will be almost impossible to buy clothes or shoes here, as nothing fits me. I have literally not being able to find a pair of shoes my size (US13/EU47 is not that big), which is a bit annoying, but not as annoying as sleeping in a bed that is just too small. The first night that I moved into my dorm and found out that I am literally just too tall (6ft is honestly not that tall) to fit in my bed. Everyone, including I, though that it was hilarious. The second day it was not as funny to me, but I did try to be creative in sleeping positions to put up with the fact that my feet cannot hang off the bed because there are bars enclosing the sides of it. On the third day it was no longer funny at all. I do have particular difficulty sleeping because of it, but the way I see it is that this is one of those small negative details about living here. Definitely not enough to make me dislike it here, but enough to be worth mentioning.
I could go on an on, but the overall view of this first week is that I love Taiwan and am already sad about leaving in August.
Oh, an aborigine also said I looked like his ancestors, a Taiwanese aboriginal mountain warrior because of my tall, dark, and strong complexity. Naturally I was very flattered.
Don’t be surprised if after finishing my PhD I decide to come to Taiwan and settle in an aboriginal community (with a big enough bed of course).
The hot weather is nothing compared to all the awesome things Taiwan has to offer. I also feel like I will gain 20 lbs because the food is delicious. Speaking of which, I am hungry. Carlos out.