Photos taken by Huy Tran (Middlebury College), Student Correspondent for CET Taiwan, Spring 2023
Today was an eventful day for me as I ventured out solo to extend my Visa at 小南门站. After completing the necessary paperwork, I felt a sense of relief and decided to indulge in a scrumptious brunch at a cozy restaurant near the station. The food was exquisite, and the owner’s warm hospitality made me feel right at home.
Feeling satisfied, I didn’t want to just head back to my apartment yet. I yearned to explore the area further. As I wandered around, I stumbled upon an intriguing gate in the middle of the road called Chongxi Gate. It was one of the last remaining parts of the city’s fortifications with a rich history. Despite being destroyed during World War II, it was later reconstructed and has become a popular landmark in the area.
While taking a leisurely stroll, I stumbled upon Longshan Temple. As someone who doesn’t often visit temples, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, the atmosphere was different from what I had imagined. The temple was bustling with people from all walks of life, ranging from locals to tourists.
I soon learned that going to the temple is a significant part of Taiwanese culture. People don’t just visit during holidays; they come any day of the week. It’s common for Taiwanese of all ages to visit the temple before making big decisions or important events. Prayers often revolve around health and safety, love, jobs, or schools.
While I was there, I couldn’t help but feel moved by the experience. The temple’s peaceful atmosphere and rich history left a lasting impression on me. It was inspiring to see so many people come together to seek guidance and comfort. Before leaving, I decided to say a little prayer myself. It was a humbling experience, and I felt a sense of peace and tranquility. It’s amazing how a simple act of prayer can bring such a profound sense of calmness and clarity.
Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of traveling to Keelung with my language partners. Our first stop was a local ramen place situated within a bustling supermarket. Despite the crowds, we were fortunate enough to find an open seat and enjoyed a satisfying lunch.
With our stomachs full, we hopped on a bus and headed north to Zhengbin Fishing Harbor. As we arrived, we were greeted by a towering squid statue, which immediately caught our attention. The harbor was teeming with tourists, most of whom were taking photos and exploring the area. Although the temperature that day was scorching hot, the refreshing sea breeze offered a welcomed reprieve.
While exploring the district, we stumbled upon Keelung Aboriginal Festival Square. As we made our way through the square, we found ourselves on a bridge that seemed to lead to a mystical wonderland. Before we walked across the bridge, I couldn’t help but notice how my language partner’s fear of heights was starting to kick in. It was quite interesting to observe her as she struggled to conquer her fear. However, despite her trepidation, we managed to make it across safely.
Continuing our journey up north, we stumbled upon Sheliao East Fort. We were excited to explore the area and decided to embark on a mini-hiking adventure. Sheliao East Fort is one of two forts located on Heping Island, and it served as a crucial seaside fortification during its heyday.
As we walked further up north, one of my language partners began to feel a bit tired. We decided to head back down and look for a place to rest. Fortunately, we stumbled upon a dessert place nearby and stopped to replenish our energy.
I decided to try Bao Bing, which is a popular dessert in Taiwan. Bao Bing is a shaved ice dish that is often served with a variety of toppings. I chose to have pudding on top, which was the perfect complement to the cool, refreshing shaved ice. In Taiwan, desserts like Douhua and Tang Yuan are also very popular, but nothing beats the feeling of enjoying a sweet, icy treat on a hot day after a long walk.
After recharging our energy with some delicious desserts, we decided to continue our adventure and explore Heping Island Park. The scenery was simply breathtaking, and we came across a particular area that looked like a loaf of bread. Although my initial thought was that it looked more like cheese, it was still an incredible sight to behold.
We walked around the park and hiked up a small mountain to take in the stunning panoramic views that the park had to offer. It was an unforgettable experience, and I couldn’t believe that I was able to witness such beauty. Overall, it was a truly memorable day spent with my amazing language partners, and I am grateful for the opportunity to explore new places with them.