My Travels

My Travels
Koh Phangan, Thailand

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Place to fall in Love with: Taiwan

Happy New Year! from Taiwan: On spending the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012 in another country and returning having learned much about travel, beauty, new friends, and places I want to return to

Three Things Taiwan Taught me

 1.) I learned what it means to make a friend in a foreign country that you have never been to before.

On the subway on the way to the New Year’s Eve celebration at Taipei 101, I was not sure of the exact route to get there. I went over to look at the map of the different stops, which two girls were sitting by. I asked them if a certain stop was the right one to get where I wanted to go. The stops had also been changed due to the crowds that night. They told me the stop and said that they were also going, so I could go with them. I happily went with them and we started talking, as much as we could with the language barrier. I do not know Mandarin Chinese and they spoke a little English (they understood more than they could speak, which seems to be common) But we communicated well enough for the most part. We hung out together for the New Year’s Eve party and played cards on the stone floor of the balcony outside of a building across from Taipei 101 where everyone gathered to watch the fireworks. It was very crowded and we squeezed in between different groups so we could get a spot to sit down. As we played cards, I tried to learn whatever Chinese I could, and learned (or heard at least) the words for 'Happy New Year', 'two', 'liar', 'yes', 'ask',  'him/her' and 'your welcome', among others.

 My two new friends went out of their way to show me around, help me have a good time and make sure I had a place to stay for the night. The people in Taiwan in general are very welcoming and extremely helpful, not giving a second thought to helping someone they don’t know or just met get where they have to go or helping them, not concerned about going out of their way, but happy to help all they can. This is similar to how people in Korea interact as well.

We had a great time together watching the fireworks, as well as playing with sparklers afterwards. I was looking at the sparklers glowing in the dark, then was surprised when my new friends got some for us to play with! I ended up burning my finger and palm a bit, but nothing serious. I still have the mark on my palm, though. I was happy to have a "battle scar" or 'memory mark' of my time in Taiwan!

We then got tea from a street vendor. There was a big stand set up by the area of the crowds. There were several young guys who were trying to sell the last of it, so they were having a friendly competition with each other. Since they each had a different flavor, they gave us samples and cheered when we chose their tea, which was quite amusing and added to the celebratory air of the new year and the chaotic crowds. I said 'Happy New Year' to them in Mandarin and one of the guys joked that my tea would be free. I chose the berry flavored tea, which was quite strong and thick, kind of like a juice or wine.

2.)  I learned what it means to go with the flow to make your adventures even more fun!

I did not go to Taiwan with a detailed itinerary, or with a very strict one. In fact, you could say I did not go with much of one at all. Because of not knowing too far in advance what days I would have off and not deciding on the location until a few days before (it was Taiwan or Japan) I did not do much in the way of planning an itinerary. I like to go with the flow for the most part and am not a big planner usually. By taking opportunities as they came, I was able to make new friends, explore and learn more and have an awesome and fun time!

3.) I learned what it means to trust God.

Since I went without an itinerary or plans on where to stay other than the first night of my 3 night trip, I prayed before I went and trusted God to provide me a place to stay. I stayed at a hostel the first night, which was booked the other 2 nights, before New Year’s. God amazingly provided a place for me to stay the last 2 nights, through the new friends I made, as well as an awesome itinerary full of new adventures and experiences!

For this trip, I had a goal of exploring what I could and seeing the beauty of the country. I had one contact that I wanted to meet while I was there: the YWAM team of Taiwan. YWAM is a group with bases around the world that has the mission of sharing God’s love with the world around them. I had heard good things about it before from several people who had been in it. To learn more about YWAM, click on the YWAM link or to learn about Taipei, Taiwan's YWAM, click here. Read on for my ocean adventures and future travel plans!

I wanted to learn more about the program firsthand as I am considering being a part of one of their classes/outreaches/adventures (that is to say, being part of DTS- Discipleship Training School, which is the first adventure/discipleship program you can take in YWAM)

Talking about adventures and seeing the beauty of the country, I was very happy that I got to see the ocean while on the island of Taiwan. It was off season, obviously, but that did not stop me from getting to the coast and going in the water! (Okay, I put a foot in the water…then got soaked from a wave crashing onto the shore, as the high tide was coming in! J It was a blast though and the water was not very cold at all, aside from the shock of getting wet without expecting it!

 Once I was “baptized” by the water, (Ask me about this!) I then made my way back to the capital city of Taipei to get there in time for the New Year. I almost did not want to leave the spot I was at, as it was so beautiful and peaceful. That is what I love about the ocean and why I want to live there one day. Now, with my new travel plans of going around the world, back-packer style, anywhere can be my home and I can certainly live by the ocean- this year, in fact! This is the first step of the new year in my many travels and adventures to come!

I would like to hear what countries you have traveled to that you loved. Where do you want to travel?
Where would you want to celebrate the New Year? Please answer in the comments!

Stay tuned to hear more about my time in Taiwan as well as my plans to travel and where I may go next- just click to follow on the righthand side of the page or sign up for email updates.


Terri Gogolen said...

Proud of you for all the fun things you are doing!

Terri Gogolen said...

Love hearing all about your travels...amkes me feel like I am with you.

Carrie said...

I'm so very happy for you Jenna !!
Can't wait to hear more!!
Love Mom
May God always watch over you !!

Amy said...

We've already talked about where I want to travel...Greece, Thailand, Australia, Fiji, Seychelles Islands, the Caribbean, Spain, South Africa, Uganda (and other African countries as well, India...and I think that's it for now. For international travel anyways! SO enjoyed reading this and you'll hafta tell me the story behind your "baptism" sometime! Lol.