The Chinese New Year

28 Feb

Being as lazy as I am, even a simple task like updating a blog can seem like climbing a mountain, so be easy on me today, I’m just going to show you some pictures from the last month or so. As always, I experience a million new things (even after 6 months!), even though it doesn’t always seem as exciting to me as it should. At some point, when tasting another new dish (the third that day alone), I find myself just wanting potatoes, bread, cheese, lakrids, vingummi, salad, real meat, pasta, hummus, pålægschokolade, cakes, rugbrød, olives, ham, wienerbrød, chips, beer, sauce, more potatoes, real soup… Wait, where did I come from? Well, basically any normal Danish food, that I haven’t had for over half a year now. Or anything that has salt in it. Hell, just give me a bit of butter (and throw a little freedom and responsibility in there) and I’d be happy. It goes without saying that what I’m missing the most are my friends and family, though it does help a little bit that all my friends are stressed about AT and exams, while I’m enjoying the 25 degrees and sunshine here… But it’s definitely hard being an exchange student sometimes, especially when you’re sick all the time, and only allowed to eat rice with water and drink sports drinks for several days!

Well, a lot have happened the last month and a half, most importantly the Chinese New Year, and the one month vacation from school (only for us exchange students, the Taiwanese were studying harder than ever)!

A trip to Gaohsiung with Devin's host family! Look at how asian I've become, can't even take a photo without the asian peace sign-or-whatever-it-means (they don't know what it means either).

The same building - yes, it has a hole in it!

And from the top, some 300 m over the ground.

Love River!

Enjoying the one month New Years vacation - my host brother and me. The pink stripe in my hair is entirely his fault.

I taught them how to make Danish pancakes (using something more like a wok than a pan), which the absolutely loved, even though they put weird stuff like tomatoes in them...

Hot pot with a beautiful view!

Hot pot is one of my favourite dishes here, even though it took me some getting used to before I could enjoy it. Every person have their own pot to cook food in, and huge amounts of fresh food, which means that you have to calculate which foods to put in at what times, what food is actually edible, fishing the cooked food out from the pot when it's done, constantly controlling the temperature of the pot, putting more food in, stirring, and finding time to actually eat the food and the soup... all at the same time, for me resulting in a flushed face and a pulse of 140 the first 8-10 times I had it.

And then it was time for the Chinese New Year! Even McDonald's had decorations up! If any of you don't know, we changed from a tiger-year to a rabbit-year, an improvement, the tiger is the worst of the 12 animals according to the Taiwanese. Next year is a dragon year, which is the best one, so it'll probably result in a boom in small Chinese babies being born (as if there weren't enough already).

At the Chinese New Year's eve, we were home, had some guests over, ate at my host grandparents' home (things like happiness-rice, live longer-cake, prosperity-chicken, fortune-noodles or stuff like that). We had a fun night, playing cards, watching tv, playing cards and receiving red envelopes with money in them (even I got some - quite a lot actually!). My first host family took Dasha and me to '拜拜‘ (baibai, praying/offering things in temples) the day after, visiting no less than 6 temples, burning incense, offering food, walking in circles and all those other traditions that are incredibly interesting and also quite funny at times.

Dasha with incense sticks...

...that are placed in these... things (how do I call them?) while we wished something (they told us that the god might only understand Chinese, so it would be better if we wished in that language, but I decided that I don't want the god's help if he's that bad at his job anyway, so I wished in whatever language I wanted to) .

Paper money for the gods. First you fold the pieces...

...and then thrown them into the fire.

Even though I've been to hundreds of temples now, they fascinate me every single time.

Umbrellas for funerals, an old tradition: when Taiwan was occupied by Japan, the Taiwanese who died or were killed fighting the brutal Japanese reign didn't want to be buried under the 'Japanese sun' (the sun traditionally represents Japan; in '日本' (riben), the Chinese and Japanese name for Japan, 日means sun (本 means origin of)), starting the tradition of using the black umbrellas. I'm not sure if they still use them today, as I couldn't get the Taiwanese to answer me, the death is as much of a taboo here as anywhere else.

And now for something completely different, one of the many daily 'what the fuck'-moments. Tell me again, why does the dog have drawn-on eyebrows? And why is it so sad? Maybe because it has to eat rice every day - yes, even dogs eat rice here - in which case I'm totally commiserating.

I'm not kidding.

I also had time to relax and sleep in, which was wonderful. Here I'm chillin' on the rooftop (if the smile is a bit forced, it's definitely not because I was scared... Or so I tell myself).

This was 2 weeks or so, but I’m going to break it off here, and upload more photos another day. I’ve taken more than 7000 pictures in Taiwan so far, so there are lots you haven’t seen!

Have fun, y’all back home, see you in just under 4 months!


One Response to “The Chinese New Year”

  1. Sander Tams March 6, 2011 at 23:26 #

    Hahaha, yeah, that’s so Taiwan. Dog with eyebrows.
    Ever bumped into a pig while taking a stroll down town?

    Oh yeah, and I was told that those gods can understand english perfectly well, so whoever told you that you had to wish in chinese must’ve been some old rotarian. Am I completely off here? :p

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