Friday, November 14, 2008

Nee How from Taiwan

Nee How is how we say "Hello" in Taiwan. The main language here is Taiwanese (Chinese) but many people speak English. We have a new travel partner. Globee is part of a UNWTO project and he loves to travel with us.

Taiwan is very modern. The tallest building in the world is in the capital city of Taipei. It is called Taipei 101 because there are 101 floors. It is 1,674 feet high. The building is suppose to look like it is made of bamboo, which is a respected plant in Taiwan because bamboo is simple but has many uses. The big round shapes on each side of the building look like the old Chinese coins. They are lucky coins and also the symbol for one and zero, so it goes with the name 101. However, it won’t be the tallest for long because bigger buildings are going up in other countries.

One of the best places to see Taipei 101 is from National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial. On the weekends it a fun place. Dr. Sun Yat-sen is their national hero. We watched the changing of the guard in front of a statue of him that is similar to the statue of Lincoln in Washington, DC. We also listened to a musical group and watched the girls dance.

Taipei 101 is not the only modern marvel in Taiwan. They also have a High Speed Train. We took it to the countryside south of Taipei. The train reached a top speed of 180 mph! It didn’t seem fast because it was so smooth and quiet. We visited a farm area where they grow tea and coffee and made four new friends: Sandy, Alva, Jimmy, and Nick. They were studying English in school and picked "American" names. Jimmy’s grandfather lived in the United States for many years and now volunteers to teach English in their school. He thought our visit would be a good chance for them to practice their English. We did, too. We tried to learn some Taiwanese words, too. We thought it was a "hang how" idea or a "very good" idea.

The area was hit by a 7.3 earthquake of September 21, 1999. That was "boo how" or "very bad." They call it 9-21. When they rebuilt the area they decided to develop it into a tourist area so people could learn about tea and coffee production. Our new friends took us to a tea museum and a tea farm. Because tea grows best on the hillsides the leaves have to be picked by hand which is hard work. We spent the night in a small hotel called Pine House. It reminded us of the Adirondack Mountains because hotel was built out of pine logs and air was very fresh.

Sandy, Alva, Jimmy, and Nick introduced us to some new foods. Taiwan is an island so they eat a lot of fish. They also eat a lot of rice. Our favorite food was the desserts made out of sweet potatoes. We told them the sweet potatoes were "Hang How." There was a lot of food! Mr. Sam said, "Taiwan people love to eat!" We think it is because of the way they serve the food. In the center of the table is a large Lazy Susan. Many bowls and plates of food are put on the table and we can choose what we want to try. It is a fun and friendly way to eat.

Hopefully, we can return someday to see our friends and visit other parts of Taiwan.