Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day two back in the States.

Don't go looking for day 1 or anything about leaving. This is it. I was way too jet-lagged and busy to be productive yesterday. Who knows how bad everyone else on the trip was doing on their first day of class. I know Dr. Huang had something like 4 or 5 hours of classes. As for myself, I slept in until noon and have been struggling with sleeping more than 4 hours at a time since. The trip over there wasn't nearly as bad. No wonder we can't travel back in time, it's a real pain.

Here's the condensed form of the last few days of the trip in Taipei. Friday (the day after my last post) we went to what Dr. Huang called a cultural park. Basically, it was an entire mountain side that was half composed of wax models and replica indigenous Taiwanese villages while the other half was an amusement.park. I liked the almost every aspect of the first half except for the really awful gift shops. They were everywhere and were pretty much limited to selling (at best) useless or (at worst) offensive. I'll have to find somewhere to post more pictures from the day, as I'd like to describe some of the more ugly knick knacks for sale. However, there's some contention over how bad the stuff really was, and I'm curious what people think.

Aside from the gift shops, the replica villages were really educational. Once I got over how unnerving the wax models were - they weren't life-like enough to look completely real, but it was enough that I was worried that they'd start to move - it became a really good way to see the cultures of the different tribes indigenous to Taiwan. There were also a few mock ceremonies performed as well, but for the most part they were only interesting in seeing the similarities the had to Native American rituals. Many of the Taiwanese tribes made something very similar to totem poles. The group actually had a pretty decent conversation about this and settled on similarity possibly being based on the similar resources available to both tribes in Taiwan and those in the Pacific Northwest. We're probably wrong, but it's also a question that's nearly impossible to answer anyways.

The amusement park section was less educational, but a lot more entertaining with its rollercoasters and tower-rides. Kathryn and I made good work of them all. Unfortunately, Kenna was feeling sick again and wasn't able to join us. By far, my favorite ride was the rollercoaster in the Mayan-themed section of the park. Unlike most rollercoasters, there wasn't a sharp drop at the end of the initial ascent, it was more like a gradual plunge. While thrill junkies may criticize me, I enjoyed the more subtle transition. It also helped that once the cars got up to speed, we were in for roughly two minutes of twisting track, hairpin turns, and several loops. When everyone got off, it didn't matter what language you spoke, as we all might as well have been speaking in tongues. Rides that temporarily damage your ability to make a complete sentence should be the future of diplomacy, I think.

The next day, Kenna, Kathryn, and I got to present what we learned and did on our trip to Dr. Huang's old lab technicians. It was admittedly rushed and not a very good presentation, but for putting it together in basically a single night, I think we did okay. If it hadn't just been Dr. Huang's old lab techs it probably would have been disastrous for use.

Okay. My tired face is starting to get the jump on me, so I'll have to finish this one later. Keep and eye out for new posts and pictures soon.

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