I have arrived! This is my third morning in Taiwan + I think I am almost free of jetlag. Maybe.
I landed close to 10pm on Tuesday (though it felt like 9am Tuesday). I had lost a day, traveled 19 hours + felt like I had maybe gotten enough weird plane-sleep to be alright. My high school friend, Jeremy, picked me up from the bus that brought me in from the airport + I went to sleep soon after we got to his place because I had my language placement test at NTU, nicknamed “Táidà” (台大), at 9am Wednesday morning. Ha.
I’m pretty sure I aced the first listening section in which I had to identify which of three statements was tonally different from the other two. Then I answered 4 more questions out of I don’t even want to say how many. I just did not have the vocabulary for the listening comprehension sections or the reading. I thought that I had a speaking test afterwards but the secretary said that I was all done. I honestly thought that she saw how poorly I had done on the written section that she didn’t think the speaking portion was necessary. But I got an email from her later on apologizing for her error + asking me if I could do it when I went back yesterday. I was going to go back to the office anyway to pay for my first quarter, try to open a bank account + figure out where/how to get a cellie.
After the test, I got lunch at a place near campus with pictures of food items + English translations. Sesame noodles, 2 fried pork dumplings, 4 boiled leek dumplings + 5 pork soup dumplings later, I was stuffed!
Apparently you need a special ID number from the National Immigration Agency to do such things, so I took the MRT (the train system, which is awesome!) over from campus yesterday afternoon so I could get all of that out of the way. I was literally in and out in less than 15 minutes. I cannot IMAGINE being in any such agency buildings in the U.S. for that short amount of time. Just trying to get all the logistical stuff done ASAP.
Before zipping over to the NAI, I went exploring a little in Da’an Park +, as you can see, found some azaleas!! I will take a bunch more pics of the park, which is on the way from my apartment (which I move into on Saturday) to the campus, + the campus itself an post ’em soon.
We had dinner Wednesday night with a bunch of Jeremy’s friends. It was literally a feast!! I’ll learn the names of everything we had soon, I hope. But we went to this famous place in Taipei known for it’s traditional Chinese fish dish involving a huge fish (which the restaurant scoops out of a large tank outside + kills fresh for each order) that is prepared with tofu. The idea is that it has three flavors to it, salty, sweet + sour.
We got to go outside + watch the woman-in-charge select the fish! We had asked for a female so that there would be eggs (which are super dense + rich). We followed her as she brought a net outside + pulled out a few before she found a female. Once she found the lady fish, it flopped out of the net, onto the sidewalk + into the street (!) while she pulled out others to show the difference in fish parts between the males + females. I’m glad I’m not squeamish because a gutter fish probably wouldn’t be appetizing to many Americans… but it all gets washed + cooked away anywyay, right?
Before our prepared fish came out, the first round of appetizers were (1) hot peppers with tiny, tiny fish, (2) cucumbers with sesame sauce + (3) a simple noodle dish. The second round of apps were (1) fried green beans with some fried something else + a LOT of garlic (it was like to die!) + (2) a cured Chinese bacon with scallions (SO good). Then the fish came out accompanied with (1) an egg dish (sort of like our egg foo young but fluffier + drenched in a red garlic sauce), (2) fried fish with a sweet, brown sauce, (3) a mild soup with fish, cabbage, other greens, mushrooms + taro, + (4) maybe something else that I am forgetting. Everything was just incredible!
We went to grab noodles at a late night spot at 4:30ish before getting a little sleep. And thus ended my first jam-packed day in Taipei! Woot!