Flying thirteen hours on an airplane felt like a trip to the galaxy. Okay, well, maybe not quite, but it was really a long journey. It probably felt that long because the more I read and learned about Taiwan, the more I longed to get there.
Finally, we were flying on top of Taiwan. As the airplane descended, through the clouds below, I saw the vast blue ocean, followed by a land of green. Dad told me, Taiwan was once named Formosa, which means ”beautiful island” in Portuguese.
The pilot announced the land temperature in Taiwan was 37⁰ Celsius, approximately 99⁰ Fahrenheit. It was going to be extremely hot!
．Taiwan is located in the Western Pacific Ocean to the southeast of China and to the north of the Philippines. The Tropic of Cancer runs through it.
．The highest point is Yushan, which is 3,952 meters, or 12,966 feet in height. It's the tallest mountain in Northeast Asia!
．The area of Taiwan is roughly 36,000 square kilometers, about the same size as Belgium or the state of Maryland in the US.
．The population of Taiwan is around 23 million people.
．Three quarters of Taiwan is made up of mountainous regions. It is subtropical in the north and tropical in the south. There are four seasons but with little change in temperature. The summer temperatures can reach as high as 39⁰ Celsius. From July to October is the typhoon season. The typhoons are the strongest in the southern and eastern coast, where they tend to land more often, but can also do a lot of damage to places like Taipei.
經過了十三個小時的飛行，感覺就像飛了一趟銀河一樣。好啦，可能不完全是，但這趟路途真是有夠遠的！我想，可能是因為知道愈多關於台灣的事，我就愈期待來到這裡 , 所以才會覺得路途遙遠。
．台灣的人口大約 2,300 萬人。
氣候區，四季溫差較小。夏季最高溫可達攝氏39 度。7月到 10月為颱風季節，容易對東部與南部造成災害，有時候也會侵襲像台北等地方。
Jay told me that the time to see Chinese calligraphy in action is during the Lunar New Year when people paste Spring Festival couplets on their homes’ gateposts or door panels. The Spring Festival couplets are auspicious words written on red paper. Although nowadays there are machine-printed couplets, many people still enjoy writing them with a brush.
It is summer vacation now, so i didn't get to experience the festive Lunar New Year atmosphere. However, Jay took out his phone and showed me some photos he took during the Lunar New Year, photos of the family having dinner together with Jay holding many red envelopes, which he received from the elders. The red envelope is a very interesting custom. It symbolizes blessings which the elder pass down to the young.
．When is the Lunar New Year?
The lunar calendar has been passed down through the ancestry of Taiwan and is still in use today. The Lunar New Year usually falls on a day in January or February by the western calendar. It is the most important holiday and festival in Taiwan. Many traditional holidays go by the Lunar calendar, such as the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Moon Festival.
．The whole family gathers on New Year's Eve to have auspicious dishes for dinner together. Here are what the foods symbolize taken from their pronunciations or their shapes in Chinese:
Sticky Cake: prosper every year
Sweet Cake: wealth
Dumplings: more money (shaped like ancient silver ingots)
Mustard Greens: long life
Fish: yearly surpluses
．Some families worship their ancestors before the new year's eve dinner.
．Some Buddhist temples organize the New Year’s Eve Bell Knocking ceremony as a prayer for peace and safety in the new year.
．At 12:00 midnight, many people set off firecrackers to welcome the New Year.
．On the second day of the New Year, a married woman should return to her mother's home with her husband and kids.
．The fifteenth of the lunar month is the Lantern Festival. The Taiwanese celebrate the day by carrying beautiful lanterns and playing the riddle-guessing game. Some would go outdoors to watch the big lanterns on display. In addition, they also eat sweet rice dumplings to celebrate the festival.
．On the day of the Lantern Festival, people would write down their wishes on the sky lantern, and then set the lanterns free to float upward toward the sky like hot air balloons, and at the same time pray for themselves and their family. Sky lanterns are also called "prayer lights" or "peace lights." The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is a very culturally characteristic event in Northern Taiwan.
The night market is something you don’t want to miss when you visit Taiwan.
The night market is really bustling and busy at night. There are all kinds of novelty foods that I’d never seen before! Jay was our food guide, and he recommended the stinky tofu. What could it be like? I was curious and went near the stinky tofu stand. What a funny smell! Jay said that it was made of soybeans, “It smells very good!” he said.
In addition to the stinky tofu, somebody was roasting Taiwan sausage, which looked like a hot dog. Compared to the tofu, I could eat this because it smelled really good. It didn’t taste like a hot dog, nor a German sausage. It was special in its own way.
There were many games for people to play in the open outdoor area. I played the circle; throwing, and won a small doll. We stayed till over 10PM. It was late but the night market didn’t seem to be closing any time soon. I also heard that there’s a 24-hour bookstore in Taipei. Wow, there’s really a lot going on at night in Taiwan!
．Cotton candy is made with white sugar. Very special, isn’t it?
．A skewer sticking through tomatoes or other fruits, topped with a layer of syrup outside is called candied fruit.
．The Taiwan sausage is made from ground pork, and roasted on charcoal fire.
．The oyster omelet is made using eggs, oysters, and vegetables.
．The stinky tofu is made from soybeans. It has a unique taste because of it’s fermentation process. It is a very famous snack in Taiwan.
．At a salty fried chicken food stand there are many food products to select from. Make sure you ask the vendor to fry it crunchy for you.
．At the fun game table, you can accumulate points for prizes.
．Scoop goldfish with a paper net!
．Target well and circle the toy you want to take home!
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