Wow, the past two days went by kinda fast, and were pretty tiring. And today is the first of two nights in Hua Lien, which by the way, is super duper awesome. In Batman Beyond terms, it’s “way schway” and “slammin’ “. I’ll get to that later though.
First, Sunday. Apparently my cousin’s husband’s (which I will refer to as “brother-in-law” for simplicity) family runs a fish farm a little bit north of Tainan, so we decided to visit it for kicks. On the way we stopped by various landmarks. We passed through some wetlands under environmental protection and came across the research center for black-faced spoon-billed birds. Many of them migrate from the north (around the border of North Korea and South Korea, a military zone which basically means no human inhabitants) and fly either down along the coast of China to Taiwan or pass by Japan and then to Taiwan to these wetlands in Tainan and a couple of other spots. They had already started their journey back up north around this time, but we looked around the research center and it was pretty interesting. We got a personal tour from this short asian dood who was really friendly and jovial. After leaving that place, we also stopped at “Salt Mountain”, which is in an area where salt and fresh water meet. Basically it’s a place where salt is “harvested” and featured there was literally this huge mountain of raw salt that people could climb up stairs (made of packed salt) to the top. Here’s a picture:
mound of raw ocean salt
After the salt mountain, we finally got to our original destination of the fish farm, which wasn’t as epic but interesting nonetheless. The fish are organized into regions by size/age, and the largest ones are kept in the little pond outside whereas the smaller ones in large tanks inside this barn thing. It’s funny because when we went to see the small fish, if you wiggle your fingers in the water, most of the fish just flock to the area because they think you’re feeding them. Here’s a youtube video I just uploaded:
Monday we headed back to northern Taiwan, Hsinchu to be exact. We took the high speed rail where our Da Jiu Jiu picked us up. Lunch was at Mos Burger where I basically had rice with sliced beef in the shape of a hamburger. We then went to Sogo (a department store chain) and browsed around for a bit. After that, we visited grandma.
Grandma is an amazing person. Thank God that she is still doing very well and seems very healthy. She can get out of bed herself and walk around the house just fine. When we visited her, she recently got this new “musical instrument” from 2nd aunt, which can play an octave of notes with wooden pipe thingies that are hung from a frame. I asked her to demonstrate it by playing something, and she started to shake the pipe thingies to form a melody. At first I wasn’t really paying attention to the melody itself, but soon I realized she was playing “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” When she was done I complimented her – she’s actually quite musically inclined. She also began to play other familiar hymns like “At the Cross”, “Jesus Loves Me” (the little kids version), and “When The Roll is Called Up Yonder.” Later she cut us some fruit to eat and I tried to talk with her (it’s kind of hard/awkward because my mandarin is pretty lame and I can’t speak any Taiwanese). I asked her what she usually did everyday and she said, “Watch TV, read the Bible, and play music with various instruments.” She said she really liked musical instruments, and went to get her harmonica from her room. She came back happily and played the harmonica for us, and indeed she is quite good at it. Again, she played familiar hymns, even some fast upbeat ones that as you can imagine are difficult to do on a harmonica, especially with chords in between the notes in the main melody, which she added on her own.
Regardless, I was really touched. With all the innate musical talent that my grandma has, she only cares to make music that glorifies God. These are the only types of songs that she sings and that get stuck in her head. How different that is from the youth of this generation. If you think about it, the kind of music that gets stuck in your head can be an indication of just how much you think about God, and how much you’re really focused on Him and His Word. Sadly, for me, I need to focus much more.
Grandma is truly an amazing person. She’s a model Christian who has been spiritual even through her old age. I wonder if she ever gets bored of her simple lifestyle, but even if she does, I think she’s very content and happy the way it is. She’s not living a fancy retirement with luxury and endless pleasure – she simply gets up at 5 am, watches some TV, reads and studies the Bible, and plays hymns, occasionally going out during the day. She can get up and walk around and do everything herself just fine. She is simple and content, even though grandpa passed away several years ago. She is amazing. She is 90.
Finally, we come to today. Took a train to Hua Lien at 7:30 am. Definitely worth waking up early for. When we got there (me, Hain-Sing, my 2nd aunt, and her husband), we visited the churches (yes, plural) there. I had no idea we had True Jesus Church in Hua Lien, but I think that’s so awesome. Hua Lien is a resort area and a large tourist attraction. And we have two churches there! And TJC has been established in Hua Lien since before the 1930’s!!! Amazing grace indeed. Anyways, I THINK the first one we visited branched off from the original first one. It was a new building/new chapel, and it is nice. Bathrooms on every floor (4 stories), sleeping quarters have awesome space efficiency with compartments in the slightly elevated floor, its own parking garage, etc. Thank God that they had offerings to fund this new building (TJC I believe thrives sheerly out of freewill offerings from its members). There were posters/photographs on the walls, which is how I learned of the early establishment of the church in Hua Lien – there were photos of the members dating back to the 1930’s, obviously in black and white. The members were pictured in front of an older chapel building, which we visited next. Really amazing, in a spiritual sense, how the work of God has grown and prospered in this city, in Taiwan, and internationally. It’s really something. I’m so blessed to be in True Jesus Church, and to be able to visit all these different churches outside of my local one in Hillsborough, NJ.
Anyways, next we looked at scenery. Mountains with some mist and fog, a lake that is shaped like a fish when viewed aerially, green grass, and WOW, the clouds above the horizon of the ocean from our hotel. Just really breathtaking and beautiful. I took a million pictures and videos but couldn’t feel satisfied with any of them. It looks slightly better on my camcorder because my camcorder has a somewhat wide angle lense, but my digital camera is stuck with standard aspect ratio. My aunt has a digital camera which uses a wide angle lense, and it is pretty sweet I gotta say. The use of a wide angle lense is a must for this kind of scenery. Did I mention how awesome the clouds were? Yeah, they were just superbly and epicly and mind bogglingly and majestically awesome. Well, I guess I should show a picture, so here’s one of many that certainly does not do the scenery justice at all.
Beautiful clouds above the Pacific.
And to finish off this long post, I do have an anecdote related to the bathroom, but don’t worry, it’s not TMI. While we were at the lake that was shaped like a fish, I went to the bathroom. After peeing, I washed my hands, and I saw this nasty mosquito on the vein where you get a needle stuck in if you donate blood. I brushed it off quickly and washed it off with water, hoping it would null the mosquito bite, if it had bitten me. Unfortunately, this is what the spot looked like after literally 2 minutes:
stupid mosquito that got me in the bathroom
On the unrelated plus side, there was this super awesome bathroom next to a garden at the hotel/resort we’re staying at. The outside looks like this huge rock/boulder. Inside was a supremely clean and pleasant smelling bathroom. It smelled so fresh, I did not need to hold my breath like I usually do in public restrooms (the one in the lake was just AWFULLY TERRIBLY SMELLY, even though the facility itself was decent). I didn’t even catch a whiff of urine WHILE I was peeing. Now THAT’s saying something about how good this bathroom smelled. This hotel is so baller.
Ok, time to sleep so I can wake up super early to watch the sunrise over the ocean