Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Snake alley...

Chinese and Japanese breakfast buffet was such a beautiful start to day 2.  I combined my breakfast with glorious coffee before heading out to meetings.  Each meeting offered tea or cake of some variety alongside the discussion of what our organisations did and possible ways of partnership.  At lunch, I was exhausted and drank all the Oolong tea I could.  By the first meeting of the afternoon, I went to pass my business card and realised my hands were shaking from all the caffeine and exhaustion.

We had two afternoon meetings, and then went to a famous tea house where we were interviewed for a prominent journal.  The tea master helped us to choose a tea and then performed the whole tea ceremony for us.  I had never before realised that there should be separate cups for smelling the tea and drinking the tea, as tea should be an experience enjoyed by as many senses as possible.  We had a quick dinner before we headed out for our final event of the day.

One of the organisations, Vision Youth Action, had organised a conference for us of 160 youth.  We had 2 hours to present and also for Q&A.  The questions were great, the facilitator prefaced her question by announcing that she intended to apply for Asia Pacific's summer camp next May.

We then went to visit Taiwan's famous 24 hour bookstore.  It is a beautiful, old bookstore and at 10pm was packed.  Apparently it's busiest time is between 3 and 6am as many youth meet there after clubbing to continue hanging out or to wait for the Metro to open at 6am.

The night before we had visited Longshan Temple.  It is a beautiful, old Buddhist temple with the main Buddha representative of mercy.  In the back were numerous gods to which people pray for wisdom, a large family, health, etcetera. We went afterwards to the nearby night market which is famous for it's - snakes!

Snake soup is a delicacy here; apparently quite good for the skin and also for the... man. There were also turtles to be had.  Turtle blood is supposed to be good for a cold or flu, and turtle meat for the... man. The turtles were fewer although we  did see a tray of dead turtles, de-shelled waiting to be cooked.  There were tons of snakes though.  Small snakes, large white pythons, some alone some in groups of a dozen or so.  What was somewhat sad was their food was kept nearby.  We saw cages of white rats, and even some white bunnies for the larger snakes.  I'm not sure why the food has to be white.  I didn't eat the snakes or turtles.

I did eat: shark's fin, shark's fin skin, bamboo mushroom, jellyfish, starfish, eel, eggs from a deep sea fish, and more... I also ate cold chicken that looked uncooked chopped through the skin, bones etc to be eaten with chopsticks.  I managed to eat less of that by pretending I couldn't get any more with chopsticks :p

Our final day we had one more meeting, then spoke to the Chinese Taipei Pacific Economic Cooperation Committee conference that was taking place.  We again had a great reception from the youth and I think Ren will have a lot of work to do! We then met up with some members of Taiwan's top fencing team for supper at the Panorama restaurant of Taipei 101.  We ate on the 85th floor and could see the farthest reaches of Taipei into the mountains.  

We returned to the hotel for our last night "wallowing in luxury" as has been so eloquently stated by one of WYA's board members, before we packed up all the soaps, slippers and other free items and headed back to Manila today.

I'm staying with Erika now, the first director of WYAAP and we're about to head out for a massage soon - woop woop!

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