Saturday, June 20, 2009

Taiwan...Fall in Love with this Beautiful Island

Early on in our trip to Taiwan we met Bruno Huang and his lovely wife. Bruno was our interpretor for our visits to the Yi-ming Temple, The Orchid Garden and the Hsinchu County Government Trip. He asked a big favor of our GSE help promote Taiwan to the world! He stated, "Taiwan is such an amazing place! I am sure that everyone will fall in love with it once they come."
Mailani, Jeff, Meagan, Chris and I can truly attest to this statement. We did fall in love with the beautiful island of Taiwan and it's hospitable, generous people. Taiwan is promoting itself as a premier tourist destination. Travel won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Go Team!

Our Taiwan Team!
As a gesture of respect for our host country of Taiwan, our team wore Chinese attire for our farewell dinner and presentation in Taoyuan.  We really love our Chinese clothing and continue to wear it at home in the U.S.A. - at work, at Rotary, at weddings and just for casual wear.  Plus, when people ask us about the clothing, it gives us a chance to tell stories about Taiwan!
A favorite photo, taken after a bike ride along the coast (Taiwan Strait, western side of Taiwan) when we stopped for a water break.  We took a moment to sit on these concrete pedestals to chat, relax (Jill even did some yoga!) and listen to the soothing sounds of the sea.
Dressed alike in our Rotary GSE jackets, we received these beautiful plaques with crystal replicas of Taiwan along with an individualized message for each team member.  谢谢

Friday, June 5, 2009

La La Shan - Home to 5,800 Year-Old Trees

The former name of the Lala Mountain was Daguan Mountain. In 1973, a professor of Culture University discovered here a wide expanse of red cypress divine trees whose view is similar to that of the divine trees in Ali Mountain. The name of Lala Mountain has spread since then, and the mountain has attracted many tourists from various areas. In 1986, the government formally established a nature protection zone in Daguan Mountain.  In addition to cloud-reaching red cypress trees, the Taiwan yellow cypress trees in the zone there are also color-changing trees such as green maple trees and beech trees. In autumn when the weather turns cool, green leaves change into red, thus rendering the view even more poetic. To facilitate tourists, the forestry bureau has built a footpath for viewing landscapes. After entering the recreation zone, walk along the trail. You can see giant red cypress trees whose ages range from 500 years to 3,000 years. Among them are five giant trees about 2,800 years-old.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Having a laugh with our Rotary friends at The Tea Museum
Three Jeff's!
What a fun group at PDG Porite's house - we ate, talked, karaoke'd and danced!
Wendy & Tyler
Wendy lived in California during her teens, graduated from the University of Southern California and returned to Taiwan to marry, work and raise her adorable son, Tyler.   

Friday, May 29, 2009

A List of Our Adventures in Taiwan!

Vocational visits:

  • Red Cross (2 – local Taoyaun branch and National Society Headquarters in Taipei)
  • Afamado Goods Inc (a vehicle accessory international trade business)
  • Tranergy Technology Co, LTC. (a solar company)
  • Hsinchu Science Park Authority
  • Hsinchu City Mayoral visit
  • Foreign Affairs Administration visit
  • Famous “meatball soup” store
  • Orchid Farm (2 – Hsinchu and Taoyuan)
  • County of Hsinchu (Governor) and Magistrate
  • ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute)
  • Hsinchu Incinerator Plant
  • National Tsing Hua University
  • Lin Yuan Food Factory with a DYI "popcorn snack"
  • Mr. Tea factory
  • KY Handmade Paper Mill
  • Dairy Farm (family destination)
  • Mt. Snow Tunnel and Control Station for the National Freeway 5, the longest tunnel in E Asia
  • King Car Group Whiskey Distillery
  • Ai Jia Development Center (handicapped children’s home run by a Catholic church)
  • Eva Airlines, Cargo division
  • Doctor’s office visit – impromptu for team member
  • Mayor of Dasi’s office
  • Chuan Gui Soyfoods Processing Plant (tofu factory)
  • Ceramic Art Plant tour
  • Toilet factory (a diverse array of ceramic household items)
  • Extreme Fitness - which included an entire mall floor of family entertainment: batting cage, pitching games, bowling, basketball, jogging & rollerblading track

Cultural visits:

  • Glass Museum
  • Buddhist temples (7) and Tao temple (1)
  • East Gate (Hsinchu)
  • Markets – Old Streets, Night, Jade, Snake Alley
  • Historic Train stations (2 – Hsinchu and Miaoli)
  • Military Dependents Village Museum of Hsinchu City
  • Nan Liao Fishery Port (We ate sushi, shark and more)
  • San Yi Wood Carving Museum
  • Lungteng Historic Bridge “The Fallen Bridge”
  • Tours of the Miaoli District Agro-museums - silk, farming, bio-produce, etc
  • Brooke Trail hike
  • Shei-Pa National Park area exploration and museum
  • National Palace Museum
  • Taipei 101
  • Nature walk at the Pottery Mill
  • Danced with Aborigines
  • Pinglin Tea Plantation & Museum
  • Mingte Reservoir private collector's "museum" tour
  • Aboriginal elementary school visits (2)
  • Lanlashan Forest Reserve… Hiking in the mountains…viewing the 1,000 year-old large trees
  • Flower gardens and tea farm
  • Bus ride to Yilan County to the northern-most point of Taiwan where we viewed the Pacific Ocean and the Taiwan Strait….drove the Pacific Coast Highway of Taiwan
  • Toucheng Farm, a 110 acre oasis of orchards, crops, plants and animals
  • Shihmen Reservoir
  • Taipei County Yingko Ceramics Museum
  • DIY pottery painting
  • Visited the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial (learned about Chinese and Taiwanese history and watched the changing of the guards)
  • National Theater and Concert Hall (briefly heard the symphony practice!)


  • Reflexology massages
  • Attended formal wedding engagement party
  • Rode bicycles along the Taiwan Strait shoreline
  • Karaoke at Party World/KTV - VIP room
  • High speed rail, subway, boat ride and taxi to, in and around the Taipei Metro (public transportation is excellent)
  • Spa swimming, hot spring and relaxation
  • A vast array of food that was diverse, beautiful in presentation, tasty, healthy and a fun adventure! Our entire team did a fantastic job of learning and using chopsticks!

Taiwan Street Scenes

Parade performers

The Rotary Flag Gift

The gift of a Rotary flag is recognized around the world as a gesture of friendship. Each Rotary club designs its own club flag and these flags are exchanged with other Rotary clubs and are given to community & civic organizations & businesses.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

USA, Taiwan, China...Greece, Brunei, Pakistan

Google Analytics reports that our blog has viewers in 41 countries -
thank you - 谢谢你 - to our blog visitors from around the world!

United States
Saudi Arabia
United Kingdom
Hong Kong
United Arab Emirates
South Korea

Hand-Processed Oolong Tea

The production of delicious oolong tea requires time-honored tradition and outstanding craftsmanship. The best oolong tea is picked by hand during the spring and winter months in southeast China and Taiwan. Oolong teas are partially oxidized teas and undergo the most difficult and time consuming processing method. First the leaves are withered in direct sunlight and then shaken gently in bamboo baskets to lightly bruise the edges of the leaves. Next the leaves are air-dried in the shade until the surface of the leaf turns slightly yellow. The process of shaking and drying the leaves is repeated several times. The oxidation period for oolong teas is less than that for black teas and depends on the type of oolong. After the desired oxidation level is reached, the leaves are panfired at high temperatures to prevent further oxidation.

In small mountain towns where tea is grown, we were fortunate to watch many small shops process their own tea leaves. To our untrained eyes, the tea leaves looked the same, but we discovered that there are rigid standards for quality in these highly-prized oolong leaves.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Seafood, Glorious Seafood

It's hard to believe that less than a month ago we were dining on the incredible seafood of Taiwan.

Friday, May 22, 2009

生日快樂 Happy Birthday, Meagan!

By the ocean in Taiwan
With the aboriginal kids Meagan loved so much
Surprise,'s your birthday!
If you'd like to wish Meagan a happy birthday, please post your comments below or find her on Facebook - Meagan Morris of Nebraska.

Students Learn about Taiwan from Jill

Jill gave her first presentation about Taiwan to students in her son, Zachary's, class. And as you can see, they all like showing the "Victory" sign that we learned in Taiwan. Since then, Jill has given presentations to her co-workers and others at Red Cross, too.

Thanks for sharing our Taiwan Adventure, Jill!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Nebraska Fight Song - Singing for Our Supper

We were invited to a Rotarian's home for dinner in the mountains of Taiwan. The hospitality extended to us was amazing - they prepared many, many dishes and even bought us Coke since they heard our team likes soda.
Performing "The Nebraska Fight Song" was a big hit. We became known for singing this song and including everyone in our "Go Big Red!" chant at the end!
Xie xie (thanks) to our hosts and their friends for an enjoyable evening & dinner!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Scooters - So Popular in Taiwan

We saw all kinds of things and people being carried on scooters, including many dogs.
People rode in all kinds of weather, in all kinds of clothing and in all types of shoes. Most people wore helmets, many wore face masks and some wore cloth mitts on their hands like the girl in the picture above (we heard to keep them shaded from the sun and to keep them clean.)

Train - Subway - Boat

We rode a bullet train, a subway and a boat - all in one morning - on one of our trips to Taipei.
No seats on this subway - just a railing to lean against.
Fun boat ride both ways - we made friends on each trip.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cultural Drum Exchange

USA Chris and Taiwan "Jason" share their drum talents when we visited an aboriginal school in Taiwan as part of our GSE trip.

The World's Mr. Tea

Our team learned about the historical Taiwanese industry of tea when we visited the factory of The World's Mr. Tea.
With all of the automated factories we saw on this business exchange, the tea business appears to still be very labor-intensive, from the ladies who handpick the tea leaves to the people working in this factory that bag the tea and prepare it for shipment.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fast Food Taiwan-Style

One of the most frequent questions our team has been asked is about the food. Yes, almost 100% of what we ate was local Taiwanese food. Only once did we eat as a team at McDonald's and that was in an emergency situation, a story for another blog...
When we visited Taipei 101 (the tallest building in the world), we enjoyed walking around the food court and comparing it to American food courts. We found that most fast food restaurants had variations of food for their local customers. McDonald's - called "My Dung Lao" in Mandarin - served green tea. Domino's Pizza offered giant shrimp pizza.
And this submarine sandwich shop offered a fruit sub!
One part of Subway's menu says "Local Favorites."
We found very little fried food in Taiwan, but it appears that KFC fried chicken is gaining popularity there. So, even though it was available, we avoided eating American-style fast food and instead ate local dishes - lots of seafood, pork, noodles and delicious fresh fruit and vegetables.

We love the iPhone...and the newest iPhone!

How cool!
One of Chris's host families had this newest iPhone - much smaller than the iPhone available in the U.S.
Chris and his iPhone. Our iPhones worked in Taiwan (at least where there was wi-fi), so we all got to Skype and check emails courtesy of Chris. Chris downloaded a neat iphone app for learning Mandarin and I kept my Mandarin and Taiwan notes on my iPhone.

Taiwan - Beautiful Island (like Hawaii!)

The morning view out to sea from a Taiwan golf course...stunning.
In so many ways, Taiwan reminded me of my home state, Hawaii, including of course the beautiful flowers, sunny days and ocean views.
Taiwan (historically 大灣/台員/大員/台圓/大圓/台窩灣), also known as Formosa (from Portuguese (Ilha) Formosa, meaning "beautiful (island)"), is an island located in East Asia off the coast of Mainland China, southwest of the main islands of Japan but directly west of the end of Japan's Ryukyu Islands, and north-northwest of the Philippines. It is bound to the east by the Pacific Ocean, to the south by the South China Sea and the Luzon Strait, to the west by the Taiwan Strait and to the north by the East China Sea. The island is 394 kilometers (245 miles) long and 144 kilometers (89 miles) wide and consists of steep mountains covered by tropical and subtropical vegetation. (source: