Saturday, July 30, 2011

Taiwan: 2011 Summer Fellows - What to do in Taichung?

Tomorrow my best friend that I grew up with is coming from Nagoya, Japan to visit in Taiching. I'll admit, I've been a bit antisocial this summer as I've mostly been studying and attending class so I haven't made a tremendous amount of friends around the area. Moreover, the city closed all the bars down soon before I arrived after some pyrotechnics accident in April so mainstream fun is out the window. We can't leave Taichung most days because I have class and it's not exactly a hot tourist destination. I'll have to be a bit creative in figuring out what to do.

One fortunate thing is the Sinon Bulls are playing three home games this week so we can catch at least one. Also, the park on Yigong Street is a nice escape from all the crampedness of the city and the other park in the hills just northwest of town provides a nice view of the skyline. There are some mountains east of here as well, I'd have to figure out the bus routes if we want to head there because I've just been walking everywhere for past 2 months. Chinese/Taiwanese films can also be pretty interesting, we may just want to catch one or two while he's here.

If all that fails, another thing we can do is just walk around town. Fortunately he's coming from Japan where lots of cities are pretty drab (no offense to you Japan enthusiasts and please NEVER tell my girlfriend I said that), whereas Taichung's streets have a lot more life and can be very photogenic. Also, people are more likely to want to talk to us; I've been flagged down several times while roaming the streets and some individuals hoping to improve their English may not be able to resist the opportunity to speak with two foreigners. Then again, he's 6 foot 3 so this may intimidate would-be approachers.

Another good thing is on Saturday I have no class so we're free to travel. I suggested a day trip to Tainan because I still haven't been there and pretty much everybody tells me it's the best city in Taiwan. Unlike my misadventure in Kaohsiung, I've actually done some research before embarking and found some things to do in the area. It has the oldest Confucian temple in all of Taiwan and some ancient cultural streets that can be extremely interesting, especially to people who have never been to China (or an outlying pseudo-China island).

One thing a busy schedule and few acquaintances has forced me to do this summer is be creative about finding things to do. Also, an important thing I learned is that popular tourist destinations can be great, but it can be even more interesting to go off the beaten path. Fortunately I live in a place with lots of interesting scenery and great photos to take. Also, like I said a few weeks ago, keeping an open mind leads to more possibilities and an overall better experience. My friend's that kind of person so I'm sure when the week is over he'll agree.

Shawn Lynott
MA International Affairs 2012
Taipei Language Institute
Taichung, Taiwan

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