Day 12 - Taipei, Taiwan - April 24, 2012

Today is our last day in Taiwan.  I'm sad to be leaving.  We packed our bags and went back to the Christian Salvation Service office.  We had to "debrief" about the week.  There were two newspaper articles (in Chinese) that they gave us as well as a stack of CDs filled with pictures and videos of my presentation.  We took pictues with all of the office workers, including Paula who is the Director of the organization.

We then went to lunch one last time with Paula and Georgie.  I had my favorite -- ribs.

We left Taiwan about 11 p.m. on the 24th and arrived about 7 p.m. on the 24th.  It was kind of weird to relive the 24th!!

Day 11 - Taipei, Taiwan - April 23, 2012

Today we made it to the top of Taipei 101.  It is the largest building in Taipei and was the largest building in the worth until Dubai built one higher.  The building has 101 floors above ground and 5 below ground.  When we took the elevator to the 89th floor it took 37 seconds and it did not feel like you were even in an elevator.

On the 89th floor we were given audio with headphones which explained what were were viewing from the windows.  It was a amazing view.  We then went to the 91st floor where there was an outdoor view.  Part of the floor was closed to the public since the winds were too strong.

We then went to the 88th floor where there was a museum of coral and jade carvings.  The carvings were beautiful. 

After 101 we craved a Starbucks!  It was a great place to relax.

We planned to go out again but there were thunderstorms and it was raining pretty hard.  Tomorrow is our last day in Taiwan.

Day 10 - Taipei, Taiwan - April 22, 2012

Today we took the MRT (which is Taipei's subway) to visit the Longshan Temple.  This is where many people come to worship multiple gods.  The main hall worships the Goddess of Lotus.  We tried to go to the Underground Street of the Longhan Temple which is many different foods and other goods to purchase.  Unfortunately, since it the Sunday, the underground mall was closed.  We did, however, get to try fried fish balls which were delicious.

When we returned we finally went into the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial.  There was a revolution in 1912 which established the current Taiwan Republic of China.  This officially marked the end of the Chinese Imperial Rule.  Sun Yat-Sen was the father of the country as it is today. 

There was different groups of teenagers outside the building practicing their dance routines.  It was very interesting.

Tonight we finally went to a night market.  It was so crowded and the smells were great--except for the stinky tofu.  In addition to all the street food, there were a lot of clothes and other items.  It was kind of like a big crowded flea market.


Day 9 - Taipei, Taiwan - April 21, 2012

All my speaking engagements are completed so today it was time to rest and do a little sightseeing.  We had lunch at TGIF Fridays!  I craved some ribs, Emily a burger and mom needed some salad!!  There was a full flight of stairs to the restaurant so we caused a little stir when I walked up the stairs and the manager had to carry my wheelchair.  Lunch was good--we needed some quasi American food.

After lunch we walked around the neighborhood for a bit and then walked to Taipei 101 which is the largest building in Taiwan.  It has 101 floors with an observation deck on the 89 and 91 floor.  The first five floors of the building are high end stores such as Gucci, etc.  The bottom floor is a food court and also many different souvenirs,chocolates and teas.  We were a bit exhausted from the week and went back to the apartment early. 

Mom and Em went to the grocery store to stock up on supplied and then we have homemade Taiwanese stir fried noodles for dinner.  It was another good day.

Day 8 - Taipei, Taiwan - April 20, 2012

Today was a very busy day.  We started out by visiting Songshan Senior High School where I did a presentation.  Songshan is a very prestigious high school in Taipei and many of the students spoke good English.  In fact, after my presentation, the students asked questions in English.  The translation of my speech was done by Agnes which is the head of the social workers at Christian Salvation Service.

About 1 p.m. we went to the Regent Hotel to practice my short speech for the EeLin Charity Fashion Show.  The models were not only modeling evening gowns and tuxedos but also were wearing very expensive Longine's watches. 

We went to the actual Fashion Show at around 6 p.m.  The dinner was amazing -- smoked salmon; chestnut soup, basil lemon granite; rib eye beef and to top it off angel sponge cake with praline chocolate and vanilla ice cream.  The entertainment started with a singer who was the winner of Taiwan's version of American idol.  Then there was a fashion show.  After the fashion show Emily and I went up on stage and I did about a 5 minute speech.  While I was speaking, there were pictures of Emily and I from our childhood as well as current pictures that were flashing on the big screen.  After I spoke, there was another fashion show and two more singers.   The singer and models were well know celebrities in Taipei.  In fact, our dinner table which right in the middle of some of the celebrities.  The evening was hard to describe!!!  


Day 7 - Taipei, Taiwan - April 19, 2012

Today we went to the CSS office and I was interviewed by the Liberty Times which is a part of the Taipei Times.  The interview lasted about an hour.  After that we went back to the apartment to rest and then went to the Chinese Handicraft Mart to shop.  The shop was very interesting because there were many hand-carvings and other artifacts.  We took the Taipei MRT which is an underground subway.  The trains were very modern and very accessible.  We were surprised that both the stations and the trains were air-conditioned.

We went back to the apartment because tomorrow is a very busy day!

Day 6 - Taipei, Taiwan - April 18, 2012

We started the day a little slow this morning and then had to go to the Christian Salvation Service office for a post-adoptive interview.  The Taiwanese government is requiring a study of adoption outcomes.  It was interesting since we were adopted over 23 years ago.  They first interviewed my mother, then my sister and then the interviewed me.

After that we reviewed my speech again.  On Friday, I will be speaking at a local high school to speak before about 200 students.  There will be a different translator, Agnes, so we had to make sure that the presentation was smooth.  Then we had lunch -- from Pizza Hut. 

We then walked to the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store.  The merchandise was very expensive but the bottom floor was an interesting grocery store.  We bought a few items and then went back to the apartment for a rest.

For dinner, we met with Georgie (a woman who has worked at CSS for 29 years and her daughter Prea.  They took us to a fancy Taiwanese restaurant called Shin Yeh.  The food was amazing!! 

More later...

Day 5 - Taipei, Taiwan - April 17, 2012

Today I spoke at the Hualien Special Education school.  There were about 60 students in attendance and it was a great success.  After the speech all of the students wanted to take their picture with me.  We had to do it in two groups. 

After the speech, we went on a tour of Hualien.  We went to Toroko National Park where we saw the Taroko Gorge.  While we were there we visited the Buluowan Mesa and saw the Leader Village.  There was a small museum of the indigenous people of the Taroko tribe.  We then visited the Eternal Spring Shrine which was built for the workers who died while building the highway which was the first highway cross Taiwan's central mountain range.

We then stopped at a shop which sold Hualien's special sticky rice buns (which by the way are delicious).  We had lunch at the ocean shore and had fried dumplings.  We arrived back in Taipei to our little apartment.

Day 4 - Taipei, Taiwan - April 16, 2012

Today we left the apartment early and caught an 8:50 train at the Songshan station to Hualien.  Hualien is a city on the East Coast of Taiwan.  We arrived in Hualien around noon and had lunch at a small Taiwanese teppanyaki restaurant.  The food was very interesting with octopus and other assorted meats and fish.  The sauce was amazing!  We then drove to Dong Hwa University where I spoke to a class of Mark Shu who is a professor at the University.  The students were great and then asked a lot of good questions.

After my presentation, Mark and I went to the university's gym and we worked out.  I spent the night at the Guest House at the University. 

Day 3 - Taipei, Taiwan - April 15, 2012

Today was the third day of our trip to Taiwan.  It was a day of sightseeing!  First we visited The Grand Hotel.   You can see the hotel for miles Up close, there is a lot of intricate carving both in wood and stone.  We then visited the Tien Mu area of Taipei.  This is where many of the foreigners live.  I lived in that area about 22 years ago.  After that we went to the Shrine of Martyrs where we watched the changing of the guards.  It was amazing.

Day 2 - Taipei, Taiwan - April 14, 2012

Today was our second day here in Taipei.  We went to the Christian Salvation Office so I could practice my presentation and figure out how it will be translated when we go to Hualien on Monday.  I'll be speaking at Dong Hwa University on Monday night and Hualien Special Education School on Tuesday morning. 

After that I went with Mark Shu (from Dong Hwa University) and Paula Voitman (from CSS) to a public gym in Taipei.  It was a great workout.  Then we went to Dan Ryan's Grill for dinner.  Tomorrow we're going to do some sightseeing.  More tomorrow.

Day 1 - Taipei, Taiwan Trip - April 13, 2012

We arrived this morning at the Taipei airport at 5:00 a.m.  It's been a long day.  We're staying at an apartment right in the midst of downtown Taipei.  It's very close to Taipei 101 and the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial.

We spent the day reviewing the powerpoint for my speaking engagements.  We met all the people from Christian Salvation Service.  We also reviewed the itinerary for the week and it's going to be very busy.  Tomorrow we're going to do a practice session and then hit the local gym for a workout.  More later...