Some of our teammates posing for a picture before we row (I'm in the first row, left)
Because not everyone showed up for practice, when I first sat down in the boat, I thought we were going to flip over because the boat was so close to the water. This was because we had never had such a heavy boat! Everyone finally showed up to row the dragon boat. While it was the day of the competition, at least everyone came!
Competing at night. All races were held at around 8pm
Although I forgot to bring my goggles the first day of racing, I definitely remembered to bring them the next day of competition.
Like I predicted in a previous post, we did not get first place. We did not get second or third, either. We got fourth place (out of four competitors) in our bracket. It was a lot of fun, despite how slow we were =). On Monday's race, our time was 4 minutes and 39 seconds. We were so close in beating the Oxford team. We were only two seconds behind. Oxford was also slow that day. But the next day, they were very quick and were not in a close race with us in grabbing last. All our competitors that second day of racing had a score of 3 minutes + something seconds. We were the only ones who had a score of 4 minutes and 18 seconds. Well, although they beat us in speed, we beat them in having the coolest name, "Hamburger Breakfast!"
Our logo for our T-shirts drawn by a Fulbrighter
Actually, our program coordinator was a little embarrassed to put down our name "Hamburger Breakfast" so they put down "Fulbright Hamburger Breakfast" as our name, which they ultimately shortened to "Fulbright."
Zhong Shan Da Xue (Zhong Shan University) took first place with Wen Zao taking second and Oxford taking third. All in all, it was a really fun experience and we all had a good time.
Check out some very cool pictures here.
Some of us in the hot springs
At Ruesuei, we stayed at a hot springs hotel where they had three outdoor springs at different temperatures--cold, warm, and hot. It was very soothing. Ruesuei is known for its "rustic" hot springs, as my guidebook tells me, so I'm glad we got to experience that. The hotel is nestled at the top of a mountain so it was quiet and secluded.
The next day, we got up early to go rafting in another part of Ruesuei. The rafting company we chose had rather old gear (old lifejackets, old rafting boats, old spongy helmets), but they saved us at least NT$300. We rafted for five hours, going over 23 rapids, and over a distance of 25 kilometers. A few of us fell out of the raft a couple of times, but nobody got hurt. We also had some pretty excellent water battles with neighboring rafts, where we used water buckets to throw water at each other. Of course, we're not supposed to do that, but it was still pretty fun because it turned into a battle between the Taiwanese and Americans; the Taiwanese would yell "Welcome to Taiwan!!" And then they would throw some water at us while we would yell back "No honor! You just said 'Peace'!!" It was a good time. This rafting trip would not have been possible without Gered & Rebekah, two of our Fulbright ETAs, organizing it, so a big shout out to both of you! Thank you for organizing the trip!
Click to enlarge the above pictures
After a day of rafting, we went to Tai-Dong in the evening by train. There, we stayed a night at the aboriginal culture hotel. We didn't do too much exploring in Tai-Dong because we arrived so late. The next morning, we went to Green Island (Ludao), an island off of Taiwan.
At the 'Little Great Wall' on Green Island (Ludao)
We took the ferry to go to Green Island and unfortunately, I threw up multiple times. I don't usually get seasick, but this ride was 40 minutes long and I already had a slight headache in the morning. So, the combination of those factors culminated in a not-so-pleasant experience. Anyway, I digress. When we finally arrived on Green Island, we realized that we couldn't take a tour with the glass-bottomed boat like we originally planned because it wasn't running on that day, which happened to be a Sunday. At that point, we had to decide if we wanted to ride golf carts around Green Island, which is only 6 sq miles, or 16 sq kilometers around, or rent a car for about $30 for three hours. We chose the latter.
Green Island was formed after a volcanic explosion. It is famous for many things including oddly shaped volcanic rocks, a prison for political dissidents (or that's what I hear), and lush green mountains. We saw all of that and much more in the span of three hours. We were very efficient with our two rented cars.
All in all, it was an excellent trip and I'm glad I got to see eastern Taiwan. You should check out more pictures in Taiwan Photo Set 35!
To form a team, you must have thirty people, twenty of which will be rowing, one will be steering the boat in the back, one will be drumming, and one will be sitting on top of the dragon's head to reach for the flag; the other six are backups in case one of us falls into the water during practice.
So, I'd like to say that we're a pretty serious competitor, but I'd be pulling your leg if I wrote that. Let me clarify our place in this competition:
1) Our team name is "Hamburger Breakfast." This name was chosen because so many Taiwanese think that foreigners love to eat hamburgers for breakfast. But in fact, more Taiwanese eat hamburgers for breakfast than foreigners. Instead of trying to dispel this myth, which we've tried, we've decided to embrace our "foreignness" and name ourselves after this misconception.
2) There are seven competitors in the foreign division of the race.
3) One of our competitors is the Kaohsiung World Games Dragon Boat Team.
4) Another one of our competitors has practiced for nearly twenty years.
5) We will practice three times for one hour each until the actual competition...
6) When we practice, we have three rowing strategies, Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. Here is the pattern of drumming for each Plan:
7) At our first practice, nine out of twenty-four people showed up.
8) At our second practice, twelve out of twenty-four people showed up.
9) Maybe by our third practice, all of us will show up?
Now, when you're dragon boating, there a few things to keep in mind. First, you're rowing on Love River. In the past, people have said it used to smell so foul pedestrians would throw up walking near it. People did not love the Love River ten years ago. However, things have changed now and it's not nearly as stinky as it was ten years ago. I--sitting at the front of the Dragon Boat and splashing myself with water because I don't know how to row--have tasted the Love River and I'll tell ya right now, it's salty and stings the eyes if you're not wearing goggles. So, to prepare yourself for the race, we suggest you wear:
I hope this has given you a little picture into our experience dragon boating.
One more thing, one of the ETAs thought up of our slogan, "Your ass is dragon!" because it sounds like "Your ass is draggin' " as in "You're too slow!" We'll get T-shirts that say this so look out for pictures later!
Happy Rowing, Team! Go Hamburger Breakfast, Go!
Here are some pictures of the eateries we've been to and the food we've tried.
Spare-rib noodle soup and tofu
I also really like this place:
Be sure to check out more pictures of the food I've tasted in Taiwan in this album.
Happy Mother's Day!
We stopped by a coffee shop on the way to Wan Shou Shan. The entire shop was nestled in the forest; you can see a picture of it to the left.
It was a great trip and we hope to go hiking up monkey mountain before I leave Taiwan in July.
There is also a special type of barbecuing that takes place in Taiwan. In Taiwanese, it's called Kong Tou Ye. It's a style of barbecuing that takes one full day and the effort of the whole family. A few people use stones to build a little oven (see picture above). Meanwhile, other people use water, newspaper, and mud to wrap eggs, chicken, and other meats they want to bake.
When the stones get hot enough, you take the all the charcoal inside the oven out and put the things you want to bake inside. The Taiwanese call it "men." Then, you cover the entire thing with dirt. That is, you cover the entire oven with dirt so it bakes the entire stuff inside this little mound of dirt and stones. It's really cool. The picture to the right is a picture of all the foods you would want to bake wrapped in newspaper and mud.
Some of my new friends that I frequently hang out with, pictured from left: Andres (German), Finja (Taiwanese), Kevin (Taiwanese), Olivia (Taiwanese), Alex (German), & the other three Fulbrighters you already know (Gered, Rebekah, and Dan).
Ip Man (葉問)
Additionally, one of my relatives suggested I watch this documentary:
Up the Yangtze
Up the Yangtze is a documentary on how the building of the Three Gorges Dam in China is affecting the lives of millions of people and their culture. I hope to watch it when I go back to the States.