A Taste of the Pacific Ocean

Have you ever tasted the Pacific Ocean? Maybe an unexpected wave crashed into you right when you opened your mouth to yell something at a friend or sibling?

I realized this past weekend that fortunately, the Pacific is much less salty than the Atlantic! Why is this relevant you ask? Because recently I chose one windy day to go snorkelling and although I likely swallowed an entire glass of salt water, it was extremely worth it.

My friends Sandra, Shiun and I met at Taipei Main Station and took the 1811 bus to LuoDong! The bus ticket will cost you $110 NTD (and the bus leaves at 8:20, 9:20, and 10:20 AM, so naturally we took the latest one.

CAMERAThe stop for the snorkelling is called Long Dong Port.

The location is remote so before leaving make sure to stock up on food, water, sunscreen, and to bring all necessities: bathing suits, towels, sunglasses, etc.

Once we got off the bus we walked down some bamboo stairs, continued straight for about two minutes, and before long saw a quaint shop on the corner that rented snorkel equipment.

For $70 NTD we rented a snorkel and began the journey to the “Dragon’s Hole” for some underwater adventures! The path to the snorkelling cove is straight from the shop (ProTravelTip: remember to follow the people, the crowd rarely leads you astray) and is a tad difficult to get to, unless your parents put you in rock climbing classes as a child.

14463286_10157474244335175_5611321159126903068_n

It takes about 15 minutes, and my best advice is to just take your time, wear some running shoes, and look before you step/ jump.

Once you arrive, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view and will instantly forget how annoying that rock trek was. Place your bags somewhere on the rocks, strap on that snorkel, and jump in!

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-8-37-18-pm

The water was perfect temperature for swimming and we quickly found a spot where, what I like to refer to as Dory’s (ahem Finding Nemo ahem), we’re hanging out!

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-11-34-31-pm

After swimming around and taking in the bunches of beautiful coral and fish gathered around them, we spotted a rock formation where people we’re jumping off.

It was about two storey’s high so of course we had to jump off of it. After scaling up the rock formation, with the help of two ropes tied to the rock, I quickly took in the view before taking my leap! Oh, and plugging my nose.

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-6-01-47-pm

We swam, laughed, and soaked up the sun during lunch while we reflected about just how lucky we were to explore this hidden treasure at so little cost! After all, it’s important to be in the moment, but in that moment it’s also extremely important to reflect and appreciate what you are experiencing.

There are some days in life we wish we could relive because they were THAT awesome, and let me just say that for me, this was definitely one of them.

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-11-29-14-pm

Travelling to Long Dong?

First, download BusTracker Taipei from the app store.

On your way home, the 1811 bus can pick you up at the Long Dong Port at 3 PM or 6 PM.

Alternatively, you can take a bus to Keelung (for example bus 791) and then from Keelung buses leave every 10 minutes for Taipei.

Bus 1811: http://www.taiwanbus.tw/information.aspx?Line=3025&Lang=En

 

Advertisements

Taiwanese Mandarin and Hokkien

Traveling to a country different than the one you were born in can often involve dealing with a language barrier.

cute-languages

In my case, I’ve found this to be too true. Although a large amount of people in Taipei can speak a decent amount of English, it is common for people outside the city to know less, and in both situations there is still not much room for lengthy communication.

I stand by the statement made by Rita Mae Brown when she said that, “Language is the road map of a culture.  It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.”

Not understanding a certain language can leave you feeling all of the above, but I really believe that you cannot completely understand another culture, or really get to know the people you meet from it it, until you speak their language.

Sure I can have basic conversations with Taiwanese people but even not being able to ask a sales person more than “How much for this?” in Mandarin bothers me.

And just when I thought I was starting to be able to detect the sound of Mandarin. I was walking down my street one day past a place where an elderly man owns a small fruit market.

img_7452

He was sitting close to the street talking to what looked like his close friend, only it didn’t sound like Mandarin. After consulting with one of my Taiwanese friends they suggested it was likely Hokkien, which instantly made me wonder, what is Hokkien?

Hokkien is a dialect that descended from old mainstream Chinese. And after some research I realized there’s several variants of the Hokkien language, Taiwanese Hokkien just happens to be one of them! But Medan Hokkien and Singaporean Hokkien also exist as spoken languages in parts of Indonesia today!

The majority of the people who continue this language are elderly Chinese men and women, as Mandarin has become the more commonly used standard. Despite this, author Kuan Eng has created, “My First Book of Hokkien Words” to help continue and teach Singaporean youth the language. hokkien

If you think Mandarin sounds difficult to learn consider the fact that Hokkien has 8 tones, instead of 4 tones like Mandarin. These tones come with strict rules of pronunciation that I think native speakers would agree are no piece of cake to learn.

Mandarin and Hokkien represent just one case of language differences. However there’s even differences between the Mandarin spoken in mainland China and Taiwan!

Often the same words are used but mean completely different things, or the words are simply completely different! Take for example the word “pineapple.” In China it is called bo luo but in Taiwan it is referred to as feng li.

For more on those differences, check out this video.

With so many languages in South Asia that were previously unbeknownst to me, it’s been an interesting struggle to try and learn some basic phrases and comprehend the differences between each.

(Don’t even get me started on the differences between Cantonese and Mandarin)

However this difficult learning experience made me realize that had I never taken this amazing opportunity to travel and work abroad I would likely still have no knowledge of these languages or their existence.

In North America the popular mindset is that English can get you anywhere, and through any circumstance, but I’m here to tell you that simply knowing English will not provide you with a truly deep experience while you travel, so if you have the time and the means, the best advice I can give would be: learn another language. 

For more info about Hokkien:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwanese_Hokkien

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singaporean_Hokkien