To Taiwan and Back—with Love!

Vonette Victor chills with Taiwanese friends.

Vonette Victor, rugby player and nurse at Victoria Hospital recently returned from a home study visit to Taiwan. She kept a diary of her spectacular trip and is giving us the chance to share a little piece of her spectacular experience.

My host family came to pick me up at the airport, and we drove to Keelung. They are very easygoing and we developed a great rapport: we spoke as if we had known each other for years.
We had dinner at a family restaurant where the atmosphere was very inviting, Keelung being a seaport area there was a variety of sea foods: eel, shrimp, and sharks stomach. We even indulged in some Taiwanese beer that can be tolerated cold or at room temperature. It was refreshing mild and smooth and the bitterness was not overbearing.
We left for home, my host family resides alone with their two pet dogs which they rescued and adopted. I feel so comfortable and warm! Great Choice!

I  had  the  opportunity to eat a  well prepared meal by  a  Buddhist  family ( my host family, Torii’s parents) the meal was delicious I also indulged myself in eating fruits,  namely  dragon  eye.
I  had  the  opportunity  to  heighten  my  knowledge  about  Tuz  Chi  volunteer  organization.  This  family  was  a  retired  couple  who  practice  recycling,  they proudly displayed a  blouse and blanket manufactured from recycled  plastic  bottles. At first glance, it is difficult to identify that the blouse has no components of fabric. Tzu Chi  is present in approximately 50  countries  throughout  the  world, In Taiwan alone there  are  approximately  200,000  members.
Later  that  evening  I  visited  the  Ghost  festival  in  Keelung  this  festival  is a celebration to the spirits thanking them for keeping them safe. Each  lantern  is  represented  by  a  family, the  Liu,  Tang,  and  Du  families, for example.
The  Liu,Tang  and  Du  family  was  celebrated  this  year  and  thereafter  it  will  be  a  different  family.  Each  lantern  is  donned  with  money  so  the  spirits  can  use  the  monies  to  enhance  the  life  beyond. After  the  cleaning  of  the  lanterns each lantern is set afire  and  released  into  the sea. The lantern which drifts the furthest into the sea, the family of that lantern will have prosperity and goodwill for the future.
The activity ended with breath taking fireworks!

Today I had the opportunity to visit the port that oversees Keelung; the view is utterly breath taking and spectacular, the entire Keelung region could be overlooked which is why the army in the Late Chin Dynasty used this fort as a strategic standpoint in fighting and winning their battles.
Furthermore Taiwan was rich in coal therefore the ports needed to be guarded.
This month is considered to be ghost month so many people avoid the cemetery and the beach/ sea as they believe the spirit whilst in the water overtakes or invades your body and you become a different individual.
We visited the cemetery: the tombs are elegantly built simulated homes.
Once a year there is a tomb sweeping ceremony (April 5) where relatives would pay their respect as well as to use this occasion as an educational tool to the younger generation thus keeping the tradition alive.
That day I had the opportunity to indulge in succulent vegetarian meals. Who said vegetarian meals are bland! Who knew!

Keelung City Council is an exquisitely crafted structure which is utilized for the negotiating on behalf of the people of Keelung by the various council men; I was privilege to attend a seating of this auspicious occasion.
Taipei Longshan Temple is a critical component of traditional Chinese architecture, which was rebuilt in 1919 and completed 1924. The captivating, color of the building releases a sensation of utter peace, worship and prayer. Many visitors grace the gates of the Buddhist temple daily. The temple is an example of traditional Chinese   architecture of its time in Taiwan.
I had the opportunity to worship and seek guidance and deliverance myself, using the traditional face threading divine—Block Casting.
Firstly you ask God for help, and then proceed by clapping the blocks together then you allow the blocks to drop to the ground; three scenarios may unfold-
SCENARIO 1: The two blocks show one convex side and one flat side, the god said “Yes”.
SCENARIO 2: If the two blocks show two convex sides, the god said “No”.
SCENARIO 3: If the two blocks show two flat (?) sides, the god said “No” Comment” seek guidance.
I was blessed by having acupuncture and suction cup treatment at the Changchun Chinese Medical Clinic performed on me. Initially I was a bit apprehensive however all my fears were appeased by the doctor’s level of professionalism displayed. Despite our obvious language barrier she was warm and patient and thoughtful. She competently tried to explain my condition to me through demonstration and my host mother’s assistance.
I must boastfully exclaim I felt a sense of relief after the procedure.
Taipei 101 shopping centers: XingYi shopping Area is spectacular I was in total awe by the copious amounts of brand name stores attractively represented. For all glorious shopping needs hop on a train and get to Taipei 101.
Seeing is believing: this shopping area captivates all one desires from clothes, shoes, foods, electronics that is definitely the place to go.
I love Taiwan!

Looks are deceiving! I have always considered ping pong, (table tennis) to be a slow tempo game. Oh how I was so wrong. My host family and I decided to attend ping pong classes; at first it appears so easy. The coach took me under his competent wings and taught me a few critical pointers, it is a subtle sport, however, you must be patient, compose, have great self-control, stamina and skills to play ping pong. I started my lessons and within a few minutes I was all sweating and energized. Ping pong is such an exciting and complex sports in its own rights.
I will encourage anyone to play ping pong professionally or as a mere hobby just it as I did.

Pavilion of Dreams the name says it all. The visual dimension is so futurist and alluring, it intoxicates and mesmerizes the mind, body and soul. The journey begins with a mechanical flower blossoming as it begins its journey into its life. The flower blooms in sync with the music which hypnotizes the audience.
The second gallery highlights the advancement of visual and multi- media interaction which places the audience in to a virtual world which mimics the natural world. The entire concept gives the audience the concept of Taiwan’s capability technologically now and in the future.
You have the chance to choose path – family, emotions, career, etc – and the path which is chosen is then represented by a flower and this flower blossoms as you proceed throughout each gallery.
Finally your flower is released into a Florabot; a digital plant which mimics living creatures. Everyone who has the time should endeavor to visit the Pavilion of Dreams and thus understand where technology is heading in Taiwan—and also for virtual excitement.
The National Palace Museum symbolizes Taiwan history from various dynasties, the well-known Chinese cabbage is from naturally constructed jade stone. The white of the cabbage signifies purity and the green signifies fertility, it’s an attractive natural artifact which illustrates the history of Taiwan.
The museum is a must see attraction in Taiwan by both locals and visitors.  Anyone who neglects to capture the museum in its glory is missing; true Taiwanese culture and history.
After learning the history of Taiwan visually or otherwise a Taiwanese restaurant is located approximately 1 minute walking distance from the museum’s door. The food appeals both to the eyes and the stomach and YES the prices are very affordable. Ate a delicious meal known as wooden coffin.
I attended a radio interview at the National Education Radio where the radio announcer, MS Ann enquired about my island St.Lucia, and the biggest differences between Taiwan and St Lucia, my first impression of Taiwan and some other question pertaining to the sport of rugby on my island. My responses were transcribed to her via my translator my host ‘mother’ Yijen.   The talk show was great. There was also another international visitor from Japan.
Then proceeded to go shopping in the Eastern District of Taipei the prices are much more reasonable.

The Yingge Ceramics Museum encaptured all the various form of ceramic and all its purposes from personal items namely a ceramic square shaped pillow which was used for  sleeping or the  storage of personal treasure
After admiring the various ceramics the audience has the opportunity to learn and practice their own skill in the art of pottery making. There’s no bias in ages from as young as 4 years and up wards. After wards the audience has the choice whether to ‘fire up’ the pottery or not. This experience is overwhelming and fun and it also indicates that primitive artistry is still being practiced today.
On my return home I endeavored to further the knowledge I gathered by visiting the out district communities which have classes available in pottery making.
Anyone who’s interested in buying reasonable clothes in singles or in bulk can visit Wufenpu Thanks Taiwan!

Yun Hsien Holiday Resort is a majestic natural land mark with superb view of nature. The cable car propels you to unforeseen beauty.
Din Tai Fung was originally a cooking oil shop and the then owner got some ideas from friends and it was transform into   65 spectacular restaurants throughout the world. Japan had the first franchise of Din Tai Fung .
Our group was taught the art of crafting the dough and  creating the unique and well-known folds (18) it’s very difficult I might add, the filling in the dough must  weigh  23 oz. After our class session we were furnished with seven various steam dumplings OMG! They were delicious. They reign supremacy not only as a food but in professional courteous service rendered to the patrons by all staff members thus making Din Tai Fung a talk about restaurant. If you haven’t eaten from Din Tai Fung you haven’t eaten great food!!!!!
Din Tai Fung Is A Must Eat Restaurant In Taipei 101.

Being a national rugby player in St Lucia I found it highly unfitting that I did not seek out other rugby counterparts, so I did! Happily the Taiwan female rugby team is located in Shiling Taipei. They are approximately fourteen young, agile, fast women who have the potential to place Taiwan on the map in terms of IRB female rugby. The women are very fit and industrious with minor modification like all other teams they will be a power house if they continue to play collectively as they are presently doing.
Rugby is being played throughout Taiwan they are four teams in universities, thirty in junior high school and eight in senior high schools which shows rugby is steadily growing throughout Taiwan.
I would like to render a hearty thanks to everyone for allowing me to be part of their training session. I learnt from them.
I would like to thank Mr Carlson Lin the vice president of Chinese Taipei Rugby Football Union.
Thanks for welcoming me with open arms and I hope I see a friendly match between St. Lucia and Taiwan one day.
Last but not least to the female coaches and the female team – thank you for having me during your training session.

Today I spent the morning and part of the afternoon with my host family. In the evening we attended a birthday function. Present were family of my host family and other international visitors. The evening was short but well attended and laughter filled up the house.
Thanks for the cake it was delicious.
I will miss you guys.

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