One of the cool things about living in a new culture is that you get to experience different types of holidays. In Taiwan, I have been learning about holidays I had never heard of before coming to Taiwan! Currently, Taiwan is celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival, which is also known as Moon Festival.
Moon Festival is one of the biggest holidays in Taiwan and it’s often celebrated by barbecuing, a little vacation time, and eating pomelos. Giving friends and family members pomelos with silly faces on them is also a common tradition.
This year, Moon festival was on a Wednesday, October 4, which meant that we got a day off of school.
Over the past few weekends, I’ve seen different types of celebrations happening surrounding Moon Festival. My roommate Annys and I were invited to a community barbecue with my co-teacher Alice, where we got to listen to some live music and eat every type of grilled meat and seafood you can imagine.
Moon festival is celebrated in many places in Asia. It’s a harvest festival, and there’s also a story surrounding it about a beautiful women named Chang’e, who turned into a goddess and lives on the moon.
In addition to holiday shenanigans, I have been starting to explore not only Yilan, but the surrounding areas as well. My roommate Michelle introduced my to Hao Hao Kaffe, a coffee shop with modern aesthetics in Yilan that also serves some really yummy food. A great place to do some work (or procrastinate) on the weekends.
Something that has surprised me is the diversity of food here. Yes, there is Taiwanese food here, as well as Japanese and Korean, which I expected. However, we’ve also come across American, Italian, and even Ukrainian food! As someone who likes lots of types of food, this is great. And, as much as I love dumplings, I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe I should start branching out and trying other foods. My friends and I have actually found several places that sell good American food, from pizza to burgers and beer. The best are Slobber and Darwin Bistro, both in Yilan. And if you’re craving some delicious eastern European cooking (because who isn’t) you can check out Mr. Balagov Ukrainian Cafe, where you can chow down on some homemade meatballs and mashed potatoes. Oh, and get the mocha latte, you won’t regret it.
Last weekend, my host family took me to the town just north of Yilan, which is called Jaoxi. Jaoxi is famous for its hot springs. It’s also one of the only places in the world that has cold springs.
There are tons of places to go in Jaoxi to experience the hot springs, from public pools with just a little admission fee to five star hotels. My host family and I went to a pool with three different springs: one with cold water, one with medium water, and one with really hot water. We then went and ate some really yummy Japanese food.
And, on some rainy Friday nights my friends and I have gone to see a movie. American movies are popular here, and it was fun to go see a movie and see the Mandarin subtitles running across the bottom of the screen. It is interesting to see that American pop culture is popular across the world.