Some of my most rewarding experiences here in Taiwan are spent with a language-exchange I met through my roommate, Sunny. His name is Thomas Hu and we meet up at least once a week, one hour spent speaking Chinese and the other half speaking English. His wife cooks me an amazing meal as I sit there at his living room table struggling to say "I would like to go to Taichung via train" and similar sentences. This meal usually consists of a big bowl of soup + a huge mound of rice + tons of vegetables and a great piece of meat. This is what food comas are made of. Surrounding our meal, we talk about differences in our cultures and people. I send him English articles and he tries to make sense of them. We struggle together and learn together.
He is also able to show me around Taiwan on occasion. Just yesterday we went on a great bike ride in Fengyuan with his son Kevin (whom is in one of my classes). The city has great trails about 15 minutes from where I live via bike. It's a great escape from the exhaustion of the city streets. Here are some pictures exemplifying our journey and our growing relationship.
Thomas and I at the beginning of the bike ride. Cycling is one of the primary modes of recreation and exercise for the people of Taiwan. This bike path attracts hundreds of people daily, getting quite crowded on holidays.
Me along the trail overlooking the Dajia River below and the mountains to the East. The river bank is actually quite torn up because of yearly tsunamis plaguing the area of steady plant growth.
My student Kevin and I by a bridge along the bike trail. He is in my writing class on Wednesday and Friday evenings.
By the end of our bike ride, we found this great field of flowers "Hua hi" and Thomas insisted that I stop and take pictures. I am in awe of the beautiful flowers here and often see them dancing alongside the roads and sidewalks. Deep purples and pinks and white. We stopped among the flowers and snapped a shot.
I plucked a flower from its stem (after getting permission from Thomas) and stuck it in my journal. It's a great memento of an exuberant ride with incredible friends.
Ni Hao to the flowers! (Another insistent request by Thomas). He's such a joy.