As some of you may or may not know, I am half Taiwanese. So for my Spring break, instead of joining my friends in Greece, I went to Taiwan to visit my family with my sister. The last time I had been in Taiwan was five years ago in 2015.
After subjecting myself to a twenty one hour flight (the longest leg being from Amsterdam to GuangZhou: 11 hours, followed by a 6 hour layover in said GuangZhou), I arrived in Taiwan in the afternoon. My Aunt picked me up, treated me to some local food, and then I promptly went to bed at 6pm.
I initially thought that the language barrier would have been a really big issue. In fact that was one of the things I was most nervous about for my visit. But it hasn’t been too bad. My theory is that when I was relearning German, my language acquisition came back and so I’m picking back up my Chinese simply by being inundating myself in an Asian environment.
The next day my aunt and I met up with my dad for lunch. It was really great to see my dad again. It was also really great to see how happy he was to see me. Asking me questions like how tall I was now, if I have a girlfriend, how much I weigh, what I’m studying in college, basically everything that he has missed out on for the past five years. It’s different now coming back to Taiwan as a young man. My sister and I now have a little more independence. I mean, there are some things you can’t get around culturally, which I’ll get into in a different blog post, but this trip is both the similar and different to the times my sister and I would come back for summer school when we were little.
Anyways, after lunch my aunt, knowing that I’m studying architecture, brought us all to a really cool public Taipei library in Beitou. This is an example of Taiwan architecture after Japanese occupation. The library’s design is heavily influenced by “green” building practices and sustainability ideals. Some of its features include its rainwater catchment system to supply its grey water system, the solar panels on the roof to power the electricity, the use of wood as the primary building material, and a green roof system.
Beitou is known for its hot springs and right next to the library is a hot spring building from when Taiwan was under Japanese occupation. I couldn’t go inside since it was closed, but looking at the outside it was interesting to see the use of both brick and wood construction together. Using the brick as the stereotomic base while using the wood for the second and third stories. I wouldn’t consider brick a local building material in Taiwan so I was quite surprised to see it in an older building.
After looking at these buildings we went to go see an outdoor public light/lantern exhibition done by one of Taiwan’s community colleges. It was nice to walk around and look at all of the different lantern caricatures narrating different parts of ancient Chinese history. Once we were done seeing the lanterns we waited at home before picking up my sister from the airport. Last time I saw her was in Hawaii when she competed in the Iron Man Championship Race in Kona last October.