Thursday, October 13, 2011

You have eat pig intestine? No?! You must try.

Where to even begin!  I boarded a plane to Kaohsiung, Taiwan on September 15th, 2011 with two suitcases, a teaching contract, and a promise that a Taiwanese man holding a sign with my name on it would meet me at the airport.  Anything beyond that was a mystery... life continues to fall together a little more with each day, as does learning something new and stretching my assumed American norms.  (NOTHING in any of the fifteen European countries I've visited prepared me for this!)  It seems completely impossible to recap my first month spent in Taiwan, so I'll begin with yesterday... which was a complete adventure within itself.

Although relocating to a new foreign country by myself three times in two years seems a little outlandish to some, I've found that with every change comes a renewed confidence in the human spirit.  This world is filled with so many kind people, and my experiences in Taiwan have been no different.  Two of my new Taiwanese friends took me to the Dream Mall yesterday... literally, that's what it's called.  It is the largest mall in East Asia, showcasing twelve floors of shoppers' nirvana with a rooftop carnival-like amusement park.  We rode the ferris wheel, which provided a pretty fantastic view of the Kaohsiung city skyline at dusk.

(Kaohsiung Harbor to the far left)
Note: Taiwan is really humid... don't judge my glistening face!  :)
After our stop at the Dream Mall, we were ready for something to eat!  Next stop: Liouhe Night Market.  There are many night markets in Kaohsiung, each providing a noisy, crowded atmosphere known for food, various forms of entertainment, shopping, and a unique cultural experience.  I was so happy to have my Taiwanese friends at hand to ask innumerable questions about my new and very foreign surroundings.  There is SO much to look at in the market... our mission was food, but oh the choices!  Vendors lined the crowded streets, all selling popular Taiwanese dishes most of which would make an American express an emotion similar to this...

(Thanks Allison.  I love you!)
But nonetheless, an open mind must be kept.  In Western nations, we tend to eat exclusively the meat of the dead animal.  In Asia, none of the animal goes to waste.  Pig is the primary source of meat, followed by chicken and fish, but very rarely beef.  All parts of the animal are consumed... everything.  Eyeballs, heart, testicles, neck, ear, feet, kidney... all of which are (luckily!) sold in the Liouhe Night Market!  

From the far left: pig intestines, pig brain, pig kidney, chicken testicles, with some fun wild cards in between.

More testicles (a popular item), mixed with some sea food, pigs blood cake on the far left, and a pig stomach at the top.

Hearts.  At this vendor, you are given a skewer to stab anything you would like.  The Asian woman throws it on the grill and within minutes, dinner. 
I stepped outside of my "that's gross" American box and tried a pig intestine... not much taste, but not my new favorite food either.  After seriously questioning if I was going to walk away from the market hungry, we decided on a not as shocking option: the dumpling vendor.  A dumpling starts by looking like this...

And ends looking like this!  With a little soy sauce added... delicious.

I could tell Taiwan stories all day long... and I've only been here a month!  But for now, bed.  I have to be rested up to hang out with the coolest people I've met in Taiwan so far...  :)  Gotta love being an educator.

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