Well, this wasn’t really a wedding, but the celebration of a marraige between Chen-yu and Sven. The wedding was last year and I heard that I missed a good one!!! So anyways, Chen-yu’s mother really wanted to have some sort of celebration in Taiwan to show her family, relatives, and friends that her daughter was really married to a foreigner and that she wasn’t making things up. The proof is in the pudding, we all say in America, so Chen-yu’s mother insisted on the two of them, his parents, plus both of Chen-yu’s parents (who live in Poland right now), fly all the way to Taiwan to show those farmers from the south that the rumors were true, and yes, someone did finally marry their daughter. (Just kidding Chen-yu, if you read this) So,myself, now included in the bunch,show up in Lugang where the grand parents on the mothers side live. We get there by train and are picked up at the train station by Chen-yu’s father, brother, and uncle. Two cars. We drive for about 1 hour to the first stop, the city hall where one of Chen-yu’s uncles is having an art show. This whole experience is going to be very hard to explain, so bear with the wanderings and meanderings of my mind. I hope that you can follow. So from my perspective, this is what is was like. Continue reading
I have been looking forward to seeing Mike and Sylvia since….well since I started comunicating with Sven again. So, finally, last night I got to. We went to dinner, where we spent the whole time catching up on the past 10 years. I did the best I could to get back into the groove of speaking in german. Luckily Sven and mostly Chen-yu have been only speaking german with me. When we would start speaking in english (because my german has gotten really bad), Chen-yu would say “Sven, your mother is coming in …..(so many days)……speak german!” So he would stop speaking english (which is now very good because many of his class at the university were only in english and at some of his jobs he speaks only english), and we would start in german again. And I would struggle through trying to explain or say what would have been effortless to now speaking in wrong tenses, using weird and strange words that I thought were right, or at least remembered a word similar to it and well just really having a hard time. But it all helped and day by day I am remembering more and more and actually it wasn’t that bad last night.
Sylvia looks almost the same as when I was there last time, its amazing. She gave me a big hug when we first met and it reminded me of the day I left germany to go back to america. She made me a small photo album with a picture of me and the whole family on the front and under the picture read…..Jeremy Chad Wildhaber-Anderson. And inside the album were pictures of all the kids and themselves, and me. As soon as she gave it to me she started crying and covering her eyes ran back into the house. You see she doesn’t cry or loose composure, so moments like these were just to much for her. I started to cry too, and well, she will always have a place in my heart and seeing her and Mike again was great. At dinner, all of the funny stories that happened while I was there came up. Mike’s favorite is the one where I was bunny hopping Sylvia’s bike.
Sven and I were on a bike ride and I was showing him how to hop over the curbs. Well about 5-6 curbs into the demonstration, my bike started feeling ackward to me, it felt like it was getting smaller and harder and harder to peddle. After the next hop, my seat was literally touching the handle bars, and the peddles were almost touching the ground. And I told Sven that I thought that something was wrong and that I didn’t think that is was normal. He just started laughing, saying that he couldn’t wait to see his parents faces. Upon arriving home, Mike came out to see what Jeremy had broke this time. He saw the bike and started laughing like I have never seen him laugh. He then got on the bike, cigarette in mouth, and tried to ride it around the back yard. Yep, he said, Jeremy, you did it again, I think that there is something wrong with the bike, you never cease to amaze me, and he would laugh and laugh, riding in circles almost halling over several times. Ironically this memory is my favorite of Mike as well. It makes me so happy inside to see them again and remember all of those great memories. Giving Lars his first brownie, both the baked kinds and the underwear one. To this day, that is his biggest memory of me there. I just wish that Both Lars and Nora could have been there also, that would have been so fun.
So, anyways many fond memories and experiences.
We spent 3 days in the south area of Taiwan with a friend of Chen-yu’s. Her friend, husband, and two cute little girls opened up their apartment to us. It was very snug. Sven and I got the girls room, the husband (Win) took the floor in the den, and all the women slept in the main bedroom.
The first night that we were there, we were invited to dinner at a friend of Win’s. It was a very nice restaurant that served european food as well as taiwanese. He came out after we ordered to say hi. He was very friendly and smiled alot. He said that he had alot of dishes to prepare so he quickly left. So, just to let you know, this restaurant was a 5-6 course dinner event.
Minutes later, our appitizers showed up, a salad and soup. Then 4 extra plates of food showed up, all of Sven, Chen-yu, and me. Well, Sven being vegetarian couldn’t eat any of them, and Chen-yu being on good behavior was only nibbling (faker), so being the polite guest that I am, I ate them all. Squid ink spagetti, sea food noodles, a fish plate, and baked pig nuckles. Then my main course showed up, shank of lamb. I ate that too of course, but now feeling the pain of too much, and at this moment, more started showing up. I was then informed by Sven and Chen-yu that if a person eats all of their food in Taiwan it means that you are still hungry and you want more. Me being raised to finish my plate because there are starving children in Africa, thought that I was just being polite, now understood. After the next plate of food, which I only ate half of, dessert and after dinner drinks showed up. It was really the best food that I had eaten in a long time and I told the Chef that the german pig knuckles and sour craut was better than in germany, and it was. He was very pleased and said that if he could take the time off, he would take us all in his boat the next day. It never happened but never the less, dinner kicked ass.
So, for the next few days, all that I can remember is eating, and ….eating. Oh ya, we did drive around and see some of the local sights, a trading post and small temple/castle thing. We were told by Chen-yu that the local government was trying to improve their english signs through out the city and that they were paying 1000 euen for every sign that had miss spellings and gramatical mistakes. Thats about 35 dollars. So Sven and I spent the whole day at these sights not really enjoying the sights but taking pictures of the signs that were wrong. Well, after about every sign, more than 100, I just gave up and we decided that I just needed to come live there for a few months, earn lots of money and help them write in complete sentences, add a verb when needed, and pretty much redo most of the really funny, strange way they have basterdized the english language.
Pretty much this whole trip I have been looking forward to seeing Sven again and meeting his new wife Chen-yu. It has been almost 10 years since I last saw him. Well he is now married to a beautiful and now pregnant Taiwanese woman who he met in Germany 8 years ago where they both live. The two of them make great couple who complement each other well. Sven is very thorough and takes his sweet time while Chen-yu is definitely a total type A personality who is on the go wanting things to have happened 10 minutes ago. We have had a lot of fun together so far and I am really looking forward to the celebration that her family has planned for them.
Sven is vegetarian and Chen-yu not, so the two of us are always eating and she is introducing me to the many new foods here in Taiwan. For such a little thing, she eats as much or more than me, which is amazing. We were at this one restaurant yesterday, Chen-yu and I had finished our plates (Sven not, still picking), and Chen-yu leaned back in her seat to give her belly some room, and the waitress’s eye caught her stomach (4 months pregnant), and you could see this puzzled look come over her face as Chen-yu talked about how full she was. Probably should have been there to see it, but you get the picture.
I saw some of the best sights that I have seen to date. Himeji nicknamed the white egret, is the oldest and largest castle that remains in Japan. This thing was beautiful, surrounded my a huge moat and incredibly ornate garden, this was for sure one of the best. Today and last night were definately “the Japan” that I was waiting for.
After Himeji, I went to the largest Buddist temple in Nara. Inside of it there are three Buddhas, the largest is about 50ft, 437 tons of bronze and 200 lbs of gold. It is called the cosmic buddha, and is one of the largest statues in the world. It was very impressive!!!
I spent the past few days traveling from Nikko to Tokyo, then from Tokyo to Kyoto…….not fun. About 11 hours in trains, and several hours walking from Hostel to Hostel. Thanks to two japanese girls who decided to help me along the way I made it to Kyoto. I was sitting on one of the first trains that I caught out of Tokyo, it had stopped just outside of town, and everyone got off. I thought that I had gotten on the train to Kyoto and all that I needed to do was sit on the same train and wait out the 9 hour trip. So there I sat for a few minutes, knowing that something was not right but not knowing what to do next. So I got up, waked outside the train without my packs, and tried to desipher the train schedule on the poster. That didn’t work so I went back to my pack and sat down when two japanese girls came up to me, one plump and one skinny. When I say plump, I mean healthy, not american plump. There aren’t any fat japanese, not like in the US. I have been here for 9 days now and I have seen maybe 10 fat Japanese. The first ones that I say were in Nikko at this fancy european hotel that served a buffet american style. This girl Julie, a canadian that I kept running into, and myself on a journey to find food, found this place and tried to get in but we couldn’t without staying in the hotel. So ironically, this was my first encounter with a fat japanese family. The whole family!!! I have seen a few sumo wrestling looking young boys but they still aren’t obese, only healthly plump. That’s why the life expectancy here is 85 years old.
I decided to leave the busy metropolitis of Tokyo and head for the hills. You see, I heard that I could find hot springs out there in them hills, so I went a look’n………. Well, I didn’t have to look very hard because….., Japan is a volcanious island, duh…. and there are hot spring (onsen) all over the place, the trick was and still is, finding the best ones. In some of the towns, nearly every hotel has a hot spring bath house where you pay x amout of yen, to sit in these man made baths. Some are indoors, some are outdoors, some are really small (two to three persons), some are very large. Some don’t have any smell, others stink to high heaven. Some are heated and some are natural. So the hard part is trying to get around in a land of symbols, that I cannot read at all, and or names that I forget two seconds after I read them. And the farther away from Tokyo, and the farther out of the tourist meccas, the more difficult. I just left a town where I finally just gave up because I ended up taking the wrong train back to where I had just come from, turning back, grabbing yet another wrong train, landing in this small town where I was definetely the only foriegner, communication was impossible, and absolutely nothing on any information sign was understandable. I ended up walking from one side of the town to the other trying to find an english speaker and a place to stay. I never did, but I did however find the best hot springs (onsen) yet, which was great, and took a very long soak.