Banks Fam Does Taiwan

With less than 48 hours to recover from Thailand I was besides myself in anticipation- my parents were due to Taiwan at 8:55 PM on February 15th.

I met them in Taoyuan with more emotion than I anticipated. It’s like all 6 months of being indepedent and “fine” came to a halt in that moment and I could HUG my MOM!  So, I made a really cheesy sign, we took the ugliest photo of me of all time (which proceeded to get over 400 likes on Facebook, eh ok?)

Do I need to put more ugly photos on Facebook? #happytears

 #happyuglytears

Then we cabbed to our hotel in Taipei.

While the 16th started off a bit slow (my Taiwanese debit card stopped working), it picked up after lunch. We ended up eating at DinTaiFeng, a super fancy/famous Taiwanese dumpling restaurant, so they could try XiaoLongBao. I think they enjoyed it? Then we went to the top of Taipei 101.

Terrible lighting but WHOOO TAIPEI 101!!!

Terrible lighting but WOOO TAIPEI 101!!!

Introducing Mom and Pop to Mango Ice cream.

Introducing Mom and Pop to overpriced Mango Ice cream.

Then we stopped by the Chiang Kaishek Memorial.

They cute.

They cute.

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Then we grabbed dinner and headed to the Shilin Night Market where my parents had their first whiff of Choudofu, or stinky tofu, which is part of the initiation ritual for Taiwan.

On the 17th we got up and did the Maokong Gondola ride, which was hilarious because my mom is afraid of heights…

but she stuck it out like a pro.

but she stuck it out like a pro.

We stopped by a few of the super famous temples in the mountains and poked around.

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Had a great view of Taipei!

Then we  visited the National Palace Museum, where we mostly walked around and took photos.

My dad rented a car and drove through Taipei like he was James Bond, we grabbed dinner at Burger and Co., and we drove 3.5 hours to Hualien along a highway that was on the edge of some very scary cliffs.

On the 18th we explored Hualien a bit, biked along the coast and had a good work out (I considered calling it the Banks Family Exercise Vacation- we walked or biked on average 7+ miles a day).

Took a break from biking to snap a few photos:)

Took a break from biking to snap a few photos:)

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The beach had stones, not sand! So gorg.

 

That night was Chinese New Year’s Eve so every single restaurant was closed. It was looking like MCD’s for dinner but we ended up stumbling upon a Cote D’voire style restaurant. The ambience was great, and as a thank you at the end the cook gave us all a shot of whiskey. So, if you know anything about my parents, that meant I was taking two- one more me and one for my mom. Wheeeeee! Whiskey!

On the 19th we woke up early and headed to Taroko Gorge– Taiwan’s #1 destination for tourists. It is called “Asia’s answer to the Grand Canyon.” It was incredible.

One of the first vistas in the gorge.

One of the first vistas in the gorge.

Mom+I goofing off while Dad was reading a sign.

Mom+I goofing off while Dad was reading a sign.

Afterwards we drove back to Taipei to turn in the rental car. The 20th of February is the day that traditionally Taiwanese people go to their mother’s home. So while driving up to Taipei along the terrifying cliffs on highway 9 or 2 or whatever it was, there was traffic lined up for HOURS.  People were trying to get to Hualien, Taidong, or Kenting to see their Momma’s. My dad gave me permission to call, text, Skype, or send a pigeon carrier if there was ever that much traffic and I was trying to get home.
Anyway, we finally made it back to Taipei, turned in the rental car, grabbed dinner and took the High Speed Rail to Taichung for the night.

On the 20th we woke up slowwww and I took my parents to some hot springs close to my school. We enjoyed the spa-like ambience of the hot spring and emerged prune-like and refreshed. I took them  to my favorite sandwich shop and then we cabbed to the Tea House that supposedly created the original “bubble tea.” I showed them around the mall that I gym at and introduced them to Uniglo- my favorite Japanese clothing line. Might have milked them for some new pants 🙂 After our short shopping spree we went home to spruce up before meeting my principal for a very fancy dinner at a private museum. It was such a fun time to introduce my parents to my principal and her family. Also sort of surreal.

The WHOLE clan.

The WHOLE clan.

On the 21st we got up EARLY and took the HSR to Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest city. I took them to my favorite brunch spot there- Lee and Daughters- where we had the most amazing french toast. Then I dragged them to Cijin, a small island in Kaohsiung’s harbor. I showed them the famous lighthouse, the old fort, and the beach.

Goofballs.

Goofballs.

A view of Cijin +my humans.

A view of Cijin +my humans.

Then we had a very mediocre dinner at Outback, and headed back to Taichung.

The 22nd dawned…pretty late for me. I took my parents to downtown Taichung- showed them the Opera House, City Hall, People’s Park, and Maple Garden Park. To recharge batteries I took them to Match Coffeehouse, one of my favorite spots in town. Afterwards we jetted back to Julianna, Joyce and Chris’s place for pizza and so I could introduce my parents to the entire HKSG crew+ Iris, my coordinator. It was SO funny for them all to interact and so nice for them to finally meet.

Fulbright fam met Kansas fam!

Fulbright fam met Kansas fam!

The 23rd was my last day of break and so sort of my last real big day with my parents. They decided to treat me to a “Costco run” and bought basically all my major groceries for the next 2-3 months. Christmas YAY!…..In the afternoon I took them to Fengyuan to bike along the DongFeng Bikeway. Then we went out to eat at my favorite hole-in-the-wall Hibachi-style Japanese restaurant. They loved it.

The 24th was take-your-parent-to-school-day.

Bring your family to school day!

Bring your family to school day!

My school has an African Drum team and an African dance team. At the very beginning of the day we had a huge assembly where my parents were introduced and the two teams performed and my parents began to meet students and staff. I got to introduce my parents to my co-teachers and later I got to take them out to lunch with my principal and my co-teacher Kelly. In my 6th grade class the students asked them questions and got points for asking my parents questions in English. My favorite was, “Can you sing “Let it Go?”” I laughed out loud. My mom sang three lines.
Later they came to my 2nd grade class and were star-substitute english teachers.

2 graders!

2 graders!

Students got "high fives!" for successfully accomplishing the task.

Students got “high fives!” for successfully accomplishing the task.

At the end of the day we went to Little Italy, a great Italian place in town, and gorged ourselves before traveling to get Creme Brûlée at my favorite little pizza place.

And then the 25th dawned and I had to say goodbye. It’s funny because there is probably no one else in the world I could spend 10 consecutive days with, every waking hour, without going crazy (introverted-Celeste struggles). But I obviously can with my parents, and count it as such a honor that I got to spend time with them here. It was their first time to Asia, and first time to Taiwan, and I think we made some good memories 🙂

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