When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


7/3/15

Taipei, Taiwan

We arrived in Taipei in the evening.  We were just settling into our hotel when Aaron had to leave for a business dinner.  The kids and I ordered room service, took baths, and had a dance party to the strange music videos we found on T.V.  

The next day, Aaron was in meetings all day.  It was pouring rain.  Refusing to stay cooped up in a hotel room, the kids and I donned our ponchos and headed out.  We found the subway station, bought some passes, and started exploring.  I had read about an amazing park for kids that was just a few stops away.  A quick ride and we were there.  And wouldn’t you know it, thanks to the rain, we had the place all to ourselves!  The first thing Caleb did was stomp straight through a giant puddle.  No towels, no extra clothes or shoes.  I prayed we wouldn’t catch pneumonia.  Gritting my teeth, I smiled and told the kids not to worry about getting wet.  Have fun!  Parker and Maddie gave me uncertain sideways glances. After I assured them multiple times I really meant it, they went to town.  We tried every slide, ride, and climbing wall.  









Leaving the park we [mom] decided we couldn't just go back to the hotel without a teeny tiny bit more sight-seeing.  Yes, we were soaked, yes we were shivering, yes our shoes squelched and leaked water whenever we took a step, but c'mon!  We were in Taiwan!  We might never get to see this place again!  So I dragged the crew to the famous Lungshan Temple.  It was founded in 1738 (rebuilt in 1919) and absolutely stunning.  I've seen lots of temples here in Asia, but none quite like this.  It was constructed of stone, wood, and bronze.  It even had Corinthian capitals on some of the columns.  Beautiful!  






Shockingly [note the sarcasm here] our young explorers failed to appreciate the architectural masterpiece they beheld and began to melt down.  I hurriedly snapped some photos, and we hightailed it out of there, so as not to disrupt the worshippers.  

Once outside, we decided to stop for a snack before heading back to the subway.  As in Beijing, a crowd gathered to count the brood and take pictures.   I had Parker take a picture of the crowd.  It didn't faze them.  I suppose I was thinking they may feel a bit awkward (as I did).  Nope.  Everyone just stood and stared like it was lion-feeding time at the zoo.  We finished our snack and finally headed back to the security of the warm, dry hotel room.





Once rested, we made plans with our friends (one of Aaron’s coworker’s wives and her four kids) to have dinner together. We walked to Outback Steakhouse of all places and enjoyed some traditional Western fare.  Boy did it feel like home!  American accents all around the table, country music, even line dancing performed by the waiters and waitresses.  What a blast!  We made plans to meet up again the next day to visit the zoo and ride the Maokong Gondola.  


Rain, rain, and more rain.  We decided to go to the zoo anyway.  We were joined by Missi and her four children, as well as another coworker’s spouse, Scott, and his two kids.  And so it was that three adults attempted to keep track of ten children in a foreign zoo.  We only lost one.  Seriously.  He was with us; then he wasn’t.  We had all exited the zoo, or so we thought, when we realized the poor kid was gone.  Found him in the visitor’s center.  All’s well that ends well, I suppose.  We snapped a photo in front of the zoo and headed for the gondola.


Tiny frogs we found on the ground at the zoo.  I'm afraid the stroller wheels found a lot of them, too.  

Jack and Caleb were in the stroller.

Did I mention I am afraid of heights?  I can handle gondola rides for short periods of time, but this sucker was nearly 3 miles long!  We opted for the glass-bottomed car, of course.  “

We’re gonna die.  We’re gonna die.  We’re gonna die!” I moaned half the way up.  The kids laughed nervously, “Are we really gonna [die], momma?”  Uh-oh.  I turned away from the window and stared into their wide eyes.  In my fright, I had half forgotten they were with me.  “Um, no, kids, we’re not going to die.  Well, we’ll all die someday, but…”  The terrified looks on their faces weren’t helping matters.  “We’ll be fine!  We’ll be fine!  Mommy just gets nervous that we’re up so high.  It’s unnatural, really…”  

Why couldn’t I just shut up?  I plastered a smile on my face, forced myself to laugh, and pretended everything was fine.  They pretended not to notice their mom had lost it.  Once I was quiet for awhile, everyone began to relax and have fun.  We made it up, then down, then called it a day.  Whew!

Whose kids are those [not afraid of heights]?  Weirdos.


On our last day in Taipei, I took the kids to the 101 building.  Built in 2004, it held the title of world’s tallest building for six years (until some other giant skyscraper in Dubai was completed).  It’s still the world’s largest “green” building due to its energy efficiency.  

Just outside the 101.

Of course, it was still raining, so we weren’t allowed to go to the outer observation deck.  Instead, we rode up to the indoor observation area and were mauled by other tourists.  It was bananas.  I’m not sure where these folks came from, but at one point, security guards approached us to make sure we were okay.  People were picking up the kids, taking photo after photo.  By the end, even Maddie, who typically adores the limelight was burying her face in my stomach (making it impossible for me to move forward).  







Caleb was the only one who didn’t seem to mind.  He reminded me of the penguins on the movie Madagascar: Just smile and wave, boys.  Smile and wave.  So that is what we did: we smiled and waved and shoved our way out of there.  I felt like a celebrity security guard.  Comin' through.  Nothing to see here, people.  Keep moving!  I may or may not have run over a few toes on the way to the elevator.  




I was glad we'd visited, and I was really glad to get home to Singapore.  What a memorable spring break!

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