Taiwanese Hospitality Strikes Again

After a brief hiatus, I’m back with another wordy post. I bet you’ve missed my effusive writings 🙂

A few weekends ago I was sitting on my bed as usual, reveling in the weekend and the fact that it is just a time for my to recline on my full bed under my duvet and listen to music, read, or write in my journal (yes, and go on the internet), when my phone began to ring. 

‘Wei?’ I answered with the typical Mandarin greeting.
‘Hi! I am Ivy, we are in Yilan’ replied the voice on the other end of the line, ‘where can we meet you?’

Ivy is the other adult daughter of my ‘Taipei family’ and her husband’s family lives in Su’ao, which is a town or two over from Yilan City. They were on their way home and wanted to see me.

‘Of course,’ I replied, and began the complicated process of trying to decide where to meet. She didn’t really know the city, so I tried to think of a popular and central location: McDonalds at the Luna Mall.

As usually happens, I had just missed the once hourly bus, so I set about to walk. The weather was that of mid-November Taiwan; mild and sunny, so I left the house simply wearing my slightly awkward fleece jacket borrowed to me by my LET. Since my iPod was broken, I walked to the sounds of traffic, barking dogs, and yelling children. Not a bad tune, actually.

I arrived early, as usual, and stood awkwardly in front of McDonalds for a bit until a van parked at the other side of the road began to roll down its windows and George, Ivy’s husband waved at me and shouted my name.

I crossed, and popped into the car. I haven’t seen them for at least 13 years, so this was a special surprise. To them, I looked much older, and perhaps much changed, although I am sure I haven’t changed much, just gotten taller and technically older. The two boys, Eugene and Alan were in the back. As usual, the elder boy Eugene was plugged into the iPad and Alan gave me his usual smile and snuggled up against my fleece covered arms. As a first grader, he is still ‘allowed’ to find me interesting. I met them before, if you remember.

We went out for lunch, because they had been driving. We were going to go to hot pot, but the wait was an hour, so we went to Rain City Grille, which is a restaurant in town run by a Canadian expat. My friends go there every friday after English Village, but I hadn’t been as of yet. Unfortunately, the menu did not cater to vegetarians, so I ended up with the most sad lunch that broke my ‘I hate ordering salad at restaurants’ rule, but I was mostly along for the company. Ivy and her family had what seemed like a really difficult time ordering their food, I think maybe they weren’t expecting western style food. I apologized again and again if it wasn’t to their liking, but they assured me it was okay.

The cell phone rang. It was George’s mother who had gotten in a minor car mishap and George had to go help her. Just a casual day in Taiwan. Getting in an accident in Taiwan is tricky because of the culture around accidents and helping people. Many times you will get swindled if you attempt to help people, so many onlookers do just that- look. If you were to help, you might be sued or wrongly blamed, and people would rather walk away then have to pay a fine or deal with someone who was feigning helplessness. Better to call someone you know, I suppose, right? I’ll go into this in a future post, because it’s an interesting conversation I had with my friends lately.

Ivy, the kids, and I walked back to Luna and perused the bookstore until I had to walk home because George was not going to return with the car for a while. They ended up dropping off the vegetables later. Oh the vegetables! George’s mother apparently has a garden and they brought me two very large plastic bags full of vegetables; they almost did not fit in our small fridge! I had to cook some right then so that they would fit.

See shoes for size comparison

I dragged the bags upstairs and opened them up on our little table in the kitchen. Here is what was inside.

lots of spinach or cabbage something, a cabbage, and some strange purple vegetable that makes crazy purple juice and tastes a bit seaweed but isn’t from the sea.

Promptly made a stir fry for dinner. Thanks to these veggies, I didn’t have to go shopping this week!

that spinach, golden enoki mushrooms, onion, sesame oil, cumin, probably something else.

Sometimes I bring food home from school too. Taiwan has these nifty bags that are apparently okay to put hot food into, so I use those. It’s only a year, right?

carrots, daikon radish, sautéed spinach, sweet potato

the last meal I made this was was a bit insane and just too pretty not to photograph. I wish all my food were this color.

steamed purple mystery vegetable sautéed with balsamic vinegar and sesame oil, rice noodles boiled in the steamed juice. Best idea I’ve ever had.

Be back tomorrow with the second half of the post that will deal with weather and the remedy to cold, damp weather that came in a box!

Love, Hannah

One thought on “Taiwanese Hospitality Strikes Again

  1. Oh my gosh, Hannah, Those colorful bowls of stirfry veggies!!! WOW! And how nice to see Ivy and George and the boys again. It is interesting that you have observed that Taiwanese may avoid helping for legal reasons. Here in the States we have the Good Samaritan law which protects us against repercussions when we step in to assist. However, I must say that most Taiwanese I have known are the most caring people and unbelievably generous hosts who never hesitate to show appreciation and joy with duvets and bags of vegetables and laughing smiles all around.
    p.s. Please tell about what is in the bookstore there. I always love a good virtual browse.

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