Sunday, June 1, 2014

Travel Makes You Richer

Last Sunday (May 25) marked the last full day of our Asian excursion. I have to admit, I was pretty sad to say goodbye and head back to reality. I love traveling and meeting new people, but it is always tough to part ways--especially from a part of the world where you may very well never visit again. 

Our last day was a warm one, to say the least. I think everyone was a little apprehensive about diving into an even hotter hot spring. After spending a great deal of time on the metros, we first stopped at the Hot Spring Valley museum. As you walked through, you could see different areas where people once came and used the community bath houses. Can you imagine having to all shower together? That is worse than the gym class days!

Morgan and I in the museum
One of the community baths
Once we made our way through the museum, it was time to take a dip in the hot springs. I was pretty excited because I've never been in one before, even though we have one on the west side of the state of South Dakota. (Apparently I don't get out enough in my own state!) When you first walk down the steps to the springs, it is quite the sight. Essentially, you are surrounded by a ton of half-naked Oriental men. We stuck out like a sore thumb. It is pretty comical actually.

We weren't suppose to take pictures,
but Emily was sneaky and snagged a quick shot before we left

From the picture, you can see that there were several different springs you could try out, each with a different temperature. It took us awhile to work up the courage to take a dip in the hottest spring, as we were already quite warm from the hot weather. Overall, it was a fun and refreshing long as I don't stop and think too long about how unsanitary that probably was.

We also stopped and took a few pictures by a natural spring, though we didn't stay long, because it smelled terribly of sulfur.

After regaining some energy from lunch, (clearly we needed it)...

...we then took the metro to the Tamsui district where we were able to walk along the edge of the sea. The area is known for its breathtaking sunsets, but we didn't end up staying late enough to experience that.

 We did, however, have some incredible foot massages. After plenty of walking throughout the week in Taiwan, my feet were ready for some pampering. Part way through my foot massage, the masseuse started speaking in Chinese to some of the grad students who came with us and were waiting in the waiting area. It was pretty obvious that I was the subject of the conversation, so I asked the grad students if he was talking about me. They told me that he was asking how tall I am. I couldn't help but laugh and say "yeah, yeah! I know i have big feet!" He's probably never seen a 5'10" woman over there in the midst of such petite women.

We ended our last day with what we kept referring to as "The Last Supper." I couldn't have been more satisfied with my vegetarian hot pot selection and bubble milk tea. It was the perfect meal to sum up our stay in Taiwan. 

Prior to traveling to Asia, I came across this pin on Pinterest that has stuck with me throughout this experience:


I may have had to spend a little money to travel across the world to both China and Taiwan, but nothing can compare to how much I have grown as a person as a result of studying abroad. My views of this world have truly evolved and I feel as if I have more empathy and understanding of people of different backgrounds than my own. While I may have a little less money, I know for sure that I have grown richer in so many unimaginable ways.

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