Let’s meet some farmers and their snacks, shall we? Fruit farming is a huge venue and a big way that the Taiwanese make their money. Some fruits take all year to grow, and are only available to eat for one, or two months! I was picked up by the Chi-Chi 4-H club, where from there, I was taken to Jiji. First off, I was introduced to lychee. At home, it’s usually not all that great, but…that’s because we can’t grow it! Take a look at this bumpy little fruit. It is adorable, delicious, and only available for two months of the year! This was the last week for their availability. I must have lucked out! Fresh lychee is delicious.
Now, I know when most people hear the term farmer, they think of cows, sheep, horses, and livestock, but, out here, there’s very little land for livestock. Some space for a few chickens, and that is about where the line is drawn. In this case, we were taken to Mr. Chou – I’m not sure if I spelt this right – fruit farm. There, he grows dragon fruit, and guava. Have you seen what a dragon fruit grows on? It’s pretty crazy. Did you also know they come in white, and a rich red? Nope! I didn’t either, until now. Did you also know I can’t tell the difference until it’s cut open? I bet you can’t, either.
We also learned how to protect fruits. Some of the biggest problems farmers face is the sun and the bugs. The sun can dry their fruit out before they even pick it, and the bugs, well, we know what bugs can do! So, they have to wrap their fruit in paper bags. I think I mentioned this with the grapes, as well. But, it’s a big problem for them. On the otherhand, they can grow fruits year round, and can grow SO many types of fruits!
Following a learning and tasting, we hopped on some bikes, in order to explore. There’s a lot of beautiful places, all over Taiwan, but getting into the area where the Chi-Chi 4-H takes in, you start seeing the effects of earthquakes which is very hard, and very scary to see. You also see orchids, everywhere, on a happier note!
After this, we biked to the new railway. Unfortunately, the old one had collapsed in an earthquake. The more see the damage these can cause, the scarier they become. The Taiwanese have built new structures, leaving the old. To me, it stands as a reminder, or, that’s how I see it. With dinner and delicious mango ice in us, we headed off to some museums.
The first one, more or less, was a museum on animals that are going extinct in Taiwan. Whether due to modernization, deforestation, hunting, or predators. It wasn’t just animals. It was also incests, trees, flora, fauna, and many other things. Turning a place into a home for humans has done a number on mother nature.
After this, we went to a banana museum! The Minions would be jealous. It was a museum on the different tools used in harvesting, and growing, and the development that they have gone through. It really is neat, seeing the ways they’ve modernized the farm technology. You can still see ghosts of old tools though, in just about everything. I also tried tea made from the banana flower, which was probably one of my favourite teas. If we don’t count milk tea.
My day was finished up by visiting the temple of a water god, and seeing more of what the earthquake has done in Nantou. It’s hard not to be devastated by what has been left standing in wake of such a tragedy. It’s one of those things that is almost impossible to look at, because of what symbolism it has.
With that said and done, and a night of rest, my next day was to learn something of great concentration, honour, and skill. This is an art form, certainly. It can be done sloppy, or it can be done exceptionally well. This is one thing I was quite good at. Brewing tea.
There is a lot to consider when doing this. It’s not just the process, either. Of course, too long, or too short can change the taste of your tea, completely, but they also heavily look at your body language, too. For example, if you make a mistake, or your tea kettle is too hot, you are not meant to show it on your face.
The tea ceremony was very relaxing to do, but at the same time, you could feel a sense of pride, and accomplishment, in being able to do such a thing, and knowing how to do it. There are various ways that it’s done, but the general idea is – warming brew, first brew, second brew, and so forth. Depending on the type of tea, is how many brews you can make from it.
Each one has it’s timing. The warming brew is poured, then immediately transferred to the tea holder, while all the rest are fifty seconds, to a minute for brewing. There is also a very precise way for pouring, as well. Two with your right hand, two with your left, depending on how many are at your table. It is so you don’t clank dishes together, and it looks much more professional.
This is an art that they teach many children, as it is a way to get them to display great patience, and trust me…it requires just that!
With this, it was onto a much needed day of rest!