Our missionary friend in Taiwan shared J. Trotters’ “Ten Reasons You Should be a Missionary” on her Facebook. We came back from several mission trips this year and found his points spot on, so I’m commenting on a couple of items from our recent experience.
Take number 8 for instance. Unlike traffic in Canada where cars are supposed to pass and merge in from the driver’s side, cars in Panama cut in from both the left and the right. And they usually cut it real close. It’s like playing “bluff” to see who “chickens out” and brake first to yield to the other driver to avoid a fender bender. In Taiwan, the challenge is scooters. They are as numerous as locusts, and weave in and out of tight spaces between cars. If a car driver is not alert, he could send a scooter flying into the air! Even some experienced drivers from N. America are scared of driving in developing countries. If you are accident-free in the third world, you can drive anywhere in the world.
Or take number 6. Police in Russia often do random checks on Asian pedestrians and ask for identification. Aliens who do not have proper IDs are fined or even detained. Even if your documents are in order, they usually manage to find problems where none actually exists. In exchange for not getting a ticket, you can pay a fee directly to the officer. One time our missionary friend in Panama made a left turn where he was not supposed to, despite the fact that there are no road signs telling him this was not allowed. He was stopped by a traffic cop who asked what’s his “offer”. Since he does not pay bribes as a matter of principle, an interesting negotiation followed. This would be especially interesting when neither side know the other’s mother tongue.
But at the top of the list every missionary can identify with is of course number one. Leading someone to Christ in your own language, culture and vicinity is exhilarating enough; doing so when you have to cross barriers in some or all of the above is pure joy that is often indescribable, not to mention the fact that God had seen fit to use you to serve Him. I hope you will take at least one mission trip as part of your bucket list. It will do wonders to widen your heart and mind to fulfill the Great Commission. Some have even changed careers as a result.
On our last day we visited Taipei Zoo, smaller than Toronto’s Metro Zoo but the largest zoo in Asia. Too bad the Maokong Gondola is closed but the zoo is still worth a visit. We finished the day with dinner at the famous Din Tai Fung, more expensive and with long lineups, but wanted to see if they live up to their reputation. It’s pretty good, but I still prefer Cantonese over northern food.
There are many beautiful places to visit in Taiwan, such as Taroko Gorge National Park in the east, Kenting National Park in the south etc., but that would have to await another time.
Resting on a tortoise
Mimicking a penguin
That’s as close as we can get to a wood duck before it flew away
Xiaolongbao at famed Din Tai Fung
Spicy beef noodle
We visited two memorial halls, Sun Yat-sen, Father of the Nation, and Chiang Kai-shek, former president of Republic of China. Of the two, the latter is a better known landmark sitting in Liberty Square together with the National Concert Hall and the National Theater. Sun overthrew the Qing Dynasty and introduced democracy to China. Chiang fought the regional warlords, the Japanese during WWII, and then the Chinese Communist Party.
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
West entrance mural
Statute in main hall
Statute in west garden
National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Statute in main hall
Our friends took us to Yilan (宜蘭) on the Taiwan’s north-east coast. En-route we visited Gold Waterfall, so-called because the minerals in the water gleamed in the sunlight. We stopped at Nanya Peculiar Stones, so named because wind and water eroded the sandstone to peculiar shapes of rich color. Next we passed by Nanyang Museum, then visited National Center for Traditional Arts, which was quite interesting with shops and displays of the old way of life, plus music performance. The day ended with a sumptuous 9-course Japanese fusion meal for about C$35/person, taxes and tips included. Beautiful scenery, enjoyable company, nice weather, good food – what more can one ask for? Thank God for His goodness!
Gold Waterfall near Gold Ecological Park
Nanya Peculiar Stones
Without our friends as guides we would have missed a very scenic place.
Rocks with rich color along the coast
The golden hue is due to the iron within the rock oxidizing – fool’s gold, not real gold.
Nanyang Museum exhibits Yilan’s history
National Center for Traditional Arts
Sweet tooth? (NT$100=C$4)
Making dragon whiskers candy
Our friend introduced us to her god-brother in Taipei. He and his wife are very friendly and hospitable, and drove us around to scenic spots near Keelung in north-east Taiwan, places not easily accessible by public transit. The scenery along Hwy 2 on the Pacific coast is very beautiful, with places you can recognize in movies sets and TV drama. Here are some photos:
Enjoying coffee at a Ruifang hill top cafe overlooking the Pacific Ocean
White House Aegean Sea Cafe
Ocean side park
Keelung night market
As Keelung is a seaport its specialty is seafood.
We tried many new foods, including this Taiwanese specialty we can’t even pronounce.
Another famous dish – crab stew and sticky rice
Charcoal broiled corn with Shacha sauce