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Today I left Taiwan. For three weeks I was there, taking each day one by one. The reason, a wedding, a reason I turned into an excuse, an opportunity, to turn this trip to Asia into something far greater.
It was my second time to Taiwan, a fact that never ceased to amaze Taiwanese. But, in reality, it was me who never ceased to be amazed by Taiwanese people, who by the end of the three weeks, left me wondering, "have I ever felt this welcome in a country before?"
From the wedding - a complex, fun, and fascinating cultural event, with me and the other two groomsmen, fellow USC graduated, the only non-Asians at the wedding. There were actually two ceremonies, one in Taichuing, and the other in the capital Taipei, as traditionally, wedding in Taiwan requires three ceremonies!
After the wedding(s), I stayed one and did a tour around Taiwan, Couchsurfing with great Taiwanese hosts in Hualian, Kaoshiung, and Nantou, and staying in a great local hostel in Taidong. Even at the hostel, my dormmate was Taiwanese and we spent the day together exploring the coastline.
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The countryside was beautiful. My most amazing moment took place in Sun-Moon Lake, a beautiful alpine lake that resembles Lake Tahoe in California, where at a Tao Temple, I performed a ritual where I ask god a question, and then drop two wooden blocks on the ground. If they fall on opposite sides three times in a row, that means god will answer, and I take a fortune after randomly selecting a number. My host, Evelyn, told me that many people drop the blocks many, many times to try to get it to land the right way three times in a row.
I felt really positive right then - I felt I would get a fortune, it seemed like my destiny. So I dropped it three times. To her shock, it landed the right way each time. The odds are 1-27, but the odds of this happening on your first time ever doing it, in a remote temple in central Taiwan right before you're about to embark on a great, uncertain journey? Even greater, probably outside the realm of mathematics, just as I like it.
At the end of my time in Taiwan, I thought of a remarkable fact. Besides my fellow groomsmen, I didn't talk with a single Westerner the entire time I was here. It was a truly local experience, and perhaps that was why I felt so comfortable.
As I head to Singapore, I feel sad to leave Taiwan. I learned a lot about life, friendship, and what it means to be open-hearted while here. Now its time to take my lessons, and grow into a better person. One day at a time.