****Oops, this blog is about 5 days behind - Check back soon for Sijhih Hiking, Keelung Ghost Fest, und so weiter****
Yesterday involved a field trip to the International Children's Folklore and Folkgame Festival at an Yilan water park along the Dongshan River (冬山河). This festival is a month long event that showcases a variety of cultures from around the world. The park was complete with a Chinese Top Museum (historic Taiwanese pasttime: the little toys on strings you spin that even has a competition culture here), a Cultural Museum (some displays of Taiwanese modern culture such as drugstores, candy shops, etc. with a 1950's feel), and markets with cultural toys and arts.
****History of the Apparently Beloved****
****Taiwanese Cultural Dance****
****The Ceremony included a race, male against male, female against female, and then the winners bamboo pole to bamboo pole; race-up and first one down with the feather's a winner****
The amusement waterpark included a bouncing arenas that felt like waterbeds covered by a giant octopus, water slides, a water halfpipe (sit backwards on a tube and go straight down, up the other side, and down again - guys, don't forget to tuck them up before you hit the middle at the bottom; still sore), and my favorite part - a 20mX20m fountain area that served as a dancefloor, aside from other things. The scene was completed by incessant dance music (water rave?) and jets, sprinklers, and hoses pouring water over everything. It really was a riot, even in the rain.
****Jules/Mitcho - Evidently Serious Business****
****Early Evening WaterPark********Jules********Dance Floor Jets****
***Dance Floor at Night****
A little bit about Taiwanese water culture:
For those geographically challenged, Taiwan is an island. It's interesting position at the Northernmost region of the Indonesian Islands, Southernmost tip of the Japanese Ryukyu Islands, and off the coast of China have made it a strategic and coveted political and economic region through much of history. The culture is imbibed with a long history of fishing, seafood, and typhoons, thus the Taiwanese have a healthy respect for the ocean.
The spiritual culture of the island also encourages a healthy respect for levels of existence often overlooked elsewhere; Taiwanese are often to a slight degree superstitious, and this cultural feeling extends to the water. Though there are a great wealth of areas ideal for diving and snorkeling or even just swimming, many Taiwanese prefer not to submerge their whole bodies in water. They believe that underwater they are particularly susceptible to attacks or possession by spirits.
This does not mean that they avoid the water. They love their hot and cold springs (a mountainous island, there are many areas ideal for collecting this refreshing water; upscale hotels in these parts have hot spring water flowing directly into rented rooms, and I've heard rumor that some of the more illustrious private residences have channeled the water as well), are often found near the beaches, and know how to have a good time at a waterpark.
The main differences can be seen in attire. Most Taiwanese wear t-shirts and other clothing while swimming and prefer long shallow beaches that they can wade in and keep their heads above. Some go in full attire, like this little one: